Russ Ortiz: Much Ado About Nothing

"But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears"
-Bob Dylan, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

The signing of Russ Ortiz to a minor league deal certainly isn't a reason to jump for joy -- after all, he has been one of the very worst pitchers in baseball since 2005 -- but it isn't really that much of a cause for concern either, at least in theory.  That Ortiz has a non-roster invitation to spring training doesn't mean the Dodgers still won't pursue a fourth starter.  Just because they haven't acquired a legitimate starting pitcher on January 9 doesn't mean they won't pick one up by the time spring training rolls around.  Whether or not they sign another pitcher, it has nothing to do with the acquisition of Ortiz.

Nor do I think Ortiz presents any sort of a road block to Scott Elbert, or James McDonald, or Eric Stults, or Charlie Haeger. Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts summed up his feelings on the matter thusly:

Ortiz has been signed as typical veteran reclamation fodder, it's safe to say, not as someone who will pitch time after time for Los Angeles based only on success from years and years ago. Ortiz has no business being on a major-league roster, but odds are he won't be -- not for long, anyway.

Washed up veterans pitchers are signed off the scrap heap every year, to minor league deals.  Don't get me wrong; if Ortiz ends up winning a roster spot because 15 innings of work in March somehow outweighed four plus years of ineptitude, that will be a reason to light the pitchforks.  I'll even bring the kerosene.  I just don't think there is much of a chance of that happening. 

There are a lot of innings to go around in the spring.  The Dodgers have 31 exhibition games scheduled this season; last year they had 37.  Of the 323.1 innings thrown by the Dodgers in 2009 spring training, 80.1 of them (nearly a quarter) were thrown by pitchers who never saw time with the big club during the season.  Expanding that a bit further, pitchers who threw less than 25 regular season innings for the Dodgers accounted for 140.2 innings pitched during the spring, or 43.5% of the total.  My point is that there are a lot of innings to go around this spring, and a lot of those innings will be thrown by crappy pitchers.  This is nothing new.

Do I like the Russ Ortiz signing?  No.  Am I slightly worried that the Ortiz signing, coupled with the interest in another ex-Giant, Noah Lowry, will lead to eventually luring Kirk Rueter out of retirement? Slightly.  Is any of this really enough to get worked up over?  Nope, at least not yet.  Why did I choose to end this blog post by channeling Jim Tracy?  You got me.

Pitcher '09 Spring IP '09 Season IP
Kershaw 27.2 171
McDonald 23.2 63
Wolf 23.1 214.1
Kuroda 20.2 117.1
Milton 19.2 23.2
Billingsley 16.1 196.1
Vargas 15.1 11
Lindblom 13 ----
Stults 12.1 50
Troncoso 12.1 82.2
Mota 12 65.1
Estes 11.2 ----
Weaver 10 79
Elbert 8.1 19.2
Sturtze 8.1 ----
Mazone 8 ----
Schmidt 7.1 17.2
DeBarr 7 ----
Threets 7 ----
Kuo 6.2 30
Wade 6.2 27.2
Belisario 6 70.2
Broxton 5 76
Castillo 4.2 ----
Haeger 4.1 19
Leach 4.1 20.1
Randolph 4.1 ----
Garate 3.2 ----
Cali 2 ----
Chick 1.2 ----
Ed.Martinez 1.2 ----
Strickland 1.2 ----
Alvarado 1.1 ----
Halsey 1 ----
Ohman 1 12.1
Corcoran 0.2 ----
Meque 0.2 ----
Orenduff 0.2 ----
Pollok 0.2 ----
Bonilla 0.1 ----
Miller 0.1 ----
X
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