February 28, 2007
BASEBALL: Bogus Burgos?
Well, we knew Ambiorix Burgos had a live arm and was wild as all get out, but ace Royals beat writer Joe Posnanski (h/t Pinto) offers some specific cautions about Burgos, who he compares to Michigan J. Frog:
He blew 12 saves last year, but that doesn't even begin to describe the agony of watching him pitch. Tom Burgmeier, the old Royals bullpen coach, used to talk about one of his pitchers who had outrageous stuff -- every single time Burgie watched the guy flounder around on the mound he had the same thought: "You stupid son of a b***h, I would have KILLED to have your stuff."
That's the feeling Burgos inspires. You would have killed to have his arm. Instead you have to watch him shake off fastballs because he's in love with his splitter, you have to watch him throw fastballs high and outside and get into 3-1 counts, then you have to watch him groove thigh-high fastballs over the heart of the plate that hitters tattoo into the bleachers (the guy gave up 16 bombs in 73 innings last year ... and every single one of them, it seemed, cost the Royals a game). He wasn't a bad pitcher. He was an insult to pitching.
Posnanski also isn't impressed with reports of Burgos lighting up the radar gun in Mets camp:
By the way, what kind of goof throws the ball 100 mph before the end of February? I'm not crazy, right? Isn't this like walking up to a doctor and saying, "Hey, would you mind cutting my ulnar collateral ligament? Thanks."
I don't know if Burgos pitched winter ball, but if he did he's probably loose enough to turn it up to 11. If he didn't Posnanski's right.
The Mets picked up Burgos, like Oliver Perez, largely as a project for Rick Peterson to fix. And yes, that's what they said about Victor Zambrano, though in Peterson's defense, Zambrano was apparently already injured when the Mets got him. If Peterson can turn these two around, he really is as good as his press clippings. I'll take that chance; Burgos is 23, and Posnanski makes it sound like a lot of his trouble is pitch selection and location, and a successful pitching coach for a successful organization may have more luck fixing that, as may a veteran catcher who isn't afraid to get in Burgos' face (the Royals had none of these things - I mean, with their track record developing young pitchers, would you listen to them?). Still, I have to assume there's pretty good odds that Burgos will be as bad as Jorge Julio was last season, and/or will get shipped to New Orleans (no, that doesn't sound right yet to me, either). As for Brian Bannister, Posnanski is right about his smarts but I never saw a sign that Bannister had that much upside as a big league starter.
Burgos has an electric arm and on those days when he is dialed in...it is magic. The problem is Posnanski is right, that happens two or three time a year. If you could convice him to throw the splitter 2-3 times an inning he could be devastating. The issue though is he gets the bases loaded, then gets that 3-1 count and still wants to throw the splitter and it usually ends up in the dirt and past the catcher. For the record, the Royals catcher Buck is above average defensively. That isn't the problem. If you get Julioesque nubmers from him it will be good. Of the 18 saves he recorded last year, half were recorded becuase a guy swung at a bad pitch or there was a great defensive play behind him. With that 3-1 count if he doesn't throw the splitter, he throws about a 94 mph straight ball.
I wish Peterson well and I hope he is able to turn him around. In the mean time, we will take Bannister. I only saw him pitch once early last year, but I thought he had an idea on the mound. I do agree though that he is not going to blow anyone away.
Irish, I'm not questioning Buck's glove work, but the guy is 25 years old and has never played for a team that lost less than 100 games. I suspect he doesn't have, for lack of a better word, the gravitas to get away with telling a young pitcher that if he throws another splitter he's gonna tear him a new one. Lo Duca does, and he's got the personality to say something like that.
Burgos is younger than Nolan Ryan was when the Mets gave up on him. Maybe he won't learn but I'm skeptical of writing him off.
Young guys who throw gas--->keep him.
I understand your point Crank and it has merit. I will say though that last year Buck got in a fight with Fatboy Hernandez in the dugout between innings over pitch selection. I have met Buck briefly a couple of times and he seems like a very nice young man. I hope he starts to hit a little more. he has a chance to be the second best catcher in teh AL.