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Thread: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

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    With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control
    Reds' top pitching prospect seeks confidence with Bats

    By C. L. Brown cbrown@courier-journal.com April 1, 2008

    Homer Bailey made it look easy as he sprinted through the minor leagues.

    The slender pitcher with the big right arm was the Cincinnati Reds' 2006 minor league Player of the Year. He was rated their top prospect from 2004-06.

    There was a relatively brief stop in Triple-A Louisville before making his major league debut last season a month after turning 21.

    That's where things didn't come so easy.

    Bailey's nine starts with the Reds were a humbling experience, as was his spring. And he's beginning the new season back in Louisville.

    "We lose track of how hard this game is," Bailey said yesterday. "There's a reason there are only a select few up there and there's even a more select few that excel. It's not something that's going to be learned overnight."

    With more learning to do, Bailey was at Louisville Slugger Field yesterday as the Bats assembled for the first time after spring training in Florida. The team will work out at 2 p.m. today in a public session before beginning the season Thursday at Syracuse.

    Bailey will be the Bats' opening-day pitcher. It's not something he expected, but he's learning not to rush his ascent to the major leagues.

    "I have probably (less) patience than anybody," he said. "When I'm not doing as well as I can, I do have to sit back and say, 'Take a look at the big picture. Take a step back and slow down and get everything under control.' "

    Bailey struggled with his control with the Reds last season. Despite a 4-2 record, he had a 5.76 ERA in nine starts and matched his 28 strikeouts with 28 walks.

    Ricky Stone, one of the Bats' veteran pitchers, said the most important number isn't in Bailey's stats -- it's his age. Bailey won't turn 22 until May 3. The Bats' only younger player is outfielder Jay Bruce, who'll become 21 Thursday.

    Stone, who has pitched in the big leagues for Houston, San Diego and Cincinnati, said despite all the accomplishments, Bailey simply needs a bit more seasoning.

    "He's still 21 years old; people forget about that," Stone said. "He moved so quickly and has done so well so early, and now they're saying his control is not there; well, his control is there.

    "He's got to get his confidence. He's going to get it down here (Triple-A) and going to go right at hitters."

    Louisville pitching coach Ted Power said Bailey's control correlates to how he goes at those batters.

    "It's just a matter of consistency," Power said. "He's got to throw strikes earlier in the count so they can't sit on certain pitches and he's not forced to throw his second- or third-best pitch when he's behind in the count instead of his fastball."

    Both Power and Bailey said his problems have been more mental than mechanical. He admitted he has been in situations on the mound where he has lost focus.

    "You could be out there mowing the lawn and start thinking about something else, and you look back like, 'I just missed a spot there,' " Bailey said. "It's kind of the same thing."

    In six starts this spring with the Reds, he had 16 walks to 11 strikeouts and a 5.21 ERA. That -- and the success of young pitchers Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez -- led to his demotion.

    How long Bailey stays in Louisville, where he went 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 starts last season, remains to be seen.

    Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet said the outlook is "fluid," depending on how quickly Bailey regains his control and the needs in Cincinnati. Sweet said that despite Bailey's struggles to meet expectations -- both his own and external -- he has not gotten down on himself.

    "Without a doubt he struggled a little bit last year," Sweet said. "He got it back together. He had a good spring training. I'm excited to watch and see what Homer is going to do."

    C.L. Brown can be reached at (502) 582-4044.

    http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/.../1036/SPORTS07

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    I hope he gets it figured out by 1st MLB start of 2009.

    There's no sense for him to struggle and not get it figured out at the MLB level in 2008, so let him stay at AAA. It only helps the Reds future.

    I am a little concerned with both Powers and Bailey saying that his struggles are more mental (lack of focus) than mechanical. At least with mechanical problems, you could give credibility to lingering effects from a groin injury.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    I thought it was pretty obvious is command from the stretch needed work the most. From the windup he was pretty spot on. I believe its a bit of both(mental/mechanics), but its nothing I don't feel he can't work out and overcome. He may still get off to a slow start, but I can easily see him hitting a stride in late May/June.
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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    I hope he gets it figured out by 1st MLB start of 2009.

