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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dodgers to reassign pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Mark Prior to take over

Rick Honeycutt has been the Dodgers pitching coach under four different Dodgers managers but now, after 14 seasons in the role, he’s being moved out of it. Dodgers president Andrew Friedman told reporters today that Honeycutt will be assigned to a special assistant role. He also said that bullpen coach Mark Prior will take over as the club’s pitching coach.

The Dodgers’ failure in the NLDS has largely been blamed on manager Dave Roberts’ deployment — and his insufficiently quick hook — of relief pitchers. But while the ultimate decision on pitching changes do fall on the manager, the pitching coach is part of that decision tree as well, and it’s not hard to imagine that the club wanted to shake up the management of the staff to some degree. It’s also possible that Honeycutt’s health is playing a role here. He had spinal fusion surgery last offseason and has dealt with no small amount of pain since then and he may very well need to move into a less physically strenuous role.

Given how the last four years have gone for Clayton Kershaw, I cannot exactly call this auspicious…..

QLE Posted: October 15, 2019 at 12:27 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mark prior, pitching coaches, rick honeycutt

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   1. Bob T Posted: October 15, 2019 at 12:38 AM (#5890598)
Honeycutt missed a lot of spring training recovering from back surgery. I would imagine that at his age (65), he probably is better off cutting back on his workload.
   2. Red Voodooin Posted: October 15, 2019 at 12:48 AM (#5890602)
Good for Mark Prior. I hope he makes a lasting mark as a pitching coach. His MLB career arc is pretty unique.
   3. flournoy Posted: October 15, 2019 at 02:34 AM (#5890608)
What was so unique about it? "Good young pitcher destroyed by injuries" is pretty routine.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: October 15, 2019 at 08:39 AM (#5890618)
Honeycutt missed a lot of spring training recovering from back surgery. I would imagine that at his age (65), he probably is better off cutting back on his workload.


Has anyone considered that the exploding rate of mound visits in MLB is discriminatory towards older pitching coaches?
   5. PreservedFish Posted: October 15, 2019 at 08:41 AM (#5890619)
What was so unique about it? "Good young pitcher destroyed by injuries" is pretty routine.


The shape is not unique, but the amplitude is nearly so. How many pitchers were:

1. Immediately among the very best in baseball,
2. Absolutely done - not just diminished, but done - in less than 5 years?

Fidrych is obviously the gold standard, but Prior might be right behind him.
   6. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: October 15, 2019 at 09:05 AM (#5890623)
Herb Score is the guy I always think of as a Prior comp. Man Prior was so good and exciting. Fate can be cruel sometimes.

Hiroshi Gondo is another one, if you'll allow a non-MLB comp.
   7. How can it be QPQ if Zonk Says it isn't a QPQ? Posted: October 15, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5890627)
I imagine he'll shake Kershaw's hand and Clayton's hand will fall off.... which will at least mean his postseason traumas are over.
   8. flournoy Posted: October 15, 2019 at 09:30 AM (#5890631)
Brandon Webb is pretty comparable. A little bit longer of a career, but the same idea.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5890656)
I imagine he'll shake Kershaw's hand and Clayton's hand will fall off.... which will at least mean his postseason traumas are over.
Not necessarily - Prior is righthanded, so Kershaw would probably shake righty. He could have a few more Jim Abbott-style years.
   10. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5890661)

Matt Harvey...
   11. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:00 AM (#5890664)
Jose Rijo.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5890667)
Fidrych is obviously the gold standard
Is there any likelihood Fidrych would have been able to keep it up? In '76 he had a 2.34 ERA but a 3.15 FIP, and 97 Ks in 250 innings. Different era, of course, but come on, 3.5 K/9 and 1.83 K/BB are major red flags.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5890671)

Jose Rijo.

Now there's a unique career arc...
   14. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5890679)
Now there's a unique career arc...


Along with Pedro, probably my favorite pitcher (& fantasy team stalwart) from the early '90s.
   15. flournoy Posted: October 15, 2019 at 12:08 PM (#5890684)
Jose Rijo had more bulk to his career than the other guys here; I'd liken him to Doug Drabek, though I don't remember if Drabek's career ended with injury or not.

Mark Mulder is another name for this group.

EDIT: I guess I'll also nominate Jose Fernandez, though obviously his injuries were a little more severe than the other guys'...
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5890690)
Rijo is different from the others because he took a while to become a dominant pitcher. He’s also unique in that he retired long enough to appear on the HOF ballot and then came back for a couple of years.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: October 15, 2019 at 01:14 PM (#5890708)
Is there any likelihood Fidrych would have been able to keep it up? In '76 he had a 2.34 ERA but a 3.15 FIP, and 97 Ks in 250 innings. Different era, of course, but come on, 3.5 K/9 and 1.83 K/BB are major red flags.


Well, very few keep "it" up when "it" means "pretty much the best pitcher in baseball." But next year, when his BABIP regressed back to reality, he actually underperformed his FIP of 2.50. His fWAR, over those two years, was still a very impressive 7+ in 330 innings.

