Thursday, April 28, 2011

Worried vs. Watchful: Bumgarner

I watch a Twitter feed of the term Giants and one of the conversations I saw yesterday was someone amazed by Bumgarner hitting mid-90's, as "everyone" was worried about him last season.  And that got me thinking:  not everyone, I was wondering, watchful and observant, maybe, but not worried.  And I tweeted, not everyone, and someone said OK, 99.5% were.

I think that is where experience and knowledge comes in and allay fears.  I was not worried because he said he was healthy and had been battling this issue since the middle of the prior season.  In addition, Baseball America reported that they were not worried about him either, that young pitchers in their first or second season go through such a period, not necessarily a dead arm, but for some reason young players go through this issue.  That alone makes me think less than 99.5% because BA is so well known and that information was surely passed around.

More importantly, to me, was that he was still very effective even though he had lost velocity, which to me was a sign he was a pitcher already, not just a thrower who relied solely on his velocity to beat hitters.

And it ended up being an issue with his mechanics.  Dick Tidrow showed up like the cavalry (look at his picture and say that isn't appropriate!) and tweaked a few things and suddenly Bumgarner was good to go.

Knowledge Helps

That got me thinking of observations I've made regarding all our homegrown starting pitchers, so I thought I would share them and see if others agree or vehemently disagree or whatever, and perhaps share their observations.

Madison Bumgarner

Naturally, let's start with him.  This appears to be a pattern with Madison:  as much as he may throw off-season, something happens and he starts off the season a bit lost.  In 2009, the reason given was that the Giants were trying to fiddle with his mechanics, as the fear back then was that his cross-body throwing motion might hurt his arm eventually.  It was reported that once he went back to his form from high school, he mowed down everyone.  In 2010, he had not figured out his mechanics issue yet.  But his year, there was neither reason, yet he started slowly again and a bit lost.  He could maybe just be a slow starter and that was masked by other things

Of course, the hard thing to remember is that he's only 21, so he's still got things to learn and will sometimes forget things.  He has been so preternaturally good that one might think that he is perfect, with no flaws.  Pitching is an art, and sometimes key lessons are lost and the player starts throwing instead of pitching.  I think that is what has been happening with Bumgarner and so he starts off each season a little lost until he puts it all together again.

The Baseball America article noted Cliff Lee as a comp and I think that is a good example.  Lee was not good immediately when he made the majors, but he was learning as he was going and once he had that figured out, look out.  Bumgarner appears to have more talent, as he has been pretty good immediately but occasionally loses his way, but he's learning too, and once he gets it all together, watch out.

Matt Cain

And I think that segues nicely to Matty, the Cainer, for as well as he pitched when he joined the majors, watch out once he figured things out.  His problem early on was what one could call a lack of confidence or even too much maturity.  He rightly revered and respected major league hitters as being a step beyond all other hitters, but didn't quite grasp that he was not only their equal, but was generally better.  If anything, he thought too much while pitching.

He showed his no-hit stuff from the beginning and frankly I thought he would be the first Giant since the Count to throw a no-hitter, as he had the stuff and the mentality to do that over a complete game.  But early on, I read about how he didn't really believe in the stuff in his fastball, that was what Matt Morris noted that first season he was with the Giants, and what he was trying to drill into Cain's brain:  trust your stuff.  This was confirmed later by free agent hitters coming in and telling Cain about their perspective hitting against him.  Instead, Matty would rather nibble at the corners and get into hitter's counts when the umpire wasn't giving him those.

That's I think where his preternatural maturity came back to bite him in the rear.  Like Bumgarner, Cain came to the Giants knowing a lot about being a pitcher.  Cain had gotten tutored by a former major leaguer in his hometown, and he absorbed everything well.  So well that he pitched like a mature, wily pitcher instead of a young stud with a heater and stuff daring the batter to try to hit his stuff.  And that would get him in trouble when the umpire wasn't giving him the corner, and he would walk too many batters.

But as one can observe of his career, he made progress in steps.  His first full season was a matter of first getting used to being a major leaguer.  His first half was pretty bad until his turn was skipped and he took a deep breath and calmed down a bit.  OK, a lot, he threw a complete game shutout of the A's in his next start.  After that, he compiled a 3.69 ERA, which was about what he accomplished in 2007 and 2008.  He then took his next step, and had a much lower ERA, which he has done since then.

