Time To Panic

Dave · May 14, 2009 at 11:40 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Felix is 88-92 with his fastball, his curve is flat as anything, and he’s throwing a ton of junk early in the game. There’s no way he’s healthy.

Okay, so, pretty much everyone who pitched in this game had lower velocity readings than usual, so we’ll assume that something was wrong with the Pitch F/x data.

Also, ugh.


94 Responses to “Time To Panic”

  1. et_blankenship on May 14th, 2009 2:01 pm

    Regarding Felix and the MPH and/or flat break issue, the wind blowing today (all series, actually) should be taken into account. Wind is hell on breaking balls (not to mention armspeed, velocity and control). A strong sideways wind can make even the best breakingball hover above home plate until it gets whacked. But knuckleballs, man. With the right wind you can become downright Wakefieldian.

  2. JMHawkins on May 14th, 2009 2:08 pm

    Postgame show, Drayer is saying Felix was throwing two-seamers instead of four-seamers as part of a gameplan, so that might explain some of the velocity issues.

  3. Jon on May 14th, 2009 2:11 pm

    I assume mentioning Lincecum is still a banning offense.

    Look, what exactly have the M’s done with this kid over the last 3 weeks? Well, they put him on the DL, seemingly over his objections. Then, after activating him last weekend, they put him in to close out a game on Sunday to (they hoped) end long losing streak. What happened? He couldn’t find the strike zone, walked the bases loaded, and almost single-handedly gave the game away. So what have the coaches done since that horrible outing to get him ready to do his job? Apparently, not much. He looked predictably horrible in back-to-back outings that the M’s desperately needed to win. So why keep running him out there if they know he has nothing but a fastball that he can’t locate? And, I’ll ask again, what exactly are the M’s coaches doing to turn Morrow into a capable pitcher? My opinion is that the coaching staff doesn’t know what they are doing with him. Wak is about a week away from being viewed as a goofball.

  4. bilbo27 on May 14th, 2009 2:19 pm

    Great quotes from Felix today. He basically said “Today I was a pitcher, not a thrower. It was the game plan from the beginning to stick primarily with off speed pitches and the 2 seem fastball”. He didn’t want to give them his good 4 seem fastball which he felt they could hit out all day long (as they’ve done so on it throughout his short career). Instead he was sticking with his 2 seamer and off speed pitches and not try to overthrow it. They’re expecting a better fastball from him and taking a little off and using the 2 seamer seemed to work well.

    Frankly, I’m happy with this. If Felix eventually actually learns that he’s better when he pitches instead of throws, that’s great. He’s got the secondary pitches to combine with that fastball to be one of the greats and it’s just going to make his fastball that much better if he actually starts using those secondary pitches consistently instead of before where he was 70-80% fastballs.

    If nothing else, glad it appears he’s really not injured. *whew*

  5. Colm on May 14th, 2009 2:23 pm

    Yes, there’s a log of ignorant pontificating about how he “lacks a closer’s mindset”.


    He lacks control over his fastball, and he lacks a reliable secondary pitch.

  6. firova2 on May 14th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Both Morrow and Betancourt appear to lack appropriate development. I don’t know to what extent their weaknesses can be coached out of them, but the lack of minor league time seems to be telling. Throw in the Clement conundrum and Aumont’s move to the bullpen and the player development ledger doesn’t look too good. The upcoming draft is critical, but what happens after that needs to change as well.

  7. terry on May 14th, 2009 2:26 pm

    Morrow’s changeup didn’t seem to have much movement on it today.

  8. sass on May 14th, 2009 2:37 pm

    It seems like one of the things Z mentioned last winter was the need for a clearer organizational philosophy throughout, including minors, so that should be on its way.

  9. terry on May 14th, 2009 2:38 pm

    Look, what exactly have the M’s done with this kid over the last 3 weeks?

    Screw weeks. What the hell have they done with him over the last three years?

    I’d say a whole lotta notta concerning developing him.

  10. Breadbaker on May 14th, 2009 2:40 pm

    2008: Mariners are a team that doesn’t take a lot of pitches and pitchers who throw a lot of pitches.

