Boone Logan’s big chance

Joe Girardi and the Cubs
Coming back from rock bottom
Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Just after the All-Star break the Yankees placed reliever Damaso Marte on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his left shoulder. The move sounds more like a precautionary maneuver than anything; the Yanks remember how greatly Marte helped in the World Series and want him fully healthy for the stretch run. Still, he was the only lefty in the bullpen, and if Joe Girardi has made anything clear during his tenure it’s that he wants a lefty available. That meant only one thing, the recall of Boone Logan from AAA Scranton.

The season hasn’t gone so well for Logan. He had two previous stints with the big league club, both of which resulted in far too many walks and hits. In fact, those seem to be Logan’s calling cards. He has a career BB/9 rate of 4.25 and a career BABIP of .350. A pitcher who puts so many men on base likely won’t find long-term MLB success. Maybe he’ll get lucky for a while and find favorable situations in which he can help the team. But over time he’ll probably remain ineffective. Yet I remain optimistic about Logan.

Maybe it’s because of his demeanor. He’s a big dude, 6’5″, but has this goofy streak that makes him quite the affable character. Plenty of players take themselves too seriously, but that’s clearly not the case with Logan. And with good reason. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 25 years old. It might seem like he’s been around forever, but that’s because he broke into the league as a 21-year-old in 2006 and pitched a full season, 50.2 innings, as a 22-year-old in 2007. Now that he’s entering his prime I think the Yankees might get some use out of Logan.

One thing we often hear discussed on broadcasts is how hard Logan throws. According to the Baseball Info Solutions velocity data presented on FanGraphs, Logan’s fastball averages 93.3 mph this year, which is about on par with his short 2009 stint with the Braves. It is also a tick higher than his velocity in 2007, which is so far his best full season in the majors. I’m not sure what one has to do with the other, but the uptick in velocity also moves in step with his increased fastball usage. He’s throwing it 72.1 percent of the time this year while using his slider just 18.9 percent. In 2007 he used the slider 37.9 percent and in 2008 he used it 41.5 percent.

The FanGraphs pitch type values aren’t perfect, since they don’t consider the pitch sequence. In other words, maybe a pitcher is retiring plenty of batters with the curveball, but that ignores how he set them up with the fastball. Yet it still tells us whether hitters did or did not hit the pitch well. For his career Logan’s fastball rates as -1.65 runs per 100 pitches, while his slider rates as a positive 0.38. This year Logan’s fastball is getting hit, -2.5 runs overall, while his slider, +1.9 runs, and his changeup, +1.0 runs even though he throws it just 9 percent of the time, have worked well. Perhaps, then, sequencing has become an issue. Might Logan find more success by going to the slider and changeup more and using his fastball in a different manner?

Maybe it comes down to figuring out exactly what he did yesterday. He came in to start the seventh inning of a one-run game and pitched as well as anyone could have expected. The first lefty he faced, Bobby Abreu, flied out to center on a 3-2 fastball that he set up with two two-strike sliders. Logan then worked the count 2-1 on Torii Hunter before leaving a changeup right over the middle of the plate. But then, with the tying run on base, he slung two fastballs, 94 and 95 mph, over the outside corner to get ahead of Hideki Matsui 0-2. In this count he has gone to his slider 61 percent of the time this year, but yesterday he went even further outside with a 95 mph fastball, getting Matsui to swing and miss.

Will that happen every time? Absolutely not. Can the Yanks trust Logan as a primary setup man? Not now, and probably not at any time this year. But considering the state of the bullpen, I don’t see how he’s any worse an option than Chan Ho Park, Dustin Mosely, or Chad Gaudin. The Yanks need help, and if they’re going to acquire an arm or recall one from AAA I’d far rather see those three go before Logan at this point. He’s no great shakes, but he’s young and showing signs of improvement. Unless the Yanks are running out an elite relief corps, I think Logan should have a place in the pen.

