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Dodgers Notes: Ramon Ortiz & Fun With Spring Stats

Ramon Ortiz was solid again today for the Dodgers, his third straight sharp outing, throwing four shutout innings in Tempe in the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Angels.  In three appearances, Ortiz has put up impressive numbers:

Ramon Ortiz 2010 Spring Training
IP Hits Runs BB K ERA
9.0 5 0 2 11 0.00

Those numbers sure are great, but they illustrate the age-old argument of how to weight spring training statistics.  What is more telling: the small sample size of three spring outings, or a track record of five years?  Here is how Ortiz has fared since leaving the Angels:

Year Age Team IP HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
2005 32 Cin 171.1 1.79 2.68 5.04 5.36 5.49
2006 33 Was 190.2 1.46 3.02 4.91 5.57 5.46
2007 34 Min/Col 104.0 1.38 1.90 4.41 5.45 5.07
2008 35 Orix (Japan) 82.0 1.10 2.20 3.51 5.82 4.99
2009 36 Fresno (AAA) 129.2 0.76 2.36 4.91 3.05 3.33

It would be great if Ortiz, who turns 37 a week from tomorrow, has suddenly turned over a new leaf as a pitcher, something he hinted at after today's game.  Per the Associated Press:

He credits his experience in Japan with teaching him a different approach to pitching.

"I'll take 93 or 94 [mph] on the corner rather than 97 right down the middle," said Ortiz, who said he adjusted to more of a finesse approach because of the tight Japanese strike zone. "Japan helped me a lot."

Ortiz was good in Triple A last season, but does that mean he will be effective this year, for the Dodgers, in the major leagues?  The main difference I can find is in his ground ball rate, which was better in 2009 than in recent years (I don't have batted ball splits for his season in Japan).  Per FanGraphs and

Year GB%
2005 43.6%
2006 40.8%
2007 43.0%
2009     47.3%

There wasn't a huge improvement in 2009, but it was an improvement, which is important since Ortiz has always been prone to give up the home run.  If Ortiz is a new pitcher, more power to him, and it will help the Dodgers.  But even though the club over the last two years has received positive contributions from Chan Ho Park and Jeff Weaver, both with no recent success to their name at the time, color me skeptical that Ramon Ortiz will make it three years in a row for the Dodgers.

Other notes from today's game:

  • One day after 2009 12th round draft pick Brian Cavazos-Galvez launched a home run, the Dodgers today got a blast from 2009 4th round draft pick Angelo Songco, who powered a ball over the right field fence in the seventh inning
  • Ethan Martin, rated by True Blue LA readers as the fifth-best Dodger prospect, made his debut in big league camp, allowing two hits while striking out one in a scoreless inning.
  • Vicente Padilla, who was scheduled to start today's game in Tempe, instead threw 77 pitches in a simulated game at Camelback Ranch, per the Associated Press
  • After the game, the Dodgers reassigned Argenis Reyes to minor league camp, and optioned Ivan DeJesus and pitchers Brent Leach and Travis Schlichting, reducing the number of players in major league camp to 50. 
  • Ronald Belisario, who will make 51 players in camp once he is allowed entry into the country, was called a "long shot" by Joe Torre to make the opening day roster
  • Torre, on the potential options for the out-of-options Charlie Haeger: "He will have the opportunity to be a reliever because he can pitch everyday. The fact that he's out of options means you have to look at him for the fifth starter."
  • Benjamin Hill of takes a look at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, currently under management by Minor League Baseball
  • There will be a private memorial service for Willie Davis Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, per the Associated Press

The Dodgers are off tomorrow, but return to action Wednesday at Camelback Ranch against the White Sox.

Today's Box Score