Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Positives About Ortiz?

Once again, it was a fairly innocuous weekend, at least in the Twins' world. However, the blogs of Star Trib writers Joe Christensen and La Velle Neal continue to be a source of interesting discussion.

Christensen's blog contained the following blurb on Saturday:
People are blasting the Twins for inviting Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson into camp. But if you want to see real mistakes, watch teams that rush promising but unpolished pitchers by placing them on an opening day roster. The pressure is extraordinary because the expectations immediately are set so high. Most young pitchers are going to be up-and-down as rookies, and those downs can do major damage to their psyches.
I find this to be an interesting defense for the signing of Ortiz, and not because I don't he'll be terrible or because I don't believe that Matt Garza or some of the other young pitchers will be ready. What is interesting about it is that Terry Ryan's track record points to these kinds of moves, and often, the result is that fans are frustrated but the younger pitcher ends up doing fairly well and staying healthy.

The most obvious example is Johan Santana. In 2003, it appeared to be clear that Santana was ready to join the rotation when Eric Milton was hurt towards the end of training camp. Instead of Santana gaining the opportunity, Kenny Rogers was quickly signed to a one-year deal. Now, obviously Rogers is just a bit better than Ortiz or Ponson, but the point remains. The result has been that Santana was slowly brought to the majors and he has had three straight Cy Young-worthy years and has been near the top of the innings pitched leaders in the bigs each year.

It isn't a clear argument, but there is a good chance that Santana's durability and confidence was built by not immediately being thrown into the fire. (2000 doesn't really count. Santana was on the roster and in the 'pen, but there weren't exactly lots of expectations for success as a fresh Rule V draftee. Those expectations were there in 2002 and 2003, however.)

Now, once again I remind you that I am not necessarily endorsing this opinion, but it has its merits. The signing of Ortiz is a headache that won't go away. As long as that's true, we should at least try to find some positives out of the situation. If bringing guys like Garza, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, and others up slowly means that they will have more future success, it may be worth it.

At the same time, I don't wish to ignore the need for success this year. Let's just hope that the Twins don't wait too long to bring up their young pitchers.

* One other note of interest from Christensen's blog:
I bet you this: The Twins won’t just cut [J.D. Durbin] and lose him to waivers. They’ll either put him on the roster or trade him. He could be part of a package deal, with one of their relievers and another minor-league pitching prospect for something pretty good, maybe a veteran starter to plug into the rotation if others are stumbling.
If you remember, Nick Nelson wrote last Friday about the possibility of Durbin making the team. He also wrote about it in late January, discussing the possible look of the Twins' 25-man roster. Christensen seems to believe that there is a good chance that both Lew Ford and Jason Tyner will make the roster. If that happens, it is highly likely that Durbin will be the odd man out. In that case, I have to agree about trading an asset like him.

However, I once again would like to reiterate that trading Ford would be a much better idea than trading Durbin. The team probably won't get that much for either (unless Durbin has a phenomenal spring), but the team would benefit a lot more by keeping a talent like Durbin on the roster than a player like Ford or Tyner. Regardless, there will probably be a small trade or two being done by Terry Ryan this March.

5 comments:

TwinsJunkie said...

It is an interesting point, although you're right: not interesting enough to justify the transaction. It doesn't help looking on the brightside on things like this, though.

ubelmann said...

Now, obviously Rogers is just a bit better than Ortiz or Ponson, but the point remains.

I don't know. That kind of seems like the whole point to me. If the Twins had spent $3M on a pitcher that I thought was going to give them good innings, I wouldn't be irritated that Baker's going to be left to rot in Rochester. (I can see reasonable arguments for Garza and Perkins needing to learn in AAA, but Baker's been in AAA long enough that he's only going to get stale there, because AAA hitters just aren't a challenge for him.)

I liked the Kenny Rogers signing, and I was even in favor of Liriano in the bullpen as long as it meant that it would limit his innings pitched for the season and that he was pitching as a starter by sometime in May or early June. I just think that Ortiz was the wrong guy to execute this plan with.

Nick N. said...

Good points guys. The reasoning is somewhat sound, but it just doesn't justify that signing especially when you consider that, as ubelmann notes, there's no argument for keeping Baker in the minors at this point.

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