    There's no sense for him to struggle and not get it figured out at the MLB level in 2008, so let him stay at AAA. It only helps the Reds future.

    I am a little concerned with both Powers and Bailey saying that his struggles are more mental (lack of focus) than mechanical. At least with mechanical problems, you could give credibility to lingering effects from a groin injury.
    I actually disagree and think the opposite. I think it's easier to correct mental mistakes than it is mechanical ones.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    I actually disagree and think the opposite. I think it's easier to correct mental mistakes than it is mechanical ones.
    You think he has a greater chance of success to overcome his mental woes at the MLB level, rather than the AAA level?

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    You think he has a greater chance of success to overcome his mental woes at the MLB level, rather than the AAA level?
    No, I agree that AAA is where he should be, but what I'm saying is I'm not troubled by his/Power's comments about his struggles being attributed to mental mistakes rather than mechanical mistakes. I'd rather his mistakes be mental, especially at 21. I think he can overcome them, especially at AAA.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    If you want his control to improve, just wait for his usual seasonal prepping.

    When he is up to 97mph usually that means his command will improve as well. Though you may have to wait for a few weeks while he builds up leg strength.

    Last year, he was banged up and couldn't keep a groove. In 2006 it was June when he got consistant.

    Each pitcher throws and has a system of their own. 2006 is the template for Bailey. If he isn't firing consistantly well by June, either he forgot to pitch or has gone insane.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by Aronchis View Post
    If you want his control to improve, just wait for his usual seasonal prepping.

    When he is up to 97mph usually that means his command will improve as well. Though you may have to wait for a few weeks while he builds up leg strength.

    Last year, he was banged up and couldn't keep a groove. In 2006 it was June when he got consistant.

    Each pitcher throws and has a system of their own. 2006 is the template for Bailey. If he isn't firing consistantly well by June, either he forgot to pitch or has gone insane.
    Except, who is to say that 2006 was the template? Bailey wasn't exactly lights out in 2004 or 2005 in the GCL or at Low-A. Perhaps 2006 was the exception, and 2005 and 2007 is the norm for Bailey.

    Based on his numbers in 2004 and 2005 and 2007, I'm beginning to think 2006 was a fluke.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one, and they don't want someone else's shoved into their face.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS21 View Post
    Except, who is to say that 2006 was the template? Bailey wasn't exactly lights out in 2004 or 2005 in the GCL or at Low-A. Perhaps 2006 was the exception, and 2005 and 2007 is the norm for Bailey.

    Based on his numbers in 2004 and 2005 and 2007, I'm beginning to think 2006 was a fluke.
    2004 he logged 10 innings.
    2005 he was brought in out of the bullpen a bunch and its been well noted that it takes him a while to warm up.
    2006 he made drastic improvements in his control.
    2007 he was hurt with a groin issue the first week of May, then hurt it again at the end of June and went on to not pitch again until September.

    If we had something to put our finger on as 'the real Homer Bailey' I lean toward 2006.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Bailey needs to build strength in his legs so he can properly land his leg correctly and throw to his fullest. When he gets tired,not loose enough, he starts landing inproperly. His last spring training start, we saw that in full bloom when he had good command the first 2.1I's then imploded and the previous start where he walked two in the first and then walk free thereafter. He also was throwing 93-94 which is a spring training Homer Bailey tradition. I heard the cries in 2006 in spring training as well, even into May about his fallen "velocity" from where he was at the end of 2005.

    As he gets older, filled out and more refined, he will handle fatigue better and repeat his mechanics consistantly.

    It is sorta a funny doug, but the first time I read about Homer's delivery and its demands on the legs was during his last start in 2006 which was a disaster. It was cool that night and most everybody thought he had a tight arm. Well, it wasn't his arm having the problems, it was his legs. He had trouble getting loose and he couldn't locate the ball what so ever with the problems I described above.

    It is quite evident when we go into this discussion why the Reds put Bailey on the block, but won't trade him unless they get a ace RIGHT NOW.

    His mechanics and such, usually lead to long careers though they don't necessarily start the fastest. I think because of that, the Reds feel Homer will be a ace at some point so if they are to deal him, they must get a ace now. Anything else is a loss in value, at least from the Reds POV.

