POTD Rafael DePaula (Mechanics)

=== Executive Summary ===

DePaula has a gorgeous, easy, clean motion ... that serves mostly to get out of the way of his electric arm.

Many power pitchers, such as Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, develop a lot of their velocity out of their thighs, backside and abdomens.  Others, such as Felix Hernandez, Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson, have loose motions that mostly serve to provide their arms with simple, reliable fulcrums.

DePaula is mostly in the latter category. 


=== Windup ===

Begins windup with a long rock-step to 1B, but does so without exaggerating the sideways deflection of his head.

Steps lightly into a huge, easy, chest-high knee kick in Cuban style that provides a floating CG and that puts his head nicely onto the centerline in a repeatable fashion.  (The higher a pitcher gets at the top, the more directly his head is over his plant foot.)

Is balanced, with excellent body control, in a consistent strike position at the top. 

Grade A on the windup, mostly for centerline position and light-on-the-feet balance, with the only quibble being that he won't want to move his head this much later in his career.


=== Cocking Action ===

To accelerate the baseball, DePaula keeps his hands together pleasantly late, and sinks his weight only slightly, tilting his shoulders back towards centerfield slightly.

The circular movement of his hands is common in Nippon baseball, notably with Kazuhiro Sasaki, for example.  This provides DePaula a very stress-free backstroke and keeps his shoulders and CG attached to the baseball.

As noted, DePaula sinks his weight less than most pitchers.  This has the disadvantage of drawing less power from the large part of his body, and the advantage of involving fewer moving parts in the motion.

Grade A-.  We love the harmony and beauty of the motion, but in terms of power, the mechanics themselves are a bit light.  This is a Greg Maddux, control-pitcher type of weight usage on the backstroke.


=== Torque ===

The high knee kick is unpleasantly aiki-deceptive, because DePaula's arm is actually quite DISconnected from his lower body. 

He sinks the weight almost imperceptibly, takes a surprisingly short stride, lands feather-light on the front foot, and the hips/stomach aren't much related to what his shoulders are about do.

This is, in theory, an SSI complaint -- sound and fury signifying nothing.  :- )  If you watch the videos consistently, you'll see that there's (1) a big boastful knee kick, and then (2) the lower body essentially goes static while (3) a golf-style "pause at the top" occurs for about 1/10th of a second and then, almost in "lying" fashion, (4) the upper body roars into motion like a lion and the real power begins.

Grade C.  I don't care for the disconnect from a beauty-and-harmony standpoint, but as noted above, there is certainly a "cleanness" to it.  When a pitcher is throwing* with just his arm, he's positioning himself to throw with outstanding command.

Think about pub-darts throwing.  When a drop-and-drive pitcher gets tired, the path of his CG changes -- introducing unpredictability into the sports movement (and theoretically introducing command problems). 

A pitcher with less CG drop "simplifies" and avoids a lot of this fatigue/command sydrome.  Think Aaron Sele and Greg Maddux throwing easy strikes in the 7th inning.

DePaula's motion sacrifices power for precision.  Objectively this is neutral, not good or bad, but aesthetically I don't care for the way the knee kick looks in this motion.  That's not important.


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Taro's picture



The Mariners probably cut this years draft budget so that they could sign guys like this.

I hope we nab him.



