Monday, October 29, 2007

Base Hits: 10/29/2007

LaTroy Hawkins had some not so nice things to say about playing for Baltimore in 2006. He didn't really balst the organization, just addressed the general feeling of negativity that permeated the club.

Speaking of Hawkins, he's a big, tall righty that tried but failed at being a starter. Once he turned 27, the Twins turned him into a reliever and he flourished. Daniel Cabrera is a big, tall righty who just turned 27. Just sayin'...


Thank god the World Series is over. No more Tim McCarver until spring...

Joe Torre is gone and now A-Rod has opted out of his contract. The Yankees are weaker and that only helps the Orioles. Whether they can take advantage of it is another issue.


Brandon Snyder is still tearing up the Hawaiian League is hitting .379 and OPSing .992. Snyder has two triples which surprised me but he had four in Delmarva last year. Pretty impressive baserunning for a former catcher.

Matt Wieters is hitting .302 and hit his first professional homerun this week. He is OPSing .876.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Base Hits: 10/25/2007

First a question: Would any O's fans be interested in bringing back Mike Mussina next season? Would he be able to fill in as a 4th starter so that some of the young guys could continue to develop in the minors? Just asking.


Andy Etchebarren, manager of the Aberdeen Ironbirds, was dismissed yesterday. He joins Bowie manager Bien Figueroa, minor league pitching coordinator Doc Watson and roving infield instructor Tom Lawless on the scrapheap. I'm all for this, the problems within the organization are multifold and you need to purge the minor leagues and start building from the bottom up.

I can't neglect to give Etchebarren his proper send-off from the organization. He was an old-time Oriole catcher from the mid-60's to mid-70's. He wasn't a great offensive threat but he was a Yankee killer, hitting .270 and hit 10 of his 58 career homers against New York. He also single handedly beat the Tigers once in 1970 by launching a homer and driving in 6 in a 10-2 win.

So maybe he wasn't much of a coach but he was a heck of a player in his day.


Hayden Penn pitched three innings last night for the Phoenix Devil Dogs gave up two runs but only walked 1 and struck out 6. Only one ball was sharply hit so most of the damage came on bunts and bloop singles. It was an encouraging start for Penn who has been rocked thus far in the AFL. Over 6 innings in relief, the Dogs pen could only strike out 2 more batters so it wasn't like this was a free swinging bunch. The 6 K's were very impressive against what was essentially a minor league all-star team.


Note to Dave Trembley: Given the inability of the Orioles to attract free agents and the lack of talent in the minors, consider looking back to Earl Weaver and finding some players to platoon in some positions. LF, CF, 1B and maybe 3B would all be candidates. I'll be thinking of some options...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Umm...There Are Still Some Orioles Playing Ball... know, the future of the organization. So if everyone can lighten up about Kevin Millar and his supposed "slap in the face" to Baltimore Oriole fans everywhere (sarcasm) maybe we can start talking about on the field performances. Great.

Hawaiian Winter League

Remember all the drama over whether Matt Wieters would get signed? Well now he's playing his first professional games and the Oriole blogosphere seems not to notice. (OK, OK, I'll get off my soapbox...) Wieters is playing for the Honolulu Sharks along with a few other young Orioles this winter and has been for almost three weeks now. For those of you not familiar with the Hawaiian League, it's where major league franchises are sending some of their top low-level talent for seasoning. Nobody there has played above A-ball. So how is everyone doing?

Matt Wieters - Matt's not exactly tearing the cover off the ball yet but is hitting a very respectable .298 and OPS'ing 829. No homers yet but he does have 6 doubles and is being very patient at the plate (8BB to 5K's so far) which is always encouraging for a young hitter.

Brandon Snyder - The O's former catcher-of-the-future has distinguished himself so far (an understatement) by hitting .378 (good for third in the league) and slugging .568 so far. Only 1 homer through 12 games but has rapped 2 doubles and a triple for the Sharks. I guess he's really gotten over his injuries?

