Second, let me say I have no complaint with him coming up now. Seems like he's been pitching good, and why not?
However, I do have a complaint with the reason why JimBo is saying he's coming up: his W-L record.
I don't have to tell you that wins are a terrible stat for evaluating pitching performance. Lots of pitching stats are skewed by events on the field outside a pitcher's control. WHIP is skewed by the quality of defense. ERA is skewed by the performance of middle-relievers who inherit runners. There are lots of examples, but I would be hard-pressed to cite a stat that has LESS to do with a pitcher's actual performance than wins.
Especially in today's era with so much data available that isolates a pitcher's performance, the things actually within the pitcher's control (like BB and K%, line-drive and flyball %, fielding independent pitching), it is inexcusable for anyone in baseball to even think about looking at stats like wins. (If you want to read an article by someone who knows way more about baseball than me, check out this piece from USS Mariner.)
Which brings us to this terrifying article from MLB.com, which gives you the distinct impression that wins are the primary stat JimBo is using to evaluate his pitching prospects:
Jim Bowden was honest with Collin Balester in Spring Training when he told the Nationals' pitching prospect that he wanted to see wins, not just good pitching. Balester took it to heart, and on Tuesday night, he will for the first time in his life be called upon as a Major League pitcher.And then, as if to eliminate any doubt that this guy has no idea how to evaluate pitching, comes this breathtaking quote from the WaPo:
Balester, the third-best prospect and top right-handed pitcher in the Nationals' system according to Baseball America, will join the team for their upcoming road trip, making his Major League debut Tuesday in Florida.
Entering 2008, Balester owned a modest 18-23 career Minor League record, and he'd recorded just one overall winning season. But the 22-year-old right hander has compiled an impressive 9-3 record this year in Triple-A Columbus, where he's spent the entire season, notching an even 4.00 ERA along the way.
Additionally, he's 9-1 since May 1 and 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in the month of June.
Bowden said it was those numbers, and the fact that Balester has been able to add a consistently effective changeup to his repertoire, that led to the callup.
"He's gone 9-1 since May 1, what am I supposed to ask him?" Bowden said before Sunday's game. "He's 4-0 this month, he's throwing the changeup, he's won. He's done what we've asked him to do."
"'If you want to get to us,' he told Balester, 'you have to win. I don't want to see .500 down there with great stuff. What does that do for me?'"
Sweet Jesus. Fire. Jim. Bowden. Please.
- Just an additional thought I had in the comments that I thought was worth repeating here: even if JimBo's not really relying on W-L record to evaluate pitchers in the way he says (in which case, I don't know why he's saying it), what does that do to a kid's head to be told, in essence, "your future as a major-leaguer is largely out of your hands. You can pitch great. Do everything right in your power, and if you don't get run support, or if the defense makes Es, or if the bullpen blows your leads... we will blame you." If you're Balester, I don't know how else you'd take it.