Re: The 100 Inning Reliever
Good post as usual WoY. One thing that bugs me though about the notion that people in the old days threw a lot more innings and were just fine is that you didn't see guys pitch as long in to their careers as they do now. Johnny VanDerMeer was done as a starter at age 34 and out of baseball at 36.
Looking at relievers, let's look at those 100 IP seasons and see what happened afterwards:
'05: out of baseball at age 34
'00: 112.0 (10 GS)
You know the Danny Graves story. Sure, maybe a guy can pitch 100 IP out of relief for a few years. But how many guys do it for 5+, 10+? Do you want 3 good years of 100+ IP out of Todd Coffey and then watch his arm fall off and see him get 100 IP over the next 3 years and retire? Of course, I don't know if that will happen. Guillermo Mota had his 2 best seasons throwing nearly 100 innings and hasn't been the same since.
But the relievers you see pitching until they're 40, Jesse Orosco, John Franco, Mike Stanton, and yes, Dennis Eckersly, didn't do it pitching 100 innings a year. They pitch 50-80 per year and stay healthy and effective doing so. I have no doubts that many relievers could be effective for a year or 3 throwing 100 Innings. However, I haven't seen many examples of a RP who can make a career of it. One of the few who did, Mike Marshall, did so using mechanics that front offices still refuse to hear about.
It becomes an issue of who you're rooting for. If you're the Reds, and you see a reliever as a commodity who should be used to maximum effect while under your control, then fine, go ahead and throw these guys until their arms fall off and move to the next. But if you want to maximize the value you get from a reliever over his career, moderation seems to be the way to go. It's not that Weathers and Stanton are too old to throw 100 innings. It's that they're still pitching at 40 because they weren't forced to throw 100 innings throughout their 20's and early 30's.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.