Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Lincecum Invited to Spring Training; Ortiz Coming Home Too

The Giants announced today that Tim Lincecum, among others, has been invited to spring training. This was an expected development since he totally dominated in the lower minors last season and many scouts felt that he could have pitched in the majors last season.

Other notables include:
  • Tyler Walker: still rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery, he could be ready to play by mid to late season, judging from past surgeries, it seems to take a year before they starting playing regularly again.
  • Damian Moss: Lefty starter we got in Ortiz trade and traded away in Ponson trade. I guess he figured out what his problems were, but he's 30 now.
  • Justin Hedrick: good RHP reliever
  • Todd Jennings: catcher who I thought was playing 3B
  • Chad Santos: 1B who came up and played well briefly for us, home is Hawaii
  • Brian Horwitz: OF who led his leagues in hitting first two seasons with us, I don't think he reached such heights this past season, but a good hitter, just not for much power.
  • Eddy Martinez-Esteve: Probably the best hitter currently in the Giants minor league system (Villalona should eventually pass him up but it is too much to hope that Angel is currently our best hitter, i.e. if you put both in the majors today, who would hit better)
  • Clay Timpner: Seems to be the latest in the tradition of all glove, no bat CF, from Darren Lewis to Calvin Murray.

The other invitees are RHP Scott Atchison, David Cortes, Daniel Giese, Carlos Hines, Matt Palmer, and Mitch Wylie; LHP Ryan Meaux; C Stephen Holm and Guillermo Rodriguez; IF William Bergolla, Julio Cordido, Tomas De La Rosa, Luis Figueroa, Justin Leone, Scott McClain, and Ivan Ochoa.

Now We Have Them All

Today, the Giants announced that they have resigned Russ Ortiz to a one year contract and will give him the chance to win the 5th spot in the rotation. Apparently he lost his way mechanically and finally fixed it while in the bullpen with Baltimore last seasons, then continued to improve while pitching in Winter League, in Puerto Rico. He's looking to start but knows that he just needs a spot in the majors first. He'll be battling Hennessey and Sanchez for the final spot.

Apparently, he figured out his problems but still couldn't pitch really well. His ERA by month with the Orioles: 11.57, 6.92, 5.73. However, his peripherals looked good, mostly, his last month, so that's something: 11 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 10 SO, however, he gave up 5 HR, which ruined everything else. One step at a time, I guess and he's only 32 according to the article. Plus HR are reduced in SF.

Now we have everyone from that trade: Russ Ortiz, Damian Moss, and Merkin Valdez.


  1. AP announced that the contract is for $380,000, the major league minimum. The rest of his $8.5M salary will be paid by Arizona. Thanks Arizona! http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-giants-ortiz&prov=ap&type=lgns

    According to this article, pitching guru, Leo Mazzone helped him figure out what the problem was: how the ball was coming out of his glove. Thanks Baltimore! Thanks Leo!

    I know, the thanks are a bit too early, but what the heck, I felt like saying them.

    This article is much better, more info. This one notes that Ortiz is only battling Sanchez for a spot, with Correia and Hennessey in the bullpen for sure. I hope Sanchez gets to start in AAA if Ortiz wins the #5 spot.

    I know there will be fans who cry "oh no, not another old vet! Give Sanchez a chance!" But just think, Ortiz has to do well in order to win the position, and if he can do as well as he used to, our rotation would be that much better. It's risky going with a young pitcher like Sanchez and it might be better if he spent a year in AAA starting and be truly ready to take a spot in the rotation in 2008.

    The other info I was going to look for is in here: in 3 starts and 4 appearances in Puerto Rico, Ortiz went 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA and held opponents to a .196 batting average.

  2. Also, it was not like Sanchez pitched like Cain did at the end of 2005, he struggled mightily when he started, and even though his ERA was low as a reliever, it was not all milk and honey there either, he was not totally dominating.

    I thought it would do him good to pitch in AAA in 2007, but I didn't see the Giants picking up anyone worthwhile to be the #5. But if Ortiz is really back to normal, then he would be a great asset and give us time to develop Sanchez more cautiously in the minors.

    Also, Ortiz might not win the battle, Sanchez might just outpitch him. Again, all the better, Sanchez will have won the right to start and that battle is further proof that he is ready.

    And if Ortiz is ready to pitch, it might not even mean that he becomes a starter. He used to close for us in the minors, who knows, maybe Benitez is traded, and Ortiz will battle with Wilson to be the closer and he could be a setup guy as well, we could use another one. The possibilities are endless (almost :^).

  3. We have Ortiz, Moss, and Valdez again...yet about 3 years removed from any of their success.

    (P.S. I've read your writing for a while and enjoyed it just never commented.)

  4. Guess we better see what Danny Darwin, Don Robinson & Rick Reuschel are doing. No Kirk Rueter?

  5. Good post OGC :)

    I agree with your sentiments on Ortiz. I think hes a high reward / low risk type guy and is a pretty good move by the Giants.

    As long as he isn't handed the job and actually has to compete for the 5th spot its a good move.

  6. Ha, yep, that's right Walrusman! And thanks for your compliment, much appreciated.

    Ha, that's right Boof, and no Mike Krukow or Atlee Hammaker either. Ron Bryant?

