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View Full Version : What to do about Blackburn?



IdahoPilgrim
06-13-2012, 02:33 PM
I was at the game last night, and Blackburn struggled again - he was lucky to get through 5 and get a win (which shows how useless that statistic actually is). Unfortunately, that has been his tendency the last couple of years. So what do we do about him? Here's a radical idea that I admit up front probably has no chance of happening, but it got me thinking.

Let's send him down to Rochester.

I know he's making big bucks, but so is Nishi and look where he is (deservedly). And this is the last chance the Twins will have to do it - next year Blackburn will have over 5 years of service time and can't be sent to the minors without his consent. As I understand it, he does still have an option year remaining, so he wouldn't have to go through waivers. And we do still have Hendriks who can come up (and DeVries for that matter) to take his place.

I just can't help but wonder if Blackburn has gotten too comfortable and used to being up here. Does he still truly appreciate what a privilege it is to play in the majors, even for a team like the Twins? Maybe he needs a good few months of bus trips and sub-par facilities to regain his motivation to make sure he is worthy of a spot on the roster. And it wouldn't be a bad message for others on the roster - perform or else; poor play will not be tolerated.

Just a thought. Go ahead and flame me. I'll even bring the marshmallows:)

ashburyjohn
06-13-2012, 02:55 PM
Let's send him down to Rochester.

I've been in favor of that for some time now. If some team claims him, the Twins are off the hook for the salary.


And we do still have Hendriks who can come up (and DeVries for that matter) to take his place.

Butera could take his place for all I care.

I don't think it's a matter of his being complacent or whatever; I just think he's lost what talent he had. Unless the coaches/scouts think the talent is retrievable, he needs to go.

CDog
06-13-2012, 03:02 PM
I'll start by saying that I don't think he was all that bad last night (as in, much better than at times before his DL stint, which may be faint praise). He didn't exactly get stellar defense in the 4th when he gave up all his runs, and the two-run double was a bloop AND probably should have been caught. That said, he obviously hasn't been great this year, either. If Rochester would be a place to help him work some things out, I don't know. Where I'll ge out the lighter fluid and enjoy a sb'ore (see what I did there?) is the notion that he's too comfortable or that the hardships of minors vs. majors are at all related to any poor performance (or its cure). I don't buy that even a little bit.

SwainZag
06-13-2012, 03:25 PM
He has 1 start since coming up from AAA after his DL stint and last night wasn't stellar, but like CDog said a lot of things didn't go his way. I also thought his pitches were being quite squeezed and he was obviously getting somewhat frustrated. If he can anyway grab his last year's form and be that 4.50 ERA starting pitcher I think it would suffice. Next year is the last year on his deal where he will make $5.5M and at this point are there any better options?

Highabove
06-13-2012, 03:27 PM
Somewhere, there's a Home Run Derby looking for a Pitcher.

CDog
06-13-2012, 03:29 PM
He has 1 start since coming up from AAA after his DL stint

Last night was his 2nd, but I think the point was the same.

IdahoPilgrim
06-13-2012, 08:18 PM
OK, I was probably being unfair when I questioned my motivation. Consider me contrite.

I'm just trying to find an explanation for the drop-off in his performance. His first couple of years (2008-09) he pitched pretty well. Something has happened since we moved to the new ballpark (?) that caused him to drop sharply in effectiveness. I'd like to know what changed - if it wasn't his attitude it must be something else.

snepp
06-13-2012, 08:42 PM
OK, I was probably being unfair when I questioned my motivation. Consider me contrite.

I'm just trying to find an explanation for the drop-off in his performance. His first couple of years (2008-09) he pitched pretty well. Something has happened since we moved to the new ballpark (?) that caused him to drop sharply in effectiveness. I'd like to know what changed - if it wasn't his attitude it must be something else.


Here's a start, his walk rate has doubled since those first two years.

darin617
06-13-2012, 08:43 PM
Place him on waivers is one option. Or just send him down take him off 40 man roster along with Nishi and hope that some team wants to claim him and his contract. There is no way I would pay $5.5 million for 2013 when you can find better pitchers for that money.

IdahoPilgrim
06-13-2012, 08:45 PM
Here's a start, his walk rate has doubled since those first two years.

Yes, but my question is - why?

snepp
06-13-2012, 08:58 PM
Yes, but my question is - why?

Because his deal with the devil expired?

