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"I stabbed my brain..."

It's pointless to try and dissect Russ Ortiz's stats from the past two seasons; if he's still that pitcher, he won't last long. He probably wouldn't make it out of spring training. The Giants love the extra satisfaction that comes with the name brand purchase, but a pitcher who can't command an 85-mph fastball is a pitcher who can't command an 85-mph fastball is a pitcher who can't command an 85-mph fastball. No one's going to fall for that anymore. If his problem was really mechanical and not physical - which is what Ortiz has been declaring for the past two seasons - maybe he really did figure it out down in Puerto Rico. And maybe Richard Hidalgo is ready to be a cleanup hitter again. Why not?

Yesterday's post featured a lot of pitchers who would probably make better relievers than starters, at least for 2007, so I'm not opposed to bringing in competition for the fifth spot. The upside is that just two years ago, Russ Ortiz finished his fourth straight season with an ERA better than the league average. His peripherals were lousy each time, so even when he's on he's a brutal pitcher to watch. Still, he is not that far removed from being a very valuable starting pitcher.

The downside is that his name buys him a whole bunch of grace, especially if he small samples his way into a good spring. A 30 IP, 17 H, 18 BB, 18 K performance leads to a 3.34 ERA, which leads to an April and May of hearing, "Man, if we're just a little more patient, maybe the Ortiz from March will come back." The downside is that Russ Ortiz has been worse than awful over the past two seasons.

Now it's on to the McCovey Chronicles groupthink. Take a guess at these fill-in-the-blanks, and we'll see who gets the closest. Winner receives an invitation to join the ultra-exclusive Yahoo! Mail:

  • He wins the rotation spot if his spring ERA is lower than _ _ _ _.
  • His spring ERA will be _ _ _ _, with a walk/strikeout ratio of _ _ _ _.
  • He will inhabit the fifth starter's role for _ _ _ _, and will put up a _ _ _ _ ERA during that time.
As a spring training invitee, I would predict that he wouldn't get the job. As a pitcher with a guaranteed contract, I'm more "optimistic" he'll be in the rotation. He'll win the rotation spot if his ERA is lower than 4.50. His spring ERA will be 4.49, and he'll walk 17 and strikeout 16 in 23 innings. He will inhabit the fifth starter's role until the All-Star break, and will put up a 5.45 ERA during that time.

And the people here will weep.

And why didn't Dusty keep Ortiz in Game Six of the 2002 World Series?

The last time I hated giving a chance to a pitcher with stats this poor, he became an All-Star closer for Minnesota. Man, the Giants shouldn't have traded that guy.

And why didn't Dusty keep Ortiz in?

Remember when Joe Nathan put up Ortizian stats in AAA, and then became a surprisingly effective reliever? And then remember when we traded him and prospects for A.J. Pierzynski? Remember that? Man, that didn't work out.

And why didn't Dusty keep Ortiz in?

This signing puts me in a weird mood.