Big Red Machine / Homer Bailey / Reds History / Reds Trivia

Hope for Homer

For those who feel it’s taken Homer Bailey a long time to get to where many, including myself, think he’s going to go…

Someone asked Bill James on his website about Tom Glavine’s slow major league start in relation to other 300 game pitching winners.

Tom Glavine, ages 21-24, first four seasons, 33-41, 89 ERA+
Walter Johnson, ages 19-21, first three seasons, 32-48, 122 ERA+
Tim Keefe, ages 23-25, first three seasons, 41-59, 108 ERA+
Nolan Ryan, ages 19-24, first five seasons, 29-38, 98 ERA+
Gaylord Perry, ages 23-26, first four seasons, 24-30, 97 ERA+
Don Sutton, ages 21-23, first three seasons, 34-42, 95 ERA+
Early Wynn, ages 19-28, first eight seasons, 72-87, 92 ERA+
Lefty Grove, ages 25-26, first two seasons, 23-25, 126 ERA+
Randy Johnson,ages 24-25, first two seasons, 10-13, 88 ERA+

James’s quote: “A slow start is at least as much the rule as the exception for a 300-game winner.”

Current Reds pitchers in comparison:

Homer Bailey, ages 21-24, first four seasons, 16-16, 83 ERA+
Edinson Volquez, ages 21-23, first three seasons, 3-11, 65 ERA+
Johnny Cueto, ages 22-24, first three seasons, 32-32, 98 ERA+

And for some recent Reds pitchers, albeit not 300 game winners:

Mario Soto, ages 20-22, first three seasons, 6-8, 79 ERA+
Jose Rijo, ages 19-22, first four seasons, 19-30, 83 ERA+
Jim Maloney, ages 20-22, first three seasons, 17-20, 98 ERA+
Jeff Russell, ages 21-23, first three seasons, 13-29, 84 ERA+

No one’s promising that Bailey — or Cueto or Volquez — is going to win 300 games, much less 100, and, yes, it could be said that I was cherry picking the ages, but that’s the nature of what I’m saying. Anything can happen with these guys since they have real pitching ability. I think the potential is there and management has to rely on their talent scouts to make the best call. The Reds have an excess of young pitching, and it’s tempting to deal it away, but Pete Rose was recently quoted as saying to Reds owner Bob Castellini “Once you get to the point where you think you’ve got a lot of pitching, go out and get some more. That’s what wins. You never have too much pitching.” I also believe that Bob Howsam’s dealing of excessive young pitching talent in the 1970’s is actually what brought a premature end to the Big Red Machine.

I much prefer to deal away young pitching talent like the Atlanta Braves used to deal it away…overstate the value and get something in return, like they did with Rob Bell to the Reds, Bruce Chen to the Phillies, Ruben Quevedo to the Cubs, and Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez to the Giants. Walt Jocketty has already pulled one of these off in last year’s Scott Rolen for Zach Stewart/Josh Roenicke/Edwin Encarnacion deal. After all, all relief pitchers start in a rotation sometime before going to the pen and there’s nothing to prevent them from re-entering the rotation at a later date.

37 thoughts on “Hope for Homer

  1. Curt Schilling never won 300, but he is a starter that really never figured it out for a while and someone that I have kept in the back of my mind as the talks over the past couple of years on giving up on Homer Bailey comes up.

    I’m sure the Astros or Orioles would have loved to have had Schilling figure it out on their watch, might have been a difference maker for those clubs considering the times and how they finished out, especially the Astros.

    To me, unless they are sure that someone is toast, I wouldn’t deal around much with the young pitching talent. Looking at the free agent market, I’m not sure that there is that much out there to get. File me under the go big or stay home folk, unless you are bringing back some real deal talent (like Hanley Ramirez or maybe Zack Greinke), I’d stand pat.

    I’d probably deal some others before Homer Bailey anyway, the guy can be pretty nasty when he is on, it is just having him be on more than an inning or two or against the Pirates. Pujols is a serious and smart slugger who knows pitchers, if he sees something in Homer Bailey, he is probably somewhat right unless it is some kind of reverse psychology ploy.:mrgreen:

  2. @earl: Pujols of course means it when he says that Homer has nasty stuff. Other accomplished major league hitters have said the same. When he’s locating his fastball, he’s already a pitcher to be reckoned with.

    His main problem has been putting hitters away, though he had success toward the end of last season going up the ladder with his fastball.
    For a Curt Schilling kind of breakthru, he needs to command his splitter a whole lot better. That seems doable.

    Last year, as of April, I had a feeling of complete confidence that Jay Bruce was going to break thru in 2010. I still felt that way, even after his miserable July. Next April, I hope to be feeling the same confidence about Homer.

