2010 Player Profile: Ramon Ortiz, a Changed Pitcher?

Ramon Ortiz has burst onto the radar this spring, rightly or wrongly, and appears to be a strong candidate for a spot on the opening day roster.  The man who hasn't put up a major league ERA below 5.36 since 2004 has done nothing but pitch well this spring, allowing just two runs in 13 innings, allowing 14 baserunners while striking out 17.  Ortiz is a prime test subject for the question of what do we trust more: years of performance data, or a month of exhibition games?  Scott Erickson put up a 2.10 ERA in 30 spring innings in 2005 and won a spot on the roster, but he was terrible.  Then again, fellow scrap-heapers Chan Ho Park and Jeff Weaver have given the Dodgers solid pitching in 2008 and 2009, respectively, after years of mediocrity.  Ortiz wouldn't be the first guy to take advantage of a hot spring training, and he certainly won't be the last.

If Ronald Belisario ever does in fact show up to camp this spring, perhaps he will have someone to discuss visa problems with in Ortiz, who turned 37 yesterday.  In 2002, Ortiz was having trouble getting his visa before the season, and it was revealed that he was three years older than previously thought. From the LA Times in 2002:

The hard-throwing right-hander, who the team believed was going to turn 26 on March 23, actually will be 29. He provided the team with a fraudulent birth certificate when he was signed as a free agent in June 1995, Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said.

Instead of having a 26-year old pitcher, the Angels had a 29-year old.  Still, the suddenly more mature veteran Ortiz had his best season in 2002, winning 15 games with a 117 ERA+ for the world champs.

Since leaving the Angels after 2004, Ortiz has been a vagabond, pitching in Cincinnati, Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, Japan, and finally Fresno last year with the Giants' Triple A affiliate.

Trivia

From 2005 to 2009, Ramon Ortiz's 78 ERA+ ranks seventh worst among all 236 pitchers with at least 300 innings during that time.  The worst figure, a 67 ERA+, belongs to fellow Dodger non-roster Ortiz, Russ.

Contract Status

Signed a minor league deal this offseason that will pay him $1 million if in the majors, with a potential for $1.05 million in performance incentives based on games started.  If Ortiz does not make the active roster out of spring training, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

2010 Outlook

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
2006 33 190.2 3.02 4.91 5.57 5.46
2007 34 104.0 1.90 4.41 5.45 5.07
2008 (Japan)
35 82.0 2.20 3.51 5.82 4.99
2009 (AAA)
36 129.2 2.36 4.91 3.05 3.33
2010 Projections - Age 37 Season
CHONE 54.0 2.83 7.00 4.17 4.04
Marcel 34.0 3.18 6.35 4.50 4.46
ZiPS 128.0 2.60 6.19 4.50 4.32

 

I have a hard time reconciling three projection systems saying Ortiz will do so well this season, when he hasn't pitched well anywhere except for Triple A in the last five years.  Even in Fresno last season, he didn't strike anyone out, yet Ortiz is expected to strike out over six batters per nine innings, a number he hasn't touched since 2002?  I don't see it.   Even though Ortiz says he's a changed pitcher, I need more evidence.  I'm guessing a 5.36 ERA and 1.524 WHIP in 42 innings.

What is your guess for Ramon Ortiz's 2010?  Give us a prediction of ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched.

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