Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Top of the 1st
THE BEST OF THE WORST
Today begins a new weekly column from a very talented writer, Jerry Malitz. Jerry remains one of my closest friends in the world a million years after we were roommates in college. Since Jerry recently retired as Chief Information Technology Officer for the Institute of Education Sciences, a covert branch of the government, I thought I would make sure he’s gainfully employed by writing for Billy-Ball. As our cub reporter (Jimmy Olsen, not Alfonso Soriano) Jerry will be paid 50% of my salary, which I recently calculated to be zero.
Jerry’s feature “(A)Musings from the Cheap Seats,” today focuses on the very best of the worst pitchers in baseball. This represents really the Billy-Ball Cy Young Award. As you know each season the Cy Young Awards are given to the best pitcher in each league. The award honors Cy Young’s 511 victories, the most in baseball history. What is often forgotten is that Cy is the all-time loss leader as well with 316 defeats. Being the biggest loser of all time, of course, makes him perfect for Billy-Ball.
So please welcome Jerry; I’m sure you will enjoy his contributions.
The end of the baseball season is closing in so get ready for all of those postseason award predictions. You have your MVP, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and the Cy Young Award. Winners are trendy to pick, but it’s the losers and the most awful performers that make me smile, smack my lips and order a cold one. And what position could be more bizarre than the world of Major League starting pitchers? You can keep your Cy Young award just give me the dregs, the guys who totally mess up any fantasy team. They are a true pleasure to dissect. Besides the obvious bad pitching stats that only playing time can build, you get to marvel at lousy managerial decisions, and unbelievable front office judgments.
But how about a pitcher who started 36 games and completed 10 of them? Add to that an ERA of 3.94 and a WHIP of 1.26 not to mention holding batters to a .258 BA. At worst he’d be a number 2 starter for virtually every Major League team. Well back in 1965 (that year the NL average ERA was 3.54 and the BA was .249), when Jack Fisher had those stats for the NY Mets, he went 8-24 (one of two 20-game losers for the Mets that season along with Al Jackson). You know the famous Chico Escuela saying, “you must be a berry berry good pitcher to lose 20 games.” Chico was right he was a good pitcher.
Flash ahead 42 years to a strange and misunderstood time when mediocrity rules and the dismal collection of current starters in the Majors keeps growing and with it comes management decisions that produce double takes. Here then are the three top candidates from each league for the most disastrous starting pitchers this year. These guys have been getting the ball all season long and except for the mandatory time off for injury they almost never had a start skipped. And yes, it was management decisions that have kept them in the rotation regardless of how it has hurt their teams.
In the A.L. where the average league ERA is 4.49 and the B.A. is .270 you have to start off with Seattle’s Horacio Ramirez. This past December when Seattle traded Rafael Soriano for him ESPN allegedly called it the worst off-season trade of the year. You want proof? How about a stat line of a 6.80 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP to go along with an opposing BA of .333. Seattle was in a tight race with the Angels for a time and they are still trying to get a wild card berth, and this is all they can come up with? A few wins more in those starts could have spelled the difference for them. Horacio is your proof that caffeine and rain do not mix.
Cyndi Lauper sang “Money Changes Everything.” Proof positive is how the Yankees have handled Mike Mussina this year. OK, he’s smart. Who doesn’t know that he graduated with a degree in Economics from Stanford in 3