Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jocketty on Pitching Coach...

John Fay had a discussion with Walt Jocketty about the pitching coach vacancy and here is what he had to say:

Walt Jocketty said there’s a chance the Reds could name a pitching coach before the postseason ends.

“To be honest, I’d like to have done before that,” he said. “But we haven’t finalized the list yet.”

My guess is the Reds wait until the St. Louis Cardinals are elimianted. Dave Duncan, the St. Louis pitching coach, is involved in the postseason. Duncan has expressed his unhappiness with his situation with the Cardinals. He and Jocketty worked together during Jocketty’s time in St. Louis.

The hiring process will pick up when the Reds brass meets in Goodyear next week.

“We’ve talk to a few people,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “I’ll meet with Dusty (Baker) and the coaches next week.”

Ted Power, the pitching coach for Triple-A Louisville, has expressed his interest in the job. Special assistant Mario Soto has not.

“I haven’t talked to Mario,” Jocketty said. “I’ll see him in Arizona.”

Jocketty said the list of candidates will be in the four-to-five range.

The buzz was and continues to be that Jocketty is going to bring in his former employee Dave Duncan. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. I can certainly see the appeal of Duncan, but I also wonder if he's a good fit for our young pitchers.

To me, the obvious bedrock of the Dave Duncan pitching philosophy is the groundball. In his time in St. Louis, Duncan has really emphasized the 2-seam fastball and working down in the zone. For example, he has had good success with Joel Piniero this season, because he has turned him into "heavy groundball, no walk" style pitcher. Obviously, getting anything of value out of Joel Piniero is impressive, but there is one disturbing incident that could be a red flag for the Reds.

During his time with the Cardinals, Duncan continually locked horns with young pitcher Anthony Reyes. Duncan wanted him to become a groundball style pitcher, while Reyes preferred to stick to the 4-seamer and working up in the zone, which is the style that brought him so much success in the minors. Ultimately, Reyes needed a change of scenery to get a legitimate shot in the starting rotation at the MLB level.

This incident is of note because the Reds don't have a single starting pitcher who gets more groundballs than flyballs. Not one. Not Bailey, Cueto, Harang, Arroyo, or Edinson. Obviously, Great American Ballpark is ideally suited for ground ball pitching, but I have to wonder if Duncan would try to transform our young pitchers into something they aren't.

If Duncan is willing to work with what he has to maximize their performance, then we would be fine. If, however, he tries to force ground ball tendencies on young pitchers who don't utilize that approach, then it could be problematic. Whoever will be hired will have to adapt to the talent on the roster, not force the talent to adapt to him.

Ultimately, Dave Duncan has the talent and wisdom to make it work wherever he goes, but I just hope he would be willing to be flexible with his ground ball philosophy until he has pitchers who can actually implement and execute that approach.


  1. still, it seems easier to change pitcher's style than ballpark dimensions. just sayin'

  2. Anon,


    Very true, but it's more than possible to succeed as a fly ball pitcher in a smaller ballpark. Aaron Harang is proof of that, as he has had a lot of success in GABP despite not getting all that many ground balls.

    Typically, you need at least 2 of 3 pitching attributes to be successful. Harang has been a low walk, high strikeout pitcher. That type of style can be successful, as even if you give up the long ball there aren't that many runners on base. Curt Schilling was that way, too. He gave up a lot of home runs, but they were solo shots and did little damage.

    Again, if Duncan actually is the choice (news this morning indicates the Cardinals are now optimistic in keeping him), I'm sure he would recognize that he may not have the personnel to implement his style. I'd rather see him maximize the talent he currently has and let Jocketty focus in the future on bringing in pitchers better suited to implement his philosophy.

    Still, in the back of my mind, I have a bit of concern that he'd tried to change Homer or Cueto into something else. After all the struggles Homer has had in his career, do we really want to tinker with him again now that he's FINALLY figuring it out?

    I'm sure Duncan is smart enough not to implement change that isn't working, but still Anthony Reyes lingers...

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  3. I personally think Leo Mazonne is the best man out there for the job. He never has a problem developing young pitchers, and i can only begin to think about what he could do with Wood and Maloney(see Glavin/Bedard). Simply put he would make the Reds pitching staff amazing.

    I also believe Walt wants Tony though, and he feels he wont get him if he doesnt get Duncan as well. If the young pitchers would buy into what Duncan wanted them to be they could be outstanding. Cueto, Volquez, and Bailey throwing 94-97 with sink at the hollows of the knee would be extremely tough to handle. And has Reyes been good anywhere else? No, it takes a rare talent to pitch up in the zone and you still cant live there, so i wouldnt base a judgement on his sucess under Duncan.

    So all told you cant go wrong with either, but I believe the Reds should peg Mazonne 1, and Duncan 1A. If they come as a package deal though then Tony and Dave are best choice.

  4. Hey Anon,

    Ant. Reyes was a highly regarded pitching prospect and experienced significant success in the minor leagues. In his minor league career, Reyes has a 3.26 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 9.4 K/9.

    He had good success in his half season debut with Cleveland in 2008, but struggled in 2009. Not surprisingly, given his atrocious mechanics, his 2009 season was marred by injury. Reyes hasn't had the opportunity and health to really establish himself at the MLB level. Still, when you post that type of success in the minors, I would be hesitant to attempt to completely overhaul the style that brought about that success.

    Still, Duncan's track record is almost above reproach, so he'd be a nice addition. Regardless, the rumblings out of St.Louis seem to indicate that he will re-sign.

    I absolutely agree with you that Mazzone should be the choice. He could be the type of acquisition that will completely alter the fortunes of an organization. And, of course, that's exactly the type of move that the Reds should be looking to make. Not only would he improve the performance of the Reds pitchers, but I truly think he would reduce their risk and rate of injury. He could be a huge addition, but sadly we are much more likely to acquire a has-been or a never was to coach our pitchers.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!!