Dusty Was Misconstrued / Reds - General

Fantasyland

Dusty Baker, from McCoy’s blog, talking about how he babies young pitchers:

“It’s the same thing I went through with young pitchers in Chicago,” he said. “They’d pitch five shutout innings and I’d take them out and they’d ask me why and I’d say, ‘Dude, he threw 100 pitches.’ “

Look, we can debate whether Baker ruined Hee Seop Choi or Corey Patterson.  We can debate whether he caused Mark Prior or Kerry Wood’s injuries.  But I really, really, don’t believe that Dusty Baker ever had to defend himself to the media for babying young Cub arms.  (Granted his memory has been right before, but I doubt I’m going to find many of those “Dude” conversations). 

Edited:  I looked at the game logs, and Dusty’s insane on this one.  See below.

Dusty fails this Dusty Memory Test.  Badly. 

Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Kerry Wood were clearly the best, youngest pitchers that Baker managed in Chicago.  But I’ve accepted the argument from Baker defenders that Wood’s arm was damaged by the time Dusty came along.  Wood was 26 in Baker’s first year — more Belisle than Bailey.

In 2003, Mark Prior (age 22) made 30 starts.  Only once did he pitch fewer than 5 innings, and he neither threw a shutout, nor 100 pitches (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 95 Pitches) – he got drilled.  He came out of the game 3 times while throwing a shutout — once after 6 IP/79 pitches(?), once after 7 IP/100 pitches, and on September 1, Baker let Prior throw 8 IP/131(!) pitches . . . with a 7 run lead.

In 2004, Prior only made 21 starts, due to injury.  He didn’t make his first start until June 4.  He had quite a few shorter starts, especially early in his season.  His first game, he left with a shutout after 6 IP/85 pitches.  Ten days later, it was 5 IP/92 pitches (0 runs).  And another time he left after allowing 0 runs through 6 IP/103 pitches.

In 2005, 27 starts.  He only left with a shutout twice – opening day (6 IP/92 pitches) and inexplicably in a game against the White Sox after 6 innings of 1 hit ball and only 79 pitches. 

Big Z:

In 2003 (age 22), he left the game with a shutout twice, once after 8 IP/102 pitches and the other after 6 IP/104 pitches.  Remlinger and Alfonseca combined to blow that game for the Cubs, so Dusty might’ve been asked about pulling Zambrano in a 0-0 game.

In 2004, the only times Z came out without giving up a run was when his pitch count was well over 110, and the only times he came out of a game early was when he was getting drilled – if he came out before pitching 6 innings, it meant that he’d given up no less than 4 runs, and usually 5-6.

In 2005, Baker rode everyone a little easier.  Zambrano was pulled a few times with a shutout and a pitch count of between 100-115, but it was always after at least 6 IP. 

Looking at Wood anyway:

In 2003, he came out of several games with a shutout, but never before throwing at least 7 IP and 120(!) pitches.  In 2004, it was pretty much the same, except that he pitched worse and typically came out between 110-120 pitches.  By 2005, he was in the bullpen.

Looking at these three years, I’m very confident in saying that Dusty’s statement to McCoy is utter nonsense.  He was not pulling young pitchers during successful starts due to pitch counts, and I seriously doubt that he was defending himself in the media for doing so.

(Hat tip to Andrew on the Reds List-serv.)

25 thoughts on “Fantasyland

  1. Mark Prior, in his first season in Dusty Baker’s hands threw 15 games with 115 or more pitches as a 22 year old pitcher, not counting the playoffs (where he threw 3 more). That was half of his regular season games and all of his playoff games. That is 55% of the time he was on the mound. He averaged 113 pitches per game.

    Carlos Zambrano, 22 years old in 2003 as well, threw 11 games of 115 or more pitches in 32 games. That is 34% of the time. He averaged 109 pitches per game.

    Aaron Harang last year threw 115 or more pitches in 8 games in 34 starts. That is 24% of the time. He averaged 106 pitches per game.

    Baker can make stuff up with his fuzzy memories all he wants, but facts tell a very different story.

  2. I don’t understand this Dusty comment regarding Ross:

    “He’s closer,” Baker said. “The one thing we want to make sure is if he’s not going to be ready, you don’t want to waste a DL spot.”

  3. i dont see why your blasting on baker
    you guys when they signed him said he’ll wear out our boys arms
    now your complaining about him letting the arms rest?
    you kill me
    Dusty is the manager and your not.
    leave it be

  4. He may have failed the memory test, but at least he failed it by saying the right thing . . . if that makes any sense at all (probably not, but I’ll keep going). By saying now that he believes in 100-pitch thresholds, I can take that as a sign that he intends to hold to that limit this year with all the precious young pitchers the Reds are about to start relying on. Certainly the fanbase will have even more ample cause to roast him if he goes back on the concept he’s now voiced nominal support for.

    By saying that he’s always supported it, he’s set himself for ridicule. But at least he says or strongly implies he supports it, and that’s definitely a welcome new development.

