You Can Stick Your 500 Innings
Now that 500 innings has been made the gold standard by Rick Peterson for the number of minor league innings that a pitcher should pitch before they enter the major leagues, I figured I'd do some research. I just wanted to see how uncommon it was for pitchers to hit the majors with less than 400 minor league innings when a player comes right out of high school into pro ball. These are some that I found:
Josh Beckett 215 innings
Dontrelle Willis 314 innings
AJ Burnett 406 innings
Victor Zambarano 313 innings (Only 313 innings after being a converted infielder)
Zack Greinke 178 innings
Odalis Perez 354 innings
Johan Santana 380 innings
Brandon Webb 350 innings
CC Sabathia 231 innings
Rich Harden 328 innings
Mike Maroth 321 innings
Cliff Lee 377 innings
Oliver Perez 367 innings
Sidney Ponson 342 innigns
Since I actually have to get some work done, I am not going into how each player did in their first season. But I will say that many would not classify as a disaster.
Now, there are a lot of top tier pitchers in this group as well as people who may not have been brought up if their teams did not stink. It is also completely reasonable to assume that as highly touted of pitcher that Scott Kazmir was, he would be very similarly heralded as some of the pitchers on the above list if not more heralded. As of right now Kazmir compiled 215 minor league innings with another 30 possible innings coming this year before his September call up. That would leave him with about 245 innings in his minor league career. That would certainly leave him with one of the shortest minor league stints on the above list, but another half season of AAA next year would certainly put him over the 300 innings mark barring any injury. It is not unreasonable to see Kazmir in the latter half of 2005 in the D-Rays starting rotation. The fact that he has a major league fastball and plus slider with a very good and still developing changeup that may end up being a third plus pitch, there is no reason to think that he cannot be a pretty good fifth pitcher and a major league staff almost immediately.
That entire timeframe that Peterson laid out was crapola. There is not gold standard for innings pitched. Players are ready when they are ready. It takes some 700 innings and it takes some 300 innings. The Mets would have had a very formidable 1-4 spots in the rotation with the addition of Benson. The entire idea that Kazmir's timetable was one such that it would not help the new win now Mets is silly. Kazmir could have made a contribution next year as well as in 2006. To say that Kazmir needed another 250 innings after this year is a stretch. He would most likely start AAA next season and should not need much more seasoning. He has the tools to pitch in the majors today according to scouts. Kazmir just needs to refine his control and I guess his approach to hitters. It is also not a stretch to think that he would put up an ERA in the 4.00 to 4.80 range which would not be the worst thing for a fifth starter. Scott has and electric arm and special talents do not necessarily get tagged with timelines that are for pedestrian run of the mill players. When I was researching the above information I came upon countless players who pitched about 400-450 innings and it was not like they were all top tier players. Besides, the Mets are in 4th place and out of the race. How is this not the time to see what you have in a Kazmir, Heilman, etc.? Evaluate from there. Who knows, maybe I know nothing and the Mets were positive that Kazmir's arm would fall right off during a season in which he had to pitch more than 200 innings due to his size and throwing style. After all, he has never eclipsed 100 innings in any minor league season and will cut it close this year. Hard throwing six footers are the subject of scrutiny since it is widely believed that they will eventually break down. However, guys like Oswalt and Pedro do tell another story. It is possible for a six foot pitcher to throw hard and stay off the DL.
This marks the official end of my whining. Or until Scott makes an appearance in the majors and is actually better than Zambrano in 2005. I have vented all my anger. I went through a stage of shock, then denial, then anger, and next is complacency. So there should be the apathetic posts on the way.
Recently traded by the Mets, Scott Kazmir's second outing with the Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League was not as successful as his first. The young southpaw took the loss on Saturday, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits over seven innings. He fanned two in the 7-1 loss to Chattanooga.
Does anyone think this comes off as a little petty? I think there is a certain level of enjoyment in that little comment. Besides four earned runs in seven innings is not exactly a disaster.
LOAIZA A LOSE-A
Classic. Loaiza was booed off the Yankee mound by the Yankee faithful after this Contreras like performance. The best part of this move for the Yankees is the fact that Loiza is out of contract next year and Contreras was not and would cost 8 million dollars. Now the Yankees will be looking to add two starters and I’m pretty sure they will be willing to outspend everyone on the top tier starters. Call it hunch I guess.