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  1. #1
    Sports Guy's Avatar
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    HHP: JJ as a starter..in the minors and what it means now

    So, JJ last started in 2007(he had one AAA start in 2008, that lasted 4 innings, so I am not counting that).

    In that season, he appeared in 26 games and 25 of them were starts. He threw 148 IP, or just under 6 IP per start.

    His walk rate was just under 3, his K rate was 6.6 and his HR rate was just under 1. He did that at age 24 and in a pitchers league.

    The year before that, in Bowie, he had 26 starts. He again pitched about 6 IP per start. His K rate was .5K better and his walk rate was a little more than .3 higher than what he expereinced in AAA the next season. His HR rate was .75, a little better than it was in AAA.

    So, what do these stats tell us? They tell us that he did a good job eating innings, that his K and BB numbers were respectable and that he didn't give up a ton of homers.

    His ERAs in those seasons were 4.44 in Bowie and 4.07 in Norfolk. I am willing to give him somewhat of a pass on those numbers because his hit rate was a little high and since his a guy who gets grounders, maybe the defense and field conditions behind him hurt him and led to a high BABIP against him.

    In the minors, he showed some promise that he could perhaps be a #4 type guy who could eat innings.

    All of that is sort of encouraging IMO.

    HOWEVER, it has been 4 years since he last started a game on any kind of a consistent basis.

    he threw 91 IP last year, a season after he had some injury issues and only threw 26. In 2008 and 2009, he averaged 69 IP between the 2 years.

    So, he has shown, when healthy, that he can be a BP pitcher that can go out, be effective and give you multiple innings. That's a rare commodity in today's game.

    He has also shown that when he got to the pen, that his stuff got better...of course, that happens to almost every starter turned reliever, so I am not sure we can really put that much weight into that. We can not assume that he is going to be as nasty...The velocity will go down, the movement will not be as good, the hitters will see him more often, so he likely won't be as good.

    Still, does all of that mean that you don't at least see what you have with him as a starter for 15-20 starts?

    I think its a dumb idea to just say, let's see how he does in ST. Its a small sampling of innings and will really tell you very little.

    If you are committed to the idea of making him a starter, then you do it. You do it until at least the AS break.

    I think its a poor idea...I think you capatilize on his value now because he has been up and down and he has been injury prone....So, get rid of him now, get more pieces that are more important and move on. If not, I prefer him in the role he had last year and getting better starters. However, if you feel that you can't attract any decent starters at a good price and you aren't trading anyone to get more pitching in here, then I guess you can try JJ out.

    I think its lazy and I think its a poor decision but at least there is some chance that he can be a guy that can eat some innings and give you a good enough ERA to justify keeping him in the rotation.


  2. #2
    Frobby is online now Hangout Blogger Hall of Fame Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation
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    When JJ got called up in 2008, it was reported that the coaches had gotten him to lengthen his stride and this was making a big difference with the life on his fastball. So, I don't necessarily think we should rely on his minor league stats too much, except to conclude that he had pretty decent stamina as a starter and went pretty deep in games compared to most MiL starters.

    I am not a proponent of this experiment, but if they do it, it won't bother me much, either. The team isn't likely to contend in 2012, so it's not as if this move will ruin their pennant chances if it fails. On the other hand, if it succeeds, it changes the overall picture in a positive direction. And if Jim Palmer thinks JJ can be a good starter, who am I to say he can't?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frobby View Post
    When JJ got called up in 2008, it was reported that the coaches had gotten him to lengthen his stride and this was making a big difference with the life on his fastball. So, I don't necessarily think we should rely on his minor league stats too much, except to conclude that he had pretty decent stamina as a starter and went pretty deep in games compared to most MiL starters.

    I am not a proponent of this experiment, but if they do it, it won't bother me much, either. The team isn't likely to contend in 2012, so it's not as if this move will ruin their pennant chances if it fails. On the other hand, if it succeeds, it changes the overall picture in a positive direction. And if Jim Palmer thinks JJ can be a good starter, who am I to say he can't?
    The problem is, Palmer's point is predicated around the idea that his stuff is much better...which it is.

    But I have never heard Palmer say that you normally see your stuff get better once you move to the pen. Its like he is ignoring that aspect of things and just assuming that the same stuff can be carried over for 170+ IP over a full season.

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    Wasn't Cj Wilson a reliever before being a successful starter?

  5. #5
    Sports Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beardbr View Post
    Wasn't Cj Wilson a reliever before being a successful starter?
    Yep...as was D Lowe.

  6. #6
    CA-ORIOLE is online now Plus Members Since 9/11 Hall of Fame Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sports Guy View Post
    The problem is, Palmer's point is predicated around the idea that his stuff is much better...which it is.

    But I have never heard Palmer say that you normally see your stuff get better once you move to the pen. Its like he is ignoring that aspect of things and just assuming that the same stuff can be carried over for 170+ IP over a full season.
    In addition to the improved velocity, his changeup and curve have gotten better. The changeup particulary. His time in the pen may have given him more time to work on those pitches. That's not a result of his stuff getting better because he was to the pen (i.e. throwing his fastball faster or focusing on 2 pitches etc.). He's just a better pitcher with better tools to work with than he was 4 years ago.
    That improvement can help become a better starter than he could have been 4 years ago.
    Last edited by CA-ORIOLE; 11-22-2011 at 12:08 PM.

