There are plenty of year end wrapups across the O's Blogosphere so instead of doing one myself, I'll just highlight the good works of others.
The very prolific Anthony Amobi has end of the year awards for the Baltimore Orioles over at Oriole Post.
At Oriole Magic, Heathir Irvin has an article meant as a Christmas wish list for O's fans but does a nice wrapup of the offseason action.
The best of the wrapups thus far has to be the blow-by-blow of 2007 by The Wayward Oriole.
The official 2007 retrospective by your Baltimore Orioles.
I think Roch may have already posted a link to this but here is a link to the Top Ten Oriole Prospects according to TopProspectAlert.com.
I had a horrible dream last night that Erik Bedard was traded to Seattle but Adam Jones was not included in the deal. But it was just a dream, a terrible, terrible dream.
I'll give some love to a new blog called Swanz's Sandlot who did a nice impartial (he appears to be a fan neither team) breakdown of the Tejada to Houston deal.
Well, that's all I got O's fans. Here's to a brighter 2008 season...
Monday, December 31, 2007
There are plenty of year end wrapups across the O's Blogosphere so instead of doing one myself, I'll just highlight the good works of others.
Friday, December 28, 2007
A self-righteous and sanctimonious guest column in The Baltimore Sun about the Mitchell Report and appropriate punishment for those implicated.
The author wishes for Major League Baseball to "rise to the occasion" to punish the cheaters:
It is not too late to send a clear message to the players who chose to cheat in order to get ahead: You are not welcome in our clubhouses, in our Hall of Fame or in our record books. Major League Baseball has the opportunity to restore the integrity of the game.
What Mr. Frenkil does not do is outline how to find out who the cheaters are. Does he really believe that the people named in the Mitchell Report are the only guilty parties? What about the players, including Roger Clemens, who claim the accusations are false? How does baseball decide who is telling the truth?
Mr. Frenkil also invokes the 1919 White Sox and the banishment of the cheaters like Kennesaw Mountain Landis did nearly 90 years ago. But where does it end?
I wonder if Mr. Frenkil is familiar with the case of Buck Weaver. Weaver is one of the infamous "eight men out" but was not banned from baseball because he cheated. He was banned because he had knowledge of the plot but did nothing to prevent it.
How many Buck Weavers were present during the Steroids Era? Dozens? Hundreds? There were players in the locker room who knew what was going on who did nothing. The union as a collective refused to allow the league to enact testing that would help alleviate the problem. Should all the players be held responsible? Where does baseball draw the line?
It's pretty clear cut when you stand up and moralize but once you start getting your hands dirty dealing out punishments gets messy indeed.
On a sunnier note, I am adding a link to the Enchanting Sunshine blog's Oriole page. Lots of great pictures from years ago and from the present.
Luis Hernandez, the heir apparent to Miguel Tejada at SS, stunk up the Venezuelan Winter League. Hernandez hit .216 and OPSed .551 for Tiburones de La Guaira. If that's the best he can do, he won't be in Baltimore long. Look for Brandon Fahey to make a strong run at the starting SS job this spring.
Former Oriole LaTroy Hawkins returns to the Al East and signs a one year deal with the Yankees. Let the beatings commence.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
With all the flux and uncertainty with the Oriole roster this offseason it has been difficult to start any posts examining player performance for 2008. However, I think the safest bet is that Nick Markakis will still be patrolling right field in Camden Yards come April.
First, I present a thing of exquisite beauty. Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Markakis' 2007 hit chart for Oriole Park:
That's what I call hitting to all fields. I am moved. Allow me to shed a tear...(sniff)
What should we expect this year from Markakis? Last year I had hoped that he would slug .500 but he fell just short at .485. Still, hitting .300 with 23 HR and 43 doubles at the age of 23 is nothing to sneeze at.
You should always know your history and I couldn't imagine there would be too many players who posted those kind of numbers at 23. So I searched for all 23 year olds in Major League history who hit at least .290 with at least 40 doubles and 20 homers. The result? Only 16 other players have done it. Unfortunately, Nick is the only one of those players with under .500 SLG. The list includes names like Albert Pujols, Hank Greenberg and Aramis Ramirez. Markakis is never going to be a huge slugger like some of the guys on this list. His power is more line drive type power, which is good, but he's never going to be a guy who routinely hit 35 homers a year. Plus, he's faster than most of the guys on this list.
So I changed the criteria. Must hit .290 with 35 doubles with slugging not to exceed .515 nor be less than .475. Got it? Good.
