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 Post subject: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:28 am 
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I read with interest the comments by Bullington where he lamented not being given the opportunity to "be handed the ball every fifth day" to show whether he could cut it in the Bigs.

With the caveat that I'm not sure that Bullington ever truly "earned" that chance, it made me think about JVB (or, as I refer to him John Van Vogelsong). We all know that JVB has struggled in the strike zone and, on occassion, he has been hit awfully hard. However, no one can deny that he has shown some flashes of big league material. So . . . is it a talent issue or is it a mental issue?

The vast majority of the posters on this Board (if not unanimous) fully recognize that this team is not competing for the playoffs this year. At best, this team is competing for a .500 record. Further, the majority of posters on this Board believe that competing for .500 is not a goal worth pursuing if it involves sacrificing potential gains in 2009, 2010, 2011, etc, etc. I agree with that general notion . . . I'm not sure that I agree with what has been proposed on how to acheive those gains.

That being written, my thought is this . . . assuming that a 5th spot remains open in the rotation, why not make a commitment to JVB to give him the ball every 5th day for the second half of the season. Tell him that a single performance won't determine whether he is sent to Indianapolis.

OK, OK. I understand that Gorzo was sent to Indy to work out his issues. However, I see a difference in the two situations. Gorzo experienced success in the majors. His confidence was being destroyed by failing at a level where he previously experienced success. The demotion to AAA for Gorzo was designed to get him "back on track" so that he could rediscover his control to succeed again at the bigs.

IMO, JVB has nothing left to prove at the AAA level. Unlike Gorzo, he has never acheived success at the big league level. IMO, its time to throw him in the deep end of the pool to see if he can swim. Will he struggle? Absolutely. It may be painful for many of his outings. But, I don't think that the question of whether he can cut it as a regular starter has been adequately answered at this point. He is somewhat recently off of reconstructive surgery. At times, he has shown great movement on some of his pitches. He can strike out hitters at the major league level.

Let's find out if the issue is mental (ie; putting too much pressure on himself). Tell him that he's got the second half of the year to prove that he belongs. Make sure he knows that he's not a "rental" player who is simply shuttling back-and-forth between Indy and Pitt.

Right now, the Bucs need some answers with their enigmatic starting pitching. It appears that Maholm is finally finding a comfort level and is developing into a nice pitcher. Gorzo is a question mark right now. Oquendo is a question mark right now (I'll refer to him by another last name when he starts pitching like he did last year). Duke remains a question mark. I'm far from sold that Dumatrait can be a regular contributor. JVB is the best option from AAA. I'm hoping that he gets a chance to start 12-15 games in the second half.

Also . . . I must admit that with Dumatrait on the DL and Gorzo in AAA, I find myself also wishing that NH would have adopted a similar strategy with Bullington. Again, it probably would have been painful but I won't be shocked if Bullington is given a look in Cleveland at some point this season to see what he may have in the tank.

I'm not sure that the comparison translates well but sometimes I think that giving a professional athlete (ie; Peyton Manning/Troy Aikman) the opportunity to play (even if he gets roughed up) is an important step towards becoming successful. I guess that, for every Manning or Aikman, you'll also find a Tim Couch or a Ryan Leaf. :) And, before anyone jumps down my throat about whether you can compare a QB to a pitcher, I'd point out that Atlanta kept giving the ball to Glavine, Smoltz and Avery when they looked absolutely awful and were getting murdered. I'm not saying that JVB is anything close to Glavine or Smoltz, I'm just saying that I think the Bucs need to give him a longer look - on a regular basis. Hell, he may prove to be another Vogelsong (good stuff, questionable head) but I'd like to get a firm answer in my head on him.

That's my rambling for the day . . .

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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:58 pm 
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I agree with you from two perspectives.

First, we all know how hard it is to do something knowing that your boss is going to "fire" you if you don't do an adequate job. The look on JVB's face as soon as he hit Berkman the other night told me all I needed to know. It was the old "deer in the headlights" look, mixed with a little "here we go again. I'm screwed". He has decent enough stuff but he needs to have a good outing to see if it gets him over a mental hump. Some guys never get there, but as No. 9 stated it's worth the shot to see if he can.

Second, one of my biggest problems with this organization has always been not finding out about guys, or taking forever to find out about them. It's not like the Pirates have had team fulls of "sure things" over the last 15 years. As you said they never bothered to give Bullington a chance. Although in his case he never had great success at AAA so I'm not sure what he expected. You aren't going to come out and tell the fans "hey, we have no chance this year" but they know that is a fact. And especially considering the state of your pitching staff, why not take the second half of the year and give JVB a shot. If he fails, fine. Nothing lost. This team is going nowhere anyway. Most of the guys over the years they didn't really find out about turned out on the negative side. But there are a few Emil Browns and Jeff Keppingers that have had "some" success in their careers. Until they get some obviously talented "can't miss" guys(and lets hope that is SOON!) they need to find out about some of these fringe guys. JVB is a perfect example of that.