    Thanks chris, I agree, hopefully he isn't handed the job and has to compete for the spot. The statements Ortiz made make it sound like he is not even guaranteed a spot on the team, let alone being the #5 starter and he acknowledged that he might be in the bullpen, though he prefers to start.

    The Merc today confirmed a little of your/our fear, as Baggarly noted that Ortiz will enter camp as the top candidate to take the #5 starter position. But it did also note that "He returns hoping to win a job as the fifth man." It also noted only $7.5M in salary from Arizona, not the $8.5M I quoted from the AP story.

    It also noted more positive news about Ortiz's comeback. Our new Fresno manager, Dan Rohm, piloted a club in Puerto Rico and sent back positive reports on Ortiz and Giants scout Rudy Santin echoed those reports. Sabean noted, "We saw better arm speed, more velocity, better command, better breaking ball - all positive factors. When you put it together with his track record, it was something we wanted to delve into."

    It also noted, shades of the comment on the other post, that the Giants must clear a space for Ortiz on the 40-man roster today.

    I'm still betting on Ellison being the dropped player. I just saw a name I didn't recognize, Eugenio Velez, is he any good? The only other names that are possibles are Kelyn Acosta (but they have gone to great lengths to keep him), Osirus Matos (must be a new one, but I don't recall anything good about him in particular), and Erik Threets (but they were going to promote him last season before he got injured and they've been waiting for him for so long). I assume there were good reasons for putting these guys on the 40-man, particularly Threets.

    Else, there's really no other names on the 40-man that I can think of releasing, so that could be a problem when Bonds is officially signed. I have to assume they will do something with Matheny soon, just to clear a spot for Bonds.

  7. I think another possibility (or casualty, if you want to think of it that way) would be Scott Munter.

    If I'm not mistaken, they recently extended contracts to Osiris Matos and Eugenio Velez. Isn't there some kind of "minimum roster occupancy time" before a team can release them?

  8. Good point sfgfan, about Scott Munter. I didn't think of him because I still like him and hope he can come back, but yes, he is on the bubble too. Casualty is a good word.

    I can't imagine that there is any minimum roster occupancy time for prospects. I see that for newly signed MLB free agents, but not for the cattle, er, prospects they have in their farm system. Besides, that works out for the players, they can move on to a team they really want to be with or find one closer to home, depending on the case. Or they might stay, they all know it's a business.

  9. OT: apologies to all those experiencing the need to re-enter that text into the box in order to comment. I know it's a pain, but I don't want to be dealing with spam about anything and everything. I was getting 2-3 a day when I was starting out, which pushed me to use this new (at that point) function, I can only imagine what it would be today.

    If anyone has a suggestion on how to avoid this problem, I'm open to it. But the only solution I see right now is to institute the membership function and force everyone who wants to comment to register with me. And I don't want to do that to everyone (or to myself :^). Take care.

  10. Velez: hit .315/.369/.557 last year. In Augusta, A baseball. In his second year of A baseball. After 2 years of Rk league and A- leage play.

    Matos: had a 1.76 ERA last year. In Augusta again, A baseball. In his second year. After 3 years of Rookie ball.

  11. Velez had a great year but he was really old for the league at 24 (I think). I'd like to see the Giants hang onto him for now and see how he moves through the minors. He also was pretty good on the basepaths stealing 40 bases.

    He could make it as a ulility type guy.

  12. Wow, that's a nice chunk of change for Velez. Repeating is OK with me, just a bad sign, but when you are young you can recover, like Ishikawa.

    However, Chris is right, 24 is old for San Jose, let alone Augusta and then to repeat it too. It is kind of like how Brian Dallimore won the PCL batting title when he was like 30. It would be nice to hold onto him, but what position does he play, I recall him being an infielder?

    Sabean appears to be serious about his statement a few years back about seeing baseball switch back to speed with all his speedsters in the system now. There seems to be 2-3 new ones every year for the past few years.

    Matos isn't that old is he? Early 20's? That's not too shabby, 1.76 ERA, but he is pretty down low in the system and to have to put him on the 40 man, they must have had to or risk losing him, I would guess, don't know his exact situation. Maybe they signed him young and he's now starting to do well.

    Threets is pretty old now though, I think.

  13. At least one worry has been eliminated today with the announcement of Tim Worrell's retirement. He save the Giants $2M in salary that they can waste on some other old washed-up reliever.

  14. Wow, Worrell is a really stand up guy, I have to applaud him for that! Nen soaked us for $18M and never gave it another thought, but $2M is not chump change either, especially for Worrell, so that is nice. My opinion of McGwire went up a lot when he retired rather than take another $10M from the Cards, I didn't think much of him from his speaking out for the players union during the strikes, I thought that he was off-base.

    The good news is that the Giants don't need another reliever if Ortiz ends up in the pen. If he starts, then there is the chance that Sanchez might get put in the pen but I'm still hoping he gets to start in AAA, he's still young. Or maybe they will take a cheap flyer on someone who is still looking for a job when spring training rolls around.

    Thanks for the news boof!

