Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Value Over Daniel Cabrera: Mark Hendrickson

I am now on the record that I don't believe Daniel Cabrera will ever be an above-average major league pitcher. What you see now is probably what you're going to get at this point in Daniel's career.

All that said, by any measure, he was still the second best Oriole pitcher of 2008. Forget how disappointing he was as a talent, there is nobody on the current roster who can be expected to replace his 180 innings of 5.25 ERA in 2009. Given that he could have been retained for about $3-4 million for next season, four pitchers (outside of Jeremy Guthrie) in the Oriole rotation needs to surpass the (admittedly) low benchmark of Daniel Cabrera's 2008 season to warrant letting Cabrera go.

The first candidate is 35-year old lefty Mark Hendrickson. The Orioles are projecting him as a swingman/long reliever but as of today, he would fill a position in the starting rotation. Even though I think the Oriole rotation's slogan for 2009 should be "We Take Anybody", Hendrickson is really pushing the concept.

Baseball-Reference.com has a neat tool to normalize a pitcher's stats for league average run support and neutral park factors (for a more detailed look at how the stats are "neutralized", see this explanation).

Mark Hendrickson's stats for 2008, pitching in the National League for the Florida Marlins:



W L IP BB SO ERA WHIP
Hendrickson 7 8 133.7 48 81 5.45 1.46




Now, Hendrickson's stats, normalized for pitching in the American League, in Camden Yards:



W L IP BB SO ERA WHIP
Hendrickson (Adjusted 2008) 5 9 130.7 51 79 6.34 1.60



Just as a reminder, Daniel Cabrera's 2008 stats:



W L IP BB SO ERA WHIP
Cabrera 2008 8 10 180.0 90 95 5.25 1.61




Mark Hendrickson is NOT a good bet to exceed even Daniel Cabrera's meager output of 2008.

Still more on this later...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Base Hits: 12/29/2008

Interesting factoid: If the Orioles do not retain Brian Roberts and do not pick up Melvin Mora's option for 2010, roughly $47.9 million comes off the payroll for 2010. Just something to chew on.

(Salary data pulled from Cot's Baseball Contracts)

*****

The Baltimore Orioles have officially rejected a plan from Sarasota to relocate their Spring Training home there. Sarasota tried to low-ball the O's after missing out on the Red Sox. 2010 will leave Sarasota without Spring Training ball for the first time in 80 years.

This leaves Ft. Lauderdale and Vero beach as the most likely homes for Oriole Spring Training in 2010.

*****

The Baltimore Sun's David Steele is correct!

*****

If you haven't seen it, read Matt Taylor's Christmas Eve post at Roar from 34.

*****

The Orioles are reportedly close to signing journeyman starter Mark Hendrickson. Not exactly the Mark that Oriole fans were looking to sign this offseason. The Warehouse seems to see him as a swingman but until some other pitcher is signed, he's penciled in for the starting rotation by default. Save for Jeremy Guthrie, all Oriole pitchers will be compared to Daniel Cabrera. More on that later...



BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mark Teixeira: Hometown Boy

Mark Teixeira has signed with the New York Yankees.

Let me be the first to say....THANK GOD!

Andy MacPhail:

"The player was an exceptional player, and we sort of broke the rules trying to go after him. But really, the model that we have to follow just doesn't allow us to devote that much of our resources to one player, at least not at the present time."

He is correct. Going after Teixeira was not part of the plan that MacPhail laid out when he came to town. Build from within, focus on pitching and build a solid core before filling holes through free agency. This team is nowhere near the place where it can afford a long term, budget busting contract. You can take those kind of risks if you think you are only a year or two from serious contention. The Orioles cannot say that yet.

A long expensive contract, like the one the Yankees offered, could actually hurt this team in the long run.

Do you think the Rockies are happy that they still owe Todd Helton more than $50 million over the next three seasons? The Rockies signed him to a lucrative 9 year deal before the 2003 season. (Coincidentally, before Helton's age 29 season...just like Teixeira...) That deal looked good for the first three seasons. Not so much since. Long term deals with players approaching 30 rarely turn out very well.