Dilligaf69
06-13-2012, 09:06 PM
Place him on waivers is one option. Or just send him down take him off 40 man roster along with Nishi and hope that some team wants to claim him and his contract. There is no way I would pay $5.5 million for 2013 when you can find better pitchers for that money.


Why would they??? Twins are stuck with him and barring injury he'll be a back end of the rotation guy for another yr..

IdahoPilgrim
06-13-2012, 09:10 PM
Unfortunately, with Walters getting pulled tonight and an MRI scheduled, it makes my initial question somewhat moot. He's not going anywhere, even if it might be best.

cr9617
06-13-2012, 09:16 PM
OK, I was probably being unfair when I questioned my motivation. Consider me contrite.

I'm just trying to find an explanation for the drop-off in his performance. His first couple of years (2008-09) he pitched pretty well. Something has happened since we moved to the new ballpark (?) that caused him to drop sharply in effectiveness. I'd like to know what changed - if it wasn't his attitude it must be something else.

He was nerver all that good to begin with, and should never have been given a multiyear deal when they didn't need to. Has has 1 pitch, a sinking fastball....and on most nights, it doesn't sink.

darin617
06-13-2012, 09:25 PM
Why would they??? Twins are stuck with him and barring injury he'll be a back end of the rotation guy for another yr..

Why would they keep him if some team would actually take him off their hands.

glunn
06-13-2012, 11:31 PM
Unfortunately, with Walters getting pulled tonight and an MRI scheduled, it makes my initial question somewhat moot. He's not going anywhere, even if it might be best.

I believe that you are correct my friend. We can only hope that he can find the way back to being effective.

Nick Nelson
06-14-2012, 01:34 AM
I'm just trying to find an explanation for the drop-off in his performance. His first couple of years (2008-09) he pitched pretty well. Something has happened since we moved to the new ballpark (?) that caused him to drop sharply in effectiveness. I'd like to know what changed - if it wasn't his attitude it must be something else.
I tend to think it's mostly been about injuries up until this point. Every spell of horrible performance in his MLB career until now has been followed up by arm surgery. I wrote about that over the winter: http://twinsfanatnicks.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-nick-blackburn-undervalued.html.

This year's struggles have been perplexing. Haven't heard about any health problems but his command has been uncharacteristically shoddy.

Unfortunately, right now the Twins don't really have any choice but to let him ride it out and hope for the best.

Thrylos
06-14-2012, 08:45 AM
I'm just trying to find an explanation for the drop-off in his performance. His first couple of years (2008-09) he pitched pretty well. Something has happened since we moved to the new ballpark (?) that caused him to drop sharply in effectiveness. I'd like to know what changed - if it wasn't his attitude it must be something else.

He did not pitch pretty well. He always was a mediocre back of the rotation pitcher. In his best season, 2009, he led the AL in hits allowed. (and he had sub-average 1.37 WHIP and way sub-average 4.3 K/9) In 2010 his Hits/9 IP increased, he missed games because of injury, and the Twins rewarded him with an extension... at least he be gone after 2013. I think at this point, sticking him in the pen and using him in a relief role might get something from him.

Nick Nelson
06-14-2012, 11:53 AM
He did not pitch pretty well.
Then your standards are pretty ridiculous. In 08/09 Blackburn averaged 200 IP with a 106 ERA+. He was a solidly above-average innings-eater and without question the Twins' most valuable starter over that span. Granted, he was basically playing at the maximum end of his potential so there was little upside in buying out his team control years, but that shouldn't cause you to dismiss his success in the first two years of his career.

Brock Beauchamp
06-14-2012, 12:31 PM
Then your standards are pretty ridiculous. In 08/09 Blackburn averaged 200 IP with a 106 ERA+. He was a solidly above-average innings-eater and without question the Twins' most valuable starter over that span. Granted, he was basically playing at the maximum end of his potential so there was little upside in buying out his team control years, but that shouldn't cause you to dismiss his success in the first two years of his career.

Yeah, you can't really fault Blackburn's first two seasons with the club. He never projected to be much of anything but performed very consistently for a soft-tosser. He was better than league average over that span. What more do you want out of a guy whose favorite phrases are "pitch to contact", "put sink on it", and "let the defense play"?

sotafan
06-14-2012, 01:47 PM
Then your standards are pretty ridiculous. In 08/09 Blackburn averaged 200 IP with a 106 ERA+. He was a solidly above-average innings-eater and without question the Twins' most valuable starter over that span. Granted, he was basically playing at the maximum end of his potential so there was little upside in buying out his team control years, but that shouldn't cause you to dismiss his success in the first two years of his career.

