Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ohlendorf deserved raise

By Jeff

I might be in the minority, but I have no problem with Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf getting a raise of more than $1.5 million.

Ohlendorf won his arbitration case against the Pirates yesterday, so he will make a little more than $2 million this season. The Pirates were offering $1.4 million and Ohlendorf made less than $500,000 last season.

The ruling sparked local and national media to jump on the story because Ohlendorf was 1-11 last season.
Are there any pitchers that don't look
constipated in their delivery?

The more traditional baseball minds look at the win total and can't believe that it would warrant a raise. And I can't really fault them for that thinking. While a pitcher's record depends on many factors out of his control, you can't ignore the wins stat completely. One way to look at the raise is that the Pirates are paying Ohlendorf $2 million per win. Yikes.

Even with this in mind, I have no problem with the raise. Ohlendorf played for the worst team in baseball last year. They were terrible on offense and were mediocre on defense. How in the world was he supposed to compile a decent record on this team? Of the 21 games Ohlendorf started the Pirates scored 4, 1, 3, 0, 0, 2, 5, 2, 4, 3, 2, 2, 0 12, 2, 6, 0 , 8, 1, 2 and 2 run. That's less than three runs per game. The offense was clearly not helping him.

Ohlendorf also had an ERA of 4.07. It's not great, but there are plenty of players making more than him that had much higher ERAs. He also only gave up four runs or more in five of his 21 starts. I look at that stat and the run support and will argue that Ohlendorf kept his team in a lot of games. Unfortunately for his record, he had little or no help.

It's also unfair to just judge Ohlendorf by last year. He was the Pirates' best pitcher in the 2009 season. He was 11-10 that year with a 3.92 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and pitched 176.2 innings. I will also never forget that he had a game against the St. Louis Cardinals that season where he struck out the side on nine pitches. It was incredible. That feat alone doesn't deserve a hefty raise, but it made me giddy.

I don't like the arbitration thing in baseball. Well, I don't like the amounts of money baseball players are paid, period. But I have no problem with Ohlendorf making $2 million next season. He will be a solid contributor to the team as long as he stays healthy.

Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want)


  1. I agree with you that Ohlie deserved to win his arb case and that his 2009 numbers will (hopefully) be more indicative of what he's capable of. That said, I was hoping he was going to lose his case and I'll try to explain why.

    I'll do a quick background on the arbitration process so everybody can follow me. He is a special case for the arbitration process, as he gained Super Two status last year. Once you make the majors, teams control you for the first 6 years of a contract, first 3 at what the team wants to pay you (ie: minimum salary) and 3 years where you qualify for arbitration to figure out your pay raise. Since Ohlie had enough service time over the arbitrary limit MLB set that year, his last year on a rookie contract turned into an extra arbitration year.

    With that extra pay raise, it may end up where it may not make sense to keep him around for for the next 4 years. His xFIP the past two years have been 4.63 and 4.96, and very rarely pitched into the 6th inning. Since he's already 27, how much better can we realistically expect him to get? This could turn into the Matt Capps situation all over again

    If he's making 8-10 million in his last couple years with similar numbers, should the Pirates even tender him at that point? Or, should they just give that roster spot to prospects like Jameson Tallion, Zach von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, etc... who should be ready by then? Interesting question, regardless of whether they can afford to pay him.

  2. Baseball is a weird beast. He is 27, but his best years could still be ahead of him. I'm not saying he is anywhere near Cliff Lee status, but that guy didn't break out until he was 30. And just to be clear, I am in no way saying Ohlendorf will turn into Lee. I am saying that baseball players, especially pitchers that don't rely on crazy heat, tend to peak closer to 30.

    Now will he be worth $8-10 million? I have no idea. Gil Meche was making more than that with the Royals, so maybe Ohlendorf will be worth that amount in crazy baseball payroll logic.

  3. Mike, pretty nice of you to post a question, and then compliment your asking of your own question as "interesting".

    Thanks for the background information though.

  4. It's just as interesting Jeff picked up the inherent critique of arbitration that I made, without using any sass. Just saying...