Will Cory Wade Become Joe Torre’s New Whipping Boy?

So everybody knows about Joe Torre’s propensity to single out certain relievers that he likes and then pitch them until their arm falls off, right? If not, recent examples include the Dodgers own Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze.

Well, Proctor got hurt this season, and Sturtze was never available, so Torre was on a mission to find a new whipping boy to abuse, and I fear that pitcher is now Cory Wade.

In the early going, Torre showed very little confidence in the rookie, and I can’t blame him. Wade came out of almost nowhere and didn’t have much of a minor league track record, much less MLB experience. However, as the year went on, Wade continued to turn in excellent performances in his lesser roles and slowly earned Torre’s confidence. Around this time, Proctor was completely losing effectiveness and then went down to injury.

Since Torre no longer had a guy to abuse in every situation, he choose Wade to fill that void in his life. Starting in June, Wade began to be used in almost every other game for a good two months, all while averaging over an inning an appearance. He ended up throwing 17 1/3 innings in June, and then 15 1/3 innings in July, before finally succuming to a tired arm in August.

To put that into perspective, when Torre abused Proctor as a Yankee to the tune of a ridiculous 83 games and 102 1/3 innings in 2006, Proctor averaged ~17 innings a month. So while it’s great that Torre’s showing immense confidence in Wade, it might actually end up being not so great for Wade’s career. I just cringe to see how he’ll be used in 2009 if Proctor isn’t around. I think he’ll be hard pressed to push the 102 1/3 innings of Proctor, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a huge spike. Well, assuming Wade doesn’t go down with an injury again.

Overall, Wade is a very promising bullpen arm that anybody would love to have as a 6th or 7th inning option. However, the way Torre falls in love with certain pitchers, it’s not a stretch to say Wade’s career could be in jeopardy sooner than later. I really hope Torre eases off the kid eventually, but with the way he continues to handle Proctor even now, Torre seems unfazed by the injury risk. Considering that Wade has already succumbed during a two month trial run as a Proctor replacement, I don’t see the situation getting much better for him.

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