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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Matheny wants pitchers to cut down strikeouts — at bat

Call it the Dennis Austerity (0 fer 2 ~ 2 K’s) act.

But the strikeouts concern manager Mike Matheny — when his pitchers are hitting. Cardinals pitchers batted just .126 last year, with 139 strikeouts — one off the league high. They walked only 10 times.

Matheny said he wants his staff not only to improve its bunting but its ability to move runners or even start rallies with hits. And while there was a short workout Saturday because of an autograph session for Roger Dean Stadium ticket holders, there was an extra session of hitting for the pitchers.

“We’re going to be a better hitting group of pitchers this year,” Matheny said. “They do so much talking about how athletic they are but they were not content with what they were able to do on the offensive side last year.”

...“There were a lot of swings and misses,” Matheny said. “We were one of the worst teams in baseball with strikeouts from the pitcher’s position. That just shouldn’t be so.

“Not that we’re telling them to swing for the fences. Part of it is changing the mindset. ‘What am I trying to do here?’

“Every time they get on base, we’re rolling that lineup over and we’re bringing up some guys with the potential to do something,” Matheny said.

“When they’re taking their swings, this isn’t just a ‘let’s see how far I can hit the ball thing.’ Let’s do this with a purpose. But there’s always that risk-reward. We want them to improve their hitting but there’s always that chance they’ll try to do too much.”

Repoz Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, dh now

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   1. jacjacatk Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4661009)
League average pitcher OPS was .333, the Cards were at .318. League average OPS at SS was .681, the Cards were at .583.

I think the solution is staring him right in the face, make Kozma a pitcher.
   2. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4661012)
While not a big deal, it's the one position where I would say this is not a bad idea. Unlike for a first baseman, the cost side of the tradeoff here is minimal (pitchers don't exactly launch homers by the truckload right now) whereas the benefits might actually be noticeable.
   3. PASTE does not get put on waivers in August Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4661047)
There's probably a good and obvious reason this is impossible that, having never played baseball above the Little League level, I can't perceive. But I'd be inclined to teach my pitchers, when they go up to bat, to sit on the dead-red fastball down the middle and try to poke it over the infielders if they get one, and otherwise DON'T SWING.

More fundamentally I've committed high treason over the past two years or so, and moved from the Down With the DH camp to the Bring the DH to the NL Already camp.
   4. Bote Man Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4661063)
Isn't Matheny of the "He's a pitcher, therefore he must bunt--always." camp?
   5. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4661075)
Isn't Matheny of the "He's a pitcher, therefore he must bunt--always." camp?

I'm sure he's in the same school as everyone else if ther'es a runner on first when the pitcher's spot comes up. But there are an awful lot of non-bunt situations that the typically batting pitcher faces where some value can be extracted, and those are the situations he's referring to.

   6. Bote Man Posted: February 23, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4661126)
Yes, I was being only half-serious. I makes little sense to me that pitchers are treated as special entities in a case that reads "Break glass only when necessary". I appreciate that teams would prefer to reduce the risk of injury to a good starting pitcher, but since he is likely to see 2-3 PA each time he starts it makes sense to maximize his potential at the plate.

I was happy to gloat about Jordan Zimmermann and Strasburg each smacking a home run in 2012. It sure beats going up there wanly to swing 3 times, then sitting down.
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4661176)
#2, I agree. I'm not sure how much batting practice pitchers take before each game/week/month, but anything above none should help. Any sort of contact when not in an obvious bunting situation should help.

This reminds me a bit of cricket a few years ago. For many decades bowlers were totally hopeless at batting(with the exception of a genuine all-rounder), then about 15 years ago Australia started assigning a recognised batsman to work with a bowler for just a little bit of practice each day. In a cricket match it is common for a recognised batsman to be batting with the tail(all bowlers), so it's nice for the batsman to know the bowler can at least hang around for awhile whilst batting. Now Australian bowlers have matches where they contribute significantly not only to their overall score, but of course the added effect of wearing down the other team's bowlers. There are other factors in cricket which don't occur in baseball that come in to also, like wearing down the ball, scuffing up the pitch more, etc. which assist in winning the match.
   8. Monty Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4661182)
I believe there is room for improvement with pitchers hitting. They're not all going to become decent, but surely a team that really cared could get a few above "lousy." Most of them are actual professional athletes!

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