Brandon League

Dave · June 17, 2010 at 10:58 am · Filed Under Mariners 

My latest post is up over at Brock and Salk’s blog, dealing with Brandon League’s pitch selection and his disappointing performance so far this year. Check it out if you’d like.

We won’t be doing my radio gig this week, though, as I’ll be on an airplane, and I won’t be around much the next few days. If the team does something drastic, I’ll figure out a way to get a post up, but otherwise, you’ll be in good hands with Jay, Marc, and JH for the weekend.

Comments

20 Responses to “Brandon League”

  1. CCW on June 17th, 2010 11:08 am

    Not sure the best place to comment, but I’ll go with here… I wonder if he’s afraid to throw the splitter (and Johnson is afraid to call for it), because half the time it results in a passed ball or wild pitch. It would be interesting to see if he throws it more when no one is on base. I know when I’m watching a game and League’s in with guys on base, that I’m afraid our catcher will fail to catch the ball…

  2. Adam S on June 17th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Good piece, but it leaves open the question of why?

    Does the catcher not call the splitter? Does he thus not shake the catcher off enough? Is it a Mariners philosophy to throw lots of fastballs?

    If Ichiro started swinging for the fences every time, it wouldn’t be long before someone told him to do what’s worked for the last nine years.

  3. loveMeSomeStats on June 17th, 2010 12:50 pm

    This is starting to feel like a repeating theme with the M’s … the pitchers throw too many fastballs.

    Couple that with Silva in Dave’s piece on fangraphs throwing less fastballs as soon as he leaves the M’s and you have to wonder if the problem isn’t coaching?

  4. Carson on June 17th, 2010 1:52 pm

    Derek has commented a bit more recently, and he did say it was only a semi retirement.

    So, a DMZ game thread for old times would be sweet. Please. I miss the exclamation point.

  5. Dennisss on June 17th, 2010 2:06 pm

    These kinds of posts always leave me a little dissatisfied. If Brandon League could start throwing more splitters and life would be better and the M’s would win more, why isn’t he doing it? We are left to conclude:

    a) Mariners management does not realize the problem, or
    b) They realize, but they for some reason cannot translate that into actual changes in decisions made during the game.

    Neither seems likely. They wouldn’t allow a player to continue doing something that hurts the team, would they? It makes me wonder if Dave may be missing a critical piece of information, i.e. League is really not comfortable with that pitch this year.

  6. Xteve X on June 17th, 2010 4:11 pm

    “They wouldn’t allow a player to continue doing something that hurts the team, would they?”

    Exhibits A, B, C and D: Rob Johnson

    And my suspected answer as to why League doesn’t throw as many splitters this year, you guessed it …

  7. mln on June 17th, 2010 4:24 pm

    The Mariners should petition MLB to allow Rob Johnson to use a butterfly net instead of a catcher’s mitt.

    That might help his passed balls problem … slightly.

  8. georgmi on June 17th, 2010 4:31 pm

    At some level, you have to believe Rob Johnson knows he can’t catch the ball. Whether it’s conscious or not, it has to affect his pitch calling.

    And I doubt League’s splitter would be particularly effective if it were always preceded by a long sequence of signals and shakeoffs, terminated by a mound visit and heated argument.

  9. Dennisss on June 17th, 2010 4:32 pm

    Oooh Rob Johnson … hard to argue with that.

    I just wonder — if Dave can see that League is not using his best pitch, Rob Johnson cannot catch or hit much, Sean White should not be used in high-leverage situations, then why don’t these things get fixed? Either the front office disagrees with Dave, or the infomation is not getting translated into decisions on the field.

    However, we have reason to believe the front office is very good, and the baseball minds here like Wakamatsu. So where is the breakdown?

  10. spankystout on June 17th, 2010 4:36 pm

    League hasn’t been in pitchers counts a ton, which would make him throw more fastballs. When he gets into 0-2, 1-2 counts he will bury that splitter, but only if he is also confident in his backstop.

  11. nemo on June 17th, 2010 5:23 pm

    I am right there with the rest of you… I just don’t understand how something like this can seem so obvious to the fans watching the games, but the coaches don’t seem to notice. Even if they didn’t notice, you would think that they would get the information from somewhere. Maybe Wak needs to start reading U.S.S. Mariner. There must be something else going on here. There’s no way that the organization hasn’t noticed the things that Dave has pointed out. The only possibility that seems plausible is Rob Johnson’s complete lack of ability to catch a flying object. But it doesn’t make sense why Johnson is the starting catcher anyway… he sucks enough as it is, and he’s also dragging down League (and possibly other pitchers)? I just don’t get it. Are we missing something, or is Wak? I wish that some of these things could be explained by the team, instead of leaving fans wondering.

  12. spankystout on June 17th, 2010 5:36 pm

    League’s first pitch strike% is down. 2008-56%, 2009-54.6, 2010-49.7! He isn’t getting ahead.