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Joe Girardi and the Cubs
Coming back from rock bottom
  • Ross in Jersey

    That’s too bad, I enjoyed seeing the “No more Logan” jpeg in the game recap threads. Can we replace it with some picture of the Chad Ho Moseley hydra?

    Are there any more lefty relievers in AAA? Sanchez is a righty no?

    • Rose

      The Chad Ho Moseley Hydra is a part of the Paradoxasaur family. It only exists if you believe it does not exist. But if you believe it exists, then it does not exist.

    • The Infamous Irondequoit

      http://www.sumopaint.com/files.....fegsnn.jpg

      Here’s that Hydra image you asked for.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        1) Awesome.
        2) That picture makes me want Moseley to be immediately DFA’d. Immediately

  • Rob

    What about Nate Robertson as a lefty specialist? Against lefties:

    2010: .269/.363/.333 = .696
    Career: .268/.320/.375 = .694

    The walks this year aren’t great, but he might be better seeing hitters only once, even righties.

    • Rob

      In his first inning of work against all batters:

      2010: .203/.274/.297 = .571
      Career: .230/.299/.351 = .650

  • Basil F.

    Might Logan find more success by going to the slider and changeup more and using his fastball in a different manner?

    This guy’s young and leftys mature late (command wise)… I always thought he could be a decent starter with those 3 pitches, his change-up isn’t half bad. I think he may have some potential there. just thinking out loud.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Chan Ho Park, Dustin Mosely, or Chad Gaudin. The Yanks need help, and if they’re going to acquire an arm or recall one from AAA I’d far rather see those three go before Logan at this point.

    Agree. Besides being lefty, Logan has more upside at this point than any of those guys. If he can put it together he could become a valuable piece down the road. Those other guys are eminently replaceable. Lefties who throw as hard as Logan does are hard to come by. He has absolutely dominated at Scranton this year which is a sign of improvement (SSS though) as he has spent a good amount of time in AAA, yet never been this good. Interesting to note that Logan essentially went from low A to AAA, which probably hindered his development.

  • DMF

    What is up with Royce Ring? He is having a fine year with Scranton, why don’t we hear more about him? He has been great against lefties and has been very good against righties.

    • Ed

      Ring and Logan are probably about the same. Logan is 4 years younger and already on the 40 man roster, so he gets priority.

  • B-Rando

    The big thing with Logan (as with any reliever) is going to be consistency. I’ve seen him throwing well, and when he does that, he’s a major league pitcher. However, when the commands not there he’s flat out terrible. Girardi obviously has some kind of faith in him, otherwise he wouldn’t be here. Thus far he hasn’t gotten too far on my bad side, so we will see where it leads…

  • A.D.

    Amazing that the Pen’s shittyness has allowed Logan to to become a better option without really improving since the beginning of the year.

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    does logan still have years of team control left?

    • Ed

      He’ll still have 3 more arbitration seasons after this year.

      I think this is his final option year though.

  • Rose

    The worst part about it is there really aren’t many options on the trade market…and the two guys we’ve heard about that are good – Soria and Nunez – will cost way too much for a bullpen arm.

    We could be stuck with these pieces of shit for quite a while. Better hope the offense keeps slugging away for the rest of the year lol.

    • A.D.

      Soria would be real nice given his contract & Mo insurance but as you note, I’m guessing the Royals will ask the moon.

      • Rose

        A Soria/DeJesus package would be nice…but DeJesus is having a career year and Soria has been good since he’s been up here practically…so a similar package to the Nady/Marte trade probably wouldn’t even get them to bat an eyelash.

        • A.D.

          Though outside of the potential of Tabata they didn’t give up a ton, that said Soria > Marte

      • Ross in Jersey

        Yeah, despite people calling the Royals a farm team for their trades in the 50s and 60s, they have been really stubborn in recent years. They haven’t really haven’t traded away anyone. Soria is an elite closer and is under contract until 2014 at a reasonable salary. You’d have to seriously overpay to pry him away. Just not worth it.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          despite people calling the Royals a farm team for their trades in the 50s and 60s

          That was the Kansas City Athletics (now the Oakland A’s). The Kansas City Royals were part of the 1969 expansion that resulted in the creation of an East and West division within each league.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      We could be stuck with these pieces of shit for quite a while

      Classy.

