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18 Mar

Chuck James will never make it as a LOOGY

As has been well documented, Chuck throws mostly fastballs and some changeups, while his slider is no good. Most LOOGYs throw breaking balls, lots of them. Here are pitch breakdowns for some of the more successful LOOGYs of 2007. (Pitch breakdowns from Bill James Online. Other stats from Baseball Reference.)

Jamie Walker, Baltimore: Tied for AL lead in appearances with 81. 33 percent fastballs, 28 percent changeups, 38 percent sliders.
Scott Downs, Toronto: Tied for AL lead in appearances. 61 percent fastballs, 24 percent curveballs, 10 percent sliders.
Pedro Feliciano, Mets: 58 percent fastballs, 7 percent changeups, 29 percent sliders, 4 percent curves.
Jimmy Gobble, Royals: 57 percent fastballs, 33 percent sliders, 5 percent curveballs.
George Sherrill, Mariners: 73 games, only 45.7 innings. 66 percent fastballs, 24 percent sliders.

The exceptions are people like Joe Beimel, who throw almost nothing but fastballs. A fastball-change repertoire is ill-suited for a specialist role, because changeups thrown by lefthanders break towards lefthanded batters. Chuck, in fact, has very little of a split; last year, he allowed a higher BA to righthanders but allowed more power to lefties. Over his career, he has actually pitched worse against lefthanders.

He could be a long man or a traditional setup man, but frankly hardly any lefthanders do that anymore. They’re either LOOGYs or the occasional closer.

29 Responses to “Chuck James will never make it as a LOOGY”

  1. 1
    Another Alex R. Says:

    From a show of hands, who here thinks that Chuck will be able to develop an at least average third pitch?

  2. 2
    ububba Says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. 3
    Godot Says:

    Didn’t Bobby specifically bunk any rumours of Chuck going to the pen?
    I say Chuckie develops his slider this year in Richmond. But more than the slider, I really want to see that fastball come back. He totally lost it last year.

  4. 4
    Sam Says:

    Godot,

    Probably because of his rotator cuff injury or something. There was a reason that he totally lost it last year. That may have been it.

  5. 5
    Robert Says:

    From a show of hands, who here thinks that Chuck will be able to develop an at least average third pitch?

    I doubt it. Chuckie would obviously make a good long man since he’s good for three good innings, but of course no one uses a long man anymore.

    He could be a long man or a traditional setup man, but frankly hardly any lefthanders do that anymore. They’re either LOOGYs or the occasional closer.

    We used Remlinger as a setup man for good while there, but yeah they are rare. Lefties tend to get stuffed into that LOOGY role whether there are well suited to it or not.

  6. 6
    braves14 Says:

    I think he will.

  7. 7
    Kyle James Says:

    Have you ever heard them interview Chuck? He’s not exactly the smartest cookie in the cookie jar. Definitely has balls of steel, or just too stupid and stubborn, when it comes to throwing his change up.

    They have been trying to get him to throw more with his body and less with his arm and we see where that has gotten him…

  8. 8
    kehrsam Says:

    I have to assume that he knows he’s a league-average starter now, but with limited endurance. In other words, running five miles a day and doing 200 windsprints may be the difference between a footnote in the Baseball Encyclopedia and 100 million dollars. I know which way I’m betting.

  9. 9
    Rob Cope Says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of cardiovascular endurance with James. His mechanics (as alluded to above) isn’t very conducive to arm endurance. I’d have to assume that his upper body is pretty much gassed when he’s done with his outing, and his lower body/cardiovascular system is still pretty good. If he would alter his mechanics, I think he would be an excellent pitcher. I’m sure changing your mechanics at the major league level is a good way to end your career, though.

  10. 10
    braves14 Says:

    As of tomorrow (Wednesday), it will be 11 days until Opening Day!

  11. 11
    RelaxSome Says:

    I’ve read every post on this blog, and all I can see is “speculation”-’Speculation”_ and sPeCuLAtiOn… I mean, To say “send him to richmond so he can learn a third pitch”…Hello??? He spent the end of 02 in instructs, 03, 04, and 05 in the minors before getting called up after the minor league season, and you want to send him to richmond to learn a new pitch? If you can do basic addition don’t read the following, but he’s had 5 full years in the braves system, he isnt magically going to learn how to throw a slider in a short stint back in richmond that people are going to drool over..sorry to disappoint.. And also, Chuck isn’t at all stupid. Can you blame the guy for not being lights out when he’s hurt..or maybe he should train to be a marathon runner so he can still have a torn rotator cuff and some bad knees to go with it……can you blame the guy for not developing a different way of pitching when all he did his whole professional career was dominate? He had an average season, its one year.. Why don’t we all just calm down with the ideas of how chuck might succeed and just let the kid get to work?…..crap

  12. 12
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I don’t think being smart or stupid has much to do with ability to develop a third pitch. We all know that he doesn’t particularly know or care about opposing hitters, scouting reports, or micro-managing or pre-planning games. We also know that he’s been working on his slider this offseason. He’s got a decent fastball and a terrific changeup. If he’s enough of an athlete to be able to do that, why wouldn’t he be able to develop another?

  13. 13
    Dix Says:

    He’s been pitching his entire life and has only developed 2 average pitches so no, any other pitches he develops will be decidedly below average, in my solicited and valuable opinion.

  14. 14
    c. shorter Says:

    RelaxSome, welcome back.

    It’s true, everyone on here speculates. That’s what it’s all about… especially when there aren’t any games that count in the standings to talk about.

    I don’t think it’s any small deal to just “pick up” a major league level 3rd pitch. It sure wouldn’t hurt Chuckie’s cause if he could eventually develop one though.

    He did have an average year last year. After such a promising stint the year before, everyone was hoping for more. Being healthy will be the first step towards better things to come…

    Go Braves.

