So, the Dodgers have announced Brett Tomko will be starting against the Giants on Sunday. Obviously, this is a completely terrible idea. Now, we don’t need to use fancy stats to illustrate just how bad Tomko has been this year.. but let’s do so anyway. Sure, any fan can look at a 6.18 ERA and 11.42 hits allowed per nine innings and say, “wow. that’s terrible.” But to really truly explore the depths of Tomko’s suckitude in 2007, ponder this:
In 2007, there have been 575 pitchers to appear in a Major League Baseball game.
Ranked by VORP (short explanation is, Value Over Replacement Player, so if your VORP is 0.0 you’re performing at about the level that any average AAA player would be), Brett Tomko is.. 554th. Of 575 pitchers. That means that 96.3% of MLB pitchers are doing more for their teams (or, alternatively, hurting their teams less) than Tomko. He’s in the worst 3.7% of pitchers. (Amusingly, Tampa Bay has the THREE least valuable pitchers in this ranking – and two are former Dodgers, Edwin Jackson and Jae Seo.)
Some of the pitchers that have hurt their teams less than Brett Tomko this year? Kei “ERA of 7.14 and actually got sent back to SINGLE A” Igawa. Sidney “already got cut by Minnesota, leaving me more time to punch judges in the face” Ponson. Anthony “I actually went 0-10 and already got sent down” Reyes.
Of course, someone has to be the 5th starter. With Schmidt, Wolf, and Kuo injured, and Billingsley and “Lurch” Hendrickson already forced into the rotation, options are limited – I understand. But there’s several problems here:
1) why is the nominal “5th” starter starting the 3rd game after the break? There’s absolutely no reason that the first three games shouldn’t be started by some combination of Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, and Chad Billingsley. Line them up any way you like; at the present time there’s no question that they’re the top 3 starters.
2) Why does management think Tomko is the best option to make this start? Rather, why not DJ Houlton? Now, I’m fully aware how dire of a situation this is when I’m pining for DJ Houlton. Also, I know he’s not an option anymore, because when a player is sent to AAA they must stay there for at least 10 days before being recalled, which means he can’t come back until Wed., 7/18. I’m talking about the fact that he should never have been sent down in the first place, since not having a starter for this Sunday isn’t coming as a surprise. He’s not some rookie being thrown into the fire – while he wasn’t very good in 2005 in LA, he got a good deal of experience in the bigs. And he looked pretty effective in his short time up with the club before the break. Granted, 4 games and 6.2 innings aren’t much to go on, but he only gave up 4 hits and 2 ER (one of which, as I remember, was a home run by Hanley Ramirez on a very good pitch that Hanley shouldn’t even have been swinging at). We know Tomko is worthless. What’s wrong with giving Houlton a shot and seeing if he’s going to have any future? That of course, leads into the third problem..
3) Why are there only 11 active pitchers? If you know me – which you don’t – you know that I usually support carrying 11 pitchers over 12, especially on a team that carries Olmedo “Big Sexy” Saenz as a nearly exclusive pinch-hitter. However, with the rotation in the shambles that it is, and with now all three of the “long men” in the rotation, it’s not much of a stretch to think that the bullpen could use a hand to guard against some short starts here. Conversely, it’s ridiculous to be carrying EIGHT infielders (if you still count Big Sexy as a fielder – he’s not awful at 1B, in my opinion). Houlton got sent down for The Wrong Ramon Martinez. It’s impossible to justify carrying Martinez, Wilson Betemit, and Tony Abreu all at the same time. The solution here seems obvious – send down Abreu, let him play every day at AAA, knowing he’s only a few hours away if needed, and bring back Houlton.
Back to the point, no good can come of this. If Tomko throws out a stinker – which is likely – then the Dodgers have given away a game. If he’s mediocre, then the Blue might have a chance to win the game, but it means Tomko might gain a reprieve. If he’s really good.. ah hell, we all know that’s not happening.
It makes it hard for a Dodger fan to know what to root for. Nothing would make me happier than to see Tomko’s overpaid carcass DFA’d (leave his wife here though, please) but for that to happen, he’ll likely have to throw out a disaster on Sunday – and I don’t think I’m quite to the point of rooting for the Giants to whomp the Blue.