  3. I agree totally with not trading any of our top 6 young pitchers. The only starter I would take offers on is Arroyo.

  4. Count me in on the “Don’t give up on Homer” bandwagon. He’s shown some flashes of brilliance, and as Steve demonstrated above, it usually takes a while for pitchers to put it all together. I think he was rushed to the majors to sell some tickets and he was overmatched, and that stunted his development a little.

    Of all our young pitchers, I think he has the most upside. I wouldn’t trade him unless it was a no-brainer (like, the Rockies offer CarGo for Homer, and that isn’t gonna happen).

  5. I agree with all that, but I would add the kid better start figuring things out quick for three reasons: 1. He’s gonna start costing us some real money soon. 3. With so much young talent, they’ll be forced to make some tough choices. 3. Age. We know he’s still relatively young, but the league generally sees him as guy who’s been around awhile but hasn’t put it together.

  6. @RiverCity Redleg: Return on investment. If he gets passed up by better players in Cincy, and the arbitration dollars accumulate, it would definitely drive down his trade value.
    That said, I think it’s irrelevant. I think he’s on the cusp of a breakout year. From 2009 to this year, the maturity kicked in. From this season to next, we’ll see that maturity meet the talent.

  7. It seems like the Braves traded us a lot of young pitchers, like Matt Belisle. Their evaluators aren’t always right, they thought Chris Reitsma could be their closer.

    I’m amazed that Bruce Chen is still around, and as a starting pitcher.

  8. @Sultan of Swaff: You could see the maturity in the divisional series. Only 2 innings, but he stayed completely within himself and was in command out there, in all senses. Rolen’s error didn’t phase him at all.

  9. It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s so true. You can’t have too much good pitching. Injuries and mechanical problems, etc. can quickly reduce a group of 5 strong starting pitchers to 1 or 2.

  10. Excellent point about the premature end of the BRM. I’ve always blamed free agency, but free agency didn’t really hurt the team until 1979, after Rose had left. The Reds went down in 1977 because of a lack of pitching. The main free agent loss was Don Gullet, but he “only” won 14 games in 1977 because of his shoulder/neck problems, and his career was over after that season.

    Other pitchers were let go in early 1977, reportedly because they were talking about free agency as an option, like Gary Nolan and Rawly Eastwick.
    But they did not fare well elsewhere.

  11. @MikeB: Your mention of CarGo reminds me, he’s good but how on earth did the MLB players vote him as the best player in MLB, over Votto and Hamilton. He didn’t hit on the road at all.

  12. Off topic, but does anyone have an interest in 35 year old Lance Berkman? I could envision a left field platoon with Gomes, spell Votto at first, and possibly Bruce on occasion as well. His splits aren’t terrible, but he’s a better left-handed hitter who would get the lion’s share of his playing time in left vs. RHP.
    I would think something in the range of 2yrs/$16mil w/ a third year option might get it done. Granted, he would be at the back of the line of guys I’d pursue thru a trade (Sizemore, Gardner, McCutcheon, Choo, Markakis), but I think it’s worth kicking the tires on.

    • @Sultan of Swaff:

      Thats funny that you bring up Berkman, just yesterday I was thinking of the possibility of the Reds picking him up. I think it mainly depends on the role he feels he can still play, if he going to want to be a everyday starter or DH he may end up sticking around in the AL. To be the right fit his price would have to come down a little more towards 2 yr./12 mil range. Its looks like teams are starting to open there check books a little more than the past two years.

    • Off topic, but does anyone have an interest in 35 year old Lance Berkman?… he would be at the back of the line of guys Iโ€™d pursue thru a trade (Sizemore, Gardner, McCutcheon, Choo, Markakis), but I think itโ€™s worth kicking the tires on.

      Right now Berkman still thinks he can be everyday player per some quotes I read attributed to him. Regarding some of your listed options, has there been any rumors/talk of Sizemore on the trade block? If he is healthy, thats one guy that would be awesome in Reds OF.:mrgreen: And he only turns 28 in Aug-2011, so still on good side of 30/young and a veteran. only 1 year on contact at 7.5M with team option in 2012 that becomes a player option at 8.5M if he is traded.

      Obviously, he would fill two key reds needs, LF and leadoff, plus provide good OB%, power, speed and plus defense.

      Go 2011 Reds!

  13. Is it bad that i’m already looking forward to 2012 when we relieve ourselves of Coco and Arroyos contracts and opens up 23 mil. I know will have to throw another 5-7 mil at Votto of that and Sprinkle it around Bruce and some pitching but it has to leave us with a little wiggle room to keep this solid core together and picking up a key player at ss, lf, 3b.

  14. @Sultan of Swaff: From what I’ve seen of Berkman, his knees are in very bad shape. He can barely play first base, let alone the OF. He can no longer hit from the right side.

