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  1. #1
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    On the Record: Analysis of Brian Matusz

    Brian Matusz is a bit of a polarizing player here at the OH. I've always said the power of the Hangout is it's intelligent posters so I thought I'd start a thread where people can put down how they feel about Matusz in December of 2011. Some facts about Matusz:

    1.) He was 4th overall pick in 2008 who flew through the minor leagues in 2009 on his way to the major leagues in his first professional season.
    2.) He has lost three MPH off his fastball since his debut in 2009.
    3.) In 270 major league innings, batters have hit .285 with a .818 OPS against him, he has a 5.53 ERA and he's averaged 5.2 innings per start.
    4) He's a fairly extreme flyball pitcher (0.50 GB/FB and 0.64 GO/AO).
    5) He doesn't hold runners well (83% success rate despite having Wieters as his catcher).
    6) His career ERA against AL East teams:
    TOR - 18.56 in 3 starts
    TAM - 5.70 in 6 starts
    NYY - 4.70 in 7 starts
    BOS - 4.02 in 6 starts
    7) Every one of his career pitch values per 100 pitches are below average (-0.52 wFB/C, -0.97 wSL/C, -0.22, wCB/C, -1.69 wCH/C)
    8) He had statistically the worse season ever for any starter who made 10 starts or more in a season that they only started games.

    Some questions to consider:
    1) What is his overall potential? Does he still have TOR stuff despite the stats?
    2) What type of value does he have?
    3) How much weight do you give those 11 good starts at the end of 2010 where he put up a 2.18 ERA and held batters to a .211 batting average while putting up a 52/16 K/BB ratio over 62 innings?
    4) Does his extreme flyball ratio make him a bad fit for Camden Yards?

    I started to do some work with Pitch F/x numbers last night and the only that stood out was his lack of "whiff" rate for his pitches, especially last year. He also may be tipping his curveball with a higher release point.

    Either way, I'd like to see you guys do a pretty detailed analysis on Matusz. We've heard the concerns over him self-admittingly coming into camp not in pitching shape last year and we've heard the rumors that he didn't get along with pitch coach Rick Adair. We also know he is working with Brady this offseason and the hope is that he can get him ready to pitch better in 2012. But even if he comes into camp in great shape, does he have the stuff to compete in the AL East and does it work in Camden Yards. Another thing to consider is giving him a clean slate in another organization best for everyone involved?

    Let's see what you guys come up with.


  2. #2
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    78 views and 0 replies might mean people are tired of the topic. People voice opinions about Matusz, SG says they're wrong. It's in multiple threads. He'll either be traded and we hope he tanks, or he won't be traded, and we hope he'll be awesome.

    For my part, if he can land someone of Jurrjens' caliber, I'm all for it. I'm less inclined to part with him for Floyd, but wouldn't flip out. I'd rather us find a way to acquire good starting pitching without trading him to see if he can regain his potential.

    All I know is last year, he was extremely hittable and he couldn't throw as many strikes. Who are we to say whether or not that can be fixed in any particular player? It could be fixed - or it might not be able to be fixed. It really depends on the individual.

    So, all in all....

  3. #3
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    Brian Matusz is probably the one guy who I just can't get a feel for.

    I think this is a great thread Tony and I've been trying to do some research on him the last few days. One of things that I've found so far is that there are plenty of reports that suggest that Matusz is very coachable and has a great mound presence. That seems to fly in the face of what we've seen from Matusz so far.

    When Matusz first came up, one thing that stood out to me was that his changeup. He threw more changeups in 2009 as a percentage of pitches thrown in any other year but the numbers aren't too drastic. It does make me ask two questions however: 1) if we are going to make him a different pitcher than from what he was in college, why did we draft him so high and 2) is his fastball good enough to play at the major league level.

    I can't also help but to think that Matusz would be the perfect target for a rebuilding Orioles. He'd be absolutely a guy I would trade a Jeremy Guthrie for in some package. The problem with that however, is that I just don't know where the Orioles stand. To me it looks like we are trying to get incrementally better this year and that might ultimately mean that Matusz is out of the mix with the Orioles. That would be a terrible mistake in my opinion.

