Monday, March 18, 2013

Next Week, We Discuss Justin Verlander's Knuckleball



Is it a bad idea to try and convert Rick Porcello into a closer? Probably. But I’ve heard worse ideas. A person could make an educated argument that it’s not a bad idea, I guess.

This person is not Jerry Green of the Detroit News.

Yes, Detroit’s ancient cranky-pants retired (?) sportswriter is back with another of his rambling columns that show how out of touch he is with the team, baseball, and pretty much everything else. Let’s take a look, shall we?
 
Some baseball historians might classify Tony La Russa as quirky, the master of the oddball gimmick. Personally, I'd rate him more as a genius.

In 2007, La Russa was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV at a stop sign with the engine running. Yes, he was passed out drunk and received a DUI. Wile E Coyote, SUPER genius.

In any ordinary season, La Russa was usually two or three jumps ahead of his grizzled rivals.

Okay. Jerry goes on for several paragraphs here about stuff that has nothing to do with Rick Porcello or why Tony La Russa was a good manager. He mentions him playing a left-handed throwing guy at catcher and at third which has nothing to do with anything. It was something like this:
Three wars back we called Sauerkraut "liberty cabbage" and we called liberty cabbage "super slaw" and back then a suitcase was known as a "Swedish lunchbox." Of course, nobody knew that but me. Anyway, long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling…

Then we finally come to…

The quirkiest of all of La Russa's moves, though, was when he took an established, and quite successful, starting pitcher and converted him into a closer.

He took a guy that wasn’t great as a starter and made him a reliever. Genius. Never been done before, apparently. Except for all the times it happened. That’s much nuttier than playing a left-handed third baseman in Jerry’s world.

A little known fact about Eck: He had closed games before arriving in Oakland. He had 17 relief appearances in his career including 3 saves before La Russa made him a closer for the A’s. Of course, no one knew he’d work out as well as he did for Oakland, so good for Tony there. But dozens of guys have been moved to the pen that failed as starters. But they don’t all turn out like Dennis Eckersley did for crissakes. Tony got lucky. And he had a lot of help from another guy we’ll get to in a second.

There were critics among baseball purists.

But the proof of La Russa's managerial skills is that he won World Series managing in both the American and National leagues, with the Athletics and the Cardinals.

Here’s a secret about Tony La Russa. Dave Duncan, his pitching coach, was the genius. He took guys that were decent-to-bad pitchers like Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Mike Moore, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, Joel Pinero, Matt Morris and others and made them better. Some, he made great. Duncan got more out of his pitchers than any man I’ve ever seen.

Was Tony a good manager? Sure. But don’t overlook Duncan’s part in all of Tony’s success. You’d be a fool to do so. And/or Jerry Green.

During Tony's many victorious years of managing, he often resorted to one of the rarest of elements — plain logic.

Here we go, kids. Get ready to duck!

La Russa did use a computer as a storage place for his some of his ideas. All managers use them today. Plus lots of managers rely on input from the corps of statistical geeks employed in many front offices in throughout the Major Leagues.

But for La Russa, it was his old-fashion brain that worked best.

Yeah! NERDS! Statistics are hooey! Why would someone try and get any advantage they could to help their team win? That’s hogwash! The ‘ol noggin’ is all I needs, I tell ya!

Blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAHHHHHHHHHHHHH…I’m skipping all of this.

To sum up Jerry’s rambling, Tony’s closer got hurt, so he had Dennis Eckersley try. It worked well. GET ON WITH IT.

We’re 574 words into the original column with no mention of the Tigers or Rick Porcello yet. There are 535 words left. Make them count!

The Tigers have an overabundance of starting pitchers. The requirement calls for a rotation of five. The Tigers also are desperate for a closer.

No they are not. Anyone that says they are desperate for a closer is a festering cunt. Bruce Rondon has been fine since tweaking his motion with Jeff Jones. I’m excited to see what the kid has. If he struggles, there are plenty of guys Leyland can mix and match at the closer role until the July trade deadline. Closers become available EVERY GOD DAMNED SEASON at the trade deadline. Dotel/Benoit/Coke/Alburquerque/Rondon aren’t going to blow 30 saves before late July.

Also, the Tigers used ten starters in 2012, eleven in 2011, eleven in 2010, and so on. No team makes it through a 162 game season using only five fucking starters. Why are the sportswriters of Detroit unable to understand this simple point? Do you really want Casey Crosby pitching important games at some point this year when Fister hurts himself by being too tall or whatever?

