Powell paying for past sins

added 6/17/2001 by Raymond Desadier
Positive note: I want to congratulate Tony McKnight who was FINALLY promoted and made the start Saturday going 6 innings allowing only 1 ER. I’d like to think the subtle hint on my last column prompted his promotion, but since Berkman is still batting fourth I will assume not. I only hope that Mac did not arrive too late.

I attended Friday night’s game versus the Rangers and partook in a smattering of boos aimed at Jay Powell. I realize now how bad it must have looked to the casual fans and the ever-oblivious Astro management.

According to quotes from Larry Dierker and Kent Bottenfield in Saturday morning’s paper, they got the impression that Jay-walk was being booed only for his current performance. If that were the case, then why did the fans applaude starter Wade Miller when he left the game after allowing 7 ER in 4 2/3 IP? Simple – Powell’s ineffectiveness has been a common occurrence and the fans have had enough of it.

In Dierker’s defense, I can see why Powell has been labeled as a good pitcher. His ERA as an Astro has been decent (4.10 through 2000). However, what differentiates him from other pitchers with a similar ERA is the pattern in which he allows his earned runs. He rarely allows more than 3 earned runs in an outing. So, to maintain an ERA of 4+ without ever getting tromped shows that he is scored upon in more outings than the average pitcher.

So rather than getting killed in one outing, then going 5 or 6 straight scoreless outings, he’ll distribute his runs allowed over 4 of the 7 outings, which generally means he costs us 4 games instead of just 1. His scoreless outings account for less than half of his total appearances! And since Dierker tends to always put him in tight ball games, Powell’s few earned runs are just enough to lose the game!

Another stat worth mentioning is inherited runner percentage. Powell is also not effective at keeping inherited runners from scoring. Furthermore, once Powell has blown our slim lead by letting his inherited runners score, and allowing an ER or two for himself, good ole Dierk will leave him in to pitch another inning, which tends to be scoreless, which further dilutes his ineffectiveness as far as ERA is concerned.

The discontent toward Jay-walk Powell is nothing new. I don’t care to boo Astros as an Astros fan, by by gosh I’m sick and tired of not playing up to our expectations. The Astros is more our team than it is Gerry Hunsicker’s, and we want to get to the World Series. Jay Powell is not the guy that’s going to get us there either, no matter how many times you remind us of his 1997 Game 7 vulture victory!

What about Brad?

One of the hot topics on the Astros recently has been Julio Lugo’s diminishing playing time. This is due to his poor strike zone judgment, as one report called it, “Taking good pitches and swinging at pitches several inches outside or high.” It is an accurate description of Lugo, but if you are going to criticize his then you need to be thorough and include another with poor strike zone judgment – Brad Ausmus.

He insists on taking at least one pitch right down the middle per at bat, and will most assuredly swing at garbage later in the count. At least Lugo has a respectable batting average, but the anemic Ausmus has no excuse keeping the bat on his shoulder.

He tends to go unnoticed because until recently, Ausmus hadn’t been striking out very much. What he has been doing is watching the perfect pitches and then grounding out (sometimes in a DP) swinging on low and outside pitches. The point is, he ain’t getting hits!

Brad needs to walk up there and swing at anything close and pray that he accidentally gets a hit. He’s got no room to be choosy.

Send this story to a friend