No. 9 I tend to agree with this assessment. And I agree it could be painful to watch. But no more so than watching the other clowns they've rolled out there this year.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:27 pm 
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No.9 Ithink you have hit on a winner this time. Often I don't agree with you perspective on things like catcher control and others, but I like your theory here.

I am in total agreement that we need to do whatever we can at this point to try to improve our pitching for the next seasons. If JVB is the best possible pitcher we have who can make a difference later, we need to give him a real chance.

BTW, I thought his numbers in AAA this year were pretty good, weren't they? If we give him that half year, we should be able to see if he can throw when he gets comfortable or not. I don't have much faith in him right now, but even as a doubter in his ability, I'm more then willing to take the chance (??) with the remainder of this year, IF HE'S THE BEST WE GOT !!

I mean really, it's not so much a gamble is it? What other option is better? The injured and the distressed aren't helping much, so give him the f'en ball and let's see.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:53 pm 
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No. 9:

I'll start by saying that I do agree with you. As long as we don't have 5 dependable starters, we may as well see if Van Benscrotum will ever turn the corner. But to play devils advocate for a minute, how far do you think the ramifications would go?

For instance, what about the bullpen? What effect would it have on some of the arms that we might care about (Grabow, Yates, uh...Burnett?) to be called out to pitch 2 or 3 innings every week in addition to their "typical" workload. Obviously, you risk injury from overuse, but more likely you would at least get fatigue. How does that translate to affecting other starters, who watch the now-fatigued bullpen blow all of their leads? Does it alter their confidence? And, for that matter, does it get into the heads of the offense, thinking they now have to score 10 runs a night to win (after all, half of the game is 90% mental).

Am I stretching things? Absolutely. But my point is that you would have to consider things beyond just who you are giving the ball to every 5th day. Having said that, if every one of your options is going to go 3 innings and get shelled, you might as well use a guy who may pan out.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 7:05 pm 
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BBF wrote:
No. 9:

I'll start by saying that I do agree with you. As long as we don't have 5 dependable starters, we may as well see if Van Benscrotum will ever turn the corner. But to play devils advocate for a minute, how far do you think the ramifications would go?

For instance, what about the bullpen? What effect would it have on some of the arms that we might care about (Grabow, Yates, uh...Burnett?) to be called out to pitch 2 or 3 innings every week in addition to their "typical" workload. Obviously, you risk injury from overuse, but more likely you would at least get fatigue. How does that translate to affecting other starters, who watch the now-fatigued bullpen blow all of their leads? Does it alter their confidence? And, for that matter, does it get into the heads of the offense, thinking they now have to score 10 runs a night to win (after all, half of the game is 90% mental).

Am I stretching things? Absolutely. But my point is that you would have to consider things beyond just who you are giving the ball to every 5th day. Having said that, if every one of your options is going to go 3 innings and get shelled, you might as well use a guy who may pan out.


All outstanding observations and very valid concerns. If Van Vogelsong consistently gives you merely 4 innings, you would almost need another sacrificial lamb in the pen to give you another 3 - no matter the results. Maybe Bautista?

_________________
Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:33 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
I read with interest the comments by Bullington where he lamented not being given the opportunity to "be handed the ball every fifth day" to show whether he could cut it in the Bigs.

With the caveat that I'm not sure that Bullington ever truly "earned" that chance, it made me think about JVB (or, as I refer to him John Van Vogelsong). We all know that JVB has struggled in the strike zone and, on occassion, he has been hit awfully hard. However, no one can deny that he has shown some flashes of big league material. So . . . is it a talent issue or is it a mental issue?

The vast majority of the posters on this Board (if not unanimous) fully recognize that this team is not competing for the playoffs this year. At best, this team is competing for a .500 record. Further, the majority of posters on this Board believe that competing for .500 is not a goal worth pursuing if it involves sacrificing potential gains in 2009, 2010, 2011, etc, etc. I agree with that general notion . . . I'm not sure that I agree with what has been proposed on how to acheive those gains.

That being written, my thought is this . . . assuming that a 5th spot remains open in the rotation, why not make a commitment to JVB to give him the ball every 5th day for the second half of the season. Tell him that a single performance won't determine whether he is sent to Indianapolis.

OK, OK. I understand that Gorzo was sent to Indy to work out his issues. However, I see a difference in the two situations. Gorzo experienced success in the majors. His confidence was being destroyed by failing at a level where he previously experienced success. The demotion to AAA for Gorzo was designed to get him "back on track" so that he could rediscover his control to succeed again at the bigs.