  15. There is no way Ortiz ends up in the pen. The only way he makes the team is that he wins the 5th starter and is impressive doing so. I doubt the Giants hang on to him if he doesn't make the rotation. There just is no reason for doing so.

  16. Here's how I see Ortiz making the pen: Benitez gets traded and Sanchez and Ortiz and Wilson do well, Sanchez starts, install Ortiz as closer - he was used only as a closer when he was in our minor league system, they converted him into a starter when he came up - and Wilson would be the setup man. If Ortiz is beat by Sanchez and Wilson but still does well, he could be a setup man.

    There are spots up for grabs in the bullpen, even if Benitez isn't traded, and Ortiz could pitch well enough that he gets put in the bullpen, assuming Sanchez just blows his socks off. Assuming 7 spots, there's Benitez, Wilson, Kline, Taschner/Misch, Hennessey, Correia, Chulk. So Ortiz could definitely get into the bullpen if he pitches well enough, just not well enough to beat out Sanchez.

  17. Installed as the closer??????? Are you joking??? This statement is so out of the realm of possibility that it is impossible to comment on.

    I am fairly confident that Ortiz will be a complete failure in spring training and he will not make the roster. His recent results would indicate no more, no less. He was frightenly bad the last 2 years, more than just bad. He was so bad that the Diamondbacks cashiered him despite still being on the hook for $22MM. Do you think that if he was able to even do mop-up work that the D-Backs would have eaten that contract? I don't think so. I am really not even worried about him making the team.

    What I am worreid about now is that Sabean now has another $2MM to work with and the temptation to go out an get another old guy might be too much to avoid. David Wells is still unsigned. Brace yourselves.

    What the Giants should do now is use that money to go out and take a chance on a guy that they could get relatively cheaply and give him a chance to win the closer job........Chan Ho Park. He handled this job credibly in the WBC last year and is worth the shot. He is just not suited to start anymore. Sadly, I fear the Giants brass doesn't have this much imagination.

  18. I said those are possible ways, if he is pitching well enough. Obviously, if he stinks, he's gone.

    Either you believe that a pitcher with a 4 digit ERA suddenly can pitch 4 games, 3 starts with a 2.40 ERA and .196 BAA, or you don't (albeit winter league but you got to admit, he totally stunk with D-backs). Either you believe that the scouts who have helped the Giants select pitchers like Cain, Lowry, Sanchez, Correia, Hennessey, Accardo, Wilson, can also see if Ortiz is worth a flier or not. Either you believe that Leo Mazzone helped him figure out what's wrong or you don't.

    No discussion will get us anywhere if you don't believe any of those, and you appear to not to. I have some faith in those facts, but I never said Ortiz is a sure thing, I only noted that if he can do well, he could be the closer, I was just covering scenarios. I don't know for certain what he will do, but the facts above lead me to think that there's a good chance that he might be back.

    Chan Ho Park? Now who's joking? He pitched at a extreme pitcher's park which suppresses runs 14% against their road numbers and yet still had an ERA of 4.81 in 2006: 4.17 ERA at home, 5.45 ERA on the road. His last decent season was 6 seasons ago, with LA, and even then it was because he was pitching at a pitchers park: 2.36 ERA in LA, 4.83 ERA on the road. And to drive the point home, for his career: 3.76 ERA at home, 5.05 ERA on the road.

    Then again, Ortiz hasn't been that good either, never realized that, I was thinking of his good years, but he's 3.99 ERA at home, 4.81 ERA on the road. Both have clearly benefited from pitcher's parks for home, not so much on the road. However, whose recent away stats look better:

    Year- Ortiz - Park
    2001 - 4.08 - 4.83
    2002 - 3.77 - 4.66
    2003 - 4.18 - 9.31 (injured, low IP for Park)
    2004 - 3.61 - 4.44
    2005 - 6.60 - 7.58
    2006 - 9.56 - 5.45 (both lowered IP)

    Now that's the Ortiz and Park I remember, I guess Ortiz's recent troubles plus early problems on the road sunk his career road ERA but he was great there for a four year period. Ortiz was a #1/2 starter from 2001 to 2004 on the road. Ho Park has been at best a #3 starter, more like #4/5 starter, from 2001, on the road.

    Sure, he's 33 now, but Park is 34 himself and many years removed from when he was very productive on the road, whereas Ortiz had been productive very recently.

    That said, this Leo's tip could be like Tomko's tip from his old Toronto pitching coach, or tip from his sport's psychiatrist, or whatever his latest excuse for how he suddenly pitched well, and yet he could never carry it over to the next season, ever, and turn out to be nothing.

    All I'm saying is that if Ortiz can return to his prior effectiveness, he could start or relieve for us, depending on the circumstances. And I think that there is a good chance and good reasons/evidence supporting that position. If you don't agree, fair enough, but I think otherwise.

  19. You have to look past the stats to see where Parkl might be effective and Ortiz has no chance.

    Park's ERA is high because he is no longer suited to be a 6 inning pitcher. He is effective early in games, but then tires noticeably, loses velocity & command and becomes very hittable, hence the high ERA. What that might lead one to conclude is that he might be effective in short stints, 1 inning at a time. Although he is not in his league, it is the same career trend that happened to Dennis Eckersley. He was almost out of baseball as a very hittable starting pitcher until the A's had the brilliant idea that he could be effective in relief. In any case, it's worth a shot.

