Kirk Gibson gives a jerky kind of “no-comment” on the Brandon McCarthy cutter controversy

31 Comments

Well, maybe “controversy” is too strong a word, but it’s at least interesting.

You may have seen how, following his trade to the Yankees, Brandon McCarthy said that the Diamondbacks discouraged him from using the cutter, but the Yankees encouraged him to bring it back. He’s had a couple of successful outings since. Good for McCarthy and his cutter.

But it is weird, many people noted, that a team would discourage a pitcher from using one of the tools in his tool box. I presume it had something to do with their perception of it being a pitch that could lead to injuries — and I gather that a couple of other teams such as the Orioles discourage use of the cutter too, at least for younger pitchers — but you never know. In any event, the Diamondbacks have had a curious fixation on process over results over the years (thus all the “gritty” stuff) so I sort of question whether they should get the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps they could explain their thinking if they don’t want the public to continue to think the cutter thing is odd.

Well, Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona decided to try to get them on the record about it. Kirk Gibson wouldn’t bite, but rather than give a diplomatic statement about how he wasn’t going to discuss such internal matters or former Diamondbacks players or something, he offered this:

“Yeah, well, I wish him well,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said when McCarthy’s comments were relayed Monday. “People handle things different ways. The way I’ll handle it, let’s just say it was all my fault, OK?”

You can read that as a mea culpa or something if you really strain to do so, but it sounds more like Gibson trying his hardest to criticize McCarthy without getting drawn into the topic of the dispute. “The way I’ll handle it” being a rebuke to McCarthy for mentioning the matter.

Which, sure, if it was clubhouse gossip or personal matters, that stuff should probably best be left non-public. But this is about a pitcher and his on-the-field game and, at least it appears, an organization that was asking him not to do what he felt he needed to do to win. It should totally be expected that reporters are going to ask a pitcher what he’s doing differently if he’s having success and it’s totally reasonable for a pitcher to answer that truthfully.

It’s also totally fair game to ask that pitcher’s former manager about it too. That Gibson doesn’t think so doesn’t do much to change the growing conventional wisdom about the dysfunction among the Diamondbacks’ brain trust.

Rays acquire Wilmer Font from Athletics

Getty Images
1 Comment

In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.

This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.

Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.