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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Henneman: Orioles Partly To Blame For Jake Arrieta’s Struggles

Plus…Boof Bonser is third on his Similarity Score. (Posting Rule #1: Never pass on a Boof Bonser mention)

Some people may have forgotten, but Arrieta’s baptism in baseball was one by fire. He has pitched the O’s home opener three years in a row—not so much because he deserved it, but because he was the best option. Before making his big league debut in 2010, he pitched 336.2 innings in the minor leagues, which was enough to get his feet wet, but hardly enough to master his craft.

...But here’s the real problem, one that even those who should know better tend to overlook: Arrieta never spent a full season at either of the top rungs on the minor league ladder. He had one full year at Single-A Frederick (2008), split the 2009 season between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, then got the call to the big leagues the following year after 11 starts at Triple-A.

In case you didn’t notice, or might have forgotten, the Orioles have forced a similar path on some of the club’s other pitchers, such as Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and—to a lesser degree—Chris Tillman. Tillman at least used up all three of his options, as opposed to Arrieta, whose promotion came before he’d ever even been on the 40-man roster.

...Arrieta is at a point when his career should be on the upswing, but the brutal truth is that, at the age of 27, he still has another minor league option left—an option that could have been put to better use three years ago.

His situation is as much or more of an indictment of how the organization monitored his progress as it is of his inability to live up to the lofty expectations he and the Orioles still have.

Repoz Posted: April 24, 2013 at 05:27 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles

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   1. Belfry Bob Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:32 AM (#4424177)
So, like countless other pitchers, Jake has problems with concentration, finishing off batters, and his control. But he's got a lot of talent. The 'old' O's braintrust might have been better served keeping him in the minors longer. But the 'new' management team seems to know what they are doing - so exactly what's the point of this column, other than to write one?

As for expectations, those are fine, and Jake's known to be a hard worker, intense, good guy. But using the word 'indictment' seems to be putting more blame on the organization than the guy who can't get the job done to this point.
   2. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: April 24, 2013 at 07:58 AM (#4424189)

I was really hoping this was by the former Tigers closer Mike. Where are you now Mike Henneman?
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:01 AM (#4424190)
pitching coach for the Tigers' Class A West Michigan Whitecaps, who are managed by Larry Parrish

   4. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4424213)
If the Orioles don't want Arrieta I hope they trade him to the A's....for...oh I don't know.....Grant Balfour?
   5. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 24, 2013 at 08:58 AM (#4424225)
For some reason Arrieta throws five different pitches. Two them are pretty terrible (the cutter and curveball I think). I just don't understand why the orioles haven't forced him to focus on three pitches to simplify things.

OTOH, I don't know if he'd be an effective starter even then. I think it's pretty obvious that he should be a reliever. He's like a 1000 other guys who have great stuff but not the mound presence, command, focus, etc. to be a starter, but who can excel over 1-2 innings.

   6. Russ Posted: April 24, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4424259)
I was really hoping this was by the former Tigers closer Mike. Where are you now Mike Henneman?

Pitching coach for the Whitecaps.
   7. DKDC Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4424299)
Arrieta is Daniel Cabrera 2.0.

I know that pitcher attrition is a problem for every organization, but the Orioles do have a staggering record of turning can’t miss prospects into marginal middle relievers (or worse) in the span of a couple years. Here’s the list of Orioles pitching prospects ranked in the top 100 by Baseball America from 1999 to 2011:

Adam Loewen, Brandon Erbe, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Denny Bautista, Erik Bedard, Hayden Penn, Jake Arrieta, John Maine, Matt Riley, Pedro Beato, Radhames Liz, Troy Patton, Zach Britton.

It definitely tempers my enthusiasm for Gausman and Bundy (who is visiting with James Andrews today, of course).
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4424311)
I doubt their track record is much worse than the average MLB team. Bedard and Maine were productive ML starters; Tillman was very good last year and seems to be coming around; Matusz and Patton are very good relievers, and Matusz should get another chance to start IMO; and Erbe, Beato, Bautista, and Liz were never anything special. The problem is that there are probably a bunch of teams that had a lot more pitchers in the top 100 during that period.
   9. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 24, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4424323)
Here’s the list of Orioles pitching prospects ranked in the top 100 by Baseball America from 1999 to 2011:

Phillies equivalent:

Randy Wolf, Brad Baisley, Brett Myers, Taylor Buchholz, Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Joe Savery, Carlos Carrasco, Phillippe Aumont, Jared Cosart, Brody Colvin

Then back in 1998 there was Ryan Brannan, who I have no memory of ever existing.

This seems to be a better record than the Orioles. Trading away Carrasco and Buchholz, good idea. Trading away Floyd and Gonzalez, bad idea. Cosart, well, he's been great in Oklahoma City this year, but there's no replacing all the catchphrases Hunter Pence brought to the Phils.
   10. DKDC Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4424350)
The problem is that there are probably a bunch of teams that had a lot more pitchers in the top 100 during that period.

I think the Orioles were at least above average for the number of pitchers on that list in that time period.

That’s 12 years x 100 slots so 40 slots on average per team. And those lists are 55/45 hitter/pitchers, so the average had ~18 names on that list over the 12 year period. The 14 Orioles I listed above appeared a total of 21 times.

Bedard and Maine had their moments, but they both appear to be done. Even if I cherry pick their peaks, from the period to 2004 through 2009, Bedard and Maine ranked 38th and 159th in the league in pitcher WAR. That’s a pretty pathetic return for over a decade of pitcher development.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4424357)
Trading away Carrasco and Buchholz, good idea.

Buchholz did turn in one fantastic season for the Rockies before he blew out his elbow.
   12. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4424363)
But most prospects, even those in the top 100, do very little. A few seasons of average to above average performance as a starter is a pretty good result.

Regardless, there's no question that the orioles did a lousy job of drafting and developing MLB talent from 1999-2011. And there's probably some merit to the idea that many of these guys were rushed because there was nothing at the ML level (Hayden Penn is probably the poster boy for this). Hopefully the new regime will do a better job.
   13. escabeche Posted: April 24, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4424371)
Arrieta is Daniel Cabrera 2.0.

He's a much better hitter, to be fair.

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