Friday, August 21, 2015

Hghlights of my conversation with Pirates Assistant to the GM & pitching guru Jim Benedict (Part 1)

I had Jim Benedict on my show on Wednesday afternoon. I learn something about pitching every time I speak to Jim and this was no different. In encourage you to listen to the whole conversation, but here are some highlights:

On J.A. Happ: 

"He's a veteran....and a lot of times with veterans you can do a quick fix....Ray's really good at that for sure."

On acquiring Joe Blanton:

"He's always giving you everything he's got. So you know the pitching makeup is good. He's a strike-thrower. That never left him."

On Blanton coming back after taking a year off:

"When guys decide that it's over, that's a big decision to hang up your spikes and move on. And when a guy makes that decision he doesn't usually look back because it's a hard one.....It's not uncommon for guys who do come back, they go into the bullpen, they're ultra-aggressive, they've already ended it, they're just starting a new chapter. And what I see from him is an extremely confident, aggressive guy. He's nothing like the guy that retired. You have to evaluate him completely on what you see right now in another organization."

"That's a huge get. I just see aggression and just clarity, mental clarity, where he's just getting after it."

On scouting Arquimedes Caminero and guys like him:

"He's a great story. This is what you're capable of doing when you are building a bullpen, is look for guys like this who have flaws, who have command flaws, maybe they have velocity, maybe you see a breaking ball, then you don't, that means it's in there."

On acquiring Caminero:

"I said, man, if we do get him, I think I know what we can do, at least early to get rid of some of this extra energy....He (Ray Searage) got him in the strike zone. Then the deception was all velocity-related, so you didn't have deception. So during the big league year, and this is really a tribute to Ray (Searage) and Eucky (bullpen coach Euclides Rojas), during the major league season they have given him deception by toning him down, making him pitch, and making him throw behind in the count, making him use his split. The two-seam on the fastball vs. the four. So instead of always trying to light up the gun, always being a prospect, all of a sudden you've got a guy who can pitch at any time in the game because he's toning it down, he's arrived. That's the way I look at it. Knock on wood. This is what you look for all year long, guys like this, who are flawed, that you bring in and you have talented people to work with them and bring them up to their potential.

In Part 2 we talked about Gerrit Cole in Jameson Taillon. Fascinating stuff. I'll have it up over the weekend.

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