In '09 he posted his best FIP @ 4.37. That is a C'mon Man!! This year it is at 5.66. Really!! The dude sucks and always has.

Nick Nelson
06-14-2012, 02:07 PM
I'm less interested in his FIP and more interested in what he did on the field. He was very solid in 2008 and 2009 and a big reason those pitching-light teams were contenders.

cr9617
06-14-2012, 02:22 PM
I'm less interested in his FIP and more interested in what he did on the field. He was very solid in 2008 and 2009 and a big reason those pitching-light teams were contenders.

You are a consistent apologist for Blackburn, and I don't know why. He was ordinary at his best, and terrible at his worst. Lately, as in his last 2 1/2 seasons, he's been at his worst.

It doesn't help that he's sort of the Poster Boy for their famous pitch to contact philosophy, which they were so proud of.

I just look forward to the day he's no longer wearing a Twins uniform.

snepp
06-14-2012, 02:26 PM
In '09 he posted his best FIP @ 4.37. That is a C'mon Man!! This year it is at 5.66. Really!! The dude sucks and always has.

The league ERA for starters in 2009 was 4.62, his was over a half run lower. Even if his ERA had been closer to his FIP, he still would have been an above average starter.

He may be abysmal now, but he hasn't always "sucked."

Brock Beauchamp
06-14-2012, 02:26 PM
In '09 he posted his best FIP @ 4.37. That is a C'mon Man!! This year it is at 5.66. Really!! The dude sucks and always has.

What's so bad about a 4.40 FIP when the guy never projected to be more than a back-of-the-rotation starter? The AL average FIP for those two seasons were 4.33 and 4.42. Nick Blackburn's FIP was roughly league average those two seasons. He got a little lucky and his performed at a slightly above average clip in ERA and other traditional stats.

I'll take that out of a back-of-the-rotation guy all day and never complain one bit.

Brock Beauchamp
06-14-2012, 02:28 PM
You are a consistent apologist for Blackburn, and I don't know why.

I find that particularly funny because I seem to remember Nick howling about Blackburn's contract when he received it... Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think he was a fan of the deal at all (since there seemed to be no real point in making it in the first place).

snepp
06-14-2012, 02:29 PM
You are a consistent apologist for Blackburn

Fighting conjecture and hyperbole with logic and reason doesn't make someone an apologist.

Boom Boom
06-14-2012, 03:30 PM
Blackburn was modestly good from 08 to 09, but that sure seems like a long time ago. I'm not optimistic he's going to ever regain that form.

Carlos Silva was pretty good for the Twins for a couple years, too...

TrevorPlouffeFanFiction
06-14-2012, 03:31 PM
Sean Bergman > Nick Blackburn

Seriously though, Blackburn is what he is, a capable (when healthy) #4/#5 type guy.

peterb18
06-14-2012, 03:43 PM
He was nerver all that good to begin with, and should never have been given a multiyear deal when they didn't need to. Has has 1 pitch, a sinking fastball....and on most nights, it doesn't sink.

This is about as good of an explanation of Blackburn's troubles that I have seen. He just doesn't have enough quality to his pitches--not enough movement, not a real good fastball, terrible curveball, etc. Everything has to be perfect for him to be successful. If he is pitching I wouldn't but a ticket!

cr9617
06-14-2012, 03:47 PM
Fighting conjecture and hyperbole with logic and reason doesn't make someone an apologist.

Conjecture? How many MLB starters have been worse than Blackey in the past 2/12 seasons? I'm sure you could find a few, but not much more than that.

James Richter
06-14-2012, 04:08 PM
This is about as good of an explanation of Blackburn's troubles that I have seen. He just doesn't have enough quality to his pitches--not enough movement, not a real good fastball, terrible curveball, etc. Everything has to be perfect for him to be successful.
This gets to the heart of it. I like to formulate it this way: Blackburn isn't good enough to get away with walking people. He's always been hittable, but when his BB/9 was 1.8 he could keep the dam from bursting most nights. The extra baserunners that have come from his reduced control over the last couple years have made big innings almost inevitable. He's also unlikely to pick up his defense if they miss a play behind him.

Still, they're stuck with him. They just have to hope he can get back to being an adequate #5 starter. At some point next season the front office may have to determine whether it's better for the team to pay him not to pitch.

