Horacio Ramirez, a retrospective

DMZ · September 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s official, though I wouldn’t believe it until his turn comes up and someone else takes the mound: loyalty has its limits in the case of Horacio Ramirez versus the major leagues.

Sure, you’re thinking, it’s long overdue. We were whining about the pickup from the start, and then pretty much kept at it all season long until we got tired of it and then everyone started complaining we were focusing too much on the royal screwing they were giving Adam Jones.

Ramirez’s season line is startlingly bad. He’s started 20 games and given the team 98 innings. Not even five innings a start. Wretched strikeout rate, without a decent walk rate or avoiding enough home runs to even contain the damage. How does a pitcher that ineffective, who can’t get that deep into games continue to be given the ball? Loyalty, right. To him, not the fans. Or the other players.

8-7 in 20 games. 98 IP, 139 H, 13 HR, 42 BB, 40 K. 7.16 ERA. In fairness, he’s been a little unlucky – his FIP’s 5.46, for instance. But then, as we’ve said, FIP’s not good at measuring pitchers who aren’t throwing major-league quality stuff.

When should it have been apparent that Horacio Ramirez was not any good? Let me use game scores to produce a handy graph. Here’s game scores in a nutshell: 50 points for taking the mound. +1/out recorded. +2/IP after the 4th. +1 per strikeout. -2 per hit. -4 per ER, -2 per R, -1 per walk.

Taking a random about-normal start, then (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 HR) gets 50+18+4+4-12-20-2 = 42. Took a big hit there on the 5 ER. Anyway, you get the picture. The highest game score ever was 105. It’s hard to get to 40, and if your starter’s regularly that ineffective, you should be looking for better options.

M’s starters, average game score*:
Felix, 52
Jarrod Washburn, 48
Miguel Batista, 46
Weaver, 41
… Horacio Ramirez, 36.5

Game score has its flaws obviously, but as a general benchmark for pitcher effectiveness, it’s not terrible, and it’s on Baseball Reference, which makes it easy for me to do stuff like this:

Horacio Ramirez Game Scores, 2007

chart of Ramirez's game scores for 2007. short version, he sucked. He really sucked. It's depressing, how badly he sucked. Unless you're an Angels fan or something.

Yeah. Lotta time in the suck zone. Some starts in the “decent zone”. The only good start against a good offense would be May 13th, against the Yankees, when he went 6 1/3rd, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, and 1 K…. he pitched to contact and got lucky. If you want strikeouts, you’re in trouble. Maybe the Royals start, where he got 4 Ks and walked two, giving up seven hits in 6 1/3rd? I don’t know. What I’m saying is there’s really no start where you could say “Horacio Ramirez really threw a good game there.” Even Jeff Weaver’s had some starts that are indisputably good. Not lately, no (last time Weaver had a decent start, August 23rd).

But forget the depressing results. Take the skill route. In his first start, a win, Ramirez went six innings (and it took him 106 pitches to get there), struck out one batter (Teixeira in the first, on a called third strike that… well, anyway). When was there ever evidence that Ramirez was getting better, in any sense? That he was getting more efficient with his pitches, even, much less fooling more batters into swing-and-misses. That any of his pitches might be developing into reliable out pitches?

How long do you wait for someone who isn’t pitching well enough to be in the rotation to even show some promise?

Twenty starts, it seems. I know the M’s didn’t have anyone who’d have been a clear upgrade, especially when Baek got injured, and yet that seems as much an indictment of the team as anything, that they went into the season without any kind of reliable break-glass-in-case-of-flameout even though they went into the year with three pitchers all with significant risks.

Or we could rant about the team’s failure to pick up rotation help even when it was all but free (or actually free)… but we won’t.

But for all the things that have gone wrong (and right) this year, it’s clear that the team’s inexplicable faith that Ramirez would be a solid rotation member, their continued belief that he would at any moment become the pitcher they thought they were acquiring, and their failure to have a decent backup plan to go to was one of the greatest reasons the team couldn’t turn a surprisingly successful season into a playoff berth.

* I used b-ref’s summary function pretty quickly, so it’s entirely possible that’s screwed up


22 Responses to “Horacio Ramirez, a retrospective”

  1. JMHawkins on September 17th, 2007 12:08 am

    While Game Score might not be something an old-school squat type would be familiar with, it does use the tyipcal old-school squat stats (ERs, Ks, Hits). It doesn’t stray off into high-falutin’ egghead things like BABIP and HR/F% that can show how a Washburn in 2005 was not as good as his 3.20 ERA made him look. It just kinda wraps up the traditional pitching stats. When Game Score says a guy isn’t getting it done, it’s not saying something that a John McLaren or Bill Bavasi wouldn’t be seeing with their own eyes, and noticing with their own perforance evaluation methods.

    So this isn’t a case of d Sabrmetrics seeing through faulty old-school thinking. This is a guy who just wasn’t pitching well and nobody in the organization would admit it.

  2. thefin190 on September 17th, 2007 12:17 am

    My guess why they kept faith in him so long is maybe they gave up too much (Rafael Soriano) to just throw him away early on. But it seems even though he had an above .500 win total, he hadn’t given more than one or two quality starts to show for them. As i said before, he is like this year’s Joel Piniero. I think they gave Piniero one too many chances last year and paid the price. And just like HoRam, only had about one or two good starts to show. Maybe HoRam will do as a 5th starter in the NL, but he just isn’t cut out to pitch in the AL (neither is Weaver).

    Derek, will Rameriez be back next year, or will the Mariners dump him in the offseason, if he is still under contract that is?

  3. Colm on September 17th, 2007 12:25 am

    how could we dump him?
    He’s spent most of the season looking like the worst starting pitcher in the majors.

