Monday, June 21, 2010

Tough Guy Rizzo

I was going to  post something about Mike Rizzo's decision to send John Lannan down to Double-A, but FJB hit many of the same points I was going to.  The whole Mike Rizzo: Tough Guy shtick wears on me.  As he said, this reminded me of the "Aura" comments Rizzo spat out when sending down Shell.

He highlighted this:

Still, I cringed when this quote from Rizzo popped up on Ben Goessling's blog: "Psychologically, I think that he was very worried about that he wasn't letting his teammates down. He wasn't giving his teammates a chance to win games and stuff like that. Whenever you get that kind of mindset, I think it was a good time for him to take a step back, get himself together and go down there and get with a guy he's comfortable with and iron some things out and get back up here."



Why does Mike Rizzo think he's an amateur psychologist?

I think you need to be a little bit arrogant to do that job well -- to do most jobs well you need confidence in your abilities.  But from this, to some of the past statements he's made, to his "Don't question me about Strasburg Because I've Developed Major League Pitching" comments a few weeks back, he seems like he crosses the line.  Is he an asshole?  Doesn't mean he's not a good person, or a bad GM.  I'm an asshole, but I'm a pretty good person (and likely a bad GM).

I'm getting sidetracked from the point I had in my head when I started; that's the beauty of a blog: nothing's really off topic!

I can completely understand the decision to send Lannan down.  He's pitched like crap on toast.  But at the same time, I don't have to like it.  I think, as FJB does, I guess, that Lannan's owed a little more respect than that.

The thing that stuck in my mind when I read about it this morning is that I wondered if it was a way to force his hand with an injury.  Dude's clearly not right.  FJB says it's because he's left the ball up.  It's not quite that, though that's part.  His sinker isn't sinking.  I can't remember where I saw it -- and if someone knows where, throw it in comments -- but someone did an analysis of his sinkers using PitchFx.  He's like like 2" of movement on his 2-seamer.  So all those complaints about how the Sox were able to center the ball are likely right.  His ball ain't moving.

So is it an injury?  We already know his arm was barking earlier this year.  He's not copping to it -- publicly at least.  As we saw with Mock earlier this year, sometimes a demotion makes a player a little more forthcoming with what's ailin' em.  Maybe Lannan's going to mention that he's hurting so he goes on the DL (and rehabs) instead of riding the buses of the Eastern League?

I dunno.  I feel bad for John.  He deserves better than this, even if it's a business run by apparently asshole businessmen.

15 Comments:

  • Is this what you were thinking of in terms of Lannan's sinker and pitch f/x? (there's also a SB Nation version):

    http://natsstats.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/washington-nationals-john-lannans-disappearing-sinker/

    I've almost always agree with you on Lannan, and this is no exception. I'm disappointed that we didn't get to see the old Lannan again to see if he kept defying his FIP. Unfortunately, he's not the same pitcher and his BBs and Ks went even more to hell than ever along with his lost sinker.

    By Anonymous cass, at 6/22/2010 12:20 AM  

  • Enough of this crying about sending Lannan down from you and FJB. Would you buy a ticket to watch him pitch, knowing that this is not the same Lannan of 2009? Rizzo needs to be an hard ass here, because Riggleman is not. Let Riggleman be the sentimental fool who keeps trotting Lannan (and Morgan and Harris) out there to produce nothing. Personally, Rizzo's comments on Daniel Cabrera echoed my screams at the television set last year. More of the hard ass Rizzo will suit me just fine.

    By Anonymous dale, at 6/22/2010 7:48 AM  

  • Saw it too...can't recall..actually it was more acute than that...it's his former 5-10 inch break that has turned into 1-2 inches...mebbe it was a Neyer post/link

    By Anonymous zendo, at 6/22/2010 9:18 AM  

  • If I can quote Unforgiven "Deserves got nothing to do with it". Lannan (right now) is NOT a MLB quality pitcher and hell it's almost July, if anything they've given him too much leash.

    I think there is much to be said for cutting losses to quiting while you are ahead - I hope Rizzo has the guts to do the same thing with Livo, Olsen, etc when they've gotten maximum value from them there is no moral imperitive to eat the back half of the regression curve just because someone has given you so good years.

    By Blogger Eric, at 6/22/2010 10:36 AM  

  • "Likely not a bad GM"? Isn't that the same as saying "Possibly a good GM"? Hmmmm.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/22/2010 11:14 AM  

  • Baseball is a performance-based league. Lannan wasn't cutting it and there's guys who might do better.

    It was going to happen eventually; there's no way that Lannan would have been the choice over a healthy/fully performing set of Wang, Zimmermann, Strasburg, Detwiler and Marquis.

    Now, i realize that's a HUGE assumption (that all 5 of those guys are healthy AND performing at a high level). But face it. Lannan is no better than a #4 or #5 starter on a quality rotation. Yeah he's a great guy but he's not an ace.

