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.