One can see the progress, generally forward, but as he was learning, a bit of two steps forward and one back occasionally, as one can see from his PQS stats.  His DOM%/DIS% in the first half of 2006 was 38%/38% (remember, DOM% of 40%+ is good, 50%+ is great, 70%+ elite; DIS% of under 20% is good, under 10% elite), but in the second half 67%/7%.  In 2007, he was up and down, H1 was 53%/12%, H2 60%/27%.  In 2008, H1 60%/10%, H2 50%/7%.  In 2009, H1 61%/11%, H2 60%/7%, his first season he had above 60% DOM in both halves.  In 2010, H1 50%/6%, H2 87%/7%, his first season he had below 10% DIS in both halves, which is actually more key in delivering a lower ERA consistently, as it is the blowout disaster starts that really kill a pitcher's ERA.  A pitcher can deliver a decent ERA even if he doesn't get a lot of DOM starts as long as he can avoid the DIS starts as well.

Jonathan Sanchez

Dirty is a good example of how the maturity of both Bumgarner and Cain is so rare, most pitchers are like him in many ways, except that Sanchez has stuff that hitters cannot hit at all.  His problem has been his mind and learning to become a pitcher rather than a thrower.  But what a thrower he is!

Chez is a good example of TINSTAAPP:  There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.  Everyone knows what that means - either you are good enough or you are not, there is no prospect - but many don't realize the corollary of that is that once a pitcher is ready, the clock is ticking on his effectiveness and longevity, so you don't want to waste his arm down in the minors.  That is why TINSTAAPP theory supports the Giants putting him in the bullpen to start his major league career and keep him there until they thought he was ready to start.

His problem has always been the big inning.  Once things didn't go his way, he crumbled.  He, to use the terms of the Malcolm Gladwell article on choking, switched between implicit and explicit learning, or from muscle memory to thinking about the motion.  When you see great athletes "choke" in pressure situations, they are thinking about the motion, which brings you back to where you were when you were first learning the motion, rather than relying on muscle memory, which is honed by all your practice.  I think that is what has been causing his big innings, he can coast along on muscle memory when everything is fine, he pitches as fine as he has the past year, but once things go bad, then he reverts to something closer to his first two seasons in the majors, 2006-2007.

People don't remember, but Sanchez actually had a very good first season as a starter in 2008, at least until he ran out of stamina.  He had an ERA under 4.00 as late as July 9th and good starts to his July 4th start:  up to that point, his DOM% was 56%, his DIS% was 17%.  Not only that, but after his early season struggles, he strung together a 10 start streak with 8 DOM starts and no DIS starts, which is elite of the elite if one could do that over a season, compiling a 3.23 ERA during that period.  Then his stamina ran out and his season was downhill starting with his July 9th start.  But his early season dominance was why I though 2009 was going to be his breakout year.   But his mind got in his way.

2009 was the year of his no-hitter but that was marred by his horrible performance prior to that no-hitter, which was due to a unfortunate case of hero worship.  That season, he participated in the WBC and got to pitch with his idol, Johan Santana.  He liked Johan's mechanics which he copied in honor of his hero.  Unfortunately, mechanics that works great for someone of Johan's shorter height don't work so well for someone taller like Dirty.  He was horrible until the Giants took him out a start and perhaps he was ready to hear what they had to say, but like Cain, came out blazing, outdoing Cainer by throwing his first complete game, his no-hitter.  He compiled a 3.46 ERA for the rest of the season.

That's why I wasn't too surprised by his 2010, he had shown the potential to do well with his ERA if he were able to focus and take his considerable talent and stuff and shut the other teams down.  He finally put it mostly all together in 2010.  I think that his being able to work with Randy Johnson in 2009 was invaluable in getting his head better together as well, based on the comments I've seen from Randy, Sanchez, and other Giants.

Still, there are areas of potential improvement for 2011.  His PQS shows his potential and progression.  In 2008, H1 he had a great 53%/21% but in H2 it was only 30%/50%.  In 2009, H1 he had his horrible first half, 21%/36%, but in H2 60%/13%.  In 2010, H1 he only had 33%/22% but that just shows how powerful it is to avoid disaster starts, and in H2 he had 67%/13%.

If he can put together a great first half and second half, he could start reaching the heights that Lincecum and Cain has.  So far this season he has 2 DOM starts in 5, for a 40%/0% ratio and 3.21 ERA.  Again, the power of not giving up a disaster start, looks like a great start for Dirty in 2011.

