Categorized | Mark Timmons

I Am Not Sure of Much…

I Am Not Sure of Much…

But I am sure that Joe Torre just needs to give Charlie Haeger the baseball every 5 days and let him pitch as long as he can. He’ll have some good outings.  He’ll have some bad ones, but the

200 IP - Write it down!

good will outweigh the bad.  He’ll pitch over 200 innings for us and most importantly, he’ll eat innings and keep us in games.

Here’s some other things I am sure of:

  1. Josh Lindblom will be a very good pitcher… I am just not sure if it will be as a starter or reliever.  If I had to bet, I’d say he’s a closer.
  2. Ditto on James McDonald, but a setup guy!
  3. If Matt Kemp learns to lay off that low and away pitch, he might win a batting title, and he will be a Superstar!
  4. Blake DeWitt is a ballplayer, but he’s a work in progress at 2B as he is struggling defensively.  He will work through it.
  5. In a week, the Dodgers will have one or none – Ortiz’s that is!

Steve Dilbeck goes on ad nauseous about how the facility in Vero Beach should be allowed to be called Dodgertown.  Here’s the only problem, Steveo: it’s not Dodgertown anymore. Maybe they can call it Ex-Dodgertown.  Really, just make a sign which says “The Place Formerly Known as Dodgertown.”    Hello?  What a stupid article!

Dylan Hernandez has a good read on Kershaw’s and Billingsley’s new pitches.  One tidbit:

Concerned that Kershaw’s high pitch counts prevented him from going deeper into games, Honeycutt urged him in the middle of last season to develop the pitch that he sometimes playfully threw to teammates along the base lines.

The rationale was that by learning how to throw something other than his fastball for strikes, Kershaw would face fewer unfavorable counts, which would, in turn, allow him to preserve his arm for the later innings.

While Kershaw’s 12-to-6 curveball might be his signature pitch, it has one significant shortcoming: Because the break is so extreme, it often drops out of the strike zone, meaning that if there’s no swing, there’s probably no strike.

Young Clayton goes tonight.  Let’s hope he’s not to hyped-up.

About Mark Timmons

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

10 Responses to “I Am Not Sure of Much…”

  1. Scoop says:

    “Because the break is so extreme, it often drops out of the strike zone, meaning that if there’s no swing, there’s probably no strike.”

    Sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. As a former umpire, I can tell you that there is no pitch that breaks so much it goes from the top of the strike zone to out of the strike zone in a span of 3′. It’s just not possible. As for the rest of that, Kershaw just needs to throw strikes. It isn’t rocket surgery, just trust your stuff and throw it over the plate. Same is true for Billingsley. As they both get older, the confidence and control should come.

    Blake DeWitt is not a second baseman. We have all known that for some time now. He is an athlete and could very well figure it out, but his talent is either as a 3rd baseman or a left fielder.

    It would appear that the arms we are drafting are all being developed into relief pitchers. Not a bad thing I guess, if the Dodgers were financially healthy enough to go out and sign FA starters – which they currently are not. Maybe by this time next year? We’ll see about that.

    OK Kershaw. You are on your home bump – go out there, throw strikes and go 7+. The DBacks are throwing a local kid from Huntington Beach who might have butterflies the size of dragons so this should be interesting.

  2. lawdog says:

    Haeger is even better than I expected, and you can’t say much more than that. If the umpire stays consistent in calling the floater above the knees on the corner a strike, he probably goes 7 innings with 14 strikeouts, no runs, no walks and one hit. That’s my biggest fear for Haeger. The dancer is not only the hardest pitch to hit or catch, it’s the hardest pitch to call by an umpire who isn’t really intensely focused. Against the Marlins, the ump was right on for 3 innings and then lost his focus in the 4th. All of a sudden Haeger couldn’t buy a strike even though the pitches he was throwing were hitting the exact same spots where they had been called strikes in the innings before. His fastball was measured at 85 mph, tops, on the gun and had good movement in on a right hander. If his fastball was measured that high, it must have actually been 88 mph, according to Mover’s sources, which ain’t chopped liver when you can bring it onto the corner via the backdoor like a backdoor slider. He threw a 77 mph slurve (80 mph according to Mover?) exactly twice, once for a strike. The other for a strike called a ball by the fatigued umpire.

    The home run he served up was one of the best dancers he threw all day and although it had tumbled onto the outside corner at the knees would have been called a ball by the umpire in the 4th inning–or a strike in the first three innings.

