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Maybe It’s Time For The Dodgers To Change…

Maybe It’s Time For The Dodgers To Change…

Back on April 26, 2009, Gary Thorne of USA Today wrote about changes in pitching conditioning strategy that Nolan Ryan, the new President of the Texas Rangers wasNolanRyan_001 implementing in the Ranger organization.  Here is what he wrote:

Under the leadership of club president Nolan Ryan, the Texas Rangers have embarked on a pitching experiment that could be called “back to the future on the mound.”The experiment may also have a major impact on the use of the dreaded pitch count which has been in vogue for perhaps too long in MLB.  Ryan has banished the use of the pitch count in determining how long a pitcher stays in the game through out the organization.

Of course, every pitching coach will know that count, but that is no longer the criteria for when to pull a pitcher. We are primarily talking starters here, a role Ryan filled to HOF standards, going deep into games.  If a pitch count had been around when Ryan pitched, he would have been out in the third or fourth inning of most games with all the strikeouts and walks.

As part of the effort, Ryan has also established a year round fitness program for pitchers. He told the Dallas Morning News the idea is to “establish our foundation” for starters.  Speaking from his own experience, Ryan said he “had to develop stamina because my intent was to pitch a lot of innings.” That message is being sent loud and clear to the Texas starters.   Mike Maddux, the pitching coach for the Rangers, says you don’t need a pitch count to know when your day is done. “The hitters will let you know that,” he said.

“The ceiling is off,” said Maddux. “This is a mental thing we have to overcome. We have to change the attitude of the starters to want to go deep and believe they can.”  The Rangers instituted the process of eliminating the pitch count and building stamina in spring training said Maddux. “We had the pitchers throwing live batting practice besides their regular work.”  “We want guys who want the ball deep in the game,” said Maddux. He believes that the results of this experiment will be seen as early as June.  

Andy MacPhail, the president of baseball operations for the Orioles finds the Texas effort “a good idea.” He smiled and said, “We will let them (Texas) go first, but the other 29 clubs are going to be monitoring the results.”  “Having Nolan Ryan and his reputation behind the effort lends tremendous credibility to the concept,” said MacPhail.   MacPhail cited a number of changes in the game that brought the pitch count to the fore.

 ”Pitchers are on for the short term now,” he said. “We play the game in high energy, short bursts. It’s a give it all you’ve got for as long as you can and then you come out.”  “Specialization also drove the pitch count,” said MacPhail. With middle relievers, long men, set up pitchers and closers all part of a team’s structure, the need to use them in their roles suggested a pitch count on the starter, then turn the game over to the pen.  MacPhail thinks it will take years to know if the experiment works. “We need to see if the pitchers under the Texas system remain durable and how many more innings they pitch over an extended time. That’s how we will gauge the results.”

Maddux noted that the system is in place with the Rangers big league staff now. Starters understand that not only does their pitching coach and manager expect efforts deep in to the game, but the president of the club wants the same.

Ryan summed up for the Dallas Morning News at the start of the season what he wants to see from starters: “The dedication and work ethic that it takes to pitch an entire season as a starting pitcher and the discipline to continue to maintain his routine all year. And he wants the ball every fifth day, and he’s going to go out there with the intent of pitching late into games and not complaining.”  The rest of baseball is intently watching.

Well, the long-term results may not be in, but so far this year, Texas has turned their pitching totally around.  Last year, it was the worst in the league.  This year, they have given up the fewest runs in the AL AND THEY PLAY IN A BANDBOX!  Typically, the Rangers pitching staff wilts in July and Auguest due to the intense heat.  It hasn’t happened this year.  Could Ryan and Mike Maddux be on to something?  Maybe the Dodgers should take a lesson.

RANTS & RAVES

  • One Grand Slam doesn’t mean Russ Martin has turned it around, but he’s headed the right direction.  A hot Martin down the stretch would make a huge difference.
  • The artist formerly known as “Manny” is awake!
  • Every team needs a pitcher like Jeff Weaver.  He just shuts up and pitches whenever he is asked.  Happy birthday, Jeff!
  • Russ Martin has have several bad throws recently, and he needs to realize that rushing it will not make up for the pitcher’s failure to hold the runner.  Sometimes, he just needs to eat the ball. 
  • Kuroda is reportedly recovering rapidly.
  • The Wolfman goes today!

