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Dan Duquette on O's pitching philosophy: "We don't like the cutter"


Orsino

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Lost in the discussion of the cutter is DD's other interesting statement in Melewski's piece, which is that he believes that success at AA is sufficient evidence that a young player is ready for the majors. Hence the Machado callup, and we should expect Bundy to skip AAA as well.

I wonder if DD would apply this rule just to the blue chip prospects, or whether he believes it's true for all prospects.

Many or most top prospects spend little time in AAA. For a long time AAA has been mostly an extension of the major league roster. Journeymen and organizational soldiers serving as ready spares on hand for emergencies.

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If I were Bundy, I'd throw my cutter just like Mariano and tell Duquette it's just a fastball.

One of my favorite Earl Weaver stories is the one where, when managing in the minors, the O's gave him a first baseman and told him to play him at third. Earl knew he couldn't play third and in doing so he'd cost his team wins, so he played him at first but sent the O's doctored box scores indicating he was playing third. Every day he lived in fear that a scout in the stands would figure out what he was doing and he'd get fired.

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Many or most top prospects spend little time in AAA. For a long time AAA has been mostly an extension of the major league roster. Journeymen and organizational soldiers serving as ready spares on hand for emergencies.

This is the nature of the game today, and one I don't agree with.

Machado, yeah, he was a call up of necessity so I support it.

However, I think it does prospects good to go through AAAA players for an extended period.

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One of my favorite Earl Weaver stories is the one where, when managing in the minors, the O's gave him a first baseman and told him to play him at third. Earl knew he couldn't play third and in doing so he'd cost his team wins, so he played him at first but sent the O's doctored box scores indicating he was playing third. Every day he lived in fear that a scout in the stands would figure out what he was doing and he'd get fired.

He should have been fired. Minors leagues exist for the purpose of developing talent to win at the major league level. Pushing for wins in the minors is secondary to development.

Obviously his philosophy was better suited to the majors, which is why he's a HOFer.

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Sounds to me like a philosophy of "We're going to fit and round pegs into round holes, and hey, also square pegs into round holes, and dammit any kind of peg you give me I'm putting it in a round hole!"

I don't like the idea of trying to take every pitcher and mold them into the same player, with the same repertoire of pitches, and pay no mind whatsoever to what their best skills and specialties were in the first place.

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This is the nature of the game today, and one I don't agree with.

Machado, yeah, he was a call up of necessity so I support it.

However, I think it does prospects good to go through AAAA players for an extended period.

I think it's counter-productive to have players go through steps not because they benefit from it, but because your SOP says to do that.

For much of baseball history prospects most definitely did not have a set, linear promotion schedule. Maybe a more structured approach is progress. But most HOFers didn't go rookie-A-AA-AAA. Brooks had 42 AAA games, all of them after he'd already accumulated 700 major league PAs. Palmer went straight from A ball to the majors at 19. Boog only played for three of the O's nine affiliates, skipping from low-D to Class B to AAA. Pudge Rodriguez to this day has never played an inning of AAA ball, not even on rehab. Nick has never played AAA ball.

Let the player dictate the schedule, not the other way around.

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Sounds to me like a philosophy of "We're going to fit and round pegs into round holes, and hey, also square pegs into round holes, and dammit any kind of peg you give me I'm putting it in a round hole!"

I don't like the idea of trying to take every pitcher and mold them into the same player, with the same repertoire of pitches, and pay no mind whatsoever to what their best skills and specialties were in the first place.

I read the comments more like "we have a philosophy and a structure, and we're not completely abandoning what we think is right the first time we have a good prospect who likes throw cutters."

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And you know Duquette hasn't done this because?

He's a busy man giving a quickie interview to a sports reporter. He is not presenting a research paper at an academic conference or arguing a difficult court case.

Even before taking the Orioles job, he was giving lectures around the country on the use of statistical analysis in baseball. Now, I don't know for sure that he has examined the issue in greater statistical detail.

But I wouldn't want to bet against it.

I criticized it as he phrased it.

"Why don't you take a look at the chart with the average against cutters in the big leagues, batting average against and then come back and tell me that that's a great pitch," Duquette said.

Perhaps they've done more, but it's not evidenced in his language. And he chose how to articulate it. But, to be clear, I'm not foreclosing (or even seriously questioning the likelihood) that the O's have done more fine-grained analysis than DD's words suggest. I sure hope they have, in fact.