This list yielded 13 names (including Cal Ripken, Jr.) but I thinned the herd further by including only outfielders. Of the four names left, Markakis compares most favorably to two players:
Hitter Year BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Enos Slaughter 1939 .320 52 12 .371 .482 .853 122
Ellis Burks 1988 .294 37 25 .367 .481 .848 131
Not too shabby a comparison. Slaughter is a Hall of Famer and Burks was an All-Star caliber player for many years.
So based on Marakis' 2007 stats and projecting them using Burks' and Slaughter's age 24 seasons, here's my guess for Nick's batting line for 2008:
Hitter Year BA 2B HR OBP SLG OPS
Nick Markakis 2008 .309 39 27 .365 .502 .867
I'll take those numbers any day.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Holy crap. In looking up the latest news about the Orioles home in Ft. Lauderdale and a potential move to Vero Beach, I noticed that I have been blogging about the Baltimore Orioles for exactly one year today. And my first post was regarding the Orioles Spring Training facility in Ft. Lauderdale. Well, it was interesting to me anyway... (See that previous post for a more complete assessment of the Oriole's Spring Training facility)
As that original post highlighted, the club had reached an agreement to stay in Ft. Lauderdale and improve the existing facility. Now, bureaucratic slowdowns have Baltimore eyeing Vero Beach once again.
I have stated this before but I must reiterate that the facility in Ft. Lauderdale is beyond crappy. On top of that, it reeks of Yankee. The Yankees used the facility before 1996 and Angelos and company haven't even given the place a fresh coat of paint in over 10 years. Observe the background of this picture:
Note the Yankee colors still present on the outside of the stadium. The interior (including the seats) are still done in Yankee colors. There is still a Yankees plaque next to the box office! Outrage!
Dodger Town, on the other hand, is beautiful. All you would need is a fresh coat of orange and black and it's ready to go. I hope, I hope. I hope that the O's move north to Vero Beach. It's a great facility and will save me about an hour and a half on the road the next time I go down.
A little fun with numbers during this lull in the Hot Stove action. Greg Ryabrcyk runs HitTrackerOnline.com and is obsessed with homeruns. As a result, he has developed various tools to determine how far homers actually fly, how atmospherics affect homeruns and who benefits from good or bad atmospheric conditions. I ran some reports on the Orioles to see if there was anything interesting (and I really have nothing better to do).
Now a look at the top homerun distances, standardized. Greg standardizes all homeruns as if they were hit on a clear 70 degree day and fell unobstructed to field level.
Hitter Date Std Dist
Tejada 4/2/07 428
Tejada 8/21/07 425
Millar 5/16/07 425
Hernandez 9/29/07 421
Markakis 5/14/07 415
Not too surprising that Tejada has the top two blasts on this list, he still possessed the best raw power on the team even if he doesn't display it on a regular basis. I never realized this before looking at these homerun numbers but Tejada hit 10 of his 18 homers in the month of August. I'm not sure how that escaped me before and I can't think of any player who has hit 10 homers in a month that didn't hit 20 total.
Next, a look at the top homeruns measured by speed off the bat (SOB) in mph.
Hitter Date SOB
Tejada 4/2/07 113.8
Markakis 8/28/07 113.6
Markakis 9/24/07 113.5
Millar 5/16/07 113.3
Mora 4/7/07 113.2
You can see how the ball just jumps off the bat for Nick Markakis and this comes as no surprise. The Hit Tracker also give an elevation angle on each homer and Nick's homers tend to be hit at an angle less than 35 degrees where most homers for a typical slugger get lofted out at an angle of 35-45 degrees. This shows Markakis' line drive power and also explains why he hits 43 doubles in addition to the 23 homers.
Here's the "No Doubt" homers which Hit Tracker defines as ball that clear the fence by 20 vertical feet and land 50 feet past the fence.
Frustrating numbers here as you can see the power Huff possesses but is very inconsistent with. Same with Gibbons who only hit 7 HR in 2007 but 3 were killer shots.
On the flip side, here's the "Just Enough" homers. These clear the wall by less than 10 feet and barely leave the park.
Markakis is not a real shock here due to the line drive nature of his power. Ditto for Roberts.
"Lucky Homers" are balls that would not have left the park on a calm, 70 degree day.
As we have seen the declining power of Mora over the past three seasons, it is interesting that nearly a third of his homers last year were the result of favorable weather conditions. What happens if he's not so lucky next year?
