Felix’s development to stall, other ill news

DMZ · January 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Lots of badness in Baker’s blog post on the “spring training luncheon at Safeco Field

Norm Charlton feels that Felix needs to rely on his fastball more, which is great we know from all of Dave’s painstaking research last year that that’s a horrible, horrible idea.

Late-season bullpen woes are blamed on Hargrove for using them too much early in the season and inexperience.

I’m no Hargrove fan (uh, obviously) but that’s just nutty. April:
Felix, no reliever
Felix+ 1 reliever 1 IP
Felix + 3 relievers, 8.2 IP

3 starts, 4 pitchers used in relief to cover 9.2 innings (~3 innings/start)

Washburn, no help
Washburn + 3 relievers, 3 IP
Washburn + 3 relievers, 3 IP
Washburn + 4 relievers, 3.2 IP
4 starts, bullpen covered 9.2 IP (~2 IP/start)

Batista + 2 relievers, 2 IP
Batista + 4 relievers, 2.1 IP
Batista + 5 relievers, 3.2 IP
Batista + 2 relievers, 4.1 IP
4 starts, 12.1 IP (3 IP/start)

Weaver + 2 relievers, 3 IP
Weaver + 3 relievers, 5 IP
Weaver + five relievers, 6 IP
Weaver + 4 relievers, 8.2 IP
4 starts, 22.2 IP (almost six IP/start)

HoRam + 2 relievers, 2.2 IP
HoRam + 2 relievers, 3 IP
HoRam + 5 relievers, 4 IP
3 starts, 9.2 IP, (3 IP/start)

Baek + 2 relievers, 2.2 IP
Baek + 2 relievers, 4.2 IP
2 starts, 4 IP/start (but it’s hard to blame him, they knew they were getting into that)

You could do this for May, too, and likely come up with some similar results. I’d argue that Hargrove regularly threw too many pitchers out there, getting far too cute with matchups and one-inning roles, but equipped with that starting rotation, confronted with those kind of regular meltdowns, of course the bullpen got used heavily. This was never a rotation with five pitchers who were efficient with pitches and regularly worked into the eighth inning.

So yeah, warming up and throwing all of those guys out there was bad, but there was no way he shouldn’t have been hooking Weaver from those games, or letting HoRam continue to pitch while tired, and so on.



39 Responses to “Felix’s development to stall, other ill news”

  1. Xteve X on January 25th, 2008 4:37 pm

    “Norm Charlton feels that Felix needs to rely on his fastball more, which is great we know from all of Dave’s painstaking research last year that that’s a horrible, horrible idea.”

    And the fact that Charlton is considered the pitching brains of the bunch out of the whole coaching staff & FO is truly scary.

    From the article:

    “Charlton also expects to see the “throwing inside” doctrine preached to Felix Hernandez. He can’t understand why Hernandez abandonned his fastball in favor of breaking pitches as often as he did last season and is determined to find out why by the first week of camp.

    “Watching him in the minor leagues, he was mean,” Charlton said of Hernandez throwing inside. “I don’t think he did that as well as he could have last year.”

    Charlton went on to add: “It bewilders me. Guys that have done it before…I don’t know if he lost some confidence and was afraid to use his fastball — I don’t know. Those are things that we’re going to have to find out in spring training.”

    So you want guys to go deeper into ballgames while simultaneously throwing more fastballs and pitching inside…while we’re putting even more pressure on the outfield to convert the inevitable hits into outs, I’ve got a great idea, let’s trade Adam Jones and stick a leadfoot in his place.

  2. Xteve X on January 25th, 2008 4:41 pm

    And looks like they’re bringing in celebrity guest coach Tony Phillips too, apparently to school the young Ms on the finer points of how to smoke rock.

    Ah, that savvy veteran-ness.

  3. rd on January 25th, 2008 5:00 pm

    Uh, weren’t the late season bullpen woes mostly the fault of Rick White and John Parrish, the pitchers brought in because McLaren wanted veteran arms?

