What Do You Think of Your Team’s Pitching Coach?

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I started to understand and appreciate the potential impact of pitching coaches. I mean, I always had some suspicions, and I was one of those people really interested in Rick Peterson back in the day, but, in March of 2006, the Mariners traded Matt Thornton to the White Sox for Joe Borchard. You have to understand what Matt Thornton was at the time — though he had a big arm, he’d been infuriating with Seattle, incapable of throwing consecutive strikes. I remember being overjoyed about his departure; he’d walked one of every six batters, proving himself completely and utterly unreliable. A big arm without any control? There are a million of those. They just about never figure it out.

Instantly, Thornton figured it out. Because Don Cooper figured it out. Cooper had figured it out a couple years earlier.

 The left-hander always possessed a gifted arm, with a fastball in the mid 90s, but also has battled control issues. Thornton mentioned that Cooper noticed the flaw two years ago, while watching game film on him, at a time when the White Sox were interested in acquiring the one-time first-round draft pick from Seattle.

“I kidded him by saying, ‘You could have sent me a little note or something,'” said Thornton with a laugh. “It may have been a little different for me.”

Thornton, as a Mariner, threw 59% strikes. His first year with the White Sox, he threw 67% strikes. He’s maintained the same rate ever since, and though Thornton’s career is just about up, he’s 38 years old, and for a time he was a premier lefty reliever. He’s totaled more than $20 million in career salary. If it weren’t for Don Cooper, who knows what would’ve happened with Thornton’s professional path? Would he still be set for life? Would he be a realtor?

Every so often you hear about the hero pitching coach. Cooper has drawn rave reviews with Chicago. I know Cleveland fans have been fond of the work of Mickey Callaway. Some fans in San Diego think Darren Balsley will be able to help James Shields re-establish his changeup. MLB executives seem to think highly of Jim Hickey. It feels like it’s easier to evaluate a pitching coach than a hitting coach, and whether or not that’s actually true, the point is this: you probably have an opinion of your favorite team’s pitching coach. And I don’t think it’s ever been crowdsourced. To my knowledge, no one’s ever tried to compare pitching coaches to one another in this way, and while crowdsourcing isn’t the same thing as finding the real answer, I think it would be interesting to play with some results. Which is why this is a post with a countless number of polls in it. Actually, 30 polls, one for each team, and that’s pretty countable, but no one would’ve wanted to count them. They blend together when you scroll.

I want to know how fans feel about their pitching coaches. I’ve built in a “no opinion” option in case you just don’t have anything to say. This probably applies mostly to fans of the Rockies and Twins, who have got brand-new pitching coaches on staff. I’ve included them just for the sake of being complete, and, who knows, maybe they’ve said really smart or really stupid things since being hired. Who can say? The crowdsourced results can say! I don’t know what this information will tell us, but it’s new information, which makes it worthwhile information, to me. Why not try to see what hasn’t been seen? The hell else are we going to do?

I understand this might not go anywhere. I also understand this is up against Kiley’s top-200 prospect list, which means that approximately seven people will participate. But for you seven, I’ve tried to save you the trouble of scrolling, with the fancy use of HTML anchor tags. Thank you for anything and everything, and if you so desire, please leave in the comments explanations for why you voted how you did. Are you thinking of a particular success story or two? Alternatively, has the pitching coach failed to squeeze anything out of a bunch of electric arms? Don’t worry about whether you’re right. No one can know if you’re right. Just vote how you feel, and find solace in the fact that your vote should be one of dozens or hundreds. Or seven. Honestly don’t know how many Marlins fans are on the Internet. This is a pretty specific post. But it’s happening anyway.

Click on the team name to be taken directly to the relevant poll.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Pale Hose
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Pale Hose

Poll flaw:”very good” sells short my true feelings about Don Cooper.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles

Ditto for Uncle Ray. Something closer to miracle worker applies.

Lucas
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Lucas

Same for Chris Bosio, “very good” just doesn’t properly convey my love.

Bo Knows
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Bo Knows

I’m not even a White Sox fan and I have to agree about this sentiment. The man is the “Pitcher Whisperer” he can fix anyone’s flaws and get them to perform to the pinnacle of their natural talent.