• Rough Day for Gutierrez

    The Twins played their unofficial first game of the spring on Thursday -- a 'B' game against the Red Sox at Hammond Field. Obviously, you can't put much stock into what goes on during exhibition contests Ė particularly an informal affair such as this one Ė but one performance that stuck out to me was that of Carlos Gutierrez, who struggled through two-thirds of an inning and raised the ire of his manager.

    Pitching in relief against a lineup filled with Boston backups, Gutierrez issued three walks and a two-run double, managing to record just two outs before the inning was cut short. Ron Gardenhire was none too pleased:

    Gutierrez was misfiring, didnít make any adjustments. Velocityís good but youíve got to make adjustments; youíve got to step back and throw the ball over the plate. He stopped the game; I think we all saw that, and thatís what we donít want. We donít want people to stop the game.

    First time out, maybe heís a little nervous, but heís better than that. Heís been pitching at the high levels here and heís got to do a little better than that. Heís got to pick up the pace of the game and throw the ball over. He throws the s*** out of the ball. That was really the only hard part of the day. The rest of the guys threw pretty good; they went at it.
    Gardenhire doesn't call players out this candidly in the media very often, but I've noticed that oftentimes he'll do it when he's frustrated and disappointed because his expectations weren't met. I think this is one such instant.

    Gutierrez is a guy the Twins are looking at to carry weight in their patchwork bullpen this season. I listed him as one of four key players to watch in my Spring Training Preview last month. Drafted out of college in the first round four years ago, now is the time for him to be stepping up.


    Yet, while he's got the stuff to profile as a solid reliever, his control continues to lag behind. Last year in Rochester, Gutierrez averaged a career-best 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings, but that came with 31 walks in 62 frames.

    He's always given up a fair amount of hits, so it seems unlikely that Gutierrez will be a real asset in the bullpen unless he can significantly reduce the number of free passes. Thursday's outing doesn't provide a great deal of encouragement on that front, but it's still very early and hopefully Gardenhire was right when he said the erratic performance might have been attributable to nerves.
    This article was originally published in blog: Rough Day for Gutierrez started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Gardenhire said before camp that he wouldn't be afraid to hurt people's feelings, so we may see more quotes as direct as this. I wouldn't make too much of this one outing, but I think Gardy's point that he needs to maintain a game's pace is something that Gutierrez will need to work on in subsequent spring outings.

      Remember last year in Spring Training, he went like 10 scoreless innings, but that hid the fact that he gave up something like 9 hits and 8 walks. This is kind of the opposite.

      But Gutierrez will likely have to show improvement quickly. Now that he's on the 40 man roster, it is likely he will likely be among the first players sent back to minor league camp (along with Robertson, Arcia, etc.).
    1. tobynotjason's Avatar
      tobynotjason -
      I wonder if Gardenhire's would-be big league managers called him out publicly when he was failing miserably to succeed at major league baseball, especially during the first not-even-an-actual-game of spring training? I certainly hope they did. Maybe they still do in his nightly nightmares, so we get this.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      I think Gardenhire called him out not because of the results (i.e. walks and runs), but because he 'didn't make any adjustments' and he 'didn't throw the ball over the plate'... meaning it was all about effort. I think Gardy is pretty consistent in that when he calls a player out it's not because he is in a 0-20 slump, it's because he goofs up the footwork they've worked on 100 times and fails to bend down (per his rant on Danny Valencia), or he's going up to the plate without a situation-specific plan.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Stuff happens. He probably just got uptight up there.

