M’s Select Knuckler in Rule 5 Draft

Dave · December 6, 2007 at 9:43 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Rule 5 draft was this morning as the wrapup to the winter meetings. Last year, the Mariners grabbed Sean White, and this year, it was R.A. Dickey. Dickey was a former 1st round pick who never made it as a normal pitcher, so he’s taken up the knuckleball as a way to try to have a major league career. He threw 170 innings for Nashville in the PCL last year with typical knuckler results – lots of walks, not many strikeouts, but a lot of groundballs and weak contact, leading to a decent ERA.

Maybe Dickey will get to spring training, be lousy, and the M’s will be out $25,000 when they return him to the Twins. But, I still like this move – having a knuckler in camp fighting for a spot on the pitching staff will be fun, and if the M’s decided to use him in relief, we could see all kinds of hilarity when he comes in to replace Felix Hernandez.


83 Responses to “M’s Select Knuckler in Rule 5 Draft”

  1. jlc on December 6th, 2007 3:57 pm

    Are they listening to the stathead or just using him as a preemptive excuse for when Dickey doesn’t work out? Not saying I have any negative feelings about Dickey, just that by being an unusual style of player, a lot of people will jump on the move if it doesn’t work out.

  2. JMHawkins on December 6th, 2007 4:00 pm

    MLB needs a rule requiring at least one knuckleballer in each organization.

    Impossible. Everyone knows there can only be two Sith Lords at any one time.

    Speaking of projecting movie plots onto baseball, does the report that Texas might sign Gagne again make anyone else think of Blondie and Tuco?

    “There are two kinds of pitchers in this world. Those with no trade clauses, and those who pack their bags. You pack.”

  3. TomC on December 6th, 2007 4:27 pm

    I just read Derek’s 2005 post on Olkin. Do we know what Olkin has been doing since then? Does he only work for the M’s, or does he take other jobs (i.e. writing articles or sports columns) on the side?

    I would like to think statistical analysis is worth a full-time position with the M’s.

  4. joser on December 6th, 2007 4:45 pm

    “It’s a great opportunity for him (Dickey) because he got a roster spot out of it that he didn’t have with us. He goes to their big league camp,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said. “We were a little disappointed because we were kind of excited to have him.”

    Not sure exactly what to make of that. Smith might just be a fan of the pitch.

    Real knuckleball technique seems to be passed down from pitcher to pitcher directly, rather than through coaches. It’s a real black art, and it may be something that’s almost impossible to teach if you haven’t done it yourself. That could explain why it’s almost never taught below the professional level: by the time you find someone who really knows how to help you with the pitch, you’re already pretty close to the bigs (either on your way up, or desperately trying to avoid being on your way out).

  5. Evan on December 6th, 2007 4:59 pm

    But hitters aren’t promoted based on their ability to hit knuckleballs, so there’s no reason to expect major-league hitters to be any better at hitting them than minor-league hitters are.

    On catching them, Mirabelli says he can tell which pitches he can’t catch right out of Wakefield’s hand. I imagine that would give him a head start in getting into good blocking position.

  6. Thom Jimsen on December 6th, 2007 5:17 pm

    According to Geoff Baker, the Phillies made room for Travis Blackley on their 40-man roster by dumping Julio Mateo.

  7. Bearman on December 6th, 2007 6:10 pm

    About time the M’s got a hold of another true knucleball pitcher.
    I just wasn’t expecting to be of all pitchers R.A. Dickey.

    I remember him from his Ranger days and believe me he is last guy I thought would have the sense to turn to the knucleball to save his career.

    If Dickey’s success in the Twins system isn’t just a MiLB phenom and does tranlate to success in MLB as either BOR SP or long reliever for the M’s.

    He’ll be well worth the $50,000 fee to aquire him via rule 5 draft.
    I remember quite clearly a quote from former M OFer Jay Buhner about facing a true knucleball pitcher.
    Buhner said “Every time I face one be he a SP or RP messes up my timing and stroke for at least 2 games”.

  8. jjb on December 6th, 2007 6:11 pm

    I love this move.

    I have an admittedly irrational fascination with the knuckleball. Would love to see this guy get some innings at Safeco next season.

  9. bermanator on December 6th, 2007 6:16 pm

    Not saying I have any negative feelings about Dickey, just that by being an unusual style of player, a lot of people will jump on the move if it doesn’t work out.

    No, they won’t. Seattle didn’t give up anything of value for him — no players, no draft picks, just $25,000. If he doesn’t work out, he gets released along with the non-roster invitees, and in two weeks nobody remembers he was here.

    The only possible issue is the opportunity cost of him taking up a spot on the 40-man roster this offseason, and it’s not like the M’s booted a great prospect to create the space.

  10. joser on December 6th, 2007 7:57 pm

    In fact, as Ace pointed out in an earlier thread, if Dickey takes the spot that would otherwise go to the Mateo/White/Parrish/”random-veteran-who-sucks” and thereby takes the gascan option out of Mac’s hands, it’s a net improvement even if he never actually pitches in a game.

  11. drjeff on December 6th, 2007 8:01 pm

    The knuckleball is emblematic of one of the things I like best about baseball. There’s time to be quirky, space to be quirky, and a seeming appreciation of quirkiness. Hotfoots (hotfeet?), gum on the hat, shaving cream pies…. don’t see a whole lot of that in the NFL.

    There are some great quotes about the knuckler out there.

