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Ranking Baseball's Best Rotations

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Mr. Clutch, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Nice article- Astros #1!

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1710604

    By Jayson Stark
    ESPN.com

    There's nothing that makes life as a sports fan more worth living than the chance to debate the most fun question in sports:


    Who's better -- this guy or that guy, this team or that team, this sport or that sport, this beer or that beer? (Oops. Strike the last portion of that debate. That's an old side argument.) So, now that Roger Clemens is an Astro, and Andy Pettitte is an Astro, and Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez are Yankees, and Bartolo Colon is an Angel, and Curt Schilling works for the Red Sox -- there's no doubt about what has become the latest, greatest baseball version of that debate:


    Who has the best rotation in baseball?



    Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens will bring a wealth of experience to the Astros' pitching staff.


    OK, take a quick breath now and think.


    Is it the Astros -- the first National League team since the 1956 Dodgers to assemble four starting pitchers with .600 career winning percentages?


    Is it the A's -- a team that employs three starters in their 20s (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito) who are already a combined 99 games over .500 (205-106)?


    Is it the Red Sox -- a team with a rotation fronted by three pitchers (Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe) who have all started an All-Star Game?


    Is it the Yankees -- a team whose prospective fifth starter (Jon Lieber) won 20 games in 2001?


    Is it the Cubs -- the only rotation in baseball last year to rack up more strikeouts than hits?


    Or is it someone else -- the Marlins, Phillies, Angels, Mariners, Braves or the team that actually had the lowest starters' ERA in baseball last year, the Dodgers?


    Hmmm. Tough question. So in order to help you argue it next time you're hanging around some tavern with about 11 hours to kill, we surveyed a bunch of general managers, executives and scouts this week. Here is how they voted:


    No. 1: Astros
    They had an easier time winning this survey than selling season tickets this week. They got the most first-place votes. And no one voted them lower than third. Clemens and Pettitte have more postseason experience than the whole Astros franchise. Roy Oswalt leads all active pitchers in career winning percentage (43-17, .717). Wade Miller has ace-type stuff. And the options for fifth starter (Tim Redding, Jeriome Robertson, Brandon Duckworth, Carlos Hernandez) are fabulous.


    The reviews: "No one (else) has four starters who can be classified as No. 1 or No. 2's." ... "Added a veteran leader (Clemens) and haven't had a left-hander (Pettitte) of that quality since Hampton." ... "Might have as strong No. 5 depth pool as any team in your survey." ... "Age and health of Clemens and Pettite are the only concerns here. Pettitte's elbow scares me."


    No. 2: Yankees
    Lots of division about where to rank this group, which was rated everywhere from first to fourth. With reason. On one hand, the Yankees are the first 100-win team in history to turn over 80 percent of its rotation. On the other hand, they've done it well -- on paper. They're the only AL team featuring two starters (Mike Mussina and Brown) with more than 100 wins and a .600 winning percentage. Vazquez is one of just four pitchers with double-digit wins and more than 200 innings in each of the last four years. Lieber won 20 in his last healthy season. And there's a reason Jose Contreras makes $8 million a year. But for the first time in years, there are more questions on this staff than on "Jeopardy" -- and no left-handed starters.


    The reviews: "Four days a week, they can stack their pitcher up against your best and have a chance to beat you." ... "Lots of upside -- with lots of risk." ... "Health of Brown and Leiber will be the key here. Brown, if healthy, may not lose a game in Yankee Stadium." ... "I want to see Javy pitch in the American League. And I want to see Kevin Brown pitch a full season."


    No. 3: Red Sox
    With Schilling and Pedro Martinez at the top, no team has a more charismatic, more dominating, more established 1-2 tag team. Among starters currently on AL rosters, Pedro and Schilling rank first and second over the last five years in most strikeouts per nine innings and fewest baserunners per nine innings. Only Roy Halladay has more wins over the last two years than Derek Lowe (38). And Tim Wakefield and Byung-Hyun Kim have their moments. But our panel ranked the Red Sox anywhere from first on their ballots to off the ballot completely.


