Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A trip down Memory Lane

I had a brief moment of fun this morning when I was alerted to the fact that John Beck is poised to become the Washington Redskins' 13th starting quarterback since the 2000 season. Oh, what a good laugh I had at that one.

"Ha! Stupid Redskins," I laughed while glancing over at my Patriots Super Bowl Champions mug. "The Patriots have only used 3 quarterbacks since 2000! Tom Brady has started 149 games in that time, more than the top 6 Redskins quarterbacks (Jason Campbell, Mark Brunell, Patrick Ramsey, Tony Banks, Donovan McNabb, Brad Johnson) combined! I've seen college teams that use fewer starting quarterbacks! Who the hell is Tony Banks!?!?"

Yup, it was a fun time. But then, suddenly, I was interrupted by a strange, nagging feeling. It almost felt as if... this Redskins futility... was oddly familiar. Then I realized that, for all the good luck that my Patriots have had in the Brady/Bledsoe era, and for all of the titles that my Boston teams have won in recent years... good God, the Red Sox have trotted out some seriously awful starting pitchers.

Yeah, I took a look back... and it turns out that, since 2000, the Red Sox have used... HOLY CRAP!! 66 different starting pitchers!!! That's not a pitching rotation, that's a pitching conveyor belt! Only three times since 2000 have the Red Sox used fewer than 10 starting pitchers in a season (not coincidentally, in two of those years--2004 and 2007--they won the World Series; in the third, 2010, their entire lineup got hurt and they missed the playoffs entirely), peaking at a ridiculous 14 in 2006

Yup. Redskins fans, I sympathize with you. My football team may not know the agony of awful starting quarterbacks (well... we used to), but my baseball team certainly feels your pain. I think in some of those years we would've been better off with Mark Brunell or Jeff George toeing the rubber than, say, Kason Gabbard or Darren Oliver.

Now, if you don't care about the Red Sox, or this sort of stuff doesn't amuse you, move along... I'll have more bank-related rants later to keep everyone happy. But for the rest of you, come join me on this trip down Memory Lane--brought to you by... oh, let's say Rolando Arrojo.

Since 66 pitchers is way too many for me to wrap my head around, it's clear that some categorization is necessary. My buckets here are arbitrary, meaningless, and amusing. That's the point. Come on, let's have some fun.

The Studs (564 total starts)

Pedro Martinez (139), Curt Schilling (98), Josh Beckett (173), Jon Lester (154)

These guys are aces, and they're durable. They're a big part of the reason the Red Sox have won two World Series in the last decade (Lester less so, but bear with me), and they've combined to start 29% of the Red Sox' games in the last dozen years. Sure, Beckett and Lester might have been crushing beers in the dugout this year, but whatever. At least they get guys out.

Tim Wakefield (292 total starts)

Yeah, I gave him his own category. So sue me. He's been with the team for the entire dozen years, and he's started games in every one of them. He alone has started 15% of Red Sox games this century, and that's just ridiculous. We won't see many like him ever again.

The Complementary Pieces (286 total starts)

Derek Lowe (101), Clay Buchholz (76), Bronson Arroyo (61), Matt Clement (44), Alfredo Aceves (4)

These are your middle-of-the-rotation guys--they're not gonna single-handedly win you any titles, but they are capable of being important pieces on some title-winning teams (and Lowe and Arroyo certainly were). You need some of these guys. Just not a rotation full of them.

The Johns (133 total starts)

John Lackey (61), John Burkett (59), John Smoltz (8), Jonathan Papelbon (3), John Halama (1), John Wasdin (1)

Their names are all John (or Jonathan--he didn't really fit anywhere else... whatever). They all pitched for the Red Sox. Most of them sucked.

The Asians (179 total starts)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (105), Hideo Nomo (33), Tomo Ohka (23), Byung-Hyun Kim (8), Sun-Woo Kim (4), Junichi Tazawa (4), Bruce Chen (2)

Yeah, that's right. I lumped them all together. Some of them were better than others, but let's be honest--we basically consider them all to be the same guy. Except maybe Matsuzaka. He's... unique.

The Journeymen (255 total starts)

Frank Castillo (49), Rolando Arrojo (30), Julian Tavarez (29), Ramon Martinez (27), David Cone (25), Brad Penny (24), Wade Miller (16), Paul Byrd (14), Kyle Snyder (10), Jeff Suppan (10), Bartolo Colon (7), Jason Johnson (6), Ramiro Mendoza (5), Bret Saberhagen (3)

Most of these guys pitched in the majors for a long time. Some of them still do. We don't really know why. They didn't make much of an impact in Boston, though some of them (like Saberhagen, Cone, and Colon) certainly made marks elsewhere, before they got old and terrible. I forgot that half of these guys ever pitched for the Red Sox.

The Lefties (163 total starts)

David Wells (38), Casey Fossum (33), Jeff Fassero (23), Pete Schourek (21), Andrew Miller (12), Kason Gabbard (11), Darren Oliver (9), Erik Bedard (8), Lenny DiNardo (7), Abe Alvarez (1)

Seriously, these guys all basically suck, and yet they combined to account for a full season's worth of starts. The only one of them who had even a modicum of talent weighed a million pounds and was basically an affront to athletes everywhere. Every one of them is the reason why I'm tying my first-born son's right arm behind his back and forcing him to throw lefty. If you're left-handed, you'll last way too long in the majors on way too little talent.

The "Prospects" (59 total starts)

Justin Masterson (15), Brian Rose (12), Paxton Crawford (11), David Pauley (5), Kyle Weiland (5), Felix Doubront (3), Geremi Gonzalez (3), Devern Hansack (3), Michael Bowden (2)

To my recollection, all of these guys were considered "top prospects" at one time or another. Whoops. I'll apologize to Doubront, Weiland, and Bowden if they turn out to be something useful--until then, they stay here.

Who? What? (12 total starts)

Kevin Jarvis (3), Pedro Astacio (1), Scott Atchison (1), Hector Carrasco (1), Josh Hancock (1), Dustin Hermanson (1), Steve Ontiveros (1), Hipolito Pichardo (1), Ryan Rupe (1), Charlie Zink (1)

I seriously don't know who most of these guys are, or why they started games for the Red Sox. Okay, fine, I know most of them but banished any memory of them to the darkest recesses of my mind. Except for Kevin Jarvis. I very seriously have no idea who he is. I still think Baseball Reference might be playing a joke on me.

Hey, that's it... that's all of them. Here's a pie chart.

Wasn't that fun? Now, please, whoever is GM of the Sox next year... please pay someone to get rid of John Lackey. I can't take this much longer.

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