Tim Lincecum

As good as Bumgarner might get or Sanchez is getting close to getting or Cain is right now, Lincecum is the gold standard for the Giants rotation.  But even he has had bumps in the road and areas of growth.

A common repeatable pattern is that when the Franchise is doing something significant for the first time, he gets over amped and overpitches, unable to control and locate his pitches.  His first start in the minors, his first start in major league spring training, his first start in the majors, his first start as opening day starter, I think even his first start as home opening day starter, and his first start in the World Series.  The only one I can think of where he excelled was his first playoff start, against Atlanta, where he was spectacular, though I would put an asterisk next to that one because he had essentially spend the month of September fighting to get to the next round of the playoffs.

And, of course, there were his "lost" months, of which he has not had many, so they are notable, and he wasn't really lost the whole month but for 3 starts in the month. His first one was in June 2007, his second month in the majors.  That was the first time he ever had 3 disaster starts in a row, his confidence was down and he started overthrowing and trying to throw harder when he should lay off and focus on locating his pitches.  The Giants did not skip a start to get him straighten out and he was able to get out of it himself.

And that is one thing many fans don't get, which is the nuance of how much rope the Giants give prospects and young players.  The problem is that the players the fans get upset about are the ones who really aren't that good and so they get less rope.  Or they don't realize that if the player has shown ability in the majors, he gets more rope.

Cain got to mid-May but that was his first full season and he did well in an extended audition the season before.  So did Travis Ishikawa.  Sanchez got to June, but he had shown good ability the season before and thus got more rope.  Lincecum got a lot more rope due to how well he did after his first start, but had his bad streak lasted much longer, they might have finally yanked him.  Just like how Pablo Sandoval got all last season before Bochy took him out in the playoffs.

Meanwhile Brandon Belt didn't get a long rope as he hadn't shown success in the majors before.   And the same goes for all the other Giants prospects that fans cried didn't get a chance.   And in Belt's case, the mitigating factor was that it was clear that the only way Aubrey Huff and he could co-exist on the major league roster was if Huff started at 1B and Belt in the OF.  So they went ahead and sent him down to start that transition immediately rather than let him figure things out up here with the bat.

Back to Big Time Timmy Jim, he then had another bad stretch in May of 2010, when he had three bad starts, for a 8.22 ERA, before straightening out.  Four if you count the start before that streak, as that was four straight starts with 5 walks, but he limited the damage in that start.  Then he had another bad stretch in August of 2010, another three bad starts, 10.38 ERA.

And that's it.  We are so blessed to have him heading up our starting rotation.  For all people can complain about Sabean, they are just looking for the negatives, he has hit grand slams frequently, with Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, and now Lincecum (and Cain, Posey, Sandoval, and Bumgarner could soon join the list), which is how a team dominates.  And how the Giants can dominate in the playoffs.

Lincecum and Cain makes an incredible 1-2 punch in the playoffs, aces 1A and 1B.  Cain could probably take on almost any other team's ace, yet Lincecum is better than that and takes care of that ace, while Cain then handles that team's #2, who is usually not ace level.  Then we got Sanchez, who when he is on is capable of ace-worthy status.  And once Bumgarner matures and develops more, we might have another ace on par with Lincecum (only 21, remember).

In addition, as I've noted before, I expect Lincecum to take another step up this season over his Cy Young seasons in terms of PQS.  With a slider to handle left-handed batters to go with his changeup/cutter that handles right-handed batters, plus his fastballs that neither can handle when mixed in right, Lincecum should be dominant in a way that he hadn't been even in his Cy Young years, so I wouldn't be surprised if his ERA was under 2.00, though I wouldn't bet on it either.

And he was basically 80%/6% in those seasons.  He is 80%/0% so far this season and only 2 outs away from 100% DOM.   However, his last start hopefully was an anomaly in that it was his first start ever to have 6 walks.  Something to watch and monitor.

Tiene Tejada?

Per Kevin's comment, I'll address a few player questions, starting with Miguel Tejada.  If he were a young prospect, the fans would probably be all over him:  very low K-rate, 8.1%, OK walk-rate, 5.8%, low but OK BB/K ratio as that is actually high for his career, as his walk rate is near his career (5.8% vs. 6.2%) while his K-rate is improved (8.1% vs. 11.7%).  That's excellent plate discipline.  His extra-base hits per hit is 38% vs. MLB average of 34%, though he's not hitting as many homers as before, by large margin, though I would note players need time to get used to AT&T as a park to hit in.  And his BABIP is .203 vs. a career .295 BABIP and .300 for his three prior seasons.  And he has had a bad start like this before in 2003, even worse numbers overall,

He appears to be suffering from a severe case of bad luck with the BABIP, resulting in his current woes, and that appears to be due to a high ratio of ground-balls and a severe drop in line-drives.

