Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Charnel House Rules

Homer Bailey made his first start of the season this week. Homer Bailey was optioned to the Minors this week.


Even at an age when many of his contemporaries are still bumming around Europe, or, if they're like me, finishing up those last few credits (semesters), the 23-year-old pitcher whose name sounds suspiciously like it was conceived by John Irving is dangerously close to moving to Bustville.


Over three seasons, the former seventh-overall pick has posted a Major League line of 18 starts, 86 IP, 74 H, 51 BB, 49 K, and a ghastly 7.71 ERA. PECOTA pegs the erstwhile top prospect's closest comparables as Mark Grant (reliever), Andy Hawkins (mediocre starter) and Mike Harkey (somewhat less mediocre starter).


Is Homer Bailey doomed to repeat the vicious cycle of mediocre starterhood? Or can he figure out how to pitch in the Major Leagues like slightly less comparables Todd Stottlemyre, Ben Sheets and Matt Morris.


One thing's for sure: Homer Bailey won't gain much more by pitching in the Minors. Bailey was victimized by an abnormally high BABIP in 2008, but his K-rate remained constant relative to 2007 and his BB-rate fell by 0.5. His Fielding Independent Pitching of 3.96 was more indicative of a good pitcher than his ERA of 4.77. Bailey has increased his K-rate in 2009 while decreasing his BB-rate, but his FIP is an abysmal 5.14.


Still, after nearly 40 Triple-A starts, something must give. Ready or not, Homer Bailey belongs in the Majors; he's spent two full calendar years on the 40-man roster, and he's approaching the stage when he'll have lost most of his trade value (see Jackson, Edwin). The Reds have designs on contending for the NL Central this year; they should move Bailey for a piece they can use for their final push.


Until then, it's probably time to call a moratorium on Homer Bailey's prospect status.