Monday, July 28, 2008

Hi, Hello and...Marty?

I've been accused of being a blasphemous blasphemer at times, but to the best of my knowledge I've never said a bad word about Nick Van Exel or Marty Brennaman.

Until tonight.

As I was driving in my air conditioning-less Dodge Intrepid this evening, I was listening to Brennaman call the bottom half of the first inning from tonight's Reds-Astros contest. Johnny Cueto was struggling. The first three hitters had reached base and the Hall of Famer, as he is wont to do, voiced his frustration (I'm paraphrasing):

"22 starts into your major league career you should be able to expect some measure of consistency, but that just isn't the case with Johnny Cueto."

To that I say...REALLY? After 22 starts?

Marty, you're just plain wrong. It takes guys years to find consistency. Does the name Edinson Volquez ring a bell? If he hadn't been the walking definition of inconsistency as a youngster he'd still be a Texas Ranger (and the Reds would still have Josh Hamilton. Wait, bad example-bad example...).

Consider the case of Roy Halladay, quite possibly the best pitcher in the A.L. - because he started his career with out-of-this-world hype, lived up to it for a moment and came crashing down to Earth before figuring it out.

Halladay, like Cueto, was a highly regarded pitching prospect who tore through the minors. Whereas Cueto threw a gem in his first start (7IP, 1H, 0BB, 1ER), Halladay waited until his second (CG, 1H, 0BB, 1ER - aka almost a goddamn perfect game). Halladay pitched in 36 games the next season (1999), starting 18 of them. He went 8-7 with a somewhat deceiving 3.93 ERA (I say "deceiving" because his WHIP was 1.574). By all accounts, at 22 years of age--20 starts into his big league career--Halladay appeared destined for stardom.

Not so fast, my friend.

The man they cleverly call "Doc" posted a disastrous 10.63 ERA in 19 games (13 starts) in 2000, and despite his early success, his future was a giant fat question mark. So much so that Toronto started Halladay off in 2001 at Single-A Dunedin (imagine if the Reds did that not in 2009, but in 2010 with Cueto...we'd flip out). It didn't take Halladay long to figure it out, as he wound up pitching 105 impressive innings (3.16 ERA) with the big boys that summer. Since that point he's been a legitimate ace, but it took him a while to get there. And I'm sure Blue Jays fans were pulling their hair out along the way.

Taking your lumps can be a good thing.

Got it, Marty? Relax.

-Brad Spieser (


daniel said...

I watched the whole game and my brother was there. Cueto didn't pitch that bad. I think he lasted 6 innings or something. It was a boring game to watch after the 5th or so. Adam Dunn did hit like a man though. I wish the astros would trade lee and go out and get dunn and C.C. in the offseason.

Twin Killing dot Com said...

Cueto didn't pitch all that bad...but when it starts to go downhill, it gets there fast. I'm still betting on his future success.

With a little health and a little luck, the Reds might be looking at possessing the best rotation in baseball within three years.