FIRE JOE MORGAN: Why, Mike Celizic? Just...Why?


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Thursday, November 10, 2005


Why, Mike Celizic? Just...Why?

Mike Celizic is wrong all the time. And the interesting thing about Mike Celizic and how he is wrong, is that he often explains his reasoning in a way that indicates that he knows he is wrong. It's very confusing.

To wit: here is his explanation for why Chris Carpenter should have won the Cy Young this year.

Get over the notion that Roger Clemens deserved his eighth Cy Young Award on the basis that he had the lowest ERA in 10 years and is as old as the Rocky Mountains and equally as admired.

Nice opening here -- a crazy run-on sentence, which also ascribes to people a belief I don't think they hold. I think most people held the notion that Roger Clemens deserved his eighth Cy Young on the basis that he had an awesome year. And comparing the amount he is admired to the amount the Rocky Mountains are admired is clumsy and bizarre.

The Cy Young Award goes to the best pitcher, not the most popular, not the one with the best human-interest sidebar nor the one who stands to get the most endorsement deals for hanging up another plaque.

Again, I think that there are plenty of people who simply believe Clemens was the best pitcher last year. I don't believe there were a lot of people who thought he should get the Cy Young Award because he is popular, or because they want him to get endorsement deals. (What does that even mean?)

And as much as I found what Houston Astros' Clemens did last season beyond belief, he wasn’t the National League’s best pitcher. That person would be Chris Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals ace who blossomed after seven years of underachievement into a starter who went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA, seven complete games and four shutouts. And if it’s not Carpenter, it’s Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins, the 2003 Rookie of the Year who rebounded this season after a sophomore slump to lead the NL in wins with 22.

But it’s not Clemens.


Solid arguments can of course be made for all three of these guys. Let's get this out of the way:

Carpenter: 241.2 IP, 204 H, 18 HR, 213/51 K/BB, 1.06 WHIP, .231 BAA. He went 21-5, 2.83.
Clemens: 211.1 IP, 151 H, 11 HR, 185/62 K/BB, 1.01 WHIP, .198 BAA. He went 13-8, 1.87.
D-Train: 236.1 IP, 213 H, 11 HR, 170/55 K/BB, 1.13 WHIP, .243 BAA. He went 22-10, 2.63.

To my eye, it's almost a wash. Carpenter and Willis get the slight nod in innings over Roger, but all three WHIPs are essentially identical, and superb. Carpenter wins in Ks, but Clemens's absurdly low hit total (probably party the result of good situational karma) deserves consideration. Clemens and Willis both allowed a ridiculous 11 HR. Really, any one of them is a good candidate. (I can't help but add that Johan Santana had a better year than all of them, and he didn't win his league's Cy, because... well, read my earlier post about Bartolo Colon. Neither here nor there.)

Let's see why Celizic favors Carpenter.

I’ll admit the arguments for Clemens are attractive, even if they’re not compelling. He rang up 1.87 ERA, which is the lowest since Greg Maddux fashioned a 1.63 ERA for the Atlanta Braves in 1995, when umpires were still giving him three or four inches outside the black on both sides of home plate... if the Cy were given to the best age-adjusted performance or the most impressive performance by a guy who uses a walker to get to the team bus, Clemens would be your man.

Why are you making fun of Roger Clemens's age? He's an unbelievable pitcher. Partly because of how old he is, but take his numbers and ascribe them to a guy half his age and they're still just as impressive. What point is Celizic trying to make here? Or is it just a lame joke?

But there’s a little problem with wins; Clemens had just 13 of them against eight defeats. His defenders will say quite accurately that the Rocket got less support from the Astros than Anna Nicole Smith would get from a Kleenex bra. They were shut out in seven of his starts, five of which ended in 1-0 scores, and handed him just 18 runs total in his first 11 starts.

If Clemens were still pitching for the New York Yankees, he would have won 20, but if a squirrel had longer ears and hind legs and a little powder-puff tail, it would be a rabbit. The game isn’t about ifs, it’s about numbers.

Please read that last sentence again.

So, Roger Clemens pitched well enough to win 20 games with a team that had a better offense. But the game isn't about ifs, it's about numbers. So, to put it another way: this game is about numbers, and if one thing -- that has nothing to do with numbers -- were different, Roger Clemens would have won the Cy Young.

Roger Clemens should not win the Cy Young award for individual achievement in pitching because of the failures of the other 24 guys on his team. Explain that. Imagine I run a world record-setting opening leg of a 4x100 relay. I blow everyone else away. Then the next guy stumbles and accidentally swallows the baton and poops in his pants and we lose. Am I a bad runner?

Although I think Carpenter was the man on the basis of start-to-finish consistency, I wouldn’t think it a horrible injustice if Willis were to win. Dontrelle did have one more win, 22 to 21 for Carpenter, and an ERA of 2.63, which was two-tenths of a run lower than Carpenter’s 2.83.

Dontrelle's bullpen was slightly better in his starts than Carpenter's bullpen was in his. So Dontrelle deserves...what? Points for being a good cheerleader? And Dontrelle's ERA was two-tenths of a run lower, which means that Carpenter gave up one extra earned run roughly every four or five starts.

Carpenter...was steady from start to finish — although he struggled somewhat in September —

Carpenter was always good. Except for a period of time when he was bad.

--and he anchored a staff for the National League’s winningest team. He’s a guy who spent six years in Toronto, never winning more than 12 games and putting up a winning record just twice.


Last year, he started to find his way with the Cardinals, going 15-5.


This year, he added six wins without adding any losses. He, and not Roger Clemens, deserved to be the NL Cy Young winner on Thursday.

Debatable. But not for any of the reasons you mentioned. Certainly not because he had more wins.

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