The amazingly incredible Ross Ohlendorf


Tyler Kepner penned a piece on the amazing Ross Ohlendorf, who will spend his offseason tracing diseases in livestock through devices implanted in animals for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s a great read, I suggest you check it out. What I want to talk about Rob Neyer’s take, which for all intents and purposes says the Pirates fleeced the Yanks in the deal that brought Ohlendorf to Pittsburgh last year.

Look, Ohlendorf’s been real good for the Pirates this year, and Jose Tabata has enjoyed a nice resurgence in their farm system. However, let’s provide some context. Ohlie’s got a 5.57 K/9, a 4.74 FIP, and a 5.44 tRA. He’s managed to put up a 3.97 ERA in the NL Central, but wouldn’t anywhere else. FanGraphs pegs him as +0.9 WAR pitcher, which ranks 62nd out of 67 pitches with 150 IP. Brad frickin’ Penny has been a +2.3 WAR player in 23.2 fewer innings and he got his ass handed to him all season. Ohlendorf is servicable, but for the Yanks he was never going to be anything more than what he was: a longman/middle reliever and trade bait.

Ben already looked back at the deal earlier this summer, and said if he was able to go back in time without knowing what the future held, he would have done it all over again. Remember, when the deal was made the Yanks were just two games back of a wildcard spot, Ohlendorf had been banished to the minors, and Tabata had already been disciplined twice for insubordination. It’s not like the Yankees made the move just for the sake of making it. Hindsight’s fun, isn’t it?

Categories : Asides
  • Moshe Mandel

    Yeah, I just posted on this as well, and I’ve got a decent quote from Rob at the time of the trade. Basically, hindsight makes it easy to judge a move, but it was the right play at the time.

    • Tom Zig

      We also just got Marte back in late August. He is rested and ready for the playoffs. Still a win in my book.

      • Rob A from BBD

        Exactly. People pretend like Marte can’t contribute anything to the Yankees. In reality, a lefty reliever may have been their biggest need before he came off the DL recently.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        To be fair, Marte was really a free agent acquisition after the 2008 season, right?

  • Zack

    Yeah Neyer is a joke. Tabata is going to make the Yankees look foolish? Rob Neyer makes Rob Neyer look foolish

  • Charlie

    this trade was far from historically bad, as neyer made it seem. if nady didn’t get hurt this year, it would have been a very good trade, even if tabata develops into a everyday CF. we’ve got ajax for that hopefully.

    • Tom Zig

      Historically bad trades: (in hindsight of course)

      Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocuomb

      Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser for AJ Pierzynski

      Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew

      The Ohlie, Karstens, D. McCutchen, Tabata for Marte and Nady is not on that level. It may look bad if Ohlie cures Mad Cow disease, but from a baseball standpoint it should be fine.

      • Dela G

        the worst trade of all is the erik bedard trade

        if the GM gets fired over a trade, you know its historically bad

        The Mark Tex trade from texas to atlanta is also making Herschel walker feel a little better about his trade to the vikings.

        • Tom Zig

          Oh yeah I forgot about those. Good point.

          Saltalamacchia, Andrus, and Feliz? Yikes

          If Matt Harrison and Beau Jones pan out, then that could be the most lopsided trade ever. All in hindsight of course.

          • Charlie

            the worst part about the tex trade is the braves then flipped him to L.A. for casey kotchman, who they then traded for laroche a year later. So, basically the braves traded mark teixeira for adam laroche, which is just a bit lopsided.

            • Dela G

              haha i never even looked at the circular part.

              that’s a scary thing the braves did

            • Andy In Sunny Daytona

              No. They traded Saltalamaccia, Andrus and Feliz for Adam LaRoche.

              • Mike Pop

                Matt Harrison.

              • Charlie

                that too

  • Dela G

    ohlendorf’s tangibles would translate to a 5ish ERA

    no thanks

    Tabata literally QUIT a baseball game

    no thanks

    Karstens is a career AAAA pitcher in my mind

    the X-man was tremendous in september 08, and marte could def help the yanks this year in the postseason

  • leokitty

    Tabata has a lot been better this year, but he has had an extreme platoon split since he hit AA which is where those sort of problems really start popping up.

