Jump to content

Behind the scenes, Rick Kranitz happy to be here


Accord
 Share

Recommended Posts

Behind the scenes, happy to be there

Rick Kranitz has made the most of his first season as a major-league pitching coach. 'Krany has done a great job,' manager Joe Girardi said.

BY KEVIN BAXTER

[email protected]

 

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy finally confronts the Wizard only to learn he isn't a Wizard at all but just a humble guy manipulating a few buttons and levers to make miraculous things happen?

 

Well, that pretty much describes Marlins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, too. Because, like the Wizard, he prefers to work his miracles anonymously while hidden behind a curtain.

 

''I think that's the way it should be,'' he said. ``My ego is not such to think that I am the one that's the major difference.''

 

Pull the curtain back, though, and it's clear that the wizardry of Kranitz, a first-year pitching coach, has played a huge role in the success of the team's young staff of starters.

 

He has led four rookies -- Anibal Sanchez (10-3, 3.93 ERA), Scott Olsen (12-9, 3.97), Josh Johnson (12-7, 3.10) and Ricky Nolasco (11-11, 4.82) -- to 10 or more victories, making the Marlins the first team in history to have that many rookies win that many games. Add in Dontrelle Willis' 12 victories, and the Marlins have joined the Chicago White Sox as the only teams in the majors to have five double-digit winners this season.

 

What's more, the Marlins' rotation ranks second in the National League with a 4.17 ERA, and its 62 victories trail only the Mets and Dodgers among NL teams. Since Sanchez was called up June 25, the ERA is even lower -- 3.96.

 

''A lot of it is getting a chance . . . and taking advantage of the opportunity,'' Nolasco said.

 

HAPPY FOR THE CHANCE

 

Funny, but Kranitz, who spent 20 years as a minor-league manager and coach with the Chicago Cubs, could say the same thing. He, too, was a big-league rookie at his position this season and, like his young charges, he has made the most of his chance.

 

'People always told us, `You're going to get an opportunity.' But I was like, 'Really? When's that going to happen?,' '' said Kranitz, 48. ``Here I was three years ago managing in [single] A ball wondering, `Wow, where is my career going?'

 

``I think I'm qualified. I can do the job. Now how do you get that opportunity?''

 

In Kranitz's case, you wait for former Cubs catcher Joe Girardi to get hired as a manager, then watch him fight the front office for the right to hire you over incumbent pitching coach Mark Wiley.

 

''He believed in me,'' Kranitz said. ``And it's something I'll never forget.''

 

And it's something he rewarded by turning the young Marlins' minor-league promise into major-league production. Johnson's 3.10 ERA is a career low, for example; Olsen's 12 wins and 160 strikeouts are career highs. And Sanchez had made just 11 starts above the low minors before this season when he shut out the Yankees, beat Roger Clemens and threw a no-hitter in his first 13 big-league starts.

 

''Krany has done a great job,'' Girardi said. ``He deserves a lot of credit.''

 

A LONG ROAD

 

Kranitz, whose playing days were over before some of his Marlins pitchers had even learned to walk, knew success and struggle in his pitching career. Arizona's Player of the Year as a senior at Apollo High in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale -- the same school that produced major leaguers Bob Horner and Paul Lo Duca -- Kranitz was a fourth-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1979 June draft.

 

A right-hander, he had his best professional season a year later, going 13-7 with a 3.64 ERA in the Double A Eastern League. He pitched a no-hitter a year later. But when he hurt his arm, things went downhill quickly.

 

By 1984, he was coaching the Cubs' rookie-league team in Pikesville, Md., of the Appalachian League, and his coaching career took on the look of a Greyhound bus schedule with stops in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wytheville, Va., Peoria, Ill., Charlotte, N.C., Des Moines, Iowa, Orlando and dozens of places in between.

 

Then Girardi called.

 

''I know there's lot of guys that were in the same boat that I [was] in in the minor leagues, that have been there a long time and have never, ever gotten the opportunity to coach on a major-league staff,'' he said. ``I just wanted the opportunity to show what I could do.''

 

In another parallel with The Wizard of Oz, Kranitz's success has come not from giving his pitchers things they didn't have but in convincing them to exploit skills they already possessed.

 

For Johnson, it was the courage to pitch inside. For Nolasco, the heart to challenge big-league hitters.

 

And for Olsen, it was a brain.

 

''He has probably been the one guy that has absolutely done a 180,'' Kranitz said. ``He turned it all the way around, and it shows.''

 

After watching Olsen battle his temper and stubbornness through the first two months of the season, going 3-3 with a 5.83 ERA, Kranitz and Girardi convinced the left-hander to get smarter on the mound. Olsen has gone 9-6 with a 3.30 ERA since.

 

''These guys have to understand and know and feel what they're doing right,'' Kranitz said. ``And you know what? You have a choice. You can either do it, or you don't do it. And usually those kinds of guys who don't want it that bad, they'll never ever realize their potential.''

