Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is Homer Bailey...A Bum?

Something called Dugout Central had this to say about Homer Bailey:

Fresh off the heels of Jay Bruce's long anticipated and much heralded debut, the Reds are calling up Homer Bailey to start against the Phillies on Thursday. This is a grave error in judgment by General Manager Walt Jocketty and whoever else was involved in this decision.

Yes, he's only 22, but I don't care what Baseball America says, the guy's a bum. He proved it last year when he was called up, and he's proving it again this year by pitching poorly with Louisville. How can a guy pitching at AAA with a 1.40 WHIP be expected to compete at a Major League level?

Trade him! And do it while you can still get something good for him. Get a third baseman, another starter, more bullpen help...anything. The kid will not amount to squat.

Additionally, according to Hal McCoy, who has been covering the Reds for 36 years, he's a jerk. I'll take McCoy's word any day over anyone in the Reds' organization. Here's what McCoy said:

"Two of his teammates, both in the rotation, took him to task for a 'big-league attitude' this spring and one said, 'What he needs is for somebody to take him water skiing, without the skis.' Somebody brought up Steve Carlton. No, he didn't communicate with the media, but he did with his teammates and his teammates loved him."

Down on the farm in AAA, the Reds have two guys I'd bring up before Bailey: Matt Maloney and Daryl Thompson. Doing that, however, would show the Reds' hand and make teams wonder why they didn't bring up Bailey.

What would I do before a trade? Move Jeremy Affeldt into the rotation and call up another reliever. Then pray that a deal could be made pronto.

There's no doubt in my mind that the sole reason for the recalling of Bailey is directly attributed to the current Bruce-love buzz in Cincinnati. I hope the kid proves me wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

Maybe he will. Maybe he's improved his attitude. But a 1.40 WHIP in Louisville - that will take a miracle.

Rob Neyer responded to this in his blog:

Bailey's probably not a bum, and it probably won't take a miracle for him to pitch effectively in the majors.

I do agree, though, that a simple reading of the evidence suggests this move is premature.

In the minors this spring, Bailey's walked 31 hitters in 69 innings and that problem's getting worse rather than better; in his last four starts he's walked 17 in 19 innings. Going back one more start, Bailey walked only two batters, but struck out just one. And that was in four innings. I'm a big believer in players earning their way to the next level, and statistically all Bailey's earned lately is another few weeks in the International League.

That said, baseball people sometimes will talk about young players who are bored, and actually benefit from the challenge of a promotion to the next level. I don't have any idea if the Reds front office suspects the same of Bailey, but it's a possibility.

Whatever the Reds may believe, though, I don't think Bailey's ready. His first four starts? Phillies, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees. Good luck with that.

My take (minus the italics):

I suspect Bailey will become a better-than-average starter, but I could be wrong. He's only 22, and up until last year, he'd done nothing but dominate since he was playing Knothole. That has to count for something, right? So he hasn't faced adversity well, and he appears to be a world-class frontrunner (and maybe even a jerk), but that doesn't mean he's without talent. And he's certainly not a bum, as Dugout Central wrongly pointed out. Check out his nine starts from last season; they're actually better than I remember. Sure, he had two stinkbombs, but he also threw one legitimate gem (7 IP, 2H, 1ER), as well as four other starts where he went at least 5 innings while giving up two runs or less.

Let's not forget, Bailey was just 21-years-old last year when he threw 45 innings and compiled a not-terrible-for-21 1.566 WHIP. Perspective: Our Lord and Savior, Edinson Volquez, didn't make his Major League debut until he was 22-years-old, and when he did, he was horrendous, posting a WHIP in the 2.200 range over his first two seasons...spanning 46 innings.

Just saying.

Bum or not, I'm excited for Homer Bailey: Part Deux

-Brad Spieser (