Making History

added 6/12/2008 by Scott Barzilla

I know it's been awhile and it's tough to find time when you're chasing an 18 month old around the house, but this is one of those topics that demands some study. We all knew that the season would hinge on pitching. The worse case scenario seemed to be a return to the 2000 campaign when balls were flying out of then Enron Field with reckless abandon. Little did we know that 2000 might have been a positive comparison.

Warning: Anyone that gets queasy looking at bad pitching numbers should have a trash can handy. Bring the laptop next to the toilet might also be a good idea. Before we dive into the current numbers we should look at the staggering year of 2000. Please heed the warning above.

Runs Allowed: 944
HRs Allowed:  234
Strikeouts:  1064
Walks:        598
ERA:         5.42

Okay, so maybe things aren't that bad, but they are upside down on all of the statistics that Moneyball considered to be important. For those that didn't read the book, Billy Beane believes you can get an easy look at your team by looking at home runs hit vs. allowed and walks drawn vs. allowed. The Astros offense has been good, but I don't think they can keep up with the pitching.

HR:            68
HRA:           92
BB:           179
BBA:          199

That certainly doesn't look good. The Astros offensive numbers really aren't bad and that is especially true when compared with seasons past. As I talk, the Brewers have added three home runs today to make 95 for the season. However, the sobering numbers will have to tallied through completed games. The following is a comparison with 2000 with this year's numbers prorated.

                      2000             2008
HR                     234              225
Runs                   944              768
BB                     598              488
SO                    1064             1041
ERA                   5.42             4.42

Okay, fine, 2000 was much worse. A part of this can be attributed to a much better defense behind the Astros' pitchers. 2000 was one of synergistic seasons where bad pitching and limited defensive range combined to create a bonanza for opposing pitchers. Also, this staff is much better about not allowing free passes. Unfortunately, this is where the good news stops. The 2001 team made a significant comeback due to the additions of Wade Miller (16-8, 3.40 ERA) and Roy Oswalt (14-3, 2.70 ERA).

Is there anyone like that down on the farm right now? Oswalt really seemed to come out of nowhere, but a current look at the farm system shows only a few guys that even remotely look like major league pitchers. Certainly, no one expects pitchers like Felipe Paulino to put up numbers like that right off the bat. This is especially true considering that Paulino hasn't thrown a pitch all season.

To say Tim Purpura completely screwed the pooch on our farm system would be unfair. Paulino and Paul Estrada did look good before injuries sidelined them. Who knew Brian Bogusevic would be littered with arm trouble? Well, his 0-5 record and 5.12 ERA in Corpus Christi doesn't inspire confidence. In AAA, Runelvys Herandez and Jack Cassel represent the best down there. Neither are what you would consider prospects.

Meanwhile, fans wondering why Jason Castro was drafted in place of a pitcher. Well, let's look at the top catchers picked in recent drafts. You have Max Sapp as a first rounder in 2006. He is hitting a robust .202 with two dingers in Lexington. Ralph Henriquez was selected in the second round of 2005. He is no longer in the system. Sure, you can look at a bevy of blown picks and wonder if they could spot talent if it fell and hit them out of the sky. Or, you can say they were extremely unlucky. Either way, the pitching doesn't look to improve anytime soon.