    Ortiz is not worth a shot because, even when he was good, he was a walk machine, not a characteristic you want in a reliever. When you combine his penchant for walks with his marked decrease in velocity (he tops out in the 80s now), it is a recipe for disaster as a starter also. Hell, I'd rather bring back Jamey Wright before Ortiz. At least he's stand a better chance of succeeding.

    Jamey Wright. Did I just say that? Yecchh.

  20. Very good points. I would note that according to Giants scouting report, Ortiz's velocity is back up.

    I understand the Eckersley example, I observed his transformation when I followed the A's more as I was living in the East Bay. I just don't agree.

    So I dug up some stats. Here is Park's stats by inning:

    1st - .259/.353/.414/.767
    2nd - .243/.331/.378/.709
    3rd - .229/.323/.401/.724
    4th - .221/.312/.366/.678
    5th - .267/.354/.413/.767
    6th - .272/.370/.466/.836

    So, no, I don't agree, he's actually pretty bad his first inning, but clearly he is bad by the time the 5th inning comes along. This profiles like a long reliever, good for 2-4 IP, but not good for setup/closer and not good to start.

    Not that Ortiz is that good either, his lines look about as bad as Park, worse in 1st, much better 2nd, 3rd, 4th, but then bad like Park after that.

    I would also note that the reason Ortiz has been more effective than Park during his career is that while he gave up a lot of walks, he also was superlative in keeping balls in play from being converted into hits, look at his BABIP in Fangraphs and you'll see that. What would you rather have a pitcher who walks a guy with runners in scoring position but then gets the next guy out or a pitcher who gives up a hit and just ends it right there.

    Plus, as I noted, Ortiz has experience closing, Park does not, and I believe that there is a mentality to doing that role and that they would not have kept Ortiz in that role all during the minors if he wasn't also suited for that role.

    Back to Worrell, there is bad news and good news, and they are both the same: Worrell is being paid his $2M, so that's the bad news, but the good news is that the Giants won't have the funds to sign another mediocre vet, as you feared.

    And what about that Bonds, Sweeney does him a big favor and include him as the showstopper for Giants Idol, which was great for Bonds ESPN show, then he throws Sweeney under the bus over the amphetamines (reportedly).

  21. What would be more definitive on Park is what is his ERA by inning and numbers of batters faced by inning. Do you have access to those numbers?

  22. Yeah, I had to quickly post and I got those numbers out of baseball-reference.com but that's all they provided, surprisingly, I would think pitching stats by inning would be a no-brainer.

    Here's some Yahoo numbers on Park, but by pitches thrown for 2006:

    Pitches - ERA - WHIP - BAA
    01-15 - 4.05 - 1.00 - .230
    16-30 - 3.48 - 1.65 - .318
    31-45 - 3.86 - 1.29 - .265
    46-60 - 7.20 - 1.25 - .247
    61-75 - 4.12 - 1.58 - .291
    76-90 - 3.48 - 1.16 - .244
    91-105 - 10.03 - 1.89 - .311


    Pitches - ERA - WHIP - BAA
    01-15 - 6.43 - 1.44 - .264
    16-30 - 5.38 - 1.53 - .255
    31-45 - 4.28 - 1.20 - .226
    46-60 - 3.60 - 1.31 - .228
    61-75 - 3.09 - 1.27 - .230
    76-90 - 3.92 - 1.54 - .276
    91-105 - 4.45 - 1.55 - .274

    Of course, in the middle, there is some self selection because he only continues as long as he is doing well, because if he doesn't have it, he'll be gone faster.

    But those are ugly numbers to start the game off on, first 30 pitches having an ERA close to 6.00.

    Unfortunately, ESPN only provides the hitting stats too, for both pitches and innings, for the past 3 years, no career numbers.

    B-ref.com do provide PA by IP:

    1st - 274 games - 1221 PA - 4.5 batters
    2nd - 275 games - 1195 PA - 4.3
    3rd - 272 games - 1164 PA - 4.3
    4th - 269 games - 1068 PA - 4.0
    5th - 260 games - 1115 PA - 4.3
    6th - 219 games - 923 PA - 4.2
    7th - 155 games - 580 PA - 3.7

    From BB-ref.com, starter vs. reliever:

    starter - 4.34 ERA - 1.39 WHIP - .248/.339/.401/.740 - 1671 IP
    reliever- 5.00 ERA - 1.53 WHIP - .238/.357/.388/.745 - 75.2 IP

    For Russ Ortiz:

    starter - 4.43 ERA - 1.48 WHIP - .255/.346/.402/.748 - 1475.2 IP
    reliever - 3.07 ERA - 1.30 WHIP - .241/.322/.449/.771 - 44 IP

    Nothing definitive, but even for 2006, Ortiz was much better as a reliever:

    starter - 10.27 ERA - 2.47 WHIP - .370/.477/.697/1.174 - 37.2 IP
    reliever - 4.97 ERA - 1.30 WHIP - .269/.330/.581/.911 - 25.1 IP

    More impressively, Ortiz, while a reliever in 2006:

    6.8 K/9 (decent, good)
    2.8 BB/9 (good, esp. for him)
    2.4 K/BB (good, even for reliever)
    2.8 HR/9 (Beyond Horrible!!!)