IMO, JVB has nothing left to prove at the AAA level. Unlike Gorzo, he has never acheived success at the big league level. IMO, its time to throw him in the deep end of the pool to see if he can swim. Will he struggle? Absolutely. It may be painful for many of his outings. But, I don't think that the question of whether he can cut it as a regular starter has been adequately answered at this point. He is somewhat recently off of reconstructive surgery. At times, he has shown great movement on some of his pitches. He can strike out hitters at the major league level.

Let's find out if the issue is mental (ie; putting too much pressure on himself). Tell him that he's got the second half of the year to prove that he belongs. Make sure he knows that he's not a "rental" player who is simply shuttling back-and-forth between Indy and Pitt.

Right now, the Bucs need some answers with their enigmatic starting pitching. It appears that Maholm is finally finding a comfort level and is developing into a nice pitcher. Gorzo is a question mark right now. Oquendo is a question mark right now (I'll refer to him by another last name when he starts pitching like he did last year). Duke remains a question mark. I'm far from sold that Dumatrait can be a regular contributor. JVB is the best option from AAA. I'm hoping that he gets a chance to start 12-15 games in the second half.

Also . . . I must admit that with Dumatrait on the DL and Gorzo in AAA, I find myself also wishing that NH would have adopted a similar strategy with Bullington. Again, it probably would have been painful but I won't be shocked if Bullington is given a look in Cleveland at some point this season to see what he may have in the tank.

I'm not sure that the comparison translates well but sometimes I think that giving a professional athlete (ie; Peyton Manning/Troy Aikman) the opportunity to play (even if he gets roughed up) is an important step towards becoming successful. I guess that, for every Manning or Aikman, you'll also find a Tim Couch or a Ryan Leaf. :) And, before anyone jumps down my throat about whether you can compare a QB to a pitcher, I'd point out that Atlanta kept giving the ball to Glavine, Smoltz and Avery when they looked absolutely awful and were getting murdered. I'm not saying that JVB is anything close to Glavine or Smoltz, I'm just saying that I think the Bucs need to give him a longer look - on a regular basis. Hell, he may prove to be another Vogelsong (good stuff, questionable head) but I'd like to get a firm answer in my head on him.

That's my rambling for the day . . .

I don't have a problem with that, but they need whoever fills that spot to go five or six innings without allowing more than four or five runs. They might as well let Van B. have the shot, as it won't be costing a better prospect valuable experience.

I know you said that you're not comparing JVB to Glavine, Smoltz and Avery, but I'd still like to point out that those three guys were 22, 21 and 20 years old when they were struggling in Atlanta's rotation. You can cut a lot more slack to guys who are that young than you can to a 28 year old.

I liked what I saw of Herrera last night, aside from the results. His composure and the way he carries himself all say "pitcher" to me. Of course, you can't get guys out based on the way you look, but I'd be slow to give up on that guy.

By the way, I still believe that Van B. could be much better out of the bullpen.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:39 am 
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sisyphus wrote:
I liked what I saw of Herrera last night, aside from the results. His composure and the way he carries himself all say "pitcher" to me. Of course, you can't get guys out based on the way you look, but I'd be slow to give up on that guy.


He better figure out how to throw that curve ball consistently for strikes because - if I'm a major league hitter - I just sit and wait for that straight 88 mph fastball with the intention of crushing it.

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Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:43 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
sisyphus wrote:
I liked what I saw of Herrera last night, aside from the results. His composure and the way he carries himself all say "pitcher" to me. Of course, you can't get guys out based on the way you look, but I'd be slow to give up on that guy.


He better figure out how to throw that curve ball consistently for strikes because - if I'm a major league hitter - I just sit and wait for that straight 88 mph fastball with the intention of crushing it.


I wonder if he will add any more heat on his fastball. Reports were that last year he was topping out below 85. I also think that when he was pitching for Cuba, his fastball was his strength (may be remembering wrong though). It may just be building up arm strength, and his fastball will sit in the 91-92 range. Still, not fast enough to rely on when it is straight, but I'd say that may be just as likely to improve as his control of the curve.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:55 pm 
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At this point I'm also in favor of giving JVB an extended look. It's not like we have multiple attractive options to choose from.

However, I'm hoping we might get a young starter with more potential from outside the organization by July 31, in which case, assuming Dumatrait or Gorzo is ready to come back, it may not make sense to let JVB continue his never-ending struggle.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:16 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Starting pitching . . .
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:48 pm 
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I thought I heard them say the big problem with Herrera the other night was he was throwing too many changeups...

In the 1st inning, it seemed like he had a nice breaking ball...

Letting Herrera get a taste of action in the majors is a good thing, considering the success he had in Cuba and that he's 27 and at AA...Lets see if he's going to have a future here

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