Minor League Recap – 8/20/09 by Jared of http://thinkbluela.blogspot.com/
Albuquerque won 5-4

Chin Lung Hu – 1 for 4, BB (.289 BA)
Blake DeWitt – 2 for 5, 3B, HR (5), RBI, 2 R, K (.247 BA)
Jamie Hoffman – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, R, BB, K, E (.300 BA)

http://tinyurl.com/nlwsvc
Chattanooga won 8-6

Lucas May – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI, R, E (.281 BA)
Trayvon Robinson – 0 for 4, R, BB, K (.100 BA)

Javy Guerra – 2 IP, 2 Hits, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K’s (4.29 ERA)

http://tinyurl.com/kk8crs
Inland Empire lost 3-2

Scott Van Slyke – 1 for 3, BB (.291 BA)
Steven Caseres – 0 for 4, K (.265 BA)
Preston Mattingly – 0 for 3 (.233 BA)

Kenley Jansen – 1 IP, Hit, 0 R, 0 BB, K (7.50 ERA)

http://tinyurl.com/lqa8yh
Great Lakes won 18-4

Dee Gordon – 2 for 4, 2 R, K (.303 BA)
Kyle Russell – 3 for 5, 2 2B’s, RBI, 2 R, BB, K (.275 BA)
Jerry Sands – 2 for 4, 2B, HR (3), 4 R, 2 BB (.283 BA)
Alfredo Silverio – 2 for 6, HR (13), 3 RBI, R, K (.280 BA)

Roberto Feliciano – 1 IP, 0 Hits, 0 R, 0 BB, K (0.00 ERA)

http://tinyurl.com/munrtg
Ogden won 5-4

BCG – 1 for 2, 2 RBI, R, BB, K, CS (.341 BA)
Nick Akins – 1 for 4, 2 K’s (.250 BA)
JT Wise – 1 for 3, BB (.314 BA)
Kyle Orr – 1 for 4, K (.224 BA)

http://tinyurl.com/ladv9v
AZL lost 8-3

Jan Vazquez – 0 for 3, BB, E (.183 BA)

Greg Miller – 1 IP, 0 Hits, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K’s (0.00 ERA)
Amauri Guzman – 1.1 IP, 2 Hits, 2 ER, BB, 0 K’s (3.86 ERA)

http://tinyurl.com/ntkwrg
Player of the day – Jerry Sands, 1B/OF

2 more extra basehits for Sands. He’s now up to 8 in his last 10 games and 33 in 56 overall. His August OPS is now a ridiculous 1.231. I expected Jerry’s stats to regress drastically once he was promoted and I’m glad I was wrong. Sands is making a case for the title of “Best Dodgers’ Outfield Prospect.”

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

25 Responses to “Maybe It’s Time For The Dodgers To Change…”

  1. Badger says:

    I strongly agree about Martin and his throwing. He is rushing, and mechanically that is a huge mistake. As for his offense, he hit .317 in July and is hitting .250 in August. I don’t care about his home runs. I care about his health and his OBP. OBP is at .363, keep it there. Hohld this pitching staff together, don’t rush your throws, be there and healthy in October, I am happy.

    Nolan Ryan was something of a freak. If he thinks he can get Ranger pitchers to do what he was able to do he is dreaming. Yes, conditioning is critical but if these guys don’t know that already, somebody dropped the proverbial ball. And the only thing that will help pitchers in Texas is moveable fences. In the summer, back them up 15 ft. or so. Just looking at Padilla’s home/road numbers tells you all you need to know about the park in Texas.

    Hopefully Manny figured out what he has been doing wrong, and will continue to hit. This whole team looks better when he is getting his hits.

    Keep it up Blue. It would be nice to head into Colorado on a high note.