  5. I am more of a casual fan these days, but people do seem to complain an awful lot and really nitpick on the things Dusty says. I don’t have the expertise to agree or disagree. I am going to try and reserve judgement until I have seen what he does in some actual games over a few months. If he ends up going 10 games over .500 at the break by playing Hatteberg and Patterson et al, it’s going to be hard to find fault in his methods.

  6. I guess Dusty is suppposed to have a photographic memory. Just think if he had said 6 IP, 100 pitches, you’d have no article to write.

    I’ve got another quote for you: “All Jim Edmonds ever does is strike out.” Go waste another few hours disproving that one.

    Comments must always be taken literally.

  7. Man, it’s kinda shocking how much some of yall have it in for Dusty Baker. I really don’t get it. He’s a Red now and he’s here for the long haul and agonizing over and analyzing every statement he makes is going to end up a heavy burden.

  8. This isn’t going to stop during the season.

    Every word he utters will be disected more intensely than an Obama campaign speach by Sean Hannity.

  9. Wood was not a young pitcher and, for what he was getting paid, should have been able to handle the load that he was given. Turns out he’s fragile and can’t, and thus was overpaid. Period.

    Chris — the post talks intends to prove how overused these pitchers were, but you reference a bunch of 100 pitch games for Prior and a couple in which he shouldn’t have been taken out. I think Airguitar’s post is pretty valid.

    Zambrano is the only of them, to me, that clearly was overused.

    Doug — Aaron Harang had the benefit of one of the best bullpen’s in history, so pulling him early wasn’t as much of an issue. Er… wait..

  10. Jared, I most certainly WAS NOT trying to prove anything about how abused those guys were. Read the initial sentence – I said all that is up for debate. And goodness knows I’m sick to death of that particular debate.

    My only point was to see if Baker was really pulling young pitchers out of games after 5 IP becuase of pitch counts. That most certainly did not happen.

  11. Personally, I think Dusty Baker is a perfect fit for the Reds, 2008 version.

    There are many, many reasons for this, but take a look at Hal McCoy’s blog entry today on the Dayton News website. What Baker says about the Stanton situation (dead on) and his comments about Affeldt (very insightful, IMO) are perfectly said.

    This whole thing about pitch counts and veteran players is a bunch of bullspit. I can’t wait until the season starts, the Reds start winning and the focus can go back to what he does as a RED, not what he did as a CUB.

    (Not really directed at you Chris, just making a general statement about seemingly all Reds websites).

  12. As I posted last week, I think it is very interesting to look at Baker’s pitcher’s pitch counts in San Francisco under GM Quinn (where pitchers rarely pitched over 120 pitches), compared to San Francisco under their current GM and Hendry in Chicago, where the young pitchers often exceeded 120.

    It’s an organizational philosphy, and we’ll see very shortly what the Krivsky/Baker plan is. My guess is that it will be more like the Krivsky/Narron plan than the Hendry/Baker plan…meaning we’ll see pitch counts, and guys going over 120, even the veterans, will be the exception rather than the rule.

  13. That makes sense, Greg. Whether or not Dusty is being factual, it does show that he has an awareness to either the reality or the perception of how he handles pitchers. Or he’s in complete and utter denial. I’m thinking that the front office does indeed generate some of the policy in that area. Could be the type of thing we have a second GM for: one to look at off-field issues and one for the on-field decisions like pitch counts and clubhouse management.

  14. Congratulations. You were able to show that Dusty Baker is so insane that he was at least 8 pitches off (in Prior’s case, by your own research) in his memory of a game that happened four years ago. Haha, what a dumbass! You finally got him this time!

    I frequently read this website for useful information compiled on prospects in the farm system. For that I thank you. I could do without the self-serving Baker bashing. I’m not asking for you to pump more optimism into your posts, but please just sit tight in your basement and poke a voodoo doll of him until he actually shows that he can’t help the team.

  15. Congratulations. You were able to show that Dusty Baker is so insane that he was at least 8 pitches off (in Prior’s case, by your own research) in his memory of a game that happened four years ago. Haha, what a dumbass! You finally got him this time!

    I frequently read this website for useful information compiled on prospects in the farm system. For that I thank you. I could do without the self-serving Baker bashing. I’m not asking for you to pump more optimism into your posts, but please just sit tight in your basement and poke a voodoo doll of him until he actually shows that he can’t help the team.

  16. If the major knock on a manager, rightly or wrongly, is that he overworks starting pitchers and then he makes a statement as above, it’s legitimate to look at the numbers and see what is factual. And maybe I’m looking at something wrong, but it looks like the numbers Chris used seemed to indicate that he puts a heavy workload on his starters. I expect our bullpen to be better this year, but if it’s not significantly better we really better watch out for those young arms. It was a valid fact-check.

  17. That “basement” joke is a great one, to be sure.  Never gets old.  It’s “your mom’s basement,” of course.

  18. Dusty image would be much better off taking the Wayne Krivsky approach, maybe something like, “I cannot confirm or deny that I managed in Chicago, and I will not comment on whether or not I knew what a pitch count was when I, did or did not, mangage there.” 🙂

  19. FWIW, Dan at #20 (and 21) isn’t the same Dan who usually comments around here.

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