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Thread: Twins Pitching Philosophy

  1. #21
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    Well, this may be a philosophy question, but maybe it should be a question about Rick Anderson's ability as a pitching coach. I'm thinking back over the last several years and am having a hard time recalling any starting pitchers that showed consistent improvement over their time with the Twins, be it after getting called up, or being a acquired in a trade. Liriano and Blackburn have been very inconsistent, Slowey slowly got worse (injuries contributed) Baker has probably improved slightly, but again injuries really make it hard to judge. Pavano has certainly declined, Duensing never made it as a starter, and same with Perkins. Garza blossomed after he left the Twins and Lohse has been pretty good, though probably not much better than when he started with the Twins. None of the young "power arms" that we have brought in over the last few years ever got over their control problems, or if they did it was simply by throwing a 93 MPH fastball over the middle.

    My point is that based upon the Twins trust in Anderson you would hope there would be some sort of history to back that up. Where you see young guys improve and one or two maybe even turn in to all-stars under his guidance, and maybe every now and then a veteran learns something new from him and gets better. It may have happend, and if so, point it out, but it just seems like guys don't consistently improve once they get to the Twins staff and isn't that what you want your pitching coach to make happen?

    To get back to the philosophy of pitch to contact as a rule, I think it's more a "throw strikes" rule than pitch to contact. But I also think major league hitters have figured that out and know to be looking for first pitch strikes when facing the Twins. Of course, I haven't researched the stats to see if my conclusion is true, my observations are likely clouded by my pre-conceived notion of this, but if I was hitting against the Twins I would certainly be ready to jump on the first pitch of any at bat.

    I think the Twins need to show more patience with young power pitchers that have command issues. Guys like Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson were notoriously wild when they came up and eventually figured things out, not comparing any recent Twins minor league to those two, but rather suggesting that power pitchers often take longer to develop their command and sometimes rather than forcing the issue you have to deal with some growing pains. Ask yourself this, if the Twins had a power pitcher who's BB/9 IP was 5.4/4.9/6.8 and 6.2 over the first four years as a starter, how would Anderson and Gardenhire treat that guy. Would they be messing around telling him to throw strikes, and benching him or sending him back to the minors or would they let him figure it out? Those were Johnson's BB/9ip his first 4 years as full time starter.

    I would much rather see the Twins show some level of patience with a guy like Liriano who has shown the ability to strike guys out, but hasn't quite figured everything out than to a guy like Blackburn who obviously can throw strikes but hasn't shown the upside of a top starter. Yet it's Blackburn that gets the contract extension, it's Blackburn that is guaranteed a spot in the rotation coming out of ST each year and it seems as though Blackburn is given a pass, even when he's getting lit up. Yet Liriano walks 5 guys and he's called out in the paper and told over and over to pitch to contact.

    Certainly you want to instruct guys to get better and throw more strikes, but you also have to try and build on a pitcher's strengths and let that guy gain confidence and improve, right? Do we have any evidence that the Twins can develop a top level starter, at least under the current regime? I say we don't, and that is scary for a team that will not, or can not spend the money in Free Agency to get one.

  2. #22
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    [QUOTE=
    I would much rather see the Twins show some level of patience with a guy like Liriano who has shown the ability to strike guys out, but hasn't quite figured everything out than to a guy like Blackburn who obviously can throw strikes but hasn't shown the upside of a top starter. Yet it's Blackburn that gets the contract extension, it's Blackburn that is guaranteed a spot in the rotation coming out of ST each year and it seems as though Blackburn is given a pass, even when he's getting lit up. Yet Liriano walks 5 guys and he's called out in the paper and told over and over to pitch to contact. [/QUOTE]

    In fairness, since 2009 Blackburn has the better ERA, pitched more innings, higher QS% and is paid less than Liriano.

