Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Pitchers

Time for the grades for the pitchers. Actually, I'll be inventing awards and giving them to different pitchers on the team in lieu of the typical ABC scale. If you missed it, the position players are here.

The You'd Be Better Off on the Cover of Sports Illustrated Award
This one's a tie between Zach Duke and Paul Maholm. I can't imagine a worse fate then being designated the Pirates "ace of the future." It's pretty much a sure thing that either you'll suffer a serious injury (Benson, Burnett) or just completely lose your talent (Kip Wells, Jason Schmidt) or maybe both (Oliver Perez). Actually, Duke and Maholm both exceeded all the expectations we had for them by about a mile this year. I could spend space extolling all their virtues, but I couldn't tell you anything you've already heard. If these two are half as good for a full season as they were for a half season this year, we're certainly going to have something to build on. As long as they can overcome the "curse."

The Well, Things Could've been Worse, But Only if You Got Tommy John Surgery Award
It should be pretty obvious who gets this award, Mr. Oliver Perez himself. He didn't throw at all in the offseason, made up a lie about sleeping on his shoulder funny before camp, sucked it up in April and May, kicked a cart in June, and came back with absolutely nothing on the ball in September. Instead of the nightly show of 95 mph fastballs, 7 arm angles, strike outs, fist pumps, and little leaps over the foul lines we got 92-94 mph fastballs, 37 million arm angles, lots of fly balls, lots of homers, and a broken laundry cart. Last year's Perez was missing and it was baffling. It looks like the team is going to grant his request to play winter ball, so we'll have to see if things get ironed out there. If not, I'm still afraid there's something that might be seriously wrong.

The We'd seen Jimmy Anderson and Jeff D'Amico, we thought we knew bad. We didn't know bad until we saw you Award.
Yep, the one and only Kip Wells. How a guy goes from one of the best starters in the National League to the loss leader is beyond me. One night this year he shined with his 12 K 3 H shutout against the Phillies. Besides that he ran his pitch count to astronomic numbers early on, gave up homers, got mad a lot, and things were just all around ugly. Unlike Perez, however, there's something tangibly wrong with Kip Wells. He tries to strike everyone out. There's no phantom velocity drop, just a mental barrier that we let advance way further than it should've. Somehow we noticed Kip doing this last May (of '04), Spin noticed in September. Maybe a new pitching coach can fix him, but he might already be gone.

The Stop Laughing, You're Just as Bad as Kip Wells Award
As bad as Kip was, Mark Redman was worse from the Yankees series on than just about anyone in the NL that did't call Coors Field home. He lost his control and all of a sudden he went from being the best starter in the NL to the worst. He was so bad that he went from being guaranteed a Kris Benson-like contract on the free market after this season in June to having to accept his $4.5 million player option because it's so much more than his market value.

The What A Great Season, But Only by Comparison to Kip and Redman Award
That's you, Dave Williams. He wasn't great, but he wasn't overwhelmingly bad either, which made him our best pitcher not making his debut this year. He's not bad as a 4 or 5 starter, but when he's your de facto ace (as he was for us from June through the beginning of August) it's not a good sign.

The Our Stats Say We're Good but Everyone Knows Better Award
Another dual award here, this time for Rick White and John Grabow. White was an expert at coming into games with runners on base, letting them score, then not letting any of his runners score to keep his ERA low. Grabow got off to a great start and then reverted to Grablow form. He kept a lot of inherited runners from scoring, but he also provided many of the runners for Rick White to let score. Neither one was as good as their decent ERAs suggest.

The Is There a Worse Job in the Bigs than Pirates Mop-up Man? Award
To Brian Meadows and Ryan Vogelsong. They were both used almost exclusively in hopeless situations for most of the season. Meadows got off to an awful start, but put up pretty good numbers after May and was actually more or less reliable. Vogelsong pitched in maybe 2 meaningful games all year which means that you can't really make a comment either way. Lots of people thinks he sucks a lot. I think there still maybe be hope.

The It Sure is Nice Here in Dave Littlefield's Doghouse, but I Hope They Don't Take Us where They Took Bobby Hill Award
To the two most obvious members of Littlefield's doghouse, Josh Fogg and Ian Snell. Littlefield would constantly talk about how little talent Fogg had while Fogg was putting up better numbers than all of our other starters until it finally came true this year. Fogg gave up a ton of homers this year and when you're a control pitcher you just can't do that. Ian Snell, meanwhile, was constantly put in situations to fail as a starter to prove to Littlefield that Snell is really a reliever. Snell responded with 8 shutout innings to beat Roger Clemens for his first big league win. Littlefield then rearranged the rotation to keep him from making his last start.

The Old Yeller Award
We probably should've put Jose Mesa down before this season ever started, but for some reason we didn't have the heart. And the crazy old bastard bit us. Then he bit us again, and again, and again, and again... We did finally learn but by then it was too late to give Gonzalez any real time as closer by that point.

The Don't Forget Us! We Got Hurt and had a Couple Bad Spells, but We Honestly Didn't Suck this Year! Award
To Salomon Torres and Mike Gonzalez. Torres had a neck injury early on that caused him to turn into Eric Milton and Gonzalez had a knee injury that was clearly bothering him in June, though we trotted him out there every day anyways. As a result neither had numbers like they did last year. When they were healthy these two were about as reliable as things got in the bullpen this year.

There's not much to say about anyone else that pitched this year. Gorzelanny took the mound maybe twice, Bullington and Johnston each pitched one game, and Matt Capps looked pretty good, especially for a guy that started the year out in the Sally League. All in all, there was disappointment all around from the part of our team that was supposed to lead the way for us, which eventually led to Spin's firing.