  4. thefin190 on September 17th, 2007 12:32 am

    3 – I meant dump him like cut him from the roster. Lol, sorry for the wrong choice in words. I don’t think any other team would take him either. I think I should’ve just said DFA.

  5. Adam S on September 17th, 2007 12:32 am

    Ugh. When we acquired Ramirez, weren’t there comments from the front office that he could be a future staff ace (I Googled and couldn’t find them), even if “we” knew they were overly optimistic? He didn’t even turn out to be a #6 starter. I think even Bavasi would undo this trade if he could go back in time.

    I believe Ramirez is under club control next year but they’re likely to non-tender him.

    How many guys players have had 100 IP with an ERA over 7 (I realize he needs six more outs to get there)? Given the ballpark, is this one of the worst 10 season by a starting pitcher in modern baseball history?

  6. Mat on September 17th, 2007 12:46 am

    How many guys players have had 100 IP with an ERA over 7 (I realize he needs six more outs to get there)?

    You could use (essentially) the same trick that they use to decide batting champions if someone is a few PA short–just give Horacio 2 more scoreless innings to get to 100. His ERA is still 7.02 in that case, if I’ve done my arithmetic correctly.

  7. jazzapostle on September 17th, 2007 1:11 am

    I just about horked up the chicken strip I was eating when I read McLaren’s quote equating the benching of HoRam to Torre’s benching of Mussina. Genius!
    In fact, I predict HoRam and Mussina end up taking vacations together, they have so much in common, so much to talk about! Thank you, John, for bringing this to our attention.

  8. Tek Jansen on September 17th, 2007 7:38 am

    In the last two HoRam starts, the bullpen has had to work 16 and 1/3 innings. Stunningly bad.

  9. Tek Jansen on September 17th, 2007 7:42 am


  10. msb on September 17th, 2007 8:22 am

    #5– it wasn’t Bavasi making big promises; his remarks were pretty bland:

    “This deal emerged in the last couple of days,” Bavasi said. “It gives a little more depth to our rotation.” and “”Our goal coming to the winter meetings was to get help in our starting rotation, and that’s what we did today. Horacio is a young, left-handed starter who makes us better immediately.”

    maybe this is what you remember?

    Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said Seattle did pretty well. “They got a good starter, we think, in Horacio,” Cox said after both players were cleared medically and the deal was completed. “(Braves pitching coach) Roger McDowell thinks he can win 15 to 20 games, he really does. He’s sincere about that – Horacio has always had those capabilities. Unfortunately, last year he had the hamstring and finger problems. But he’s fine, healthy and should pitch great.”

  11. joealb1 on September 17th, 2007 8:39 am

    Great post as usual. Dave, would xFIP be any better at determining if a guy still has major league stuff?

  12. joealb1 on September 17th, 2007 8:41 am

    Oops! That question should have been directed at Derek.

  13. westfried on September 17th, 2007 10:25 am

    Remember, too, that Horacio was on the mound for the snow game in Cleveland: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 K, 6 BB, 0 HR, which I think is a GS of 41. And those were some lame “unearned” runs, where there was an error for a missed out, followed by suck.

    So, but for the grace of the “human snow delay”, Ho would have yet another loss and sucky start in the official record.

  14. Colm on September 17th, 2007 2:56 pm

    So that’s 102 innings actually pitched and an ERA well north of 7.

    Good lord…

  15. scott19 on September 17th, 2007 4:39 pm

    10: Wonder what Bobby Cox and Roger McDowell were smoking at the time?

  16. Ralph Malph on September 17th, 2007 6:36 pm

    So I have showed up an hour late for work, gotten no work done, and then left early for 20 work days in a row. But then today, when I rolled in at about a quarter for 10 with a stogie in my hand and sat down at my desk to eat a donut and surf the net for a couple of hours before lunch, I was stunned when I turned around and saw my boss coming over with a pink slip in his hand. I mean, I’m making $100K to work here, I don’t expect to get treated with this kind of disrespect. What’s the deal, anyway?

  17. CecilFielderRules on September 17th, 2007 7:50 pm

    This is made worse, of course, by what we gave up in return. The best summary I’ve seen is : “Turning Rafael Soriano into Horacio Ramirez is similar to what my digestive system does with food.”

  18. vin on September 17th, 2007 8:10 pm

    I found this post to be well researched and especially well written. However, I feel like I already knew that Horacio Ramirez sucked and significantly cost this team in their playoff hopes so I don’t know if I am necessarily reacting to this in the desired fashion.

    That being said, this would be great if it appeared in something like the PI or the Times where a more casual baseball audience could give it a read and learn how inept their favorite team is at building a roster and evaluating talent. Or, if it was read by a Lincoln or a Bavasi who by some feat of magic or sorcery could suddenly understand it and find the folly in their ways. Alas, as a post on the site it is merely another well written piece explaining why something is true when it seems so obvious to me.

  19. davepaisley on September 17th, 2007 8:34 pm

    John McLaren begs to disagree.

    Just a little bit more loyalty will push HoRam over the top.

    Or was it cliff? I forget…

  20. galaxieboi on September 18th, 2007 3:25 pm

    This is a day late and a dollar short. Ho-Ram sucks *****. That’s my orjective, statistical analysis of his performance.

  21. timc on September 20th, 2007 8:10 am

    Tangotiger revisits the HoRam trade in the book blog. Somehow, this unbiased, yet sympathetic, analysis makes it all the more painful. Soriano has out K’d HoRam, as a reliever, for goodness sakes! Argh.

  22. Taylor H on January 18th, 2008 5:23 pm

    well, he was resigned for 2.75M for 1 year. They never do learn, do they?

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