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

Jul 22, 2014, 4:31 PM EDT

Kirk Gibson AP

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.

  1. alangyo - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Yeah? Well, the beef jerky store called….

  2. peopletrains - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Somewhere between hitting one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history on two shredded knees and becoming the DBacks manager, Gibson became a sensitive, gruff, crybaby.

    • yahmule - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      He was like that during his playing career, too. In his 17 year career, he played in more than 149 games three times and in over 100 games just eight times. The guy stole more money than his career than Jesse James.

      • blacksables - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        Yeah, helping your team win World Series is sooooooo over-rated.

      • American of African Descent - Jul 22, 2014 at 6:17 PM

        But did Kirk Gibson steal more money than Carl Pavano?

      • senioreditor2 - Jul 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        Gibson was a terrific ball player. I wish more players played like him today. He was extremely instrumental in both the Tigers and Dodgers winning titles.

      • yahmule - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        He was a candy ass who strutted around like he was hot **** all the time.

    • tolbuck - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      If anything Gibson is less of a gruff crybaby now than during his playing career. Believe it or not he’s actually mellowed.

      • masher1965 - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:57 PM

        if this is mellow, then he played wearing maxi-pads and his PED’s happened to be Midol . The boy is a walking , talking crybaby. He isn’t “gritty”, he is childish

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      But, does Gibby still have grit?

      Did McCarthy? If he wanted to throw the cutter more, I’d say yes. So why did Gibby want to stifle his grit?

      I guess the stock of grit in Arizona has declined.

    • jayquintana - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      As a Dodgers fan, I have such mixed feelings about Gibby right now. On the one hand, major props for what he did back in the day. On the other, it’s obvious he’s way out of his league as an MLB manager.

  3. joecb91 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Odd, they normally jump at the chance to bash every single player they trade for being a cancer or not being gritty enough.

  4. kardshark1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    Less cutter, more grit, please.

    Sincerely,
    The D-Backs

  5. nsauser - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    The NL was apparently hitting .315 off said cutter.

    I see it this way, the Dbacks dug their own grave. They took away a pitch that McCarthy liked to throw, don’t you think that might get in his head a little? Assume McCarthy is in a jam with 2 on and thinks to himself that this is a perfect opportunity to throw a cutter, but no the grit quotient of a cutter is much lower than throwing a curve ball. He hangs a curve and you have a gritty 3 run HR, all because the pitcher wasn’t allowed to throw the pitch he wanted.

    Seems plausible to me. The field and off-field management of this team needs an overhaul.

  6. yahmule - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Was Gibson also to blame for Tyler Skaggs losing 5 MPH off his four-seam fastball when he was with the Snakes?

    • masher1965 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      That is a different situation. Gibson didn’t tell Skaggs to throw it slower, but , according to McCarthy, the D-Bags told him not to throw one of his better pitches. If you can’t see the difference, don’t comment

  7. geejon - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Are they still crying about the Dodgers jumping into their pool or have they gotten past that yet?

    • blacksables - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      You haven’t seen to have gotten past it yet. Why do you hold anyone else to a higher standard than you hold yourself?

      Even Jebus didn’t do that.

  8. paperlions - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    There is no evidence whatsoever that McCarthy is using his cutter more since going to NY. Link to pitch usage for 2014 below.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/outcome.php?player=435221&b_hand=-1&time=month&minmax=ci&var=pcount&s_type=2&gFilt=&pFilt=FA|SI|FC|CU|SL|CS|KN|CH|FS|SB&startDate=01/01/2014&endDate=01/01/2015

    • stex52 - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Ah, perception, my friend. He thinks he is. They probably had told him not to so much, so he thinks because it is okay now he is throwing it more.

      Maybe most of this improvement is in his head. But who cares? As long as it lasts.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Kill joy narrative buster.

      • paperlions - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        At your service.

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        Paper really puts in the research so I tend to believe him.

        Unless of course they are just empty links.

        Sorry Paper, I work 2 jobs so time is limited,but it is good to know where to find them so
        thanks for that.

    • gbrim - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      With the facts in conflict with McCarthy’s comments, Gibby’s quote is not an unreasonable way to end the discussion. Not perfect, but why start a back and forth that does nobody any good. For the record, Gibby was very supportive of McCarthy during his entire time in AZ.

  9. stew48 - Jul 22, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    I read the article several times. If you were to submit this to your college literature prof, he would laugh a lot and tell you to come back to school. There is so much wrong, I won’t waste any more time. And, I do mean a lot more.

  10. miguelcairo - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    “THE JERK STORE CALLED, THEY’RE RUNNING OUT OF YOU!”

  11. Charles Gates - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Baltimore doesn’t like their (young) pitchers to throw the cutter:

    http://www.masnsports.com/steve-melewski/2012/08/more-talk-about-the-pitch-the-orioles-dont-want-their-young-hurlers-to-throw.html

    Definitely don’t agree with the philosophy, but it’s not unprecedented.

  12. gatorjr - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Gibson was an intense player that would back up his attitude off the field with performance on the field. Managers have to be a different person all together. So there’s no way to compare the different attitudes. Opening that can of worms does neither player or (ex)manager any good. That’s why Gibby gave that answer.

  13. jfk69 - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Arizona’s record speaks for itself. Too bad he can’t play. Because I am sure that would solve all problems. Now you know why great players make lousy managers.

  14. mazblast - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Since when do the Diamondbacks have a brain trust? Don’t you have to have some brains in order to have one of those?

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