Others of note: A couple of lefty pitchers are shining in relief as Brett Bordes has posted a 2.70 ERA and Chad Thall has a 2.13 ERA. Thall has 10 K's and 5 BB to boot...Reliever Ryan Ouellette has struck out 11 over 12.1 innings but is sporting a rough 7.30 ERA as well...IF/OF Miguel Abreu is hitting a mere .200 but is among the league leaders in steals with 5 and has yet to be caught.

Arizona Fall League

There is less to look at here since most of the Oriole's upper level prospects are perhaps not really very good but there are a couple bright spots. The AFL features top prospects from various organizations who are usually at the AA or AAA level.

Jake Arrieta - 2007 draftee has been pitching well in relief (although I think the O's envision him as a starter) for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Over 8 innings Arrieta has a 0.00 ERA, 6 K's and 3 walks. It speaks volumes that Baltimore sent him to Arizona and it will speak volumes more if he continues to find success against the best players in the minors. He could be in Baltimore sooner than anyone realizes.

Nolan Reimold - He's only hitting .206 at the moment but is slugging .500 with 3 HR in just 11 games. Reimold is a long shot to be on the big club for sure but in 2009 he could be the answer in leftfield...if he stays healthy.

Jim Johnson - I can't figure out if I'm just selling this guy short but he continues to have success at almost every level he pitches. (Well, relative success for expectations...) Another Oriole starter being deployed in relief, Johnson is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 5 appearances for Phoenix.

Others of Note: Hayden Penn has been lit up in two starts (that only lasted 3.0 innings total) and is stuck with a 21.00 ERA...Jeff Fiorentino is hitting just .100 and a weak one at that...Bob McCrory has gathered 4 saves in the early going and has posted a 1.93 ERA

It's certainly no consolation but O's fans still have something to root for! The Phoenix Desert Dogs are leading their division with an 8-3 record and Honolulu is 10-8 and leading the East division in Hawaii. It's not much but it's still more constructive that griping about Kevin Millar.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keys To The Season Revisited: Final

1. The O's lower their ERA by a full run this season

The team ERA last year was 5.35 so the target was 4.35. While that looked attainable for most of the year, the team finished at 5.19 and Leo Mazzone got fired. The pitching staff still has a long, long way to go and improvement was going to be the biggest key to a winning 2007. Instead, it imploded and the Baltimore Orioles lost nearly 100 games.

2. Markakis hits 25

Markakis only hit 23 but 25 was only a quick reference to imporved slugging for the young rightfielder. Markakis hit 43 doubles in addition to leading the team in homers and slugged near .500 (.485). Mission accomplished, Nick has arrived as the best all-around hitter on the team.

3. Increased production from LF

Orioles leftfielders OPS'ed .631 in 2007...down from the historically bad number of .681 set in 2006. Centerfield (mainly Corey Patterson) production regressed as well. Bad stuff in the outfield if you're not named Markakis. Putrid.

4. Melvin Mora circa 2004....or at least 2005

OK, 2004 was right out the window. And so was 2005. Although he wasn't as bad as as he was in 2006, he wasn't much better in 2007. Outside of much improved glovework at the hot corner, Melvin brought little to the table in 2007. Failed.

5. Health

Ramon Hernandez was played injured most of the year. Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora went down for awhile. Bedard and Gutherie missed significant time and Kris Benson, Adam Loewen and Jaret Wright never got started. No dice.

1 out of 5 equals 69 wins.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And Don't Forget About Rick Kranitz

I can't believe I left him out of the last post. The ERA+ for the Florida Marlins (Kranitz's old team) for the two years Kranitz was pitching coach and the two years prior to his tenure:

2004 100
2005 95
2006 99
2007 87

I mean, obviously he did a good job in 2006 after the departure of Josh Beckett and A. J. Burnett but last year the staff for the Marlins didn't perform anywhere near to expectations. Well, he's ours now so we'll see what happens.

Tim McCarver is a Douchebag...

...sorry, just had to get it out of my system.

Just saw Kevin Millar throw out the first pitch in Boston and give Boston's starting lineup. There's my Baltimore tie-in for the ALCS.

OK, so who had Leo Mazzone getting fired and Terry Crowley keeping his job?

