WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?
The last guy on the Astros who should be complaining, just did
Here's my two cents about Astros petulant pitcher Jake Odorizzi … he ain't worth the money. Not after his toddler temper tantrum Tuesday night, whining on TV because manager Dusty Baker pulled him after five innings in a game, maybe the biggest game of the Astros season, which they won!
He ain't worth the $9 million the Astros are paying him this season, or the $23.5 over three years, or now even my two cents.
It's clubhouse poison when a player puts himself over the team. After the foul Odorizzi that came wafting out of the Astros clubhouse Tuesday, it sure looks like Odorizzi cares less about the word that's on the front of his jersey (Astros) than the numbers on the back of his baseball card.
Let's look at those numbers. Odorizzi is 6-7 with a 4.28 earned run average. How does that stack up with the rest of the Astros starting pitchers? Judge for yourself.
Zack Greinke (11-5, 3.66), Lance McCullers (11-4, 3.19), Luis Garcia (10-6, 3.29), Framber Valdez (9-5, 3.08) and Jose Urquidy (6-3, 3.51).
Odorizzi is the only Astros starter with a losing record and has the highest earned run average. Simply, Odorizzi is a losing pitcher on a winning team chugging full steam on a pennant drive, looking to make a World Series run. The rest of the team is busting their humps down the stretch, and here's a guy moaning about playing time.
After Odorizzi's pop off, I contacted a friend, a big Astros fan. I said, you know, it sort of sounded like Odorizzi said he was happy the Astros won the game because if they had lost he would have taken the blame.
Friend said, "What are you talking about? That's exactly what he said!"
Roll the tape. Odorizzi: "I'm glad we won, that's for sure. If not, I'm sure I would've been subject to blame because of only going five innings."
He added that manager Dusty Baker's decision to pull him after five innings and 66 pitches was "bullsh--."
Then there's this: like many MLB contracts, Odorizzi's deal is laden with incentives. For example, next year, Odorizzi will earn $500,000 if he pitches 100 or more innings, with more for 110, 120, 130 innings, plus bonuses if he wins the Cy Young Award, World Series MVP, All-Star Game or Gold Glove. It's hard to get there going only five innings.
Maybe Odorizzi didn't get a snow cone after the game like in Little League? Because that's where you see behavior like this. A 13-year-old hotshot, his ego fueled by a delusional dad, tells the coach that he'll play All-Stars only if he's the shortstop or pitcher, and he's got to bat cleanup. Oh, and you're not taking me out of the game after five innings.
Let's crunch some numbers. Dusty Baker played 19 years in the big leagues and has managed about 3,700 games over a quarter-century. He was honored as Manager of the Year three times. You could say that Baker's been around.
Jake Odorizzi has spent 10 years in the majors. His career record is 68-63. Basically he averages seven wins a season. That's him, all right, average.
And there he was on TV (at least on cable in Houston) second-guessing his manager and complaining how he's being used on the Astros - the first place Astros who are sticking together in this difficult season where they're portrayed as villains over a cheating scandal back in 2017.
During his childish rant, before he left the microphone in a huff, Odorizzi was asked if he's discussed his unhappiness with Baker or "Strommy" (pitching coach Brent Strom).
Odorizzi said, "Nobody talked to me."
What's the next step?
"Your guess is as good as mine."
Here's a guess: with Urquidy back in the rotation and Greinke soon to return from Covid, how about dispatching Odorizzi to the bullpen as a long reliever, leaving him off the post-season roster and unloading him during the off-season? The last thing the first-place Astros need is a bellyacher in the clubhouse who shows up the manager in public.
We've had players crap all over their team in Houston before, like James Harden and Deshaun Watson. The difference between those guys and Odorizzi … Harden and Watson were superstars at the height of their glorious talent. And they mostly did it behind the scenes, letting their agents do their bidding.
Now something off topic that I've always wondered about. Did Brent Strom call his father "Pa" when he was growing up? Because that would have made him "Pa Strommy" – "the most sensual of all the salted cured meats," according to George Costanza's girlfriend Vivian on Seinfeld.