  2. DRomo says:

    Nolan Ryan is absolutely onto something. Pitch counts are over rated and not the end all be all they are made out to be. In an over statistically based world it is just another way to simplify things for “fans”. Stat geeks and fantasy league losers love this stuff but it aint baseball! There is a commercial running about looking at a box score of a game, and it says something like “a game full of numbers is Sudoku, not baseball” The point is, you have to watch the game and know what you are talking about.
    Numbers can be deceiving. I mentioned the Rangers experiment months ago here. They talk about it all the time on MLB Homeplate on XM (You guys have to get it!) In the old days this is the way it was done. You start that early and by the time the pitcher is in the big leagues he can go 9 innings! You let the hitters tell you when the pitcher is done. If the guy is still getting outs, who cares how many pitches he has. I have heard pitching coaches say they go to the mound and ask a pitcher how he’s feeling and he says “How many pitches do I have?” What the hell is that?
    What it comes down to is: The better pitchers in your organization are made starters. That is a fact. You keep them in the rotation for a reason. Why bring in a lesser pitcher? Too many times a pitcher is dominating and gets pulled after 100 pitches and gets a No Decision. It is ridiculous.

    As for Manny being “back”. Let’s see him put together a few games first. Same with Martin. You knew Martin was going to swing out of his @#&* at the first pitch. He guessed right. Let’s hope they both keep it going!

  3. Badger says:

    Back in the “old days” pitchers went every 4th day and some threw 300 innings.

    And Koufax was done at age 30.

    Things are different, that’s for sure. You can bet most teams and most pitching coaches wont’ stop counting pitches. It is done for good reason.

    I read that Padilla will go in Colorado next week, and is scheduled to pitch in Albuquerque (guess they want to see what his stuff does at a mile high). The ‘topes don’t get home til Saturday so, depending on which day and how many pitches he throws, we can expect to see him maybe Wednesday. That should be interesting.

    Our next two are against winning pitchers.

  4. T says:

    Pitch counts? We don’t need no stinkin’ pitch counts!

    Sincerely,
    Mark Prior

  5. Ken says:

    The Dodger pitchers need a pitch count. They need to throw more than 3 different pitches before they are allowed to be a starter.

    They also need to get in shape and have a proper off season conditioning routine for their heart, legs, arms and core. As I have said before their Spring Training regime is terrible because they are babied. Just watch the box scores in the spring. The other teams are always throwing more innings than the Dodger pitchers by March 1st. The long releivers do not throw enough innings to become emergency starters. The minor league starters do not throw enough innings to come to the Majors if someone is hurt. The 5 ML starters never throw enough to be able to pitch 7 innings the first week of the regular season.

    Is Honey too sweet to push these guys?? Hire Greg Maddox and a new conditioning coach.

    Do bad mechanics make a pitcher tired faster??

    Does throwing instead of pitching make a pitcher tired faster??

    The Dodger pitchers need to pitch strikes instead of throwing balls.
    I would rather watch 5 starters with an ERA of 4.25 that go 7 innings than 5 starters with an ERA of 3.25 that go 5 innings.

  6. Bill Russell says:

    Nolan Ryan was a one of a kind durable pitcher. There’s not many people on the earth as durable as him let alone in the Major Leagues. The days of not monitoring pitch counts has come and gone with modern thinking taking over todays game. With that being said, has pitchers been babied a little too much in todays modern game? Yes. It will be interesting watching the Rangers over the next few years and if their pitchers become injuried more often It will also be interesting to see if Free Agent pitchers will want to join their staff knowing what they are doing over there.

    I was happier with the offense last night but I still want to see us win a game with a #1 or #2 on the mound. Martin needed that big hit yesterday. Now he can walk around with his head a little higher today. I hope he doesn’t revert back into pulling everything like Romo had mentioned.

    Well I took a few days off and I’m down in Padres country at La Jolla Shores Hotel. Great ocean Front room and getting some much needed R & R. I’ve been walking the beach with my Dodger sweatshirt, hat and sandals and haven’t had to fight for the right yet. Maybe Padres fans have just resigned themselfs into almost giving up the fight for now.