    He would strictly be a PHer and a backup for Joey. And when Joey gets a rest, it’s usually with a lefty pitching, so he wouldn’t even be so useful there.

  15. @Jeff: I like your optimism about 2012. I’m looking forward to 2011, but I think you’re right, we can continue to get better for a couple more years.

  16. Yeah, no Berkman. He would have to be REALLY cheap.

    He’s 34, and hasn’t played OF since 2007. Plus, he’s posted a -16 runs saved below average in almost 900 career games in the OF. To be fair, that is about what Jonny Gomes did this season alone, but I would hope the Reds could do better.

    His average has slipped, but he still got on base at about a 370 clip last season, which means the Mets will overpay to try to pick him up๐Ÿ™‚

  17. @pinson343:

    yes, completely, some of us can recall the late 70’s/early 80’s when Reds had multiple pitchers that seemed ready to carry the team: Mike Lacoss, Frank Pastore, Charlie Liebrandt, Mario Soto, Joe Price, Bruce Berenyi all had rookie/1st full year seasons with double digit wins. Only Soto and Leibrandt went on to have further success, though Leibrandt was traded away and became a success while Soto was short-lived bright spot.

    I am all for keeping all the young starters. Bronson would be one to trade if any are.

    Go 2011 Reds!

    • Mike Lacoss, Frank Pastore, Charlie Liebrandt, Mario Soto, Joe Price, Bruce Berenyi all had rookie/1st full year seasons with double digit wins.

      That was the Reds marketing machine and reputation at work. We believed they were prospects due to the success of the 60’s and early 70’s, but they talent really wasn’t there. Soto was for real; Leibrandt had some good seasons; the others were essentially role pitchers.

      Pastore won 6 his rookie year; made double digits only once in eight seasons

      LaCoss won 4 his rookie year, hit double digits his first full season and a total of five times in 14 career seasons.

      Leibrandt won 10 his rookie season, but his K rate was only 3.2 and the league caught up with him. Later moved his k rate to 4.5-5 with the Royals and that’s when he started winning.

      Soto won 2 his rookie year; won 10 in his fourth season, but first full season; his first full season he was fifth in Cy Young voting with only 10 wins pitching mainly mainly out of the bullpen

      Joe Price won 7 as a rookie; won 10 one season out of 11

      Bruce Berenyi won nine his rookie season; only hit double digits once in seven seasons.

  18. @pinson343:

    I’m looking forward to 2011 as well but since the end of the playoffs (for the Reds) my minds been thinking all about next years options and have already burnt those thoughts out until the start of FA. So I went ahead and jumped forward another year to give my brain more Reds baseball for the time being.

  19. @doctor:

    Before 2009, he played in 162 games twice, then 157.

    Even without the injuries, he’s been regressing against lefties:
    2010=Garbage, he played in 33 games but
    Right=OPS of .706
    Left= .326
    2009= Injured again, just not in the beginning of the season
    Right= .822
    Left= .712
    Right= .934
    Left= .735
    Left= .718
    Left= .661

    Seems like 2007 may have been an anomaly in terms of platoon split, but he hits righties. I bet having him in a line-up with more solid hitters would stop making him force. He has also only played center, where he is a career 34 runs over average, but was -7 last year, probably because of that busted leg. Stubbs was 14 above last year. Playing LF might keep Sizemore healthier.

    7.5 mil for next year, 8.5 mil club option for 2012 (with a 500K buyout! Nice work Indians!)

    He is the player that I have heard people comparing Stubbs to the most. I like this deal more than Ellsbury. But, again, this is going to cost a lot of collateral.

    • do you think when the reds acquired john stuper, they became lethargic?

      I think more likely they felt (Greg) Swindell’d. ๐Ÿ™„

  20. @Steve Price: Pastore had good form and Berenyi had good stuff, not really sure what happened in those cases.
    Of course Berenyi had control problems. In 1981, it seemed like Pastore would pitch just badly enough to lose.

    Pastore wrote a book about his failed baseball career, among other biographical things, became a minister, etc.

  21. @Steve Price:

    Steve, i think you undersell those guys some. these guys i ref’d all had an effective/solid successfull season early on in thier MLB career(age 22 or 23). My gosh, Pastore with 9CG his 1st full year!!! Imagine that today. Then, just when Reds had seemed setup for a solid rotation of young pitchers, for various reasons most faded away(trades, injury, ineffectiveness) plus reds downturn as a team not helping.

