On to the pitchers… Okay, Ortiz won 21 games last year. But it was actually a pretty typical Ortiz season: 212 1/3 IP, medium number of strikeouts (149), far too many walks (102 to lead the league), ERA a little better than average (ERA+ was 109). He’s had five major league seasons, and in four he was basically the same pitcher.
Now, that has a lot of value. Pennants are lost every year that would have been won if the team had a guy who could throw 210 pretty-good innings. But an ace? A Cy Young candidate? Come off it. He won 21 games last year because the Braves had the best offense in the league. The Braves need an ace, but I don’t see Ortiz stepping up. He is what he is, a good pitcher who simply doesn’t have the strikeout/walk numbers to be a great one.
Ortiz needs 12 wins for 100 in his career, 139 strikeouts for 1000… The similarity scores say that the most-similar pitcher to Ortiz is (and has been for several years) Bartolo Colon, but Colon’s spent most of his career in the AL. Colon has a 3.86 career ERA, compared to 3.97 for Ortiz — but Colon’s is 21 percent better than league, Ortiz’s 2 percent. None of the pitchers on Ortiz’s list strikes me as a really good comp… A free agent after this season, and I don’t know what the Braves will do. If the budget stays about the same they might re-sign him, but more likely he’s going to leave. It might come down to Ortiz or Drew. Do you take the guy you know is going to be above-average, or the guy who might be a star if healthy?
Drew would have to do a hell of a lot more than usual to be more valuable than a dependable #2 starter like Ortiz. I couldn’t agree more that he is overrated by the kind of people who pay attention to “wins” as a pitching statistic, but just because you aren’t Mark Prior (Jesus in cleats) doesn’t mean you can’t be Carlos Zambrano (top second tier starter) and still add a lot to the club. The real question is what will the player and other teams perceive as their market value, and how that will affect the Braves’ ability to sign them. (Here’s a hint: Scott Boras. Philadelphia. J.D. Drew. Discuss.)
That said, you pretty much have to wait and see what happens this year.
Forgot to mention that Russ could have a legitamate claim on hitting seventh in any lineup the Braves make out this year. Dude can rake.
Ortiz is a Millwood clone. They both have very similar stuff. In fact, Ortiz has a better career ERA and he was better in almost every significant category last year. Most people consider Millwood a legitimate ace. With that said, I think Mike Hampton will be the ace.
While their wins are close (89 and 88, respectively) Millwood and Ortiz aren’t really comparable. They’re both righthanders and basically power pitchers, but:
Millwood’s career ERA is 3.78, Ortiz’s 3.96. With park adjustments, Millwood is 14 percent better than league, Ortiz 2 percent.
Millwood, in about 100 more innings, has walked nearly 200 fewer batters. His strikeout rate is also somewhat better.
While Ortiz has been almost uncannily consistent (like I said, in five seasons he’s had four virtually identical) Millwood is all over the place. But what that comes down to is four and a half seasons of performance a shade below Ortiz’s, and two seasons of near Cy Young-caliber performance.
Millwood is one year younger.
That all being said, the salary difference between the two hardly seems justified, considering that Millwood has more often than not been ordinary, and the Braves will pay Russ something like half what the Phillies pay Kevin for what will probably be similar performance.
You’re right, I compared the wrong ERA figures (last year’s). I just notice that their fastballs are almost identical as they both sort-of tail-up at the end. I noticed it after a scout pointed that out in last year’s Sports Illustrated preview of the season. I like Ortiz and Millwood. Admitedly, if I had to choose between the two and salary was not an object – I would go with Millwood.