    I am hoping that the Giants beat up on the Rockies tonight. The are getting a little too close for comfort.

  7. Ken says:

    The new Dodger Ace pitches tonight. Yes, Wolf is the leader in innings per game and WHIP and 2nd in ERA. Thats unless of course you count Haeger who is first in Innings per game and WHIP!!

  8. Bill Russell says:

    Lucky for me that the Dodgers were on the Chicago cable station down here in SD last night or I would have missed my first Dodger game of the year. The Chicago announcers were really bagging on the Dodgers fans for showing up late and leaving early. They Kept going on and on and on about it. I’m glad we have Vinny in the booth after watching that game last night. I was at the game on Wednesday night and got a ball signed by Sweet Lou Johnson. He still looks fit and ready to play. Well that’s all for now. Go Blue. Keep up the good work Mark and I hope you get in my NFL football pool.

  9. DRomo says:

    In the 2008 MLB season just 2.8% of starts were complete games. To put this in perspective, as recently as 15-20 years ago, 10-15 complete games a year by a star pitcher was not unheard of, and in 1980, Oakland Athletics pitcher Rick Langford threw 22 consecutive complete games.

    It starts young. You cant start it at the big league level. Build the guys up and when they arrive on the scene they can go 9!

  10. DRomo says:

    BRuss, San Diego?

  11. Bill Russell says:

    There’s plenty of birds here but I’m not sure where they’re from. I’ll start checking some ID’s and report back. It’s too hot these days for snow birds. Only the seagul types are left. In fact there’s one now on my deck carrying away my bag of chips. Damn it GO BLUE

  12. Bill Russell says:

    I can’t afford Newport………… Besides, Dennis Rodman owns that town and it’s too close to Anaheim.

  13. matt says:

    sands is a better outfield prospect then Lambo and trayvon robinson??

  14. Kay in L.A. says:

    Ogden won again. That BCG (Cavazos-Galvez) is on a tear that never ends.

    Last night’s game was excellent. The Dogs got on the scoreboard early as they need to. It’s not all about pitching; offense needs to be productive and consistent. A GlamSlam helps things too, but Martin has problems in my view.

    Manny’s ba-a-a-a-c-k. We can only hope he learned to not swing too hard.

    Wolf had a good outing last time, so feel good about the game and our series vs. Cubbies as long as offense stays alive. Haeger will pitch on national TV (Fox) tomorrow.

    Padilla to start on Monday vs. Rockies.

    Ken, I enjoyed your lyrics yesterday! It looks like Mark may have them set to music? Looking for more happy songs, no blues.

  15. Kay in L.A. says:

    My mistake. Dodgers have Monday off.
    Non Engish-speaking Padilla’s set for next Thursday.
    Let’s hope he doesn’t hit any batters.

  16. lawdog says:

    Computer crashed and I’ve had to resort to the good graces of local ibrary to retrieve my email and check out Dodgertalk.

    There were exceptions to the genera rule like Sandy, , Don , Feller and Gibson, but the the most part, pitchers didn’t throw 100 mph until recently. Claude Osteen was lucky if he lit it up at 87. Orel Hershiser in the late 80 had a fastball with movement that came in at 89-89 ,mph. Fernando could hit 87-88 on a good day.

    Dick Nen is the first pitcher whon could bring it at 100 mph and throw a 90 mph slider. He was unhittable although he really didn’t command hs pitches.

    The game has changed and there are now 15+ pitchers who have Broxton’s stuff and the hitters have caught up. Hell, I can it a 100 mph fastball, eventually, if you throw me enough of them. Change speeds on me and I won’t even contact ow that my eyesight is going south

    If yu willing to go with pitchers who are “crafty” and change speed to get people out, you can get complete games and pitchers who pitch every fourth day. The problem with that plan is that the hitters have caught up with the pitchers who are elite and they can hit the 100 mph fastballs and the 90 change ups or sliders. The Schmidts who rely slow fastballs and even slower breaking stuff only can win when they can command there pitches and put them in that dixie cup. The Gagne’s of the world succeed because the could not only throw that hard, the could COMMAND where the ptihches went, (ahhhhh, the joy of ‘roids). When Broxton let’s it fly he has n o idea where it[s going. And slider is his out pitch and he doesn’t even know it.