    I think the Twins have been fair to Liriano. He gets the ball when healthy, they made him their game 1 starter in 2010 against the Yanks (he blew the lead they gave him). Not giving him a longterm contract and then complaining we gave one to Blackburn doesn't make much sense. If Liriano would sign Blackburn's contract, the Twins would do it in a minute. But he's going to want #1-like money and hasn't really been able to put it together to demonstrate that he should get that kind of money. And the current regime did have Santana, who was a top level starter.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    I agree with Nick, for the most part. Generally, I think the Twins pitching philosophy has been extremely successful and helpful to the team...
    I agree, and it's just bad right now because all the supports for it are out of whack. As already pointed out, our pitching philosophy requires solid and consistent fielding, which we haven't had. Also, our bullpen is in shambles right now. Remember when our bullpen was loaded with guys like Crain, Guerrier, and Nathan? Now, we have maybe the worst group of relievers in the league...? If the fielding improves and we get better arms in the 'pen, suddenly the starting rotation and the pitching philosophy won't seem so horrid.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    In fairness, since 2009 Blackburn has the better ERA, pitched more innings, higher QS% and is paid less than Liriano.
    Sure, but my point isn't to argue that Blackburn can't be a back of the rotation option, it's that the Twins NEED to develop #1 and #2 pitchers and haven't shown a propensity to do that. It seems to me that they refuse to allow guys to pitch through and learn from their mistakes, rather trying to change them to the "Twins Way". I'll ask the question again, what would Anderson and Gardenhire done with Randy Johnson had he come up in the system and walked 6+ guys a game like he did in Seattle?

    In my earlier post, I hadn't mentioned Santana, thinking he came up under the previous regime, but it looks like that was one legitimate Ace developed by Anderson. Any others? He has been here 10 years now, you would hope that we see more than 1 every 10 years, right?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by whydidnt View Post
    Sure, but my point isn't to argue that Blackburn can't be a back of the rotation option, it's that the Twins NEED to develop #1 and #2 pitchers and haven't shown a propensity to do that. It seems to me that they refuse to allow guys to pitch through and learn from their mistakes, rather trying to change them to the "Twins Way". I'll ask the question again, what would Anderson and Gardenhire done with Randy Johnson had he come up in the system and walked 6+ guys a game like he did in Seattle?

    In my earlier post, I hadn't mentioned Santana, thinking he came up under the previous regime, but it looks like that was one legitimate Ace developed by Anderson. Any others? He has been here 10 years now, you would hope that we see more than 1 every 10 years, right?
    I think that they've kept Liriano out there shows that they would've understood what Johnson might have had. But it's not a real fair comparison either, as Johnson is a once a generation type pitcher who showed the ability to miss a ton of bats and eat innings. While Liriano's walk rates increased, his krate's decreased.

    In any event, I'm not sure how many Santana like pitchers should be developed by an organization over a ten year period. Over the last decade, what organizations have really developed pitchers that good?

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by VodkaDave View Post
    +1. People got up in arms when the Twins asked Liriano to pitch more to contact last year, but in all reality that is the right advice to give to a guy who is walking 5+ guys a game and throwing 100+ pitches by the 6th inning.

    I have a hard time blaming Gardy/Anderson for the lack of strike out pitchers on the staff, if you want power arms you gotta go out and trade for them (or not trade them away in Garza's case), draft them or sign them in free agency.
    I agree. It is not Gardy or Anderson's fault that the Twins do not have strike out pitchers. The Twins do not have the ability or don't want to spend big money to sign, trade or draft power pitchers. Of which there are very few of every year in the draft or free agency.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by whydidnt View Post
    Sure, but my point isn't to argue that Blackburn can't be a back of the rotation option, it's that the Twins NEED to develop #1 and #2 pitchers and haven't shown a propensity to do that.
    It is very hard to develop a #1 pitcher. Most #1 pitchers show their top potential from the start or early in their minor league career. However, I agree that the Twins haven't even developed many #2 pitchers.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    I think that they've kept Liriano out there shows that they would've understood what Johnson might have had. But it's not a real fair comparison either, as Johnson is a once a generation type pitcher who showed the ability to miss a ton of bats and eat innings. While Liriano's walk rates increased, his krate's decreased.

    In any event, I'm not sure how many Santana like pitchers should be developed by an organization over a ten year period. Over the last decade, what organizations have really developed pitchers that good?
    Just because they keep Liriano out there, doesn't mean they aren't messing with his delivery and/or his head or a myriad of other things. Based upon mainstream media reports they have been. You know Johnson's K/9 rate those first couple years was less than 8 per 9 innings. I'm not comparing Liriano to Johnson, I'm just attempting to get people to compare how their success and failure is dealt with by the coaching staff. Would the Twins have recognized Johnson as a once in a generation pitcher those first 4 years he was wild and struggling, or would they have told him to take some miles off his fastball, slow down his delivery on the slider and throw more strikes, because we have 9 guys out there waiting to catch whatever is hit? And if he refused, would he have been shipped to Tampa for a head-case left fielder since he didn't want to do things the "Twins way"? I personally have serious doubt that the Twins would have been patient enough with him to let him develop into what he became.

