Dan Ortmeier will never be an acceptable starting first baseman in the major leagues. The odds are usually against 27-year-olds at any position who haven't enjoyed a history of extended minor league success. The odds are much, much worse for the same 27-year-olds trying to play first base, which is a position that is traditionally filled with a strong offensive player. I'm pulling for him -- I really, really hope this is the worst prediction I'll ever make -- but there is just too much evidence to be anything but skeptical.
This, however, still kills me:
Ortmeier's job isn't in jeopardy because he hit .262/.333/.430 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season. Ortmeier's job isn't in jeopardy because his abysmal walk-to-strikeout ratio in the majors last season indicates that pitchers will quickly adjust to him. Ortmeier's job isn't in jeopardy because he's had about 30 or so games at first base in his career, and his offense isn't worth the defensive hit the team will take.
Ortmeier's job is in jeopardy because of 45 spring at-bats.
Think about that. After the equivalent of nine full regular-season games, the Giants said, wait, we can't start this guy! Gasp! Forget that spring stats are worthless; forget that players like Pedro Feliz, Todd Linden, and Lance Niekro tore up Scottsdale last spring. Forget that Brian Dallimore hit .500 in 2005 while Moises Alou hit .228. This time, they're worthy of determining starting spots.
I'm hoping that the Chronicle is just using the spring stats argument because it can be summed up in a single sentence. I really, really, really hope that Giants executives opened the Sunday paper and chuckled at the oversimplification. I didn't think I could be surprised at how this team is run. Astrology...phrenology...Farmer's Almanacs from the 19th-century...you could make arguments that the Giants have been using any of the three to get where they are today. But using spring training performances to determine a starting lineup would be the gravest sin of all.
In fact, no. I refuse to believe it. The Giants were always uncomfortable with Ortmeier at first, but they hoped that a torrid spring would be a public relations cushion against a failed Ortmeier experiment in the regular season. Now that the obvious has been promoted to painfully obvious, they're going to start Rich Aurilia and scour the 40-man roster moves of other teams.
I'm a glass-is-half-empty-and-probably-filled-with-arsenic guy when it comes to the Giants and their personnel decisions, but I refuse to believe that anyone's job is in jeopardy because of 45 at-bats, especially when the competition is Rich Aurilia.