    All in all, 6 innings , 3 earned runs, 3 hits, 4 walks and 12 strikeouts. A most impressive quality start for our future “ace”.

    He not only can be used every 5th day (make him the #4 starter and drop Padilla to #5), there is no reason why he couldn’t be used in middle relief between two flame throwers and help our pitiful pen. Let him follow Kurveshaw and pitch before Bellisario and/or Broxton. Don’t use him before an 89 mph fastball kind of guy (Sherrill) or after Billingsley.

  3. lawdog says:

    On the bright side, Charlie Haeger was impressive in his first start
    April 12, 2010 | 7:26 am
    You uncover your eyes now.

    Really, it wasn’t that bad. Just because the Dodgers opened the season 2-4, blowing leads like dandelions, coming home tied for last and the staff sporting a 5.23 earned-run average.

    There was something good that came out of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Marlins:

    Charlie Haeger.

    Take away the first three Florida hitters in the fourth inning, and it would be difficult to ask for more from him.

    Haeger had his knuckleball darting all over the place, which is mostly good. He struck out 12 in six innings, walked four and allowed three hits.

    Whether it was the breeze or the humidity, his knuckleball had plenty of movement. It danced so much that twice he struck out batters on wild pitches that got away from catcher A.J. Ellis and allowed the hitter to reach first.

    He threw too many pitches (117, 67 for strikes) but knuckleballers are renowned for their rubber arms — it’s not like they’re throwing 100 mph — and hopefully Manager Joe Torre will allow him to go deeper into the game in his next start.

    Torre saw something in Haeger this spring, because he really didn’t do anything to particularly distinguish himself and win the fifth starting spot. He had a nice ERA of 2.20, but not as good as Ramon Ortiz (0.96). Mostly, his major competition (James McDonald, Eric Stults, Josh Towers and Josh Lindblom) pitched themselves out of contention.

    But if Haeger can continue to pitch like he did Sunday, concerns over the fifth spot will quickly evaporate. His performance was somewhat overlooked by the way the Dodgers gave away another game.

    His only trouble Sunday was in the fourth, when his control briefly deserted him after he sat for a lengthy time when the Dodgers scored four times in the top of the inning.

    He walked his first two batters and then gave up a crushing home run to Jorge Cantu.

    Otherwise, it was an encouraging first start for Haeger. And after that trip, the Dodgers were looking for encouraging signs.

    – Steve Dilbeck

  4. lawdog says:

    Is there a reason I had to post Steve Dilbeck’s article on Haeger twice? I gave him credit for the piece. Why did it disappear the first time? :mad:

  5. lawdog says:

    Another article on Chuck Haeger, pilot turned pitcher and his mentor, Charlie Hough–this one by Ken Gurnich of mlb.com:

    By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com

    04/12/10 6:53 PM ET

    LOS ANGELES — If home-opener starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw took the fast lane to the Dodgers rotation, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger took the cart path.

    He wasn’t blessed with a blazing fastball or the seven-figure bonus of a first-round pick like Kershaw, but he did get his parents’ blue-collar work ethic. That, and the persistence to endure nearly a decade of bouncing around baseball’s fringe, brought him to Sunday, opening his season as the fifth starter with a quality start against the Marlins, allowing three runs in six innings.

    On the six-game opening trip east, Kershaw didn’t make it six innings in his start and neither did Chad Billingsley. Vicente Padilla, the Opening Day starter, didn’t make six innings in two tries.

    Haeger out-did every Dodgers starter except for Hiroki Kuroda. Haeger’s line had the typical knuckleball look to it — 12 strikeouts, four walks, three wild pitches — but he gave his club a chance to win, even left the game with a lead, and that’s saying something for somebody who actually left baseball in 2003 to become a golfer. He is scheduled to start again Saturday against the Giants.

    “He has a very good personality to throw the knuckleball. He’s not afraid of it or afraid of the hitter,” said knuckleball specialist Charlie Hough, a mentor to Haeger who pitched until he was 46.

    “He can do this longer than I did. He has a better arm than I had. And I waited 12 years in the bullpen. He’s 26. In knuckleball years — they’re like dog years — he’s probably 20 or 21. He can pitch longer than the average pitcher.”

    Haeger, drafted in the 25th round by the White Sox in 2001, almost wasn’t any kind of pitcher. He bailed on baseball when he wasn’t considered good enough to break camp with any of the White Sox Minor League clubs, skipping the 2003 season rather than be sentenced to extended spring training.