Next time we'll take a look at how the O's pitchers fared in terms of the longball.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I have to apologize to Brian Roberts. I gave Roberts and his supporters a hard time when the Mitchell Report was released as everyone tried to explain away the flimsy evidence that was presented against him. I kept trumpeting the fact that Roberts was reportedly (according to the L.A. Times) named in the Jason Grimsley affidavit as well and that this was more than pure coincidence. Well, last week the affidavit was unsealed and the Times printed this retraction:
Baseball: A front-page article on Oct. 1, 2006, incorrectly reported that in a search warrant affidavit filed in May 2006 in federal court in Phoenix, an investigator alleged that pitcher Jason Grimsley named former teammates Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons as players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. In the affidavit, which was unsealed Thursday, Grimsley did not name those players. The article also said Grimsley alleged that Miguel Tejada had used steroids. The only mention of Tejada in the affidavit was as part of a conversation with teammates about baseball's ban on amphetamines. The Times regrets the error.
Even though Brian has since admitted a dabbling in steroids once, it was unfair for me to characterize him the way I did based on an erroneous report. So I apologize for taking that report as fact.
According to MLB Rumor Central on ESPN.com, the Brian Roberts to the Cubs and the Erik Bedard to the Mariners deals are not dead yet (at least as of Friday). Despite assertions to the contrary, I believe that Andy MacPhail will still be shopping Erik Bedard aggressively and I will be shocked if he is indeed the Opening Day starter for Baltimore in 2008. We shall see.
Melvin Mora is squawking about moving to the outfield again. And I quote:
"I'm a third baseman. I won't play no left field [for the Orioles]. They traded [Miguel] Tejada for a left fielder," said Mora, referring to former Houston Astro Luke Scott. "Check my numbers. You can see where I play."
OK, let's check the numbers then.
Melvin Mora Homeruns 2007: 14 - 13th out of 14 AL 3B
Melvin Mora BA 2007: .274 - 8th out of 12 qualifying AL 3B
Melvin Mora OPS 2007: .759 - 8th out of 12 qualifying AL 3B
And even with the improvement in his fielding, Mora is still in the bottom third is just about every fielding metric you can reference.
However, if you put that production out in LF those are not bad numbers among AL LF. Thanks for being a team player Mel.
It's merely a satire but I found this article about Kris and Anna Benson pretty funny.
It's now been over 5 years since the 2002 draft and now it's time to check in to see...Where Are They Now!
1st Round - Adam Loewen - P - High School
It's early but so far this pick is right on schedule. The kid will be 24 next season and, if healthy, should be right there helping to anchor the rotation. Even while pitching through an injury early last season, Loewen performed well. So far, great pick.
2nd Round - Corey Shafer - C - High School
Shafer was quickly converted to an outfielder but hasn't distinguished himself in the minors, only rising as high as Class A Frederick. He did not play last year but I don't know whether that was due to injury or if he's been released. Not good either way.
3rd Round - Val Majewski - OF - Rutgers University
Majewski was on a fast track to the majors as of 2004 when he hit .307 with 15 homers at AA Bowie. Unfortunately, he tore the labrumin his left shoulder and missed all of 2005 due to injury. He has yet to regain his stroke and this season in Norfolk is probably his last chance to secure a future in this organization. So far, this is a push. there is no predicting injury.
4th Round - Tim Gilhooly - OF - University of the Pacific
Gilhooly never rose above low-A Aberdeen and last played in the organization in 2003 hitting .203 for his minor league career. Out of baseball.
5th Round - Hayden Penn - P - High School
Penn rocketed through the organization reaching Baltimore in only two years but still has yet to put it all together. He battled injury last season but has proven he can miss AAA bats. If healthy this year, he can restore his status in Norfolk and perhaps join the rotation in 2008. A push for now but good value for the 5th round.
6th Round - John Maine - P - UNC Charlotte
Maine was traded with Jorge Julio for Kris Benson prior to the 2006 season. Although he has enjoyed some modest success in New York, I have gone on record stating that it's all smoke and mirrors or more accurately all pitcher's park and stellar defense behind him. Anyway, I still think Maine may have projected as a serviceable long reliever for the O's and he was traded for a legitimate (if injured) major league pitcher. A good pick.
7th Round - Paul Henry - P - Ball State
Henry never had any success above low-A ball. Out of baseball.
8th Round - Ryan Hubele - C - Texas
Hubele spent most of the season at Bowie last year and may get a shot at holding a job in Norfolk this season. But at 27 with a career batting average of .248 in the minors, it is unlikely that Hubele will ever be a decent backup catcher in the majors.
9th Round - Trevor Caughey - P - High School
Caughey posted a 4.62 ERA over 5 seasons in the low minors. Out of baseball.
10th Round - Matt Boland - P - High School
Boland never made it out of the Gulf Coast League. Out of baseball.
