• Sleeping on Slama

    After seeing the two starters who were supposed to serve as veteran leaders in the rotation exit after recording only 12 outs on successive nights, it's not hard to understand why the Twins have been carrying 13 pitchers on the roster for much of the year.

    What is hard to understand is why, with all these different relief slots, and with so many different guys being shuffled in and out, the Twins still haven't been able to find room for Anthony Slama on the major-league roster.

    Slama has clearly never been held in particularly high esteem by the organization, despite his dazzling numbers in the minors. He owns a lifetime 2.00 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, and he has averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings at every single level, yet he's been mired in Triple-A for four years and at age 28 he has logged only seven MLB innings.

    The knocks against Slama are that his control isn't very good and he's weak against left-handed hitting. Those things both may be true, but neither precludes him from being a useful big-league reliever. His numbers in Triple-A are absurdly dominant. In 133 1/3 total innings for Rochester, he has registered a 2.36 ERA and 161-to-66 strikeout-to-walk ratio, yielding only 87 hits. This year, he has struck out 43 percent of the batters he's faced while posting a 0.59 ERA as the Red Wings' closer.

    Although he's been able to consistently overcome his flaws and decimate hitters at every level of the minors, the Twins simply do not seem to view him as a guy who can make an impact at the next level. Apparently, they're not alone. At the end of last season, Slama was removed from the 40-man roster and exposed to waivers. Nobody claimed him.

    I presumed at the time that both the decision to outright him and the lack of interest from even reliever-needy bottom feeders stemmed largely from elbow problems that ended his 2011 campaign in August. Yet this year, the side-arming righty has shown no ill effects from the injury – he's been nearly unhittable.

    So at this point Slama is healthy, averaging almost two strikeouts per inning in Triple-A, and 28 years old. Oh, and there's an open spot on the 40-man roster. In this lost season, it's baffling that the Twins aren't interested in taking an extended look at what the guy can do against big-league hitters. If control is his biggest problem, why not make him a project for Rick Anderson? What is there to lose?

    Slama's stuff might not be especially great, but I have an exceedingly difficult time believing that a pitcher can overpower hitters to that degree at the highest level of the minor leagues and stand no chance of providing value in the majors. Give him a chance.
    This article was originally published in blog: Sleeping on Slama started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Big Daddy H's Avatar
      Big Daddy H -
      This isn't just a discussion on a two bit minor league player. It is a discussion on a team philosophy. All the mistakes the players are making are being made by individual players that are trying their best. They have all played a long time and they all should know the basics of the game. For some reason players are afraid to make the plays, they're backing off a bit. Maybe there is too much pressure to perform or get the early hook.
      Now back to Slama. If the Twins are so unwilling to give him a shot, other players see that. They then become afraid their own performance may being a similar response from the Twins organization. This filters though out the player pool and all of a sudden you have a whole organization of players playing scared. This creates the problems we are seeing now at the major league level. Players who know better are playing in fear instead of for the joy of the game. It creates mistakes that normally would not be made from a confident player.
      Slama does deserve a chance. Maybe we should go with 4 starting pitchers going 6 inning and the bullpen finishing up the final three. That would make a place for Slama, take a little pressure off the starters since we don't have many good ones and give the pen some good experience for years to come.
    1. Big Daddy H's Avatar
      Big Daddy H -
      Three cheers for Anthony Slama!
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Maybe they should really think outside the box, and have zero starting pitchers. Everyone goes 2-3 innings max, and they mix and match them more, and everyone throws harder and more frequently. I know, it sounds crazy, but crazy, new thinking is what they need right now.
    1. Yoshii's Avatar
      Yoshii -
      I agree with the article, what do we have to lose? And how much of a chance has he really gotten? None.

      14 pitchers here we come.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      There is one good reason why he isn't up...his lack of control. Don't just look at the walks, look at the counts he is always in. If he walks 4-5 batters per nine innings, that goes up in the big leagues. That means he is constantly in hitters counts, and we all know what happens to a pitcher without blow away stuff that is constantly pitching from behind. Yes, Slama has excellent minor league numbers. But the one area where he is weak is what is keeping him in Rochester.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      That means he is constantly in hitters counts, and we all know what happens to a pitcher without blow away stuff that is constantly pitching from behind.
      Actually, we won't know until we find out. Obviously his penchant for falling behind in the count has born no ill effects in Triple-A.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      There is one good reason why he isn't up...his lack of control. Don't just look at the walks, look at the counts he is always in. If he walks 4-5 batters per nine innings, that goes up in the big leagues. That means he is constantly in hitters counts, and we all know what happens to a pitcher without blow away stuff that is constantly pitching from behind. Yes, Slama has excellent minor league numbers. But the one area where he is weak is what is keeping him in Rochester.
      I've heard that kind of excuse from Twins' FO types before. Here is the reality:

      Slama's career BB/9 is 3.9 BB/9. With his tendency to strike batters out, this translates to a career 3.14 K/BB.

      If that is not good enough for the Twins, that is ok, but when they go out this off-season and sign pitchers with worse control and numbers and keep them in the majors, then there is at least an inconsistent approach that makes someone think that there is something else going on here....

      For example:
      Marquis: Career: 3.5 BB/9 and 1.50 K/BB
      Gray: Career: 3.4 BB/9 and 1.49 K/BB

      How are these people better than Slama?
    1. Andrew Bryz-Gornia's Avatar
      Andrew Bryz-Gornia -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      There is one good reason why he isn't up...his lack of control. Don't just look at the walks, look at the counts he is always in. If he walks 4-5 batters per nine innings, that goes up in the big leagues. That means he is constantly in hitters counts, and we all know what happens to a pitcher without blow away stuff that is constantly pitching from behind. Yes, Slama has excellent minor league numbers. But the one area where he is weak is what is keeping him in Rochester.
      Then why not bring him up to the majors in a season that is already a lost cause and let the organization find out if he really has the stuff to get hitters out? The Twins have treated him like they already know how he will pitch in the majors.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      I will essentially repeat my other post here. The problem with the Twins organization right now is that they refuse to recognize they are in complete rebuild mode. They wanted to pretend that they could contend, so they signed guys like Jamey Carroll, Jason Marquis, Jeff Gray, and Matt Maloney. The only difference between Anthony Slama and these guys is that they had some major league experience. The top management just seems to be reluctant to give inexperienced and/or unproven players a chance, and even more troubling, they seem to be unwilling to work with players that need some development or refinement. One of my points I have made is that if a player is not ready to contribute to a "divisional championship" team, the coaching staff at the major league level does not seem to have any interest in them.

      The Twins should have committed themselves to rebuilding from day 1. Joe Benson, Chris Parmalee, Ben Revere, and Brian Dozier should have been in the starting lineup from day 1.

      It really can't get any worse, and even if you lose, giving a MLB at bat to these guys can pay off in the long run.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Actually, we won't know until we find out. Obviously his penchant for falling behind in the count has born no ill effects in Triple-A.
      Yes, we do know if you watched his brief experience in the past. And his numbers at Rochester are misleading as he often is behind there as well. Have been watching about half their games and a lot of them are like Friday when his numbers were great except the one hit he gave up cost them the game.
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      He's not hitting enough bats. And at 28, his bat-hitting skills are unlikely to improve any time soon. He'll probably end up missing bats for several years in one of those foolish organizations who believe in pitchers getting hitters out that way.
      Another prime example of how the organization needs to change their philosophy of what type of players we develop. Although, judging by the numbers we have developed Slama pretty good.
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