    Those are good peripherals except for HR/9, but that is usually just horrible bad luck to get it that high. His peripherals were actually quite good otherwise, particularly his walk rate. SO up, BB down, that's what you usually see when starter goes to reliever, he can let it air out more.

  23. You have to throw out the career numbers and look at the most recent results as that is more indicative of what their current abilities are. Obviously, in that situation, Ortiz looks much worse which is closer to the truth. He was no better than a batting practice pitcher.

    A 1 inning reliever, if effective, shouldn't have to throw more than 20-30 pitches. In 2006, it would appear that Park was about 3.75 ERA and about a 1.30 WHIP which are not great numbers, but they are not bad. I still maintain that he would be more worthy of a shot and more likely to succeed than Ortiz.

  24. OK, for the past three seasons, Park vs. Ortiz, as relievers:

    Park - 6.14 ERA - 1.77 WHIP
    Ortiz - 4.97 ERA - 1.30 WHIP

    So Ortiz has outrelieved Park the past three seasons (basically same for last 2 years as well, comparison even worse for 2006 because Park stunk it up).

    About your point about 1 inning reliever, that's my point, Park has a 6 ERA when throwing 30 pitches.

    Where do you get 3.75 ERA for Park? There is no ERA even as low as 3.75 for Park in his 2006 splits on BB-ref until you get to the parks section, there is no split that low, oh, except for the month of June, I suppose, when it was 3.76.

    The 1.30 WHIP I noted above was for Ortiz in 2006 as a reliever, not for Park.

    I agree that neither has great numbers. However, Ortiz has pitched as a closer for a number of years and was very successful doing that. Park had brief experience as closer in WBC. Ortiz has pitched well in front of scouts who reported improvements in a variety of areas plus he pitched well in limited action, something he couldn't even do during the 2006 season. There is no such report or sign for Park.

    Even when he stunk last year, Ortiz pitched much better as a reliever, showing good peripherals overall (except for long-ball, but that appears to be an aberration as most pitchers don't give up that many HR per IP) and an OK 4.97 ERA. Still, it was better than Park over the past three seasons. And if his pitches have improved, his ERA should get better as well.

    So overall, I still think Ortiz would be a better reliever candidate than Park, based on the numbers and circumstances I noted above.

  25. I get the numbers by interpolation of the figures you provided fopr Park for 2006. First 0-15 pitches, 4.05 ERA and second 16-30 pitches, 3.48 ERA averages out to a 3.75 ERA. Same calculation for WHIP. It's not that difficult.

    Forget the starter vs. reliever numbers as they are just not that relevant mainly because these guys have both been primarily starters throughout their careers. What is relevant is how they are pitching nearest to this point in time, not 3 years ago, not 10 years ago, but last year. Recent results tell you that Park is the much better pitcher right now, at this point in time.

    Looking at most recent results tells you that Park is much more likely to succeed than Ortiz. It doesn't take a pHd to figure that out.

  26. OK, got it, missed and forgot about the Yahoo numbers, thanks.

    I think reliever numbers are at least relevant for Ortiz in 2006 and he was not that bad as a reliever, even though he struggled badly as a starter. That's a sign that Leo Mazzone was helping him out with his pitching mechanics because he did most of his relieving the last two months of the season, when Leo's tutelege should be taking hold.

    If you look at his relief stats after he started his final start, these were his stats for 14 relief appearances:

    21.2 IP
    18 SO
    7 BB
    4.55 ERA
    1.24 WHIP

    7.45 K/9
    2.90 BB/9
    2.57 K/BB
    2.48 HR/9

    Not every starter can switch to a reliever mindset that easily, Tim Worrell did terrible for years until he finally accepted that he was a reliever, I can see the same thing happening to Park. Ortiz, while he wants to be a starter, has relieved extensively before, so he is experienced with how that is and therefore can do well in those type of situations, with minimal adjustments. I think he's more keenly suited for moving into the bullpen involunteerily, which is something Park would have to go through but is old hat for Ortiz.

    But as I noted before, either you believe or you don't, and you don't. I think there is a greater chance that Ortiz does well as a reliever than Park.

    As a starter, OK, I'll give you that one, Park is probably the better bet to do well as the 5th reliever, except that he probably wants millions of dollars whereas we got Ortiz for the league minimum. Plus, there is greater upside to Ortiz if he has returned to recent, decent performances whereas Park is what you see is what you get, which is pretty much not much of anything for too many years already.

  27. I would also note that relying solely on 2006 numbers, which are very good compared to his career horrible numbers for pitches 1-30, invokes the small sampling issue plus, are you claiming that after all these years Park suddenly figured out how to pitch better earlier in the game?

    His numbers smack of a one year wonder - given how poorly he did previously in his career - and you gamble on getting him solely on that stat alone?