    Pete Rose Rumblings

    Bud Selig may not have read Pete Rose's book yet. (Sounds like a suspicious distribution problem in Milwaukee to us.) But he's heard from enough book reviewers and watched enough interviews that, from every indication, he has downgraded Rose's reinstatement prospects -- from probable to comatose.
    Publicly, Selig says nothing has changed. Realistically, everything has changed since the commish met Rose in his office 14 months ago.

    That meeting, remember, took place only 33 days after Rose's appearance on the field at Pac Bell Park during the World Series. And the ovation for the Hit King that night lasted -- what? -- about 29 days?

    So back then, Selig viewed Rose's reinstatement as a move most fans would assign to the plus side of Selig's ledger sheet. Now, with Rose's public approval plummeting, the commish figures to sit back for close to a year, if not longer, and then retake America's temperature on this.

    But with people in the commissioner's office openly scoffing at the credibility of Rose's literary account of when and how he gambled on baseball, it's hard to imagine now that Selig will ever give serious reconsideration to this matter.


    Even if Rose ever does get reinstated now, he stands next to no chance of holding any meaningful job in baseball.
    People who have been around Rose in recent months say he'd been acting like a man who was doing more than hoping he would manage again. He seemed mysteriously sure he would some day manage the Reds again, for a huge sum of money, plus significant perks -- including attendance clauses.

    But will that ever happen now? Don't (ahem) bet on it.


    There are too many sad elements to Rose's story to list on anything smaller than a billboard. But the saddest of all is that the gambling issue has obscured what a great -- and inspirational -- player he was.
    Without Rose, would there even be a place for the David Ecksteins and Joe McEwings in modern baseball? Don't be so sure.

    "What saddens me is that this guy was a special player," says one longtime scout. "You'd actually write in your reports on a guy: 'He's a Pete Rose-type player.' And if you wrote that, everybody would nod in approval."

    Nowadays, if you said a guy was a Pete Rose-type player, half the country would think that meant he's the kind of guy who took the "under" on the Chiefs-Colts game.



    The reviews: "Best No. 1 and No. 2 in baseball. ... "The top two are quality, healthy, proven, reliable and battle-tested. The next two (Lowe and Wakefield) are versatile and consistent, among many other attributes." ... "On Days 1-2-3, they're as good as any club in the game. On Days 4 and 5, chuck and duck."


    No. 4: A's
    Hudson-Mulder-Zito are the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz of this generation. Only seven active pitchers have a .650 career winning percentage with 90 or more decisions. The A's have three of them. The other 29 teams combined have four. But Hudson, Mulder and Zito can't pitch every day. And questions about the back end of this rotation (Mark Redman, Rich Harden) dropped the A's just behind the other three teams.


    The reviews: "Their top three can compare with anyone." ... "The best thing about that big three is, they go out there every day." ... "Redman has been undervalued since his Detroit days, and he'll have a great year in a pitchers' park." ... "I'm not sold on Harden being even mentioned in the same breath (as the other starters)." ... "Tough in the season, questions in the postseason."


    No. 5: Cubs
    Mark Prior was the first pitcher 22 or younger to win 18 games in a season since Steve Avery (1990). Kerry Wood has the best career strikeout ratio (10.62 per nine IP) of any active right-handed starter. Carlos Zambrano finished seventh in the league in ERA last year. The only current NL right-handers with more strikeouts than Matt Clement the last two years are Wood, Jason Schmidt and Prior. And suppose they add Greg Maddux. ... But suppose they don't. Lack of a long track record left this Cubs group all over the map among a bunch of panelists trying to choose who's the best right now, not who will be the best in 2006.