    2009: Mariners are a team that can only hit fastballs and pitchers who only throw fastballs.

    Clearly, the Mariners’ biggest problem is that they can’t play against themselves.

  11. rcc on May 14th, 2009 2:52 pm

    The M’s are done. The season is over. The only difference this year is that it took seven weeks, and last year it took two weeks. They will not see 500 the rest of this season.

  12. bilbo27 on May 14th, 2009 2:57 pm

    @sass: ya it’s great to have JZ in there now. I can’t wait to see the M’s after he gets a few years molding the team and organization.

    He’s already doing great things in the minors establishing a philosophy of patience at the plate and defense above anything else in non-pitchers. They even told Clement and Moore that if they didn’t start working on their defense they would no longer be allowed to hit until their defense came around (which may explain some of Clement’s recent hitting struggles :-).

    Better than that all the way down to single A and including their latin based development programs outside of the minors they are stressing pitch recognition and working the count. You don’t do that and you won’t move up in the M’s organization anymore. We won’t see the dividends from this for several years, but eventually it’s really going to help out the M’s.

  13. Taylor H on May 14th, 2009 3:16 pm

    The M’s are done. The season is over. The only difference this year is that it took seven weeks, and last year it took two weeks. They will not see 500 the rest of this season.

    That’s some positive and forward thinking!

  14. joser on May 14th, 2009 3:23 pm

    It’s the fact that they’re sitting on a spot that’s worrying me. It’s one thing to guess fastball, but it’s a whole ‘nother to know where it’s going.

    “Tipping” isn’t going to give you that precise a location, especially when the pitcher himself has no idea where it is going.

    When this is all the movement you’re getting on your pitches, you either have to have the control to keep them in the strike zone but out of the batter’s wheelhouse, or you have to be able to (deceptively) vary your speed. Morrow wasn’t doing either.

    Morrow’s changeup didn’t seem to have much movement on it today.

    I almost jumped on this until I realized you must be kidding. Though I guess by Morrow’s standards he did throw one changeup towards the end of the inning.

    They have the excellent Shannon Dreyer available for informed insight and analysis – and instead we’re listening to ignorant nonsense and conventional-wisdom-pablum from another washed-up journeyman.

    Yeah, this is why I stopped listening to the post-game show. For a while it was kind of amusing to play “Drayer Roulette” — turn on the radio, wait through the endless Schick-Shadel and TILA Mortgage ads, see if her voice appeared; if it didn’t, turn off the radio and wait a few minutes to spin the wheel again — but that got old quick. Now I prefer to just read her blog and wade through other sources like Baker to get quotes from Wakamatsu, etc.

  15. bilbo27 on May 14th, 2009 3:26 pm

    It might actually be best if the M’s are indeed done sooner rather than later. With Washburn pitching extremely well right now and Bedard more or less healthy (hamstring right now but no biggy) and throwing well both of those guys would make great trade bait right now but maybe two or three months from now not so much if Bedard gets injured and Washburn goes back to being Washburn. Heck, even Batista’s doing well out of the pen thus far and if the M’s would eat his contract, they might actually get something for him in a trade. In all three cases, later in the season possibly not so much.

  16. mln on May 14th, 2009 3:31 pm

    In happier news, membership in Brandon Morrow’s Facebook fan club, Insanity at 60 Feet, 6 Inches, is growing exponentially, as we speak.

  17. joser on May 14th, 2009 3:33 pm

    That’s some positive and forward thinking!

    Passive aggressive and manic depressive,
    that’s the mien of the Mariners fan.
    Wild elation to crushed devastation
    that’s the mode of the Mariners fan.
    From rabid anticipation to idle rosterbation,
    that’s the Spring for a Mariners fan.

    Note: this is a drinking song. Swallowing one straight shot with each syllable is recommended. Repeat as necessary, pausing only for the draft, the Allstar game, and the trade deadline.

