In The Throes...Cahill & Weeks

Get it? Throes? Throws? I got nuttin'.

From the "things I'm seeing and things I'd like to see" department...

Trevor Cahill

It's surprising to me that the bruised index finger on Cahill's right hand isn't getting more attention. Clearly he has been pitching poorly for a while now, following a terrific start to the season, but this nagging problem is almost mentioned only as an afterthought: "Oh, by the way he can't throw his spike curve because of the bruised finger."

This is no small deal. It was the emergence of the spike curve to replace the "slider which replaced the knuckle curve" that helped Cahill leap from the valley that was 2009 to the mountain top that was 2010. Losing the ability to throw any pitch is a big deal, and it's not clear whether Cahill's sinker and changeup might be affected but since they are thrown with the same fingers you'd think it's quite possible -- per the linked article, Cahill suggests he first had issues throwing his fastball a couple starts ago.

I'm not suggesting that all of Cahill's recent struggles relate to an injured finger, but a problem with a finger on the pitching hand that is bad enough sometimes that you can't throw one of your three pitches? That's no small matter. How much Cahill's obvious problems -- too many walks and too many pitches up -- are independent of his bruised finger, or caused partly by it, is unknown.

Personally, I don't think Cahill has succumbed to regression beyond the normal, inevitable "You can't expect a sub-3.00 ERA every year" kind. In fact if anything, the start of the season suggested Cahill had made some important strides forward, developing a better curve that enabled him to miss bats with more regularity.

What surprises me is that when you have a pitcher with an issue that prevents him from throwing his curve, who logged a lot of innings last year and isn't pitching well, and you have Josh Outman biding his time at AAA, why wouldn't you just go ahead and put Cahill on the 15 DL, let him skip 2-3 starts, and see if the problem calms down with a couple weeks of pure rest?

Speaking of Weeks...

Jemile Weeks

Before we get to his defense, Weeks has been fantastic at the plate, and I love his aggressiveness, but...the same aggressiveness that has basically worked for him over a short stretch is going to hurt him in the long run if he doesn't adapt. It's time for Weeks to start commanding the strike zone better, something he has shown the ability to do in the minor leagues. Weeks' line right now is .294/.322/.412 and a .028 difference between BA and OBP isn't going to cut it for long.

Another concern I have is that it seems like Weeks has become more pull-conscious lately and his best game is going to involve using the whole field. I'm glad that swinging like Jeff Francoeur is working for Weeks at the very moment, but in order to adjust to pitchers before they adjust to him, it's time to walk more and pull less.

At 2B, I really think Weeks needs his throwing mechanics overhauled. It looks to me like he has an awkward throwing motion that results in throws that are neither strong nor especially accurate and that smoother, or different, mechanics might quicken his release time and provide either more arm strength or more accuracy -- or both. For example, Mark Ellis has a weak arm but uses great footwork to produce a quick release and gets a little added strength from dropping 3/4.

Phil Garner has suggested that he thinks a lot of Weeks' shortcomings on defense will be solved purely through time and experience, and I think there's a lot to that. The one exception, as I see it, is Weeks' throwing mechanics, which just seem clumsy and counter-productive. What, if anything, would you like to see Weeks do differently with his throwing mechanics?

A's and Blue Jays at 6:05pm on AN Day!

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