"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Sunday, June 8, 2008

more ozzie praise

ozzie's quickly becoming my second favorite manager (next to only charlie manuel, for whom i've grown a significant admiration over the last 4 years. say what you will about his drawl, he's a great hitting instructor, and he's turned into a hell of an in game decision maker).

gavin floyd was cruising along into the 7th inning. 4 hits, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 73 pitches.

the first batter of the inning was jason kubel, floyd gets ahead 1-2. he buries a curveball that is fouled off. he buries another. it's taken for a ball. 2-2. floyd goes to his fastball, and the ball is taken out of the park.

okay, floyd's got a 10 run cushion, so it's no biggie.

next batter, delmon young. floyd, again, buried him 1-2, and again, tried to finish him off with a pair of curveballs. the first one was fouled off, but the second one was ripped to LF for a double off the wall.

HR, followed by 2B. in the 7th inning. with a pitcher on the mound who is known by an entire city as being mentally weak.

but ozzie stuck with him. it took floyd just 6 pitches to get the next 3 outs, leaving his pitch count at 90, 3 starts after throwing a 115 pitch complete game, 3 hitter.

again, though, just like that night, ozzie did something that i have great respect for: he pulled floyd.

he didn't need to as floyd surely could have gone another inning, or maybe even finished the game, but with an 10 run lead, ozzie opted to save his pitcher's arm, and let him leave the game with that last inning fresh on his mind. he may have been up 10 runs, but the 2006 version of gavin floyd might have lost confidence in his fastball and lost touch with the strike zone, but this floyd got out of the jam in 6 pitches.

i might be wrong, and this might be more a function of jerry rothschild, but for now, i'm satisfied giving the credit, and the praise to ozzie guillen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

LOOK OUT FOR: Eulogio de la Cruz

i have a huge hardon for this pitcher, and he's been a favorite of mine for about a year and a half, ever since i noticed his scouting report in baseball america's 2007 prospect handbook (where de la Cruz was ranked 6th in the tigers organization). that report said that de la Cruz featured a heavy mid 90s FB that compared favorably to that of zumaya's and verlander's, while also featuring a knee bending curve. what i came to learn, though was that also featured a GB inducing changeup that is quite effective against LHBs.

the numbers backed that up, as de la Cruz had a GO:AO ratio > 2.5 (average is 1.2) in the florida state league in 2006, and it has settled in around 2.25 in the year+ since.

de la cruz got the second callup of his career this past sunday to pitch the back end of a day night doubleheader, and he pitched about as well as could be expected of a pitcher making his first career start in the majors on just 3 days rest. 3 IP, 2 ER, 1 K, 4 BB, 1 2B.

going forward, this one start should emphasize the importance for de la Cruz to get his fastball under control to the point where he can count on it in a 1-1, or a 2-0 count. that's about the only thing he can take out of this game, because putting him in a position to make that start on 3 days rest was really limited the chance of de la Cruz getting anything approaching a quality start on his record.

i blinked, by the way. i missed that he was called up, and didn't realize he'd made a start until he was sent down today.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

thoughts on drew naylor

this past wednesday, i made the trip to lakewood with the express purpose of watching drew naylor pitch. i was not disappointed. while his fastball only sat in the mid 80s touching 91, his curve was tremendous, and was well worth the trip. he showed the ability to both spot it for a strike, and bury it in the dirt. it is already a major league quality pitch.

naylor's changeup was mostly a show me pitch, but it did show the potential to be a quality major league offering. naylor was able to use it to record the most favorable outcome, as well as to generate missed swings. he was not yet able to consistently locate it in the strike zone, but that's a pretty minor quibble for a low A pitcher.

i could scan and post my charts, but i don't think i want to do that, so i'll just throw out the same information i gave for masterson last august:

total (65/95) 30 batters faced
pitch strikes total percentage
fastball 43 63 68
changeup 12 16 75
curve 10 16 63

vs. LHB (22/33) 10 batters faced
pitch strikes total percentage
fastball 13 22 59
changeup 5 6 83
curve 4 5 80

vs. RHB (43/62) 20 batters faced
pitch strikes total percentage
fastball 30 41 73
changeup 7 10 70
curve 6 11 55

i managed to get some video during the game, but it's not of very high quality, just good enough to make out some basic mechanics, but not good enough to view the track of the ball in flight.

lasting impressions were that if he gains 2 or 3 miles per hour on his fastball in the next few years, and sits easily at 88-92, touching 94, instead of 85-88, touching 91, he'll be a great pitcher. that's not an easy proposition, but give him 2 years to grow, fill out, and stay healthy, pitching in the minors, and it's not that far fetched an expectation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

gavin floyd redux

so i was sitting by the TV, watching the phils-astros game and tracking my fantasy team's performance, when i clicked on the boxscore of the angels-whitesox game in the third inning.