    I think that's the riskier move, I can see doing that for a pitcher who did poorly in his early 20's but then suddenly started doing well in his mid to late 20's but he's already going to be 34 next season, do you really think he's going to get better during his mid-30's?

    Whereas Ortiz has actually pitched well very recently and shows improved numbers recently. Those are all indicators that Ortiz is ready to return to his former form - which I'm guessing he lost by signing the big contract, trying to justify it, then probably getting into bad habits pitching in Arizona, which is a hitters park.

    Like I said, I believe, I think this is a high reward move, because he's actually been a good pitcher in recent years for a long 4 year stretch, whereas Park hasn't been a good pitcher since about when the 20th century ended. Relying on one year of doing well at pitching 30 pitches, against a long career's evidence of doing pretty poorly early, is the riskier move. That's wishful thinking in my way of thinking.

  28. Park's career statitstics for pitches 1-30 are over inflated due to his high ERA & WHIP from pitching in that bandbox that the Texas Rangers have in Arlington. His numbers were spectacularly awful (almost Ortiz-like) during his stay there. Once in San Diego, his numbers came down substantially...go figure. No, I don't think he figured out how to pitch, I think his numbers went back closer to his career norm outside of the time he was in Texas. It's still not great, but it shows that he has more in his tank than Ortiz does.

    During the same period, Ortiz's numbers shot up to stratospheric heights. Remember this is a guy who posted about an 8.00 ERA last year and was told to get lost by the Diamondbacks even though they owed him $22MM. Teams don't do that for someone who has a potential upside. Draw your own conclusions.

  29. By the way, just so that we are comparing apples to apples here, 2006 stats for Ortiz by pitches:

    Pitches - ERA - WHIP - BAA
    01-15 - 8.83- 1.85 - .314
    16-30 - 6.61 - 1.71 - .300
    31-45 - 11.70- 1.90 - .275

    He may not even get out of the first inning.

  30. Like I've been saying, either you believe or you don't, and you clearly don't.

    I believe that Ortiz appears to have changed whatever mechanics that was troubling him. You clearly don't even entertain the possibility of that.

    Of course a team wouldn't jettison a player if they thought he had something left in his tank. I wouldn't touch Ortiz with the stats he had either.

    Mitigating factors, in my opinion is that he improved greatly while in Baltimore, with pitching guru Leo Mazzone there helping him, and he continued to show great improvement in winter ball. Apparently either you don't think Mazzone is capable of that or you don't think that Ortiz can actually learned anything from that. Fair enough.

    I, however, have heard enough to hold Mazzone in high regard, plus he had worked with Ortiz in Atlanta and presumably knows how Ortiz pitches well. That story makes more sense to me than, say, Tomko's terrific session with his sports psychiatrist.

    Just as you noted a team wouldn't jettison a big contract if there was something there, Baltimore and Mazzone wouldn't have signed him if they didn't think they could fix him. A roster spot is a roster spot, plus he takes time away from Mazzone helping other players, the Orioles have a nice set of young pitchers there. And he claims that they did help him.

    Looking at the bigger picture, I would rather take the chance with a roster spot that Ortiz has returned to his former #2/3 goodness, than to be satisfied with Park proven #4/5 mediocrity.

    One thing you have been missing from my data, which your mention of Texas' bandbox jogged my memory, I had listed Park road numbers from his LA days to his Texas days to his SD days, so I'll repeat the chart here:

    Year- Ortiz - Park
    2001 - 4.08 - 4.83
    2002 - 3.77 - 4.66
    2003 - 4.18 - 9.31 (injured, low IP for Park)
    2004 - 3.61 - 4.44
    2005 - 6.60 - 7.58
    2006 - 9.56 - 5.45 (both lowered IP)

    See, as you noted, his bandbox home in Texas wasn't the only problem he had, his road ERA has been in the high 4's or more most of this decade and that had nothing to do with Texas or LA, it had a lot to do with he wasn't really that good a pitcher.

    His numbers overall went down with SD because SD is an extreme pitchers park. But his road numbers tell another story.

    That's why I compared their road numbers above. So are you telling me you would be happy with Park having ERA of 5.45? That's good? That's more in the tank? At that ERA, why would we waste our time trying him out as a starter when we got Sanchez? Even Hennessey would be better than that, heck, I would rather start Correia if I thought I was getting a 5.45 ERA pitcher in Park.

    As you noted, go figure, his ERA for his first 30 pitches goes down to 3.75 when he moves to a severe pitcher's park when his career first 30 pitches says that he usually get an ERA around 6.00.

    You can't play it both ways. Since you note his bandbox home in Texas, then his 2006 numbers are totally skewed greatly downward by his SD numbers (runs are depressed by 14% according to Bill James methodology: that adds about .30 to his overall ERA, making it 5.11). What makes more sense at age 33, he suddenly goes from a 6.00 ERA in his first 30 pitches to 3.75 and is suddenly that good, or it was just a fluke combined with pitching in SD?

    In any case, I think we all understand that you don't believe at all while I do believe that there is a possibility that we will see an improved Ortiz when he takes the mound.

    And I'm not saying that he will do well as the starter, but I'm saying that I think that there's a good enough chance that he will and I would rather take a chance that he might return to the #2/3 pitcher that he was, than be satisfied with the #4/5 pitcher that Park has proven to be.

