Games » Seattle MarinersApr16
How the league is adjusting to Tim Collins
If you’re going to talk pitching, you can do a whole lot worse than sitting next to Paul Splittorff. We were watching Tim Collins pitch in the sixth inning of this game and I asked Split how quickly the league adjusted to new guys. The answer? Very quick.
Everybody’s got advance scouts and they’re all working very hard to figure out a new pitcher’s game plan and how to beat it. Split thought Collins liked to work just out of the zone: throw a pitch that appears to be a strike and then moves. He thought the Mariners had already picked up on that pattern and were taking those pitches, which would explain the walks the night before.
Paul also pointed out that big league hitters have a better eye. On a 1-2 pitch to Chris Gimenez, Collins threw a pitch that stayed in the zone for a long time and then snapped down at the last (I’d say second, but that’s too much time) millisecond. Split said that a minor leaguer would swing at that pitch and miss it by a foot. A major leaguer spits on it. (That’s what they call it when they refuse to swing at a sucker pitch.)
A SCIENCE BREAK: the slower your bat is, the sooner you have to start your swing. I will 100% positively guarantee you I can hit a 90-mph fastball, I’ve done it. Unfortunately, I need to see about 50 of them in a row to figure out when to start my swing. Once I get my bat up to speed on the 90-mph fastball (I start my swing when the pitcher drops the rosin bag), if you then throw me a breaking pitch, I’ll be so far out in front the bat will end up somewhere in the third-base dugout. That explains what’s happening to Tim Collins: in the minors guys don’t have the bat speed to wait and see where the pitch will end up before swinging, in the majors they do.
Even though the Mariners were taking the borderline stuff, Collins ended up striking out the side (with a walk and a double mixed in), but now you know why it took 29 pitches.
Note to the Royals marketing department: How can you miss the opportunity to serve a new drink, the Tim Collins? I don’t know what you’d put in it, but it should be served with a twist. (Hey, I’ll settle for 10% of the gross. Have your people call my people.)
Here’s the plan…
Matt Treanor and I were trying to figure out how many runs he saved when, with a runner on first and third, he blocked two pitches in the dirt, followed by a sac fly. He kept the runner on third from coming in twice (although he eventually scored on the sac fly) and kept the runner on first, who would’ve been on third when the sac fly was hit without the blocks.
So did Matt save two runs? One scored, but it wasn’t his fault. Did he save three runs (two blocks that kept the runner on third from scoring and another run on first from scoring), but how could he save three runs when they were only two base runners? And if he blocks three pitches with a runner on third, he didn’t save three runs, did he? Just one run three times…and if the run eventually scores, did Matt save any?
At this point in the conversation, Jason Kendall got up and said, “If you guys are going to keep talking about this #@*%, I’m going to leave” and went to get a beer.
Jason Kendall thinks I’m a dork. On the other hand, Jason’s so tough I’m pretty sure he thinks Chuck Norris, John Wayne and Charles Bronson are/were dorks…so at least I’m in good company. Matt Treanor is just glad that anyone is paying any attention to defense. We agreed that I’d count blocked pitches in the dirt with a runner on third…and he had another one today.
Melky Cabrera turned a flare into a double when he realized everyone was chasing the ball and nobody had the bag, Alex Gordon continues to rake, but didn’t go back to tag second when Butler smoked a ball to Ichiro (I think Alex thought it would fall, but was hit so hard it stayed up) and Alcides Escobar turned in his daily web gem.
Ask a Royal…
I’ve got mixed feelings about this feature: the website is supposed to provide you with the kind of inside information that others don’t have the time or space to cover. And your questions help me know what to write about. Having said that, I’m not going to ask a player what his wife looks like naked. (That was one of the questions I received…I might like to know also, but I ain’t asking.)
Another factor is player availability: you’re talking to one guy and the other guy you needed to talk to left. So be patient. If it’s a good question, I’ll try to get to it eventually.
Here are the answers to a few I got to after/during this game:
*According to Paul Splittorff (can you tell I watched the game with him?) the cold affects a pitcher’s grip on the ball because everything feels dry and slick. It mainly affects breaking pitches which require more touch than a fastball.
*I also asked Split about player’s schedules. Generally they show up 3 ½ hours before game time, if they have extra work, even sooner. I once asked Jason Kendall for some time and he suggested I show up at 8AM for the next day’s 1:10 game. That’s how early he arrives at the stadium for a game…and it sends a message to the other players: this is the kind of work required to succeed. Players are usually out of the stadium an hour after the game ends, unless they need treatment from the trainers.
Interesting side note: a lot of the players walk out carrying Styrofoam container of food from the post-game buffet. They’re headed home and carrying takeout food. I think players take being in shape much more seriously than they used to, but cell phones have changed their lives.
One guy told me if you decide to have a beer in a bar and a woman approaches you wanting to have her picture taken with a ballplayer, it can be on the internet before you get home to a wife that has a question or two. On the other hand, players use cell phones when they don’t want to talk to anyone: they walk out of the park in an intense conversation with no one. (Hey, the same trick I use on the panhandlers that stand outside the Star!)
*Someone asked about Escobar’s swing and pitch selection: I didn’t get a chance to talk to Esky or Seitzer about this one, but Latin players have the reputation for being free-swingers. The reason I always heard was, “You can’t walk off the island” meaning: if a scout is watching you play, swing the bat. You’re not getting signed by walking twice.
After many visits to Latin America, Ron Polk, creator of the system we use, came up with another reason: one ball, no backstops. Swing the damn bat so we don’t have to chase the ball. I’ve got no clue if any of this factors in to Alcides’ approach at the plate, but it’s interesting to hear how different cultures approach the game and their reasons for doing so.