the score was 0-0. gavin floyd was pitching. he had yet to allow a hit. this shouldn't really be a cause for excitement, but i was indeed excited. i was excited because twice this year he has taken no hitters into the 8th and 9th innings, and i maybe jumped a little in my excitement. i went to my local phillies message board, clicked onto the brag/bitch about your fantasy roster thread, and posted my thoughts. "Shhhh. gavin floyd through 3." i soon followed this up, "4. 52 pitches."

the very next inning, he blew up. he allowed a one out homerun, followed that up with a pair of walks seperated by a single, which loaded the bases. how did he respond to this? he beaned the next two batters, forcing in a pair of runs.

but that's not where the story ends. he went on. as i started this post, he had just gotten through the 7th inning, and that would have been enough. 7 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 3 K, 4 BB, 2 HBP, 3 ER. by definition, a quality start.

as i'm finishing this post up, he's in the 9th inning, still only allowing those 3 runs, finishing up the game for himself. he's now through 9 innings: 3 H (1 HR), 3 K, 4 BB, 2 HBP, 3 ER. 115 pitches.

all i can think of right now is thank you, ozzie guillen. i would have been satisfied with that line at 7 innings. i would have been satisfied with that line after 8 innings and 102 pitches. but guillen wasn't. this is the third time that he's pushed floyd way past the point where conventional wisdom would say he's done.

but guillen wasn't satisfied. and now, i'm thanking him for that.

but please, give him a few starts to cool off before extending him like this again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

quick check in

this interview with josh outman made my eyes twinkle. i love the intelligence that outman shows in it, and i hope that someday soon he is able to revert to his old style of mechanics, but i think that for that to happen, he'll need to lose a year or two to major arm injury.

or maybe he can just introduce himself to scott mathieson.


as for this blog, there should be some new content in the coming days. profiles of adam wainwright, matt belisle, and jair jurrjens should be first on the chopping block.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

2008 Los Angeles Dodgers Organizational Depth Report

1. clayton kershaw, LHSP - april 2008
2. jonathan broxton, RHRP
3. chad billingsley, RHP
4. scott elbert, LHSP - may 2009
5. john meloan, RHRP
6. james mcdonald, RHSP - august 2008
7. avery morris, RHSP - august 2010
8. ramon troncoso, RHRP - july 2008 *SLEEPER*
9. josh wall, RHSP - september 2010
10.justin orenduff, RHSP - 2010

i've got ramon troncoso pegged as a sleeper because of the tremendous depth on his fastball, which leads to the most favorable outcome. his situation seems very similar to another pitcher i've profiled in these pieces, in luis pena. i don't think troncoso's fastball can be dialed up to 99, like luis pena's, but it is still quite effective as it is thrown on a downward plane from his 6'7" frame.

the big question for this organization seems to be whether or not clayton kershaw should start the year in the rotation for joe torre. as i've stated previously, my philosophy aims to get the most production possible out of young pitchers during their age 22-26 seasons. i believe that the way to do this is to strictly limit the stress put on arms in their age 18-22 seasons. clayton kershaw is only 20, so it should follow that i would think he'd be better off by spending a few more months in the minors.

but that's not the case. i strongly believe in giving pitchers the opportunity to learn from opposing major league batters, and i strongly believe that they should get the opportunity at a time when they are not being relied upon as a stopper. that would be the case for kershaw if he entered april as the dodgers fifth starter.

from my viewpoint, the worst thing that could happen to kershaw in the major leagues is he gets hit around, then sent down to AA where he would then know exactly what he would need to work on. the other worst thing that could happen is he has success, and ends up pitching 215 innings for colletti, torre, and bowa. were i a dodger fan, that might actually be a pretty big concern considering the apparent disinterest from all of the above in actually learning about ways to limit the risk of pitching injuries via pitch counts, and inning caps. we'll see how this turns out.