  4. Steve T on January 25th, 2008 5:01 pm

    So, after Charlton wrecks Felix’s career, and his ERA balloons to 11.50, and he leads the league in hit batters and on-field blowups, and then he goes down hurt in a cloud of recrimination over whether he “wants it enough”, which other team is going to finally get greatness out of him after he comes back in, say, 2012-15?

    What macho bullshit. Why can’t we have SMART people running this franchise instead of swaggering testosterone-poisoned blockheads?

  5. Dugan on January 25th, 2008 5:14 pm

    Any chance that Stottlemyre will overrule this stupidity?

  6. Evan on January 25th, 2008 5:14 pm

    With a rotation like that, wouldn’t the M’s have benefitted hugely from a swingman?

    Where’s Ryan Franklin? A guy like him would have been hugely valuable on last year-s team, assuming Grover used him half-intelligently.

  7. Kirk D on January 25th, 2008 5:17 pm

    Not that I’m defending Charlton’s recommendations regarding pitching inside, but you might want to rethink branding Charlton as someone who isn’t “smart” – there’s no way he earns three different degrees from Rice University if he isn’t smart. He just appears to have a different view from those of us that have studied Felix’s pitching patterns and what he’s been successful with as a major-leaguer.

  8. lailaihei on January 25th, 2008 5:47 pm

    Stottlemeyer is the pitching coach, and maybe there’s reason to believe that he’s not a fan of Felix throwing 90% fastballs at batters.

  9. Ralph_Malph on January 25th, 2008 5:49 pm

    I question whether just counting number of relievers and number of innings really answers the question.

    My sense, just from watching but without going back through box scores, was that Hargrove’s pattern of bullpen usage was to cycle through 3-4 pitchers in an inning or so in the 6th or 7th and then be stuck going to Putz too early. Or having to pitch Sean Green 2 innings to get to Putz, or whatever.

    It’s not that he went to the bullpen too early, it’s that he churned the bullpen too quickly once he got there. Which made everybody in the pen tired even if the total number of innings thrown wasn’t that much.

  10. Churchill on January 25th, 2008 5:52 pm

    I read the quotes and translate it to this:

    Felix needs to avoid abandoning his fastball, not necessarily throw it more – I know Charlton actually said the words “throw it more” but he’s not exactly all that great in expressing himself properly. There’s a fine line between throwing it too much and not throwing it very much at all.

    The use of his fastball is certainly something I can see being a concern, i.e. pitching inside, when to use the 2-seam heater versus the four-seamer, etc.

    I just don’t see why Charlton or Stottlemyre would actually want Felix’s fastball count to be much higher than generally was in 2007.

  11. Taylor H on January 25th, 2008 6:12 pm

    Personally, I think that regardless of what the pitching coaches and the media say, when its all said and done, Felix is in control of his own destiny. There is no good reason why Felix, who himself knows he can be great, would alter his own pitching strategy just because of what a pitching coach says. All pitching coaches do is provide a few general guidelines to their pitchers about what to throw in certain situations and where to throw it. Coaches are essentially cheerleaders in baseball; their primary purpose is to identify with the players and make them feel more comfortable. Even the manager himself only makes one or two decisions a game, usually in the later innings. It’s up to the players, which is why Mariano Rivera is great – redarless of who the Yanks bullpen coach is. Is Felix really going to change that much with a different pitching coach? NO! He’s going to get better because he can throw four different pitches – fastball, slider, changeup, curve – with good accuracy and phenomenal velocity. He’s far from perfect, but he’s getting a lot better with each year.

    Remember, its Felix Hernandez on the mound, not Norm Charleton.

  12. milendriel on January 25th, 2008 6:13 pm

    If Charlton is talking about Felix throwing more 2-seam fastballs, then I’d agree with him completely. Having watched Felix’s starts before and after the injury, the biggest thing that jumped out at me was that after he came off the DL, he almost entirely abandoned the 2-seamer, which is the pitch he used to completely dominate Oakland and Boston in his first two starts (SSS/anecdotal caveats apply, of course… maybe he threw less/more 2-seamers before/after the injury than I remember).