    I think he’s gained back some of his prospect legs now obviously, but you can’t write a piece about how the Yankees will regret trading him and just ignore that. It’s a pretty big deal.

    • Tom Zig

      Especially considering Tabata is still in the minors. Sure the 3 pitchers are up and contributing (used loosely) for the Pirates. But it is the damn Pirates.

      Would any of those 3 pitchers be better than Mitre this year?

      • Dela G


      • Charlie

        “Would any of those 3 pitchers be better than Mitre this year?”

        Yes, Ohlendorf and McCutcheon probably. Karstens probably not. I still agree with the trade form the yanks’ pov, but yea, 2 out of three would be better than mitre.

        • Mike Pop

          I was always a big fan of Danny Mc.

          But, w/e. I was for the trade at the time, glad we got to keep Kontos and Coke too.

          Getting rid of Jeff Karstens made me smile.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Was it a toothy grin like Karstens?

          • K.B.D.

            I wanted to see the Danimal in action for the Yankees as well. Now all my hopes and dreams of seeing a groundball pitching prospect fall upon Zach McAllister.

            • Andy In Sunny Daytona

              What’s wrong with Mitre? He does that. :)

  • Charlie

    shelley is back

  • Reggie C.

    Aside from raising the level of conversation in the Yankee dugout (likely irritating fun-centric guys like Swisher), Ohlie simply wouldnt have provided an impact for the ’09 yanks. Ohlie would have faced another season of AAA as this staff has remained healthy minus 1 … for the most part. Wish him the best.

    Tabata’s now hitting well in his third stay at Double-A. Whoopie. He’s got age on his side, but Tabata looks like another Melky at best.

    • K.B.D.

      I was totally ready to argue the Tabata = Melky thing, and while I’m still not sure I agree with that, I wonder if Tabata has ever been worthy of the hype he received. His OPS hasn’t ever cracked .800 because of his Brett Gardner-esque power (similar IsoPs as well).

      • Mike Pop

        He’s still pretty young though, and power is said to be the last tool to come.

        We’ll see.

  • leftylarry

    ””” Ohlendorf is servicable, but for the Yanks he was never going to be anything more than what he was: a longman/middle reliever and trade bait.”””

    I don’t get this comment at all.Ohelendorf has a 95 MPH fastball with movement and a filthy slider.He’s a horse who can give you innings and Yankees arbirarily made him a reliever, he never started a game for us, eventhough his entire college/minor league career he was a starter.
    Our #5 is Sergio Mitre along with Chad Gaudin.Ohlendorf is already twice the pitcher these guys are but the Author makes the above comment?

    • K.B.D.

      Ohlendorf has a 95MPH FB in relief work, as a starter, he averages 91.1. So you can stop drooling over teh faztball.

      Chad Gaudin’s WAR is 1.3 so I’d say that he’s a whole lot closer to being twice the pitcher that Ross Ohlendorf is than the other way around. And Sergio Mitre has only been slightly worse than Ohlendorf at .6 WAR in the AL East instead of the NL Central. I bet you put Mitre on the Pirates and he puts up numbers similar to Ross.

      • Mike Pop

        And with a 33.8 team UZR/150, Mitre would be sooooo much better there.

        • K.B.D.

          FanGraphs has the Pirates pegged as a +4.3 UZR club. Don’t know where your numbers are coming from.

          • Mike Pop

            Oh shit, I went to value of teams and it had 33.8 under fielding?

            I figured that was UZR.

            • K.B.D.

              That was their total UZR, not UZR/150. Mystery solved.

              • Mike Pop

                Mhm k.

  • Mike Pop

    I do still wish the Yankees had Tabata though, but with all the problems he had here I see why Cashman sold low on him.

  • Jake H

    I don’t think it was that bad of a trade. Pitching in the NL is a lot different then the AL East.

