Thursday, January 14, 2010

Remembering the "Great '08": Dan Ortmeier and Osiris Matos

I know I actually have to stick to something for once, but for one, I get bored easily, and two, I just get too many ideas at times. Brian Sabean Report. Brian Sabean Watch. Around the Candlestick. Now, Remembering the Great '08. (I'll try to keep faithful to at least the latter two).

Anyways, I'm trying to get over this latest Adam LaRoche signing by the Diamondbacks, so I'm trying to think optimistically. What makes me optimistic? The crappiness Giants fans experienced in 2008. While it could have been worse (a lot of experts going into the year thought the Giants in 2008 actually could have challenged the '62 New York Mets; at the time, I thought so as well), it was a laughably bad season, and an indicator that Sabean had a lousy foundation that had solely relied on Barry Bonds post-2002.

So, in the spirit of being optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, I'm going to look at two players (one position player and one pitcher) periodically from the Giants 2008 squad that are no longer with the Giants due to a.) trades, b.) free agency or c.) just being lousy. Some guys might fall in the A and B categories, but for the most part, you should be expecting a lot of C's in the coming posts (I wouldn't call it the "Great '08" for nothing, you know).

Position player: Dan Ortmeier, 1B, OF.

There was some hope for Dan back in the day within the Giants system. Back in 2007, when Giants fans were going through the beginning stages of the "Oh My God, We're Going to be Screwed When Bonds Leaves" phase, Ortmeier came up and had a decent stretch at the Major League level. In 62 games, Ortmeier hit .287 with six home runs, and sported a .497 slugging percentage and .814 OPS. Furthermore, Ortmeier was a switch-hitter (until early in 2008 where he figured out him batting left-handed was futile; it paid off though once), and being a powerful, big guy, many Giants fans legitimately thought that Ortmeier was the solution to the first base problem the Giants were marred in after JT Snow was traded to Boston, and Lance Niekro fell off the face of the earth.

The problem, however, was that Ortmeier was the classic, Sabean-mold player: struck out a lot, and didn't walk very much either. Despite good slugging numbers in 2007, Ortmeier only sported a .317 OBP. Additionally, he had ridiculously low 0.17 BB/K ratio (thanks to a 4.3 percent walk rate and 26.1 percent strikeout rate).

A lot of Giants fans thought Ortemeir could improve upon that the following season. Unfortunately, he didn't. Ortmeier tanked in 2008. In 38 games with the Giants, he showed none of the power he had in 2007, as evidenced by his zero home runs and .628 OPS (ironically, his .313 slugging percentage was lower than his .315 on-base percentage). His BB/K ratio went up to 0.39, but unfortunately that was the only statistical category where Ortmeier showed any improvement from a season ago. Couple that with mediocre defensive skills (he had a career UZR/150 of -9.9 in the outfield, though he made it up at first base with a career UZR/150 of 8.9), and the hot start of John Bowker, and Ortmeier was pretty much done in terms of being a Giant. Any shot he had to gain ground in the Giants system was also killed by an abysmal 28 games in Fresno where he hit .206, one home run and sported a .523 OPS, and a 0.24 BB/K ratio.

Where is Ortmeier now? He is on the Colorado Rockies Triple-A team, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and could compete for playing time with the Rockies if he has a solid Spring Training, even if it is probably unlikely. Though his plate patience has improved since coming over from the Bay Area (he sported a .373 OBP and 0.55 BB/K ratio last season in Triple-A), the power Giants fans thought he had in 2007 seems to have disappeared. In a 122 games in Triple-A, Ortmeier hit only seven home runs.

Pitcher: Osiris Matos, RHP

What can I say about Matos? Well...not much. He pretty much was a younger version of Merkin Valdez (who was designated for assignment today...collective gasp from Giants nation? No...okay), only without the injuries and Valdez fastball. He had three pitches, and only one he could throw decently (I'll try to let you guess which one). The problem with Matos was his fastball wasn't incredibly fast (it averaged around 90.5 MPH) and he simply didn't have a lot of command with his other pitches. His BB/K ratio was pretty mediocre at 1.78 in 20 games with the Giants in 2008, mostly because he walked too many guys (he had a 3.92 walk rate in 2008) and he didn't strike out all that many (his strikeout rate in 2008 was 6.97).

Matos did show a little progress in 2009. While he got rocked in five games with the Giants to skyrocket his ERA to 9.00 and WHIP to 2.00, his Fresno numbers in 2009 aren't terrible. With the Grizzlies, he had a 1.27 WHIP and 3.48 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched. His BB/K ratio was also good in Fresno last year at 3.69. Heck, even his 5.00 BB/K ratio was pretty good in his five games with the Giants.

However, what keeps me from jumping on board to support Matos? His strikeout rates still were pretty low in 2009 (7.50 with the Giants, 7.95 with the Grizzlies). Thus, while Matos may have solved some of the control issues he had in 2008 with the Giants, he just doesn't have the stuff to be a contributor to the Giants bullpen.

Matos was designated for assignment last season when they brought up Madison Bumgarner on September eighth. However, it seems nobody has claimed him on waivers just yet, and most likely, he will be trying out with the Giants come Spring Training. That being said, Matos pretty much has no future with the Giants at this point, and unless something dramatic happens, I can see him in another team's uniform in 2010 (though it will probably be a minor league uniform if anything).

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