    If he’s talking about 4-seamers, though, he should be fired. Not only is there statiscal evidence that his 4-seamer gets hit more the more he throws it, simple observation shows that it’s not a pitch he should be throwing very much. He throws it ~98 MPH, which is obviously a plus, but it has no movement and he commands it poorly. It’s hard for him to get swinging strikes if the hitter has any idea it’s coming, and he can’t paint the corner with it to get called strikes. Pretty much the only way his 4-seamer can be sucessful is by using the velocity to deceive hitters by working mostly off his offspeed stuff. But even then, throwing a 2-seamer a few MPH slower but with terrific late movement is probably a better idea anyway. He also seems to command the 2-seamer better, but that’s definitely an SSS observation.

    Anyway, that’s how the fastball situation seems to me. I could be wrong, though.

  13. Taylor H on January 25th, 2008 6:14 pm

    Actually, Felix can’t locate his curve very well, but Norm Charleton seems to have more important things to work on.

  14. AQ on January 25th, 2008 7:27 pm

    “Actually, Felix can’t locate his curve very well, but Norm Charleton seems to have more important things to work on.”

    Perhaps Norm can teach Felix the fine art of adjusting one’s cup while on the mound?

  15. Bilbo on January 25th, 2008 7:37 pm

    I miss Dave.

  16. HamNasty on January 25th, 2008 7:48 pm

    I miss Hargrove. There is a sentence no one thought a Mariners fan would ever say. One of the things he did far better then McLaren was deal with the bullpen.

  17. John D. on January 25th, 2008 8:28 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t thee coaches have specific duties?
    Isn’t the bullpen coach (Charlton) confined to coaching the relief pitchers?
    How did Charlton get so much time taling about a starter?

  18. Rick L on January 26th, 2008 6:45 am

    DMZ: You say “I’d argue that Hargrove regularly threw too many pitchers out there, getting far too cute with matchups and one-inning roles,” I agree, but my recollection is that McLaren was much worse at this. It would be interesting to do the same analysis of McLaren that you did of Hargrove. This is again based only on my recollection, but I remember a couple of game blogs where I complained about this. Using Sherrill for one batter, then Green for one batter, then putting in another right hander (Morrow, say) to pitch to the next batter. I think he was far more guilty than Hargrove of burning out the bullpen by having them make too many appearances.

  19. msb on January 26th, 2008 8:21 am

    #17– he was there, he was willing to talk, and the press corps loves him?

  20. DMZ on January 26th, 2008 8:55 am

    The data’s out there for you, go to it.

  21. xxtinynickxx on January 26th, 2008 10:54 am

    As an M’s fan, I have to belive that Felix will do better this season. I can just see him going the way of Joel Pineiro or Chris Bosio. I have full confidence that if he does not do better this season, Felix will end up not developing to his full potential.

  22. msb on January 26th, 2008 12:34 pm

    I can just see him going the way of Joel Pineiro or Chris Bosio.

    I’m not sure what you are going for here.

    on another ill topic, when are they going to notice nationally that Beltre is actually worth his deal for Seattle?

  23. vertigoman on January 26th, 2008 1:13 pm

    Mel Stottlemyre on Mel Stottlemyre’s pitching philosophy:
    “throw strike one, work fast and change speeds”
    He brought up Doc Gooden and David Cone (both Felix prototypes IMO). I don’t think one Nasty Boy is going to change his approach.

  24. John D. on January 26th, 2008 6:00 pm

    DMZ says, “I’d argue that Hargrove regularly threw too many pitchers out there, getting far too cute with matchups and one-inning roles,” …

    Can the eight-man bullpen be far behind?

  25. mr.smartypants on January 26th, 2008 6:14 pm

    22 – I think most people nationally notice that Beltre’s good. That article’s pretty bad in that it reads like it was written by an analyst who covered the 2003 season and then lived in a cave for the last 5 years. Garret Anderson over Gary Matthews Jr. in left? Arthur Rhodes is apparently a “key free agent loss” by the M’s too.

    Felix seemed pretty good at the beginning of last year, which leads me to believe that poor coaching wasn’t entirely the reason for his struggles. I think I remember Dave documenting last year that his velocity was down even months after he had come back from the DL. If he’s in shape and healthy, I don’t see any reason to believe he won’t be very good.

