11 April 2010

Hammering Russ Ortiz

Comments are a rarity around here, and combative comments even rarer, so I thought it might be fun to rebut this one in a separate post:

Why are you hammering on Russ Ortiz? He's had ONE bad inning since the beginning of spring - two lights-out appearances in Pittsburgh, and one tough inning at Florida - it was Broxton who gave up the double. And it has been Sherrill who has sucked all spring, and now again tonight. Russ Ortiz has been GREAT this year, and a great find for the Dodgers. Why hacks like you, on blogs like this, can't do your homework - it's beyond me.

From 2001 to 2004, Russ Ortiz had a better than average ERA every year. His ERA+ numbers those years, according to baseballreference.com: 122, 107, 113, 105. Or if you prefer straight ERA: 3.29, 3.61, 3.81, 4.13. But there was a warning sign already in Ortiz's performance, for anyone willing to heed it, and I'm not just talking about the rising ERAs. His strikeout to walk ratio was 1.5 to 1 in 2003 and 1.3 to 1 in 2004. Those are not good ratios. Eventually they will catch up to you. Even in the offseason after 2004, if you really did your homework, you could tell that Russ Ortiz wasn't as good as he appeared. The Arizona Diamondbacks didn't heed the warnings. The Snakes signed him to a 4 year, 33 million contract, and the next phase of Russ Ortiz's career began.

In 2005 at age 31, Russ Ortiz posted a 6.89 ERA for the Snakes. In 2006 he was even worse, and the Snakes released him even though they owed him another 20 million or so. His ERA between the Snakes and the Orioles in 2007 was 8.14. In 2007, he returned to the Giants, the team of his youth, but he didn't find the fountain of youth. He posted an ERA of 5.51. Which was a huge improvement, and yet still awful! His 2007 season was actually cut short by Tommy John surgery, and he missed all of 2008 recovering, and then in spring training of 2009 he posted an ERA of 3.18. So --- maybe the surgery had fixed whatever was wrong with him? No. He ended 2009 with an ERA of 5.57 and the Astros released him. His spring training ERA in 2009 was irrelevant to his performance when it counted in 2009.

So why should his spring training performance this year matter? Why should a small sample of good performance in games that don't matter partially against non-major league players count more than four years of terrible results in games that do matter? His combined ERA in those four years is 6.56. His ERA+ is 68. He has walked a total of 173 and struck out 182. That is just awful. It is really unfathomable that a pitcher can be so awful over a period of four years ( with one year completely missed ) and yet still be in the big leagues. Russ Ortiz's last good season came when he was 30. He is 36 now. It is madness to think he can be a contributing pitcher this year.

I am asked why I am hammering Russ Ortiz. The problem isn't that I'm hammering Russ Ortiz. The problem is that batters have been hammering him since 2005 and there is no reason to think they won't continue in 2010.


Anonymous said...

I can easily surmise why comments are rare around here.

Anybody sitting in his mother's basement using a dial-up modem can blog, and play connect-the-dot with stats. Pathetic.

I'm sure you don't know much about Ortiz' pre-Tommy John injury to the rib cage when with the Diamondbacks that affected his mechanics. I'm also sure you don't know how eager Leo Mazzone (who worked with Ortiz when he was with the Braes) was to pick him up with the Orioles, still before his surgery. You can't possibly know how he was jerked around by the Astros, yanked in and out of the bullpen (which doesn't work for a lifetime starter), then waived -- then Cooper (the real problem) was fired himself by management for mis-management of the staff. You probably didn't see how quick both New York and Colorado (both competing for playoff spots) wanted to secure Ortiz in their systems last spring. You also have no idea how his arm is now, how much he's recovered, and how well he's throwing -- like hie did when he had the type of experience most Dodgers just dream of...of pitching critical games in the World Series - VERY effectively.

You're a blogger. When you want to really try to understand players, organizations and reality, then you can join with Torre, Colleti, the Yankees, Rockies, etc., etc. in truly being baseball people, with baseball minds, and baseball smarts.

Oh, and by the way, it's probably time to rip Jeff Weaver now, right? That's what his ERA says.

Dave said...

Hey Josh. I guess you take the good with the bad when you are in the public forum.

We have never met and you aren't paying me to say this, but I have always felt that you skillfully combine two things I really enjoy: baseball (the Dodgers in particular) and good writing. Yours is a different mood and style than Dodger Thoughts, True Blue LA, Sons of Steve Garvey, etc. It continues to be fresh, personal, and insightful.

My perspective, which admittedly could be much different than yours, is that this is not necessarily a place to hang out - like some of those aforementioned sites, not a mall or a pub. Instead it is a like a labyrinth that is open for people to walk through. The labyrinth refreshes people, engages them on an individual level. Perhaps, though you wish it was a pub or coffee shop. For me, I'm glad for the labyrinth and will keep walking through whenever a new one appears.

Dave said...

Oh yeah, I don't live in my parents' basement and don't believe you (with your wife!) live in your parents' basement either...

Joshua Worley said...

Instead it is a like a labyrinth that is open for people to walk through. The labyrinth refreshes people, engages them on an individual level.

I really like that description.