James McDonald didn’t have the backing of Joe Torre. Torre didn’t seem to think much of him as a pitcher.
You’re a young guy, it’s hard enough to break through, and your own organization has no faith in you-you know you can’t make a mistake; you know anything you do right will be overlooked. You end up pitching scared and with zero confidence.
He won’t be treated like that in Pittsburgh. They can try to rebuild him out of the glare of the spotlight. He’s probably not this good; but I also don’t think he’s has bad as he was in LA.
One team may see a guy with a FB that is “not ML quality”, and another team may see a guy with great potential to become an effective sinkerballer.
Teams have different philosophies and values, and well evaluation skill, and development talent.
I always think back to the end of Bob Gibson’s rookie year, when he wanted to quit baseball because he hated his manager (who may or may not have been racist, but did have abusive tendencies).
When guys like Pujols go in the 14th round, and Buehrle goes in the 38th round, be certain that scouting and drafting can be as much (if not more) art and luck, as it is science.
I also agree with what jirish says about McDonald being in a great situation … he’ll be able to be a regular starter in a low-pressure situation, where he’ll be allowed to make some mistakes, make adjustments, go through growing pains, and be given the chance to develop.
Comment by CircleChange11 — August 6, 2010 @ 3:10 pm
“… they traded Jon Meloan, who before the season was one of their No. 8 prospect…”
How many number 8 prospects did the Dodgers have at the time?
“McDonald actually pitched excellently in the minors last year, striking out 11 per nine, but he exhausted his prospect status by pitching 63 innings. He wasn’t bad by any means, a 4.00 ERA, though his FIP, 4.48, and xFIP, 4.78, suggested he might have gotten a bit lucky. ”
What? Pitching 63 innings in the minors exhausted his prospect status?
The content, as always on FanGraphs, is excellent. The editing, as it is so often on FanGraphs, is so bad as to be distracting.
Please get yourselves a copy editor and/or proofreader.
JMac also had a 2.72 ERA as an NL reliever in 2009. He had some value to the Dodgers as a reliever this season, especially because Joe and Ned kept using crappy righties like Ramon and Russ Ortiz, Jeff Weaver, and Justin Miller. But those other guys are the crappy veteran types that Joe and Ned love, so JMac had to go.
Comment by The Dude Abides — August 6, 2010 @ 4:05 pm
The Dodgers are idiots, there is no other way to spin it, so please don’t try.
I don’t agree. Torre loved McDonald. McDonald came out of nowhere in 2008 when the rosters expanded and pitched well enough late in the year that Torre added him to the post-season roster. An incredible show of faith in an unproven young pitcher. In 2009, Torre handed the 5th starter job (out of camp) to McDonald, and even though JMac failed and was sent down, Torre allowed him to be a bullpen peice for another NL West winning team. McDonald pitched very well out of the bullpen in 2009 after failing as a starter.
2010 was just weird. They re-assigned him to minor league camp very early in spring training which was stunning for a guy who spent a good portion of the year with the major league team the season before. He didn’t get off to a great start in AAA and then got injured when the Dodgers most needed spot starts. The Dodgers finally called him up and gave him 1 start and (here’s where its appropriate to bash Torre) decided to put him back in the bullpen after 1 poor but not terrible start. He was fine out of the bullpen but it is completely a small sample size anyway and then he was gone.
McDonald was my guy and I really wish him well with Pittsburgh.
No, no, no, no. You must never suggest that the reason for a bad decision is stupidity. It must always be a difference in philosophy or an emphasis on different qualities or a ‘blind spot’ or something else. It must never be that the man making the decisions is not able to understand enough of the relevant information and its importance.
I was looking at Mac’s pitch fx data just now. Anyone else notice the difference in velocity of his change up? He went from 76.4 MPH last year to 81.5 MPH this year – with extra movement. He still has a 10+ MPH gap between his fastball and changeup but I found the difference odd. Just an observation…
Comment by Shoeless_Mike — September 8, 2010 @ 5:18 pm