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Thread: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn...c.php?t=364014
    Dusty being Dusty could get messy for the Reds
    February 28, 2008
    Sean Deveney

    There is a certain charm to Dusty Baker, a lemme-tell-you-a-story forthrightness that can soften even the most hard-boiled observers. His voice is molasses. You can't help but crack a smile when, in the midst of explaining how a year away from managing changed him, he breaks into a recitation of lyrics from Van Morrison's "Meaning of Loneliness."

    As the song goes:
    How can you ever really know somebody else?
    It takes more than a lifetime
    Just to get to know yourself.


    Baker is not so sure he has changed, really.

    "When you're 58 years old, there's not a whole bunch of difference," he says. "You just sort of reposition things. I weigh the same, but stuff fits differently. I think people understand that, once you get to a certain age. I'm the same guy because that's the only guy I know."

    How Baker's uniform fits is not of tremendous concern to fans of his new team, the Reds. They have a more pressing worry -- whether, once the season starts, Baker will be willing to change his style to fit this young group. For all Baker's success as a manager, he has thrived with veteran teams. When it comes to youth, Baker has been, at best, neutral. At worst, he has been accused of being a career-killer.

    The second point is debatable. Baker is widely blamed for the flameout of former Cub Mark Prior, who was brilliant under Baker in his first full season, 2003. The workload Baker gave Prior that year was excessive -- 26 of 30 starts went 100-plus pitches, and 20 starts went 110-plus. When the playoff race was at its most intense, Baker was relentless: Prior averaged 120.8 pitches in his final 10 regular-season starts, 122.7 in three playoff games. He hasn't been healthy since.

    But Prior's problems can't be entirely laid at Baker's feet. The Cubs rushed Prior to the big leagues in 2002, after he'd made just 37 college starts the previous two years. In Chicago that year, he averaged 107.0 pitches per start. But Baker was still in San Francisco then. Prior's heavy workload preceded Baker -- it was part of an organizational conviction that his mechanics were so good, he could handle high pitch counts.

    Still, Baker should have had the foresight to soften Prior's burden. When Shawn Estes had a breakout year in San Francisco in 1997, Baker allowed his pitch counts to balloon -- Estes went 120-plus pitches seven times in 32 starts. Estes had a 3.18 ERA that year, but for the remaining nine years of his career, his ERA was 4.97.

    This made Baker an odd choice for Cincinnati -- especially as the Reds missed out on veteran starters Erik Bedard, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton before settling on Josh Fogg. If Baker's reputation for overusing young pitchers is more real than imagined, the Reds could have a problem. The team's rotation behind Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Fogg could include Homer Bailey, 21, and Edinson Volquez, 24. Johnny Cueto, 22, is on the Reds' horizon.

    If Cincinnati is in the N.L. Central hunt, Baker will be tempted to lean on his pup pitchers, especially with a spotty middle-relief situation. "You have to worry about the young pitchers there," says one veteran N.L. scout. "They need to keep close watch -- they can't afford to blow those guys out. Dusty needs to change his approach there."

    Baker, as he notes, hasn't changed much as a person over the years -- he's still "the only guy I know." But for the sake of his new franchise, he needs to change as a manager.

    Farewell to an arm

    Dusty Baker's detractors say the way he used Mark Prior in 2003 led to Prior's subsequent injuries. But comparing Prior, who turned 23 that season, with other similarly young pitchers pokes holes in that argument. Perhaps more noteworthy than their pitch counts when 23 or 24, none of the others took the quick route to the majors Prior did: Drafted out of USC, he was in the majors the next spring (2002). The others had been pros for a while, giving them a chance to build pitch counts. Is that a key difference? Maybe. Whatever the reason or reasons, you surely can't blame Prior's ongoing arm problems solely on Dusty Baker in 2003, especially when you consider Prior's count that season doesn't even rank among the 100 highest pitch counts per season among active players.
    Code:
    Players whose 23- or 24-year-old seasons rank among the 100 highest pitch counts 
    for a season among active players
    
    Player               Age*  Season  G  Pitch  Pitches/Gm
    Livan Hernandez, Mar    23   1998 33  3,956       119.9
    Barry Zito, A's         24   2002 35  3,697       105.6
    Ryan Dempster, Marli    23   2000 33  3,617       109.6
    Dontrelle Willis, Ma    24   2006 34  3,611       106.2
    Scott Kazmir, Rays      23   2007 34  3,609       106.1
    Ryan Dempster, Marli    24   2001 34  3,583       105.4
    John Smoltz, Braves     23   1990 34  3,577       105.2
    Carlos Zambrano, Cub    24   2005 33  3,562       107.9
    Mark Prior, Cubs        23   2003 30  3,402       113.4
    
    
    /r/reds

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    There are a lot of Marlins on that list.
    They seem to do pretty well with young pitchers. Of course they blow through a lot of them as well.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Cubs and Marlins dominate this list.

    Interesting...


    I wonder if Mark Prior and Dusty Baker exchange birthday cards.