  18. Breadbaker on May 14th, 2009 3:33 pm

    In happier news, membership in Brandon Morrow’s Facebook fan club, Insanity at 60 Feet, 6 Inches, is growing exponentially, as we speak.

    Mr. Morrow’s fans in Texas are legion and those in Boston and Anaheim are desirous of the opportunity to have reason to join soon.

  19. ppl on May 14th, 2009 3:47 pm

    Well on the bright side, it would be nice if they could stay competitive, but if it has to disintegrate early, then the fire sale happens and we get stocked up with upside guys for next year. It will be interesting to see if they can get together a squad for 2010 that can compete, or if it is more of a 2011/2012 situation.

  20. KaminaAyato on May 14th, 2009 4:18 pm

    See Drayer’s blog as to why Felix was throwing slower.

    So, great news with Felix (at least it feels like it’s better news). And I’m not sure I like what Johnson said about the Morrow situation. Given his thinking – and Morrow’s limitations, I think he’d better be on the first bus to Tacoma ASAP to develop his secondary pitches.

    That, and I’m not sure Johnson remembered who his opposition was today.

  21. Taylor H on May 14th, 2009 4:21 pm

    @joser. Well played.

  22. bilbo27 on May 14th, 2009 4:40 pm

    Finally! Morrow seems to have realized he needs to throw more than just a fastball: “I need to start mixing pitches,” he said. “I’m like a pitching machine out there.” Yes Brandon… yes you are.

    This is a 180 from what he was saying at the beginning of the season (and what he’s been doing up to this point). It took two back to back blown saves, but it looks like he’s realizing that he actually has to pitch out there, not just throw.

    In fairness though that was a tough way to try to work back from extended time off (first 2 of 3 back against Texas in Texas in close ballgames) and of course only throwing 12 or so innings the whole season including spring training thus far. But still, he needed to get it out of his head that he can just throw 95% fastballs and be successful. It appears he’s learned his lesson.

    Though from quotes from Rob Johnson today, it appears Rob Johnson hasn’t realized this fact for some reason. Either that or he was just doing a poor job of trying to cover for his closer. His quotes were all about how Morrows fastball was having great movement and seemed to be fooling the Texas hitters…

  23. dingla on May 14th, 2009 4:55 pm


  24. dingla on May 14th, 2009 5:25 pm

    still waiting for the piece this week about why to or why not to trade felix and/or ichiro.

  25. jephdood on May 14th, 2009 6:06 pm

    Felix, no. Ichiro, sure.

  26. fermorules on May 14th, 2009 6:18 pm

    Jon, 2:11 p.m.

    You nailed my thoughts, precisely.

    We can analyze secondary pitches, etc., and they’re all good points. However, Morrow has been very shaky all season, and yet: Wak and staff seemingly have done nothing to correct the flaws and insist on using the guy in the closer role.

    We can talk about the struggling offense, bad at-bats, etc., but the team was in position to win these last two games and ka-blooey!

  27. Diehard on May 14th, 2009 6:35 pm

    Ichiro is hitting a paltry .306, can his ass! hahaha

  28. Diehard on May 14th, 2009 6:35 pm

    Remember if Morrow doesn’t blow these two games, they are 18-17 and it’s a whole different ballgame. But alas the M’s are now 16-19. ugh

  29. DAMellen on May 14th, 2009 6:43 pm

    ESPN is saying that Felix threw slower on purpose as the Mariners want him to focus on his two seam fastball more. Anybody know if there’s any truth to that?

  30. dingla on May 14th, 2009 6:47 pm

    KaminaAyato typed:

    See Drayer’s blog as to why Felix was throwing slower…

  31. dingla on May 14th, 2009 6:48 pm
  32. JerBear on May 14th, 2009 7:10 pm

    Well, if nothing else, it sounds like Morrow hopefully learned from the experience.

    Per Stone:

    Morrow acknowledged that his game plan needs to change.

    “I need to start mixing my pitches,” he said. “I feel like a pitching machine out there.”

  33. tkight on May 14th, 2009 7:31 pm

    I seem to remember this blog mentioned it wanted Felix to rely less on his fastball and mix it up more to get hitters out. So when he starts doing that it’s one indication he’s injured?