First, I love the fact that Dave Trembley is cleaning house. It certainly appears that the club has given him great sway in choosing his staff (even some people in the minor league organization) and the firing of Mazzone bears that out. Statistically speaking, as I posted at the end of September, the pitching staff under Mazzone has actually regressed:

Baltimore Orioles' ERA+ in 2004 and 2005: 101 and 106 respectively
Baltimore Orioles' ERA+ in 2006 and 2007: 84 and 88 respectively

Was it all his fault? No. The material was very weak to begin with but Mazzone had issues helping out bullpen pitchers in Atlanta too. Maybe Trembley decided they needed someone a bit more well-rounded?

Jim Duquette is gone now and Mike Flanagan's role will, it seems, be greatly reduced if he remains in the organization.

First base coach Sam Treijas resigned and bench coach Tom Trebelhorn was fired.

But against all odds, Terry Crowley remains! Evidently, Nick Markakis speaks highly of him. You can't get a better endorsement in Baltimore than that. Personally, I find the role of a major league hitting coach pretty overrated. Once you get to majors, a player who can hit already knows how to hit. The hitting coach with the big club isn't goin to do much but help marginal hitters get better. Corey Patterson got appreciably better once he showed up but obviously the hitters in general did not under Crowley's tutelage. I guess we'll see.

I love the fact that the Orioles are getting infused with new blood. God knows the old guard wasn't doing much to promote success in the organization.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some Preseason Predictions Revisited

Ah, December 2006. A more innocent time when I actually had hope of improvement for the 2007 version of the Baltimore Orioles. As I was just starting to blog about the O's, I started laying out some preseason predictions for various players which I now thought would be amusing to revisit.

December 27th, 2006:

Regarding a proposed Brian Roberts/Hayden Penn for Adam LaRoche/Marcus Giles trade:

"I like Brian Roberts a lot but in all honesty, Marcus Giles probably would have replaced his offensive numbers and defense and they are both the same age."

Oh, that's rich.

Roberts: .809 OPS
M. Giles: .621 OPS

A stinker of a prediction. That doesn't even take into account the 50 to 10 edge in stolen bases (with Roberts stealing at an 87% success rate...). Scuttling that deal may be the best thing Peter Angelos has ever done for this club.

Regarding Kevin Millar:

"I don't like him as a primary option at first base but for $2.75 million for one year, he will give you better production for less money than some of the free agents listed below."

One of the fee agents listed below was Aubrey Huff:

Millar: .785 OPS
Huff: .779 OPS

You wouldn't want to live on the difference but Millar did outperform the highly paid free agent at about 1/3 the salary. I'll stand by that statement. However...

Regarding Carlos Pena coming to the Orioles:

"Another one I don't get unless you can get him signed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Maybe Terry Crowley can work some magic and turn him into a poor man's Richie Sexson but that's a real long shot at this point in his career."

I was clearly wrong about not wanting to give this guy a shot. The Devil Rays were able to turn him into a poor man's Richie Sexson. In fact, Richie Sexson's never had a season as good as Pena posted this year. In fact, if Pena had played for a winning team, he probably would get some serious MVP consideration. Baltimore could've had him...

December 29th, 2006

Re: David Newhan being let go.

"I liked Newhan as a utility man but even Jay Payton will be quite an upgrade in left."

Newhan: .573 OPS
Payton: .668 OPS

That's for 2007 and, yeah, Payton was an upgrade from what Newhan did for the Mets this year. But do you know what Newhan posted in 2006 for the O's? A .668 OPS. Andd to that the fact that Payton was more expensive and can't play the infield...maybe he would've been a better option for the Orioles.

Decemnber 30th, 2006

RE: Corey Patterson

"...he should be able to maintain his batting average in the .265-.275 range...I expect Patterson to at least approach his offensive numbers and continue to play a fantastic centerfield."

Patterson hit .269 for the year so I had that one right. However, even with his late season surge his offensive numbers were significantly down (OPS declined form .757 to .690) and his defense seems to have slipped a bit too. His Fielding Percentage was a bit higher but he didn't get to as many balls this year.

I hope the O's don't overpay for Patterson. He is a really interesting player to watch but he's really inconsistent and he'll never get much better than he is right now which means he will be an average centerfielder at best.