MSTI’s 2010 in Review: Relievers, Part 5

This is it – we made it! After slogging through all of the Jack Taschners and Nick Greens, we’re finally at the end of the line as far as player reviews go. Unfortunately, these three aren’t pretty.

Ronald Belisario (D)
5.04 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 6.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.4 WAR

You know, part of the reason that we had to suffer through two different awful Ortizes on the Opening Day roster is because Ronald Belisario wasn’t there taking up the roster spot he’d otherwise have been assured of. For that sin alone, he deserves his F and then some. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. Belisario was a completely out-of-nowhere contributor to the 2009 bullpen, and he was expected to be a main cog in the 2010 crew.

That was before he got stuck in South America with visa problems for the second year in a row. There was a ton of back-and-forth about where the fault really belonged there, but none of it mattered; Belisario missed all of camp, and had to spend weeks in extended spring training trying to catch up. It was April 21 by the time he made his season debut, an absence exacerbated by Hong-Chih Kuo starting the year on the disabled list.

The layoff clearly hurt him, as he allowed seven earned runs over 7.2 innings in his first seven games of the year. But he got back into gear once May began, and was excellent for the next two months – between May 6 and July 5, he allowed just 8 ER over his next 28 IP, with a 21/9 K/BB ratio. That stretch included 19 consecutive games without allowing more than one earned run. Belisario had proven he wasn’t a fluke, and could be just as effective as he’d been in 2009. Except on July 7

Eric Stephen (a blogger!) scoops the “real” media with some out-of-nowhere news:

Ronald Belisario placed on restricted list for personal reasons (!!!) to make room for Carlos Monasterios, who was activated from DL.

We have no idea what those reasons are yet, so while I’ll note his DUI last winter and two late arrivals to camp in a row thanks to visa issues, we can’t really speculate on what’s going on yet. (That’s your job, commenters.)

Initial reports were that he was entered in a substance abuse facility, though we never did find out for sure what happened. Belisario missed over a month, and once again he was rusty upon his return, allowing nine earned runs in his first three games back. The second of those games was particularly painful, and indirectly led to Jonathan Broxton losing his closer’s job:

All I ask is this: while you burn him in effigy, you don’t ignore the fact that Ronald Belisario faced five men in the 8th and got zero outs, and that Broxton induced a perfect double-play ball that went right through Casey Blake‘s legs. Broxton’s going to get the lion’s share of the blame here, and probably rightfully so. But he’s not alone in this loss, and that’s important to remember.

But just like before, he was very good after working out the initial kinks, not allowing more than one earned run in his last 21 games of the season. So while the 5.04 ERA looks awful, it’s kind of misleading since so many of the runs he allowed came immediately after returning from his stretches away from the team.

Of course, that doesn’t excuse the fact that Belisario’s personal issues were the cause of those absences. So there’s that, and you absolutely cannot depend on him going forward. Still, he’s proven that he’s an effective reliever when he’s available, and he’s not going anywhere; he’s out of options, and his trade value is low. There’s no question you bring him back next year, but there’s also no question that you duct tape his visa applications to his face and make sure they get taken care of on time. A third season in a row with a delayed arrival would be funny if it weren’t so frustrating.

Octavio Dotel (C-)
3.38 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 0.2 WAR

Must… not… kill… Dotel… for… awful… trade. I’m trying so hard not to blame Dotel for the circumstances which brought him to Los Angeles, because it’s really not Dotel’s fault. I know, I know; I can’t even say his name without thinking of how James McDonald & Andrew Lambo were wasted. But Dotel probably wasn’t sitting in Neil Huntington’s office helping the Pittsburgh GM abuse Ned Colletti, right?

For all the words spilled on Dotel, he only pitched 18.2 innings as a Dodger and didn’t even end the year on the squad. During his short time in blue, he was basically as expected. He struck out plenty of batters (10.1/9,), walked a lot (5.3/9) and was homer-prone (1.4/9), yet actually had a lower WHIP than he did in Pittsburgh. So I’m not going to kill him too much for his on-field performance.

That said, it’s not like he was really good or contributed a whole lot, either. Sure, a 3.38 ERA looks nice, but I don’t have to remind you yet again how useless ERA is for relievers, particularly in small sample sizes. And in case I do have to remind you

Sherrill did his job in the 8th, coming into a situation with two men on and getting out of the inning. After allowing two singles and getting two outs in the 9th, Dotel allowed a walk and a double, letting both runners score. Those runs are charged towards Sherrill’s ERA, not Dotel’s.

That was from August 10 against the Phillies; less than a week later, this happened, after Hong-Chih Kuo loaded the bases:

At this point, Joe Torre can take no more, and he comes out to rescue the All-Star. Octavio Dotel offers no relief, however, by allowing all three runners to score on a walk and a walkoff single.

In neither of those two games was Dotel charged with an earned run, so let’s not put too much stock in that stat, okay? It’s why the 4.69 FIP is a far more accurate indicator. As the Dodgers fell further out of the race, Dotel was sent to Colorado on September 18 for a player to be named later. Three of the nine games he pitched for the Rockies in the last two weeks came against the Dodgers.

Last week, the player to be named was revealed as 26-year-old outfielder Anthony Jackson, who just put up a .676 OPS in his second season in AA. He’s a complete non-prospect, not even ranking in the top 30 Rockies prospects before the season per Baseball America, and many just saw that as the distasteful icing on a terrible cake, but it’s really irrelevant. Did we really think the Rockies were giving up a top prospect for two weeks of Dotel? Of course not; it was just a way for the Dodgers to save his $250k buyout for 2011, but mainly, it was a fittingly anticlimactic ending to a trade which never should have happened.

Russ Ortiz (F-)
10.29 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 7.7 K/9, 6.4 BB/9, -0.6 WAR

Much as I’d like to blame Ortiz for everything that went wrong with the Dodgers in 2010, he only pitched seven innings for the club and was cut before April ended, so it’s hard to act as though he had a huge impact on the season. While I do not want to spend even five more seconds of my life thinking about or writing about Russ Ortiz, it is pretty fun to see how little we thought of this at the time.

January 20:

Finally, via Diamond Leung, 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.

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 OrtizRuss 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.

April 11 (from Tony Jackson, on why Jonathan Broxton‘s usage was questionable):

In part, then, it was the ripple effect of Ortiz’s failure to carry out his assignment Friday that led to the Dodgers’ ninth-inning woes Saturday — although that could hardly be blamed for Sherrill’s personal implosion because he hadn’t pitched since Wednesday night at Pittsburgh, when he turned in a scoreless eighth inning and appeared finally to have found his long-lost mechanics.

He made it all the way to April 18 before getting DFA’d, and it was hard to hide the enthusiasm:

Hurrah! He’s gone! And thus ends the short and painful era of having the worst pitcher in baseball wearing Dodger blue. Shockingly, a mildly productive spring against inconsistent opponents didn’t mean more than six solid years of being horrible. Who’d have thunk? It’s just surprising that it took this long to happen, is all. Ortiz ends his Dodgers career with a line of 0-1, 10.29 ERA, 2.143 WHIP thanks to allowing 12.9 hits/9 and 6.4 BB/9, along with a trail of Dodger tears, and one surely hilarious entry in our season review series this fall.

Hilarious? Perhaps not. Just relieved at the proposition of never having to write about Russ Ortiz ever again.


Next! Ned Colletti cashes in his goodwill! Joe Torre mails in a farewell tour! It’s the last installment of the 2010 season in review, management!