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This just in. Jake Peavy’s “down year” of 2006 was a fluke. There’s to be no further discussion on the matter.

To be more specific, Peavy pitched in the World Baseball Classic last March. And Peavy’s 2006 season says more about the World Baseball Classic than it does about Peavy. Moreover, there’s no good answer for next time. The WBC returns in spring of 2009, and unless there’s a serious change in policy, and some very careful managing, the regular season in ’09 figures to be a mess for pitchers. Pitching ultra-competitively in early March is, or should be, contraindicated.

While participation in the WBC didn’t aversely affect the 2006 seasons of aces like Minnesota’s Johan Santana and Cubs Carlos Zambrano, the same can’t be said for a bunch of other guys.

In March 2006, at the time of the WBC, Bartolo Colon was the defending American League Cy Young Award winner. In 2005, Colon went 21-8, pitched 222 innings and recorded an ERA of 3.48. 2006 was essentially a lost season for the Anaheim ace, who totaled a single win and an ERA of 5.11, in a whopping 56 innings.

Near-National League Cy winner Dontrelle Willis, of the Marlins, went from 22-10, with a 2.63 in 2005, to 12-12 and a 3.87 following the WBC. Coincidence? I think not.

Baltimore’s starter Rodrigo Lopez went from 15-12 and 4.90 in 2005, to 9-18 and 5.90 in ’06. Braves pitcher Jorge Sosa put together a wonderful 13-3 and 2.55 campaign in 2005, following up the next season at 3-12 and 5.42.

Jae Seo: 8-2, 2.59 in ’05; 3-12, 5.33 in ’06. Carlos Silva’s ERA increased from 3.44 to 5.94, Estaban Loiza’s more than a point, and Odalis Perez’ almost two points.

Jake Peavy’s two seasons prior to the WBC were stellar. He went from 15-6 and 2.27 in 2004 and 13-7 and 2.88 in 2005, to 11-14, with a 4.09 last year. And look at him now. After a normal spring routine, building up his innings the way it’s supposed to be done, Peavy is almost untouchable. God-like. He’s 4-1, with a 1.75, and his 56 strikeouts lead baseball.

If Peavy wants to represent his country in 2009, our cap’s off to him for the patriotic thought. Let’s just hope Bud Black runs a little interference for his prized player, and makes sure it doesn’t actually happen.

— HOWARD COLE

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