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Thread: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    In this morning's NY Times, a familiar tale from the Mets, and these guys are 2-3 years old than Homer.

    The Fine Art of Developing Talent
    By BEN SHPIGEL

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Feb. 25 — Of the nine Mets pitchers in the mix for three starting spots, Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey clearly have the most potential. They are tall, polished right-handers from strong college programs and are projected to be frontline starters. It can be tempting to want to rush such talent, but the Mets are mindful of protecting their former No. 1 draft picks.

    Humber and Pelfrey will not be permitted to throw too many innings too soon; the Mets do not want to risk compromising long-term plans for the sake of what could be fleeting success.

    “That’s why we have an Aaron Sele, a Park, a Sosa — those types of pitchers in camp,” General Manager Omar Minaya said of Sele, Chan Ho Park and Jorge Sosa, starters he signed after missing out on acquiring a frontline starter before spring training started. “They give us insurance, in case some of our young guys need to develop a little bit further.”

    Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernández, if healthy, are assured spots in the rotation. John Maine and Oliver Pérez are considered favorites for the third and fourth slots.

    The Mets are eager to see just how much more Humber, 24, and Pelfrey, 23, need to develop. So far, they have combined to pitch 23 1/3 innings at the major league level, with Pelfrey accounting for 21 1/3, including four starts last season. That alone is not reason to hold them back. But neither has come close to reaching the 200-inning threshold that durable pitchers throw in a season.

    Pelfrey threw 117 2/3 last season, which included stops with three minor league teams. Humber, recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery he had in 2005, threw 78 1/3 with the Mets and three minor league teams.

    “I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure until you do it,” Humber said of pitching a full season in the majors. “I feel that the preparations I’ve made and the routines that I follow since my surgery will help me stay healthy.”

    The Mets intend to increase their workload gradually. The accepted yearly addition is about 30 innings; it is thought that more than that increases the risk of injury and could affect a young pitcher’s development.

    “If you’re a two-miler, you can’t run a marathon without gradually increasing your mileage,” the pitching coach Rick Peterson said. “It’s the same thing here.”

    Since 1996, of the 10 rookie pitchers who threw the most innings (counting the postseason), seven have either required major arm or shoulder surgery or spent significant time on the disabled list. Another, Joe Blanton of Oakland, noticeably declined after his solid 2005 season.

    Detroit will find out in the coming months how Justin Verlander, last season’s American League rookie of the year, will fare after pitching 207 1/3 innings. The Tigers skipped his turn at the All-Star Game break, and once in August, then gave him an extra day of rest a few times in September to keep him fresh.

    That is a plan the Mets, should they keep Pelfrey or Humber in the rotation, expect to follow, too.

    “There’s definitely an awareness of what happened in Detroit last season,” Peterson said. “You depend on your best guy to help you win a championship, and you’re balancing going out there and trying to win every game with putting out your best pitcher as much as possible. It’s tough.”

    Of the two, Pelfrey figures to have a better chance at joining the rotation immediately. Minaya said that Pelfrey, who is 6 feet 7 inches and 210 pounds, would have no problem throwing 160 to 170 innings this season.

    “I know you can’t make huge, huge jumps,” Pelfrey said. “I just think everybody begins to hit a certain wall at a certain point, and you have to be careful what you do when you get there. I haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

    With Humber, the Mets intend to be particularly careful. They kept him on a strict pitch count last season. And even though Humber passed the 18-month anniversary of his elbow surgery with no side effects, he will almost certainly not throw as many innings as Pelfrey.

    Not all innings are created equal, however, in quantity or quality. Averaging 15 pitches a inning, for instance, puts far less strain on the arm than throwing 20 does. In the case of Humber, he threw 128 innings for Rice University in 2003, when it won the national championship, then another 30 2/3 innings that summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

    “I threw almost 170 innings that year, and they were intense, pressure-packed innings,” said Humber, who is 6-4, 210 pounds.

    It is not hard to envision a situation in which Pelfrey or Humber, or probably both, spend the first few months at Class AAA New Orleans, then, if they pitch well, earn promotions. Or, just as easily, one of them could pitch well enough in spring training to gain a spot in the rotation, leaving the Mets in a desirable but tricky situation.

    “If they go out there and blow people away, you can’t hold them back,” Minaya said. “You have to challenge them, but the key is to be smart doing so. We want them with us for a long time.”

