Show Something Soon, Ian

Dave · September 15, 2009 at 8:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Ian Snell takes the hill for the M’s tonight. He needs to pitch well pretty soon, or the M’s are going to have to seriously re-evaluate whether they can go into the off-season planning on him taking one of the spots in their rotation next year. To be frank, Snell has been terrible since the M’s acquired him. Really, really bad. Here’s a comparison, for instance:

Snell as a Mariner: 40 1/3 IP, 38 H, 6 HR, 28 BB, 21 K, 6.13 FIP
Silva, pre-DL stint: 28 2/3 IP, 38 H, 5 HR, 9 BB, 10 K, 5.91 FIP

They haven’t been terrible in the same way, of course – Silva gave up a ton of hits, while Snell has just been walking everyone in sight, but their performances were roughly equivalent in terms of expected runs allowed. Neither of them have pitched like major league starters in Seattle this year.

When the M’s made the trade with Pittsburgh, they clearly did it with the intention of turning Snell’s career around and sliding him into their rotation for 2010 and beyond. He’s due $4.25 million in salary next year, so he’s going to get a lot of chances to earn his paycheck. But he can’t continue to pitch like he has since the trade and still be penciled into the starting five for 2010. The M’s simply can’t head into spring training next year with Snell expected to break camp in the rotation if he continues to pitch like he has in his first eight starts as a Mariner.

Tonight would be a great time for Snell to show that he can still throw strikes and miss bats. The stuff is good, but his command has been abysmal, and on the nights where he has thrown strikes, he’s been a pitch to contact guy. We have enough of those. We need Ian Snell to get a bunch of outs on his own without putting men on base every inning. We need him to pitch up to his abilities. And we need him to do it soon. Otherwise, he’ll have to be relegated into the already large group of guys who haven’t shown enough to be considered reliable starters for 2010.


19 Responses to “Show Something Soon, Ian”

  1. rmnixon on September 15th, 2009 8:54 am

    I’m just not optimistic. He needs mood altering medication as much as he needs a pitching coach. Ugh…

  2. Paul B on September 15th, 2009 9:26 am

    In AAA this year, he had 13 walks in 37 innings. So he can throw strikes.

    He threw well in 2006 and 2007, then started walking more in 2008, and still more in 2009.

    I don’t get it. Has he lost velocity? Or does he have Steve Blass Disease?

  3. lokiforever on September 15th, 2009 9:52 am

    It’s all in his head. We need the fans in the first few field sections clustered around home plate to all show up in their underwear…..

    so he can get over his stage fright.

  4. fermorules on September 15th, 2009 10:03 am

    I love the way Z, Wak, et al have showed no hesitation to rid the roster of position players who don’t understand hitting, and I hope they rid the staff of pitchers who can’t throw strikes as well.

    It was right there for Snell to take, but so far he has messed up a golden chance to be in the rotation post 2009.

  5. Sports on a Schtick on September 15th, 2009 10:15 am
  6. Liam on September 15th, 2009 10:28 am

    If you hadn’t brought that up Sports on a Schtick, I was also going to ask for Dave’s take on Snell mechanics.

  7. Chris_From_Bothell on September 15th, 2009 10:56 am

    So, what happens if he doesn’t?

    In 2009, does someone else take his spot for his remaining 3 or 4 starts of the year, or is there no one else we really need to see and he might as well eat some innings?

    In 2009 winter, does he become yet another AAAA player thrown into some other trade?

    Or is he going to get the Morrow-is-a-headcase-but-he’s-our-headcase treatment, and the coaching staff will continue to do horse whispering with him for however long it takes, for fear that in AAA he’ll get depressed and it’ll be Pittsburgh all over again?

  8. Pete Livengood on September 15th, 2009 11:00 am

    I don’t want to draw parallels between 12-13U select baseball and MLB, but as a youth coach and a father of a pretty good youth pitcher whose toe land is fairly similar to Snell’s, I’ve spent a prett good amount of time thinking about this and talking to various pitching coaches about it.

    And the conclusion is…I don’t think we can tell. Most of where your toe lands is a function of your body structure. Some pitchers are just so pidgeon-toed that if they tried to land “straight” the way we think he “should,” his hips would be far too open. That’s the issue here – is he too closed at release? Despite the toe, it doesn’t look like it to me.

    I don’t think that’s the problem. I think, as others have mentioned, it is mostly in his head.

  9. Jake N. on September 15th, 2009 11:38 am

    Love the Video there. I do not know much about the Mechanics, but if it is anything like a other athletic motions like a batters swing. There always must be a fluid motion with out one part of your body fighting the other. I do not know if it is by design but his plant and follow through seems to lock up his lower half and stop his body momentum. There is no follow through. His torso seems to get bunched over his left leg that just will not bend with the toe pindgeoned. It does look very odd. I never noticed anything tell I saw that in slowmo. Very cool!