    I wish I could form an opinion on him right now. If I can't form an opinion him now, than I wouldn't make any moves regarding him unless someone made an offer for a 2008 Brian Matusz. Absent of that, I think you've got to give him at least through the spring and figure out where he is.

  4. #4
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    I have said this before in other threads about the young pitching, but I will state my opinion on it here as well. By my count we had CT, BMat, Jake, Zach, and at the time BB. The odds are that out of 5 young upside pitchers only maybe 2 would have a shot at an extended ML career. Atleast in their current roles as a SP. I am sure some of the better researchers could come up with a solid number on the percentages, but that is kust my opinion.

    I am in noway implying that BMat would be one of the pitchers that fails, but it happens every draft.

    Also, I'm surprised that his ERA against Boston, and NY are as good as they are. That is certainly a positive for him and the O's. That also makes me wonder why this team has such a hard time against Toronto?

    I really think 2011 was a wasted year fpr him, and hope that he can be healthy and productive in 2012 for Baltimore or any other team he may pitch for.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miller192 View Post
    Brian Matusz is probably the one guy who I just can't get a feel for.

    I think this is a great thread Tony and I've been trying to do some research on him the last few days. One of things that I've found so far is that there are plenty of reports that suggest that Matusz is very coachable and has a great mound presence. That seems to fly in the face of what we've seen from Matusz so far.

    When Matusz first came up, one thing that stood out to me was that his changeup. He threw more changeups in 2009 as a percentage of pitches thrown in any other year but the numbers aren't too drastic. It does make me ask two questions however: 1) if we are going to make him a different pitcher than from what he was in college, why did we draft him so high and 2) is his fastball good enough to play at the major league level.

    I can't also help but to think that Matusz would be the perfect target for a rebuilding Orioles. He'd be absolutely a guy I would trade a Jeremy Guthrie for in some package. The problem with that however, is that I just don't know where the Orioles stand. To me it looks like we are trying to get incrementally better this year and that might ultimately mean that Matusz is out of the mix with the Orioles. That would be a terrible mistake in my opinion.

    I wish I could form an opinion on him right now. If I can't form an opinion him now, than I wouldn't make any moves regarding him unless someone made an offer for a 2008 Brian Matusz. Absent of that, I think you've got to give him at least through the spring and figure out where he is.
    You kind of touched on what the biggest problem is. His FB was always the key back in 2008, it was going to be just playable at the ML level if he could work out the command with it so he could set up his change and curve. Either he's taken MPH off of it so he can command it better, OR something has happened that has cost him a couple MPH (but only on the FB, the rest of the pitches are fine, so make of that what you will). The problem being the less MPH on the FB, the less of a difference between that and his out-pitch change up.

    When I saw him in AA a bunch, he would lead off with a FB or SL, and set up for a change that moved down and in a bit on RH, but that's where he got a good chunk of his strikeouts, guys swinging at that change. Now that the difference isn't there, (and I think Tony is right, I think he's tipping his CV) guys can sit back on it and they aren't striking out on it anymore.

    He's not a GB pitcher so the defense shouldn't be as much of a factor as it is for Britton, but a FB pitcher in CY is never a good thing unless you have a low contact rate. I hate to say it, but Brian was born to pitch in SD, and as much as I still believe in him both as a person and a pitcher, I have to think if we can get good value for him now, it's better than him getting knocked around here, losing value and going somewhere else for nothing where he becomes great. OAK for Gonzalez would be a great place to look. I can see the general interest in JJ in ATL, but I'm wary anytime ATL wants to trade someone, and they don't look to be moving anyone else, JUST him, so thats a red flag. I feel like we might have missed the boat a bit, trading Matusz for AGonz back in 2010 would have been ideal if you can get him to agree to an extension pre-trade.

    I sit on the fence a bit, but I really believe in Brian and his stuff, I just don't think it's ever going to be at it's best here.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miller192 View Post
    Brian Matusz is probably the one guy who I just can't get a feel for.

    I think this is a great thread Tony and I've been trying to do some research on him the last few days. One of things that I've found so far is that there are plenty of reports that suggest that Matusz is very coachable and has a great mound presence. That seems to fly in the face of what we've seen from Matusz so far.

