May 25, 2006
The Flash Unit
John Flaherty on Randy Johnson. From the Daily News of Newburyport:
As Randy Johnson strolled to the mound last night, John Flaherty assumed his position.
Flaherty, who now works for the YES Network after retiring following a brief stint with the Red Sox in spring training, knows Johnson better than most. More than 30 times last season, he attempted to guide the lefty through the ups and downs of an appearance, playing part pitching coach and part psychologist along the way.
"What you're going to want to watch for is that (Johnson's) going to try and throw a fastball in on Kevin Youkilis that actually ends up inside and true, as opposed to running back over the plate," said Flaherty moments before Johnson's first pitch. "If he's doing that, everything is going to be good, because if he's doing that, his mechanics are right. You should also see a slider that goes down and not just a spinning one that goes across. But the first thing is a fastball that is true."
"He's trying to get it inside and he can't get it there, so he pushes everything back over the plate," said Flaherty, almost resigning himself to the fact that his former teammate has not yet figured out what at least two people in the Fenway dining area already knew. "It does a few things — obviously you see the ball earlier, and the ball doesn't go where he wants to. He was doing it earlier last year, then he got it fixed and he really started throwing a lot better."
"It's a bunch of things that kind of go hand-in-hand," he continued. "When you throw a baseball, you kind of got to have a guide as to where you want it to go. When Randy goes bad, he just drops his (right) forearm (down) and you see the ball so much earlier. So he's throwing 92 mph, but from a hitting standpoint it looks like its 88. Whereas you have a guy who hides the ball really well, like Mike Mussina, and he's throwing 88. But you get swings like its 93. If he can straighten out his front side, he'll be much better."
"He's not showing the emotion and fire everybody is used to seeing," said Flaherty, who later watched Johnson take 10 pitches to put away weak-hitting Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez. "In the past, he was always very animated, which is what he was last year when he got going. It's like the chicken and the egg — which comes first? You can act like you're intimidating, but you have to have intimidating stuff in order to act that way."
Can all this be as simple as getting Johnson to straighten out his front side and not drop his (right) forearm (down) when he delivers?
Man, I hope that Flash is sharing this information with the Big Unit too.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at May 25, 2006 11:59 AM
At this point, the Yankee organization should be doing everything short of calling on Miss Cleo to help Johnson straighten this thing out. Flaherty seems to know pitching - and, more importantly - Johnson's pitching. Is there any precendent for employing someone as a personal pitching coach? Why not? Johnson's and Flaherty's good rapport has already been established. I'm just afraid the Yanks will let this thing play out much longer than necessary.
Without checking any stats at all and only basing this on what I've seen over the last week, was Flaherty that much worse than Kelly Stinnett? Seeing Stinnett completely suck it vs. the Mets and Red Sox (both offensively and with those unbelievably Piazza-esque throws) makes me wonder if Flash, just for his ability to work with RJ, isn't worth a second go-around?
As bad as Stinnett is, Flash was ten times worse with the bat.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at May 25, 2006 01:44 PM
Yup, going by the numbers Stinnett was an offensive upgrade over Flaherty. Ouch.
On BBTN last night, Harold Reynolds was pointing out that Unit wasn't picking up Posada's target early, like he used to do in AZ. Dunno how true that is; might it be that if he's not getting a read on where he wants to throw the ball then his mechanics fall apart?
I guess all I do is pose the question - what is more important, RJ pitching to Flash and getting max results (and living with Flash sucking at the plate) or RJ sucking every 5th day and only getting marginally better performance at the plate from the backup catcher?
I am an admitted saber-hater, so I'd rather have my ace going 100% than worrying about what the 24th man on my bench can do with the stick.