March 26, 2005

RISE OF THE YOUTHFUL MARINER:

Hernandez pitch creates a buzz: Rookie makes like Rocket on three-pitch strikeout of defending MVP (JOHN HICKEY, March 25, 2005, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)

The Mariners were still talking yesterday morning about the Wednesday night fastball that rookie Felix Hernandez blew by defending American League Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels.

"That pitch had some hair on it," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "That might have been the hardest pitch we've had thrown this year."

It was the third pitch of a three-pitch at-bat, and Guerrero, swinging from the heels, couldn't touch it.

"(Hitting coach) Don Baylor was saying that if you are able to foul that ball off, it's a major accomplishment," manager Mike Hargrove said. "That pitch, that velocity, that movement was special."

For all of that, Hargrove said it was Hernandez's curve that impressed him the most.

"That's something else," he said. "When he has the fastball, then comes in with that curve, I don't know as a hitter where you go from there."

The question in Seattle that keeps coming around is whether Hernandez has impressed enough to make the team.


What would be the point of sending him down? Keep him and treat him with kid gloves the way the Mets did Doc Gooden his first year--never more than six innings or 100 pitches, whichever comes first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2005 10:17 AM
Comments

Sounds good to me - btw, have you long been a Mariners fan?

Posted by: mike beversluis at March 26, 2005 10:26 AM

mike:

Since Ken Phelps was in his heyday.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 10:32 AM

Mariners: Team of Destiny.

C'mon oj, Predict the M's for the Series. You've been a pretty good prognosticator of late. Well, except the 60-40 thing, and that one is still in the works - unless you believe all the libertarian bloggers threatening a jump to the Dems to put the overreaching, totallitarian Evangelicals in their place.

Posted by: Pat H at March 26, 2005 10:42 AM

Unfortunately for the M's they have the Angels, Rangers and A's in their division, baseball's best except for the general thinness of the starting pitching.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 10:56 AM

OJ:

I concur with you, but your mention of a pitch limit brings up a point I've often wondered about: Why would any high school kid who could get drafted play college ball instead? I just heard an interview on the radio with a freshman pitcher for a nearby college baseball team, whose coach has made the NCAA's several times. The kid said he expected to pitch 115-125 pitches per outing. No way, plus, with the aluminum bats, you forget how to pitch inside.

Posted by: Dan at March 26, 2005 12:06 PM

And the're brought in to relieve. They go because society places an absurd value on college.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 12:28 PM

Wait... Now admittedly there are few things in this world that I care less about than professional sports. But I thought it was bad that basketball players are foregoing college in favor of the pros right out of high school because they're not learning their fundamentals and they're not learning not ot be ill-bred thugs. They're basically becoming shot-happy, ball-hogging, coke-sniffing, date-raping cretins. Why is baseball any different? And don't give me any of that "Baseball is a wondrous, holy pasttime uncorruptable by man and basketball is the tool of Satan used by secular humanists to bring forth their Darwinist agenda" yap because that doesn't fly with me.

Posted by: Governor Breck at March 26, 2005 1:06 PM

Baseball players who sign out of high school generally spend at least four years in the minors learning their craft full-time. The NBA needs a minor league so the kids can be paid over the table while they learn.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 1:12 PM

They play college ball to improve their draft position and therefore make more money. Unless they're sure to go at the top of the first round at 18, it makes sense to try a big-time college program.

Especially as more and more teams take the Billy Beane route and avoid high school pitchers as the expensive gamble they appear to be.

Instead of taking a risk at 18 on a guy who at best will spend 4 years in the minors learning how to pitch, you take a guy at 22 who knows how to pitch, and has the stats to show it and who'll therefore be in the bigs within a year.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 26, 2005 2:15 PM

Ah March! Steve Dalkowski

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 26, 2005 3:33 PM

Jim:

Except that doesn't work. Look at how many of the best players, including pitchers, skipped college, including almost all the Latinos.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 4:19 PM

OJ, I'd love to have you out here for an M's game sometime, though I know that would break just about every rule in your book.

Posted by: Timothy at March 26, 2005 9:20 PM

I'm there in spirit--on the couch in reality...

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 9:29 PM

OJ:

Tell it to Oakland. And there's no question that they've been the best at developing pitching talent the last 5-10 years or so.

I am talking only about pitchers not position players and I'm not saying that you can't get good pitchers out of high school (and obviously latinos are the big exception, but then many of them are not subject to the draft anyway).

What I'm saying is that high school pitchersare a huge gamble and take a long time to develop. It makes more sense to draft college pitchers -- the Hudsons, Zitos, Priors and Clemenses who have a miuh greater chance of success.

I don't buy all the Moneyball stuff, but Beane seems dead on with the pitching.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 26, 2005 11:34 PM

Three pitchers does not wisdom make.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2005 7:33 AM

The A's have more pitchingthan the BIG 3, which was why they could afford to let 2 of them go.

The point isn't that high school pitchers can't be good big leaguers, just that they are MORE OF A RISK financially. That the A's have had so much success drafting college pitchers is evidence of that.

Why draft and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a high school pitcher with, say, based on your experience, a 10-20 percent chance of pitching well in the bigs 4 years later, when you can get a college guy w/ say a 40 percent chance of contributing to the big league club a year later?

I'm not making this up OJ, Beane has made it a success.

(How's that Mariner draft of pitchers done over the last decade btw?)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 27, 2005 10:02 AM

You can have the first 10 high school pitchers taken in the next draft, and I'l take the first 10 college guys, and we'll reconvene in 10 years and compare stats!

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 27, 2005 10:05 AM

Their best recent pitcher has been Freddy Garcia who didn't go to college and he's about to be succeeded by Felix Hernandez who didn't. The two best players in their history--Junior and A-rod--didn't go to college.

Obviously the best 22 year old pitcher is less of a risk than the best 18 year old, but the best pitchers in baseball are fairly evenly split between the two.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2005 10:14 AM

At one time a few years ago, there was a run of Cy Young winners who had each been released in the recent past.

Dave Stewart is a name that sticks in my mind, although he didn't win the Cy Young. He came up with the Dogers and pitched for Texas and the Phillies, who released him at age 29 in 1986. He spent a couple of months working out for whoever wanted to give him a look. He hooked on with the As. In the 4 years there after he won 20,21,21 and 22 games.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 28, 2005 11:59 AM
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