Saturday, November 24, 2007

Let's keep talking about Zach Duke!

You guys have no idea how happy I am to have kicked off a violent reaction to something I wrote that doesn't involve Nyjer Morgan, even if all of you are violently opposed to what I wrote. Of course, I think a lot of the reason you're violently opposed to what I wrote is that I did a terrible job of explaining what was really on my mind. Accordingly, let's look a little further into Zach Duke and see if I can make myself a little clearer.

First off, I would suggest going back and reading my review of Duke's 2007. I used it to try and figure out how to explain Duke's struggles and whether injury or general ineptitude were more to blame. Obviously that's something that we'll probably never know for sure, though if you read my post you can tell I'm leaning towards injury not being Duke's biggest problem last year. The one thing that I didn't believe then and don't believe now and won't believe even when I'm sitting at Milliways for the last meal in the recorded history of creation is that Jim Colborn's "tweak" caused Duke's problems. There's just too many signs to the contrary for me to simply chalk Duke's struggles up to that and move on.

That was what bugged me about the Andrews story. Clearly, he's the pitching coach and it's his job to try and make Zach Duke a respectable pitcher and if he didn't work with Duke, that would be irresponsible and stupid, especially because the back end of the rotation is so freaking empty behind Snell and Gorzelanny. What irked me was that "fixing Duke" was the first thing he brought up in regards to the Pirates' job. Admittedly, I may have been reading way too far into things, but the article read to me like Andrews was going, "Yeah, well, Colborn was a dumbass and screwed up a fantastic pitcher and now that I'm here, I'm going to fix what he did wrong and Zach Duke is going to be just like he was back in 2005 again."

In reality, Andrews is saying exactly what Colborn said when he was hired. Read this quote from the article:

"Mechanics isn't a real fun issue to talk about," Andrews said, "but we need him to become consistent. I think it's going to work. I think he's going to believe in it. It's pretty basic stuff -- but he's a pretty basic pitcher.
Now read this article from April 2006 where Colborn talks about the changes made with Duke:

Colborn's work with Duke in the spring, as he reiterated, did not involve a mechanical switch. Rather, it was aimed at developing a consistent delivery. When Duke reported for spring training, Colborn detected inconsistencies.

"I watched tapes of Zach Duke from last year, and that was exactly the kind of pitcher I want him to be," Colborn said. "This was about timing, about having a sense for where certain body parts need to be at certain points in the delivery."

See, that's what bothered me about the Andrews article; that he and Meyer both seem to think he's going to be able to do something amazing and revolutionary with Duke and I don't think he's going to do anything that different than what Colborn tried to do.