I've been wanting to write about Danny Farquhar.
Selected in the 10th round of the 2008 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, his first three seasons as a professional were spent cruising through three levels of A ball before eventually becoming the closer for the Jays Double-A squad. He was prone to walk a few guys with shaky command -- but what kid in the low minors isn't? He combated that by striking out plenty and maintaining a low BABiP.
He was traded to the Oakland Athletics in a package for Rajai Davis after the 2010 season. At the beginning of the the ensuing 2011 campaign, he tossed eight innings over four games for Triple-A Sacramento, allowing nary a run. He did so well that when the A's wanted David Purcey in April, the Blue Jays were all like, oh hey, can we have Danny back?
Upon his return to the Toronto system, the whiffs went way down and balls in play started landing on grass more frequently. Farquhar hadn't become a total disaster, though, and he even got a late September look at the big league level.
Kids dream about making it to the majors. What they probably don't dream about is doing it by being asked to stop the bleeding in a 13-5 drubbing, only to allow three more hits, two more walks and four more runs in the harshest of landings. I don't know what Danny Farquhar's psyche is like, or how mentally strong he is, but this couldn't have been a big boost to his confidence.
Demoted back to Double-A to begin the 2012 schedule, Farquhar's career was starting to go backward. Designated for assignment at the beginning of June, he was subsequently claimed on waivers by the A's. For the second time in his career, Farquhar was given exactly eight innings by the Athletics. This time, though, it would end with another release.
Another trip to waivers. Another slow meander through baseball purgatory, not knowing where -- or if -- he'd throw another pitch.
Claimed by the Yankees, he appeared in six contests for Double-A Trenton before making his way back up to Triple-A with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Not needing to unpack, as usual, he was there for only one game -- two innings of scoreless relief -- before finding himself as a trade toss-in, changing coasts and wearing yet another new uniform.
How could fans of the Seattle Mariners view Danny Farquhar in a positive light in the summer of 2012? A franchise icon in Ichiro Suzuki was entering the sunset of his career, traded away to a contender for the chance to play postseason baseball.
A once kind-of-sort-of interesting relief prospect with underwhelming stuff that had just bounced between four teams in a 44-day span. He was the secondary piece in a deal where the primary piece lacked any intrigue. Organizational depth. Roster fodder. Farquhar represented the exact kind of value you expect in trades like this.
Barely a calendar year later, he's the closer for a big league club.
We've got our spreadsheets, transaction logs, scouting reports and an Internet heavy in opinion. The reality is that we often times brush off players that are struggling to make the leap in their mid-20's. They are who they are and it's just too much to expect them to change at this point, we often proclaim.
Here I sit, though, marveling at graphs showing how his release point and movement improved. Shaking my head at how his velocity has gone up several ticks.
Baseball is, more often than not, a harsh game that slams the door in the face of almost all of those who aspire to participate at its highest level. Be it lack of skill, injury, poor performance or not fitting a preconceived mold created by other flame-outs now holding radar guns, the big league dream is often shattered well before something amazing can happen.
Perhaps lost on most during a lost season on a bad team tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, the inconceivability of this story is nothing short of astounding. It should have ended, or, at best, continued with more releases, trades and trips on buses between poorly lit ballparks.
Instead, we have a chance to enjoy one of baseball's great, unpredictable stories.
I've been wanting to write about Danny Farquhar. The thing is, this should-be-fictional story of Danny Farquhar is just so much more fun to watch unfold.