Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random Thursday: Craig House

Tired of Manny-gate? The Common Man is too (though one of the more interesting takes on it is up on Circling the Bases). And the only cure for that is to fire up the old randomizer.

This week, the wheel of destiny landed on Craig House, who spent two terrible months with the Colorado Rockies in 2000. Just 22, House had a power arm that resulted (to that point) in well over a strikeout and far less than a hit per inning in the minors. Unfortunately, House needed this to compensate for an abysmal walk rate. With the Rockies, House was horrible. In 16 appearances (across 13.2 innings), House gave up 13 hits (3 of them homers), struck out just 8, and allowed 18(!) walks (and 2 HBP). Though his record was just 1-1, his ERA was 7.24. It was a bad August and September to be Craig House. And it's not like he could blame it on the thin air. In Denver, opponents batted .250/.419/.344, but away from home, they really lit him up. Essentially, he turned every player he faced into Barry Bonds, allowing a .294/.538/.765 batting line to his opponents.

The next year, House found himself back in the minors and generally out of favor. Though he would maintain the high strikeout rate, House was never able to overcome his lack of control, nor his AAAA tag. He probably didn't deserve a callup, but to be so close for so long was undoubtedly frustrating. He bounced around a lot after the Rockies were done with him. They traded him to the Mets in 2002, as part of a three-team deal in which the Mets acquired Jeromy Burnitz from the Brewers. He made the rounds on the waiver wire too, and was at various times in the Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers organizations. House finally retired in 2005, at the age of 27, after four embarrassing appearances for Oklahoma City.

So what is interesting about House? He career was short and brutal, after all. But he is one of just 47 major leaguers to have been born in Japan. The biggest names are well known, of course. Ichiro, Matsuzaka, Nomo, Matsui, Sasaki. But there are seven names on that list that look out of place. One is House. Another is Jeff McCurry. And so does Steve Chitren. And Jim Bowie, Stephen Randolph, Keith McDonald. With respect to Chitren, who got into 64 games in two seasons, McCurry, who got into 111 games over five years, and Randolph, who pitched in 109 over three years, Dave Roberts is both the best player and the biggest name of the bunch. In addition to several years as a starting centerflider, Roberts has made a place for himself in the history books too, with his steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

But other than that, it's a pretty terrible group.

By and large, The Common Man imagines that these seven players are the sons of American servicemen, citizens born overseas. And one piece of circumstantial evidence bears this out. Of the seven players, six of them were drafted out of college, and the other as a 20 year old. This suggests that most of the players were relative unknowns to professional scouts, who didn't see them enough to recommend them out of high school. Also, strangely, all of them were drafted after 1990, though The Common Man doesn't know what to make of that.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Hey, take it easy on House. Pitching for the 2000 Rockies was roughly the equivalent of being Custer's army's medic. I'm pretty sure that if you adjust that 7.24 ERA into a neutral context, it becomes approximately 1.12.