Thursday, May 08, 2008

Baseball- what has happenned to the complete game?

Yes... another baseball rant about how the game played today irritates me at times.

You would think that if you pay more you'd expect more, but that's not the case in today's MLB. You see, a guy like Greg Maddux can rake in $10 million a year and only have to put up 5 or 6 innings every 5 days to "earn" his keep. I'm using the Maddux of today and not of the mid 90s so don't take this as a potshot at Mr. "I still get an extra 6 inches on either side of the plate" Maddux.

He's not the only one... most frontline pitchers are told "good job" if they put up 7 innings. Your #4 and 5 SPs are considered valuable if they go 6 innings. To me that's bullsheet.

To illustrate the change in the game, let me compare Ron Guidry to Roy Halladay at age 29. I picked Halladay because he's actually known to finish a game or 2 that he starts.

Ron Guidry stats (look at 1979)
Roy Halladay stats (look at 2006)

What I want to highlight is the # of complete games thrown by each that year. Guidry threw 16 while Halladay had 4. Also, look at the innings pitched. Halladay is considered to be a workhorse in today's game, but pitched 50 less innings than Guidry.

In the era of specialization what's been lost is the art of pitching. Late inning specialists come in with (sometimes) overpowering fastballs, but questionable control. I blame Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre for the shift to the bullpen specialists.

I believe the allowed use of body armor affects control pitchers, but that's another rant for another day.

Edit- I guess I'm not the only one that thinks this way... Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote an article about this on April 28th... one I just read a few minutes ago.


finebammer said...

my personal opinion is that there have been some high profile games where starters have gotten themselves in a bind (one that comes to mind is a red sox game several years ago where grady little left pedro in too long and got hammered for doing so) and the managers tried to leave them in to pitch their way out.

so the reaction is to micro-manage. managers feel they have more control if their more involved. i thought terry francona did one hell of a job winning the world series with that staff last year. the ONLY pitchers he could depend on was beckett and papelbon. schilling and dice-k were hanging on by shoestrings the entire post-season. of course, it didn't hurt having that offense to fall back on.

regardless, i don't blame the pitchers. players want to play. this is about control.

bobbyjack said...

IMO it's an organizational issue. Strict pitch counts rule in minor league ball as it's a way to "protect" their investment.

I liken this to buying a Porsche and never driving it over 80MPH. Yes, you're preserving it, but you're probably not getting the full value of it.

IMO Grady Little took waay too much heat for leaving Pedro in there. As a Yankee fan I was thrilled at the results (last time I've had something truly to cheer about), but I saw the logic in keeping Pedro out there. He's proven and he said he wasn't done.

Side note- Pedro Martinez is one of the best 5 pitchers of this era. For about 5 years he was nearly invincible.