And let's get one thing straight; Mark Teixeira is a very good player...but he is not a great player. He's just not. Compare his career thus far to Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Albert Pujols or even Chipper Jones. Teixeira just hasn't put together the monster seasons for his resume that these premier sluggers have/had by this point in their careers. And I've heard enough of this Gold Glove caliber defense Teixeira plays. Big deal. He's a first baseman. If his glove was really that hot, he'd play third. A slick fielding first baseman in modern baseball is a nice luxury but hardly impactful in any meaningful way.

I've been beating this drum for awhile now
but I don't think Mark Teixeira is worthy of being one of the highest paid players in baseball. I just don't. $22.5 million a year. Think about it. You know I'm right.

I've seen this guy up close here in Atlanta. He can be an impact bat but once the losing starts, he begins to lose interest. Think he's going to stay interested if the O's keep losing for a season or two? And there's this from Ted Robinson in L.A.:

the Angels were 66-40 (.622) BEFORE Teixeira, 34-22 (.607) WITH Teixeira. Atlanta was 49-56 with Teixeira and for the record he has played in exactly one All-Star Game.

He's a nice player but he's not the kind of player who can carry a team. Even teams with far more pieces in place than the Orioles.

I am so often wrong in my predictions so I have to reach back to last February when I made this bold prediction:

I'll call it now. If Teixeira leaves Atlanta, he'll be wearing pinstripes in 2009.

Not exactly going out on a limb but far more accurate than Buster Olney or Peter Gammons!

I'll leave you with some choice Mark Teixeira quotes from the past year or so...

There are a lot of teams you may not want to be traded to, but Atlanta was definitely a team I was happy to come play for. I was here for college at Georgia Tech, and even spent a year (living) here after college. That made the comfort level that much greater. My wife, Leigh, and her family are from (Georgia, Habersham County north of Atlanta), and we both went to school here and still have friends living in Atlanta.
- Teixeira on playing in Atlanta

That would really be a dream come true.
- Teixeira on playing for Baltimore, March 2007

The Orioles are close to my heart.
- Mark Teixeira, May 2008

In a year and a half, we'll have some fun conversations. Baltimore, obviously in the future, is a place I'd love to look at.
- Mark Teixeira, July 2007

I thought I'd be here the rest of my career. I really wanted to stay here, but business is business, and it's time for me to move on.
- Mark Teixeira on his time in Atlanta

(They're) the best team in baseball.
- Mark Teixeira on the Anaheim Angels










BallHype: hype it up!

What Will Daniel Cabrera Look Like as a National?

With Daniel Cabrera moving down the road to the Nationals, I wondered what he might look like next season. Not literally. Literally he'll look like a 6'7" guy from the Dominican Republic with a red cap. But how will he fare pitching in Nationals Park?

To begin, I'll steal some work by Derek Carty at The Hardball Times who did a study earlier this year on the effect that switching leagues had on pitchers. Using his formula on Cabrera's 2008 stats, we may get an idea of what he'll do for Washington in 2009.





K/9 BB/9 HR/F LOB% LD% GB% IF/F ERA ERA+
Cabrera '08 4.5 4.2 12.7% 72.4% 19.7% 48.0% 7.7% 5.25 86
Cabrera WSN 5.1 3.7 12.9% 72.9% 20.1% 48.3% 7.8% 4.86 88



If you're going to face a pitcher every ninth at bat, in addition to banjo-hitting bench players and defensive specialists, you would expect to have a better ERA. The changes for most of these rate stats are marginal and they go both for and against the pitcher. Where Daniel is helped is by the slight uptick in K's he can expect and a supposed drop in walks. Cabrera has dropped his walk rate every year for the past three seasons but I don't see it dropping this much next season. With less imposing hitters in the lineup, there is less chance of a pitcher "pitching around" batters but I don't think Daniel ever consciously did that. You have to know where the ball is going to pitch around a guy.

Barring the long-awaited quantum leap, Cabrera will provide the Nationals what he provided for the Orioles last year; a mercurial season with more than 180 IP and an ERA+ in the high 80's. Oh, he'll be their second best pitcher too.

