Well, 2007 marked the long awaited arrival of the much hyped Homer Bailey. The Reds have suffered for years from an inability to develop homegrown pitching. In fact, it's the defining characteristic of the organization over the past decade or so. It's difficult to quantify just how harmful this ineptitude has been, but the trickle down effect has been enormous.
It started with Marge Schott's decision to gut the scouting department in an effort to save money, which in reality was not saving at all. Rather, it just shifted the cost onto the backs of future Reds' teams, as the flow of young, inexpensive talent dried up and the Reds were unable to find viable replacement talent. However, after years of ineptitude, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto.
Given the dry spell, the expectations for Homer were enormous among the Reds fans. It would have been damn near impossible for him to have met them, so his debut was widely panned among fans who expected more out of him. But, was the disappointment valid?
At the MLB level, Homer had his ups and downs. He worked in only 45.1 innings posting a 5.76 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP. In addition, he had a 5.56 BB/9 and a 5.56 K/9 with a 1.32 GB/FB ratio.
Bailey struggled with his consistency, but did show flashes of his true abilities in games against Oakland and Arizona. Clearly, Homer struggled with his command, but did throw a first pitch strike 55% (Harang - 66%) of the time and limited the opposition to a contact rate of 78% (Harang - 78%). Homer also went to a 3-0 count in 6% (Harang - 3%) of the total plate appearances.
Overall, Homer needs to refine his command in order to capitalize on his plus stuff.
Homer features a fastball that sits in the 92-96 range, but has late life that makes it seem even faster. Bailey also features two curveballs, one a 12-6 hammer and the other a slower, loopier curveball with an 11-5 break. The curveball is a plus pitch that is a knee buckler to righties and a backdoor pitch to lefties. Finally, Homer throws a changeup that is his third pitch. While it is clearly his third offering, it has some deception to it and features a bit of late sink.
Homer has a free and easy delivery, which should enable him to stay healthy. His has a live, loose arm that generates easy velocity, but the Reds would be wise not to overwork him in the Dusty Baker era.
While some Reds fans were disappointed in Bailey, there is still a lot to like. He got his feet wet in 2007 and should be ready to build on that in 2008. To improve, he must have better command in general, but especially with his offspeed pitches. It's unclear where Homer will start off in 2008, but he is likely to be in the Reds starting rotation.
While Homer had a some rocky moments in 2007, he should take a big step forward in 2008 and he gets the #2 slot on the list.