PG: Did you find Clay Buchholz really wasn't that good because his strikeout numbers were down. Wasn't that really about efficiency?
JF: Oh, there's no doubt. In (Clay's) situation, when he came up with such fanfare — the no-hitter obviously brought a lot of attention on him — I think there was a lot of swing and miss in his game. That was the style of pitch it was at the time. But to get into the league, you gotta get honest with your fast ball, and it wasn't until he came up with his two-seam fast ball that he gained a tremendous amount of confidence with, felt like he has some movement of his own, and he didn't have to be perfect with his location. That allowed him to do just what Curt and Bronson and Tewks are saying. Getting outs in two or three pitches, he worked deep into the game, and I think he got to the point where he wasn't afraid to throw the ball right over the plate.
PG: Now, I'll be curious, Theo and Mike Hazen, Mike Reinold, just talk a little bit about your program for developing young pitching. I mean, for instance, this last year, you had a couple high-profile college pitchers that were signed and didn't pitch during the regular season . . . I'm just interested in the organizational philosophy.
THEO EPSTEIN: Well, I'll let Haze walk through all the details, but as everyone is touched on, it's a real dilemma for us, because, as Curt said, our young pitchers are tremendous assets for the organization. Even the talented young pitching prospect, they could be a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues and you control that pitcher for six years before he gets free-agency, you know, that asset, not to dehumanize it, because it is all about the human being, ultimately, but as an asset, that pitcher could be worth, you know, 50 million dollars to us. So, if we had the choice between letting him go out and pitch the sixth inning at 95 pitches already in AA, and get that development that comes from pitching through a jam and finishing a game but might increase the risk of injury by one or two percent — or pulling him from the game and realizing that he's not going to experience the development we'd like him to, we'll probably air on the side of pulling him. That said, it's an art more than a science, and we try to empower our minor league managers and pitching coaches to have some discretion, to not just factor in the pitch count, but factor in high- and low-leverage situations. Are the pitcher's mechanics holding up, how does the pitcher look physically? And is there valuable development to be had by staying on for five or ten more pitches and getting that last out in the sixth or seventh inning, so you know what it feels like and don't have to do it for the first time in the big leagues? The ironic thing about all of this is, you know, forty years ago, there really weren't pitch counts and there really weren't innings limits, and so all this evolution that's occurred over the last forty years of, you know, the new standard being 100 pitches in a big-league game, the new standard being 200 innings, where used to be 275, 300 innings and it used to be 150, 175 pitches — the rate of injury, for pitchers, is exactly the same as it was forty or fifty years ago. So suffice it to say that there's still a lot more research and development that we could do to try to perfect it. So, it really is more of an art than a science, but there's science behind it, and that's one of Mike's main jobs at the organization. He knows the bio-mechanics of the shoulder and elbow inside and out. There are things we can do that are scientifically proven to help protect the pitchers. And so, given that there's so much ambiguity and there's so much gray area, if we can find something that's a fact, that if there's something we can do development-wise that actually keeps the pitcher healthier, even if it's only ten percent healthier, we'll do it every time and worry about the development later, even as we try to put them in a position where to develop as best they can.