    • leftylarry

      I have little issue with getting rid of Tabata.He’s the type that hurts your team, it’s a lose/lose with guys like him.
      If you keep him he sulks and underachieves and if you trade him, he has a big career.
      Let’s see him succeed and let’s see him win and not be a jerk when he gets his money.
      Ohlendorf sticks my craw because guys gave innings as a starter in college and the minors and we knew he had major league stuff, we saw it.
      Some guys don’t pitch well in relief, Cashman & Girardi just decided he was reliever, Pirtes saw what was obvious and made him a starter again as he alwas was.

      • Mike Pop

        Okay, he’s always been a starter. But he would get tattooed in the AL East if he keeps pitching the way he is. There is reason to believe he will improve but even so, I don’t think it’s anything that will make the Yankees lose sleep over.

        The numbers are in the post, he would get eaten alive in the AL East.

  • leftylarry

    You can keep your ridiculous metrics and stats and I’ll continue to use my eyes.Right now Ohlendorf looks like a better starting pitcher to me than either of those guys and maybe JOBA TOO.

    • K.B.D.

      Have you watched Ohlendorf consistently since he’s been a starter in Pittsburgh? Or are you basing your opinion of him on when he was a reliever for the Yanks?

      Because I think it’s more of the latter and now that he has a half decent ERA in a crappy division and used to throw 95 in relief it was a sin to give him away.

    • Moshe Mandel

      What makes a stat ridiculous? His ERA is 4 in the NL Central, and he doesn’t strike a lot of guys out. You have to admit, that is not a recipe for success in the AL East.

      • whozat

        If your stat contradicts my narrative, it is ridiculous.

        QED, bitches.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “You can keep your ridiculous metrics and stats and I’ll continue to use my eyes.”

  • kenthadley

    it took all year for Ohlendorf to pitch for Pitt in order to get to this point…never would have had the chance in AL East to get hammered and still come back for all the starts….most of these kids would only develop on a poor team in a weak division….in a year or two they might become something…by then, Pitt is trading them anyhow….classic AAAA team developing players….if Tabata becomes so good, he’ll be gone by the time he’s 26…….we’ll have a chance at him then…

  • Adam B.

    All I have to say is this: MGL’s criticism of Neyer’s article. Mike, that says a lot of what you say and a whole lot more.

  • scott

    i think mike got most of his idea for this post from MGL’s post on the book blog. even if you don’t quote something directly, you still need to give credit to the idea. this is a bit of a common trend on RAB unfortunately. a lot of ideas are out there on the baseball blogosphere, and it’s hard to have unique ones. attribution to sources is suffering.

    • Mike Axisa

      I hadn’t even seen MGL’s post until Adam pointed it out this afternoon.

  • http://RJ Joni

    The Yankees had it right when they first got Ohlendorf. He had an injury in March, then was brought back as a reliever – stupid mistake on the part of management. Despite being with a crappy team, Ohlendorf has managed a pretty great W-L ratio. Anybody who has really followed him this year knows that, had the Pirates had a decent hitting team, Ohlendorf would probably have had one of the top pitching career wins of either league this season. And whoever thinks he’d never last in the AL doesn’t know his/her you know what from the proverbial hole in the ground.
    One of the characteristics I see in Ohlendorf that one rarely finds in a ball player, (besides smarts, which everyone knows) is a remarkably upbeat, positive supportive attitude. Not once have I ever heard him criticize anyone. He not only assumes responsibility for his shortcomings; but he assumes others’ AND he is the first to give guys the benefit of the doubt.
    ANOTHER remarkable quality in this guy is his efforts at improvement, which have paid off.
    When you combine all Ross Ohlendorf’s assets with his build and physical condition, he’s a winner. You guys mark my words, this guy’s unstoppable.
    I wish Ross Ohlendorf the best and hope he makes a huge mark in baseball.
    It’s time we had more men like Ross Ohlendorf succeed as leaders in their careers. Our kids could use these kind of men and women as their role models.