When will the madness stop? The KC Star reported on January 19 that the Royals had avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar by agreeing to terms with him for another year. He’ll be paid, please have some sort of receptacle ready in case you get sick about this, $4.56 million for a year. That’s $4,560,000. A million dollars more than he was paid in 2012.
How much do you make? Let’s say you get paid well–$125,000 a year. It’ll take you 36 years to make what the Royals just agreed to flush in this deal.
Now perhaps I am being unfair. Well, no I’m not. Hochevar has been awful. AWFUL. In screaming capital letters. For five straight years. Look at his adjusted ERA, aka ERA+. It compares a guy’s ERA against the league’s. (ERA+ = league ERA / pitcher’s ERA * 100 with adjustments made for the pitcher’s ballpark.) A guy who matches the league average has a ERA+ of 100. In 2012, Bruce Chen had an ERA+ of 81. That’s bad. Hochevar’s was 71. Seriously. He was 29% worse than the league average. And over the past five years, Hochevar has hovered around this dreadful level of effectiveness. Take a look:
2008: 129 IP, ERA+ 78
2009: 143 IP, ERA+ 68
2010: 103 IP, ERA+ 87
2011: 198 IP, ERA+ 87
2012: 185.1 IP, ERA+ 71
Of the 85 pitchers who are considered to still be active in MLB and have thrown 1,000 IP, the guy with the worst career ERA+ is Scott Elarton. His was 87. Hochevar’s is 78. (Oh and yes, this is the same Scott Elarton the Royals signed to a big contract late in his career. He was a great big right handed starter who had been drafted in the first round, like, uh, Luke Hochevar.)
Yet, Pete Grathoff of the Star, in reporting the Hochevar signing, completely soft pedalled the issue, merely muttering that Hochevar “struggl(ed) through a disappointing 2012 season.” This kind of mush mouthing does no one any favors, especially Royals’ fans. Hochevar was bad in a historical kind of way. The Star should have showed some backbone and bashed the deal. With vigor.
And Dayton Moore? Oh geez. From the Star: “Luke is a tremendous competitor, and his stuff is very good,” Moore said. “He is a very tough self-evaluator and he is motivated to perform well, and he’s certainly capable of doing that. We look forward to having him competing and helping our team win.”
Um, Mr. Moore? Can you read statistics? Do you watch games? This signing makes me wonder.
Besides ignoring the awfulness of this signing, there was some chirping in the Star about how this kept Moore’s record of never having gone to arbitration with any player intact. What a stupid thing to cheer.
So if Hochevar actually gets in a game and gets rocked (again) this season, I’ll slap the back of the person next to me and yell ‘It’s okay! That boy’s a tough self-evaluator!’ And when a Cardinals’ fan starts comparing the number of championships won, I’ll screech ”Oh yeah! Well Dayton Moore has never had to go to arbitration! Yeah, buddy! That’s right, never!”
Now, seriously, there have been many tremendously bad contracts thrown out by many different owners over the years and since this stinker is just for one season, it doesn’t rise (or sink) to that level. But it is a very troubling indicator of the quality of judgement and analytical capability by the Royals front office.