Lidge and Wheeler, Wheeler and Lidge.
There's been no comparison this year, and even if there was, it would still be pointless, because the decision that was made had nothing to do with statistics, and everything to do with trying to recoup your investment, everything to do with covering your ass, and maybe even a little to do with positive things like faith and loyalty.
OK, so a comparison is pointless, but then again, I'm all over the pointless.
I was thinking that maybe the best way to compare the performances of Brad Lidge and Dan Wheeler might be to do so just based on the games in which they both appeared. Like, just to pull an example out of thin air, if Wheeler pitches a scoreless eighth in a crucial September game, and the very next inning Lidge gives up two runs, you don't have to be Branch Rickey to discern the difference. They just pitched back to back, same game, same opponent, same conditions, time zone, and harmonic karma.
You have, as they say, minimized the variance.
Now admittedly, Lidge had to face Albert Pujols last night, and Wheeler did not, but seems to me that that kind of stuff--the quality of the batters each had to face--would even out over time. Maybe I dismiss that stuff too easily, I dunno, but I'll allow for the possibility and move on.
So, turns out that Lidge and Wheeler have appeared in the same game 45 times. 24 times, neither of them allowed a run. Twice, they both did. Five times Wheeler did Lidge did not, and 14 times Lidge gave something up while Danley did not.
Break it on down:
In Games Where Both Lidge And Wheeler Pitch. . . .
Well, what do we see here? Bascially, when Wheeler was at his worst, Lidge wasn't much better. And when Lidge was at his worst, Wheeler was at something close to his best.
Again, we already knew that Wheeler's had the better numbers.
But what this whole exercise suggests is that even the casual observer, one who just sees what he watches and watches what he sees, one game at a time, would still find it nearly impossible to miss the advantage that Wheeler brought to the table on a game-to-game basis, because Wheels was so frequently good right before Lidge was bad.
And if a casual observer could see it, then you may assume that Purpura and Garner and Co. saw it too. So they saw the difference, saw that Wheeler was more fit, but chose to stay with Lidge based on other considerations.
This decision--I'm sure talked over and discussed among the top brass, I'm sure weighed and balanced against other options, I'm sure arrived at with no small sense of trepidation by the deciswion-makers--may not be the only poor decision of the year by the Houston brain trust.
And I can respect the contractual and organizational reasons they used to make it.
But Brad Lidge has just not stopped proving their decision to be the precisely wrong one.