Closing the Book on HoRam

As I write, the Braves and Mariners are supposedly finalizing a deal that will send Horacio Ramirez to Seattle for Rafael Soriano. As a Braves fan, I feel a huge sense of relief from this news. Finally, he’s gone. If you’re not a Braves fan, you probably view this trade as just a deal—some back-of-the-rotation starter for a decent reliever, both with histories of injuries. Most of what I have read—from M’s and Bravos fans—is that the Braves got the better end of the deal. From my perspective the deal isn’t that lopsided. I do think the Soriano is the more talented player, but even when he’s healthy, a reliever is covering about no more than half the innings of a starter. With a market that’s paying Tanyon Sturtze $1.1 million, pitchers like Horacio Ramirez have value. Like Kevin Gryboski, I didn’t like seeing HoRam on the mound; I had no confidence in him. But at the end of the year, when I’d look back on his performance I could definitely see he’s not good, but there were many worse options out there. Still, he wasn’t decent enough to make part of any long-term plan. He was the definition of mediocre, which is why I’m so happy to see him go.

The problem with HoRam was not so much with the pitcher, but that he has been viewed by the Braves as an important cog in the future of the team. For example, Braves mlb.com beat writer Mark Bowman wrote as recently as late August

But (and here’s where the bashing will begin), I believe next year’s rotation must include Horacio Ramirez. His injury-plagued season won’t allow him to receive much of a raise, and I’m not of the belief that his injury history means he’s a soft individual.

Injuries have wrecked two of Ramirez’s first four full Major League seasons. But it’s not like he’s not pitching because his shoulder or elbow is sore. He’s had legitimate ailments. When healthy, he’s shown why some believe he could consistently win at least 14 games per season.

This offseason could be a very busy one for the Braves. Along with Marcus Giles, I believe Chuck James is somebody who could draw some interest on the trade market. Although he is cheaper, I don’t believe James has the upside that Ramirez possesses.

In fairness to Bowman, he recanted a month ago, which is about the same time the Braves seemed to let out their lack of support for the guy. What support? Well, if you follow the Braves, you can spot the talking points the team leaks to the media. And the spin on Horacio has been nothing but positive and full of excuses.

  • Oh, he’s dropped his cutter, which was his big problem.
  • He’s good at night.
  • He’s good on the road.
  • This guy has the make-up of a Tom Glavine.
  • Now that Mazzone’s gone, he will flourish. (oh brother!)
  • Don’t look at his spring or rehab stats, he’s been “working on something.”
  • When you take out his bad starts he’s pitched well. (my favorite!)

Robert Downey, Jr. could asks this guy on advice for how to ask for second chance. The Braves have really gone out of there way to portray him as something special. Let me just say that Braves fans are tired of it; more so than seeing Jeff Francoeur hit pop flys to a kid in The Netherlands for Delta during the commercial break he just created. He doesn’t strike out hitters. He’s not particularly skilled at preventing walks or home runs. On top of this, he keeps getting injured, which has probably done more to prolong the team’s patience with him. Now, the team is finally moving on.

I want to reiterate that HoRam isn’t awful. He’s not close to sniffing Triple-A ball, but just don’t expect anything more than a fifth starter. My guess is that Seattle isn’t anywhere near his last stop. He’s the type of guy who will go from team to team to fill out rotations. I wish him the best.

14 Responses “Closing the Book on HoRam”

  1. Johnny says:

    ‘more so than seeing Jeff Francoeur hit pop flys to a kid in The Netherlands for Delta during the commercial break he just created.’

    Funny Funny stuff.

    I know that a starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher, but can you offer any explanation for why the Mariners would do this?

    I mean I’m happy and all but still…..

  2. Herb Urban says:

    Bavasi is a moron. Pure and simple. He overspent for Jarrod Washburn last year. He probably figures HoRam is a cheaper, less durable version of Washout.

    This is serious stupidity in action.

  3. jpwf says:

    A guy in my roto league was in love with Horacio for 3+ years- not even a Braves fan- I didn’t get it- I saw a guy who was briefly hit lucky when he first came up, middling stuff and no upside.

    Everyone now and then teams do that, they take someone and insist upon seeing something that’s just not there.

  4. Mike F. says:

    This has to be the most lopsided trade since the Nats ripped off the Reds for Austin Kearns and Ryan Wagner. H-Ram is terrible and in return the Braves got a potentially lights out closer. Granted Soriano has had injury problems in the past, but it’s okay to take a chance on a player with huge upside when you give up nothing in return.

  5. JC says:

    I find myself in the awkward position of having to defend Horacio, but here it goes.

    HoRam is an above-replacement-level pitcher who is not as good as Soriano on an innings-pitched basis. Since HoRam is above replacement, he is generating a positive value to the team. However, because he pitches to more batters, at some point he will produce more value to the team than Soriano. The innings that Soriano does not pitch, must be pitched by someone. My guess is that the M’s feel that someone would be someone worse than HoRam.