  13. joser on June 18th, 2010 10:18 am

    I vaguely remember reading or hearing something about the M’s being a bit worried about League’s arm and working with him to change some things to lessen injury risk. Which of course leads to the question of why you would trade for a guy and then immediately change the thing that made you want him in the first place (or why trade for him if you had these kinds of fears) but the folks who make the trades are not the folks who coach the arms, so perhaps there was/is a disconnect there?

  14. spankystout on June 18th, 2010 11:18 am

    Joser

    I remember the same story, it was about his hand position. I believe it was Adair that said it would help him stay healthy. It wasn’t a pitching mechanics overhaul, just a change of the hands. But I do agree why trade one-flaw for another? especially when Morrow has upside that League does not……I’m from Hawaii and I like League. I just don’t like the trade to get him.

  15. joser on June 18th, 2010 2:43 pm

    Well, I understand the trade: the M’s thought they had to “go for it” in the one-year Lee window. Morrow wasn’t viewed as contributer in 2010, whereas a setup guy like League could be. Toronto, a team that considered itself to be in more of a building-for-the-future mode, was willing to take a chance on putting Morrow into the rotation and seeing if he could develop over the long term. And a rebuilding team doesn’t need a lights-out setup man. So even though starter-for-reliever is generally considered to be unbalanced, it was a win-win trade for both teams based on where they thought they were in their timelines.

    Of course, it turned out neither team was quite where it thought it was. Ironically, while some M’s fans might wish a do-over on the trade, Toronto probably wants it even more. They’ve had their bullpen blow a series of wins (several in a row to Tampa Bay, among others), and could really use a reliable arm in the 8th. Meanwhile Morrow hasn’t exactly been lights-out as a starter, though he’s not as bad as his 5+ ERA suggests since it is inflated by bad luck (high BABiP and low strand rate). But factoring that out, I doubt his 4.01 xFIP is setting any Ontario hearts aflutter. In the Jays games I watched there was a lot more agonizing over their bullpen meltdowns than cheerfulness about Morrow’s future.

    But, as we know, League isn’t pitching like he was last year, so there’s no guarantee he’d be helping Toronto either, if he was still with them.

    I’m on the fence with the trade: Morrow is still a question mark, and League is probably fixable (though there’s nothing more unreliable than a reliever). If League can go back to pitching the way he was last year, I still like the deal under the circumstances at the time. Of course if Morrow gets his act together we may have reason to feel regret after the fact, but if that happens at all it may not be until he’s a free agent anyway.

  16. erikec on June 18th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Brandon Morrow leads the league in K/9 and has an ERA of 5.14. Jimenez is 31st in K/9 and 60th in BB/9, yet has an ERA of 1.15 and is 13-1. The eye ball test says that Jimenez is a great pitcher and Morrow is not. ERA says that Jimenez is a great pitcher and Morrow is not. K/9 and BB/9 says that Jimenez is a pretty average pitcher. If ERA is meaningless, why is Jimenez 13-1?

  17. spankystout on June 18th, 2010 3:38 pm

    ERA isn’t meaningless. It just isn’t the best option to evaluate a pitcher, and his talents alone.

  18. mln on June 18th, 2010 4:31 pm

    Catcher’s ERA (CERA), on the other hand, is a critically important sabermetric stat.

    That’s why Rob “CERA” Johnson is so valuable. ;-)

  19. clandon on June 18th, 2010 8:01 pm

    It was a bad trade that was made too early. Adding a setup guy is the proverbial final piece. You don’t make that deal until you finish refurbishing your rotation and lineup. We never got that far in the offseason. To waste an upside asset like morrow for chum limits our flexibility now. It was a dubious move at the time and a horrible move in hindsight.

  20. CasualObserver on June 18th, 2010 11:03 pm

    Clandon is correct. The Morrow trade is one the club will regret. Morrow’s upside as a potential starter was the key. Was rushed then was yanked back and forth never being allowed to develop into a certain role. A ML starting pitcher has a huge value. Brandon League was replaced by the signing of Kevin Gregg. If you do a comparison of just those 2 players you realize how lopsided the potential of the deal could possibly be.

    I’ve watched this deal closely. Thought it was a bad deal and is likely to get worse. Guys, I know you love Zdurencik but this was a terrible deal. If you look into Morrow’s last 6 starts he has gotten progressively better against quality teams(Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Giants)and is likely to settle into a 2 or 3 starter.

    The best instruction he has received has been from Jose Molina who has served as sort of a “Crash Davis” to him. He has emphasized the art of dialing down the FB for command purposes and he has learned to trust his catcher to lead him. Its gotten thru to him. He has turned into a guy with a role and with confidence. Although the record may not show it he is a big part of the Jays rotation because he has stabilized the back end. Not many guys look like him at the 4th or 5th starter spot and he is developing into more than that. Jays would likely do that deal again every day of the week.

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