Saturday, May 10, 2008

All I've Been Saying, Is Give Ort a Chance

"Everybody's talking 'bout Leone, and McClain, and Rajai, and bye-bye,
All I've been saying, is Give Ort a Chance."

With apologies to John Lennon, Ortmeier over the past season or so, with mainly sporatic play, except for a nice stint of starts late in 2007, has hit about .816 OPS or so (roughly), with a homer every 34 AB (or roughly 20 HR in a full season). Lot of people want to point out his spotty minor league career, and rightfully so, but the way I feel is that if he is hitting in the majors, let him play until the other teams figure him out, particularly since we have no other player at 1B proving to be a consistent 800 OPS hitter.

Thus far, they have not figured him out yet over about a year period. Maybe they will once he plays regularly, but how long does he have to excel with sporadic play (and at 800 OPS, that is excelling by Giants hitters standards and average to above average for the majors) before he gets a full-time try? 800 OPS is average or above average at the positions he can play, LF and 1B. Lewis has earned the LF starting position with his great play so far, so that leaves 1B. He should be starting at 1B most games and Aurilia should either take over 3B or share it with Castillo until either Ortmeier is exposed or both of the others are hitting, like, 900 OPS.

Also, Ortmeier was credited with a fine fielding play today in support of Lincecum's gem of a game, so it looks like his fielding is coming around as well. Some had speculated that his poor offensive start was due to the pressures of figuring out how to field at 1B. So I would note here that this shows that he has some solid cojones (something Lindenberger never showed) that he could stand the pressure of adding duties and not let it crush him in the long run, he adjusted and appears to be returning to his fine hitting form from last season, in fact, he's doing a lot better in taking walks, though has lost some HR power.

He should be starting at 1B and Aurilia at 3B as long as Castillo lingers around the high 600/low 700 OPS range, even his 4 for 4 today leaves him at a meager .732 OPS (though Feliz was even more meager at .708).

Another way to look at it is ask yourself if Barry Bonds would play him, and if so, why argue with the best hitter of the last generation? He took time out to help Ortmeier very publicly. Sure, it was a photo-op to make him look good, but still, do you think Bonds would deign to tutor just anyone? Does anyone really think that Bonds would waste his time tutoring someone whose abilities he did not respect? So that, to me, is another sign that we should be playing Ortmeier somewhere, Barry Bonds would not just help anyone out just for a photo-op, he would want to be shown to have good judgement of talent, he has that big an ego that he won't be associated with just anyone.

And a Hard-Boiled Burriss

And the Giants should start playing Burriss at 3B and see how he does there, in order to open up more opportunities for him, just like how he's getting play at 2B right now after starting only at SS in the pros for the most part. Here he is, he was thoroughly overmatched in Advanced A last season, but then had a nice run in the Sally League (A-ball) before doing well in the AFL, and after 44 major league AB he only has 2, count them, two, strikeouts. That's a strikeout every 22 AB, or about 30 in a full season. That's about half of what the best hitters strikeout, a quarter of those wild swingers. That is a superlative contact rate.

Now I doubt he will continue at such a great rate, small samples and all, but if someone is doing that well, you have to find a way to get him in the lineup and see what he can do. That's hitting like a Juan Pierre, little walks but little strikeouts, and lots of balls in play, and while that's not great, certainly not $9M per season for 5 seasons great that Pierre got, but that's a complementary hitter that the Giants lineup can use, particularly with his speed as well. Studies have shown that the top contact hitters can sustain batting averages at and above .300.

Unfortunately, when you walk that little, it also means that you have a horrible OBP and as the old saying goes, even if you have great speed, you can't steal firstbase (though technically, if you can become a great bunter, in my eyes that is the same as stealing firstbase because you use good bunting technique to place the ball in the right spot to get a base hit).

So unless Burriss suddenly develop more power or more patience (in taking walks), he looks to be a good candidate to be the 2nd leadoff hitter, i.e. a good 8th (9th maybe someday if LaRussa proves his point, and winning has a way of doing that) place hitter who can get on base at the bottom of the order and steal 2B and be in scoring position for the top of the lineup, that is, our best hitters in the lineup. Still, a player like that at the bottom of the lineup is very useful and would be valuable if he can hit at .300 or better and can steal a lot of bases (which Burriss looks like he can).


  1. I was going to post this above but it is just as well it ended up a comment since he's no longer with the Giants, but for those who look at Rajai Davis' OPS and the smashing way he burst onto the scene for the A's and curse Giants management, I offer his stats since that game: .222/.250/.278/.528

    It was the right thing to do.

