Aug 5, 2009, 2:37 PM EDT
Yesterday the Royals designated Sidney Ponson for assignment after he went 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in 58.2 innings.
What’s amazing about Ponson is that he’s pitched for seven different teams during the past seven seasons, including two stints with both the Orioles and Yankees, yet hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since way back in 2003, when he went 17-12 with a 3.75 ERA in 216 innings as a 26-year-old. Since then he’s 33-48 with a 5.82 ERA in 663 innings, including yearly ERAs of 5.30, 6.21, 6.25, 6.93, 5.04, and now 7.36.
Along with the horrible pitching he also comes along with plenty of baggage, yet every year he latches on with another team or two before they come to their senses and cut him loose. At this point there’s no possible reason for a major-league team to give Ponson a roster spot, let alone a place in the rotation, but then again that’s been true for years now and he keeps getting paid handsomely to basically throw batting practice for a few months while dozens of far more capable pitchers rot in the minors.
Seriously, throw a dart at a Triple-A roster and more likely than not you’ll hit someone who can out-pitch Ponson. Does he have a collection of photographs depicting every single big-league general manager in some sort of compromising position and just randomly pulls a picture out whenever he needs a new gig? Every year some major-league team that spends millions of dollars employing experts on evaluating baseball talent signs Ponson and lets him lose a bunch of games while posting a 6.00 ERA.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms when it comes to stats-based analysis is that scouts, managers, and “baseball men” have an eye for talent that simply goes beyond numbers. While certainly true in many instances, Ponson is a prime example of why that isn’t always a positive thing. Based strictly on stats Ponson should have been out of baseball four years and six teams ago, and for all the bad moves made by all the misguided teams his continued presence in the big leagues is the most mind-boggling to me.
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