Wednesday, May 25, 2011


...a player just isn’t who you want him to be. Case in point: Kevin Slowey.

The highest praise you heap on Kevin Slowey is that his career ERA is 4.43.

Again, that’s the best thing. And that’s not a particularly good thing. That career ERA is higher than that of any other Twins starting pitcher, including the two guys most commonly mentioned as pitchers he could replace, Nick Blackburn (4.37) and Brian Duensing (3.37). It’s even a skosh worse than Carlos Silva (4.42) had with the Twins, for chrissakes.

But it is better than some others. For instance, it’s better than Rick Reed (4.47). It’s better than Kyle Lohse (4.88). It’s better than RA Dickey (4.62) and Boof Bonser (5.10). It’s even a little better (so far) than Glen Perkins (4.58).

If you think Slowey is a better pitcher than that - if you think he’s not in that class, maybe he isn’t the player you want him to be.

There aren’t a lot of other stats that can dress him up any better than ERA. He gives up a LOT of hits. The average major league pitcher gives up about one per inning. Slowey has pitched 488 innings and given up 547 hits. To his credit, he makes up for it a little bit by not walking too many guys.

He’s a fly ball pitcher and has given up a LOT of home runs. The average pitcher gives up about one per nine innings. In those 488 innings, an average pitcher would have given up about 54. Slowey has given up 76.

And, by far the biggest problem is that he has had maddeningly short outings. It takes him a lot of pitches to retire batters. His best year ever, he pitched 160 innings. Last year, mostly due to leaving games early, he had a total of eight quality starts (in 28 games started). By comparison, in his 13 starts, Duensing had nine quality starts.

You know what you call a guy with that resume? A fringe starter. A swing man. If you think he’s more than that, maybe he just isn’t who you want him to be.

Those are exactly the tags the Twins tried out this year, and it hasn’t gone well. But make no mistake: the person most responsible for this debacle is Slowey – and it’s not a close call. To criticize the Twins for accurately evaluating Slowey’s track record and plugging him into a role that reflects that track record is ludicrous.

I understand that Slowey probably isn’t too fond of those plans. I suspect he thinks they are unfair, or don’t utilize him to his full potential. The bottom line: he thinks he’s better than that. But Kevin, you’re now in year four of your major league career and the track record is pretty clear. You might want to step back and evaluate.

Have you been the player you want yourself to be?