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Can Cooper fix Thornton?

According to's Scott Merkin, Don Cooper feels that he can fix Matt Thornton.

Cooper's assessment was that Thornton needed more of a back-leg drive to finish his pitches. It's an area on which Thornton worked with Seattle pitching coach Rafael Chaves, after getting hit hard in his last outing, against San Francisco.

Although Thornton doesn't consider himself a "drop and drive" sort of pitcher, he believes the change will bring the ball down in the zone and give it more sink. In turn, the walk total could be reduced for a pitcher who consistently throws in the mid-90s and has fanned almost one batter per inning over his career.

I actually laughed when I read that passage. Over 12 hours ago, I read a prediction from the proprietor of Lookout Landing, the Mariners blog here on SB Nation, that said almost exactly the same thing. How did Jeff know that's what the White Sox would say? Because he's heard it all before.

I sent an email to him, asking what the Mariners have worked on with Thornton in their attempts to straighten him out over the years. Here is his response.

I'm going to be honest with you - I can't really say how the Mariners have worked with Thornton to improve his command because, quite simply, I don't know. Pitching mechanics aren't a frequent subject for sports section fodder because so few people actually understand how they're relevant. What I can say, though, is that Cooper's idea is a fairly good one; if Thornton were able to "stay back" a little more in his delivery, his arm wouldn't have to play catch-up all the time and leave the ball flying out high and away to right-handed hitters. That said, it might be a little too late, as Thornton isn't exactly a kid anymore, and it's pretty difficult to make that kind of adjustment on the fly. And even if it works, you're still left with a guy who only has one decent pitch, and for all its velocity it's still too flat.

While I can understand why it might be helpful for the job, I find the majority of pitching coaches to be a pretty arrogant, overconfident breed. They love projects because they all think they can be the ones to fix a bad pitcher. Very few of them are actually capable, though, and history is littered with guys like Thornton who couldn't cut it despite all the instruction in the world. I guess the question is, how confident are you in Cooper? And is focusing on Thornton really worth the effort?

My answer to Jeff's questions are, I have a lot of faith in Cooper. He's probably the second best pitching coach in the game, but the drop from the best pitching coach to the second best one is precipitous. And Cooper has only 2 weeks left of camp before Thornton starts inflicting damage on the Sox record in games that count. I don't think that's nearly enough time.

It would be another story if Thornton had options left, or would slide through waivers, but since he's going to have to learn on the fly in the big leagues, I don't like our prospects at all. (I'll have another post on that before I head to bed tonight.)