Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Russ Ortiz Signed

Posted by Mike on June 25, 2006

The Orioles have just signed free agent pitcher Russ Ortiz.  This strikes me as sort of the organizational equivalent of Todd Williams trying to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera.  Sure, they;ve got the right idea, but you need to execute better. 

Ortiz was offered a fat contract (4 years/$33 million) by the Diamondbacks as a member of the infamous free agent pitching class of 2004.  After being outpaced by Jose Lima  and finishing 2005 as the 5th worst pitcher in baseball, Ortiz has walked 22 batters in 22.7 innings en route to a 7.54 ERA.  Oh, and his groundball rate has deteriorated to the point where he now has distinct flyball tendencies.

Even after posting a superficially low 4.13 ERA in 200+ innings with the Braves in 2004, the warning signs were all there.  He walked too many batters, didn't strike out enough and, even at his best, only had a league-average groundball rate.  His only outstanding ability was to throw 200+ innings. 

In short, he's become Sidney Ponson without the groundballs. 

Russ Ortiz can not and will not help this team.  Despite the fact that he is immediately plugged into the rotation, he is the worst pitcher on a decidedly mediocre staff.  The silver lining is that he will only make the prorated league minimum and the Orioles have no sentimental attachments to him.  The over/under on his release sits at 3.5 starts (or as soon as Penn is healthy and throwing well).  Get your bets in now. 

I should also note that this signing does do the very valuable service of getting Adam Loewen to Ottawa.  Despite his glimpses of potential, Loewen was not ready for the major leagues.  Since the O's recognize that the rest of this season is Loewen's final chance to get ready for the major leagues, they did the unthinkable and sent a prospect to AAA.  I expect he'll be successful, if not dominant, and see some more action with the parent club in September. 

My point is just that Ortiz's goose is cooked.  They might as well use this as an opportunity to see what guys on the Ottawa staff can be useful in future seasons.  Winston Abreu can not be worse than Russ Ortiz.  Brian Burres can not be worse than Russ Ortiz.  [Insert name of mid-to-late 20's O's farmhand] can not be worse than Russ Ortiz. 

Brace yourselves, this isn't going to be pretty. 

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40 Responses to “Russ Ortiz Signed”

  1. Stu said

    In short, he's become Sidney Ponson without the groundballs.

    Scary.  Just scary.

  2. kilbs said

    A couple quick points:

    I should also note that this signing does do the very valuable service of getting Adam Loewen to Ottawa. Despite his glimpses of potential, Loewen was not ready for the major leagues. Since the O’s recognize that the rest of this season is Loewen’s final chance to get ready for the major leagues, they did the unthinkable and sent a prospect to AAA. I expect he’ll be successful, if not dominant, and see some more action with the parent club in September.

    So, I think Loewen had 21 BBs in 30 innings. Well, if nothing else, he will fit right in with the rest of the staff…A demotion was the best thing for Adam and I am actually surprised the FO did it. I wonder why nobody has considered demoting Cabrera.

    Re: Ortiz. Well, we’re obviously not going anywhere in 2006. And Ortiz’s one strength is one of many things the Orioles need: a starter who can burn through innings. And I don’t really care if he throws 150 pitches per game. So, it’s not all bad…

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