Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bad vibes

Around the Internet, I'm picking up a lot of anti-Brett Tomko sentiments, and I'm at a failure to understand why.

Okay, I'm not at a failure to understand why, but I am at a failure to understand why the feelings are so strong.

Let's look at facts:
  1. Tomko isn't very good.
  2. Tomko is mediocre.
  3. Tomko had been very good for a string of starts unexpectedly, allowing the Giants the opportunity to have a shot at the Padres for this four-game series.
  4. The aforementioned shot was extremely small in the first place. Did we all really expect the Giants just to go out and sweep the Padres in four in San Diego? Folks, I think the Giants are a slightly better team than the Padres at this time, but San Diego has won half of their games this year. At home, they stood a good chance at taking at least two of four.

I'm reading a lot of fans saying that last night cost Tomko a spot in next year's rotation. That could well be true, what with how much Brian Sabean loves those "clutch" performances and all, and seems to jettison all those who make big mistakes in late-season contests.

But let me tell you why that's silly.

  1. Again, Tomko's run of quality starts before last night is what allowed the Giants to have a chance in the first place. He could have simply sucked in any one of those previous games and the Giants would have been in the same position as they are today.
  2. Tomko is what he is -- an inconsistent, mediocre pitcher. He was brought in this season from last year's late season surge he put on, where he was as "clutch" as you wanted to be in September. He was given the mantle of #2 starter in a fit of stupidity (despite the surge, his stats last year were only decent, not good), and he failed that utterly...or, did he? Look at the numbers. Tomko really isn't that much different a pitcher than last year. Don't believe me?

2004: 194 innings, 196 hits, 98 runs allowed, 19 HR's allowed, 64 bb's, 108 k's, 5.01 k/9, 1.69 k/bb ratio

2005: 183 innings, 199 hits, 98 runs allowed, 20 HR's allowed, 57 bb's, 110 k's, 5.45 k/9, 1.93 k/bb ratio

Yes, folks, that's right -- he's the same damned pitcher, really. The only differences are that he's allowed more extra-base hits this year (.414 SLG against him last year, .455 this year), his ERA (4.04 last year to 4.66 this year), and his won/loss record (11-7 in 2004 to 7-15 in 2005).

So while one can make the case that Tomko was a better pitcher last year, he was only better by a little bit. But the "show me" stats of his won/loss record and ERA will have the imbeciles thinking he was much, much worse this year when that obviously wasn't the case. He's basically the same, and in fact, 2004 was a fluke. Look at his career numbers here and you'll see what I mean.

The bad move wasn't trusting Tomko with this start vs. the Padres, it was in thinking that Tomko was much good in the first place after last year, and thinking that since Tomko had strung several good starts together recently, he'd do the same yesterday.

As far as I'm concerned, with the starting pitcher free agent market being the out-of-the-Giants-price-range A.J. Burnett, and just-a-little-bit-better-than-Tomko Matt Morris and Jeff Weaver, and a bunch of miscellaneous dudes after that -- I really don't see why it'd be a surprise if Tomko would be brought back next season, but as a #4 or #5 starter instead of a much overrated #2 starter.

Except for the one more difference for Tomko between 2004 and 2005...last year, Tomko got "clutch" and stayed "clutch". This year, he got "clutch", but didn't remain "clutch". This year, he had the nerve to not be "clutch" in every, single start all the way until the end of the season, only "clutch" in four of his last five starts.

For shame, for shame. Only 80% "clutch" this year, instead of 100%? Here's the door, Mr. Tomko. You're not good enough for our team, who are composed of nothing but "clutch" players. So "clutch", in fact, that we've won 47% of our games this year.



Gamesix said...

You know, I agree that Tomko has pitched the same all year. A lot of fans, too, forget that last year he pitched a gem in LA which ended w/the Finley slam (which I was at). HOWEVER...if you're gonna bitch and moan every time you go out to the mound...and I mean EVERY TIME...and ask for run support, then get it, then blow the lead...? WTF is that? If he had stayed quiet, took his lumps like he should've, and not made it a public bitchfest, then yeah I'd be all for him coming back. But he got his fooking run support. Twice. And he had his opportuntiy to throw it down. Twice. How does that one thing go? Fool me once, something know what I'm talking about.

Daniel said...

You're right about Tomko's personality, Gamesix -- it's crappy, really. But in looking at the overall picture, what I'm saying is...

You get what you pay for. Tomko makes 2.65 million, which isn't a whole lot. Many worse pitchers make a lot more. Tomko gets paid what he deserves, and performs pretty much to the level of his salary.

The only problem was that many of us (me included) put too much on Tomko's late season surge last year, and keep expecting the guy to do well continuously, which isn't realistic.

Thanks for stopping by.

Joe said...

Tomko's a scape goat for two reasons.

1) He has shown an unlikeable personality as the first gentleman above mentioned. That makes fans less likely to take failure lying down.

2) He showed those flashes last year and fans wrongly thought he would pitch the entire season like that. They set expectations too high.

Pops said...

Any pitcher can lose it, at any time, in any game. I can't blame Tomko - he really has pitched the same as last year, and last year he was "Wonder Kid". How many games did he lose this year at-or-above his ERA compared to last year? How many games did he win last year where the Giants gave him more runs than his ERA compared to this year? Those 2 stats, to me, would represent the "critical" performance difference between 2004 and 2005 because in the one case he pitches poorly (i.e., his own damned fault), in the other, he pitches well but the Giants hit poorly (i.e., not his fault). Any statistical gurus willing to look it up?

Daniel said...

What you mentioned, father o' mine, is exactly why won/loss record, and to some extent, even ERA, should be ignored when evaluating a pitcher's performance (and won/loss record isn't even a stat, it's the result of all of the other things that happened in a game besides the starter's performance).

Tomko's got half a run of difference in his ERA and it's led to a 29% difference in his won/loss percentage, which doesn't make loads of sense.

The question you pose seems a good one -- perhaps tomorrow...

Daniel said...

Joe, spot on comments. That's exactly why everyone's reacting so strongly to Tomko's failure. Every other pitcher in the Giants staff, in that position, would've had an "out". Schmidt's been injured, and Lowry, Cain, and Hennessey are all young. Tomko's the only one without a built-in alibi.