Meanwhile, Brandon Belt struck out 21.7% of the time, which is very high, way below average (MLB average is 18.7%), but which is mitigated by his high walk rate.  However, that walk rate is still not good enough, that is still a very low contact rate.  Also, his extra-base hit ratio is only 20%, which is probably due to a very high amount of ground balls, with a 1.44 GB/FB ratio, even though his line drive percentage is actually good at 18%.  In addition, that extreme groundball slant is worsen by the fact that a large percentage of his flyballs were actually infield fly balls, at 19%.

Thus far, Tejada looks like the better bet to come out of his funk, he is still not getting fooled much by pitches, he's able to make contact with them and hit them somewhere.  And when he connects, he's still getting extra-base hits like he was before, only now they are falling for doubles rather than homers.

Oddly enough, looking at splits, he's actually hit well in SF, .276/.333/.414/.747, with 1 homer, while a poor .157/.185/.235/.420 on the road.  It don't help that 34 of his 54 PA (63%, nearly two-thirds) were in pitchers parks (LA, SD) or a park that hurts right-handers HR power (PIT).  Then he didn't hit in hitters parks at COL and ARI.  However, he probably won't warm up offensively at either Washington (little below average for RHB) or NY Mets (much below average for RHB HR power).  His next chance to warm up on the road is against the Cubs then Rockies in mid-May.

Very Vogelsong

What a nice start for Ryan Vogelsong today!  Pretty much what I was hoping for given how he dominated hitters in AAA then in relief in the majors:  5.2 IP, 4 hits and 2 walks, with 8 K's and 2 ER/R.  That is a 4 PQS start, a DOM start, and he was only one out away from a 5 PQS.  But at 99 pitches in his first start, it was time to take him out.  He now has this nice stat line:  10.1 IP, 7 hits and 2 walks, with 11 K's and 2 ER/R.

At 33 YO, this is a dream start to a dream season for him as he wanted to return back to the Giants, which he repeated noted in various interviews during spring training.  He loved being here and the people here, so when he signed, he didn't ask for a out option to leave the Giants should he not make the majors:  he was where he wanted to be, he said multiple times.

Of course, this was still the Pirates, owner of the second worse offense so far this season in the NL.  He will get a better test in his next start against the Mets in NY, then the D-Rox in SF, his first home start.

I would have still preferred to pitch him on Wednesday and Bumgarner today.  That would have put him in line to start in Washington next, owner of third worse offense, instead of the Mets, then the rest of the starts would be the same team until the end of May, where he now faces St. Louis instead of Milwaukee.

I still worry about what happens to Vogelsong when Zito returns.  Clearly, Zito would regain his spot in the rotation.  Then what happens to Vogelsong?  I don't think the Giants can send him back to AAA without passing him through waivers, but I don't know those rules well enough to know for sure, just my guess.  However, by then, he might earn the long-relief role that Guillermo Mota has.  They could always send Dan Runzler down and shift Mota to short-relief.  Though Runzler has actually done pretty well if you look at his stats other than R/ER:  10 K's in 11.0 IP, only 9 hits and 4 walks, no homers.  Oh, but also, Santiago Casilla would have returned by then, and that would probably result in Runzler going down at that point, so it could become a case of Mota vs. Vogelsong in terms of who to release.

Really Rowand

After his nice game, he's hitting .286/.329/.455/.784, with 8 RBI in 77 AB, 21 games.  High BABIP of .350, so unsustainable, though he did keep that up one season long ago at .345.  Plus, it balances out against his very low .263 BABIP last season, and his career BABIP is .317, so he don't have as much to fall as other hitters, as the average BABIP is around .300.

His K-rate of 20.8 is in line with his career with the Giants so far, though his walk rate is down.  But his extra-base hit ratio is up, as his line drive percentage is at a high 23%.  However, he has a low HR/FB ratio of 3.7% vs. career 8.8%.