    Even if Homer doesn't become a ace to 2010-11, the wait would be worth it or the good meal comes sooner with a already developed ace which leads the Reds to a WS sooner than 2010-11

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    2004 he logged 10 innings.
    2005 he was brought in out of the bullpen a bunch and its been well noted that it takes him a while to warm up.
    2006 he made drastic improvements in his control.
    2007 he was hurt with a groin issue the first week of May, then hurt it again at the end of June and went on to not pitch again until September.

    If we had something to put our finger on as 'the real Homer Bailey' I lean toward 2006.
    Doug, I'm sorry, but we are just going to have to agree to disagree on the subject of Homer Bailey. You and I have discussed him before, and neither one of us is going to budge from our opinion.

    Believe me, I hope to goodness that I am wrong and you are right about Bailey. I don't dislike the guy. I hope he puts it all together and comes in to be the #1 starter for years to come. I really hope that happens.

    It it evident that other folks around baseball, outside of the Reds organization, have began to raise the question of whether or not Bailey's 2006 was a fluke. Had they not raised the questions, Bailey would have likely been gone in a trade for Bedard or for Blanton And I wonder if internally, off-the-record, behind-closed-doors, there aren't some in the Reds' FO asking the same question.

    I need to see something besides his 2006 numbers to get me on the Homer Bailey wagon.
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one, and they don't want someone else's shoved into their face.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS21 View Post
    It it evident that other folks around baseball, outside of the Reds organization, have began to raise the question of whether or not Bailey's 2006 was a fluke. Had they not raised the questions, Bailey would have likely been gone in a trade for Bedard or for Blanton And I wonder if internally, off-the-record, behind-closed-doors, there aren't some in the Reds' FO asking the same question.

    I need to see something besides his 2006 numbers to get me on the Homer Bailey wagon.
    If the backlash is so down on Bailey, why is he still among the best prospects in baseball no matter who you ask among all the experts who talk to talent evaluators in baseball every day? Are there concerns with him? Yeah, there are. As for Bedard, he didn't come to the Reds because the Orioles demanded a top notch outfielder and the Reds weren't parting with Jay Bruce. It had nothing to do with Homer Bailey. As for Blanton, I don't care if Bailey turns into a #4 pitcher for the Reds.... I wouldn't trade him for Blanton, because thats all Blanton is, except more expensive.

    Bailey is inconsistent right now, but when he is on.... he is pretty darn good even against the best in baseball. Its when he gets out of sync that he has his problems. The key is figuring out how to keep him in sync. He is 21, there is plenty of time for it.

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    Making sense of it all Matt700wlw's Avatar
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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Get the control part under control, and he'll be good to go.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    It looks to me that Homer Bailey has some 'filling out' to do. Until that happens, I think he'll struggle with his command.

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    Re: With Bats, Bailey's No. 1 goal is control

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    If the backlash is so down on Bailey, why is he still among the best prospects in baseball no matter who you ask among all the experts who talk to talent evaluators in baseball every day? Are there concerns with him? Yeah, there are. As for Bedard, he didn't come to the Reds because the Orioles demanded a top notch outfielder and the Reds weren't parting with Jay Bruce. It had nothing to do with Homer Bailey. As for Blanton, I don't care if Bailey turns into a #4 pitcher for the Reds.... I wouldn't trade him for Blanton, because thats all Blanton is, except more expensive.

    Bailey is inconsistent right now, but when he is on.... he is pretty darn good even against the best in baseball. Its when he gets out of sync that he has his problems. The key is figuring out how to keep him in sync. He is 21, there is plenty of time for it.
    It grates on me to agree with you, but, you state sound points. I saw Homer pitch this ST---(did you?) against the Bosox in that debacle of a game when BP pitcher Shearn replaced Homer. Yes, he had given up 3 runs, but he had really good stuff working, he struck out Ortiz and Manny BTB. No one could catch up to his FB, because he was using his curve and change so effectively. Bosox fans around me noticed no one could catch up to Homer's FB, and asked me if he really threw that hard or was he just fooling hitters. Homer has great stuff. He's just gotta' get it over the plate more often. He has #!-2 capability. It's all on him, and whether or not his head is un-repairable. He could be an ace, or another head case Tomko.


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