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Article: Can Nick Blackburn be fixed?

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:24 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...lackburn-be-fix

#2 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:20 AM

I try to locate the differences before reading on with these to see how smart I am. It's not a bad cognitive activity as usually they are fairly subtle (except in this case). The leg kick and stride length were all I could pick up from the delivery. It's amazing how much a small change can make on a player's effectiveness. I'd have to imagine that these changes work both ways though. There was a lot of late break on the 09 sinker and it completely fooled the batter in the gif. Now that sinker might as well be a hanging changeup that even the worst of ballplayers can crush.

#3 glunn

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:49 AM

Another very impressive analysis by Parker with visual proof. Maybe getting back to his 2009 form could make a big difference for Blackburn, and I agree with Parker's conclusion that trying this could not hurt.

#4 Pat McEnroe

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 07:21 AM

Great article. Parker how much do you think Blackburn's knee problems have led to this change in mechanics? I've had a couple knee surgeries myself and can imagine it being a huge issue trying to really balance and drive off my back leg.

#5 Thrylos

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:08 AM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher. And this is based on IP, which is not a performance metric, but a manager's choice metric. In 2009, Blackburn had a worse than average 1.366 WHIP and a worse than average 4.3 K/9. He was worse than the average pitcher in his best season. Because the Twins unwisely offered him a contract extension based on "whatever they saw" or "their gut", instead of the numbers, does not make him "good", or even average. So "fixing him" would equate to bringing up the equivalent of Cole DeVries or Sam Deduno to pitch. The latter is an easier fix.
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#6 Mr. Ed

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:18 AM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher.


There is too much put into a couple of end/season performances which were very good, which is now a few years ago.

The guy is now a meatball pitcher. Was a mistake giving him a big extension early(Think Joe Mays). He needs to fake an injury and go back to ext ST where coaches can work mechanics to make him mediocre at best.

#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:23 AM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher. And this is based on IP, which is not a performance metric, but a manager's choice metric.

In 2009, Blackburn had a worse than average 1.366 WHIP and a worse than average 4.3 K/9. He was worse than the average pitcher in his best season. Because the Twins unwisely offered him a contract extension based on "whatever they saw" or "their gut", instead of the numbers, does not make him "good", or even average. So "fixing him" would equate to bringing up the equivalent of Cole DeVries or Sam Deduno to pitch. The latter is an easier fix.


Which is fine if you make the gigantic leap in the assumption that even "average" starters are easy to find and cheap to sign.

Blackburn is a "good" pitcher when his sinker is working. Is he a #2 on a playoff team? No, but to get to the playoffs, you need more than two starters. As a #4, he's quite good. As a #3, he's middling at best.

He's the type of pitcher you want on your contending team* as a complementary player, like a Michael Cuddyer or Orlando Hudson. A little up and down from season to season but overall, a nice player to have on the team. When he's fronting your lineup or rotation, it's a problem.

*assuming his sinker is actually sinking

#8 twinsfan214

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:35 AM

Just wondering, how much of this same type of thing was said about Carlos Silva?

#9 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:41 AM

Just wondering, how much of this same type of thing was said about Carlos Silva?


A lot. Same goes for Chien Ming Wang. Guys who live by putting the ball on the ground and not missing bats walk a baseball tightrope. It's not impossible to have sustained success pitching that way but it's very difficult. If anything in their mechanics change and their sinker stops sinking, they go from "acceptable" to "batting practice" in the flash of an eye.

It doesn't mean that Blackburn can't return to being a good pitcher but it makes it a bit of a longshot.

#10 fetch

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:54 AM

interestingly enough, Blackburn's xFIP got better the two years after he signed his extension, so maybe he was the victim of bad luck a bit in those two years. Still never should have signed him to that deal though.

#11 adjacent

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:03 AM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher. And this is based on IP, which is not a performance metric, but a manager's choice metric.

In 2009, Blackburn had a worse than average 1.366 WHIP and a worse than average 4.3 K/9. He was worse than the average pitcher in his best season. Because the Twins unwisely offered him a contract extension based on "whatever they saw" or "their gut", instead of the numbers, does not make him "good", or even average. So "fixing him" would equate to bringing up the equivalent of Cole DeVries or Sam Deduno to pitch. The latter is an easier fix.

I think De Vries in MLB is a disaster waiting to happen, and Deduno, who knows. And that is the big problem, I agree that Blackburn is bad, but there are no really viable replacements available, at least within the organization. Now, if your line of thinking is to use a lost season to take a fly on all these guys, well, that could be.

#12 Boom Boom

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:04 AM

interestingly enough, Blackburn's xFIP got better the two years after he signed his extension, so maybe he was the victim of bad luck a bit in those two years. Still never should have signed him to that deal though.


Conversely, Blackburn significantly outperformed his xFIP the two years previous, which would indicate he was the beneficiary of good luck before signing the extension.

#13 boney

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:43 AM

Can Nick Blackburn be fixed? Got a rubberband?

#14 Thrylos

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:52 AM

I think De Vries in MLB is a disaster waiting to happen, and Deduno, who knows. And that is the big problem, I agree that Blackburn is bad, but there are no really viable replacements available, at least within the organization. Now, if your line of thinking is to use a lost season to take a fly on all these guys, well, that could be.


