Do you remember that movie Unbreakable with Bruce Willis, where it turns out he's basically Superman but he just kinda forgot? Samuel Jackson made an appearance in the film as well and--as per usual--he was the best part. He played a character the kids called "Mr. Glass" because he was born with a degenerative bone disease. Even the lightest impact would break his bones. I spent a lot of time thinking about Mr. Glass in 2014; basically, whenever Brett Anderson made the news.
When the Rockies acquired Anderson from the Oakland Athletics in the previous off season they knew they were picking up a guy with an extensive injury history. Anderson hadn't pitched 100 innings in a season since 2010. He suffered from leg injuries, oblique injuries, and a Tommy John surgery. When he was actually on the mound he was pretty great--he always got ground balls at a high rate and rarely walked people. In other words, he was a great candidate to succeed at Coors Field. Many here at Purple Row cast an envious eye toward Anderson.
Lo and behold, Dan O'Dowd agreed, and he cut a deal with the A's for Anderson's services. Five years of struggling lefty Drew Pomeranz went to Oakland while one year of Anderson came to Colorado. O'Dowd was throwing down the gauntlet; he believed Anderson's injury woes were behind him, and Brett would contribute to one of the best rotations in franchise history (with Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood all coming off excellent years). Those four horsemen of the Rockpocalypse would pitch throughout 2014 and let the Rockies' dynamic offense do its business, leading to a winning 2014 and a possible playoff berth.
It was so tantalizingly plausible.
Brett Anderson statistics
Instead we got Mr. Glass. And he seemed to infect Chacin and Chatwood with Mr. Glass disease. Eight lousy starts was all we got from Anderson (lousy in the parsimonious sense, not that they were of low quality). If we were hoping for 180 innings from Brett, then he left 140 for the likes of Franklin Morales and whatever other live bodies we had available.
He was so good when he was on the hill! A sub-three ERA and FIP! A 2.7 BB/9! A 61% ground ball rate! He was exactly what we hoped for--until, you know.
On April 14--just his third start--Anderson took a swing at a pitch in San Francisco. He grounded out to third base. Whatever. No big deal. But something was wrong. His pinky finger started nagging him. He had to come out after the third inning. X-Rays revealed--drum roll--a fracture. Mr. Glass.
Anderson would miss three months after a pin was surgically inserted into his finger. For three long months Rockies fans could derive no enjoyment from Brett Anderson unrelated to his Twitter account. It was a bummer of epic proportions.
But he was back by mid-July, and he sure looked great. The season had probably already been lost by this point (we were in free fall and our other Mr. Glass--Troy Tulowitzki--had just gone down), but at least we were getting some classic Brett Anderson starts. He worked quickly, induced ground balls, and rarely walked guys. He worked deep into games. It was good pitching, the likes of which Rockies fans are sorely starved.
Then on August fifth he made an awkward delivery, sort of squatted and grimaced weirdly, and that was it. He was gone. Poof.
2014 Grade: C
Brett Anderson is like the smart kid in the back of class who aces the tests but doesn't say anything in class. He gets killed in the participation grade. He was a good gamble to make, but the dice came up snake eyes, like so many O'Dowd moves.
What to expect in 2015
Jeff Bridich's first move as GM was to decline Anderson's $12 million option. Good thing he did, too. As the regular season grows smaller in the rear view mirror, common sense erodes into wishful thinking. Even though I know better I still feel the creeping desire to pass off those injuries as flukes. And he was so good when he played...and $12 million is below market price if he can just stay healthy...and he's so funny on Twitter...
No. Enough. Brett, we here at Purple Row love you to death, but you are Mr. Glass.
Unless he signs with the San Francisco Giants, in which case you can expect 200 high quality innings.