By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A tip from the Cardinals

This is not going to be a good day for Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. The Herald picks up an item from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on why Joel Piñeiro is doing so much better with the Cardinals than he did with the Red Sox. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan says he’s got the answer.

Here’s an excerpt from the Post-Dispatch story, published Monday:

“You don’t have the kind of stuff like he has and get hit like he did,” Duncan said. “You start looking for why. Why is he getting hit? … It was so obvious.”

It took less than Pineiro’s first start as a Cardinal for Duncan to pinpoint what he believes was a big part of Pineiro’s problems: He was tipping his pitches. The righthander and his coach say an adjustment to his delivery erased the flaw that Duncan believes allowed “people to make it difficult on him.”

Pineiro has pitched 14 innings since, allowing two earned runs and no walks, and takes a winning streak into today’s scheduled start against the Cubs.

OK, so Piñeiro didn’t pitch that great on Monday. But this is intriguing, no?

Farrell tells the Herald that Duncan is wrong, but Jason Varitek doesn’t exactly give him a vote of confidence, saying, “We usually have guys who are watching the game on the side who usually pick up on that stuff pretty well.” Yeah, usually.

Piñeiro cost the Sox $4 million, and they got next to nothing when they dealt him to the Cards.

Not to whine. The Sox are up six games today, they’ve got the best record in baseball, Farrell must have something to do with the great pitching, etc., etc., etc. But it sounds like Farrell may not have done a good job of protecting this particular investment. Unless Duncan is blowing smoke.

My guess is that Theo is going to be talking to Farrell. Maybe he already has.

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  1. Anonymous

    But Dan, pitch-tipping probably doesn’t explain how Pineiro progressively (and markedly) worsened every year from 2002 to 2006. He was a lousy pitcher when the Sox signed him, and he didn’t do a whole lot to prove otherwise. If anyone’s to blame here, it’s Theo and his staff for thinking that they could turn a chicken (bleep) starter into a chicken-salad closer.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 11:32: Agreed. And he may soon turn back into a pumpkin in St. Louis. But if Piñeiro really was tipping his pitches, surely he would have pitched a little better when he was here.

  3. man who's a red sox fan

    Pineiro’s pitching skills aren’t really the issue here, though. The issue is that if Pineiro was tipping his pitches, and the PITCHING COACH never realized it, that says a lot about the pitching coach. Most of it not good.

  4. Stella

    There is a disconnect between the Red Sox coaching staff, and other fools in the GM office, and a winning team.Some fans, new to area and not familiar with RS ways, were nonplussed at the one game fly up of a rookie and the appearance of Tavares as a starter when the five man starting rotation gets such accolades.”Four legs good, two legs better!”

  5. R. Scott Buchanan

    It should be easy enough to go back and look at the tapes and see if he was tipping pitches. It’s not like Fenway lacks for video cameras.

  6. jvwalt

    Let’s see how Piniero does after a few more weeks in the National League (which has never seen him before, and that’s a big edge for a pitcher) before we put the dunce cap on Farrell. The Sox’ pitching staff is generally performing at a very high level. If Farrell was so unobservant, you’d think other pitchers would be suffering as well. As for the Piniero signing: it was a gamble. At baseball prices, a moderately priced gamble. He may turn into a quality pitcher once again; he never got a full shot in Boston because other relievers stepped up.

  7. Steve

    Duncan could easily be blowing smoke. If you Google “tipping his pitches Duncan” you’ll see that he has made this claim before, most recently regarding Mike Maroth.It’s a common claim when a talented pitcher is not performing up to expectations, and sometimes it’s true and sometimes it’s not. Timlin credits Bobby Abreu for curing a tip-off for his slider. Barry Bonds said he had Randy Johnson cold. Last year, there was concern that Josh Beckett was tipping, but ARod says the Yanks were just waiting on his fastball, laying off other pitches.A lot of it is mind games. Someone should ping Schilling on his blog – he might give a straight answer. Schilling and ex-pitching coach Dave Wallace claim to have cured Derek Lowe of pitch-tipping after 2004.My guess is if Theo is “taking to” Farrell, it’s about the present and the future, not the past.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: You could be right. If NL hitters think Piñeiro might be tipping his pitches, but then they remember that Duncan’s said he isn’t anymore, then they might not know what to think, giving Piñeiro an edge. Still, it was an intriguing little tidbit. I’d like to see someone ask a few AL hitters who faced Piñeiro this year what they think.

  9. mike_b1

    I think the whole pitch-tipping stance is oversold. Consider: – Sample size. He’s pitched 24 innings in the NL. Give him time; he’ll regress (see Arroyo, Bronson).-With Boston, he was a reliever, so no opposing hitters could be sure they’d even face him. What hitter will spend all his time looking at film of the 9th man in the bullpen? -Guys change teams all the time. If JP was tipping, how was it that everyone but Boston knew?-I won’t lay it all out here, but he pitched 6 games against TOR and 5 times against NY. These teams have battered him had they known what was coming. They didn’t.- Take out a 3-game stretch in May where he gave up 8 earned runs in 4.6 IP (and against 3 different teams), and his BOS ERA drops from 5.04 to 3.91 (well below league average).- He has walked 2 batters in 24 IP in St. Louis. That’s after walking 14 in 34 IP in Boston. That’s the big difference.

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