His peripherals overall, though, look like they would fit in with any other April he has had in his career as a starter.  And in recent seasons, his BABIP of .350 would fit right in, very close (.414, .413, .333, .333).  As I've noted before, an injury seems to be the key to knocking Rowand off the rails, resulting in poor batting performances that bring down his overall seasonal totals.  His Aprils with SF are actually among his best Aprils in his career, other than the career year he had before he joined the Giants.

Superb Sandoval

Lastly, a look at the Round Mound of Pound, Kung Fu Panda himself, Pablo Sandoval.  As I noted in the last post, his no-doubt homers look to be back in 2009 form, not 2010.  If you look at his peripherals, he looks about the same.  He's actually striking out a little more while also taking more walks, but his BB/K ratio is about the same, a little low though.  He is showing more plate discipline, with 3.64 Pitches/PA so that explains why he's getting more strikeouts and walks, as he is making it deeper into counts now.

He's still not getting as many extra-base hits, but when he does connect, they are going for homers, which means that this high 15% HR/FB ratio probably will fall as we go deeper into the season.  He's hitting a lot more flyballs than ground balls, as well as more line drives, so he's clearly hitting the ball better than he was in 2010 and for more power, so far.

All in all, he is roughly matching his 2009 season, with a .325/.386/.550/.936 batting line (vs. .330/.387/.556/.943 in 2009) and his BABIP is also basically the same as well, at .344 (vs. .350 BABIP in 2009).

I still think he's back, though I understand the skepticism of the doubters, it is only one month.  But there are qualitative factors, like power returning, as shown by the no-doubters, to his 2009 standards, and his peripherals being in line with career norms and thus the question as to what his true career BABIP is.

2010 looks like the outlier.  So far, 2011 is in line with his 2009 results, and not his 2010.  In fact, it is similar to his numbers in 2008 when he first came up, except the power is missing, but it appears that he is making the traditional tradeoff between power and strikeouts:  he is striking out more but hitting more homers.  If you look at his BABIP, 2010 is the season that sticks out as not belonging in his career numbers.  Meanwhile his peripherals have been the same each season, within range of each other and normal fluctuations.

And fortunately he is delivering.  Both Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey were expected to provide more hitting than they have so far.  That should improve as Huff has been exhibiting the same peripherals in terms of walks and strikeouts as he has during his career, his main big problem is his very poor BABIP.  Posey, on the other hand, is striking out a lot more, plus is suffering from a low BABIP vs. last season.  His line drive percentage is down as well.  But as I noted, the Giants have been playing in parts that affect RHB's power more.  Hopefully it is just a matter of there being so many road parks tough on RHB so far, though he's having the opposite problem than Tejada, he's been very good on the road while very bad at home so far.

Burriss Back as DeRosa DLs

Unsurprising given the lack of playing time and the scratched start due to wrist soreness, Mark DeRosa went on the DL to rest his wrist, per the recommendation of the surgeon who operated on his wrist.  The part operated on is fine but for some reason the tissue surrounding it is inflamed.  DeRosa chose to bite the bullet and go on the DL rather than leave Bochy shorthanded many days (I wish Durham would have had enough sense to do that).

DeRosa is such a team player and good example for young players, maybe he can come back as a coach for us some day.  Meanwhile maybe he'll be willing to accept a low deal in the $1-2M range to come back in 2012 and be a super-utility guy, assuming his wrist returns to normal by mid-season and he has a normal batting line for his career.  When healthy and hitting, he's a very valuable cog on the bench of any team hoping to make hay in the playoffs.

To replace DeRosa, Emmanuel Burriss was called up.  Now 26, after two injury plagued seasons that stole valuable development time away from him, he was hitting .344 with a .423 OBP, per Andy Baggerly's notes in the newspaper.  Manny has 15 steals (3 CS) in 16 games, which is more steals than 11 AAA teams had at the moment.  It was also reported by Bochy that the reports on Manny were positive both defensively as well as offensively, which is good because part of his value is that he is suppose to be very good defensively at 2B and adequate at SS.

He also saw time in the OF in AAA this season, as the Giants organizational focus on creating flexibility via players who can play more than 1-2 positions continue.   He, Rohlinger, Neal, and I think Gillaspie too, have played a number of positions in AAA so far this season, and Belt will be adding LF and RF to 1B.

Unlike others, I like Burriss as a hitter and think if given time and development he can be at least average.  He has very good command of the bat, he has not struck out that much in the majors so far, which is a very hard to do in the majors.  That plus good defense at 2B or average defense at SS, plus being a good basestealer, would provide good value on the Giants roster.