  7. #7
    Frobby is online now Hangout Blogger Hall of Fame Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sports Guy View Post
    The problem is, Palmer's point is predicated around the idea that his stuff is much better...which it is.

    But I have never heard Palmer say that you normally see your stuff get better once you move to the pen. Its like he is ignoring that aspect of things and just assuming that the same stuff can be carried over for 170+ IP over a full season.
    Well, this gets back to my point about JJ lengthening his stride in 2008. How much of his uptick was related to that, and how much was related to the move to the pen? And on a related point, is it easier to maintain your mechanics (e.g., stride length) when only pitching 1-2 innings, and thus will his fastball lose life and straighten out as he reaches the middle innings? I don't know the answers -- maybe we are going to find out.

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    clapdiddy is offline Plus Member Since 02/03 Hall of Fame Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sports Guy View Post
    Yep...as was D Lowe.
    I'm also guessing that Neftali Feliz will fall into this category.

  9. #9
    CA-ORIOLE is online now Plus Members Since 9/11 Hall of Fame Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by clapdiddy View Post
    I'm also guessing that Neftali Feliz will fall into this category.
    Ogando was a reliever as well.

  10. #10
    mcgraw238 is offline Plus Member since 12/09 All-Star Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation
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    I don't think you can say JJ's improvement in stuff is soley attributable to the move from starter to pen. JJ and others in the organization would disagree:

    But when the Orioles needed some pitching help early in the year they turned to Johnson, who says he is more confident now and has made some changes with his mechanics over the years.

    "Maybe it's just getting the chance to go out there and play," he said.

    He said a big key has been his command of his fastball.

    "If your locate your fastball well you can locate your other pitches," Johnson said. "You can get ahead of the hitters and put them on the defensive."

    "He's improved his delivery, he's had better life on his fastball," Trembley said. "He's tightened up his curve. For a guy that's never pitched out of the bullpen before, he's been resilient with the ability to pitch back to back days."
    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sec...?StoryID=75176

    We won't know how this will work out until sometime down the road but I'd hardly describe it as lazy. Rather, I'd describe it as thinking outside the box which is something this organization rarely does. I see a guy with 3 quality pitches who hits 95-97 on the fastball out of the pen. If he can maintain 92-94 on the fastball as a starter, then I think he has a chance to be successful.

  11. #11
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    I am starting to be more in favor of this experiment.

  12. #12
    CA-ORIOLE is online now Plus Members Since 9/11 Hall of Fame Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frobby View Post
    And on a related point, is it easier to maintain your mechanics (e.g., stride length) when only pitching 1-2 innings, and thus will his fastball lose life and straighten out as he reaches the middle innings? I don't know the answers -- maybe we are going to find out.
    For me, I think this is probably the bigger concern with JJ. He's tall, throws downward and that's a tougher frame of reference to keep.

  13. #13
    Sports Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CA-ORIOLE View Post
    In addition to the improved velocity, his changeup and curve have gotten better. The changeup particulary. His time in the pen may have given him more time to work on those pitches. That's not a result of his stuff getting better because he was to the pen (i.e. throwing his fastball faster or focusing on 2 pitches etc.). He's just a better pitcher with better tools to work with than he was 4 years ago.
    That improvement can help become a better starter than he could have been 4 years ago.
    But will his changeup and curve be as effective 3 and 4 times through a lineup, over the course of 175+ IP?

  14. #14
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    I'm on record as saying this will fail and for several reason:

    One, over his career, he's much better through the first 25 pitches then he is afterwards.

    Code:
                                                                                                                                
    I          Split   G   PA  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB  SO SO/BB   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS  TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+
         Pitch  1-25 215 1000 904 91 223 31  6 13  1  1 70 150  2.14 .247 .305  .337  .643 305  36   9 11  6   8   8  .281    93
         Pitch 26-50  36   84  73 14  23  1  0  2  0  0 11  18  1.64 .315 .405  .411  .816  30   0   0  0  0   2   3  .396   146
         Pitch 51-75   1    5   3  2   2  1  0  0  0  0  1   0  0.00 .667 .600 1.000 1.600   3   0   0  0  1   0   0  .500   376
        Pitch 76-100   1    6   5  5   3  1  0  1  0  0  0         0 .600 .667 1.400 2.067   7   0   1  0  0   0   0  .500   511
    Secondly, he's a power-sinker/changeup guy with a slightly below average curveball that tends to roll on him at times. Johnson's stuff starts to take a noticeable dive around that 25-pitch mark and his curveball especially starts to roll.

    Lastly, as a minor league starter, Johnson sat 90-92 with some 93 and 94 thrown in on occasion, but he never had overwhelming stuff in a starter's role. Maybe he gets a bump due to the adjustments he's made over the last few years, but I just don't see anything in his starting past or his major league endurance that suggests he's going to become anything more than back end of the rotation starter at best.

    I just think the club should not weaken it's bullpen for a chance that Johnson can be a back of the rotation guy. I respect Buck and if he thinks he can do it then I guess I'll support them trying, but I'll go on record as saying I don't think this is going to work.

  15. #15
    mcgraw238 is offline Plus Member since 12/09 All-Star Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation Reputation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sports Guy View Post
    But will his changeup and curve be as effective 3 and 4 times through a lineup, over the course of 175+ IP?
    This question will be answered once he gets out there and faces a lineup 3-4 times in a game. His success as a starter hinges on the ability to maintain his stuff 3-4 time through.

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