Monday, November 01, 2004

The Other Ortiz

That other Ortiz? He would be ex-Brave Russ Ortiz, a free agent pitcher on the market. (Not to be confused with homer-happy Angels pitcher Ramon Ortiz.) I'd love to see the Yankees get this guy. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen.

But, you'll ask, Ortiz has out up some solid numbers throughout his career, including a 21-win season a few years ago. Who's to say he wouldn't do the same in pinstripes?

Well, throughout Ortiz's career he's had two huge factors going for him that he won't have in the Bronx:

a. Don't let Barry Bonds fool you: the Giants' SBC Park is one of the biggest pitchers' parks in the game. Ortiz's numbers with SF definitely were helped by this one. Yankee Stadium (and the DH rule) isn't as generous.

b. And in Atlanta, not only did Ortiz have pitcher-friendly Turner Field, but he had pitching genius Leo Mazzone taking care of him. Look at what Mazzone did a few years back with John Burkett. The guy was just a mediocre journeyman, and Mazzone turned him into one of the NL's best hurlers in '01. Then when Boston signed Burkett, he crashed back down to earth. The whole Red Sox Nation held their breath when he started game 6 of the ALCS last year.

Mel Stottelmyre (or whoever takes over) won't have the same effect. And Stottelmyre is overrated- he doesn't even deserve credit for the '86 Mets. They had a young Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bobby Ojeda, Sid Fernandez... With talent like that, who needs a pitching coach? And the same holds true for the guys he had in the late '90's.

And after Vazquez and Brown's disastrous league-switches from the NL, can Ortiz do better?

And Ortiz'z control has been awful: he's given up at least 90 walks in all of his full seasons in the majors. Steinbrenner was excited when he got Steve Trout; he can repeat that success by getting Ortiz.

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