    By Blogger Todd Boss, at 6/22/2010 11:20 AM  

  • Ok, so Rizzo can be a jerk. But I'm surprised at both you and FJB, since you are both usually clear eyed, unsentimental devotees of sabermetrics and very much result oriented fans. If all you're saying is that Lannan should have been treated more kindly in Rizzo's comments, ok fine. But if you're saying that the wrong decision was made, I just can't agree. Lannan had become a liability. He wasn't giving the team a chance to win, and with each start it became clearer and clearer than he wasn't going to. There's no shame in spending a little time in the minors working out the kinks if you can come back stronger. But using repeated starts in the majors as an experiment is not good for the team. I'm glad Rizzo pulled the trigger on this one.

    I guess the question is -- based on performance this year, would you rather see Lannan or Chico/Stammen starting a game for the Nats next week. The answer seems obvious.

    By Blogger Section 222, at 6/22/2010 11:25 AM  

  • I must've not written it clearly.

    The decision to send him down makes sense. He's not pitching well -- though I think that's as much his arm hurting than Rizzo's psychobabble.

    But that doesn't mean that I have to like it.

    Would I rather have Chico or Stammen over Lannan? Hell no. It's not like we're "loaded with pitching" options.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/22/2010 11:29 AM  

  • But that doesn't mean that I have to like it.

    I don't know what that means. I don't like that Sandy Koufax had to retire early because of arthritis problems, too, but that's the reality.

    Are you saying that you would have made a different decision?

    Lannan has to "work stuff out." And he lost enough games over the past few weeks that it's time for him to "work stuff out" when it's not costing the big league team so much.

    By Anonymous A DC Wonk, at 6/22/2010 11:43 AM  

  • "Would I rather have Chico or Stammen over Lannan?"

    Can't disagree with this more, either one (but especially Stammen) give you a significantly higher win probability than Lannan (.0000001% is still better than Zero).

    Plus obviously whatever is wrong with him ISN'T getting fixed in the bigs so maybe taking the pressure off him will allow him to tinker enough to re-find his "stuff".

    By Blogger Eric, at 6/22/2010 11:45 AM  

  • I don't like it either, if that means, I don't like that Lannan seems to have lost whatever it was that made him our most effective pitcher for the past three years. But I do like the decision here because I think we have a better chance to win a game right now with Chico or Stammen starting than with Lannan starting. That's really the only test.

    By Blogger Section 222, at 6/22/2010 12:14 PM  

  • I see where you and Steven are coming from, actually. Maybe this could have been handled with a little more finesse from the front office. I'm reluctant to jump to any conclusions about Rizzo, though; it's quite possible he felt that Riggleman and McCatty had had more than enough time to get Lannan straightened out and hadn't gotten it done. As I said over at FJB, though, I wonder when he's going to show the same hard-nosed attitude toward Harris and Taveras, who have been dead weight this season. Linked at Beltway Baseball.

    By Blogger Kevin Trainor, at 6/22/2010 2:50 PM  

  • Clearly you've never in your life had to master any skill that requires finesse, touch, grace or subtlety, have you? (And why am I not surprised at that?) Because if you had, you'd realize that Lannan's pitching style is all about touch, finesse, grace and subtlety. Other pitchers can get by on brute force if nothing else is working, but he can't. If his mechanics are messed up in even the slightest little bit, his whole game is shot. He's useless. Which is exactly what has happened to him this year. How his mechanics got thrown off is immaterial, what matters is that they're off. It may well be that his earlier elbow discomfort played a part in it, as has actually been reported. He himself says he's not hurt, which means that if he is hurting it's only to the level where a normal pitcher would just gut it out and pitch through it. But to fix subtle mechanical problems such as he has, he can't just pitch through it. He can't fix the problem solely in his body, because really the problem is much more with his head. To fix a subtle problem, the natural reaction is to overthink it, but that's exactly what you don't want to do. It just creates stress and worry, and the problems compound. Relaxation is what is needed, and it can't be achieved when you're in a high pressure must-produce-every-five-days environment. Hence it makes total sense to send him to Harrisburg where he can relax and work it out without the eyes of the world on him.

    And get off that "Rizzo playing amateur psychologist" schtick. All he did was say "the boy's head ain't right" in a more elaborate fashion. Which is exactly the case.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 6/22/2010 2:59 PM  

  • Lannan led the team with nine wins last year. Nine. We're clearly not talking Sandy Koufax here.

    He got demoted because he was getting shelled in the majors, and Rizzo obviously felt he might get shelled in AAA as well. Hence, the ticket to Harrisburg, the bushes and, perhaps, oblivion.

    Despite all the happy talk about bringing him right back up, I doubt we'll see Lannan before the September call-ups.

    I think his situation is a lot more like Bally Star and Chico (Matt, not Harlan) than a Detwiler.

    As has been noted, Lannan got by on finesse. Could it simply be the league is no longer fooled by his stuff?

    By Anonymous Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me, at 6/22/2010 8:24 PM  

  • I think his situation is a lot more like Bally Star and Chico (Matt, not Harlan) than a Detwiler.

    The difference between Lannan and those other guys (well except maybe Chico) is that Lannan has actually walked the walk, for two plus seasons. Balester has never walked the walk, he just talks the talk. Detwiler started walking, but he sprained his ankle early on.

    The point is, Lannan having been there before should be able to do whatever it takes to make it back. He knows what he's shooting for. The others, who knows?

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 6/22/2010 8:43 PM  

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