    If you had to ask me who won this deal, I’d say the Braves. But I see what the Mariners were thinking, and I don’t think Seattle fans should lose too much sleep over this. Also, the M’s know a lot more about the injury situation than the Braves. They may have decided that he was not going to continue as he had.

  6. Herb Urban says:

    Soriano’s health had to be their main impetus for moving him. But I disagree with JC. Seattle fans should lose a few hours sleep over losing a live arm who threw strikes and missed plenty of bats, in exchange for one who seldom does either.

    Rafael could have been a solid #2 guy, slotted behind King Felix for years to come. Injuries have prevented him from that fate, but to him ship him off for a lefty version of Ryan Franklin does not sit very well in the Emerald City.

    That is almost as bad as peddling Marcus or LaRoche for high priced middle relief help.

  7. Andrew says:

    Where was HoRam going to pitch in the rotation anyway? The Braves improved themselves greatly in this deal. However, JC I think you’re wrong in thinking that Horacio will bounce from club to club…if Ted Lilly just got 4 yrs and $40 million, then I think Horacio will be up for a big payday when his turn rolls around too (although I do not by any means think he has earned it).

  8. Marc says:

    I agree to some extent with JC. It’s easy to pooh-pooh the innings that HoRam pitched, but they aren’t going to be that easy to replace. And it’s not like he got bombed every time out, unlike Davies. Soriano looks like a good pickup and certainly Ramirez isn’t worth the money he is going to get. But middle relievers can be awfully erratic and, even if he is very good, it does no good if the starters can’t get to them.

  9. tangotiger says:

    If Soriano has more value as a starter than as a reliever, but a team chooses to keep him as a reliever, that doesn’t mean that having HoRam over Soriano is better. So, I reject JC’s argument that because Soriano will have far fewer innings than HoRam means that the bridge is gapped.

    In any case, even in relief, Soriano may K more batters than HoRam.

    At the very least, a Mariners fan is asking: “Couldn’t we have gotten more for Soriano than HoRam?” The answer is definitely yes, but then, why didn’t they?

    And, a Braves fan, prior to the trade, could be asking: “Who’s the best reliever we can get for HoRam than some other team is willing to give up?” Soriano was beyond that level.

    It’s a lopsided trade, insofar as to what the trade market could have realistically produced, but didn’t.

  10. JC says:

    Tango,

    Are you saying that an alternate suggestion to acquiring HoRam would be to pitch Soriano as a starter, and because they didn’t do so it’s a bad deal? That’s how I interpret your fist paragraph, but it’s a bit confusing. Clarify if that is not what you mean.

    It’s true that if we extrapolated Soriano’s performance over HoRam’s avg. innings he’s be more valuable than HoRam. My numbers show it, and I’m sure your numbers show it. The question is, what happens to Soriano’s per inning performance if he pitched as a starter? It will almost certainly decline if effort per batter is inversely correlated with innings pitched, and I suspect it is. Will it be better or worse than HoRam? I don’t know. The M’s obviously think he can’t do it.

    Second, I’m not sure that all pitchers can swing between roles. It certainly seems that if you’re in MLB you are either a starter or reliever. Swingmen are rare and are normally players at the beginning or end of their careers. I bet the M’s think Soriano can’t start, and the Braves don’t plan to start him. If he can, then both teams are dumb. HoRam’s relief stints have been bad…Albie Lopez bad. I think he’s pegged as a starter, though as a lefty he ought to be thinking about LOOGY duty if he wants a long career.

    Could the Ms have gotten more for Soriano? That is a good question. I don’t know the answer to that, but the axiom of revealed preference indicates no. I don’t think it’s the clear cut “yes” that you think it is, but I can’t prove otherwise.

  11. JC says:

    Seattle fans should lose a few hours sleep over losing a live arm who threw strikes and missed plenty of bats, in exchange for one who seldom does either.

    Well, at least catch Conan while you’re up. ;-)

  12. tangotiger says:

    I’ve shown in THE BOOK that it is far easier to relief than to start, to the order of almost 1 run per game. Even at that level of penalty, Soriano is better.

    Sori was a starter in the minor leagues, and had a sensational K/BB ratio.

  13. Brian says:

    Whats your take on dealing LaRoche? I would not have been happy with dealing him AND HoRam for Gonzalez of Pitt. I like LaRoche and think he had a decent year after taking his ADD meds. I think he can be a Mark Grace type player and think we should keep him.

  14. Mac says:

    As a perpetrator of the “Horacio pitches well in his good starts” meme, I guess I should defend myself. I don’t think it’s really defensible as a defense of Horacio, though. I just thought it interesting that a pitcher with such mediocre results so rarely had mediocre outings — he was either very good (rarely great) or terrible.