Ramon Ortiz Joins the Rotation
Is this a good idea? Well, Ortiz has had flashes of decent play throughout his career. His 2002 season with the Angels (15-9 / 3.77 ERA / 162-68 K-BB) was by far his best year, but 2001 and 2004 (when he was primarily used out of the bullpen) weren't terrible. For $3 million/year, the Twins can't expect too much out of him, and would probably be happy if he could make 30 starts and pitch 150 innings or so with an ERA on the south side of 5.00. And ultimately, the question is whether or not it makes sense to sign a pitcher who is going to put up those kinds of numbers.
The Twins rotation with Ortiz is probably going to look something like this (as suggested by LaVelle E. Neal) - Johan Santana, Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, Carlos Silva, and Boof Bonser (not necessarily in order). Ponson is the least likely piece of that rotation, since, as I mentioned earlier, he's only been signed to a minor league deal. But, there are a number of very good, young pitchers ready and waiting to get a shot. Matt Garza and Glen Perkins are the two guys most likely to make the team, but Scott Baker isn't a slouch (although he's falling behind the other guys on the depth chart, admittedly). Then, there's J.D. Durbin, who is out of options and will probably end up with another team if the Twins don't find a place for him.
On one hand, my preference would be to plug guys like Perkins and Garza into the rotation rather than using a roster spot on Ortiz and Ponson. Generally, I'd rather give young guys a shot rather than using re-treads. But there is another consideration involved, and that has to do with the infamous arbitration clock.
The Twins would probably struggle with their starters whether they were using Ortiz and Ponson or Garza and Perkins. The starting pitching is going to be the shakiest part of this team in 2007. The Twins may have decided to essentially give up on 2007 (unofficially, of course - they'll play as hard as they can, and you never know when you're going to win). If that's the case, then place-holders like Ortiz and Ponson make more sense in the rotation than young guys like Garza and Perkins. Why waste a year on young pitchers if you don't think it's going to benefit the team significantly?
Going into 2008, the Twins should be looking at a rotation of Santana, Bonser, Liriano, and then two of Perkins, Garza, and Slowey. Rather than being a weakness, that rotation should be a significant strength. With Santana possibly on his way out during or after 2008, keeping the extra year on Garza and Perkins (while giving them another year to improve in AAA), could be invaluable.
So, ultimately, I'm torn as to whether I agree or disagree with this signing, but I'm leaning towards viewing it as a good decision in light of the Twins current situation. I don't expect big things out of Ortiz - but if he can put up an ERA in the 4.50 to 4.75 range, he won't have been a bad signing.