    I think the results spoke for themselves today. Morrow has proven 95 mph means nothing.

  34. jephdood on May 14th, 2009 7:35 pm

    I think the results spoke for themselves today. Morrow has proven 95 mph means nothing.

    It does if the hitter has something else to worry about. That’s his problem.

    Probably your point, but I don’t mind repeating it. 🙂 He is a pitching machine out there, for sure.

  35. eponymous coward on May 15th, 2009 7:44 am

    “I feel like a pitching machine out there.”

    Don’t pitching machines actually deliver pitches to the same location, pitch after pitch? That doesn’t usually describe Brandon Morrow’s fastball.

  36. joser on May 15th, 2009 9:23 am

    Don’t pitching machines actually deliver pitches to the same location, pitch after pitch? T

    He’s a pitching machine with Location set to “Shuffle”

  37. Mike Snow on May 15th, 2009 9:42 am

    It depends on the sophistication of the pitching machine, I suppose, but I’ve certainly taken batting practice where the machine had a fair amount of variability in pitch location that wasn’t necessarily intended.

  38. DMZ on May 15th, 2009 9:46 am

    Oh yeah. I’ve been pegged by pitching machines more times than I can count.

  39. dingla on May 15th, 2009 9:49 am

    you sure you werent just trying to toughen up?

  40. Mike Snow on May 15th, 2009 9:51 am

    Actually, in Derek’s case, the machine was intentionally throwing at him because he suggested it should be replaced with a human.

  41. TranquilPsychosis on May 15th, 2009 9:51 am

    Oh yeah. I’ve been pegged by pitching machines more times than I can count.

    Well if you’d quit crowding the plate so much they might not get so angry as to throw at you.

  42. joser on May 15th, 2009 9:56 am

    When the author of “The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball” is at the plate, who wouldn’t be brushing him back, machines included?

  43. kinbote on May 15th, 2009 9:56 am

    If it makes anyone feel better here, Ibanez absolutely butchered a ball in leftfield late in the game yesterday, helping the Dodgers win. It looked like a page from the “How to Turn a Single into a Triple” handbook.

  44. joser on May 15th, 2009 10:12 am

    You know, it’s just one game, and what players say to reporters after a game often has little bearing on reality (either in terms of accurately capturing what happened, or in terms of anything going forward), but it’s possible we’ll look back at this otherwise-benighted game as a significant step in the development of Felix Hernandez. We were all freaked out by what the Pitch FX data was telling us, because we were interpreting it in terms of the Felix we’ve grown to know so far. But he was doing something new, and it fooled us, and it fooled the Rangers too. He was facing a lineup that was good at hitting fastballs, even very fast fastballs (just ask Morrow), so he didn’t try to just throw harder. Per Drayer

    “A couple years ago I was a thrower, not a pitcher. Now I am a pitcher. I located all of my pitches today. I don’t want to throw 97 in the middle. I just want to go at the corners and throw my two seamers. They have a pretty good line up and you have to locate your pitches. Michael Young is a great hitter, you see that, two hits against me but if you get the other guys out it will be fine.”

    He struck out Hank Blalock three times, first time change up, second time fastball inside, third fastball away. He said it was a big game for him. I asked what he wanted to do in this game after what happened in Minnesota, he replied, “Pitch. I just want to pitch a great game. I have been struggling for the last two games, I just want to go out there and pitch. Don’t just throw the ball, pitch.”

    We’ve been waiting (and some have been complaining about the wait) for Felix to take the next step. Could this be it? Perhaps something has clicked. Perhaps Rick Adair has said something that finally made sense to him, perhaps Felix himself has finally figured something out, perhaps he’s just grown up a little and isn’t so infatuated with raw velocity. Who knows. It was just one game. But it’s going to be interesting to watch. And in these otherwise-bleak times, having Felix finally grow into the pitcher we always knew he had the stuff to be sure would make it easier to get through the rest of the season (well, every five days, anyway). Now I’m really looking forward to the next Felix Day.

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