It's too soon to really do a good assessment of this draft but with Orioles drafts during the Angelos years there isn't even glimpses of hope left among the top picks. Adam Loewen and Hayden Penn are pretty good prospects and poised to help this team in the near future. 12th round pick Brandon Fahey may turn out to be a serviceable utility player at the major league level. Compared to most drafts I've examined over the last year, this one isn't half bad.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Brian Roberts admits to using steroids by injection, one time, in 2003.
I've gone on long enough about the denial many fans have been in about Roberts steroids implications but this proves them foolish to doubt that anybody in this era didn't at least dabble in the world of PEDs.
All that said, Brian Roberts is a standup guy for admitting it. Do I believe it was only once? At this point I have to and I don't hold it against him one bit. This process is about forgiving and moving on. I just wish all the players realized that and stopped running from these allegations. Good job by Roberts for facing up to what he did.
Ok, cool. Resume party...
While most over at the Baltimore Sun want to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt, Rick Maese wonders why we should believe him at all?
Oddly, the Oriole blogosphere is unusually quiet this morning. Where are you guys?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Not all the proposed deals for Erik Bedard are dead as John Hickey writes in the Seattle Post-Intelligentcer. The Mariners are desperate for pitching and after being spurned by Hideki Kuroda (who signed with the Dodgers) Seattle has turned their attention back to Bedard.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bedard is the second best pitcher who is being made available this offseason. Right now, the third best pitcher rumored to be traded is Joe Blanton and the A's are loathe to trade him to a division rival like Seattle. This bodes well for the O's who could demand young CF Adam Jones in the deal among several other prospects.
A quick peek at what Houston gave up for Miguel Tejada and the Houston Chronicle's Steve Campbell wonders if it was worth it.
Jeff of Lookout Landing ponders whether the Mariners would be best served by trading for Bedard. His findings? No.
And finally, Advertising Age gives it's thoughts of the Mitchell Report's impact on the marketability of various baseball players under the following headline:
Baseball Sponsors Escape Mitchell Taint
Insert your own punchline...
Friday, December 14, 2007
Add former Oriole Mike Bordick and former Giant Bill Swift to the list of former big leaguers who believe that players using PED's should be punished but deny ever knowing that anyone was using in their own lockerooms.
Forget the irony that Bill Swift won 21 games for the Giants in a season that Barry Bonds was hitting 43 homers in support of him. Mike Bordick played for the A's and the O's from 1990-2002 but never had any inkling that any of this was going on. Considering the teammates he had at the time I find that very hard to believe.
Curt Schilling urges other players to fess up and move on.
Andy Pettite: Can you strikeout a batter while sitting injured on the bench? No? Then using illegal drugs to speed your return to the mound is still performance enhancing. Let's not kid ourselves. (Same to you Mr. Gibbons...)
I saw in Peter Schmuck's column today there was a letter to season ticket holders that announced rising ticket prices, (classic Angelos and absurdly laughable in itself) that Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts were (tellingly?) not mentioned as players to "come out and see". Interesting.
OK, get ready for the rant...
Up until now, I have avoided writing much about steroids in this blog outside of cursory mentions here and there. There are a lot of reasons for that.
First, I try to keep this blog very Oriole focused and so I would only think to address the issue if a current or former Baltimore player happened to be implicated or caught. To my chagrin, it's happened far more than I anticipated!
Secondly, I really don't care much about the subject. I know that players were using PEDs from roughly 1989-present and that there was no testing in place until 2004. I can live with that. I don't care who did it or who didn't because I don't believe we will ever know for sure. I believe it was so widespread that you can just slap that "Steroids Era" on the whole timeframe and be done with it.
You don't compare players against static records anyway. OK, a lot of people do but that's just silly. Was Pete Rose really a better hitter than Tony Gwynn because he has more hits? Maybe. The important thing is to look at a players career critically and not just the total stat. All the players who played in this time need to be compared to their peers whether you are looking at HOF credentials or just debating who was better than who. Thankfully, the thinking fan has those tools at his disposal.
What does this lead to? The cheapening of homerun totals for sure. Remember when 400 put you on the steps of Cooperstown and 500 was a slam dunk for induction? Kiss that goodbye. 400 doesn't even get you a sniff by itself. We will soon see guys with 500 on the outside looking in. All this is fine with me and I can live with it.
So I don't take it personally anymore when an Oriole or some other player I liked to root for gets caught or is implicated in a PED probe. The last time I felt that way was when Rafael Palmiero tested positive for steroids back in 2005. I wasn't particularly surprised that Jose Canseco's allegations about Palmiero turned out to be founded on some sort of fact. But when Raffy made that vehement denial in front of Congress and then got busted? Ouch. That told me that even the good guys (and Palmiero certainly was one of the good guys) were using and would lie, lie, lie to cover it up. Now everybody was under suspicion.
