Everyone wants to date the playmate or drive the Ferrari, but since most of the time playmates aren’t exactly rocket scientists, and Ferrari’s cost roughly the GDP of the state of Alaska. Sometimes it is just a safer move to date the girl next door while driving a Prius. Why do I bring this up? Let me draw a comparison between two hurlers that were ranked fairly closely heading into the 2009 season. Be honest, which one would you prefer to have rostered for opening day?
The Playmate: Joba Chamberlain
Heading into the season, everyone was all over the kid from New York who had the heat, and the results of a hurler who could challenge for the AL Cy Young as early as this season once the Yanks decided to place him in the starting rotation. Looking at his work in his first two seasons, there was every reason to believe that Joba was on the cusp of something special.
6-3, 2.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.00 K/9, 3.38 K/BB over 124.1 innings.
Of course, Joba had never thrown 160-innings in a season in his life, and he had dealt with some shoulder issues at the end of 2008 and in camp early this season. Still, that right arm simply oozed with serious potential. Was the potential for a massively dominating season, on a Yankee club that always racks up the victory, enough to sway you in his direction?
The Girl Next Door: Javier Vazquez
Moving back to the NL to pitch for the Braves, most pundits predicted an increase in production from what Vazquez did for the White Sox in 2008 (12-16, 4.67 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 214 K). After all, he would be facing weaker lineups and pitching in a home ballpark that is much fairer to pitchers than the yard in Chicago. Still, for all those pluses, Vazquez had always been a tease. Blessed with tremendous stuff, he always seemed to have that one bad stretch in a game that cost him a chance at victory (his career record of 131-133 is obvious proof of that). In addition, It’s not like his ERA has ever been strong (4.30 for his career). Still, despite all of that, there was one thing about the “tortoise” that we should mention – he was consistently good even if he never reached the level of greatness.
From 2000-08, a span of nine years, Vazquez was the only pitcher in baseball who tossed at least 195 innings each year while winning 10 games and accruing 150 strikeouts each season.
Again, it’s not like you are going to do cartwheels down the street if one of your hurlers were to produce those numbers, but at the same time, knowing you can bank on that type of consistency from a pitcher, who we all know have more ups and downs that a roller coaster, should count for something.
So, were you seduced by the power of the dark side, or did you play it safe and take the boring route?
Here are each hurler’s efforts so far this season.
The Playmate – Chamberlain
2-1, 3.97 ERA, 46 K, 1.57 WHIP in 45.1 IP
The Girl Next Door – Vazquez
4-4, 3.97 ERA, 78 K, 1.57 WHIP in 64 IP
I have always been a slow and steady guy, and the truth is as much as I would love to date a playmate, I know that the smart money if I want to have an authentic relationship would be to date the girl next door. So wouldn’t you know it, after all of these years taking the slow and steady approach, I finally went all in and chose Chamberlain over Vazquez this season. Just goes to show you that more often than not your first inclination is probably the right one, so trust your gut, lest you end up dating a broken down playmate who has little to offer once her outer beauty fades.
By Ray Flowers