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  3. #2
    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    Is it me or has two distinct camps developed for handling solid pitching prospects?

    Seems like it's boiled into the "take your time/step by step" approach and "they gotta learn somehow, toss them in the pen for a year and get them a taste".

    Both approaches seem to make sense on different levels.
    Last edited by Ltlabner; 02-28-2007 at 07:56 PM.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernández, if healthy, are assured spots in the rotation. John Maine and Oliver Pérez are considered favorites for the third and fourth slots.
    I'll be honest -- I have really enjoyed watching the Mets play the last couple of years. I love the young position players they've developed, and I honestly feel that in 20 years I will feel lucky to have seen Reyes and Wright play when they were young. Their offense and defense are not only good but spectacularly entertaining to watch. I really find them to be one of the most exciting teams in baseball, and I'm very curious to see what happens when they move into their new park.

    All that said, the sentence quoted above is such a downer for this team. So much talent in that pitching staff, but it's so outweighed by question marks. I feel like this great team they've put together is almost wasted with that.

    Two other points from this article:

    1. It hammers home my concerns about Verlander; and
    2. I don't know why the powers that be still guage young pitchers by innings rather than pitch counts. I mean, sometimes they do, but the articles never play that up anyway. Is there actually some biology behind it, ie. a low pitch count over many innings is worse than the same pitch count over fewer innings? The former indicates a better pitcher to me, but maybe there's something involved with the waits between innings and the time needed to warm up, I don't know. Would love some enlightenment baseball people.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Re: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    Quote Originally Posted by vaticanplum View Post
    1. It hammers home my concerns about Verlander; and
    2. I don't know why the powers that be still guage young pitchers by innings rather than pitch counts. I mean, sometimes they do, but the articles never play that up anyway. Is there actually some biology behind it, ie. a low pitch count over many innings is worse than the same pitch count over fewer innings? The former indicates a better pitcher to me, but maybe there's something involved with the waits between innings and the time needed to warm up, I don't know. Would love some enlightenment baseball people.
    My perspective on point 2 is this..

    Instead of the kid getting relaxed and into a groove, if you give him say 60 pitches and he's out. He's going to go in and try to make every pitch count with pin point accuracy. Whats to say that doesn't add stress and mess with his head?

    It's then pyscholoigical. If you tell him "Hey Justin, you got 6 innings to work with. Make them count." He's going to know he's got those 6 innings and he's going to get into a groove, good or bad.

    Not only that, but say guy's who are jittery because its their first game, are going to be scared/worried/nervous/panic(!) you know the drill. Giving them 70 pitches to work with isn't the best thing I'd do. I'd give 5/6 innings, tell them to get relaxed and most of all adjust.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled."
    -Hunter S. Thompson

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    Quote Originally Posted by Dracodave View Post
    My perspective on point 2 is this..

    Instead of the kid getting relaxed and into a groove, if you give him say 60 pitches and he's out. He's going to go in and try to make every pitch count with pin point accuracy. Whats to say that doesn't add stress and mess with his head?

    It's then pyscholoigical. If you tell him "Hey Justin, you got 6 innings to work with. Make them count." He's going to know he's got those 6 innings and he's going to get into a groove, good or bad.

    Not only that, but say guy's who are jittery because its their first game, are going to be scared/worried/nervous/panic(!) you know the drill. Giving them 70 pitches to work with isn't the best thing I'd do. I'd give 5/6 innings, tell them to get relaxed and most of all adjust.
    That makes sense. But what if, at least at the higher levels of the minors, they limited them to a certain number of pitches not per game but per year (to be allocated by effectiveness) rather than a certain number of innings? Would that be problematic for the team if the pitcher uses all of his pitches in long, multi-inning games and was out halfway through the season, or would it help him be more effective? I'm genuinely curious -- I just don't know why they rely on innings rather than pitches a lot of the time (not allt he time), but I'm sure there's a reason.

    Actually, on that note, is there a list anywhere of all the MLB teams and the ways in which they limit their minor league pitchers?
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Member Superdude's Avatar
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    Re: The Fine Art of Developing Talent

    I threw almost 170 innings that year, and they were intense, pressure-packed innings, said Humber, who is 6-4, 210 pounds.
    I'm not sure if that quote helped his chances or not.


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