SweetSpot: Rick Peterson

Is Rick Peterson a miracle worker?

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
5:22
PM ET
As R.J. Anderson notes, the Milwaukee Brewers have a new pitching coach:
    World-renowned pitching coach/guru Rick Peterson, after a hiatus, is back in baseball as the Brewers new pitching coach. He’s got some serious work to do, as the Brewers pitching staff ranked second worst amongst all 30 teams in FIP and actually finished with an identical ERA and FIP of 4.84. --snip--

    As for Peterson himself, he wasn’t entirely out of baseball last year, as he tried to fix Scott Kazmir mid-season and seemingly did a decent job at it. He’s one of the forefront supporters of advanced and rigorous physical testing of pitchers, and for that reason alone Milwaukee should welcome him with wide arms. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but go back and read Derek Zumsteg’s excellent series on pitching prospects and attrition for a reminder of just how good the Athletics were at preventing arm injuries during some of Peterson’s time there.

    Peterson also seems to know a little bit about how pitching works. As demonstrated in multiple interviews, he doesn’t pound the “first-pitch strike” philosophy; instead he focuses on winning the first three pitches. He knows the value of the swinging strike and groundball, and he doesn’t seem to carry a notebook of clichés and labels for each of his pitchers.

    Milwaukee made a sound hire; now it’s time to get the man some talent to work with.

It's a fair point. Peterson probably deserves some measure of credit for the successes of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito, but all of those guys were impressive in the minors before Peterson really got ahold of them. At the moment, the Brewers don't have any prospects like them.

Their preseason No. 1 pitching prospect, Jeremy Jeffress, struggled after a spring promotion to Double-A ... and then was suspended for 100 games for a second violation of baseball's "drug of abuse" policy. Nice.

Their No. 2 pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi, is only 19 and has to this point pitched the grand total of 68 innings, all in Rookie ball.

Their No. 1 draft pick this summer, Eric Arnett, was Odorizzi's teammate and walked 21 batters in 35 innings.

I'm sure I'm missing someone. The point is that the next Big 3 isn't right around the corner for the Brewers. Peterson is going to have to work with marginal veterans and reclamation projects, and while he's had some success with pitchers like that, too, it's a difficult way to build a championship pitching staff. Good luck to him. He seems like his heart is in the right place.

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