The desperation for a playoff berth in Denver is palpable. With the team currently four games over .500, five games out in the division, and three out in the wild card, nobody is about to give up on the season. But the recent spate of injuries to the starting rotation — which wasn’t great to begin with — has the Rockies scrambling to find arms.
Enter Ramon Ortiz. Today the Rockies actually traded for Ramon Ortiz, giving away a decent prospect in Matt Macri. Obviously, the Rockies are playing for this season, although Ramon Ortiz certainly is not going to make the difference between making the playoffs for the first time in 1995 and missing them. While Macri isn’t the Rockies’ top prospect, the Rockies probably could have used him, if not this year, then at least in 2008 or 2009.
Of course, the team is desperate for arms right now. Rodrigo Lopez is done for the season. Jason Hirsh broke his leg, pitched five innings on it anyway, and now is going to be out for a while. The latest injury to hit was Aaron Cook (well, him and Willy Taveras, but the Rockies can just use Ryan Spilborghs as a fill-in for the next couple of weeks.)
So how does Ramon Ortiz help? My theory is that Ortiz is the "no surprises" option. Sure, Franklin Morales is probably going to be better than Ramon Ortiz, but there’s also the chance that, if he’s stuck in the rotation right now, he’ll blow up and spend the first half of next year at AAA trying to regain his confidence. Ortiz, while he’s not going to be very good, at least won’t be completely awful. Ortiz was 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA as a starter for the Twins this season — again, not very good, but it’s better than throwing in some prospect to go 0-5 with an ERA over 10.
I don’t like this trade, but I suppose with the Rockies playing for this year and Morales probably not ready, it’s understandable from the front office’s perspective. Morales, who’s walked 13 batters in 17 innings since moving up to AAA, could very well be an embarrassment at this point. Ortiz could be an embarrassment, too, but at least if he is the team can rid themselves of him easily rather than having to send him to AAA to work out his problems.
And we still could see Morales, anyway, since apparently Ortiz isn’t going in the rotation. If he’s not going in the rotation, what was the point?