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    For all Baker's success as a manager, he has thrived with veteran teams. When it comes to youth, Baker has been, at best, neutral. At worst, he has been accused of being a career-killer.
    That is my only issue with the guy. So we'll see.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote:
    For all Baker's success as a manager, he has thrived with veteran teams. When it comes to youth, Baker has been, at best, neutral. At worst, he has been accused of being a career-killer.
    I'd like to know exactly whose career he killed? It's debatable whether he is to blame for Prior or Estes problems but I'd like to see the list of position players whose career Baker killed.

    Until I see some actual evidence I'll continue to view this as sloppy follow the leader journalism.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    I wonder if Prior, or Kerry Wood for that matter, ever told Dusty Baker that he had a tired arm, sore or stiff shoulder, etc. and how much blame should be placed with Prior, Wood and perhaps the trainer(s) with the Cubs. I know some pitchers don't want anyone to know if they have arm/shoulder problems but Prior and Wood were established stars and certainly could have said something w/o fear of losing their jobs.

    I think Baker should bear some of the blame but certainly not all of it.

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by Vada Pinson Fan View Post
    I wonder if Prior, or Kerry Wood for that matter, ever told Dusty Baker that he had a tired arm, sore or stiff shoulder, etc. and how much blame should be placed with Prior, Wood and perhaps the trainer(s) with the Cubs. I know some pitchers don't want anyone to know if they have arm/shoulder problems but Prior and Wood were established stars and certainly could have said something w/o fear of losing their jobs.

    I think Baker should bear some of the blame but certainly not all of it.

    That may be so but how do you differentiate between just routine pain after a game and a torn labrum? Some guys may not even have soreness after throwing 120-130-140 pitches but there is still wear and tear from the outing. The aftereffects may not even show up the next start or the start after that but 10 starts down the road.

    Plus you just can't trust these pitchers to tell you when they're hurting. Competitors aren't going to be really forthcoming to their manager and/or pitching coach if their arms are sore. They are going to want to stay in the game/rotation not because they fear for their jobs but because they want to pitch and help the team win. Sure, part of it is their fault for not being forthcoming but the manager has to be the responsible one and shut them down when needed. Dusty may or may not have messed up Prior and Wood et. al. but I would hope he at least wonders if it was his fault and maybe that will give him pause when one of his starters' pitch count enters the century mark.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Couldn't anyone managing the Reds get messy?

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    I'd like to know exactly whose career he killed? It's debatable whether he is to blame for Prior or Estes problems but I'd like to see the list of position players whose career Baker killed.

    Until I see some actual evidence I'll continue to view this as sloppy follow the leader journalism.
    The writer also uses the fact that Prior mad made "only" 37 college starts in the previous two seasons. 37 college starts (42 total appearances) and 267 total innings in two years is quite alot. Plus throw in innings pitched for US National teams or summer collegiate teams.

    If you're into PAP, Prior rated high there while at USC. http://www.boydsworld.com/breadcrumb..._followup.html

    Perhaps Dusty didn't help Prior's situation, but perhaps the situation was out of control before Dusty got involved.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Pitches per season isn't the appropriate way to measure potential damage. You have to look at the number of pitches per outing, and more specifically, the number of pitches in each outing beyond certain levels (such as 115, 120, 125, etc.).

    A pitcher could make 35 starts, throw 110 pitches each start, and then be second on that list. Meanwhile the potential damage would be pretty low since 110 pitches isn't really a damaging outing for most starters.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    I'd like to know exactly whose career he killed? It's debatable whether he is to blame for Prior or Estes problems but I'd like to see the list of position players whose career Baker killed.

    Until I see some actual evidence I'll continue to view this as sloppy follow the leader journalism.
    Ever heard of Eddie Pimplerstein?

    Manny Palamalafalatto?

    Jimi Johnny Jerry?

    Of course not....thanks to Dusty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    Pitches per season isn't the appropriate way to measure potential damage. You have to look at the number of pitches per outing, and more specifically, the number of pitches in each outing beyond certain levels (such as 115, 120, 125, etc.).

    A pitcher could make 35 starts, throw 110 pitches each start, and then be second on that list. Meanwhile the potential damage would be pretty low since 110 pitches isn't really a damaging outing for most starters.
    I really start to worry when a pitcher throws more than 30 pitches in any one inning too.
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Roger Craig killed more pitching careers in San Francisco in 5 years than Dusty ever could have.

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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    I really start to worry when a pitcher throws more than 30 pitches in any one inning too.
    25 an inning is the number I've always paid attention to. Tight situations where you have to bear down on every pitch are also bigger drains on your stamina than innings where you can coast.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    Re: TSN Columnist: Dusty Being Dusty Could Get Messy for the Reds

    I've always thought of an arm like a rubber band. If you stretch them a little for long enough, or a lot at any point in time, they break. Some rubber bands have flaws and break easily, even though it's hard to tell at first. Bottom line, if you stretch it to the limit frequently, all but the very best ones will snap fairly quickly.

    I find it hard to believe that managers don't get this. As rude as it sounds, I just don't think they care. The attitude is that this is how the game is played. You pitch until you can't pitch or can't pitch effectively. If you have to protect the guy, why play him at all? You might as well get what you're going to get. Obviously that's overly simplistic, but I do think that it's essentially that simple for some guys.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


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