In the end, the "insanity" of the O's new stance really comes down to whether the O's are setting up a quasi-bright line rule, or whether it's a general disfavor that will be applied pragmatically and individually to pitchers (and pitching prospects). If it's the former, well, it's kind of silly (except maybe to brianod). If it's the latter, then I don't think anyone will have any problem with it. If it's somewhere in between, then folks will disagree along the way. Kind of like everything else.

I mean, even advocates agree that you have to be careful, so I have no problem with the team's concerns:

We know what you're thinking: If the cutter is so devastating, why is it just now becoming so popular?

"Back a couple of years ago, the reason not a lot of people threw it is there was always a rumor about losing your fastball if you threw a cutter," said Milwaukee's Greinke, who just this week committed to throwing it. "I don't know if people are getting away from that thought or what, because that was really the main reason not to throw it back in the day."

Greinke heard that some pitchers "fell in love" with the cutter, and, to their detriment, lost the feel or velocity on their four-seam fastball.

Leiter knows about that.

"I fell in love with it so much that at times I would lose the feel of my fastball as a result of not getting extension and finishing," Leiter said. "In some instances, you can actually lose velocity. You're so tuned into what the cutter is doing."

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I think it's counter-productive to have players go through steps not because they benefit from it, but because your SOP says to do that.

For much of baseball history prospects most definitely did not have a set, linear promotion schedule. Maybe a more structured approach is progress. But most HOFers didn't go rookie-A-AA-AAA. Brooks had 42 AAA games, all of them after he'd already accumulated 700 major league PAs. Palmer went straight from A ball to the majors at 19. Boog only played for three of the O's nine affiliates, skipping from low-D to Class B to AAA. Pudge Rodriguez to this day has never played an inning of AAA ball, not even on rehab. Nick has never played AAA ball.

Let the player dictate the schedule, not the other way around.

Well if you're talking HOF, or MVP, or All-star talent, it's less signifigant.

If you're talking Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes, then it's probably different.

I stand by what I said. For the vast majority of guys, it would do them well to spend some time in AAA against older, and seasoned competition, that can better acclimate them to what they're going to see in the MLs.

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I criticized it as he phrased it. Perhaps they've done more, but it's not evidenced in his language. And he chose how to articulate it. But, to be clear, I'm not foreclosing (or even seriously questioning the likelihood) that the O's have done more fine-grained analysis than DD's words suggest. I sure hope they have, in fact.

I read it differently. When someone says show me a stat that says X, and I'll rethink my position, it leads me to believe they've seen the stats and feel confident you won't find much there. But I agree that is a subjective reading between the lines.

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I think it's counter-productive to have players go through steps not because they benefit from it, but because your SOP says to do that.

Let the player dictate the schedule, not the other way around.

Wouldn't this also apply to using the cutter? And sort-of contradict your next post?

I read the comments more like "we have a philosophy and a structure, and we're not completely abandoning what we think is right the first time we have a good prospect who likes throw cutters."
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For the geeks and the obsessives.

20 teams have a negative PitchFX pitch value/100 against the cutter: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=14&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4,d

7 teams have a negative PitchFX pitch value/100 against the fastball: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=14&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4,d

For context, because that disparity seems extreme, in 2011:

21 teams had a negative PitchFX pitch value/100 against the cutter: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=14&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4,d

18 teams had a negative PitchFX pitch value/100 against the fastball: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=14&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4,d

If I'm mis-reading the chart, apologies (this is always possible).

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Everything else aside, Duquette sounds confrontational and thick in that article. Possibly the quotes are paraphrased, but they're in quotation marks, so...I dunno.

I'd need to see some actual evidence to agree with Duquette here, especially when his main argument is "name me pitchers who succeed with a cutter" and the recent pitching renaissance has been credited to, among a few other possibilities, the spread of the cut fastball.

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So I assume then you applauded AM's conviction of Grow the Arms/Buy the Bats?

I did completely agree with the fact that by the time starting pitchers become free agents, they are usually past their prime. The philosophy of avoiding free agent pitchers who have compiled a lot of innings is a good one. I believe the proper philosophy would be to grow everything and restrict use of free agency as much as possible. I think the dichotomy between pitching and hitting is probably false. Where MacPhail failed is in the execution. Drafting Hobgood and weak player development was a problem.

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I read it differently. When someone says show me a stat that says X, and I'll rethink my position, it leads me to believe they've seen the stats and feel confident you won't find much there. But I agree that is a subjective reading between the lines.

If this is the case - and it may be - I wish he hadn't pointed to "batting average against". As my above posts show the results against cutters according to PitchFX doesn't support his take.

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