Friday, February 17, 2006

February 17th, 1976

Scott Williamson Born

Scott Williamson was the 1999 Rookie of the Year; he was also an All-Star that year as a crucial member of Jack McKeon's expertly managed Reds' bullpen. Williamson threw ninety three innings with a 2.41 ERA while recording twelve wins and nineteen saves. The Reds tried him as a starter in 2000; he wasn't quite as effective and was moved back to the bullpen where he stayed for the rest of his career. He was one of many tried as the closer for the Red Sox in 2003, saving all three of Boston's wins in the ALCS and some have argued that had he--and not Tim Wakefield--been on the mound in the extra innings of Game Seven, Boston could've won that series as well.

Williamson is also notable for being the most recent example of trend that has emerged in recent years, that of teams signing an injured player to a two-year contract with the understanding the player will miss all (or most) of the first with an injury and be healthy for the second. Williamson had reconstructive right-elbow surgery and has signed a two-year contract with the Cubs; optimistic reports say he will be ready by mid-season but a more reasonable expectation would be Williamson contributing in 2007. This is the third prominent time a team has done this; the Yankees carried Jon Lieber through 2003 while the Cards carried Chris Carpenter; both were rewarded with fourteen and fifteen wins respectively in 2004.

This may not ever be a widespread trend--the number of players worthy of two years of pay for one year of performance won't ever be that high--but it remains something that larger payroll teams will continue to do and for the moment, Scott Williamson is the latest example in a trend.

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