While Homer hasn’t helped my case in his first two starts in Louisville, I’m undaunted in my quest.

An umpire tossed him out tonight (without warning) in the third inning for beaning a player after giving up a home run to the previous hitter. He had walked three in 2 2/3 and allowed two homers, so the argument could be made that his command wasn’t sharp to start with.

I’m not one to argue with the logic that he needs to prove it at AAA before making it to the majors, but if Darnell McDonald, Daniel Ray Herrera, and Paul Janish can make the team out of spring training due to “good springs”….how does that not apply to Bailey?

As for Earl Weaver’s usage of his young pitchers. I’ve found the older we get, the more selective our memories become.

Most of us “long for the days” when players remain with their teams instead of constantly moving around. Fact is, players today actually remain with their teams longer than they did in days of yore, we just don’t remember it that way. Reds fans (and Dodger fans) remember the 70’s teams, which were actually the exception in major league history. Those players did stay together, but you won’t find the same consistency in other decades. One change: star players do seem to change more, and that may be what makes us feel the way we do.

Well, the Orioles pitching of the 70’s was exceptional, too. The Orioles rotation of that period was similar to the Braves rotation of the 90’s: the best in baseball (Dodger fans may argue…). But, that doesn’t mean that Weaver wouldn’t give kids a chance. In fact, he gave them lots of chances, but with him in control rather than leaving them to the minor league coaches. He kept fewer pitchers than some major league teams and let his pitchers hurl more innings (having the DH helped here). He was known to favor lots of platoon players, and he used them in platoon roles as hitters, but he didn’t make lots of bullpen changes. He used the bullpen to pitch his young guys lots of innings…for relievers, that is, while they learned the big leagues and gained enough confidence to be successful.

By the year, courtesy of baseball-reference.com

1971…four twenty game winners (Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, Dobson)….not much room for youth here; except that Palmer was still just 25

1972…SP-Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, Dobson…four big winners return, however Weaver found time to pitch 25 year old Roric Harrison 94 innings with 2 starts, and 21 year old Doyle Alexander 106 innings with 9 starts. In the offseason, the O’s traded Dobson (16-18 record) and Harrison to the Braves for slugger Earl Williams opening a spot for Alexander in 1973

1973–SP–Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, Alexander (age 22, 26 starts, 174 IP), Jesse Jefferson (age 24, 15 starts, 100 IP). Alexander/Jefferson flirt with 4.00 ERAs when that was high; Orioles trade for another “veteran”…24 year old Ross Grimsley (from the Reds for Merv Rettenmund)

1974–SP–Grimsley, Cuellar, McNally, Palmer. Alexander still started 23 games at age 24 with 114 IP; Wayne Garland (age 23) pitches 91 innings, makes 6 starts, and Jesse Jefferson pitches 57 innings. Orioles trade McNally for 28 year old Mike Torrez.

1975…SP–Palmer, Cueller, Torrez, Grimsley. Alexander, (age 24, 133 IP, 11 starts), Garland (age 24, 87 IP), Paul Mitchell (age 25, 57 IP, 4 starts). Off season, O’s trade Torrez for 30 year old Ken Holtzman.

1976–SP–Palmer, Garland, Grimsley, Cuellar, also Holtzman, and Rudy May (acquried for Holtzman and Alexander). A transition year…Cuellar was terrible, later released. Meanwhile, Alexander (age 25, 64 IP, 6 GS), Mike Flanagan (age 24, 85 IP, 10 GS), Dennis Martinez (age 21, 27 IP, 2 gs), and Scott McGregor (age 22, 14 IP, 2 gs). Garland becomes a free agent.

1977–SP–Palmer, Flanagan, Grimsley, May. Dennis Martinez (age 22, pitches 166 inning from bullpen with 13 starts), Scott McGregor pitches 114 ip on 5 starts at age 23.

1978–SP–Palmer, Flanagan, McGregor, Martinez….three of the four were age 25 or younger

It’s an amazing run. Weaver had great talent, but he used the majors as his training ground for his talent, in middle inning situations, growing their arm strength and knowledge of the league.

How many of these guys won 20 games or more at least once? Cuellar, McNally, Palmer, Dobson, Grimsley, Garland, Torrez, Holtzman, Flanagan, McGregor, Martinez. Alexander never won 20 in a season and neither did May. However, Alexander won 194 for his career and May won 152.

I’m a lot more than impressed. Now, I will say that these guys (for the most part) dominated in the minors. But, I just checked Homer’s “peripheral” stats from 2008 and compared them to 2007.

Despite his record declining from 6-3 to 4-7 (Louisville info), his strikeout/walk ratio actually improved from 1.84 to 2.09. His K rate was essentially the same (went from 7.9 to 7.8). His walk ratio decreased from 4.3 to 3.7. His HR rate did go up from 0.5 to 0.8, and his hits per nine innings increased from 6.5 to 9.5, which is a lot. However, recent studies on “batting average on balls in play” has proven that hitting averages on batted balls are somewhat out of a pitcher’s control and more reliant on his fielders. His ERA rose from 3.07 to 4.77, but that’s misleading…over 20% of his runs in 2007 were unearned…his ERA should have been over 4.00 that year, too.

Baseball Prospectus notes that Bailey was being lit after he got two strikes on a batter in the majors last year. The National League batting 2008 norm was .185/.256/.284….Bailey’s was .391/.421/.638. BP says it seemed he was pitching to the radar gun…as if he was overthrowing when trying to finish off the hitter.

I’ll say it again…sounds to me like he needs confidence in lower leverage situations. It’s not like we aren’t carrying about 2000 pitchers on the team…may be if we carried fewer pitchers, we could have enough roster spots to find position players who can hit and provide some offense to balance our defensive specialists….