    When Matusz first came up, one thing that stood out to me was that his changeup. He threw more changeups in 2009 as a percentage of pitches thrown in any other year but the numbers aren't too drastic. It does make me ask two questions however: 1) if we are going to make him a different pitcher than from what he was in college, why did we draft him so high and 2) is his fastball good enough to play at the major league level.

    I can't also help but to think that Matusz would be the perfect target for a rebuilding Orioles. He'd be absolutely a guy I would trade a Jeremy Guthrie for in some package. The problem with that however, is that I just don't know where the Orioles stand. To me it looks like we are trying to get incrementally better this year and that might ultimately mean that Matusz is out of the mix with the Orioles. That would be a terrible mistake in my opinion.

    I wish I could form an opinion on him right now. If I can't form an opinion him now, than I wouldn't make any moves regarding him unless someone made an offer for a 2008 Brian Matusz. Absent of that, I think you've got to give him at least through the spring and figure out where he is.
    Great post. Without a doubt Matusz is tough to read. When I met him at Bowie he was extremely affable, confident, but above all he seemed liked he loved the game and wanted to explore all avenues on how to get better. Coaches said he was a sponge for knowledge and him, Britton and Caleb Joseph always stood out as the guys who had the greatest desire to succeed. Since then, I've heard comments like, "He's got bigleagueitis" and that his coachability came into question under Connors and Adair. I've heard other rumors about him, but I'm not going to get into his off the field stuff because to me they are just rumors, but a lot of this stuff adds up to a guy who might have believed his own hype after the 11 great starts at the end of 2010 and may have changed a bit.

    This is why I'm leaning more towards the fact that I would need to get a very nice return for him before I would consider moving him, despite the fact that his stats tell me otherwise. I keep thinking in the back of mind that Matusz is a smart kid, he's made some mistakes, but he's smart enough to correct them. Working out with Brady this off season is step one for him in my opinion.

    I also like the fact that the Orioles are adding starters and right now he's probably fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation. That's a good thing in my opinion because the hungry Matusz was a guy that had TOR stuff. I have no idea how things are working out with Brady with him but I'd put a lot of stock into what Brady says about his attitude and work ethic and go from there if I'm the Orioles.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony-OH View Post
    Great post. Without a doubt Matusz is tough to read. When I met him at Bowie he was extremely affable, confident, but above all he seemed liked he loved the game and wanted to explore all avenues on how to get better. Coaches said he was a sponge for knowledge and him, Britton and Caleb Joseph always stood out as the guys who had the greatest desire to succeed. Since then, I've heard comments like, "He's got bigleagueitis" and that his coachability came into question under Connors and Adair. I've heard other rumors about him, but I'm not going to get into his off the field stuff because to me they are just rumors, but a lot of this stuff adds up to a guy who might have believed his own hype after the 11 great starts at the end of 2010 and may have changed a bit.

    This is why I'm more leaning towards the fact that I would need to get a very nice return for him before I would consider moving him, despite the fact that his stats tell me otherwise. I keep thinking in the back of mind that Matusz is a smart kid, he's made some mistakes, but he's smart enough to correct them. Working out with Brady this off season is step one for him in my opinion.

    I also like the fact that the Orioles are adding starters and right now he's probably fighting for the 5th spot in the rotation. That's a good thing in my opinion because the hungry Matusz was a guy that had TOR stuff. I have no idea how things are working out with Brady with him but I'd put a lot of stock into what Brady says about his attitude and work ethic and go from there if I'm the Orioles.
    Where do you think the organization is on him? He's now had two GMs, two MLB managers, and three MLB pitching coaches. You think they have an idea on what to do with him?

  8. #8
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    one things i consider in most of his overall stats are how badly they were affected by 2011 which was an injured year for him. I think 2010 was mostly the norm for him and not 2011

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by allstar1579 View Post
    You kind of touched on what the biggest problem is. His FB was always the key back in 2008, it was going to be just playable at the ML level if he could work out the command with it so he could set up his change and curve. Either he's taken MPH off of it so he can command it better, OR something has happened that has cost him a couple MPH (but only on the FB, the rest of the pitches are fine, so make of that what you will). The problem being the less MPH on the FB, the less of a difference between that and his out-pitch change up.

