Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The Houston Astros didn't yet exist when he offered up this wisdom, yet it's hard to believe that he didn't have the Astros in mind when he spoke this.
The Astros are giving Erik Bedard another start tomorrow night. This will be his sixth start of the season. He's 0-2 on the season, with a 7.36 ERA (9.98 as a starter). He's yet to pitch more than four innings in any game. And in his 22 innings pitched so far, he's surrendered 26 hits, 14 walks and eight home runs. Yet come Saturday, he's starting again because manager Bo Porter thinks he gives the team the best chance of getting a win.
That to me is the ultimate example of Einstein's definition of insanity. Giving Erik Bedard start after start after start and expecting him to give you a chance at a win.
It's insanity. Nothing but pure insanity.
The Astros are a bad team. And Erik Bedard is not the only reason the team is losing game after game. But one has to question the sanity of giving this guy start after start. Sure, Philip Humber's been no better, but unlike with Bedard, there is the chance, no matter how remote, that Humber can actually toss a quality start whenever he starts a game, and that's just something Bedard's not capable of doing.
Bedard injured himself in spring training. The team admitted this to the press several weeks ago. The team also admitted that they've been letting Bedard pitch himself into shape when he starts games, and they've been treating these games as if the team's still in spring training. So his innings are limited. The number of pitches he throws are limited, and the team knows each and every night he starts that the overtaxed bullpen is going to have to eat lots and lots of innings. Some nights, like on that April 15 start by Bedard against Oakland, the bullpen has to eat 8.2 innings of a nine-inning start.
Bo Porter might say that Bedard gives the Astros the best chance at a win, but it instead appears that the team is willingly conceding defeat each and every time Bedard trots out for the top of the first inning. And if that's the case, then just what kind of message does this send to the rest of the team, or to the fans (of whom the Astros have fewer and fewer each night)? A message like winning's important, but not as important as some veteran working himself back into shape -- when that's the case, winning is secondary. One of the reasons I've so advocated the rebuild was I was tired of has-been retreads playing non-competitive baseball, chasing one last payday. If the team is going to be bad, then let it be bad with these youngsters Jeff Luhnow has been accumulating, not with the washed-up likes of Bedard, Humber or Carlos Peña.
Instead of letting Bedard work into playing shape on the mound, designate him for assignment. Do the same thing with Humber. There's no useful reason for Carlos Peña to keep hanging around either. If the team's rebuilding, then rebuild. Go with the kids in the rotation. Let's see what Dallas Keuchel has. And Jordan Lyles. And Paul Clemens. What's going to happen? They lose a few games? How's that any different from what Bedard's doing every time he goes out, or Humber?
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The media like to say the Astros are threatening the integrity of baseball with their approach this season. I disagree for the most part. I think it's an epic reboot of an operating system left to fall into decay, destroyed by malware like Drayton McLane. (I also think Jim Crane's need to pay off the debt from purchasing the team plays a bigger role in the shape of the Astros roster than any grand rebuild plan.)
But I'll tell you what destroys the integrity of baseball: letting Erik Bedard be a member of a major league starting rotation. That destroys the integrity of baseball. Conceding defeat before a game has even started has to do way more damage to the integrity of baseball than blowing up a roster and starting anew.
Then again, maybe the Astros really believe that Erik Bedard gives them the best chance to win games. And if that's the case, then the people running the Astros really do meet Einstein's definition of insanity.