      On another note, I was really surprised when La Velle wrote that and posted it unedited last night. So surprised that I had to take a screen shot. Today that particular word is absent.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      The media criticism sounds like a warning shot to a player who is on the edge. Sounded to me like something you say early in camp to warn a guy that he needs to get it together, because he's not just a highly touted prospect any longer who will get a lot of rope and time to figure things out. If this were the last week or so of camp, I wouldn't be very impressed, but this is the sort of thing a manager should do early on.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Gardy had very positive comments for everyone else. Man, I hate that when he throws players over the bus.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      If the Twins are factoring Gutierrez into their plans, they're being goofy. Based on a indicative amount of mediocre innings at the AA and AA level, the only thing spring training should tell the Twins about him is to confirm that it's time to free up his 40-man roster spot. For that reason, the Thursday outing should be considered a good thing for the club because it makes the picture clearer.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Teflon, Gutierrez was an obvious choice to add to the 40 man roster in November... his 40 man spot is about as safe as it gets at this point.
    1. Graham_Greensleeves's Avatar
      Graham_Greensleeves -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Gardy had very positive comments for everyone else. Man, I hate that when he throws players over the bus.
      The correct phraseology is "under the bus." As in, I'm throwing you under the bus for getting the phrase wrong.
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobynotjason View Post
      I wonder if Gardenhire's would-be big league managers called him out publicly when he was failing miserably to succeed at major league baseball, especially during the first not-even-an-actual-game of spring training? I certainly hope they did. Maybe they still do in his nightly nightmares, so we get this.
      I have no problem with Gardy getting tough with some players, so long as it is consistent applied to all players. If a guy can't handle some constructive criticism from the manager, it doesn't mean he's not a good person, it just means perhaps Major League Baseball is not the best career choice for that individual.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Um, Graham? Like, he threw Gutierrez UNDER the bus, see? 'Cause he criticized him, right? And he praised the other players pretty much uniformly, so....um, you should try to be careful about who you throw where...
    1. Graham_Greensleeves's Avatar
      Graham_Greensleeves -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Um, Graham? Like, he threw Gutierrez UNDER the bus, see? 'Cause he criticized him, right? And he praised the other players pretty much uniformly, so....um, you should try to be careful about who you throw where...
      As long as people continue to be thrown under things - as opposed to over them - I'm happy. If you're happy with your assessment of the situation, then feel free to comment about it. Just make sure you get the metaphors correct.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      Gutierrez has shown statistically to be an Anthony Slama who gets hit more. They both strike out a lot of batters and walk too many, but Slama's hits surrendered are much fewer with the same collection of AAA defenders playing behind them. Gutierrez is three years younger but Slama's been an arguably decent and consistent pitcher statistically over the last 3 years at Rochester.

      If Slama is not 40-man material, (And I wouldn't argue that he is) Gutierrez doesn't strike me as more valuable unless he can cut his walks by 70% or surrender fewer hits at an MLB level than he has at AA and AAA.

      A couple of questions...

      How much does Gutierrez being a Twins number 1 pick weigh into this? (Slama was a 39th round pick. Edit - I didn't even know there WERE that many rounds)

      Does anybody have informaton on FB/GB rates for Gutierrez? (I presume him to be more of a FB pitcher.)
    1. Andrew Bryz-Gornia's Avatar
      Andrew Bryz-Gornia -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teflon View Post
      Gutierrez has shown statistically to be an Anthony Slama who gets hit more. They both strike out a lot of batters and walk too many...
      Gutierrez has never really struck out many hitters until last season. He's typically been around 6 K/9, whereas Slama has been above 10 K/9 at every stop in the minor leagues dating back to 2007.

      The Twins never giving Slama much of a chance has driven me crazy. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up joining another team like Rob Delaney, but we'll have to see if Slama ever does have success in the majors.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teflon View Post
      Gutierrez has shown statistically to be an Anthony Slama who gets hit more.
      Actually I'd say Gutierrez is basically the opposite Anthony Slama. Slama's a pitcher who posted spectacular numbers throughout the minors but has never been viewed as a great prospect because he lacks the raw stuff to succeed in the majors. Gutierrez has posted rather pedestrian numbers in the minors, at least since graduating from Single-A, but he remains on the Twins' radar because they believe in his pitches. When you actually watch him, it's not hard to see why.
    1. tobynotjason's Avatar
      tobynotjason -
      Gut is a groundball guy. 58% in Rochester last year.
    1. Twins Daily Admin's Avatar
      Twins Daily Admin -
      I've heard privately that Gardenhire isn't alone in the organization for thinking that Gutierriez is wasting his considerable talent. Sometimes players who don't respond suggestions get clubbed publicly and sometimes they should.
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      Just another bust #1 draft pick. Thanks Deron Johnson!!
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