Come with me, if you don’t mind, on a tour of recent history.
May 21st: Zack Greinke allows two runs in six innings, departing the game with a slender 3-2 lead against the Indians. Horacio Ramirez, who comes into the game with a sparkling 5.84 ERA (his lowest at any point this season), starts the top of the seventh. He allows a leadoff single, and after a bunt and a groundout, surrenders another single to blow the lead. Jamey Wright comes in and allows a go-ahead RBI double; Ramirez is eventually saddled with the loss.
May 22nd: With the Royals now in
May 24th: Two days later, the Royals once again get a six-inning, two-run effort from their starting pitcher, this time it being Brian Bannister. With the Royals holding a 3-2 lead on
May 27th: Ramirez is called on with two outs in the sixth inning to rescue Davies, who has allowed seven runs so far and leaves a man on first base. Ramirez gives up a single to Josh Anderson, and is immediately replaced by Roman Colon, who gives up another single to plate the eighth run before ending the inning.
June 2nd: Once again, Davies is on the mound. Once again, the Royals’ starter has allowed two runs, only in this instance the game is tied, and instead of being called upon to start an inning, Ramirez is brought in with two outs in the sixth – and men on first and second. The first batter he faces, Matt Joyce, hits a two-run double that effectively ends the game. Ramirez would pitch a scoreless seventh, but the game is already over.
Over his last five appearances, Ramirez has pitched four innings, allowed eight hits and five runs. He blew a one-run lead in one game, gave up the tie-breaking runs in another game, allowed a 2-0 deficit to get out of hand in a third game, had to be rescued by another pitcher to preserve a lead in a fourth game, and gave up a hit to the only batter he faced in mop-up relief in the fifth game.
And before this stretch, he had a 5.74 ERA.
It’s now June, and Horacio Ramirez has a 6.86 ERA for the season. He has allowed 27 hits in 19.2 innings. He only has 12 strikeouts. He has walked 10 batters (granted, three intentionally). He has allowed three homers. There is absolutely nothing on his statistical record that is positive.
Lefties are hitting .261/.306/.348, which isn’t bad, but not particularly good. Right-handers are hitting .405/.500/.811. Even Jimmy Gobble thinks that’s bad.
And still Hillman sends him out there, in key situations, gambling that Ramirez won’t cost the Royals yet another game.
I guess it would make sense if the Royals were desperate for a LOOGY, even though Ramirez, you know, doesn’t even make for a good LOOGY. Except last I checked, the Royals have both Ron Mahay and John Bale on the roster, meaning that they’re keeping Ramirez around even though they have two better left-handers in the bullpen.
Look, guys, I know you invested a lot of money in Ramirez. I don’t know why you invested a lot of money, mind you, because he had done nothing to deserve the money, and no other team was particularly interested in offering him a comparable deal. But you did. You blew $1.8 million on a pitcher who doesn’t belong in the major leagues any more. It happens. Teams make mistakes.
But the money is gone, and no amount of putting Ramirez on the mound to justify that contract is going to bring the money back. All you’re accomplishing by keeping Ramirez on the roster is proving that you can’t resist throwing good games after bad money.
I have no idea if the Royals are going to turn things around, whether they’ll get back to .500 this year, whether they’ll contend again in 2009. On paper, there’s no obvious reason why the Royals can’t reverse course. But I know that the Royals aren’t going to win a damn thing so long as they’ve got a GM who isn’t willing to cut losses on a contract that was a mistake the moment it was signed, and a manager who doesn’t understand that just because you have a pitcher on your roster doesn’t mean you have to use him in tight situations.
Horacio Ramirez sucks, guys. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner we can get around to the business of putting together a winning roster.