  15. 15
    c. shorter Says:

    additionally, I don’t think any of us really expect Chuck to run marathons (even though it was hinted at in the posts) in the offseason… but maybe a little more than working at Lowes and throwing pine cones. That may all be in the past, but it doesn’t *seem* (from what little I’ve read) that he’s been able to do much to work on arm strength or stamina during the offseason because of his cuff. Maybe good health alone is all he needs…

  16. 16
    Rob Cope Says:

    If he keeps pace with what he did last year, we should be just fine. If he gets better…

  17. 17
    Rob Cope Says:

    Oh, and of course… Go Braves.

  18. 18
    jj3bagger Says:

    I haven’t given up on Chuckie as a solid #4/5 guy but I have given up on him being anything more than that, and it hurts me to type that. If you have league average guys in the #4/5 slot, then you’re way ahead of the game, as we all know.

  19. 19
    ububba Says:

    Endless Cash Supply Dept.

    OK, I don’t want to depress anybody here, but I got an interesting letter & site link today from the Yankees concerning “season ticket” upgrades for the new Yankee Stadium.

    If you want to have an idea of what kinda bucks the Yanks expect to pull in from their new stadium, check these prices for some of the “premium suites” they’re selling:

    http://www.yankees.com/yankeespremium

    Of course, these bills will be picked up by corporates (all NYC teams enjoy this advantage), but I did some math & the results are kinda mind-bending.

    Assuming they sell all 4,374 “premium level” tickets for all 81 regular-season games (4 prices, ranging from $100 to $700 per seat per game), they’ll rake in $1.5 million per game—just for those seats, forget the revenues for the rest of the stadium.

    For the season, that’s over $121 Million in ticket sales alone for fewer than 5,000 seats.

    Folks, the price of players just went up.

  20. 20
    kc Says:

    ububba, what you have calculated is completely insane…MLB has to do a better job in revenue sharing then…

  21. 21
    RelaxSome Says:

    The problem with him and a third pitch is that he has been working on one for a very long time..with basically every pitching coach in the system for that matter…My point is that it would be nice for him to just go to AAA to learn the pitch, but really, what is a short stint back in aaa going to accomplish? He was in aaa in 05, then back there in 06. AAA isn’t anything but a finishing school for guys en route to the big leagues, and for others to face experienced players while waiting to re-enter the show. The point of a collective minor league career is to be major league ready, to develop yourself, and to weed out non big league players. He’s where he is because the braves decided he was ready.. I think after this year we’ll be able to have a legitimate opinion about chuck, but not right this minute…You’re right about needing to learn the players and the game, its a valuable asset that he hasn’t taken much time with.

  22. 22
    chris Says:

    could he develop a 2 seam fastball to go along with his traditional one?

    same arm motion, same throwing style, nothing new but the way you hold the ball.

    if he can’t develop a 3rd good pitch, he’s a bit of a tool

  23. 23
    dans Says:

    knuckler!!!!

    just kidding

  24. 24
    hankonly Says:

    Everyone disdains the knuckler. Why?

    It’s easy on the arm, doesn’t require a Nolan Ryan motion and should be simple for James to master. It’ll make his pretty good fastball look wicked.

    Seems to me it’s the perfect third pitch for Chuck James.

  25. 25
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Re revenue sharing: I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Yankees but why should they share their money with teams that do nothing but pocket it and don’t invest in their teams? Or get crappy management that wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground? And I think that can be said of a lot of teams in MLB. If they are going to increase revenue sharing, they need to put conditions on how the teams use the money.

    Re Chuck James–it’s easy to say learn a new pitch or a new way of hitting. I don’t think it’s so easy to do. IMO, his problem is he needs to learn how to pitch with what he has, as Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux did. Obviously, it’s not fair to compare him to two Hall of Famers but I am more disturbed by his apparent lack of interest in learning how to pitch. If you are a finesse pitcher, you damn well better know who the hell is at the plate and have a plan. I guarantee that if you gave Glavine the same repertoir as Chuck (and they are somewhat similar), Tommy would do more with it. I sure hope Chuck is spending a lot of time with Glavine talking about pitching but I sort of doubt it.

    Having said that, I do agree with Relax that people are being pretty hard on a guy that really hasn’t been that bad his first two years. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but as Braves fans we all got so used to having great pitching that it’s hard to accept decent but not HOF-quality pitching. The Braves obviously aren’t doing a great job of developing pitching (and I’m afraid Jo-Jo might be the latest example) but I think Chuck James has a lot of value in today’s game.

  26. 26
    jea Says:

    There’s an interesting article on espn.com about the knuckler and learning how to throw it. It seems like it could prove difficult to master for anyone.
    I’d like James to learn a third pitch, but I’d be happy at least for a while if he would learn who the hitters were instead of just pitching the same. That’s got nothing to do with injury or phyiscal ability.

  27. 27
    MGL Says:

    From Verducci at SI —
    “• There’s a growing consensus around the Grapefruit League that Atlanta may be the best team in the NL East, partly because the Mets haven’t been able to field many of their regulars at the same time, the Phillies seem short of starting pitching even before the season starts and the Braves have the deepest inventory of pitching in the division”

  28. 28
    IthacaBraves Says:

    I would like to see james as a middle/long reliever. Two pitch guys usually fare better from the bullpen. I don’t think he lacks stamina so much, I think that when a hitter sees him for the second and then third time in a game his meatballs become less and less deceptive. Let him face guys once in a game and the results will be better and maybe his velocity will pick up a little out of the pen, that’s a pretty common phenomina.

  29. 29
    Coach (Lets Go Braves in 2008) Says:

    Will Ohman is the LOOGY. His career ERA is .196 against left handed batters.

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