Tuesday, December 28, 2010

J. C. Romero - Why We Hate LOOGYs

The Philadelphia Phillies and J. C. Romero apparently can't get enough of each other. Even though the team declined Romero's option earlier in the off season, Romero--who will be 35 in 2011-- has signed on for his fifth season with the club. Romero is a LOOGY. What's a LOOGY? He's a "Lefty-One-Out-Guy." In other words, he's one of the human rain delays that comes into a game in relief for one guy, a left-handed batter. And Romero has been at this for twelve seasons. He'll get one more.

So why is the Fan's ire reserved only for Romero. It isn't. He's just a prime example. This is the kind of game a guy like Romero pitches:

Joe Blanton pitches six effective innings facing the Washington Nationals. But he starts to labor in the seventh. He gives up a hit to Nyger Morgan and then a sacrifice bunt to Adam Kennedy. Blanton then walks Zimmerman and Adam Dunn is coming up (yeah, this is a 2010 scenario). Out pops the manager and points with his left arm and taps it to signal he wants his LOOGY. The people in the stands sit around for several minutes while those watching at home must endure another commercial with the middle aged couple sitting in separate bathtubs. Romero comes in and tries without success to get Dunn to fish after his Frisbee-like slurves that end up a foot or two outside. Dunn walks. Out pops the manager and taps his right arm this time since Willingham is a right-handed batter and the folks in the stands wait another few minutes while the folks at home watch a dumb beer commercial that again makes men look like the dumbest creatures on earth.

THAT, folks, was a LOOGY moment. And if you think this Fan is fooling about Romero being the prime example, consider that he pitched in sixty games and logged a grand total of 36.2 innings. Consider that Romero walked 7.1 batters per nine innings, his second year in a row over the seven mark. Consider that Romero was over the 1.5 mark in WHIP for the sixth time in his twelve year career. All that adds up to what makes him a LOOGY extraordinaire.

In Romero's defense, seven of his walks were intentional passes. He would be the guy walking Zimmerman to get to Dunn. That will inflate your walk total some. Nearly 1/7 of his career walks have been intentional. And he did register a .217 batting average by left-handed batters with a .277 slugging percentage. But the point stands that he will still put three out of every ten left-handed batters on base.

If there was one rule this Fan would make it would be to only allow one pitching change per half inning. The entire match up game just kills fans with terminal boredom. It's the only baseball equivalent to the NFL's extra point-commercial-kickoff-commercial snooze-fest. And it is a completely lazy event for a manager. They will make that move 999 times out of a thousand. It's tedious and unnecessary. If you didn't like that rule, then the other rule would be that the second and third (and fourth and fifth) relievers in an inning don't get warm up pitches. Why do relief pitcher need warm up pitches anyway? They just warmed up in the bullpen right?

No offense to Romero. He's just a lucky schmuck who was born to throw with his left hand trying to ride his wave as long as he can. More power to him. It's simply a case where the news of his signing set off this wave of ennui for this writer. LOOGYs are a bane to baseball. But one-and-done is the standard operating system for lefty relievers. It has been for a long time and will be for a long time to come.

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