Nick Nelson
06-14-2012, 04:21 PM
There's no doubt that pitchers like Blackburn and Silva walk a slippery slope (then again, so does basically every non-star pitcher in the majors). Doesn't mean they're incapable of being valuable players. In 2008 and 2009, Blackburn was a solid No. 3/4, and he also had some huge performances in big games ('08 tiebreaker, '09 playoffs). Even in 2010 and 2011 when his overall results were ugly, he had some great stretches when he was locked in.

Can he get back to the level he was at prior to these last couple years? I don't know. I worry that his arm surgeries over the past couple offseasons may have permanently changed him for the worse, because his command this year has been pretty bad and as James notes he's not the kind of guy who can survive with a 3.5 BB/9 rate.

But I think some Twins fans get so fed up with the club's commitment to strike-throwing, pitch-to-contact starters that they want to believe that approach can't yield successful results. It can, and when these pitchers are going good they can rack up lots of innings thanks to their efficiency. Blackburn in 08/09 and Silva in three of his four years with the Twins are good examples.

James Richter
06-14-2012, 04:59 PM
Pitch-to-contact can work as long as the following 3 conditions are met:

1) You never walk anybody
2) You keep the ball in the yard
3) You have a rangy and sure-handed defense behind you

This year, the defense is doing an OK job with number 3. Blackburn (and most other Twins starters) is doing a lousy job with 1 & 2. Scott Diamond is averaging over 6 IP/GS and has a stellar ERA despite pedestrian H/9 and K/9 because he's doing a stupendous job with 1 & 2.

snepp
06-14-2012, 05:29 PM
Conjecture? How many MLB starters have been worse than Blackey in the past 2/12 seasons? I'm sure you could find a few, but not much more than that.

Try following along a little closer, no one has argued that.

Brock Beauchamp
06-14-2012, 05:51 PM
But I think some Twins fans get so fed up with the club's commitment to strike-throwing, pitch-to-contact starters that they want to believe that approach can't yield successful results. It can, and when these pitchers are going good they can rack up lots of innings thanks to their efficiency. Blackburn in 08/09 and Silva in three of his four years with the Twins are good examples.

It's actually a really good system for filling the back of a rotation... Which is where most guys are going to slot into a major league rotation. Radke, Silva, Blackburn, Kyle Lohse, hell even Scott Baker to an extent... They've all been good to very good pitchers for the Twins over a period of multiple seasons based on the idea that if you throw a bunch of strikes, you'll do pretty well as a pitcher. Scott Diamond looks to be another guy squarely in that mold. I don't think the Twins need to drastically alter their strategy going forward. It's fine to use that methodology for your guys that don't throw in the mid-90s and have no plus out pitch. Instead of those guys scuffling through the minors, you can turn them into a productive major league pitcher by playing to their strength.

In my opinion, the Twins' problem isn't that they teach guys without great stuff to pitch to contact, it's that they draft so many guys who don't have great stuff. I think they really need to re-evaluate how they rate pitchers in the draft and not stick so stubbornly to one type of pitcher. I don't mind that the inevitable "pitch to contact" guy comes around and the Twins work with what he has, I have a problem with how many of "that guy" they draft in the first place.

IdahoPilgrim
06-14-2012, 06:37 PM
Instead of those guys scuffling through the minors, you can turn them into a productive major league pitcher by playing to their strength.


That's the new thinking in how to improve an organization in general - appreciative inquiry. The model used to be to improve an organization you help people identify their weak areas and then help them improve those areas. Turns out it didn't work well; there might be some improvement, but not enough to justify the cost spent on the process. Now organizations seek to identify a person's strengths and then place them in a place where those strengths can really stand out and excel, and if there is no place for that in their organization, you cut them loose.

James Richter
06-14-2012, 11:56 PM
Pitch-to-contact can work as long as the following 3 conditions are met:

1) You never walk anybody
2) You keep the ball in the yard
3) You have a rangy and sure-handed defense behind you

This year, the defense is doing an OK job with number 3. Blackburn (and most other Twins starters) is doing a lousy job with 1 & 2. Scott Diamond is averaging over 6 IP/GS and has a stellar ERA despite pedestrian H/9 and K/9 because he's doing a stupendous job with 1 & 2.
Thank you, Mr. Diamond, for that excellent example of what happens when you don't do 1 & 2.

cr9617
06-15-2012, 12:22 AM
Try following along a little closer, no one has argued that.

I disagree with the logic, and the reason. Get it?