Mariners release Ramirez
Lefty's struggles, stocked rotation spell end of road in Seattle
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners' first roster move of Spring Training was a stunner.Left-handed pitcher Horacio Ramirez, who spent most of last season in the starting rotation, was released by the club prior to Wednesday afternoon's Cactus League game against the Brewers at Peoria Stadium. "We felt he didn't have a chance to make the club as a starter and had an outside chance of making it as a long reliever," general manager Bill Bavasi said. "But there also are a couple of other guys who have a chance of making it and [Ramirez] is lower on our depth chart." The 28-year-old Ramirez, acquired from the Braves on Dec. 6, 2006, for right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano, struggled during his only season with the team. He posted an 8-7 record in 20 starts, but had a 7.16 ERA. Ramirez, who had a 5.40 ERA in two Cactus League appearances, refused to discuss the situation. "He did everything we asked," manager John McLaren said. "He worked hard in Spring Training, but we just didn't think he was a good fit throwing long [relief] for us. In all fairness to him, it gives him a chance to catch on as a starter with another club, which he wants to do." Bavasi said recent efforts to trade Ramirez never materialized. "Most people don't like looking at Spring Training numbers," he said. "They still look at the year before." By releasing Ramirez on Wednesday, the Mariners are responsible for 30 days of his 2008 salary, which is $2.75 million, and he has a better chance of landing a job with another organization. "Looking down the road, if we go past this point, what's our motivation?" Bavasi said. "Today, he might have a shot [with another team]. It's better for us, and him, to make the move today." The Mariners could have waited until March 27 to make this move. In that case, they would have been responsible for 45 days of pay -- a difference of about $225,000 between now and then. The acquisition of left-hander Erik Bedard via trade and right-hander Carlos Silva via free agency removed Ramirez from any chance of returning the rotation -- barring injury. Other rotation spots belong to right-handers Felix Hernandez and Miguel Batista and left-hander Jarrod Washburn.
Ramirez was expected to provide a substantial boost to the rotation last season. He won his first six decisions at Safeco Field and improved his career Interleague Play record to 7-0 when he beat the Padres on May 19.But those were about the only highlights during a season that saw him go 2-4 with a 8.70 ERA on the road, the highest ERA among Major League pitchers with at least 45 innings of work. "Changing leagues was more difficult that I thought it would be," he said earlier this spring. "Looking back, I didn't handle things well." He said he gave hitters "too much respect." "At the same time, the AL is a real tough league," Ramirez said. "There is no break in the lineup. There was a string of starts when I faced Detroit, Boston and Anaheim. There was no letup there, no easy outs. There is no letup in any lineups." Bavasi agreed with that assessment. "It's not an easy league," he said. "There are not a lot of easy lineups here. We're in a cycle right now where our league is stronger offensively. It might be different in a year or two, but it seems to be getting stronger."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.