Dylan Bundy, at the 2012 Futures Games in Kansas City, definitely NOT throwing a cut fastball. Wink wink nod knowingly. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
This is nuts:
"The philosophy of the organization is to encourage pitchers to develop a good delivery, command of their fastball, an off-speed pitch and a good breaking ball," Duquette said. "The first breaking ball that we work with our young pitchers on is a curveball. So that is basically the level of progression of our instruction and our organization philosophy.
"First of all, the cut fastball, we don't like it as a pitch, OK? And we don't like it for young pitchers because it takes away from the development of their curveball, which is a better pitch long-term and also, the velocity of their fastball. So we encourage development of an overhand breaking ball that has depth along with command of their fastball and, of course, velocity and movement will get the hitter out."
But in Bundy's case, the 19-year-old right-hander has said that is his best pitch. Have the Orioles taken away Bundy's top pitch?
"Why don't you take a look at the chart with the average against cutters in the big leagues, batting average against and then come back and tell me that that's a great pitch," Duquette said.
"We don't like the cutter. We don't like the cutter as an effective pitch. Name me all the great pitchers that used it as their primary pitch in the big leagues."
Don't bring up Mariano Rivera, because I did and Duquette isn't hearing that one.
"That's a fastball. That's a fastball. That's his only pitch, he's a one-pitch wonder. It's his fastball," Duquette said. "Name me all the pitchers in the big leagues that make a living with a cut fastball? Rivera's is a fastball. It moves."
That's Orioles head honcho Dan Duquette, talking to MASN's Steve Melewski. Not only is Dan Duquette outlining the Orioles' blanket philosophy that no pitching prospect will ever throw a cutter, but he's also completely dumping on the idea that any good pitcher ever has used a cutter. And that includes the most famousest relief pitcher ever who's primary pitch is, has been, and will forever be the cut fastball.
I have two theories about whatever the heck Dan Duquette is talking about. One is that Dan Duquette is a moron. The other is that Dan Duquette is a liar. Now, I've never met Mr. Duquette so I can't say for 100% certain, but there's no way I believe he's a moron. And I do see quite a lot of smoke coming from his pants.
And that's okay! Look, no baseball executive in the world is going to come out on the internet and give away their state secrets. General Managers in particular will play dumb until someone shows them photographic proof that they aren't being entirely truthful. And there is no doubt whatsoever that the Orioles know a lot more, and are a lot more nuanced, than they are letting on. That's all just part of the job, especially when we're talking about a highly competitive industry where knowing something nobody else knows is incredibly valuable.
It makes me wonder, though. Why talk to the press at all if it's going to be in such an uncomfortable and distracting experience? Lately, my friend de plume Eat More Esskay has been writing about how the impetus to grow more fan interest - and what we mean is ticket sales - is on the Orioles. Fangraphs' Dave Cameron also recently wrote about how little we understand what drives attendance at baseball games. I would like to hypothesize that this kind of front office connection with the fans could be a factor here.
Consider the Astros, who are terrible and will be terrible for a long time. Their new front office is just getting started under Jeff Luhnow, and what do we know about them? Well, one of the big moves he made was to publicly court some bright sabrmetric minds like Sig Medjal and Mike Fast, and to let it be known that he has interviewed popular media-scout Keith Law. That's the kind of thing Astros fans can look at and say "There guys know what they're doing, and I can really support this movement". That breeds more fan loyalty, or at least I'd like to hope so.
We saw it in Baltimore, too, with the very public pronouncement that Andy MacPhail was seriously 100% in charge and he has a strong vision that makes a ton of sense. When fans got wind of some less-than-ideal practices, like the complete lack of international talent in the organization, a public pronouncement was made that these smart guys had done a study proving that the investment there wasn't worth it. The Orioles were terrible, and so it was important that the front office made efforts to look like they knew what they were doing, whether they did or they did not.
Am I way off base here? Does anything that the front office says to the press - and through them, to us fans - matter? Does it hurt the organization when what is said is obvious lies or half-truths? Does it help an organization to look smart? I have no real, hard idea. But I do wonder sometimes.