I think that the Twins by this point should know that Blackburn is not part of the future at least in the rotation. Putting them in the pen they might see whether he might be part of the future there, like Perkins.
They do not know the same about DeVries of Deduno. They should find out whether they can help the rotation in 2013.
This season is done. They gotta do some tryouts :)
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#15 jimbo92107

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:59 AM

Assuming the two examples are supposed to be the same pitch, Blackburn's head falls much farther to the left in the first clip, causing his torso to pirouette away from the plate, imparting much more inside-out spin than in the second clip. I see the difference in the front leg, but he could still impart inside-out spin with that stride. Why he chose not to, I don't know. Again, we're assuming he was trying to throw the same pitch in both clips. Maybe that assumption is wrong. Blackburn does walk a tightrope of subtle variations in his delivery. Could be that he's constantly tinkering with his release point, wrist flip and such, and sometimes that gets him in trouble. In the second clip, the ball came out of his hand with nothing on it. Obviously the first clip was a much better pitch. Does it come down to mechanics, pitch selection or simply flawed precision? The balls going 400 feet off Blackburn have been right down the middle. That's a bad spot no matter what spin you put on the ball.

#16 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:06 PM

organization/fans read FAR too much into his pitching well in game 163 vs CHI. They still talk about it when giving his case that he can recover. He was durable the first 2 yrs & thats it. Durability is defiantely a very good thing, but he still didnt pitch that well in the post steroid era. His contract could go down as one of the worst moves Billy Smith made as it ties up payroll more than Mauer IMO. There is no arguement for keeping him in the majors. He is supposedly out of options (is it he's a 6 yr guy??), so to option him to ROC, we may need to take him off 40 man roster(go thru waivers). Do It. The 8.5m of him/Nishi is killer but with Nishi they showed that money doesnt dictate you get to play in majors if you cannot perform.

#17 Fire Dan Gladden

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:20 PM

I love all the back seat pitching coaches...

#18 chuchadoro

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:48 PM

Can Nick Blackburn be fixed? There has to be a more humane way to eliminate the possibility of Blackburn offspring stinking up future Twins pitching staffs.

#19 Badsmerf

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:51 PM

Blackburn doesn't need to be fixed! Didn't any of you watch game 163?

#20 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 04:48 PM

Conversely, Blackburn significantly outperformed his xFIP the two years previous, which would indicate he was the beneficiary of good luck before signing the extension.


Or, it could indicate xFIP really doesn't tell you much of anything useful.

#21 FrodaddyG

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 05:30 PM

Or, it could indicate xFIP really doesn't tell you much of anything useful.

Yep, xFIP is useless, seeing as Blackburn outperformed it regularly, proving it was not a fluke, and his terrible peripherals never eventually caught up to him.

#22 TopGunn#22

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 08:53 PM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher. And this is based on IP, which is not a performance metric, but a manager's choice metric.

In 2009, Blackburn had a worse than average 1.366 WHIP and a worse than average 4.3 K/9. He was worse than the average pitcher in his best season. Because the Twins unwisely offered him a contract extension based on "whatever they saw" or "their gut", instead of the numbers, does not make him "good", or even average. So "fixing him" would equate to bringing up the equivalent of Cole DeVries or Sam Deduno to pitch. The latter is an easier fix.


As usual, Thrylos is spot on. Blackburn has NEVER been a good pitcher. The only way the Twins can get back into contention for a division title next year in a VERY mediocre division is to go out and get 2 solid starting pitchers. And in baseball today, starting pitchers cost MONEY. A LOT of it!! It's time for the Pohlads to pony up about $17-$18 million per pitcher.

#23 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:44 PM

Yep, xFIP is useless, seeing as Blackburn outperformed it regularly, proving it was not a fluke, and his terrible peripherals never eventually caught up to him.


Let's see...during the time he was decent, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just lucky.

During the time he sucked, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just unlucky.

Useful "stat" that, useful.

#24 glunn

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:51 PM

It's time for the Pohlads to pony up about $17-$18 million per pitcher.


You should not hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

I wish that the Pohlads would sell the team to someone who will spend more of the profit to get better players.

#25 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:55 PM

The problem I have with this train of thought is that there is an engrained assumption that Blackburn was a "good" pitcher. And this is based on IP, which is not a performance metric, but a manager's choice metric.


I really don't think Parker is hinting at Blackburn being a good pitcher with this piece. The only underlying thought present is that Blackburn was more effective in 2009 and that's obvious. The changes show why he has regressed in that sense.

#26 CDog

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:31 PM

Let's see...during the time he was decent, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just lucky.

During the time he sucked, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just unlucky.

Useful "stat" that, useful.


At least you're getting better at illustrating where and how your lack of understanding and ability to interpret are rooted.

#27 kab21

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:06 PM

I think everyone hating on Blackburn from a couple of years ago should check to make sure they aren't projecting Diamond as anything more than a bottom of the rotation innings eater. Right now Blackburn sucks. You can survive in this league without a high K rate but you better have a tiny BB rate. It was worth giving him a few shots this year because the Twins don't have anything in the rotation. He still looks awful so it's time to pull the plug and banish him. Bullpen first and possibly even DFA later on.

#28 old nurse

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 07:43 AM

Bert said on a radio show that Blackburn is overthrowing the ball. Plenty of video out there, plenty of knowledgeable people out there watching, yet the mechanics go unfixed. Perhaps the pitching staff needs a psychotherapist.

#29 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:41 AM

Let's see...during the time he was decent, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just lucky.

During the time he sucked, xFIP told us he wasn't. Just unlucky.

Useful "stat" that, useful.

Some things never change.

#30 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:56 AM

Bert said on a radio show that Blackburn is overthrowing the ball. Plenty of video out there, plenty of knowledgeable people out there watching, yet the mechanics go unfixed. Perhaps the pitching staff needs a psychotherapist.


Or maybe their eyeballs were injured and the Twins medical staff got to them.