H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is the Kind of Column that Bad Columnists Write

Renowned baseball writer D. Justice had this analysis of the rumored trade proposal between the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros, which according to Justice consisted of Wily Taveras, Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz going to the Sox in exchange for Jon Garland:

"[The proposed trade] was a huge, smart one. [Purpura] was going to get White Sox righthander Jon Garland for Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh. That's the kind of deal good general managers make. It's one that makes sense but also has risks.

Purpura could look bad if Hirsh becomes a star, if Taveras continues to get better and if someone in the White Sox organization can get Buchholz straightened out.

On the other hand, he'd be getting Garland, a 27-year-old pitcher who has averaged 216 innings the last three seasons and gone 36-17 the last two. He also has a reasonable contract — $22 million the next two seasons."

Let's take a look for ourselves, and if you don't mind, I'm going to go just a tad bit more in-depth than ol' Dicky decided to go in his feature column today.

Jon Garland: One thing he does is eat innings - an average of 33 starts and 206 innings pitched over each of the past five seasons. A couple of things are constant: he gives up hits (10.52/9 IP last season, 9.31 for his career) and baserunners (1.38 career WHIP, 3.07 BB/9 IP) and he does not miss many bats (4.89 K/9 IP for his career). Those are not numbers indicative of a solid #2 or #3 starting pitcher. But like Wandy, he wins games, right? Give me a break, Justice. Garland's a below-average #3 and a decent #4 for a good team. Comparables from Baseball Reference include Paul Byrd, Cory Lidle and El Duque. That's not very elite company. Garland is due to make $10M in 2007 and $12M in 2008.

Jason Hirsh: Last year's PCL Pitcher of the Year and 2005's Texas League Pitcher of the Year, credentials are certainly not lacking for Mr. Hirsh. During 2005 and 2006 between stints at AA and AAA, Hirsh allowed about 6.6H/9IP, struck out about 8 per 9 IP and walked 2.5 per 9 IP, with a 26-10 record and an ERA in the mid-2.00's. He was inconsistent last season for the big league club, but he did put together a nice stretch of four consecutive starts between August 27 and September 16, going at least six innings and allowing two runs or less each time out. Obviously, Hirsh is a much cheaper option than Garland with a very impressive minor-league pedigree, though his makeup has been questioned at times by Astros' management.

Taylor Buchholz: As I mentioned in a post yesterday, during his major-league debut season in 2006, Buchholz posted lower H/9 (8.52) and WHIP (1.25) than Garland and struck out batters at a higher rate (6.13/9 IP). He did have a proclivity for giving up the long ball, which crushed his ERA (5.89). Buchholz did just turn 25 years old in October, and he did not have such an inability to keep the ball in the park in the minor leagues. Comments have been made consistently by Astros' hitters about the nastiness of Buchholz's stuff, and such nastiness was exhibited on several occasions last season, including a pair of shutout stints against the Texas Rangers. He does have a history of injuries, but his peripheral numbers seem to indicate that he is quite capable of posting a 4.50 ERA or better given a chance to develop in the Astros' rotation.

I'm not going to break down Willy Taveras, mostly because I don't have a problem at all with giving up Taveras for the right package in return (which does NOT include packaging him with two solid young pitchers for an average #4 starter, by the way). Willy's OBP and plate discipline, to me, are simply not good enough to make his speed as dangerous as it could be. With Everett and Ausmus seemingly locked in for the duration and Biggio certainly sliding offensively, CF is a position that the Astros desperately need to upgrade (calling Vernon Wells), so I could not care less if Taveras is dealt. If dealing Taveras puts Chris Burke in the everyday lineup in 2007, then I am fine with it, though there will likely be a relatively considerable defensive dropoff.

Houston Astros' fans deserve a much more accurate and in-depth analysis of such a "huge" trade, as Justice calls it. The fact is that Garland stands to make about 2000% more money than Hirsh and Buchholz will combined over the next two seasons, and the chances are good that Buchholz and/or Hirsh could post similar, if not better numbers, if they are slotted in the rotation and developed properly by new pitching coach Dave Wallace. This is a terrible trade from the Astros' perspective, and the White Sox should be cursing their GM for not closing the deal on what would have been a heist for the Sox. As for Justice, sadly I am not surprised that he was unable to take an objective look at this trade, as he has shown for years now that emotional rants and baseless rhetoric are the only style of writing styles of which he is capable. He does not have the time or the attention span to engage in critical thinking, and that is a real loss for this teams' fans. Richie, this is not a deal that "good GMs make"; it's a deal that gets bad GMs fired.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the vast majority of your analysis, especially saying that the astros would be giving up too much to obtain Garland. However, i think you paint a pretty nasty picture of Garland. He would be a great addition to the Astros starting pitching which right now is a huge question mark.

I beleive Pettitte had only had an ERA under 4 twice in his previous six years with yankees before the astros picked him up. However, pettitte had a knack of performing well in the post season, and the fact that he moved over to the NL, his ERA dropped right away.

Now, Garland only has one year of solid post season experience, but he pitched extremely well. Plus we are talking about him moving from the majors to the minors (AL to NL). Well maybe i stated that too harshly, but you have to admit the caliber of lineups he faced last season compared to what he would have faced being in the NL was night and day. With both Clemens and Pettitte as question marks right now for the Stros, I would say Garland would make a pretty solid starter for the stros... especially if he was able to go over 200 IP each year.

Fri Dec 08, 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks for the comment, anonymous. My point is not so much that Garland stinks; assuming Pettitte and Clemens are gone, the Astros clearly could use him in their rotation. My point is that I think it is reasonably likely that either Buchholz or Hirsh (or potentially even both of them) could pitch as well or better than Garland would in the same role for the club. If that's the case, then this deal is a bad one for the club just because they're giving up two of the same (plus Willy T) in return for just one, and that doesn't even take into consideration the salaries involved.

I agree with your point about the move to the NL likely helping Garland's numbers. Replacing the DH with a pitcher on a nightly basis will certainly be a pleasant change for him. However, I personally don't think there's much credibility in comparing Garland today to Pettitte three years ago.

I'd rather see the Astros go young in the rotation and see what Dave Wallace can get out of Hirsh, Albers, Buchholz and Nieve than pay a so-so like Garland $22M. That money needs to go to the offense, where there is little hope for help from the young kids in AA and AAA other than Hunter Pence. If you're going to add payroll, then trade for Andruw Jones or Vernon Wells; throwing $11M/season at a 4.50 ERA pitcher is not going to get you the best return on your dollar, in my opinion.

Fri Dec 08, 03:23:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home