So why do I care about this Mitchell Report? Up to this point we have barely scratched the surface of this issue. The BALCO investigation brought out some names and there have been leaks here and there from the Jason Grimsley debacle and the HGH bust that netted Jay Gibbons, Gary Matthews Jr. and others. These are very isolated situations and very small, closed loops. But the names were in the press and many of these players were singled out and vilified.
Now the Mitchell Report has come along and revealed at least a couple more links in the chain. Former big league trainer Brian McNamee and former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. Lots of names mentioned, some with more evidence against them than others, but it shows that the problem was a bit more pervasive than anyone really wanted to admit before.
Unfortunately, this report is still just scratching the surface. Do we really believe that there were no other trainers supplying PEDs during this time? There was an open market from MLB all the way down to the lowest levels of the minors and there was nothing stopping players from using. What about the notable missing names, the players who have been suspect in the past but have never been caught? Sammy Sosa, Brett Boone and others have been suspect in the court of public opinion for years. Where did Sammy get his stuff? Or Boone? Or Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez, Brady Anderson or scores of others who seemed to come out of nowhere to jack 35+ homers a season? Those who supplied the obvious "offenders" also supplied players who are not so obvious too. We've seen that in this report.
There is much more to be learned but we won't learn it anytime soon. Mitchell did not have subpoena power and could not compel anyone to cooperate if they didn't want to. Indeed, no active MLB player did. (more on that point later) The only hope that this report will really bring things to light in the near future is that Congress gets upset by the contents of the report and launches another investigation with real teeth behind it. It would be awesome. Subpoena power, taking statements under oath...that's where the real information will be spilled. Players (and others) who actually wanted to talk would now have an excuse to do so ("I was under oath buddy. I had no choice but to give up your name.") or be less compelled to cover it up since they would have much more to lose. Alas, this will probably not happen. The press seems happy to vilify Roger Clemens the same way they have vilified Bonds in recent years and not look much at the big picture.
On to the players, the commentary on the report by former players who are now baseball analysts was something I hadn't considered before but was one of the most telling parts of the day. As the report was being released, I was alternately amused and sickened listening to these former players continue to stonewall and hide their heads in the sand. On MLB.com, I had the displeasure of listening to Harold Reynolds, Eduardo Perez and Brian Mcrae all continue to either deny or diminish the severity of the problem during the 90's. Now I'll give Harold Reynolds a bit of a pass on this since he retired after the strike shortened 1994 season and most of his clubhouse experiences were in the 1980's. But Perez and Mcrae? Perez played from 1993-2006 and McRae played from 1990-1999. They were in clubhouses 162 games a year during the height of "The Steroids Era" but seemingly never heard or saw anything. When asked, they would reply with something like, "I had tunnel vision in the locker room. I just went about my business, played ball and went home." Later in the interview they would hilariously imply that the owners and management probably knew more about it than they let on.
One of the more extreme examples so far has been John Kruk who opined on ESPN last night that he didn't see what the big deal about this report was because "There's only three big names in this report!". Thankfully, Fire Joe Morgan printed a few more of his quotes:
You know -- most of this is all hearsay. You heard Roger Cossack say that this stuff wouldn't stand up in a court. The thing I keep hearing from Mitchell and from Bud Selig is this: "Now we move forward. Now we move forward." If you want to move forward, why do you bring up names from the past who have nothing to do with the game of baseball right now? Mo Vaughn, Lenny Dykstra, David Justice -- guys who aren't involved in the game anymore. Why bring up their names? If you want to clean the game up, clean the game up. Those guys aren't dirtying the game anymore. They're out of it. So leave 'em out of it and move forward and get the guys who are. But again -- why do you gotta name the names? What is the purpose of naming the names of these people? Is it to satisfy the public? Is it to satisfy themselves? Why drag 'em all through the mud? Let them go. You got 'em, you call 'em in separately, privately, and you say, "Here's what we got on you, now you talk." If they don't want to talk, then you can do something as far as suspension. But you -- you don't have to get out in the public with this.
And this gem:
But you can't prove that they took anything! Just because you have 'em doesn't mean you took 'em. Now, common sense tells you if you're purchasing them you're probably going to use 'em also, but -- if there's no drug test, no failed drug test, how can you suspend anyone by hearsay? I mean, that's like arresting someone at 12 o'clock in the afternoon, saying, "About a week ago, you had a couple drinks and you were driving, so we're going to arrest you now." You can't do it unless you prove it.