  2. I have the same inclination as you, Martin, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are right. To begin with, every year lots of guys are cold as ice at the beginning of the year - go back and look at some of the Apr/May splits from last year. Even Frandsen. Lots of guys get going slowly, pick up the pace gradually, then hit really well the second half. If, and it may be a big if, we are going to try to trade Aurilia and/or Durham, we have to play them, let them play through their slow starts. Next, playing part time and watching and learning part time is pretty important, I think, especially for guys like Bowker, Velez, Ort, guy who, to some degree or another, are switching positions. Yes, Ort could definitely stand to play more, but he has been playing more, now that he has started to hit. Since he didn't start to hitn until mid May, he doesn't merit just getting the starters position handed to him - particularly in light of the fact that Aurilia has started to heat up - definitely a positive if we hold to any thought of trading him.
    I, too would love to see a platoon of Ort and Bowker. But if Aurilia gets the lions share of those starts until the trade deadline, so be it. Playing Ort regularly, even regularly in a platoon, for 1/2 a year is still important to his development and will not, IMO, set him back at all. It is pretty clear he has been working on his RH seing, even against LH pitchers - as well as on the fundamentals around the 1b bag. So, there is a lot of progress, even if he is not getting a lot of ABs.

  3. That's why I put at the top of my blog, that this is just my opinion. I realize that there is the fan in me the sometimes break out and that I may not be right. Still, I try to back my opinions with facts that I've gleaned over time so it's not totally out there with no logical backing.

    Also, in my rush to get out the post, I realized later that I had meant to say that he should be platooning with Bowker at 1B and that Aurilia should be playing 3B mainly.

    Still, so yeah, Aurilia is heating up and I showed my recognition of that by stating the decision should be Castillo vs. Ortmeier, not Aurilia vs. Ortmeier, that's something you missed in your reading.

    So yeah, lots of guys start slow - hence why I didn't bother posting anything when he was cold. But now that he's showing some heat and good hitting over an extended period of time (I didn't post this right when he got hot), I'm just making the point that playing Castillo over Ortmeier IS a waste of development time, that playing Aurilia at 3B, particularly while Castillo is hitting so poorly is wasting development time, whether for Bowker or Ortmeier at 1B, Aurilia should not be playing 1B as long as Bowker and Ortmeier are hitting better than Castillo.

    But Bowker hadn't been missing a chance to get playing time whereas anytime Castillo is playing over Ortmeier with Aurilia at 1B means Ort is missing development time.

    Again, not the most impressive minors but as long as he is hitting in the majors, and in particular hitting well, he should be given the chance to start regularly. And given how poorly Bowker has been hitting, the platoon should be closer to half time than the usual RHP/LHP split right now.

  4. Hey Martin,

    I've just started a new san francisco giants news website called It aggregates excerpts and headlines from a bunch of sources and organizes them. Anyways, I just wanted to make sure it was okay that I syndicate your blog. Since the site only takes excerpts and headlines, it can only increase traffic to your site. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions.


  5. I think that Ortmeier should play more. However, the question is where? Watching him at first, while he does make some good plays, I just don't see him in that position as anything other than a back up. Keeping him on the bench is not really good, since he seems to be a terrible pinch hitter (in my opinion).

    So then what do you do? I think it means that you have to commit completely to the youth and get rid of Randy Winn. Move Ortmeier to RF.

    Now, you argue for Ortmeier to play 1B, but I think that Bowker is doing a better job at learning at this level how to play the position. Yes, he does have those moments like the Houston game where he missed the pick off attempt, but overall his play there has been pretty good.

    As far as Burress at second goes... I think we need to wait a lil longer before changing yet another player's position. Burress is a middle infielder. As much as I would like to see Castillo ridden out of town on a rail, why change the rookie for a position that might actually be better suited for Fransden's return?

    Those are my two cents.

  6. AngryBell, thanks for the post.

    Unfortunately, I haven't gotten enough chances to see Ortmeier and Bowker play 1B, so I will defer to those who have.

    If Bowker was a sure thing prospect, then I would want him to get all the ABs at 1B, forget about Ortmeier. But he's had the one good year last year and his success this year. I don't think that platooning Bowker with Ortmeier would really hurt Bowker's development and give us time to see what Ortmeier's got. I'm not saying we do this next year, just this season.

    Burriss appears to be handling the change to 2B fine, and I'm not saying that Burriss will be at 3B long term, I just want to get him regular ABs, and while Durham is around, he's not going to get much, probably one game at SS each week, one game at 2B. If he could play 3B, that would give him 3 games per week, which would be pretty regular work so that we can see how good a hitter he is, and if he continues to hit well, maybe give him 2 games at 3B.

    I'm not saying make him the regular 3B, I'm saying include him in the rotation of players there, with Castillo and Aurilia, just make him part of the mix to get regular ABs.

  7. Oh, and if we trade Winn to open up RF, I would rather bring up Schierholtz and start him than to start Ortmeier there. Maybe Ortmeier can rotate between 1B and RF, semi-platooning with Schierholtz and Bowker, heck, even LF with Lewis, that would minimally impact those three players playing time while giving Ortmeier regular play against the LHP.

  8. I don't get to watch much giants on TV, but saw much of Sat. and Sun. thanks to Comcast/sacramento.
    Ort looked real bad at the plate several times. At this point I would not be surprised to see Ort get zero starts in the next week.



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