Maybe Duncan's Just Too Busy?
Adam Wainwright has discovered a flaw in his delivery, and will shortly be back to perennial Cy Young contender form. He and Chris Carpenter, papier mache ace extraordinaire, were looking at some video yesterday, and, wonder of wonders, they found out what was wrong with Adam's mechanics!
I'm a little curious, though: where was Dave Duncan in all of this?
According to the article in question, Wainwright has apparently been pitching from too high of an arm slot this season, to the tune of four to five inches higher than usual. Now, I'm no pitching coach, nor have I been anywhere near a Holiday Inn Express lately, but that sounds like a fairly large difference.
To be fair, I didn't notice it, but then again, I'm also not being paid a seven-figure salary by the Cardinals to do nothing but watch pitchers and come up with game plans. So I just have to wonder, why didn't the greatest pitching coach who has ever coached a game of baseball, anywhere, ever, spot this thing 'round about a month ago?
All we hear is how great Dave Duncan is at fixing mechanical flaws, and spotting when a pitcher is tipping his pitches, and on and on and on. So how is it that the kind of the mechanical adjustment didn't notice a five inch difference in his ace pitcher's arm slot?
Maybe I'm being too hard on Duncan here, but the way that people around this town worship the dude, I wouldn't expect the Scrappy Doo Junior Detective Agency to have to come in and solve the Case of the Wandering Arm Slot.
I would think that a man with bionic eyes could simply glance at a pitcher who was that far off and immediately spot the problem. Again, if this whole thing is true, and Wainwright really is this far off from his usual arm slot, we're not talking about a minor timing issue, or a guy needing to keep his glove hand up an extra half second; we're talking about the difference between the average American man and, say, John Holmes. In short, five inches is quite a bit of difference.
Then again, maybe Duncan is just too damned busy, what with carrying a twenty man pitching staff and all. I mean, it certainly can't be easy trying to fix Blaine Boyer, the middle reliever that the Cardinal brain trust just couldn't live without. Oh, wait, that's right, apparently Marty Mason, the bullpen coach, is the one who went to work on ironing out Boyer's delivery. (And credit where credit is due; I hated the Boyer deal, but he's been really solid since coming over here, yesterday's struggles notwithstanding.) So no go on that one.
Well, maybe he was attending to family issues, such as teaching his son to play the outfield properly. After all, we have seen ChewDunca using two hands to grab the ball here a bit lately. On the other hand, if Chris' fielding is the return the Cardinals are getting on Dunc Sr.'s salary, then they need to stop letting Bernie Madoff hire their coaches.
Or maybe he's been working a lot with Joel Pineiro. Hey, we've heard all about Jo-El's sinker this year, right? Yeah, that must be it! The all-important warm body who takes the ball every fifth day has been consuming all the team's pitching resources. Never mind that your de facto number one has been struggling left and right all year long, unable to get through the sixth inning without throwing 150 pitches.
In the end, though, I suppose I'll be okay with this, as long as we can be sure that Dave Duncan's energy is going in productive directions: working with the Cardinals' young pitchers. Sure, guys like Chris Perez and Jason Motte can throw a ball through a wall, and sure, they have all the promise in the world, but they need Duncan. Desperately. I mean, just think of what Duncan could do with talent like that. A little polishing, a little adjustment here or there, and we may finally get to see the true potential of some of our young pitchers.