Friday, November 7, 2008

Add Keith Law to the List of People Jim's Alienated...

From ESPN reporter Keith Law's chat yesterday from the GM meetings...
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Are Josh Smoker or Colten Willems going to be any good?

Keith Law: Both guys have lost velocity since signing. There is so much going wrong in that organization that I don't know where to start. Two people - one FO person, one writer - told me at the GM meetings that "Bowden must have pictures of someone" to still have his job. And oh, by the way, Bowden blew off the designated meet-the-media times both days and apparently bragged about intending to do so.
Nothing all that noteworthy here. Another day, another story with someone describing Jim as an egotistical blow-hard and wondering how on earth the guy still has a job as a major league GM. Hat tip to Kristen from We've Got Heart, commenter John, and Anthony from Oriole Post.

On the substance of the question--this is the first I can remember about either of these guys having velocity problems. But Fangraphs tracks the pitch f/x velocity of all MLB pitchers, but I don't know of any site where minor league velocity is tracked.
Smoker was drafted as a guy who could touch 95, a real potential power lefty, so a drop in velocity would be a concern. I do notice a dip in Smoker's K-rate from last year to this, from 11.25 per 9 to 7.5, which could be indicative of a decline in velocity (or it could just be that he's no longer pitching in rookie leagues). But even that lower '08 strikeout rate isn't exactly a bad number, and he also shaved more than 2 walks per 9 from his walk rate (he's still at a too-high 4.5 per 9).

Willems has never been a fireballer to begin with. He gets by generating lots of grounders and minimizing the walks. But a high-80s pitcher doesn't have much margin for error, and should he lose some velocity, that's a problem.

Regardless, neither is legal to drink yet, and if two sandwich-round high school pitchers don't work out that hardly portends that there's a ton wrong with the organization. Law I think would have used any question about the Nationals to hurl a brick at Jim.

PS I'm aware I've had an unusually large number of Bowden-bashing posts lately. I promise to get back to more relevant matters, like how the team is doing, soon. Even I get bored chronicling the daily follies of JimBo...

6 comments:

Will said...

Keith Law's been hating on the Nationals since the Reagan era

Steve Shoup said...

Will not toally true, K-Law was one of the most complemantary people on the Milledge trade last year. While everyone else was trying to say Schnider was a "top defensive C" Law put everyone in their place and refered to him as the epitome of a replaceable player in baseball.

I think Law began to hate on the Nats when they didn't sign Crow.

Christopher said...

Keith Law is a former front office guy in Toronto and therefore provides analysis that focuses primarily on FO moves. In addition to being a big fan of the Milledge trade, I also believe he supported the Dukes move. He has been an outspoken critic of a number of their other moves, primarily giving extensions to veterans such as Dmitry Young who, in his eyes should not be in the long term plans of the club. He thought the Nats should have tried to move Soriano instead of hoping to resign him. Additionally, he thought they should have tried to move most other veteran players on their team with value (including Cordero, Young, and Belliard in '07) in hopes of getting younger and improving their farm system. Over the past 1-2 years, it seems as if he has soured on the Nats FO to the point where he now considers them somewhat of a joke. To be fair, however, Law is never one to hide his feelings and he has been quite critical of other team's front offices at various points as well (though I suspect he considers the Nats' to currently be the worst in baseball).

Will said...

This blog ain't big enough for two Wills...

Anyway, I've always liked Keith Law. He's one of the few intelligent writers for ESPN. And to be fair, if I were a baseball writer, I'd tear apart the way the Nats FO has run this team too.

Will said...

Hey Bizarro Will,
I'll duke it out with you any day of the week.

Anyway, Keith Law's a hack. Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian are the only credible, intelligent writers for ESPN.

Steve Shoup said...

Keith Law isn't a writer he is a scout there is a bit of a difference. Olney and company are great but their opinions are solely based on what other people tell them. Law has scouting expierence so when he comments on a player it is somewhat based on his own talent evaluation ability.