He has two major problems.  First is that he don't walk.  Second is that he don't hit for power.  He is basically like Juan Pierre, so there is value there, only it is severely limited by these two problems.  I don't expect him to figure out the walking part, and frankly with his speed and command of the bat, he should have adequate OBP due to a high BABIP coupled with a low strikeout rate.

His bigger problem is his inability to hit for any power at all.  Practically zero in the majors, given his 55 career ISO in the minors.  He was one of the guys who chased away Carney Lansford from the Giants.  He has strong arms and thus the strength to hit for more power, which Carney was trying to get him to do, but basically he was taught to slap at the ball the way Andres Torres was taught.

He probably needs to go through the Giants new video system training program to change his batting mechanics, like Belt and Noonan, so that he can be more like Andres Torres and hit line drives, but he should have been working on that the past season while he was out, plus off-season, and be ready out of the box this season.  But looking at his stats so far in AAA this season, he has a minor uptick in power, so it is not encouraging so far.

Until he solves this, he's going to be a fringe player like Torres was until he changed his batting mechanics using the Ted Williams methods taught in his book, Science of Hitting.  Because of his speed and defense, and ability to play multiple positions, he'll probably hang around as a bench player for a number of seasons.  If he wants to be a starter, he needs to figure out how to hit for more power.  I mean, he makes Juan Pierre look like a power hitter in comparison.

Which would be too bad, Gary Brown and him 1/2 in the lineup, ahead of Belt, Posey, Sandoval, would be quite a good offense, and the Giants might then be able to handle Brandon Crawford or Ehire Adrianza at SS solely for defense.

8 comments:

  1. Wow! Was this some kind of pent up post that was being held back by the Series Previews? Free OGC!!

    Can't say I read every word of that but I'll say this about Madison Bumgarner: I was worried about him at the end of 2009 and early last year. Velocity drops are almost never a good thing and are often a sign of a hidden injury. As for being surprised or amazed at his velocity this year, I don't see that at all. He was hitting 94 in the World Series so had obviously recovered from whatever was wrong before.

    I see his slow start this year as totally unrelated to last year's slow start. Last year it was clearly a velocity issue. This year, it's more of a bad luck issue. Maybe he could have had better command, but he was throwing hard. He gave up a lot of hits that found holes in the defense(luck). He also was clearly getting squeezed by the umps, especially at critical junctures in the games(luck or just what happens to a young gun who the umps might want to put in his place).

    I'm not at all worried about MadBum going forward. If he just keeps pitching like he has been, he'll win some games for the Giants this year.

    Long term, I have a concern about his extreme crossover delivery. Kruk and Kuip were commenting on Scott Linebrink's crossover when he was younger and said "it was just a matter of time" until he suffered and arm injury. They didn't come out and say it, but they had made comments about Bum's crossover earlier. What was left unsaid is that Bum has the same risk, at least in their minds.

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  2. Martin, you're interpretation of TINSTAAP is a bit off. What the phrase really refers to is that pitching prospects have a much higher rate of attrition than position prospects. Because of the large percentage of extremely promising pitching prospects who bust (whether due to injury or simple regression), "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect." Position prospects are vastly more predictable.

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  3. Roger,

    I could be wrong here, but I believe studies have shown that pitching prospects are no less likely to succeed than hitting prospects. The injury rate may be higher for pitchers, but there are an awful lot of hitting prospects who just can't make the jump to the majors.

    Again, I could be wrong here, but it seems like pitchers are getting injured less these days, possibly due to more attention to innings ramp ups and pitch counts. Also, a lot of pitchers who used to suffer career ending injuries are salvaged by modern surgical techniques such as Tommy John surgery.

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  4. A good overall post. I agreed with a lot of your points, especially about Sanchez. I really agreed with the fact that he changed his mechanics in 2009 and he needed to tweak them. When Rags helped him make the change he was a dramatically different pitcher in the second half of 2009 and 2010. Yes, he's still wild, and he's prone to being a headcase (as his start against Philadelphia in the playoffs showed), but I like him a lot because when he's on...oh boy is he on (and that comes from his ability to strike guys out).

