Sunday Notes and Commentary

This time of year, there’s so many little items that don’t require a full post but are interesting nonetheless. For the items that catch my eye, I’ll fold them into one weekend post where I can weigh in on them and we can discuss them further in the comment section. With that being said, here the first installment of Sunday Notes:

-Joba was hitting 94 on the gun yesterday. That’s significant. If you recall the past few springs, Joba has been a notoriously slow starter, usually sitting in the high 80s-low 90s this time of year. I hope he’s not pushing himself too hard too soon, trying to prove something after all the weight reports this spring. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Joba credited the work he’s done with Larry Rothschild on his delivery, and said he hasn’t been that high on the gun this early in the past 5 years. While it looked like he was throwing the ball free and easy with his new delivery, Joba said “it felt like I was throwing bowling balls, to be honest with you”. If there’s a lot more there (and I suspect there is) as he gets his arm in shape, watch out.

-Terrific piece by Steve Goldman over at PB where he debunks the idea that ‘rushing pitchers’ to MLB hurts their development. To be clear, I always think its best to let a player’s performance dictate when he’s promoted. But the idea that players get ruined by being rushed to the bigs is something that always struck me as unprovable, and simply an attempt to blame the organization for a guy who was most likely never good enough in the first place. Many great pitchers struggle early in their careers, its the exception to the rule that comes up and dominates right away. Failing at the big league level can drive home the idea that a pitcher may need to refine that 3rd pitch, work on holding runners/pitching from the stretch, commit to proper conditioning, clean up flaws in his delivery, etc etc. Part of getting to the show is having what it takes to come back from failure, and that’s on the player, not the team. As the old saying goes “the good ones will find their way back”. Baseball is a game of failure, if a player can’t handle it then he’s just not cut out for this game.

-Jesus Montero is in today’s lineup.

-Ex-Yank Gary Sheffield may be retired, but he’s keeping himself involved in the baseball. He’s started a player agency of sorts, where he’s representing free agents and giving players financial advice on how to handle their money. Jason Grilli, who pitched yesterday afternoon for the Phillies, is one of his clients.

-Today will be the first chance Yankee fans get to watch top prospect Dellin Betances pitch in a televised game, and personally I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve followed him since draft day in 2006, to those early glowing workout reports where as a raw teenager he picked things up very quickly. BA ranked him in the top 100 in 2007 based largely on those reports and a smattering of innings in the GCL, saying he had one of the highest ceilings in the game. He needed to get bigger and stronger and he has, he needed to learn how to repeat his mechanics and he showed that he did that last year. The only hurdle left for him is showing he can pitch a full season in the minors, and we could have a top of the rotation starter on our hands for the 2012 season.

0 thoughts on “Sunday Notes and Commentary

  1. oldpep

    I don’t think Goldman’s article ‘debunks’ anything.
    “There are success stories and horror stories aplenty, but in many cases it was injury that played a part, not some amorphous “rushing” of the hurler in question.” Nice use of a big word (amorphous), but the sentence is contradictory-the rushing of young arms (amorphous or non-amorphous) is very likely what caused the injuries.
    The whole point of not rushing young arms is to protect them from injury.

    (It always cracks me up when commentators (not here and maybe not this guy) cite Nolan Ryan as an example considering how few innings he pitched before age 25, minors or majors.)

    • Too many innings too soon is a bad idea, that’s been medically proven. I have no issue with innings limits on young pitchers. But that’s not what he (or I) am talking about. Its the notion that bringing up pitchers too soon somehow hurts their development, meaning it ruins their confidence and somehow they never regain it. That always struck me as horseshit. If someone is that mentally fragile, they weren’t going to make it anyway.

  2. lordbyron

    Love the “Sunday Notes’ format.

    • Thanks. Sunday is a good day for it, recap the week with some light commentary.

  3. Good stuff. Definitely looking forward to seeing Montero and Betances in action today. Last time I saw Betances pitch, it was summer 2007 with Staten Island, the last game before he went down with an elbow injury. I imagine he was pitching hurt at the time, as he was struggling to get past the high 80’s and had control problems. I imagine he’ll look somewhat different today.

    • I’ve never seen Dellin live, so I’m as giddy as a school girl right now. I saw Jesus in the Futures game, but looking forward to him as well.

  4. Steve’s post ignores the number of innings each of his examples had at the minor league level, which is likely the best way to measure development. As such, I dont really think it debunks much of anything. I will say that it makes sense to judge each pitcher individually, rather than having a strict rule about age or IP.

    • “Steve’s post ignores the number of innings each of his examples had at the minor league level”

      “I will say that it makes sense to judge each pitcher individually, rather than having a strict rule about age or IP.”

      Isn’t this contradictory?

      • I dont think so. You need to have general guidelines for development, and Steve and I apparently differ on what is important when establishing such guidelines. That said, the guidelines should be far from hard and fast, and there should be plenty of room for individual tailoring.

  5. Davor

    For me, the main problem with calling up young pitchers who aren’t ready is the possibility that if things aren’t going well, they may be reaching back for something special too much and injuring themselves. Also, it takes replaces at least one quality year of team control with development year.

    • They have to dip their feet in the water sometime, and (as Mo said above) I’m not convinced anyone has a one size fits all way to do it. It’s mostly trial and error. Who could have been more ready than Hughes in 2007? Took him the better part of 2 years to get acclimated, and even last year he was still not completely ready, as he showed in the 2nd half by abandoning his change early, which he now regrets.

  6. I surprised nobody commented on how ironic it is that Shef is a player agent. Most of his contract disputes were disastrous, resulting in very public battles with his front office that typically ended with him being traded. It happened here, in LA, in DET, and (I think) in FLA as well. He may be the most unlikely player I would ever think would get into that line of work.

  7. Jay Jaffe posted following Mr. Goldman’s article essentially disagreeing with him. That’s worth a read too (http://www.pinstripedbible.com/2011/02/25/should-the-yanks-let-the-bs-be/).

    Also, I wouldn’t rely on a radar gun at a spring training game in any way at all.

    Great site, by the way.

    • Thanks for linking that, its a good follow up. I’m not sure that he essentially disagreed with him (in both cases they conclude ‘rushing’ is a narrative) or as Goldstein noted there’s any point in comparing the King Felix/CC types to anyone else, since they are by their nature elite and therefore in another category. But its another terrific read on the subject.

  8. Dale Mohorcic

    I have a note. Eduardo Nunez can’t seem to keep his helmet on. Perhaps he has an invisible Oscar Gamble ‘fro.