Next up in Rising Apple’s Season In Review series is relief pitcher, Ramon Ramirez.
The Ramon Ramirez story is no ordinary tale. Born in the Dominican Republic, the Texas Rangers originally signed him as an amateur free agent in 1996 as an infielder. The club released him the following year when a discrepancy arose regarding his true age. The Rangers believed they were signing a sixteen year old when they in fact acquired a fifteen year old.
After his release, Ramon joined the ranks of the working man and spent a few years trying to learn how to become a pitcher. In 2000 he attended a Japanese League baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. In 2002, he finally took the mound for the first time as a professional pitcher for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp BBC of Japan’s Central League. The following season, he found himself in the New York Yankeesminor league system where he stayed for three seasons.
He was traded to the Colorado Rockies organization during the 2005 season. In 2006, Ramon Ramirez made his major league debut for the Rockies. He went on to pitch for Kansas City and Boston before landing in San Francisco.
How Ramon Ramirez did on the mound: Adding to his tale, Ramon missed all but two games in the month of June due to a tender hamstring suffered while celebrating Johan Santana’s no-hitter. Otherwise, Ramirez managed to pitch in fifty eight games for the Mets last season which was his lowest appearances total since the 2007 season.
How did he do? Well, Ramon Ramirez wasn’t exactly the pitcher the Mets thought they were getting. In his 2006 rookie season, he appeared in sixty one games and posted a 3.46 earned run average. His 2007 season was derailed by an elbow problem. But over the next four seasons, he averaged a 2.77 ERA. However, last season for the Mets he posted a 4.24 earned run average.
He pitched 63.2 innings this past season, allowed fifty eight hits, and issued thirty five walks. As a result, his 1.461 WHiP was the second highest mark of his six year career.
Ramon struck out fifty two batters, for a 7.4 K’s per nine innings average. He finished with a 3-4 record and earned one save.
Areas to improve upon: Bases on balls, what else? Last season was by far his worst season control wise. He walked 4.9 batters per nine innings pitched. Ramon’s thirty five bases on balls were his single season high.
To be fair, there is a definite case to be made his 2012 season was an aberration. There is still good reason to believe the real Ramon Ramirez is the pitcher from 2011, when he pitched 68.2 innings, only allowed fifty four hits, limited his walks to twenty six, and struck out sixty six batters. Any of five of his previous six seasons would have been preferable to this past season. And so in the case of Ramon Ramirez, perhaps a bounce back season is in order.
He is a three pitch pitcher. His fast ball crosses the plate in the low-90’s. Historically, he also sports a quality slider and change-up. Moving forward, he just needs to refine his slider and change, and exercise a bit more control.
Projected role in 2013: Despite an off year by his standards, Ramon’s career body of work suggests the thirty one year old right handed reliever can still help the Mets. However, the Mets bullpen projects to be well stocked with (cheaper) right handed pitchers heading into next season. Since Tim Bydak has been lost to surgery, the Mets have an even greater need for left hand pitching in the bullpen. The Mets priority lies there and perhaps not with resigning Ramon Ramirez.
Contract status – Chances of being traded: His one year $2.65 million dollar contract is expiring. He is a six year player and is now entitled to file for free agency. Depending on who heads north with the team out of Spring Training, and even with just a modest raise in salary, he would still only project to be the fifth or so righty in the Mets pen. Pitching is pitching however, and a bullpen can never be deep enough.
If signed to another one year deal at a reasonable price, I’d more than welcome him back to Citi Field, and offer him a chance to improve upon a mediocre effort last season. If he is fishing for a substantial raise and a two or three year deal however, the Mets should perhaps let him seek that kind of deal elsewhere.