    Speaking of pitchers who can put the ball exactly where they want to, Any of you guys see HAEGER pitch the other night. Vinnie said at one point towards the end of the game that he hadn’t gone to a 3 ball count all night. I watched each knuckler leave his hand never did even one spin. The ball went right where he wanted it to go and each knuckler had absoutely no rotation whatsover. Every time the threw the knuckler it not only had no rotation, but went exactly where he wanted it to go. He didn’t walk people which is usually the fatal flaw of a knuckleballer. Sure Pujols got lucky as did the Sanit Looie center fielder.

    BUt how many of you folks would have liked to have Wilber Wood as their staff ace? He won 20 games throwing the Knuckler…Or the Neikro brothers. Phil won 300+ games and Joe won 20 games one season.

    Think about it. We have Bills, Kurveshaw, Elbert and MacDonald, all of whom throw gas and can start. Kuroda is still servicable, but he’s looking toastier by the moment. How about pitching Haeger right after Bills and Kurveshaw and then coming back with MacDonald’s 97 mph gas? We might have best pitching in nthe league next season.

    The guy has the backwards stuff I’ve ever see–and I’ve seen Candiotti, Hough, Wilhelm and that guy who pitches for the Bosox (He ain’t shit because he can’t control the dancer everytime out out. Haeger’s record at Albuquerque and what he showed us the other night shows me that Charlie Hough was right. Haeger has the best Dancer I”ve ever seen

  17. Badger says:

    I was wondering what happened to you. Did you get my email? If not, get back to me with a new address.

    My feeling has always been to finish games you have to throw strikes. Now something that has been mentioned before, but should be mentioned again, is the change in strike zone dimensions. It used to run from the bottom of the knee to the letters. Now, it’s the top of the knee to the navel. Big difference. Throw in the lower mound and it’s tougher on a pitcher now than it was then. But, having said all that, these guys are pros – throw strikes damnit (used as a mild expletive).

  18. Mark Timmons says:

    McDonald can hit 97 as a releiver but he’s about 5 MPH slower as a starter.

    Several Dodger insiders have said that Haeger’s knuckleball had the least amount of movement they had ever seen in his first start. They said you know it’w working when he walks a few guys.

  19. Badger says:

    Maybe the knuckler works better at altitude?

  20. Badger says:

    Is everyone at the game?

    Dogs 1 hit the Cubs. Nice.

  21. LADODGERDAVE says:

    WOLF FOR PRESIDENT

    MY LINE-UP:

    WOLF
    KEMP
    ETHIER
    MANNY
    ETC…..

  22. A Shot of Haeger says:

    and just because it isn’t who we thought it was going to be at the beginning of the season, doesn’t make it any less so.

    Everyone coming in thought Billingsley was going to be the ace of the staff. Inconsistency has led to that not being so.

    Then we thought it might be Kershaw…. but with his pitch count issues, and the inconsistency of youth.. it is not so.

    Maybe Kuroda…. but after multiple injuries… it is not so

    Our ace is Randy Wolf.. and I guess he has been all season.

    He’s been consistent with a few bad games that every pitcher has… but I’ll tell you this…

    If he pitches like he has the last three games, I like our chances in the playoffs.

    If the playoffs started tomorrow, I know who I’d want starting Game 1… and I’d think we had a pretty good chance of winning.

  23. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Sorry..meant to put I’ve guess we’ve had our ace all along before this

  24. Badger says:

    Yeah, who knew? Randy hasn’t pitched like this in 7 years. He showed some signs last year, with 190 innings, but had a 4.3 ERA. Where this is coming from? Whow knows but I sure hope he has about 230 innings in that arm.

    But, before we get too excited, we won with 2 unearned runs. Our offense is still sketchy. I would like to see that 5.5 runs per game I was talking about a few days ago.

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