    The reviews: "The only difference between them and Houston is experience, period. If they add Maddux, they're neck and neck." ... "Prior is a No. 1, but the others, even though they have quality stuff, are No. 3's who occasionally pitch like No. 1's. No left-hander in the rotation hurts." ... "Outstanding 1-2 (Prior-Wood). But a real question at No. 5 (Juan Cruz or Jamey Wright at the moment). I'm not big on Clement. And I question makeup on Zambrano." ... "If they add Maddux, we could argue this all day."


    The Phillies and Angels also got a mention, in case you're interested. But there are two beautiful things about this debate. We can keep having it for weeks. And by Halloween, we'll all know who was right.


    Free Agent Rumblings


    First off, it's time for our first offseason edition of the All Unemployed Team. Yes, all these household names are still out there, seeking gainful work:
     
  2. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Clown Toilet Advocate
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    What amazes me as much as our 1-4 guys is the number of good options we have as the 5th starter. We should not have to settle with just barely average production from our #5 guy with Redding, Robertson, Duckworth and possible Hernandez fighting it out. One of them should have a good season. And assuming the others stay relatively healthy...holy cow I just shat myself.
     
  3. Rule0001

    Rule0001 Contributing Member

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    can't wait until april to get some tickets ! :)
     
  4. l3igballer23

    l3igballer23 Contributing Member

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    I think if the Cubs get Maddux, they are number one. Look at the rotations,,,

    Astros --
    1. Clemens (3.91)
    2. Pettitte (4.02)
    3. Oswalt (2.97)
    4. Miller (4.13)
    5. Redding (3.68)

    Cubs --
    1. Maddux (3.96)
    2. Prior (2.43)
    3. Wood (3.20)
    4. Zombrano (3.11)
    5. Clement (4.11)
     
  5. redgoose

    redgoose Contributing Member

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    That article suprised me when i read it. I haven't really seen the Astros get respect since 1998. Anyways, i was suprised to see the A's rotation got #5. Their pitching seems to win them around 100 games every year, not their offense. They signed Mark Redman as a #5 starter, and Rich Harden should have a good year.
     
  6. franchise?..NOT

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    The Astros have answered the Cubs pitching challenge for this year and for years to come with the moves they made. Bringing in Pettite solidified the rotation and brought a mentor to every pitcher on the staff. Even if he only wins 15 games he will bring the ultimate air of professionalism to a young but talented staff. This should make O, Miller and Redding all better.

    Adding Clemens, in addition to being a cash cow and PR coup, will just add to that. In addition it buys an extra year for the young guys like Redding, Robertson, Hernandez, even Duckworth to get more exposure to the bigs and have two readily available how-to handbooks sitting next to them in the dugout for the next 1 to 3 years. This is big for the 'Stros for many years to come. Anything we get out of this year is a bonus IMO.
     
  7. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    The questions seem to be:

    1 health. Can Oswalt, Clemens, and Miller stay healthy (Miller's inconsistancy last season was health related, reportedly)?

    2 Dotel. Can he handle the pressure of closing? He has the talent. I hope he has the head.

    3. Lidge. Can he stay healthy and build on last year?

    4. Redding or ??? Can he or whomever fill the 6th - 7th inning role(s) necessary under Jimy?

    And offense, of course.

    1. Will Kent's wrist be AOK for power numbers?

    2. Will Berkman bounce back into super stats?

    3. Will Ausmus hit his weight?

    4. Will Bags and Bigg log reasonable #s for themselves?

    5. Who will Doggie being playing Right for? If not 'stros, can Lane handle the position full time?

    6. Will Adam and Morgan be AM or PM? Will they fizzle out after nice '03s or sizzle some in the night lights of pennant contending
     
  8. franchise?..NOT

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    Answers!

    1. After a month into the season, Duckworth and Hernandez are both pushing for amjor league starting jobs and ready to fill-in for the inevitable injury. Duckworth by getting his head straight post-Phillies, Hernandez by pitching in NO and getting his confidance and conditioning back. No reason to assume that Robertson can't fill in he pitched well last year and while 15 wins may be unrealistic he can keep us in games. Clemens has not had any health issues in 10 years so let's not jinx him.

