Dr. Marshall’s Diagnosis For Prior

Posted in Baseball at 2:16 pm by

In the event the Baltimore Orioles really are foolish enough to trade Miguel Tejada for Mark Prior, the Daily Southtown’s Paul Ladewski has dug up some useful advice (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

“Prior has a pitching motion that is very problematic, no question about it,” Dr. Mike Marshall said. “If he doesn’t change, he will never reach everything that he should be.”

Mike Marshall? What does he know? What did the guy ever accomplish in the big leagues, anyway?

Actually, a lot.

In 1974, Marshall became the first relief pitcher to capture the Cy Young Award. He pitched 208-plus innings in an unheard of 106 games that season. And he often pitched batting practice on his few days off.

“Prior has what I call a ‘loop’ in his motion,” said Marshall, who had a career 3.14 earned-run average even though he rarely reached 90 mph on the speed gun. “He brings his right hand up close to his ear. When his elbow starts forward, his hand goes back and flies laterally away from his body. That’s an incredible amount of stress on the front of his shoulder.”

But what makes Marshall such an authority on the subject? What does he know about bones and muscles and the mechanics of a pitcher?

A lot, really. Marshall devoted much of the last 40 years to book and film study on the subject. After extensive undergraduate work in kinesiology at Michigan State, he earned a doctorate degree in exercise physiology.

Then again, Marshall is a bitter 62-year-old man who has been blackballed by the big leagues because he has a lot of goofy ideas and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. For instance, Marshall is a proponent of the four-man rotation. He also believes that rest only leads to atrophy.

Yet Marshall isn’t so bitter as to refuse to help any pitcher who asks for it. Which is why Dr. Mike trains young pitchers in suburban Tampa (fee: 10 bucks per day) and spreads the word on his Web site.

If Marshall has a problem, then it’s that he knows too much, if you ask me.

“If Prior would take the time to relearn a few things about his pitching motion, I believe he could be an incredible pitcher,” Marshall said. “He should have started the day after last season ended and worked his tail off to correct the flaws that have caused him to unnecessarily stress his arm to a point that it cannot withstand. The problem isn’t complicated, but it takes hard work to rectify it. I’d work his (butt) off.”

The thing is, as long as Prior puts his faith in the theories of former pitcher Tom House and Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Marshall is convinced that he won’t come close to his potential.

“Ask either one of them what the four muscles are that comprise the rotator cuff, and he wouldn’t have a clue,” Marshall said. “How the heck can you teach anything when you don’t know the muscles that are involved? They sure as heck don’t know how to apply Newton’s first, second and third laws to the pitching motion. They don’t know Isaac Newton from the Fig Newton.”

As for Dusty Baker, his former Dodgers teammate, Marshall said, “Dusty openly admits that he knows nothing about pitching except how to hit it.”

5 responses to “Dr. Marshall’s Diagnosis For Prior”

  1. Schmidt says:

    thanks for this. enlightening.

  2. David Roth says:

    You really think the O’s make out badly in that deal? Prior is young and one trillion percent lights-out when healthy (35% of the time, guaranteed!), and if they get the other players rumored to be involved (a young pitcher possibly named Rich Hill and Corey “Tuffy Rhodes” Patterson), it seems like a pretty good deal for the O’s. The alternative is sticking with Bruce Chen and the ghost of Mike Boddicker in perpetuity in the rotation. Great hitters, it seems, are a lot easier to come by (or just go buy) than great pitchers.

  3. CSTB says:

    all kidding aside, as terrific as Prior is, the O’s and everyone else have to wonder if he’ll ever give them 200 innings. While Tejada isn’t merely a great hitter, he’s a capable enough SS who has played 162 games in each of the past 5 seasons (and 159 and 160 in ’99 and ‘2000 respectively).

    Unless that was all, y’know, B-12 assisted, the only players I’d take over Miggy in terms of what they mean to their ballclub every day are Princess A-Rod, Pujols and Barry B.

  4. Dmac says:

    Marshall had a great profile way back when in one of Roger Angell’s books – when he was an active player and racking up all those innings without ever suffering an arm injury. He might be a little off – base sometimes, but I can’t understand why a maverick owner wouldn’t at least hire him as a consultant for his pitching staff.

  5. vockins says:

    Will Carroll’s response on Baseball Prospectus

    Non subscribers will still get the meat of the argument from the preview. Carroll challenges Marshall to a rock fight on BP radio after that.