Brandon Webb’s Flash Of Greatness

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Brandon Webb‘s career may be over.

An examination of Webb’s surgically repaired right shoulder revealed “changes” to his rotator cuff and he’s weighing his options.

It doesn’t sound good.

Before the season, in my book, I said expect nothing on Webb; that he was no risk/massive reward; that they should be thrilled if they got 140 innings and competence at the back of the rotation.

They got nothing.

Webb could easily have won 3 straight Cy Young Awards from 2006-2008 with the Diamondbacks. He won the award in 2006 and finished second in the next two years.

He was one of the best pitchers in baseball, durable, tough and talented. He gobbled innings and was everything you’d want your ace to be. Despite all those innings, he was never stereotypically “abused”; never asked to throw an outrageous number of pitches (generally between 100-110).

There’s no smoking gun. Had he been babied a la Joba Chamberlain, would Webb have still gotten hurt—as Chamberlain did—without Webb’s success?

Or would he have stagnated in his development, not been as great as he was and gotten hurt before he could fulfill that potential that made him great for that short burst rather than healthy, but not as good over the long term?

Which is better? The paranoia and mediocrity or the freedom and greatness?

You can look at any number of great pitchers who flamed out after heavy usage. Dwight Gooden, Sandy Koufax, Steve Busby—if they’d been handled more cautiously, could they have had longer careers? Would the flashes of brilliance been less luminous?

There’s no answer.

Because we don’t know.

And apparently, with Webb, we never will.