Here’s Why I’m Not Concerned By Russ Ortiz Making the Team

Though it wasn’t really a surprise at this point, Joe Torre seems to have confirmed that the last spot on the 25-man roster is going to be filled by undead retread Russ Ortiz - and one might think that I’d approach this with fire and brimstone.

After all, the few times in which I’ve had the pleasure of discussing Mr. Ortiz on this blog haven’t been exactly friendly. To wit:

March 16:

Russ Ortiz. I know that he’s not allowed a walk or a run in 5 innings, and I do not care. I refuse to live in a world where Russ Ortiz – Russ Ortiz! – can win a rotation spot on a team with playoff dreams. Since his last decent season in 2004, his MLB line is 10-28 with a 6.56 ERA. He is, quite possibly, the worst pitcher in baseball, and he’s about to be 36. No amount of spring training niceties should be able to undo that. Odds: 0.0000001%

If you’re wondering why I’m giving slightly more hope to one busted R.Ortiz over another, it’s because Ramon has thrown nearly twice the innings Russ has in camp – and because I’ll be the first to admit I have an irrational hatred of Russ Ortiz. The Giants and D-Backs connections, the huge contract, the total flameout, the age – I don’t want any part of it.

January 20:

Troy from West Virginia has some strong thoughts on the Russ Ortiz signing (along with a wicked beard). Hey, I can’t say I disagree with him; Ortiz is abysmal and has been completely cooked for years. Troy is probably on his way to jail, and if the things in that article are true, then his future is well deserved. Still, when a man has that much facing him and he’s still bothered by a minor-league invite to Russ Ortiz… well, it probably means you shouldn’t have signed Russ Ortiz.

But I’m going to toss you a curveball here and say that this decision doesn’t bother me as much as you’d think it would, for two reasons.

First of all, the choice here was between Ortiz and Nick Green. That means that a vote against Ortiz was a vote for Green, and that’s hardly a much more appealing option, since I haven’t been much friendlier to Green than I have been to Ortiz. As I said on Twitter yesterday, if the choice is between these two guys, I’d rather just root for a 24-man roster. While I’d like to say that this spot could have been used far better by protecting Eric Stults, keeping Chin-Lung Hu, or picking up Hank Blalock, I have to admit those ships had sailed (almost literally in Stults’ case.) So the last spot on the roster was going to be a wasted one no matter what, and in that sense I was prepared for this decision.

Secondly, this is very temporary. Hong-Chih Kuo traveled to Pittsburgh with the team, is reportedly “feeling good”, and is eligible to be activated from the DL as soon as Saturday. Ronald Belisario can stay on the restricted list through April 25, but if he proves himself worthy, the club obviously won’t wait that long to activate him. The point is, the Dodgers will soon need at least one, and possibly two, roster spots for pitchers. I’m not exactly sure where that second one is going to come from just yet (possibly a phantom DL stint for George Sherrill if he can’t work himself out, especially if Kuo is ready to replace him as a lefty option?) but Ortiz is almost certainly going to be the odd man out once either of them are ready. Just because he’s on the roster on April 5 doesn’t guarantee that he’s still going to be there on April 15.

At least, that’s the shred of hope I’m clinging to.

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