Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It's always fun to see what beat writers come up on travel days late in the season. The most interesting stories about a team are followed day-to-day, things like trade rumors or guys losing their jobs, etc. So what do you come up with?

If you're Mike DiGiovanna, the answer is: start a campaign to have Frankie Rodriguez learn a change-up.

The sub-head of the article: "Angel closer Francisco Rodriguez has the 94-mph fastball and one of baseball's best breaking balls, but some think he'd reach a higher level with an effective off-speed pitch."

By "some think," it appears that it means "DiGiovanna thinks."

The article comprises the results of a bunch of interchanges that basically go like this:

DiGiovanna: Hey, do you think K-Rod would be better if he learned a change-up?
Someone in Baseball: Well, he could.

Bud Black sums up the situation very well, borrowing the Robert Evans rhetorical style of one-man Socratic dialogue: "Do I think [a change is] imperative? No. Will it add to his arsenal? Yes. Does he need it right now? No."

Obviously, Frankie would be better if he had a great change. He would also be better if he had a great knuckleball. He would also be better if he threw some kind of Heisenberg pitch, where the batter couldn't tell exactly where the baseball was located in the time-space continuum.

DiGiovanna points out that other dominant closers, such as Trevor Hoffman and Eric Gagne, are big on the change, but the fact is most every closer is a two-pitch pitcher, at best. Most are hard throwers who mix the fastball with a devastating off-speed or breaking pitch: for Gagne and Hoffman it's the change, for John Wetteland it was the slider, for Troy Percival it was ... um, yeah ...

The real basis of the article seems to be a rumination on What's Wrong With Frankie?. As I've said before, I don't know that anything is -- pitching him three straight days turns him from K-Rod to BB-Rod by the end of it, and nearly half of the runs he's allowed this season (7 of 15) have come in third-consecutive-day outings.

And here's something else, which we often forget: the kid is 23 years old. He's only one year older than Ervin Santana. He's only one year older than Casey Kotchman. He's a year-and-a-half younger than Dallas McPherson. He obviously has a lot of growing and improving to do. And if he wants to and can pick up a third pitch in winter ball (gulp), and masters it, and it makes him better, more power to him. But he's pretty damn good right now.

No encouraging Frankie to play winter ball! Bad Chronicler! No biscuit!

Anyway, Frankie will eventually learn a change - remember how effectively Percival used his curveball during his last season or two? - but I'm guessing Bud Black wants him to get a lot more consistent with the slider first.
I dunno that there's nothing wrong with Frankie. FutureAngels points to his violent delivery which may well be the problem to start with. He's a time bomb.
Not so much his violent delivery per se, but that he relies on a slider with that delivery. Gagne has also, mechanically, a rather bad delivery too, which is why he doesn't throw a slider or splitter anymore.

A change isn't an easy pitch to master, though. I'd rather that he learn a cut fastball or something so he can draw groundouts.
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