Yankee general manager Brian Cashman made some (minor) waves by saying publicly that Pedro Feliciano, on the DL with shoulder problems, was "abused" by the crosstown New York Mets. I think it's easy to look at Feliciano's work load — at least 78 games every year since 2007, including league-leading totals in three consecutive seasons, none fewer than 86 games and an incredible 92 games last season — and conclude that Cashman is correct.
Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen took exception to that characterization, however:
"They didn't know that when they signed him? … He volunteered for the baseball every day. He was asked whether he was able to pitch. He said 'yes' every day — every day — and wanted to pitch more than we even pitched him."
Regarding Cashman's comments, Warthen said: "I feel badly that someone feels that way. That was part of the reason we decided to not re-sign him — because we knew we had used him 270-some times in the last three years."
There's a lot of weirdness in this situation.
First of all, as Warthen notes, Feliciano's heavy workload did not just come to light, so for the Yankees to complain about it now seems odd. When a pitcher has appeared in more than half of his team's past 648 games, the buyer should most definitely beware. If the Yankees' assessment of Feliciano was that his arm could withstand the usage (and apparently it was, otherwise they would not have given him two guaranteed seasons), then signing him is, to an extent, an implicit endorsement of that use. No one signs ballplayers they expect were harmed by abusive usage patterns to guaranteed major league contracts. Well, I guess not exactly "no one."
What's even weirder, however, is Warthen's characterization of Feliciano's usage. It amounts to, "Sure, we abused him, but he asked us to!" This is the Grady Little school of pitcher abuse: If the pitcher says yes, then go for it. Because a highly competitive person would never gloss over soreness or weakness that might portend an injury in order to help win ballgames, right? Under this theory, Pedro Martinez should have been left on the mound in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS because he said he was fine, even though it was clear he wasn't. And Pedro Feliciano apparently should have pitched an unhealthy number of innings because he said "'yes' every day" he was asked. If I were a young pitcher in the Mets system, I'd be leery of that kind of attitude.