Ok, I admit it, intrigue has gotten the better of me. Late last night, I saw a tweet that included a link to a five second Vine of Tracy McGrady throwing a bullpen, and I couldn’t stop watching it. I became that guy on the freeway slowing to 45 MPH to look at the wreck on the side of the road.
Tracy McGrady pitching https://t.co/1PdNpH6pto
— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) February 11, 2014
It was about a week ago when reports came out that McGrady was going to try pitching for Sugar Land Skeeters. While the team says it is not a gimmick and they are giving T-Mac a real look, the last time we heard from the Skeeters was two years ago, when a 50-year old Roger Clemens toed the rubber for a couple games, but no, they aren’t into gimmicks.
The Skeeters have recently resurrected a career, as another pitcher on that 2012 team that let Clemens pitch was Scott Kazmir. The next season, Kazmir was signed by the Cleveland Indians and put up a solid season. Kazmir turned that into a two-year, $22 million dollar deal with the Oakland A’s this off-season.
McGrady is no reclamation project, nor is he a former Hall of Fame caliber pitcher, instead he is a 34-year old former NBA star, and that is easy to see after watching the brief clips of his bullpen session that have been made available. I have not seen pitching mechanics that bad since I was coaching high school fresh….no, I take that back, none of the freshman had as poor a throwing motion as McGrady. With the collapsing front leg, the dragging back leg, the 3/4 delivery with an arm that lags well behind his torso, he looked like the kid in little league who grew too fast and his coordination hasn’t caught up to his size yet.
True, McGrady is 6’8″, and a common concern with tall pitchers is control and repeatable mechanics, but this was extreme. Pittsburgh Pirates first round pick in 2012, Barrett Barnes, was quoted as saying “He’s so tall and his arms are so long. His downward slope, you’re not going to see that too often. When you have a presence like that on the mound, it’s really hard to settle in and be comfortable hitting. Say his velo is 87, but with his arms and his body, it feels like it’s 90-91 (MPH).” Now, I get not being comfortable if it is due to a lack of trust McGrady has any clue where the ball will end up, and I will try to give Barnes the benefit of the doubt there, because there is a bigger issue if that delivery impresses him in any way.