(I have a moratorium on the whole Teixeira deal, much like I finally did for Brian Roberts and Erik Bedard trade rumors last season. I'll comment on it once it's done...)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Big Homer Index: Belle, Devereaux and Gentile

What is BHI? Look here...

Albert Belle - 60 Oriole Career Homers

Ah, what might have been. The Orioles signed Albert Belle (on an easy pace for a Hall of Fame career) to a lucrative five year deal just in time for a degenerative hip condition to end Belle's career. How did he do in his two seasons for the Orioles?

More than 25% of his homeruns were garbage homers but that's just above the average. 45% of his homers were either tying or go ahead shots though and less than half his homeruns were solo shots. Overall, it keeps him on the high side of respectable.

BHI - 240


Mike Devereaux - 94 Oriole Career Homers

Go Devo! Devo hit just less than 25% of his homers in Garbage Time, right around average. But for a guy that hit leadoff or #2 for the majority of his Oriole career, his 45% mark for tying/go ahead shots is pretty remarkable. Nearly 2/3 of his homers were solo shots but being a top of the order guy, this is not a bad number. Two walk-offs help the resume as well.

BHI - 333

Jim Gentile - 124 Oriole Career Homers

Gentile was a shooting star who bloomed late and flamed out fast, out of baseball by the age of 33. Gentile was hampered by a Garbage Homer percentage of nearly 30%. But only half of his homers were solo shots, way below average and he had a couple walkoffs too. His rate of tying/go ahead shots was respectable as well.

BHI - 274


BHI Leaders - Oriole Career
Brooks Robinson - 495
Eddie Murray - 469
Rafael Palmiero - 469
Tony Batista - 406
John Lowenstein - 393
Boog Powell - 341
Mike Devereaux - 333
Jim Gentile - 274
Larry Sheets - 266
Albert Belle - 240
Chris Hoiles - 240
Roberto Alomar - 230
Doug Decinces - 225
Brian Roberts - 224
Cal Ripken - 197
Brady Anderson - 138
Rick Dempsey - 136
Jay Gibbons - 42
Jeff Conine - 5
B. J. Surhoff - -64

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Slingin'" Sammy Baugh: 1913-2008




He was the last surviving member of the inaugural 1963 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and revolutionized the NFL with his passing prowess. He is still the greatest quarterback in Redskins history, all these years later.


In case you haven't figured it out, I'm a diehard Redskins fan. No football posts on this site by and large but I'm making an exception for Baugh. I'll be adding to this post with links to tributes and such over the next couple days.






A game account of Sammy Baugh passing for four touchdowns and intercepting four balls as well.

A Posthumous Call For Respect For Sammy Baugh

Olney, Md.: Len,
I was sorry to read about the passing of Sammy Baugh, possibly the greatest Redskin of all time. Don't you think its sad that a player like Sean Taylor is glorified for some hits he made in games, but the respect and historical reverence that Sammy Baugh deserves did not come to him in until after his passing?


Leonard Shapiro: I would disagree on the premise that his historic revelance came after Baugh's death. He was a charter member of the pro Football Hall of Fame, always revered as the greatest Redskins player of all time still known to all the team's fans. By the way, in our book, we listed him No. 2 on our list of all-time great Washington athletes, right behind pitcher Walter Johnson. Probably should have been a tie.

Talking to Sammy Baugh

New York Times Obituary

We won't see the likes of Baugh again

Frank Luska's very thorough look at the life of Sammy Baugh

Thomas Boswell- Baugh: The Texan Who Gave Birth to Redskins Fanaticism

Michael Wilbon - Getting in a Word for Slingin' Sammy

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All Teixeira, All The Time

ESPN's Karl Ravech reports that Teixeira is weighing all offers but has "an enormous attraction to the Orioles."

Only mentioning this because this is the first report I've heard where Teixeira is expressing to his agent a preference for Baltimore and not just giving lip service to the local press. Interesting.


Bye-Bye, Danny.

This is just a quick note to acknowledge the departure of Daniel Cabrera. The Orioles non-tendered him over the weekend and appear to have no interest in resigning him at all.