    Phil Niekro, on Tim Wakefield:
    “Tim was so successful early, and then he just lost it. That’s when it becomes very tough mentally to throw a pitch that everybody knows is coming. I’ve told him that he’s got to keep learning, he’s got to eat, sleep, walk and talk the knuckleball until it floats in his bloodstream like a spirit inside of him.”

    The classic Bob Uecker quote regarding the best way to catch one: “Wait’ll it stops rolling, then go pick it up.”

    And, all the Jim Bouton quotes that y’all have memorized from Ball Four.

    Maybe the knuckler is a cultural phenomenon.

  12. wabbles on December 6th, 2007 8:33 pm

    Along with Dickey on the M’s site, I noticed a “Joseph Woerman” whose name is the same grey shade as Dickey’s. Was he another Rule 5 Draft selection of ours?

  13. wabbles on December 6th, 2007 8:34 pm

    Or anyway, he doesn’t have a uniform number nor any bio information.

  14. msb on December 6th, 2007 8:46 pm

    Mateo was cut yesterday, before the draft happened

  15. joser on December 6th, 2007 8:49 pm

    Joseph Bernard Woerman
    Born: 12/17/1982, Edmonds, WA
    2-2 with 17K and a 6.86 ERA for the Peoria Javelinas in the Winter Arizona Fall League
    Mariners’ 11th round selection in the June 2003 draft; signed by Mariners scout Tim Reynolds…graduated from Coronado High School in June 2001…played for San Diego City College…on the provisional roster for the Netherlands for the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

  16. msb on December 6th, 2007 8:52 pm

    TNT, Nov. 20th:
    “The Mariners will add two minor league players to their 40-man major league roster today – pitcher Joseph Woerman and second baseman Yung Chi Chen. Woerman, a 24-year-old right-hander who went 7-7 in Class AA last season, pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and caught the team’s attention there. “

  17. msb on December 6th, 2007 8:55 pm

    #64– actually there was an odd note in the Philly Daily News about it:

    “That case is still in the courts but, in the meantime, Mateo was quietly released yesterday. There are some indications that the Phillies weren’t fully aware of how serious his legal issues were when they made the deal.”

    how could they be in the dark?

  18. Rick L on December 6th, 2007 9:18 pm

    Ryan Franklin supposedly had a good knuckleball. The way I heard it, Lou didn’t want him to throw it. I always wanted to see him throw it in a game.

  19. joser on December 6th, 2007 9:21 pm

    Ryan Franklin had lots of supposedly good pitches. I guess Lou told him not to throw any of them.

  20. scott19 on December 7th, 2007 12:44 am

    Dickey might prove to be an interesting pickup. As some have mentioned, BB’s only out $25k if he doesn’t work out…and if he does have a decent spring and earns a roster spot, he may wind up being a serviceable swing guy.

    Never mind the Neikro Brothers or Wakefield…heck, if he turns out to be even somewhere in the vicinity of where Steve Sparks was throwing that knuckler, that’d still be an improvement over HoRam.

  21. Colm on December 7th, 2007 12:48 am

    I have to say, I’m disappointed. I thought they’d signed a knucker! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knucker
    Know that’d be something.

  22. joser on December 7th, 2007 2:13 am

    Well, if “knucker” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “nicor” which means “water monster”… What would you call a really, really good Mariner? Or a really, really bad one?

  23. msb on December 7th, 2007 9:28 am

    #68. Lou wouldn’t let him. Melvin wouldn’t let him. Price wouldn’t let him.

  24. Carson on December 7th, 2007 9:39 am

    67 – Isn’t that the Pat Gillick we all remember and love, though?

  25. Evan on December 7th, 2007 12:49 pm

    We need more Saxon etymology jokes.

  26. joser on December 7th, 2007 1:45 pm

    We need more Saxon etymology. You supply the vocabulary, we’ll supply the jokes.

    Of course, we already have a Sexson joke playing first base.

  27. byronebyronian on December 7th, 2007 4:01 pm

    #70: Even if he is a poor man’s Tom Candiotti (when the Candy man was in his twilight years) this will prove to be an excellent pickup.

    Sheesh…I really hope this is the start of a new approach for BB and the FO.

  28. scott19 on December 8th, 2007 1:32 am

    77: You know, I almost forgot about the ole’ Candy Man…he had some pretty decent years, too.

  29. scott19 on December 8th, 2007 5:29 am

    67: Maybe the Nats can pick up Mateo — with the roster they seem to be building for next year, he’d probably fit right in! 🙂

  30. John D. on December 9th, 2007 1:03 am

    KURODA (sEE # 26)

    Seems to me that the guy should get some new agents.
    Any agent who thinks that playing home games in warm weather is more important than the opportunity to pitch to the only MLB catcher that speaks your language should be dismissed already.

  31. joser on December 9th, 2007 10:38 am

    If Kuroda thinks that, his agent might try to dissuade him but ultimately it’s his job to do what his client wants. And each time I’ve seen the claim that Kuroda would prefer to pitch in a warm city (which, I note, is always at least second hand and never a [translated] direct quote) there’s no mention of his agent. It could be that Kuroda thinks he’s at more injury risk in cold weather, and avoiding injury is more important than pitching to a catcher that speaks his language. After all, there have been several Japanese imports who have pitched in MLB, and all of them managed to do so without Johjima as their catcher.

  32. Ace on December 10th, 2007 4:27 pm

    Kuroda ought to go down and throw a couple of innings in Australia while its summer there so he can see what it would be like pitching in Arizona or Texas. He might change his mind about pitching in a warm weather city.

  33. schmicky on December 10th, 2007 9:09 pm

    Ahhhh, Jim Boutin relived!!!

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