    When I saw him in AA a bunch, he would lead off with a FB or SL, and set up for a change that moved down and in a bit on RH, but that's where he got a good chunk of his strikeouts, guys swinging at that change. Now that the difference isn't there, (and I think Tony is right, I think he's tipping his CV) guys can sit back on it and they aren't striking out on it anymore.

    He's not a GB pitcher so the defense shouldn't be as much of a factor as it is for Britton, but a FB pitcher in CY is never a good thing unless you have a low contact rate. I hate to say it, but Brian was born to pitch in SD, and as much as I still believe in him both as a person and a pitcher, I have to think if we can get good value for him now, it's better than him getting knocked around here, losing value and going somewhere else for nothing where he becomes great. OAK for Gonzalez would be a great place to look. I can see the general interest in JJ in ATL, but I'm wary anytime ATL wants to trade someone, and they don't look to be moving anyone else, JUST him, so thats a red flag. I feel like we might have missed the boat a bit, trading Matusz for AGonz back in 2010 would have been ideal if you can get him to agree to an extension pre-trade.

    I sit on the fence a bit, but I really believe in Brian and his stuff, I just don't think it's ever going to be at it's best here.
    I think you could be correct about that. It's not hard for me to imagine him developing quicker in a place like Oakland or San Diego. He really might not be the best fit here and I don't think all the turnover is beneficial to a guy that has taken a step back.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan-O View Post
    78 views and 0 replies might mean people are tired of the topic... So, all in all....
    I think your first sentence is wrong and your last sentence is right. We could talk the tiniest detail to death, but we just don't know what to make of Matusz. I sure don't.

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    I'm hopeful of a great season by Matusz in an Orioles uniform this season. I share some of the concerns about his fly ball tendencies and loss of velocity, but would not consider dealing him unless we had some high-end talent coming back.

    I think he would be great in a park like Oakland, Seattle, or San Diego. I think he can succeed here, but, like allstar1579 said, he would likely be more successful in a big ballpark.

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    There were two pitchers selected in the top ten in 2008 Brian and Aaron Crow. Crow was an All Star last year and I don't think he actually signed until 2009. All this is to say I wasn't as high as others on Brian when he was selected. Clearly, it wasn't a very good class for pitchers. However, I thought Joe Jordon missed the boat when he didn't select the power arm. We even selected Hobgood ahead of him the next year. Sheesh.

    Anyway, since he's been a pro I've been extremely impresed with Brian as a person. This has had to have been one of the most difficult periods in his career and I think he has handled it very well. I have a lot of respect for him.

    I don't know why he has lost so much velocity off of his fastball but that is the most disconcerting element of Matuzs' demise IMO. He didn't have a lot of velocity to begin with so it just makes it that much worse now. Everything, works off the fastball, so they say, and Brian has lost confidence in it and subsequently his other pitches.

    As you pointed out Tony, Brian's stats don't bode well for his future performance.
    It really boils down to how much you believe in his potential against what he as shown so far. My hunch is that he is not nearly as bad as he was last year nor is he as good as he showed at the end of 2010. If we can get a quality arm and some other pieces in return for Matusz, I'd go for it. It's a risk to be sure, but it's one I'd be willing to take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NCRaven View Post
    I think your first sentence is wrong and your last sentence is right. We could talk the tiniest detail to death, but we just don't know what to make of Matusz. I sure don't.
    Yeah, you're probably right. This thread will more than likely blow up in the end.

  14. #14
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    You only move him if the deal brings you back a good young position player who has lots of service time left.

    Including him in a deal where you get back a player with 1 or 2 years of time left on his contract is a poor move.

    I fear that the Orioles are going to do something stupid here.

    I will say this about BMat...while I believe he has to be better conditioned, I do feel that is a big cop out for many people. His conditioning wasn't so poor that he went from a very good pitcher to awful. That was just a small aspect of it.

    He needs to get back to doing what makes him successful. The Orioles have been butchers to some of our young arms. The way they have handled BMat and Tillman is horrendous. Stop trying to change what works for them.

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    Not sure about the makeup side of things, but what stood out to me the most last year was his inability to locate basically any of his pitches with any consistency.

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