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!

The Dodgers Must Have Hated Russ Ortiz More Than We Thought

First of all, let’s get right to the good news, on the official Dodger Twitter feed:

The Missing Link?…RHP Jon Link in the big leagues for the first time, joins #Dodgers. Russ Ortiz designated.

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.

I’ll have to come up with a new thing for the Ortiz DFA-o-Meter, so for now, this quick update to the right will have to do. So long, old man!

Now, I hate to throw even the slighest bit of questioning into this otherwise joyous occasion, but I have to wonder about why it is that Jon Link is coming up. It’s not that I have anything against Link, who will be making his major league debut; if anything, I was intrigued by his strikeout stuff and the fact that Baseball America named him as having the best slider in the White Sox system last year. He’s got a shot to be a decent middle reliever, if he can get over some control issues, so I’m happy to see him get a shot. (Juan Pierre, who Link was traded for along with Jon Ely, is hitting .186 for Chicago, by the way. Haaaaaaah.)

What I don’t understand, however, is the timing. Just an hour ago, Eric Stephen reported that Hong-Chih Kuo would throw today in San Bernardino, and if he felt okay, would probably get activated for the road trip. So if that’s the case, why bother bringing Link up now, as opposed to just doing a straight exchange of Kuo-for-Ortiz tomorrow? Maybe, as the title says, the club just couldn’t stand to see Ortiz in Dodger blue even one second longer – which I can completely sympathize with. It just seems to odd to bring Link up just for today’s game and then send him back down – and yes, my fondest dream is that Kuo then replaces Ramon Ortiz tomorrow, but I could never really hold out hope that we could lose both of these guys in just 24 hours.

Besides, Link hasn’t exactly been lighting it up as Albuquerque’s closer, as he’s got a 6.23 ERA and 2.308 WHIP next to his name (granted, in just 4.1 innings). By contrast, Luis Ayala’s allowed just 3 baserunners in his 4.1 innings, and Justin Miller’s allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings. So I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning is behind elevating Link over those guys

But then again, that’s not really the point, is it? At long last, half of the Ortiz blight across Dodger land has been lifted. It’s a good day to be a Dodger fan.

Who Needs to Buy A Toaster For This?

Here’s the latest unneccessary baseball product:

Toast, that venerable staple of breakfast foods, has long been due for a makeover. Well friends, that time has come.

The delicate geniuses at Pangea Brands have come up with a way of combining your love of baseball with your love of toast. This coming May, Pangea will introduce their ProToast, a toaster that burns your favorite team’s logo into your toasted bread. The toasters are set to feature teams from the four major sports leagues, and will retail for $34.99…a relatively small price to pay if you’re a diehard fan.

That’s, right for just $34.99… you can stare at the Dodger logo burned into your toast. I’m not sure I see the point, though. If you want to look at toast with a Dodger logo on it, look no further than the bullpen, amirite? When are they going to make a toaster that will show this:

No, I don’t know why he ended up with no arms – not that he’s doing a whole hell of a lot with two arms right now. The perils of Photoshopping surreptitiously while at the office, I suppose. I’m still debating how best to show the “Ortiz-DFA-O-Meter”. They’re in a dead tie right now, but two needles seems like it’d look awkward.

Joe Torre’s Not Helping Right Now

I suppose I have only myself to blame for actually going out on a Saturday night rather than watching the game, but as I was following the action on my phone, all I could think was, “if not for the foolish usage over the last few games, Jonathan Broxton could be available today.” Clearly, I was not alone in this:

TrueBlueLA:

 The Dodgers held a 6-4 lead entering the ninth inning, but with closer Jonathan Broxton unavailable, George Sherrill coughed up the lead, giving the Marlins a 7-6 comeback victory.  How did we get to this point, you ask?  Let’s go back in time to Wednesday night in Pittsburgh…

  • Wednesday: Tied 3-3 entering the 10th inning, Torre saves Broxton for a save situation that never comes, rather than use him to help keep the game tied.  Ramon Ortiz gives up a run in the 10th, giving the Pirates the win
  • Thursday:  Now that Broxton hasn’t pitched for six days, he “needs work” and is inserted into the finale in Pittsburgh with the Dodgers leading 10-2.
  • Friday:  Russ Ortiz began the ninth inning in Pittsburgh leading 7-1, but was pulled with one out and the bases loaded.  In comes Jonathan Broxton to get two outs, entering a game in which the Dodger win expectancy was already 98%.
  • Tonight: Now that Broxton has pitched in two straight games, he is unavailable tonight to protect a 6-4 lead

That, my friends, is the vicious cycle of incorrect bullpen usage.  Over the last four games, Broxton was unavailable in the two games he was needed most, both which ended as Dodger losses.  Both losses may have ended differently with a few bounces going the Dodgers’ way, but it would be nice if our chances of winning would have been maximized.  With Hong-Chih Kuo on the disabled list, Sherrill struggling, and Ronald Belisario still a couple weeks away from returning, the bullpen is really thin right now.  It would be nice to use out best reliever when he is needed most.

Memories of Kevin Malone:

But losing isn’t why a lot of fans, including me, are frustrated with the chain of events.  Getting beat is one thing, but shooting yourself in the foot is another.

-The usage pattern of Jonathan Broxton is just puzzling.  Three days ago, Joe Torre refused to use Broxton in a non-save situation because it was a tie game, and the Dodgers eventually lost that contest in extra innings.  However, Torre saw no problem with using Broxton in the very next game in a non-save situation with a 10-2 lead and then again last night in another non-save situation.  Those wasted appearances left Broxton unavailable for tonight’s game, and you’ve already seen how that ended.

Yep. These, exactly. Of course, Tony Jackson points to the real culprit: Russ Ortiz.

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.

It always goes back to Russ Ortiz!

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.