Spotlight: Chad Billingsley

Billinglsey has 2 plus pitches, in his 92-95 MPH fastball and his 78 MPH curve, while his slider ranks as just slightly above average. his changeup is a largely unrefined, and it's used twice as much against LHBs than RHBs.

billingsley is a small step below being a dominant power pitcher. all of his peripheral rates are excellent, and though his BB rate is much higher than optimal, the percentage of strikes to balls is well within the range at which he can be successful. on average, LHBs made more and better contact against billingsley, though RHBs slugged the majority of homeruns.

the difference between billingsley's performance as a starter versus as a reliever is mildly concerning going into 2008. as a reliever, billingsley was studly. his K rate was well above average (10.29 per 9 IP), his BB rate was well in check (2.57 per 9 IP), he allowed just 1 HR in 35 innings (.26 per 9 IP, and well fewer than a hit per IP (7.46 per 9 IP), which all combined to give him a 3.09 ERA through his last relief appearance on june 16. moved into a starting role at that time, all of these rates declined, as should be expected, but some were more concerning than others.

as a starter, billingsley's K rate fell to 8.12, while his BB rate jumped to 4.10, his HR rate jumped to 1.13, and his H rate, though still well above average, jumped to 8.19. with all of this regression in his peripherals, the most surprising number for billingsley as a starter is his ERA, which was 3.38.

going forward into 2008, there are a few things that i expect from billingsley, assuming he lands a spot in the dodgers rotation out of spring training:

1) he will improve his HR rate into the .6 to .9 per 9 IP range
2) his K rate will jump back to the 8.5 to 9.5 per 9 IP range
3) his BB rate will remain in the 3.5-4.5 range
4) he will land on the DL twice with minor, nagging injuries.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

2008 San Diego Padres Organizational Depth Report

1. matt latos, RHSP - august 2009
2. clay meredith, RHRP
3. wade leblanc, LHSP - september 2008
4. justin germano, RHSP
5. cory luebke, LHSP - august 2008
6. matthew buschman, RHSP - june 2009
7. will inman, RHSP - september 2008
8. cesar carillo, RHSP - august 2009
9. stephen faris, RHSP - september 2010
10.matt bush, RHRP - 2010

this organization is highly disappointing. i have a lot of respect for all that sandy alderson has done in this game, however, i cannot support their decision to buy into bud selig's bill of goods with regards to the amateur draft. i understand his loyalty to bud, and i respect it, however, it is absolutely clear that there is no choice when it comes to deciding between towing the line by sticking to slot bonuses, and busting slot by going after the best available player.

what is best for the league, and what is simplest for the league would be to allow teams to trade their draft picks, which would mean that teams like colorado and pittsburgh could receive extra assets for selecting a lower tier player in the top half of the first round. i can't imagine that jayson heyward or rick porcello would have stayed on the board as long as they had if a team like the yankees was able to trade into the top 10 to get porcello ahead of the red sox or tigers, or if the phillies were able to trade up from 19 to get ahead of the reds and take devin mesoraco, or ahead of the braves to get jason heyward. draft day would be much more interesting if this relatively small change were made to the process.

as it is, san diego appears to have taken the easy way out, with regards to drafting pitchers. they have taken the low ceiling, low bonus route to building depth through their organization, which is understandable considering the ease with which league average pitchers can dominate in their home park, but weak in that they will never win in the playoffs because of it. i like matt latos, but there is noone in this organization that is a good bet to be more than just adequate.

Spotlight: Justin Germano

germano features a mid 80s sinker that can be thrown as hard as 91, though it's more effective when in the 84-88 range. his changeup plays well off of his sinker, and comes in at around 76-79 MPH. i actually really like germano's curveball. it's a really slow, big breaking barry zito like curveball that plays extremely well off of his sinker/changeup. his curve is his primary secondary pitch, and germano is not at all afraid to throw it in tight counts.

germano's splits are surprising to say the least. though he pitches half his games in a yellowstone sized park, his road ERA was half a point lower than his home ERA. it's hard to say what fueled this difference, as his HR rate was almost twice as high on the road (.70 vs. 1.12 per 9 IP), his K rate was higher at home (6.33 vs. 4.29 [per 9 IP), though so was his BB rate (3.09 vs. 2.34 per 9 IP). his H rate was about the same (9.14 vs. 8.86 per 9 IP). altogether, there is no discernible reason why his home ERA was any higher, let alone half a run higher, than his road ERA.

check that. on the road, germano induced 12 GB double plays. at home he induced only 5. on the road, germano allowed only 1.24 baserunners per IP. at home, that number was 1.36.

going into 2008, what can german do better? well, he's not going to throw the ball by many hitters, with his below average fastball. and although his curve is very good, he;s not going to fool many hitters when they don;t have to worry about guessing wrong on his below average fastball. that's enough of what he won't do. what he can do is limit contact against him by continuing to throw his curve in all counts and his sinker down in the zone. what he can do is be conscious of the baserunners against him, and try to help his catcher out by throwing over to first base, after all, they are still piss poor defensive catchers out in san diego. the equation was set in the previous paragraph,

low BB rate + high GB% = success

learn it, live it, love it