 

DEFLECTING CREDIT

 

And since they all came to Kranitz with that potential in hand, the coach is reluctant to take bows for what has happened.

 

''The players deserve all the credit for what they do,'' he said. ``I'm not making any pitches.''

 

In any case, he added, now is not the time for reflection. He'll do that when the season ends. And with Girardi likely to be fired shortly after Sunday's final out, Kranitz, who had just a one-year contract, will have to look ahead as well as back.

 

''I'm going to wait to see what happens,'' he said. ``Obviously, I'm very close to [Joe] and we work well together. He gave me the opportunity to be a big-league pitching coach.

 

``So I'm going to wait to see what unfolds here first.''

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/15634030.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like Kranitz also, but he is probably gone with Girardi. One counter to the feel good article, as much credit as is being given him for the young starters success, he is still the same pitching coach to the horrible bullpen.

 

I like him a lot and give him credit for helping the young pitchers but the crap out of the bullpen should not be a knock against him. A good pitching coach can help talented pitchers pitch well but a good pitching coach can't help mediocre or bad pitchers pitch well. The old saying "you can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t" says it best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Poor decision by the FO to let Girardi/Kranitz and the excellent team chemisty get chucked aside like a half eaten cheeseburger.

 

I agree, it's disgusting what the FO is doing to this team. Even though we didn't make the playoffs we still "shocked the world" and had we not had a bad first month or so of the season we would have definitely won the WC.

 

The players on the field love Girardi, Girardi and his staff brought out the full potential of what were a bunch of no name minor leaguers just a mere 6 months ago, the chemistry is fantastic, and Girardi and his staff get results... why change all of that? It's as if deep down inside, Loria doesn't want to win. He may yell at the umps to try and seem like he wants to win, but deep down inside I think he has a different motive because none of this makes any sense and the Girardi haters don't have a single legitimate reason for hating him, they just hopped on the bandwagon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just my two cents to bridge the Penguino/Don argument:

 

Coaching only goes so far. You can't take garbage and make it great, but you can take something great and make it excellent. Look at what Mazzone did in Atlanta and what he's doing in Baltimore. He's gotten Cabrera to be more consistent (dare I say on the verge of greatness) and he's turned Bedard into a monster, but that's where his overwhelming success ends, and of course, those are his two most talented pitchers.

 

Problem is, coaches are usually remembered more for their failures than for their successes, so of course Rodrigo Lopez and Kris Benson stick out in people's minds and the conclusion is drawn that it's not so much that Mazzone was a great coach, but rather that anyone could look like a genius with Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz and an environment so free of pressure that it was conducive to career resurrection. And, while that's not true, it's the same prevailing notion here.

 

Kranitz has turned Olsen into a much better pitcher than I think anyone was forecasting him to be at this stage. Same for Sanchez and Johnson and to a degree Nolasco, but since those pitchers had "talent" we only look at the failures (Dontrelle inconsistent, Moehler flat out terrible, the bullpen just a void) and say, "you know what, he's replaceable."

 

And to me, that logic is to a degree flawed. We have no established track record to base the tangiable effects of Kranitz on Olsen, JJ, Nolasco and Sanchez, but if you look at the minor league numbers and past minor/major jumps, I think it's a pretty safe conclusion that Kranitz has most of our rotation performing at or near their minor league ceilings, of course with plenty of room for improvement.

 

So while it's easy to say, well, the talent's there in the rotation, anyone could do that, that's not entirely a reasonable assumption, because it's only fair to say, converesely, that the talent's not there (in the bullpen) and as such you can't say anyone could do better.

 

Short conclusion: Kranitz' accomplishments should not be undermined by failures elsewhere, nor should they be lessened by the conclusion that talent alone can make itself great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those players won't win the World Series by themselves no matter how much Girardi helps. The team isn't complete yet. In order for it to become so, we need a field manager who can work with the GM and scouts.

 

 

BTW, I disagree strongly that the bullpen had no talent to be formed by Kranitz. Regardless, it doesn't speak ill of the jjob he's done with the starters. It is possible for a coach to be more in tune with the needs of a starting pitcher than a reliever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those players won't win the World Series by themselves no matter how much Girardi helps. The team isn't complete yet. In order for it to become so, we need a field manager who can work with the GM and scouts.

 

 

Yet that argument assumes that, unequivocally, the GM and scouts know what they're doing all the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, I disagree strongly that the bullpen had no talent to be formed by Kranitz. Regardless, it doesn't speak ill of the jjob he's done with the starters. It is possible for a coach to be more in tune with the needs of a starting pitcher than a reliever.

 

 

The talent that's there he's done a fantastic job with: Tank, Pinto and at times Borowski, Resop and Herges.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those players won't win the World Series by themselves no matter how much Girardi helps. The team isn't complete yet. In order for it to become so, we need a field manager who can work with the GM and scouts.

