Purgatory Online

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Nothing's ever easy, is it? Ramon Ortiz fell apart in the first inning of yesterday's start against Texas, giving up five runs - all scoring as the result of the longball. And then he settled down and shut the Rangers out for the next 5 2/3 innings. So his numbers got even worse and he pitched well. Kinda.

The story linked to above indicates that Scioscia will set his rotation today, so we should know the outcome in the next few hours. For the record, though, here's how the two compare this spring:

Sele: 3.21 ERA; 14 IP, 5 ER, 14 H, 8 K, 1 BB, 0 HR

Ortiz: 7.23 ERA; 18.2 IP, 15 ER, 28 H, 11 K, 7 BB, 4 HR

Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? Now, it's absolutely true that there's a huge sample size issue with these numbers - there's just no way to deny that one rough start from Sele would go a long way towards muddling the picture. But if, in fact, it's true that these two both entered spring training with no guaranteed spot, and were essentially both fighting for that number five spot, Sele has clearly done more to earn it.

The implications to naming Sele to the rotation are pretty big. If he pitches poorly, his trade value goes into the toilet, and the Angels may be forced to simply release him and eat his salary for 2004, a la Kevin Appier, and replace him with Ortiz (who may be just as bad). If he pitches well, the Angels have a logjam in the bullpen, especially after Brendan Donnelly returns (which may not be until June). Scot Shields is already a terrific longman out of the bullpen; the Angels just don't need another one - especially not one prone to giving up home runs.

Whatever Scioscia decides, it is to be hoped that he's not paying any attention to this foolishness at the Orange County Register:
As explosive as the Angels offense looks, the team might not need five starters capable of dominating.

Ortiz had a terrible first inning Tuesday, but the Angels bats battered the Texas Rangers in a 15-6 victory and Ortiz looked commanding in his final five innings.

Just two American League teams, the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners, have scored more runs than the Angels this spring.

"This year, oh my God," Ortiz said. "Every one of our hitters looks good. It's awesome."

Ye Gods. Look, it may be tempting to look at this lineup and think, "hey, we're gonna score seven runs a game - just get us a guy with an ERA under that" (which would make the Angels the Bizarro A's, I guess). But that's not what you do when you've got the other guy down; what you do is you step on his goddamn neck. The great teams don't win 7-6, or 9-7. They win 6-1, or 8-2.

Stay tuned.