    “Before the knuckleball, I was a normal pitcher and not a very successful one,” he said. “I wasn’t getting anybody out. I was frustrated, and I decided to go home.”

    He enrolled in Madonna University in his home state of Michigan, made its golf team and played the year hitting a ball that wasn’t moving. When the golf season was over, Haeger knew it was time to return to baseball.

    He had a knack for throwing the knuckleball on the sidelines since youth ball, but never in games. When the White Sox gave him a second chance in 2004, he came back committed to become the next Tim Wakefield. He struggled through that season at low Class A, but got a late-season callup to high Class A, and the knuckler started dancing.

    “Somewhere in there from ’04 to ’05, something clicked with me throwing it,” Haeger said.

    He opened 2005 at Class A Winston-Salem, was promoted midseason to Double-A Birmingham and finished that breakthrough season a combined 14-5. The White Sox protected him on their Major League 40-man roster, and when he reported to Spring Training, Chicago had hired Hough to give Haeger a two-week tutorial in the art of the knuckleball.

    “It was awesome,” Haeger said. “I knew about Charlie. I had looked at the history of all the guys who threw the pitch. The one thing that I saw, numbers-wise, is they all threw a lot of innings, all of them. I pride myself on going deep into a game.”

    Haeger said Hough gave him this important advice.

    “Charlie would just say, be patient and trust it,” Haeger said. “I tell myself a lot to trust it. When you throw a 68-mph pitch to a Major League hitter, you better have confidence in what you’re doing. I live and die with this pitch. It’s what got me here. I can’t shy away from it. It’s all about trust.”

    Haeger said he couldn’t explain the one tough patch he had Sunday, issuing walks to Cameron Maybin and Hanley Ramirez to start the fourth inning, then serving up a three-run homer to Jorge Cantu. Hough, now pitching coach for the Dodgers’ Class A team at Inland Empire, was watching and came up with his own theory.

    “When he started the game, he looked like he was trying to beat the batters with good stuff. But when he got the four-run lead, it looked like he was trying to protect it, like mentally he was trying not to walk anybody,” Hough said.

    “That’s backward. When I got to the big leagues, [Dodgers manager] Walt Alston told me when I get a 2-0 count to throw a fastball. He’d say, don’t walk this guy. That’s a tough way to pitch, very negative. It looked like Charlie got into protect-lead mode, but he came right out of it after the home run.”

    Haeger’s path to the Dodgers was circuitous. After brief callups by the White Sox in 2006 and 2007, he was claimed off waivers by the Padres in 2008, made four shaky appearances, then was non-tendered. But Haeger was on the radar of general manager Ned Colletti, and Haeger signed with the Dodgers instead of the Mets or Red Sox before the 2009 season. He spent most of last year as the best starter at Triple-A Albuquerque, but impressed management enough in three Dodgers starts to be part of the club’s pitching plans for 2010.

    Haeger doesn’t spend time wondering why he doesn’t have Kershaw’s 95-mph fastball or why it has taken him almost a decade to break into a rotation.

    “I feel that this was just sort of my path,” he said. “Everybody has a path, this just happened to be mine. I don’t feel slighted. I think it’s great. I have a lot of pride that it was a hard road to get here. It’s how I was brought up. My dad owned a small business, my mom worked in a print shop. Just blue-collar people, working hard — nothing wrong with that.”

    Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

  6. Scoop says:

    So, ldog….. what do you think of this Haeger fella?

  7. lawdog says:

    Hmmmm… How can you draw conclusions from so little data. Let’s see if he can do better next start. Say 7 innings, 15 strikeout 0 runs 0 hits and 0 walks? Maybe then more people will actually stop and take a looksee at our new “Ace” in making, Chuck Haeger. (He’s got to change that first name to “Chuck”. That wuould make more folks notice him from the getgo.) ;)

  8. A Shot of Haeger says:

    keep those stories coming ldog!!! Our conquering hero!!!

  9. Mark Timmons says:

    Lawdog,

    I went back and looked at Gameday.

    He threw 2 fastballs at 85, 3 at 84 and 4 at 83. He also threw several curves, sliders and changeups (probably 12-15 more) in addition to the knuckleball.

    By the way, I am told that Gameday and MLB Extra Innings use the same gun.

  10. Ty says:

    I agree that if Kemp had just a slightly better eye and plate discipline then he’d be a star but I doubt he wins a batting title. He strikes out way too much to do that.

    I like DeWitt’s approach at the plate. Great eye

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