There will be more of this over the next couple of weeks as the players' fraternity falls all over themselves to protect one another.
There was also Bud Selig's sanctimonious speech about taking action or some nonsense. I'm not sure how you can take action against players now for things they've done before these things were punishable by the league. Wrong way to go here.
There is no need for punishment, there should be no ramifications for Hall of Fame voting. Nothing. It's punishment enough for a player to be named. Simply bringing the stories into the light of day does far more for the game than any punishment ever could.
Some people out here in the blogosphere are making excuses for Brian Roberts (in my opinion) simply because he is a popular player and the evidence in the Mitchell Report is so flimsy against him. Admittedly, I would give Roberts a pass if he came out and strongly denied the claim.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Roberts has been implicated. His name also turned up on the Jason Grimsley affidavit (along with Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons...two players who had harder evidence turn up against them later).
And you can't ignore his spike in performance in 2005 given the other allegations. Here's a guy who never slugged .400 above rookie ball who suddenly slugs over .500 over the course of a full season in the majors and then continues to slug .400+ the last two years.
What does this whole long rant mean? I'm just frustrated. Not because I'm fretting about the sanctity of the record books, not because I'm concerned about competitive balance or because I fear the game has been besmirched. I already imagine the worst and it doesn't bother me. What does bother me is all the players, whether they used PEDs or not, will lie, concoct flimsy excuses and pretend none of this ever happened just to cover their asses or the assess of their buddies and peers.
I will continue to highlight that hypocrisy but hopefully I will have to discuss this no further for the foreseeable future.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
National reaction to the Tejada trade has been surprisingly positive, something rare for Baltimore is recent years.
Baseball America sums it up like this:
While the Orioles didn't get a frontline prospect in exchange for the final two years of Tejada's deal, they did add rotation depth, with upside, in the form of Albers and Patton—not to mention an accomplished power bat in Scott.
Not exactly glowing but not bad, right?
Keith Law over at ESPN.com usually savages the Orioles as a hobby but he seems to believe that Baltimore got the better end of the deal. Since it's subscription, here's the meat of the matter:
By acquiring Miguel Tejada, the Astros seem hellbent on trying to contend in 2008, and the Orioles are the happy beneficiaries. In Tejada, Houston gets a good player who's already in decline and [Baltimore] receives a good mix of quantity and quality in return...
Baltimore gets a big haul considering Tejada's declining performance and healthy contract. The two central guys in the deal are the young starting pitchers. Left-hander Troy Patton has been a top Houston prospect for several years, and while his stuff hasn't ticked upward as projected, he has good feel of an arsenal that includes a four-seamer at 88-92 mph, a plus changeup with good arm speed and fading action, and a fringy slider at 80-84 mph that has some tilt but tends to flatten out. He projects as a solid No. 4 starter, although he comes open a bit in his delivery and has had minor shoulder problems on and off as a pro.
Right-hander Matt Albers is the other side of the coin; where Patton has good command of average stuff, Albers has below-average command of good stuff, with two pitches that project as plus -- a fastball at 92-96 mph and a hard curveball in the low 80s with a very sharp break. He lacks a solid third pitch to get lefties out, and his command has a long way to go, but his arm is too good to be included in a big package like this.
Baltimore also picked up three other players, although none figure into the Orioles' long-term plans just yet. Luke Scott, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder coveted by a number of other clubs to be part of a platoon solution in left or right field; his defense is shaky but he shines against right-handed pitching. Don't be surprised if the Orioles keep him moving in a second deal.
Right-hander Dennis Sarfate has an outstanding arm, with a 95-98 mph fastball and good downhill plane, but his control ranges from bad to horrid, and he's just a good lottery ticket for the Orioles at this point, which makes him a good fourth guy in a deal. Mike Costanzo projects as a quadruple-A player; he has trouble making contact with better stuff and is very rough at third base.
It's hard to make sense of this deal for Houston, a club that continues to act like a contender despite going 73-89 last year with no real reason to expect the in-house personnel to improve.
More to come...
As an aside, The Mitchell Report will be released within the next couple of hours. While I usually don't chase all these PED stories, I find myself distracted waiting for this report to be released. I think it's a really big step to clearing the air even if, as I've said before, I think it'll be 20 years down the line before we get a real good picture of how rampant all of this was.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A few weeks back, I mentioned the Orioles might want to look at platoons for the near future since they can be a good way of getting good value from flawed players. I thought I might look at what a Luke Scott (facing righties) and Jay Payton (facing lefties) platooning in left might look like.