    I think you mentioned my comment on Belt and I'd like to defend that in comparison to Tejada. It sounds like you're thinking I way overvalued Belt's stint in the minors and am too hard on Tejada. Well, to be honest, Tejada has been in the Majors for 14 seasons. Belt had ONE professional season total (and that was in the minors)before this year. And to think that doesn't matter, put this into context: what was Tejada's BB/K ratio in his first season in 1997 where he had 104 plate appearances? 0.09. He didn't really show much plate patience until his third year in the league, which is to be expected. Belt came in and showed a good approach right off the bat, which is a comforting sign.

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  5. Actually, Kevin, I don't see me mentioning any other comment on Belt. Another Kevin asked about Tejada and I decided to compare him with Belt since there are a lot of fans still unset with Belt being sent down. Any appearance of commenting is coincidental, I think, in this case.

    I think Belt will eventually hit, and I agree that he has the right approach, I was just trying to contrast how people are being so down on Tejada while being so up on Belt.


    Getting walks are nice, like Brian Bocock did initially when he first came up, but if you can't get your strikeouts down, eventually the pitchers will stop avoiding you as a hitter and just throw strikes all the time.

    There are many Giants fans who are outraged that Belt is down in AAA. Probably as many Orioles fans who were mad that Weiters was in the minors, but he hasn't figured out yet out to hit in the majors more than two weeks at a time, he has been a huge disappointment compared to the expectations that not only Orioles fans heaped on him, but the prospect hounds too. There is something of a, to steal from tech, crossing of the chasm that a player does when moving from minors to majors, and some don't make it despite all the shiny stats they had in the minors.

    I don't think Belt will necessarily be one of them, but he's no slam dunk like many fans think he is, as shown by his poor April. I see people tweeting/complaining that Belt was sent down right when he was ready to heat up, which I find a bunch of baloney.

    What I see as most important now is that we are not that far behind, so if we struggle a bit offensively without Belt, so be it, I want to control him for 2017.

    And people are just not understanding that the poor offense is strongly related to both Torres and Sandoval being out of the lineup, take out a team's leadoff guy and middle lineup guy and let's see if their offense doesn't struggle too.

    It don't help that Huff is struggling too, and Posey isn't doing as well as we would like to see, or that DeRosa is on the DL too, he was suppose to replace Sandoval output some. Still, Torres and Sandoval are out, you have to expect hiccups until people stop pressing to hit 5-run homers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. OK Roger, wasn't ignoring you, just couldn't find the right reference that I wanted to bring up.

    What I was referring to was Gary Huckabay's talk about the two sides of TINSTAAPP, and yes, I was wrong not to note that the common way people know the theory was that it meant that pitchers get injured at a very high rate. I was just thinking of the flip side that Huckabay had discussed before.

    I think that is the more pertinent usage for pitchers like Sanchez, who some think was brought up too early and/or was wasted in relief when he should have been starting in the minors. Huckabay basically says that when they are ready, they are ready, so don't waste their arms in the minors.

    Here is the article, which actually is quoting Huckabay (which is why it took me so long to find, I was looking for the wrong thing): http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=249

    Thanks again for pointing that out, my point is not off, but it certainly was not complete or what most people think of when they think of TINSTAAPP, and I should have explained that up front, then went into my point about the flipside.

    ReplyDelete
  7. DrB, I guess I took Bumgarner's word that he was physically fine, and that was probably bad on my part, given Foppert said he was fine too.

    Though, in my defense, Bumgarner was also pitching effectively, whereas Foppert was not, and I felt that if he's pitching effectively, even if not at the velocity he had before, he says that he was not injured, and pros like Krukow says that young guys go through dead periods like that, then I didn't see any reason to worry, at least until his arm fell off. :^)

    Yeah, wasn't trying to say the slow starts were related, sorry if I gave that impression, but every year it seems like another reason for a slow start, whether 2009, 2010, 2011, that's the pattern I meant to emphasize, that there seems to be something affecting him to start each season. Maybe it's a maturity thing, maybe it's all just random bad luck, or maybe it's some thing underlying his overall behavior and such.

    No big theory on my part or anything, just wanted to point it out that it's three years running now.

    I'm not worried about MadBum either, I think he will take Sanchez's place in the rotation easily if/when Dirty moves on, would be our ace should Lincecum and Cain move on as well.

    And the way Vogelsong and Surkamp are pitching, my thoughts of trading Sanchez mid-season is feeling increasing doable.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And, oh, thanks DrB, for sharing your thoughts and recollection on the crossover delivery, I knew that there was something about it, thanks for providing additional details.

    ReplyDelete

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