      • Thomas

        I’ve actually tried something similar to that as a pick up line.

        I went up to a girl, looked around, and said, “I don’t see any better options right now, so I guess you’re stuck with this shitty guy (pointing to myself) for quite a while.”

        Didn’t work.

        • Pete

          really?

          • Thomas

            No, I’ve never tried it.

        • Rose

          Trying doing it with your pants down. The girl will be intrigued in no time.

          • Mister Delaware

            Success through changing the opponent’s eye level. Universal truth.

          • Thomas

            I’d need to be wearing pant to pull then down.

  • Pete

    Completely agree. I think Girardi is actually the perfect manager for a guy like Logan, who has all the pieces (FB, quality slider, quality change) to become at least a solid reliever, because he’s the kind of manager who will get him a lot of regular work without overworking him. I really think think Cash made a smart call in getting him in the deal.

  • Reggie C.

    He’s got a plus arm, good measurables, and he’s lefty. Logan will not lack opportunity to stick in a ML pen for the foreseeable future.

  • RL

    … his increased fastball usage. He’s throwing it 72.1 percent of the time this year while using his slider just 18.9 percent. In 2007 he used the slider 37.9 percent and in 2008 he used it 41.5 percent.

    Pitch selection seems to come up frequently. With the catcher calling pitches (and they are waived off pretty infrequently), and a game approach devised ahead of time, shouldn’t percieved poor pitch selection be considered a fault of the catcher/pitching coach more than on the pitcher?

    • JohnnyC

      Yes and no. Pitchers will deviate from their game plan when they don’t feel confident throwing a particular pitch. Look at Hughes and AJ with the changeup. Remember, the pitches gets the L hung on them not the catcher or pitching coach. You can throw a pitch hundreds of times in bullpen sessions all you want but with runners on base and an unfavorable count, you’re going to throw what you think is your best chance at a strike.

  • Klemy

    I really don’t like Logan at all, but I admit he’s got tools to be a serviceable bullpen lefty. Hopefully they make him as useful as possible, because this BP is hard to feel comfortable with this year.

  • http://lh4.ggpht.com/_NPaCuwJ_TTk/TEXzMBKSX_I/AAAAAAAAAPk/HMuWr2Ipz14/arod.jpg ROBTEN

    To paraprhase Dennis Green, I think Logan is who we thought he was. He seems to have become a generally “average” pitcher who, over the course of a season, won’t necessarily hurt or help your team (Fangraphs has him at 0 WAR the past two seasons, B-Ref is a bit more generous with a .2 this year, but a -.1 for the past two seasons combined).

    In terms of his peripherals, his K rate is down, but close enough to career average to be a yearly fluctuation, but his walks are way up this season (5.23 compared to a career 4.25). Otherwise, everything else seems roughly around his career norms.

    The few stats that stand out to me right now are the sharper increases in LD% and the decrease in IFFB%, which would seem to me to indicate that when batters do hit Logan, they’re hitting him harder and (perhaps) generating more solid contact. I think this would also explain the increase in his tERA to 5.30 (over a career 4.92), since it accounts for the kinds of hits that batters are getting. [Of course, if I am wrong about this, please correct me.] In relation to this, you have to wonder whether the dramatic increase in his strand rate (80% this year compared to a career average 68%) will be sustainable.

    In short, I actually think that he’s probably pitching more or less where you’d expect him to pitch. However, with a much higher walk rate, increase in LDs, and a dramatic difference in his strand rate, there may actually be more room for a decline than an improvement going forward.

  • Mike Nitabach

    But considering the state of the bullpen, I don’t see how he’s any worse an option than Chan Ho Park, Dustin Mosely, or Chad Gaudin. The Yanks need help, and if they’re going to acquire an arm or recall one from AAA I’d far rather see those three go before Logan at this point.

    Definitely.