Big League Stew - MLB

So Edinson Volquez(notes) was barely done with his Tommy John surgery on Monday when I got an email from our old pal Nick Friedell, now with ESPN Chicago.

"Remember this?" he asked.

The link went through to an old Stew piece in which Nick wondered if Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was eating up the young arms of Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto(notes), just as he had been accused of doing in Chicago with Mark Prior(notes) and Kerry Wood(notes).

"Ah, yes," I laughed before crediting Nick with a nice, if obvious, moment of incredible foresight. "Ah, yes."

Now that Volquez is on the sidelines for at least a year with right arm troubles — seemingly taking the Reds' blossoming hopes with him — the finger-pointing in The Queen City has begun.

Luckily for Baker, the blame isn't being heaped solely on decisions like allowing a 24-year-old pitcher to throw 118 times while his team is already leading by nine runs.

• Pat Lackey of Fanhouse does his research and believes that Texas and the sudden jump in 2007 innings are actually more to blame for Volquez's troubles than Dusty Baker and the Reds in 2008. He also shows that Baker was exponentially tougher on Prior's arm than he ever was with Volquez. (If you read only one of these links, read this one.)

• Paul Daughtery of the Cincinnati Enquirer sums up the possibilities for Volquez's injury from meaningless innings thrown during his '08 breakout season to a WBC appearance to the pressure of winter ball.

• FanGraphs' Matthew Carruth wonders if the Reds' medical staff could have started the rehab ball rolling a little sooner so Volquez could have some impact in 2010. 

• Redleg Nation thinks Dusty was actually "pretty cautious." 

• Off The Record goes all knee-jerk and blames Dusty

•  Red Reporter doesn't blame anyone, but provides a tremendous fill-in-the-blanks form letter for anyone wishing to express their outrage. 

It's obviously a tricky situation and the next person who figures out exactly why pitchers get hurt will be the first. However there are enough possibilities out there — no one's mentioned Volquez's mechanics, which were pretty violent — that it might be permissible to not entirely blame Baker here.

As for the rest of the Reds' mess this season, well .... 

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