    2. Dotel has better stuff than Wagner and a nasty curve that he is not afraid to through alot. He has had a few years to develop his gunslinger mentality and dsiplayed it with Wagner like results on many occasions.

    3. Lidge is a concern due to the number of inings he pitched last year but wih all the young arms we have we should be able to find another Lidge or two in spring training. We may only need one guy to step up.

    4. Redding being in the 5 spot is gold. He is supposed to have ace type stuff and with Pettite and Rocket on the staff should learn to harness his stuff and gain confidence. This is a gimme year for him unless injury requires him to move up the rotation. Anything he adds this year is gravy and potentially he can bring a lot of gravy.

    The offense IS a big question mark but for four out of every five games they have less pressure to produce runs. If these guys can not handle the pressure then next year we get to make changes from a catbird point of view. With our pitching we should be able to attract any major free agent next year. We can free up major bucks with Biggio retiring. If Hidalgo produces better in the clutch and can cut the K's down then he will be worth re-signing otherwise he's off the books. If Bags declines again and is bothered further by the shoulder then I can see him retiring or being bought out. Berkman will be fine, he is coming up on a contract year after next season and will want to get big production. He'll produce, otherwise he will stay on as Bags replacement as a nice middle of the order hitter making reasonable money as a hometown favorite. Everett is positioned to become a nightly ESPN highlight machine on defense (read the new Ozzie Smith) and had some clutch hits to boost his confidence.

    With Williams confidence building approach with the young guys and the pressure brought by the new signings, this team is positioned to exceed last year, mightily. If they do not then they will have some flexibility to go out and get a Beltran type guy or two to replace those who falter. All this following a big upswing in attendance which should continue long after the Rocket retires next year and I figure I'm on the wagon for the long haul.
     
  9. RocketManJosh

    RocketManJosh Contributing Member

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    I agree that the Cubs might have a little better rotation if they get GM, but I do think he would be their 4th starter at best. He really is losing his stuff and don't look for him to win more than 12-14 games this year (which is good for a 4th starter, but not GM-like)
     
  10. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    At 50 he'll still bedazzle 'stros hitters into slumps.
     
  11. bigboymumu

    bigboymumu Member

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    Man, Hernandez is a STUD! I can't wait to see him healthy again.
     
  12. PhiSlammaJamma

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    Even if we only get the wild card I won't be dissapointed. The Cubs are awesome. Either team could win it. Let's just get to the post season and then see what happens.
     
  13. PhiSlammaJamma

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    Just a hunch, but I think the Astros have hit Maddux well that last two years. But somebody would have to check it out to verify.
     
  14. RocketFan007

    RocketFan007 Contributing Member

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    If you want to see him pitch anytime soon, you better either go to Spring Training or New Orleans, Hunsicker has already said that he is not ready to pitch in the bigs. Fifth starter is down to Redding, Duckworth and Robertson, and will be annouced prior to Spring Training.
     
  15. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    The kid was a stud. The latter day is a rust bucket. If he starts off in NO and proves to be healthy, and a studly again then WOW!

    A young left handed stud pitcher -- too grand to think about?
     
  16. franchise?..NOT

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  17. Buck Turgidson

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    Link for the quotes?
     
  18. RocketFan007

    RocketFan007 Contributing Member

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    Go to www.astros.com and listen to the Hunsicker audio link about the Clemens signing.
     
  19. fadeaway

    fadeaway Contributing Member

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    I risk the dreaded homer backlash by saying this, but I'd take Oakland's rotation over Houston's any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Maybe even the Cubs', if you're talking long term.
     
  20. Buck Turgidson

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    Cool, thanks.

    I didn't expect Hernandez in Houston this year, he did pitch well in Winter ball but needs to build up some more arm strength.

    Very interesting comments on the #5 spot and the desire to avoid competition in ST. I fully expect to see Redding there, Duckworth in the pen or in N.O, and Robertson traded somewhere.
     
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