  10. Carson on September 15th, 2009 11:49 am

    And the conclusion is…I don’t think we can tell. Most of where your toe lands is a function of your body structure. Some pitchers are just so pidgeon-toed that if they tried to land “straight” the way we think he “should,” his hips would be far too open. That’s the issue here – is he too closed at release? Despite the toe, it doesn’t look like it to me.

    I was thinking along the same lines, as I’ve noticed this when trying to get the kids to land their toe straight.

    I’ve only been coaching a few years, though, so I’m far from an expert.

  11. bat guano on September 15th, 2009 12:00 pm

    I was sitting behind homeplate at the game where he got lit up by the Yankees and it seemed to me that the biggest problem was pitch selection. His slider looked great, but he was throwing mostly fastballs that were getting pasted. I don’t know whether they were calling for the fastball because he can’t get his breaking stuff over, but the breaking stuff was pretty nasty. If he’s going to be successful, it seems to me that he has to live or die with his best stuff and that means using the slider for his out pitch and keeping the fastball off the middle of the plate.

  12. TomTuttle on September 15th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Look at it this way, would you rather have him struggle like this now when we are .500 or have him struggle in a pennant race?

    I will wait until April-May of next year before giving my judgment about a guy who is still learning how to pitch to A.L. lineups and isn’t getting paid $13.5 million.

  13. Pete Livengood on September 15th, 2009 1:00 pm

    I should also say that the reverse is also sometimes true. Anybody here old enough to remember Roy Thomas? I couldn’t find a single illustrative picture, but that guy was so bow-legged, with feet splayed outward, that if you had asked him to stop his toe when pointing toward first, instead of basically at at 45-degree angle toward FIRST, his hips would remain closed and he wouldn’t have been able to throw strikes.

    Everybody is a little different, and the relationship of their natural foot position to their hips will say a LOT about where their most natural landing position will be. Too many pitching coaches want everybody to do the same thing, and to “look right,” when all they are doing is asking a pitcher to fight his natural body structures and position.

    I haven’t watched Snell closely enough to know, but I’d guess he’s pretty pidgeon-toed. I’d agree that for most people you want your foot/toe to be mostly pointed toward home (actually just a tad short to the 3B side of right toward home), but I am skeptical of ANY coach who stresses that as a hard and fast rule. If a pitcher is failing to do that and his momentum is not heading mostly toward home, that’s a problem, especially if he’s landing on his heel as well. However, not having your foot where it is “supposed to be” doesn’t always mean that you are too open or too closed or that your momentum is not being optimized. That is mostly a function of body structure, which is going to be slightly different for everybody.

  14. Scottdids on September 15th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Bat guano, that Yankees game was when the bullpen was burned out from the night before (that could have been the 15th inning 1-0 win over the White Sox).

    Snell, the announcing team said, was told to throw fastballs and get as deep into the game as possible because he was out there for 100 pitches no matter what. And the Yankees, predictably, teed off on him.

  15. cdowley on September 15th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Re: Ian’s mechanics

    My own toe land was very similar to Ian’s when I pitched, but my early control issues didn’t seem to stem from that. In fact, when my coach and I tried to correct the toe, my control only got worse.

    We ultimately changed two things: we dropped where my hands were through most of my windup, and dropped my arm slot a bit (from a Pineiro-like high slot to more of a middle-low slot). When we did that, my control synched in real quick, and my breaking pitches (a slider and a forkball) picked up a bit more bite, too. My toe land stayed pretty much the same as it had been before.

    My coach made a similar adjustment with another one of our pitchers, and he went on to ultimately get drafted by (ironically) the Pirates before he went to college and converted into a center fielder.

    Haven’t seen enough of Ian to know if that kind of mechanical adjustment could help him at all, but it is at least an indicator that the toe may not be the root of the problem at all.

  16. kenshabby on September 15th, 2009 10:25 pm

    So did he show something tonight? I suppose it was one of his best performances as a Mariner.

  17. scott19 on September 15th, 2009 11:52 pm

    Well, only one wobbly inning didn’t seem too terribly bad to me. Too bad Wak — who I haven’t criticized too much this year, BTW — had so little faith in him after only eighty-some pitches that he chose not to let him go out for the seventh.

  18. Mekias on September 16th, 2009 7:43 am

    Being September, Wak has a lot of arms in the pen that need to be tested out so I have no problem with Snell being taken out after 6. It might have also been to avoid any chance of Snell falling apart and ruining his fragile mental state.

  19. Mike Snow on September 16th, 2009 8:53 am

    It was also reported that he jammed his wrist fielding the bunt in the fifth, so another reason to be cautious.

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