    To put it to you another way, what would have to happen for you to criticize the Twins handling of young pitchers, it seems from your posts the staff is above reproach and has done everything perfectly. I'm simply trying to raise the question that perhaps that isn't always the case, and asking people to think about why.

  9. #29
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    [QUOTE=To put it to you another way, what would have to happen for you to criticize the Twins handling of young pitchers, it seems from your posts the staff is above reproach and has done everything perfectly. I'm simply trying to raise the question that perhaps that isn't always the case, and asking people to think about why.[/QUOTE]

    I don't think one player is enough to make a decision on. But, overall, we see that the Twins bring up pitchers who don't have a lot of publicity or high rankings and have good results. Time and again. I posted somewhere that Blackburn and Slowey have as many 2 WAR seasons as Hughes and Chamberlain. Duensing was huge for us in 09 and 10, amassing 4.5 WAR in a little over 200 innings. They were able to turn Guerrier and Reyes into key bullpen pieces. Boof Bonser was huge down the stretch for us in 06. Baker's turned into a good pitcher (when healthy) etc. I think getting that kind of success out of that kind of talent is a reason to trust this regime. They haven't had many top pitching prospects so it's hard for me to ding them for not creating more Santana's.

  10. #30
    Senior Member All-Star Boom Boom's Avatar
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    We've seen a lot of Liriano since 2008, and his only consistency is his inconsistency. The only factor that's been the same for that long is the coaches, so they're an easy scapegoat. But I think it's close to time for Twins fans to admit that Liriano may never have been all that good in the first place. MLB hitters hadn't seen him much when he dominated in 2006, but they've caught up to him.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by whydidnt View Post
    Would the Twins have recognized Johnson as a once in a generation pitcher those first 4 years he was wild and struggling, or would they have told him to ... throw more strikes.
    Everybody recognized Johnson's potential. It was freakish. I'm sure you're quite right that the Twins staff of today would probably try to get him to harness that with more control. Encourage him to walk fewer batters, even as drastically as cutting them in half. Maybe bringing him up slowly, even when fans knowing his extreme power were clamoring for him to be promoted from the minors.

    In related nws, Johnson didn't come up to the majors until a cup of coffee at 24 and then fully at age 25. He walked 5.4, 4.9, 6.8, and 6.2 batters/9 in his first four years (not counting that cup of coffee) and was a solid pitcher with WAR values averaging just over 2 per year. Then he found the control that the Twins would have been trying to get him to harness and walked 3.5 and 3.8 batters per nine the next two years and for the first time started getting Cy Young votes. He took the "Twins'" advice to heart from this success and lowered his walk rate even more to 2.7 the next year when he finally won a Cy Young award. He returned to that "getting votes" level of success with 3.7 and 3.3 walks/9 and then got back down to 2.3, 2.8, 2.6, and 2.5 the next four years when he happened to win 4 straight Cy Young awards. He was then approaching 40 and kept his walk rate down through the rest of his career. So the "Twins" would have, had the pitcher been willing AND able to heed their advice, created a 5-time Cy Young award winner who dominated for a decade and a half. I like what the "Twins Way" did there.

  12. #32
    Twins Moderator MVP Riverbrian's Avatar
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    If your pitching philosophy is to not walk batters. It's a great philosophy. If your Defensive philosophy is to not give the other team extra outs. It's a great philosophy. Batters will fail 7 to 8 times out of 10. Take the odds of that and play ball.

    It's the free stuff... Errors and Walks that will kill you in the end.

    Managing a Baseball Team and playing Texas Hold Em are a lotta like. Those that understand the odds and play the odds don't always win every hand but they win more then they lose and therefore win.

  13. #33
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    Except their best pitchers are/were strikeout pitchers, Santana, Garza, Viola, Liriano when he could. Now they have none, so let's see how well it plays out, and hope it is not like last year.
    Lighten up Francis....