 

 

Yet that argument assumes that, unequivocally, the GM and scouts know what they're doing all the time.

Your argument assumes that either Beinfest and the scouts are prone to making bad decisions AND the new field manager will be complicit in such matters OR Girardi was making all good decisions.

I happen to believe neither are too likely. I trust Beinfest and his staff and associates for the most part. I don't believe whatever decisions Girardi could have made had much impact without the support of Beinfest. And I don't expect the new manager not to assert his opinion, only that he also appreciates the opinions of others.

 

 

BTW, I disagree strongly that the bullpen had no talent to be formed by Kranitz. Regardless, it doesn't speak ill of the jjob he's done with the starters. It is possible for a coach to be more in tune with the needs of a starting pitcher than a reliever.

 

 

The talent that's there he's done a fantastic job with: Tank, Pinto and at times Borowski, Resop and Herges.

The true talents of Messenger and Bowyer are similar to those of the latter three. IMO atleast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those players won't win the World Series by themselves no matter how much Girardi helps. The team isn't complete yet. In order for it to become so, we need a field manager who can work with the GM and scouts.

 

 

Yet that argument assumes that, unequivocally, the GM and scouts know what they're doing all the time.

Your argument assumes that either Beinfest and the scouts are prone to making bad decisions AND the new field manager will be complicit in such matters OR Girardi was making all good decisions.

I happen to believe neither are too likely. I trust Beinfest and his staff and associates for the most part. I don't believe whatever decisions Girardi could have made had much impact without the support of Beinfest. And I don't expect the new manager not to assert his opinion, only that he also appreciates the opinions of others.

 

 

BTW, I disagree strongly that the bullpen had no talent to be formed by Kranitz. Regardless, it doesn't speak ill of the jjob he's done with the starters. It is possible for a coach to be more in tune with the needs of a starting pitcher than a reliever.

 

 

The talent that's there he's done a fantastic job with: Tank, Pinto and at times Borowski, Resop and Herges.

The true talents of Messenger and Bowyer are similar to those of the latter three. IMO atleast.

You're putting words in my mouth.

 

My argument is simply based on the fact that both sides make mistakes, and that making one side purely surrogate to the other is foolish, as is giving complete credit to one side.

 

So we're blaming Bowyer's injury on Girardi now too?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're the one who put words into my mouth. The GM doesn't know everything, but a team can run better when both the GM and field manager atleast talk to eachother. The best option is of course a field manager who can offer opinions that the GM would not otherwise had considered and be able to help him formalize the correct plan and act on it. Only on rare occasions when both are fools and in lock step together is it as or more harmful than the disunity we have now.

 

That doesn't factor in their ability to motivate others or their decision-making abilities of course. You're unhappy about this move. Okay, that's fine. It's one thing to focus on the Loria spat and ignore the Beinfest-Girardi issue. It's a whole other thing to suggest that the latter doesn't exist or matter.

 

I'm not blaming anything or anyone. Maybe it's a minor issue, but Bowyer didn't improve at all during spring training. Maybe that means nothing. Whatever. But don't sit here and tell me that most of the aforementoned relief pitchers or any others lived up to your expectation of their true talents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're reasoning is so flawed, it's confusing.

 

I never put words in your mouth, I simply showed that your argument is based on an assumption that simply cannot be possible given human error. The decision to make such a decision is faulty.

 

Secondly, I'm not at all suggesting that the Girardi/Beinfest spat doesn't matter, but I'm also not sure how much of it is true. Let's look at one of the most commonly referenced short-comings...if Girardi didn't want to play Olivo, he wouldn't have been playing Olivo.

 

The fact that Girardi has taken the high road on this and the front-office continually leaks information is quite interesting to me.

 

Finally, you keep referring to Bowyer. Did Girardi hurt Bowyer? Did Girardi repeatedly bludgeon Bowyer? No. Thus, Bowyer either injured himself in the offseason, or we acquired damaged goods, the latter of which certainly would not speak well of Beinfest and the scouting/medical departments.

 

Lastly, yes, I think for the most parts, players in the bullpen lived up to expectations. Tank was very good and at times simply dominant, Herges and Borowski were veterans who showed that they still have something left in the tank relative to their expectations and Messenger continued to show that he was pure BP with a straight fastball. Kensing and Martinez looked great when healthy and Resop and Pinto all showed promise, but marked inconsistency.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said that the job of building the team is not done. You twisted that to say Beinfest is flawless. I said he doesn't have to be. He simply needs to have a relationship with his manager that provides better than correspondence than they're having now. How can you have a problem with that unless you discount the need for a productive relationship or question the reports not of its causes but that they simply don't talk to eachother.

 

I'm hardly going to argue Bowyer's talent or his dedication to this team to someone who has dismissed him in every way since the trade. He's a good talent and showed nothing in spring training, regardless of what the cause. IMO, Messenger has every bit of the talent of Resop, perhaps even more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share



×
×
  • Create New...