    Particularly since Ortiz costs the minimum vet salary while Park is probably holding out for a multi-million dollar contract. Because he has Boras as his agent, they want big money usually, and Boras is probably quoting all the stats you are to sucker some GM into signing him up.

    And if we are just talking about them as relievers, then I'm much more postive about Ortiz, his relief numbers looked decent with the Orioles at the end of the season, even with how bad last season was, backed up with how well he is doing in winter ball, plus he has spent extended time in his career previously relieving so that is nothing new to him, while Park will probably struggle with his new role if he relieved, as it takes a different mindset, as I noted with Tim Worrell's problems.

    We'll see what happens when play starts.

  31. "Mitigating factors, in my opinion is that he improved greatly while in Baltimore"

    You realize that his Baltimore stats were 8.48 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP, right? Yes, he improved from a 7.54 ERA in Arizona earlier in the year showing that it is possible to suck even more than he did there.

    "Just as you noted a team wouldn't jettison a big contract if there was something there, Baltimore and Mazzone wouldn't have signed him if they didn't think they could fix him. A roster spot is a roster spot, plus he takes time away from Mazzone helping other players, the Orioles have a nice set of young pitchers there. "

    If there really was something there, why didn't the Orioles bring him back? I think we know the answer to that question.

  32. OK, I know I've written a lot, but it would help if you keep up with what I've written. Here's the story line: Ortiz not doing well. Mazzone figuring out what's wrong, meanwhile Ortiz still stinking it up. They put him in bullpen finally and things start clicking for him. As I noted, his ERA while relieving was 4.54, not great but he "improved greatly."

    While didn't the Orioles want him back? Who said they didn't. I think it's because Ortiz didn't want to go back. If I were him, I would feel that I owe Mazzone for correcting my flaws and helping me out.

    But players today aren't like that, they don't really feel like they owe people for help, they just deserve it or something.

    Russ is a California boy and if he's anything like me, he would hate living in the East Coast and dealing with that. He would prefer to live in California, as he noted in the press release, he and his wife enjoyed living here.

  33. I was following your story. Unfortunately, it is just that, a story, squarely in the fiction department. It is commendable that you can have such an upbeat, Pollyanna-ish outlook on the Giants all the time, but in this instance, it really is un warranted. Until the Giants came along, there was zero interest in Ortiz....and for good reason.

    At the end of the day, I hope you're right because Russ is one of the good guys and I hope he can revive his career and be successful. However, I prefer realism & practicality in assessing the needs for the Giants and I'm not convinced that Ortiz is worth the time, money or effort. We willknow by the end of March.

  34. Here's some realism:

    Chan Ho Park has benefited from two of the most extreme parks in the MLB, Dodger Stadium and PETCO Park. Thus his road numbers are closer to the real Chan Ho Park than his overall or his home stats. You can talk all you want about Park's recent numbers but the real story behind him are his road stats because of his extreme home parks.

    Here are his away and home stats since 1996:

    Year- Away - Home
    1996 - 5.26 - 2.10 (LA; 108.2 IP)
    1997 - 3.92 - 2.92 (LA; 192.0 IP)
    1998 - 5.21 - 2.75 (LA; 220.2 IP)
    1999 - 5.04 - 5.46 (LA; 194.1 IP)
    2000 - 4.29 - 2.34 (LA; 226.0 IP)
    2001 - 4.83 - 2.36 (LA; 234.0 IP)
    2002 - 4.66 - 6.84 (TX; 145.2 IP)
    2003 - 9.31 - 6.75 (TX; 29.2 IP)
    2004 - 4.44 - 6.60 (TX; 95.2 IP)
    2005 - 7.58 - 4.40 (TX-20/SD-10; 155.1 IP)
    2006 - 5.45 - 4.17 (SD; 136.2 IP)
    Career - 5.05 - 3.75

    As anyone can see, he's a wonderfully great pitcher in LA, a good pitcher in SD, but a career 5.05 ERA on the road anywhere else (though some include LA since he probably pitched against them for SD).

    That's the realism I'm talking about, even when he was young and supposedly better, he was no better than a middle rotation starter or worse, and in recent years it has been much worse, not even #5 starter worthy.

    For practicalness, we get Ortiz for $380,000 whereas Chan Ho Park will get many multiples of that, even if he only got $1M like Ponson got the year before from St. Louis. Given his under 5 ERA overall in 2006, Park (or rather Boras) will probably find some sucker to pay him $4-6M to pitch for them. Ortiz is much more practical.

    Here's some more realism: Leo Mazzone had done wonders for the Atlanta pitching staff while he was there. Mike Remlinger, a hyped up Giants prospect was struggling along with ERAs in the 4's and 5's as a reliever, but at age 33, suddenly his ERA was sliced in half his first season and over the next four seasons, his overall ERA was around 2.50.

    Another success story is Rudy Seanz. He was stuggling to establish himself anywhere and his career was going nowhere (even with LAD), regressing to the minors, when the Braves picked him up. His ERA was probably around 6. First season with Braves at age 29, pitches 34 games, 36 IP, 2.75 ERA. Pitching for Atlanta next 3+ years (when he was traded), he had an overall ERA about 3.50.