AVG OBP SLG OPS
Luke Scott .273 .366 .516 .882
Jay Payton .281 .325 .432 .757
Luke Payton .277 .354 .503 .857
Now, I'm not saying Scott needs to be platooned. With only 763 PA in his career it may be too early for that and he may be able to maintain a better average than he showed last year. But it is interesting when you consider Payton's greater value as a fielder.
So, Scott would bring patience and power while Payton supplies better contact and fielding.
(What would Earl do?)
McPhail sends O's shortstop to Houston
Miguel Tejada has finally been traded. This is pretty exciting, not because I didn't like Tejada as a player because I think I liked him more than most but because this signals a big shift in philosophy for the organization and means more change is soon to come.
The primary piece that Baltimore received was OF Luke Scott. Scott is a flawed player but you can stick him in LF and he's an immediate improvement over what we've had over the past three years. Scott hit only .255 and struck out 95 times in 132 games last year but also hit 18 HR, slugged over .500 and got on base at a .351 clip. He brings some pop and some patience to a lineup that desperately needs it. On top of that, he is a serviceable defender.
Now, I would have given up Tejada for Scott and a bag of balls but McPhail seems to have gotten some real interesting players that could be contributing in Baltimore sooner rather than later.
3B Mike Costanzo will be 24 next season and hit .270 with 27 homers at AA Reading last season. He is a legitimate slugging prospect at a corner infield position.
RP Dennis Sarfate is a big righty who misses bats but has problems with control. He has had brief big league experience the last two seasons and has performed well. Getting players like this will help the O's rebuild the bullpen on the cheap.
SP Troy Patton will only be 22 next season and started 2 games for the Astros last season going 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA. He's not a big strikeout guy but has nice control as he rarely issues walks. He'll be able to battle for a spot in the rotation in Spring Training. Oh yeah, he's a lefty.
RP Matt Albers started and relieved for Houston last season with so-so results. Look for him to be a long relief guy in Baltimore if he cuts the mustard.
I love this trade. The O's unloaded a big contact and got some players that will make immediate impacts, some that will help down the road and all addressed needs within the organization to some extent.
I give the trade an A at this point.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Major League Phase
Randor Bierd - RP - Tigers
Last season in A and AA (AA primarily) went 4-3 striking out 81 over 67.2 innings. The big 24 year old righty is a strikeout machine and, I think, a good bet to stick in the bullpen in 2008. I mean, really, could he be any worse than what we had last year? I like the choice and shockingly at least one member of the national press does too. Chris Constancio (who follows minor league prospects) wrote an article over at The Hardball Times that examines some of Bierd's credentials and ranks him as the #1 pitching prospect taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Ryan Rodriguez - RP - White Sox
A big lefty reliever this time, only 23, with good but not great peripherals, a bad record and ERA but was better once he switched to relief.
I am going to guess this guy has something the scouts like and think he can be coaxed into better performance because I see no evidence in any of the numbers that this guy is better than anything we already have at Norfolk.
Tim Brown - 1B - Padres
Drafted by Pirates back in 2001, Brown struggled for four years and was released. In 2005, he played for Kalamazoo in the independent league and got his stroke back hitting .323. The Padres signed him and put him in high A where he excelled again hitting .300. He hit .273 and 13 homers for AA San Antonio last season and has fairly good control of the strikezone with a career OBP of .391. We really don't have anybody better to play 1B at Norfolk so this isn't a bad pick either.
J.P. Martinez - RP - Twins
This righty reliever put up great numbers, especially big strikeout totals until hitting a bump last year when he reached AA level. He'll be at Bowie trying to recapture that magic at the ripe old age of 26.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
As the Winter Meetings come to a close, the Oriole roster remains the same as it was when the meetings started on Monday. That doesn't mean things aren't in the works though.
According to the Nashville Confidential blog on MLB.com:
...pitching is still at a premium...It's why the Orioles, who are listening to offers for Erik Bedard, have had inquiries from no fewer than 11 teams regarding the sensational left-hander.
That number of teams showing interest is pretty encouraging that something will get done and the Baltimore will get pretty good value for Bedard. The rumored offers so far:
Dodgers: OF Matt Kemp and RP Jonathan Broxton
Mariners: OF Adam Jones and other various prospects
Mets: OF Carlos Gomez, RP Aaron Heilman and SP Philip Humber
As I've said before, I love the Dodger offer. Matt Kemp can take over in left immediately and Broxton has closer type stuff. Now that LA has signed Andruw Jones, they have too many outfielders.
Adam Jones is a centerfielder with some pop and is intriguing as well. The Mets offer is not good enough in my opinion.
