|Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services|
December 15, 2007 R.J. Anderson
December 15, 2007
By R.J. Anderson
Jake and Bish usually play general manager around these parts - minus my long rant on Antonio Perez and Andy Cannizaro, speaking of which - CANNIZARO! - but I've had this nugget in my mind for a while and I think it's time to actually put it forth, hopefully inspiring some conversation.
Before I get to my idea I think I have to give a summary on some back story information that would be vital to newcomers of Dr. Mike Marshall, otherwise known as the winner of the National League Cy Young award in 1974.  During his 14 year career as a reliever Marshall lead the league in saves three times and games appeared four times - including pitching in 106 games during his award winning season.
Marshall now runs a camp where he teaches the art of pitching through an odd delivery that depends on pendulum swings - which in turn takes away wear and tear from the pitcher's arm.  In fact in his time running the camp he's never had an arm injury stem from his teachings and pitchers have actually increased their velocity with his strength workouts - seemingly unlimited in their progress.
You can read more about his camp and art here, I'm prepared to advance on to my actual suggestion - keeping the velocity gain in mind and Marshall's creed on pitching: walks are okay, hits aren't.  Ideally sending a pitcher to the camp - something that pro teams seem quite reluctant in doing - would involve a youngster with arm issues - Chuck Tiffany perhaps, but what I'd rather do is send J.P. Howell to his camp.
In stature Howell 6'0', 175 pound frame is similar to Marshall's 5'10", 180 pound body, even mores so than merely size, Howell is exactly what Marshall could work with.  A finesse strikeout artist Howell succeeds through his slider but needs to amp up his fastball velocity a bit - from 86-87 to 88-89 in order to be successful in the majors - transforming into a tireless reliever who strikes a ton out can become quite valuable, being a lefty doesn't hurt either.
It's also not like Howell would be the first Marshall student that the Rays have ran out in relief work, remember Jeff Sparks?  For 20 innings in 2000 he provided solid relief work - despite walking 18 he struck out 24 and only gave up 13 hits - a ton of baserunners to be sure, but at least he didn't allow many of them to score.
Howell only has one option year remaining and economically speaking experimenting with Marshall can lead to a cost efficient way of keeping pitchers healthy and giving marginally talented hurlers a shot of performance enhancing wisdom and technique.  It's risky, but since when has that ever stopped the Rays?  Plus the marginal benefit that could potentially come from creating a monopoly of sorts on the Marshellian delivery - say offering to fund the academy in exchange for organizational loyalty and exclusivity - would provide the Rays with a resource that few could duplicate.