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benihanaI'm very impressed that M's ownership has stuck with GMZ and the plan. This organization was destroyed by Bill Bavasi who had more freedom and resources. Ownership was rightly hesitant. There needs to be checks and balances so we don't go making Bedard, Broussard and Perez type moves. Wanting desperately to win at all costs is what cost us the past decade. Now is NOT the time to bring it back.3 min 39 sec ago
benihanaYou can dislike the M's ownership all you want. But they were willing to make KGjr the highest paid player ever, same with AROD, they signed Ichiro to a contract that would 'take down the sport', they made Felix the highest paid pitcher ever. They helped fund and operate a tremendous stadium that they continue to invest and make improvements on. They are willing to spend, they've carried very high payrolls, they've been very, very active in FA the past several seasons.11 min 3 sec ago
benihanaA's went from 1931 to 1971 without a good team. They were bad from 1993-2000. They wasted their opportunity with their big three. They were thoroughly mediocre again in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011. They wasted their most recent opportunity. They play in a literally crappy stadium. Watch they will be bad again now for 4-5 years and waste their next window too. They play in the 6th largest media market in the US. Over the last 15 seasons they have the 4th lowest payroll.16 min 45 sec ago
bsrDaddyO - great posts on the M's culture, though I think "soul-sickness" is a little strong :) I think they remain as always a somewhat rudderless organization with no real owner willing/able to take big risks, and as a result they make a lot of "safe" decisions. Even the big outlays are pretty safe bets - Felix/Cano/Seager, signing Cruz after he'd proven himself not before, etc. I am sure that Lincoln/Mather et al are self-aware enough to realize this and they probably decided that their best strategy given the situation, is to win via the draft and development (which Z is sustainably good at). And it nicely dovetails into their "proud" self-image of doing things the "Mariners way". I think that's sensible, however I do want to see them spend the "safe" money they have on hand - which I don't think they have exhausted this offseason yet but someone needs to run the numbers.25 min 18 sec ago
bsrDoes anyone know roughly where 2015 payroll stands with the current roster? Including full 40 man, amortized signing bonuses etc etc.42 min 40 sec ago
moethedogGreat shout, Gordon.58 min 13 sec ago
TaroAges of core highest paid players in 2015: Felix (29), Cano (32), Seager (27), Cruz (35). We need to capitalize now while these guys are in their primes. I say we have a good 2-3 year window and then we will need to either retool or rebuild depending on how the rest of the team develops.1 hour 6 min ago
TaroIn 2017 we have $76M tied to four players, and then $84M in 2018. All will be well into their 30s either than Seager. That pretty much only leaves money to lock up your own guys and fill in the holes. Meaning we need cheap regulars all around and we MUST have success from our farm either through direct production or by trading for cost-controlled players to maintain success. Its possible, but not likely. Our strongest contending window is RIGHT NOW. If you don't buy in now, when?1 hour 21 min ago
TaroMs have a history of maintaining a mid-range payroll, and with 60-70% of the payroll locked up in 3 players for the next several years we've basically committed to our core team and will have money to maintain the current core plus whatever the farm produces. We're locked in. Love the Seager deal, but he would have been a lot sweeter at 30-40% of the price, which is what he would have costed two years ago. If its Tampa, they would have never sat on him this long. Got to identify the core early and lock it up.1 hour 27 min ago
TaroDaddyO, exactly what I feared after the Cruz signing. Were they going to back it up? History tells us they weren't so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Same feeling I had last year after the Cano deal. They failed to make the follow-up moves. The team feels incomplete.1 hour 32 min ago
DaddyOTo me this is not an argument about a particular signing, a particular (high) payroll budget, anything like that. It is an organizational soul-sickness that has manifested itself repeatedly in the history of this franchise. It is as if they have the drive to go so far...and then no more, a compulsive hesitancy to go from the edge of greatness to greatness. This is all very subjective, I know. But one can't help but notice this behavior repeated over the life of this franchise.2 hours 5 min ago
DaddyObeni, at least A's fans haven't gone decades between good teams. And I'm not so sure about the "so two years ago" assertion. I could be wrong, but I'm not so sure that the current push to restore competitiveness doesn't in the end suffer from the same sickness that sunk the Piniella years. If so, it will eventually sink the Zduriencik years.2 hours 10 min ago
DaddyOThe M's have their priorities bass ackwards. Think the Seahawks are making money hand over fist? You BET! Think things are tidy in Seahawks land? No way. They set a goal, the brought in the guys to get it done, then handed them the reins to get it done. Nothing, NOTHING will stand in the way of them pursuing football championships.2 hours 14 min ago
DaddyOOne can't help but get the feeling the M's are a highly conflicted organization, with multiple unresolved aspirations fighting to express themselves in the context of a committee that subsumes and boxes in all expression. We want to win now, but we want to contend always, but we want to stay within strict financial guidelines. We want to build through the farm (mostly to keep payroll reasonable, but also because we believe in it), but sometimes we need to swallow hard and sign expensive free agents (because building through the farm doesn't always work well), but we don't wan't to get stuck with fat, unproductive contracts). Etc., etc. It strikes me that part of this is due to an ethos of avoidance rather than an ethos of pursuit, at least when it comes to the baseball side of things.2 hours 15 min ago
benihanaHow'd y'all like to be an A's fan? The M's have re-upped their home grown talent, brought in marquee free agents like Cano and Cruz, and been in on nearly every bat available this winter. Sure, they stuck to their principals and weren't willing to dramatically overpay for Vmart, Russel Martin, Melky, Kemp and Upton - but I think the whining about ownership competing is so two years ago.2 hours 21 min ago
Gordon GrossAnd I agree with CPB - we've got the cash to extend people or add FAs that the Rays do not have. If we're winning and the gate gets huge again, there will be even more cash. Tampa can't match that - Florida is a terrible baseball market. We can extend our own later, and don't have to sell off every guy in his final arb year in order to stay afloat. We just need a steady influx of minors talent to make the contracts palatable for the bigwigs. Jack and Mac are perfect for that. Just need to add the right FAs around the kids.2 hours 24 min ago
Gordon GrossI would like Gattis as well. Keep in mind, though, that this is our internal hitter breakdown for handedness: RIGHT: Peterson (AAA), Kivlehan (AAA), Blash (AAA), Hicks (AAA), Guerrero (AA), Marlette (AA), Henry (AA), Wilson (A+), O'Neill (A+), Jackson (A with a bullet), Morgan (short-season), Brayan Hernandez (short-season). LEFT: Choi (roids), Morban (injuries), Marte (Switch, but close enough), Pizzano (beloved by this blog, unknown elsewhere), Cousino (Low-A center fielder with speed, not power). We're talking about trading Ackley for Gattis, and ditching Miller. There goes two lefties, and leaves basically Jones outside of the Seager/Cano lefty pairing. ALL our good minors hitters are righties save Marte. If you want to build internally, then you kinda need a lefty long-term piece externally.2 hours 28 min ago
Cool Papa Bell"If the Ms want to emulate that they needed to extend Seager earlier and they need to extend guys like Zunino, Miller, and Paxton RIGHT now before their prices escalate." No, they don't because the M's have far more money than the Rays. The M's are pefectly capable of competing every year without mimicing the Rays.2 hours 30 min ago
moethedogBat: Ackley for Gattis would be wonderful....but we would have to add nice prospects to get that done.2 hours 51 min ago
TaroThe Rays are also typically geat great returns for their players prior to losing them to FAs. They're sort of the model of building a consistent contender, but it gets harder without top picks and consistently losing players like cheap Prices and Zobrists.3 hours 38 min ago