A pitcher who could enter a game in the ninth inning to protect a one-lead without giving the manager the willies.

Oh, like Todd Jones? Fernando Rodney? Jose Valverde?

Fuck you.

Rick Porcello — for all that I've been reading and hearing out of Lakeland from afar — is the odd man out among the Tigers' starting pitchers. He is considered No. 6 starter by the savants.

What savants, you dusty old prick? Porcello has been great this spring. He leads the team in innings pitched with 18 and has an ERA of 2.50. His 0.78 WHIP is the best on the team. He hasn’t walked ANYONE yet this spring. The current debate is whether Smyly stays on as a long reliever or is sent to Toledo to start. Ask Lynn Henning, of all people.

Of course, I found all of this info in five seconds with a COMPUTER. It must be a bunch of shit, right?

He has been cast as a pitcher excessive and, according to all the rumor stuff, available. The Tigers, it has been said since Miguel Cabrera took the called third strike to end the World Series last October, have been offering Porcello up for trade.

The Rangers. ESPN says this. The Yankees. Fox Sports says that. The Red Sox. BaseballRumors.com says all of the previous, according to reliable sources.

Those sources are reliable? When did this happen?

And through all the chatter in Lakeland, Porcello has excelled in his showcase exhibition-game starts for the Tigers.

It is time for some logic, I say from my perch, long distance.

Presto — Rick Porcello just might make the highly qualified closer the Tigers are seeking.

Presto, logic says the team’s best starter this spring should be the closer. The logic of a man with advanced dementia.

He might — who knows? — be another Dennis Eckerlsey. A decent starting pitcher who suffered one poor season converted into a better than decent closer.

He might – who knows? – be a kangaroo wearing a human mask!

Did Drew Smyly start pitching like David Price when I wasn’t looking? Christ…

Jimmy Leyland

Jimmy? That’s Jimbo to you, sir.
happens to be a protégé of Tony La Russa's. They think alike as managers. Dave Dombrowski was a general-manager-in-the making when LaRussa managed the White Sox.

Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski know Tony La Russa. They also know Rick Porcello. Tony La Russa knows Dennis Eckersley. Therefore, Rick Porcello = Dennis Eckersley. THAT, my friends, is logic. No fucking computer is going to tell you THAT.

This cannot serve as a knock on young Bruce Rondon. He might be a Mariano Rivera of the future. He blazes the ball. Up above 100 mph. Good.

Mariano Rivera is a finesse pitcher that has relied on a nasty cutter, not heat. Same thing, I guess.

Spring training is full of pipe dreams.

I cannot imagine Leyland trusting his slim ninth-inning lead to a young fire-balling kid who had not yet pitched to a major league batter when he entered spring training.

Just like he didn’t trust rookie flamethrower Joel Zumaya in tight games in 2006. Oh wait, he did.

That's illogical.
Eckersley made it as a dominant closer when his fastball throttled down. His best pitch was a slider — the groundball pitch.

By coincidence, Porcello's best pitch is his slider.

Goodbye, credibility, if there was any. Anyone that has ever heard of Rick Porcello knows that his best pitch is his sinker. His slider is awful. He even abandoned it this year to start throwing a curveball instead. That’s how bad his slider was.

I just asked my cat what Porcello’s best pitch was. She stared at me for ten seconds and then started licking her asshole. And her answer was no more incorrect than Hall of Fame sportswriter Jerry Green’s.

He goes on. And on. And on from here. And nowhere does he make one point to suggest that Rick Porcello would make a good closer. He mentions Eckersley again. And John Smoltz.

But here’s the thing. Eck struck out around 10.5 batters per 9 innings in his glory days in Oakland as closer. Smoltz was around 9.5 K/9 closing for Atlanta. Strikeouts are ideal in a closer. A guy like Bruce Rondon.

Porcello has struck out 5 batters per 9 for his career. He’s not a seasoned veteran being moved into a stressful position like Eckersley and Smoltz were. And if he bombs as a closer, you’ve killed any trade value he has and possibly destroyed his confidence for good.

So leave him alone. Send Smyly to Toledo for now. We’ll need him eventually. Let Rondon close. He could be this year’s Craig Kimbrel.

There’s more LOGIC in that than there is in any of Green’s rambling nonsense.

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