Not much talk about Tejada although now that Miguel Cabrera is in Detroit you would expect teams with 3B needs will start to put together some offers. Obviously, it will take much less to pry Tejada away.
A surprise addition to the rumor mill, Brain Roberts is evidently highly valued by the Cubs. Early reports had two pitchers (Rich Hill among them) and OF Matt Murton heading to Charm City but the subsequent reports seem to indicate Chicago is not willing to give up Hill.
The only other news to come out today in that OF Jay Gibbons has been suspended for 15 days for violating the drug policy. It's an old story and a non-story. The only surprise to me is that the suspension is so short.
More analysis of the Rule V draft later...
The Orioles have selected RP Randor Bierd, a big Dominican righty that was in the Tiger farm system. Big strikeout guy, finished the season at AA last year. Probably a pretty good bet to stick with the big club and a decent selection I'd say.
More to come...
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
This on the Winter Meetings from Peter Schmuck earlier this week:
I've heard the argument that Bedard will be worth just as much or more in July as he's worth now, which might be true if you could guarantee he'll be healthy and productive at midseason. I've also heard how the Orioles have to be extra cautious because they only have so many tradable players and can't afford to make a mistake.Of course, it's that kind of thinking that has made them one of baseball's most timid teams at trade time since the Glenn Davis disaster of the early 1990s.
The Glen Davis trade set the O's back at least 5 years when they made it. They gave up Pete Harnisch, Curt Schilling and Steve Finley for that guy. Think about it. I'd be timid too after that. Or at least a little cautious.
If they hang on to Bedard without signing him long term, they become vulnerable not only to another injury but also to the possibility that he could make it difficult to complete a deal next year by telegraphing a firm intention to enter the free-agent market after the 2009 season. If you think he's above that sort of thing, you haven't met him.
The Orioles would be vulnerable to an injury whether they sign him or not. Look, I agree that you need to move Bedard while his value is peaking but I doubt his value will be any less in March than it is now. You have to make the right deal. (I think that deal involves the Dodgers and includes Matt Kemp but that's just my opinion now isn't it?)
The most compelling reason for decisive action, however, has nothing to do with the circumstances of the individual players. The Orioles cannot wait an additional six months or a year because they already have waited long enough.
Truly one of the dumbest things I've read in quite a long time. Circumstances be damned! We've waited long enough and demand change? If you don't take into account the circumstances of the individual players, why not just give them away?
Look, the circumstances are these: Miguel Tejada is still one of the better offensive shortstops in the league and although his glove isn't what it once was, he is still an average fielder. Erik Bedard is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is a great value since he is still two full years away from free agency. These are great bargaining chips and you can't ignore that fact and make a deal for the sake of a deal.
Andy MacPhail is in no hurry to make a deal according to Jeff Zrebiec. Nor should he be! My feeling is that MacPhail really would like to make a deal this week but this is how you play poker or buy a used car. If you show desperation, you're done. MacPhail has the high hand here and he knows it, especially when it comes to moving Bedard.
This isn't MacPhail's first time at the rodeo and he had some pretty good mentors in his father and grandfather. I think we'll make out just fine.
The Mets offering Carlos Gomez, Phillip Humber and Aaron Heilman of Erik Bedard has been one of the most consistent rumors in Nashville this week. Not thick enough! Let me get this straight. You want to get one of the top 5 pitchers in the NL at a bargain basement salary for a light hitting but speedy outfielder, a pitcher with an 18-19 record and an ERA over 4.00 in his minor league career and a journeyman long relief man? Get out Omar Minaya! Get out of my office!
(notebook hurled at the wall as a frightened Minaya flees)
Monday, December 3, 2007
Am I crazy to think these might be the most significant set of Winter Meetings for this club in more than 10 years? I hope I'm right.
Jaret Wright and Kris Benson were not offered arbitration, as expected. Some people thought Corey Patterson and Paul Bako might be but they were not offered arbitration either. Corey Patterson was a possibility since Dave Trembley values his defense and his baserunning prowess but Patterson would have received a high salary for one year, I would estimate somewhere in the $7-9 million range. Think that's crazy? Look at his numbers compared to Gary Matthews Jr. who make considerably more. That number would not be in line with his true market value. Expect the O's to pursue Patterson but not to get in a bidding war for him.
Baltimore shouldn't be offering Paul Bako a hand of friendship let alone arbitration but there are hints in the press that Bako may be back next season. Aaaaagh! I won't believe it, I refuse to believe it...
BTW, none of these fellows ranked high enough to garner Baltimore any draft picks had they offered them arbitration so nothing lost.