    Lacoss, age 23, 1979, 14-8, 3.50era, with 6CG (1st full season and all-star)
    Leibrandt, age 23 1980, 10-8, 4.25 era, with 5CG and 2sho (rookie year)
    Pastore, age 22 1980, 13-7, 3.27 era, with 9CG and 2sho (1st full season)
    Price, age 23, 1980, 7-3, 3.56 era, 24g, 13gs (rookie year)
    then he was effective caddy to Tom Hume in bullpen for two years, 9-5, 2.71 in 100G
    in 1983, age 26, 10-6, 2.88 era in 21GS, with 5CG

    Berenyi, age 26, 1981, 9-6, 3.50 era, 20gs,5CG, 3sho. (rookie year)

    Transistion to present and Reds again seem to have a certain amount of SP depth and people are discussing trading some away(with good reason) to address “needs”, I just caution(maybe I am being too cautious, lol)those in being too quick to think of trades, and you are more aware than most given some of your past articles posted of reds history. Good stuff as usual from you.

    Go 2011 Reds!

    p.s. look at all those young pitchers with 5CG+, just wow given today’s game.
    abuse points?!?!?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. @doctor: I remember all the pitchers above. A promising season or two (more in Price’s case) and then a flame out.

    I mentioned Pastore above, because he was the most promising.
    Pastore in 1979 was outstanding. He was the Reds game 2 starter in 1979, and pitched well. His form reminded everyone of Tom Seaver, the Reds ace at the time. As expected, he pitched well in 1980. I mention 1981 above. He didn’t pitch badly, but would make a mistake or two at some point and a win would elude his grasp. After that he didn’t do much. I haven’t read his book, but apparently he talks about a psychological component to his early decline.

    Berenyi had nasty stuff and was dominating at times. He was hurt by a weak Reds offense after 1981. He got traded to a good Mets team and didn’t pitch well for them. I don’t know whether it was an arm problem, the presssure of pitching in NY, or what.

    I liked Joe Price. He was one of our best pitchers in 1983, but had an elbow problem or something.

  23. Doctor,

    You make a strong case, especially placing the seasonal dates next to the ages. I had forgotten that group essentially came up together and it’s really quite impressive.

    You make an even stronger case as to why we shouldn’t trade the arms we have unless our scouts strongly feel something is missing in one of the pitchers that is ordinarily hard to detect. As you’ve demonstrated, there’s never enough pitching for possible flame outs or injury.

    It’s probably that my memories of the early 1980’s Reds farm system has to do more with the failure of outfield prospects Paul Householder, Duane Walker, and Eddie Milner. We ended up with no offense.

    Looking at the ERA+’s of the pitchers and not the ERAs kind of brings the performance level back into perspective. Through 1981, our hitting was still pretty good and would give the younger pitchers a break. Their ERAs are pretty close to average, which is still good for young guys. It doesn’t seem that they got any better though… most of these guys had good careers, but weren’t dominant

  24. @pinson343:

    pinson, in regarding Pastore, i recall reading an article back in mid-80’s that Pastore was too smart for his own good and would out-think himself on the mound, then lose confidence when he got hit. Not sure true or not.

    Berenyi pitched solid for Mets after the trade to them(9-6,3.76 era). He ended up hurt the next year after 3 starts, with a tear in his rotator cuff. He came back from surgery but again ended up needing RC surgery again, ending his career.

    I remember a quote from Seaver or Bench, how Berenyi was a no-hitter waiting to happen given his stuff.

  25. @Steve Price:
    “..Itโ€™s probably that my memories of the early 1980โ€ฒs Reds farm system has to do more with the failure of outfield prospects Paul Householder, Duane Walker, and Eddie Milner. We ended up with no offense….”

    agreed, i thought Householder was going to be the next Reds Household(er) name. ๐Ÿ˜† He was so good his two years at AAA/Indy, figured he was a cinch to be a reds star. He along with Nick Esasky i thought would be the next foundation.

    Such are the ways of trying to project minor leaguers success.

  26. @Steve Price: We’ve come back to your remark about the Reds’ marketing machine. I didn’t know at first what you meant by that, but the mention of Paul Householder reminds me of how much he was hyped. The Reds (I think the GM Wagner, who was an idiot) made the “soon to be a household name” comment.

    I thought Paul was going to develop into a very good player, but he felt a lot of pressure his rookie year and then had a bout with hepatitis his second year. He wasn’t the same after the hepatitis.

    Why did he feel so much pressure his rookie year ? The Reds had let their entire 1981 OF (Griffey, Foster, Collins) depart for NY and justified it to Reds fans by touting Householder, Milner, and Cedeno. Cedeno, once a great all around player, was over the hill with the Reds (he’d broken his leg). The Reds had compounded their problems by trading Ray Knight for him. That left 3rd base open for Johnny Bench, but it turned out he coudn’t play 3rd base. Seaver hurt his arm, it was a total disaster.

    The Reds went from the best record in the majors (but no playoffs) in 1981 to 101 losses in 1982.

    Mario Soto’s 14-13 in 1982 BTW was perhaps the best season I’ve ever witnessed of a Reds pitcher.

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