    Next Chris Hammonds. Now he's a more interesting case. The previous two did nothing before coming to the Braves. Hammonds was actually decent but not outstanding. He had two very good years with the Marlins when he was 27 and 28, but otherwise it was 4's, 5's and 6's, particularly the 3 MLB seasons before he joined the Braves in 2002 when he was 36 (he did not play in the majors the three previous seasons). Best ERA in his career, 0.95 in the most games he had ever pitched before in his career, 63 games. Next two seasons, next two best ERAs for his career, 2.86 and 2.68.

    I knew about Remlinger then searched for other success stories. They were not hard to find, and I haven't even gone through his whole coaching career with Atlanta. He has clearly proven that when he fixes somebody, their ERA can be cut in half.

    Ortiz's ERA was basically around 10 before Mazzone's hands got on him and after two months, Ortiz had chopped his ERA in half, to 4.75, which is a lower ERA than Chan Ho Park's road numbers 8 out of the 11 seasons above for Park. That's real change, prompted by a coach who regularly fixes pitchers and sends them on their way.

    None of that is fiction.

    If you want a downish look at the Giants, the fact is that Barry Bonds is still the stick that stirs the drink, to steal from Reggie, and how he goes will determine how well the Giants do in 2007. With a better team surrounding him in 2007 than 2006 (much better bench and starting rotation), if he can do well, we can do something in the playoffs, but if does not do well, then the team is not good enough to compete. He has numerous distractions affecting him plus potential legal problems, and it looks like the season could go down the crapper after the amphetamines positive test and the apparent throwing of Mark Sweeney under the bus (still unclear what exactly happened).

    Barry Zito's contract is too long and there is great risk that we will see 3 years of $20M for nothing, which would destroy the team for those 3 seasons, much like Chan Ho Park sunk the Rangers and Darren Dreifort sunk the Dodgers and Hampton and the other pitcher sunk the Rockies or even Russ Ortiz sinking the D-backs. Only the Yankees can survive losing that much money, all the other teams will be scuffling along.

    Omar Vizquel has alternated good offensive years with stinky .700 OPS seasons and he's due for one stinker this season plus he's another year older.

    We have Pedro Feliz manning 3B.

    We have Kevin Frandsen, who rates no better than a Neifi Perez offensively right now, based on his career minors numbers, as the backup to our important #5 hitter, Ray Durham, who most probably will miss at least 20 games this season, if not more. Durham had a career high in homers that is almost impossible to match because of the extremely high HR/FB ratio of 16% when 10% is the norm.

    Benjie Molina is a 30+ years old catcher, and he's only getting older.

    Matt Cain had arm problems before and threw more innings last season than he has ever had. Many sophomore seasons (see Damian Moss) go south for a wide variety of reasons, Cain will have to navigate those in order to do well, but many have failed.

    Maybe Lowry is really as bad as 2006.

    Maybe 2006 is the best that Sanchez can do.

    We are relying on Brian Wilson to be our closer if Benitez is traded and he hasn't really done much of anything at the AAA and majors levels, except that he pretty much stunk up the place in the majors.

    We have a bullpen full of young players and young players implode all the time, see Scott Munter, Jack Taschner in 2006.

    There's plenty of negatives and I think I've covered a number of them before, plus added a few here. I assume that the typical reader of my site reads many other sites and you can see almost any of the negatives ways the Giants can end up in 2007, so I assume you all are aware of most of them. I do not think any of you are dumb.

    However, what I try to do and think about the negatives and positives and try to balance them and divine what the more likely thing is going to happen and write about it. I happen to think there are a lot of positives on the team and ways things can go positive. If I were writing a blog in the 70's and 80's, I would have been mainly negative as far as how well the team might have done, though I still cheered them on.

    Pollyannas don't see any negatives at all. Pollyanna would see the Giants as potential world series contenders each season. I have not.

    I have mentioned the negatives where I thought that they were more likely or at least should be worthy of consideration. I like to take a scenaric approach because life is not black and white, there are complex interactions, there are shades of grays, and I like to discuss them in all their messiness, as best as I can, then I try to give you my logic for why I think one scenario seems more likely than another.

    I do know that I fall down on the complexity where I think it is likely for positives to happen, but for all of them to happen together, that's not likely, and I'll try to do better in those situations. That's where I hope one of you slap me upside the head and note that, if I should fall down in that area.

    But I'm not positive for the sake of being positive. I'm positive because I think there's good things ahead. Maybe you disagree. Please enlighten me.

    But I won't lay down either, you need to make sense to me. And sometimes I just don't get it. Or you don't get it. We all have our faults.

    But I don't see how spending millions of dollars on a proven lousy #5 starter like Park is a better use of money than taking a flyer on Ortiz, who has been a good pitcher, who has made progress in getting back to there, he has strong experience in relieving and closing. And that's just Park vs. Ortiz. When you throw in that we already have Sanchez and Hennessey ready to start #5, why sign Park, we should go with Sanchez and Hennessey competing for the job and go from there, forget about Park.



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