Stiff shoulders and red flags ...

April, 9, 2009
4/09/09
10:32
AM ET
In the wake of the news about Brandon Webb's shoulder, Robothal's follow-up report is at least a little bit scary:
 
  Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
  The Diamondbacks have said that Brandon Webb will miss his next start because of shoulder stiffness.
    Concerns raised by insurance companies over Brandon Webb's arm caused the Diamondbacks to withdraw their offer of a three-year, $54 million contract extension to the right-hander last June, according to major-league sources.

    Webb passed a team physical, sources say, but insurance companies use a higher standard when assessing risk. Multiple companies raised concerns, creating a "red flag" for the Diamondbacks, sources say. The contract was contingent on the club securing an appropriate insurance policy for the pitcher.

    The condition of Webb's arm became an issue on Wednesday when the Diamondbacks said that he would miss his next start due to shoulder stiffness. But Webb, who turns 30 on May 9, has been extremely durable for most his career.

    Webb's only career trip to the disabled list, for elbow tendinitis, was from May 24 to June 8, 2003. No major-league pitcher threw more innings from 2005 to '08.

    All veteran pitchers experience wear and tear on their arms; Webb, despite the insurance companies' concerns, might pitch 10 more seasons without injury, one source said.

    --snip--

    Webb is under contract for $6.5 million this season. The Diamondbacks hold an $8.5 million option on him for 2010. The proposed extension, which was for $2 million more than the Padres awarded right-handed Jake Peavy in a similar deal, would have tied Webb to the club through '13.

    Webb disclosed last August that the team had pulled its offer, but neither the pitcher nor club gave a reason for the failed negotiations.

Webb was drafted and signed in 2000, and pitched just briefly in the minors.

In 2001, his first full professional season, he started 28 games, which is about as many as you can start in a minor-league season.

In 2002, he started 26 games.

In 2003 -- including that stint on the DL and a couple of weeks in the minors -- he started 31 games.

And from Opening Day in 2004 through today, Webb's No. 1 on the list with 170 starts in the majors, one start ahead of Derek Lowe and Johan Santana. He's No. 2 on the list with 1,139 innings (13 behind Santana).

So, yeah: He's been extremely durable.

He's also been extremely effective, and consistently so; Webb's strikeout and walk ratios have been essentially the same for four years running. Add it all up and what do you get? As one fantasy forecaster wrote this winter, "As close to a lock as you can get at SP."

The words "shoulder stiffness" are scary. So are the words "red flag." I'm a little scared, and I'm not even a Diamondbacks fan or a Brandon Webb fantasy owner.

But just a little scared. So far.

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