  14. #34
    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
    We've seen a lot of Liriano since 2008, and his only consistency is his inconsistency. The only factor that's been the same for that long is the coaches, so they're an easy scapegoat. But I think it's close to time for Twins fans to admit that Liriano may never have been all that good in the first place. MLB hitters hadn't seen him much when he dominated in 2006, but they've caught up to him.
    I see your point, except that Liriano has yet to hit the velocity he had back in 2006 too, just saying... For Liriano, much of this is just confidence, something he had tons of in 2006 and hasn't had a lot of since.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
    Except their best pitchers are/were strikeout pitchers, Santana, Garza, Viola, Liriano when he could. Now they have none, so let's see how well it plays out, and hope it is not like last year.
    Radke wasn't a strike out pitcher. Milton wasn't much of one but had three straight 3+ WAR seasons for us (Garza has two in his career). Mays led the league in ERA+ and was second in pWAR. Silva gave us 3 strong seasons. etc, etc

  16. #36
    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    I'm a little shocked that Billy Bullock seems to be thought of as the "smoking gun" in this investigation. First, I'll point out that Bullock has done almost nothing. He's a relief pitcher with 6K/9 last year in AA. One could reasonably make a point that the Twins came out ahead in that trade, regardless of philosophy. He might end up with a better career than Diamond, but right now there is no reason to believe that. Second, I'll point out that was under Bill Smith's watch, and he seems to have made several questionable evaluations regarding talent.

  17. #37
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
    Everybody recognized Johnson's potential. It was freakish. I'm sure you're quite right that the Twins staff of today would probably try to get him to harness that with more control. Encourage him to walk fewer batters, even as drastically as cutting them in half. Maybe bringing him up slowly, even when fans knowing his extreme power were clamoring for him to be promoted from the minors.

    In related nws, Johnson didn't come up to the majors until a cup of coffee at 24 and then fully at age 25. He walked 5.4, 4.9, 6.8, and 6.2 batters/9 in his first four years (not counting that cup of coffee) and was a solid pitcher with WAR values averaging just over 2 per year. Then he found the control that the Twins would have been trying to get him to harness and walked 3.5 and 3.8 batters per nine the next two years and for the first time started getting Cy Young votes. He took the "Twins'" advice to heart from this success and lowered his walk rate even more to 2.7 the next year when he finally won a Cy Young award. He returned to that "getting votes" level of success with 3.7 and 3.3 walks/9 and then got back down to 2.3, 2.8, 2.6, and 2.5 the next four years when he happened to win 4 straight Cy Young awards. He was then approaching 40 and kept his walk rate down through the rest of his career. So the "Twins" would have, had the pitcher been willing AND able to heed their advice, created a 5-time Cy Young award winner who dominated for a decade and a half. I like what the "Twins Way" did there.
    Thanks for missing my point. Johnson had 4 straight years of awful control numbers (which I posted in my first post), yet was allowed to learn and grow into the pitcher he became. My question is what would have happened if he was with the Twins then. I have serious doubts the Twins would have sent him to the mound every 5 days for 4 years while he was walking 5+ batters per 9 innings. They just don't have the tolerance for it, regardless of the arm. And, really WAR has no bearing on the question at hand, do you think Anderson or Gardenhire even know what WAR is, much less care?

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by whydidnt View Post
    Thanks for missing my point. Johnson had 4 straight years of awful control numbers (which I posted in my first post), yet was allowed to learn and grow into the pitcher he became. My question is what would have happened if he was with the Twins then. I have serious doubts the Twins would have sent him to the mound every 5 days for 4 years while he was walking 5+ batters per 9 innings. They just don't have the tolerance for it, regardless of the arm. And, really WAR has no bearing on the question at hand, do you think Anderson or Gardenhire even know what WAR is, much less care?
    Oops. I did miss your point, which you've now stated clearly was to ignore an answer to your question that wasn't the one you were already decided on. I went and answered it with my thoughts and not yours. Clearly I missed the point. My apologies.

  19. #39
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
    Oops. I did miss your point, which you've now stated clearly was to ignore an answer to your question that wasn't the one you were already decided on. I went and answered it with my thoughts and not yours. Clearly I missed the point. My apologies.
    I see what you did there... Very nice!

  20. #40
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    Considering in over 50 seasons the Twins have drafted and developed two ace quality pitchers, Bert Blyleven and Frank Viola, yes there is a history of shying away from power arms (and neither were power arms, Bert had the world's best curve and Frankie the best change up previous to Greg Maddox). However, there is evidence that the team has acknowledged this flaw. The team used two high picks on high upside/high bust arms Hudson Boyd and Madison Boer last year. In years past, they both would have been told to head to the pen as soon as the contract was signed. Now they are both being counted on to start despite one of them having been an accomplished collegiate closer.

    Of course a skeptic would ask why did the club go after Jason Marquis instead of Edwin Jackson to fill out this year's rotation if both only required a one year deal.
    Last edited by nicksaviking; 04-10-2012 at 10:28 PM.

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