  26. scott19 on January 26th, 2008 8:08 pm

    22: Hmmm…interesting how Ringolsby includes AB in his “not getting their money’s worth list” ahead of Washburn — as well as Weaver, Rhodes and Reitsma as “key losses”.

    My guess is he either: a) spent last summer in Antarctica and didn’t really get to follow the M’s much; b) was smoking something just prior to writing this piece; or, c) both of the above. 😮

  27. Sklyansky on January 26th, 2008 9:45 pm

    Didn’t Arthur Rhodes resign anyway? Had Rhodes actually contributed, the fact is he ended up resigning. What a dreadful article.

  28. thefin190 on January 26th, 2008 10:52 pm

    That Geoff Baker blog was too painful to read, I couldn’t finish it. After reading Bill Bavasi’s quotes I couldn’t read anymore. I beg that the gods of baseball intervene.

  29. mr.smartypants on January 27th, 2008 4:09 am

    Rhodes signed a minor league deal. Hence, not a loss. At least not a key one.

  30. msb on January 27th, 2008 8:31 am

    … and Jerry Brewer chimes in, springing from the Hargrove bullpen use comment (using the phrase ‘ rambunctiously gabby’ to describe Norm’s session)

  31. lailaihei on January 27th, 2008 12:50 pm

    It probably doesn’t mean anything, but [doesn’t mean anything]

  32. joser on January 27th, 2008 12:56 pm

    Well, if you want to deal in unsubstantiated rumors, the Boston Globe claims

    major league sources are still indicating that the Cubs are listening to talk about a blockbuster deal that would send Baltimore ace Erik Bedard and second baseman Brian Roberts to Chicago for a truckload of younger players/prospects.

  33. lailaihei on January 27th, 2008 1:09 pm

    And another “source” claims that the Angels are trading for Bedard so that the Ms won’t get him.
    “I just received new information from my Orioles front office contact. Brandon Wood, Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar, Joe Saunders, and Juan Rivera will be going to Baltimore for Erik Bedard. I was told LAA didn’t want Bedard going to the Mariners. Moreno didn’t want the risk of not making the playoffs. The Orioles are very happy with this package. The Mariners are shocked at the latest development.”

  34. joser on January 27th, 2008 1:55 pm

    Seriously, there’s no point in even reading the local newspaper forums, let alone reposting anything you find there. Joe Random can (and will) write any stupid-ass thing he wants. This is qualifies as “information” about the M’s in about the same way graffiti in public bathrooms qualifies as “information” about women.

  35. tysam on January 27th, 2008 2:14 pm

    I agree with Ralph_Malph. The problem was the way Hargrove “churned” the bullpen once he was forced to pull the plug on Weaver and HoRam. Did anyone not have an ulcer by the All-Star break from all of Putz’s two inning saves?

  36. scott19 on January 27th, 2008 2:27 pm

    If Moreno wants to be the one to overtrade for Bedard and a year or two of his six-inning-wonder starts, let him, I say. Hopefully, it’ll wind up putting a dent in the Angels’ future instead while we’ll still have AJ in right.

  37. DMZ on January 27th, 2008 4:14 pm

    Putz got more than 3 outs 7 times before the break, and 5 times afterwards. 12 appearances out of 69 is not that huge. He never got 6 outs or more.

    So no.

  38. King on January 27th, 2008 4:58 pm

    It looks official. Bedard is a Mariner! Check out Bakers blog.

  39. Mister on January 27th, 2008 5:02 pm

    News from Rotoworld:

    Adam Jones is flying to Baltimore for a physical on Monday, suggesting the Orioles and Mariners have agreed to an Erik Bedard trade.

    Jones said he’s been told the deal is done, though he doesn’t know who is going with him to Baltimore. Asked by the Seattle Times tonight, George Sherrill said he had heard nothing to suggest he’s being included. Top prospects Chris Tillman, Jeff Clement, Carlos Triunfel and Wladimir Balentien are among the players whose names have come up in rumors.

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