If he was Tommy John but with better control, that's pretty great.
   18. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 15, 2019 at 04:42 PM (#5890767)
Hiroshi Gondo is another one, if you'll allow a non-MLB comp.
Yowza. I know the Japanese have historically held different ideas about training and workloads, but even in 1961 it's hard to fathom there was somebody who thought it was a good idea to ask your 22-year-old phenom to throw 429.1 innings and 32 complete games in a season. And make 25 relief appearances.

Alejandro Pena comes to mind as a guy with a Prior-ish career arc as a starter, but was able to battle through years of injuries to become a good reliever. I recall Bill James saying the arm injuries cost Pena a shot at the Hall of Fame. That always seemed like hyperbole to me, but he was obviously incredibly talented.
   19. Red Voodooin Posted: October 15, 2019 at 06:11 PM (#5890789)
The shape is not unique, but the amplitude is nearly so. How many pitchers were:

1. Immediately among the very best in baseball,
2. Absolutely done - not just diminished, but done - in less than 5 years?

Fidrych is obviously the gold standard, but Prior might be right behind him.


This is part of it, but what I was referring to more in #2 was what happened in his career after being 'absolutely done'. He was completely off the radar, but was still attempting comebacks. He was in independent ball for a while and had spring comeback attempts with the Padres, Rangers, Yankees Red Sox and Reds between 2007 and 2013.

Then he started working as a minor league pitching instructor for the Padres, before becoming the Dodgers bullpen coach and now he's their pitching coach. He dropped from sight in one way, but he's been in the game all along, plugging away. I'm sure there are other examples of this in the annals of baseball, but it isn't Mark Fydrych.
   20. Zach Posted: October 15, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5890793)
The shape is not unique, but the amplitude is nearly so. How many pitchers were:

1. Immediately among the very best in baseball,
2. Absolutely done - not just diminished, but done - in less than 5 years?


Rick Ankiel
   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2019 at 06:31 PM (#5890795)
#19 not a pitcher and was never as good an MLB player as Prior, but Rocco Baldelli comes to mind. #2 prospect in baseball, has a few good years, career derailed by strange illness, 9 years later he might be manager of the year.
   22. Sweatpants Posted: October 15, 2019 at 07:43 PM (#5890819)
Justin Thompson pitched 223.1 innings with a 152 ERA+ in his second year in the majors, but he ended up with only five big league seasons. He spent five years trying to battle back from injuries after 1999 and finally returned for two games in 2005.
   23. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 15, 2019 at 08:07 PM (#5890824)
Hiroshi Gondo is another one, if you'll allow a non-MLB comp.

Yowza. I know the Japanese have historically held different ideas about training and workloads, but even in 1961 it's hard to fathom there was somebody who thought it was a good idea to ask your 22-year-old phenom to throw 429.1 innings and 32 complete games in a season. And make 25 relief appearances.


I'm not sure if he's still active in the role, but Gondo was Japan's pitching coach in the last WBC in 2017, at age 78. He had a long career after he blew out his arm, including becoming an infielder (unfortunately he still hit like a pitcher), and a very respected coach and manager - he managed the Yokohama BayStars to a Japan Series championship in 1998. What was he best known for as a manager? Not overworking his pitchers, compared to other Japanese managers. Seriously - and he should know. You've heard "Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain"? In 1961, the phrase “Gondo, Gondo, Rain, Gondo" became popular among Japanese fans...
   24. flournoy Posted: October 15, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5890945)
Justin Thompson reminds me of Jose Rosado, another candidate for this thread.
   25. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 15, 2019 at 10:41 PM (#5890951)
Different era, of course, but come on, 3.5 K/9 and 1.83 K/BB are major red flags.


The K/BB ratio is misleading. He averaged less than 2 walks per 9 innings. That’s pretty darn good.
   26. Red Voodooin Posted: October 16, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5891074)
Maybe it's just that I'm a Cubs fan or maybe it's because of the infamy of the 2003 playoffs, but guys like Justin Thompson (seriously had no idea he was ever that good) and Jose Rosado don't seem in the same category as Mark Prior.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: October 16, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5891079)
I googled Gondo and one of the top 10 hits was a blog discussing how Gondo went on record as being against enforced pitch counts for high school players.
   28. Sweatpants Posted: October 16, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5891150)
Maybe it's just that I'm a Cubs fan or maybe it's because of the infamy of the 2003 playoffs, but guys like Justin Thompson (seriously had no idea he was ever that good) and Jose Rosado don't seem in the same category as Mark Prior.
Thompson fit the parameters that had been lined out - early greatness, swift descent, and repeated comebacks. He even was a minor league pitching coach for a little bit. Thompson never became a what-could-have-been poster boy like Prior did, partly because he probably wasn't as talented, but also because the 1997 Tigers weren't as popular and didn't end up as famous as the 2003 Cubs. I think that their careers were more similar than different.

The Braves of the early 2010s had a few good young pitchers who completely fell apart early in their careers (not really Prior comps, though):
Jair Jurrjens (All-Star in 2011, 65 ML innings after that season)
Tommy Hanson (BA's #4 prospect heading into 2009, only five seasons in the majors - has it really been almost four years since he died?)
Kris Medlen (his career path was less linear than most of the guys listed in this thread, though)
Brandon Beachy (I never saw him as a proven commodity, but there were Braves fans who were devastated when he went down in 2014)

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