It's the end of the Cabrera era! I had always hoped that the O's would try Cabrera out in the bullpen once they gave up on him being a starter but I guess they thought it was not worth the $3-4 million that he would get in arbitration.

The problem is (and I've said this many times) that I don't know how you can get rid of Cabrera when he was your second best starter last season. I am all in favor of letting Cabrera go once it is apparent that he is no longer one of your 5 best starters. That time is not now. $4 million is a relative bargain to keep him on for one more season.

I'm not arguing that Cabrera is a good pitcher nor am I sure (anymore) that he will ever be a good pitcher. But he is still valuable to this team as currently constructed. This is a BAD MOVE.

There are two circumstances that would make this move OK.

First, there is a plan in place to take that saved money and use it as part of a pool of cash to bring in a couple of free agent pitchers. The candidates that are available are not very attractive but we'll wait and see.

Second, The Warehouse has credible evidence that our young pitchers are further along than they look. Garrett Olson and Radhames Liz didn't look like they were ready to take the next step to me. Brian Matusz may be on the fast track but his performance in Arizona didn't indicate he's ready to grab a starting spot out of Spring Training. Troy Patton and Matt Albers; I like the idea of giving these guys a shot but both are coming off of injuries.

I hope MacPhail is right. But I think we gave up on Daniel one year too early.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mark Teixeira: Everybody Breathe...

Mark Teixeira has not signed yet and many Oriole fans are freaking out. It's a state of panic really as even completely absurd and unfounded rumors of Teixeira attending the Ravens-Steelers game with Peter Angelos gets serious play in the Baltimore Sun and on MASN.

Easy, people. As I've said before, he's not coming anyway. This will not be some colossal failure on the part of The Warehouse. He has no intention of coming to play for a loser. He's done that already. Even if Baltimore greatly outbids everybody (which would be foolish), he's still not "coming home".(Although, at $20 mil per instead of $25 mil, I'd feel a little better about the deal.)

Secondly, he's hardly worth that kind of money and length of contract. Not for Baltimore. Teixeira is not the kind of guy who is going to rally a team and "show them how to win". He plays hard when he's interested, not so much when he isn't. He'll lose interest pretty fast in Baltimore, believe me. Does anybody think he's Roy Hobbs?

And have we forgotten that one big signing does not mean the team will suddenly start winning? Has everyone forgotten Miguel Tejada already? Can Teixeira pitch? Because last I checked we have one starting pitcher set for next season. One. I don't care if we do a direct swap of lineups with the Red Sox, they'll still finish with a better record next year because of their rotation and bullpen. (More on the pitching later...)

This team is not contending next year, not without a miraculous development from the pitchers in their farm system. There's no sense in throwing a lot of money, over a lot of years at one player. Not yet.

So let's keep this in perspective. If Teixeira does not come to Baltimore, it's not a disaster.

Buster Olney takes it a step further. He says the Orioles should not even be at the table in the Teixeira bidding...and I have to say I agree with him.

But history tells us, over and over and over, that winning -- as in contending -- is what really draws fans to your ballpark, not some shiny bauble. Cal Ripken single-handedly drew fans to Camden Yards at the end of his career. With all due respect to Teixeira, he is not Ripken. He is not Barry Bonds. Few players have that kind of box-office allure...

The Orioles' payroll in 2008 was about $68 million, and if they were to sign Teixeira, that would climb to about $80 million, with the first baseman accounting for a quarter of that. Yet they still would be two or three topflight starting pitchers short of contending with the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees. They still would be two or three top-flight starting pitchers short of contending with the Jays for fourth place.

And I can say the following confidently, having worked as a sportswriter in Baltimore and having some understanding of the multilayered depth of knowledge in the Orioles' fan base: Until the team starts winning again, nobody will show up at Camden Yards. Signing Teixeira would not draw the the O's demonstrably closer to contending because they are so short in starting pitching. In fact, the signing of the first baseman could ultimately hurt them, because in two or three years, as the Orioles' young pitching begins to rise to the big leagues and the team needs pieces to augment the improved rotation, Teixeira's salary would restrict the kinds of moves the Orioles will make.

Yep. Pretty much.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ryan Freel: Mining for the Value

While there is much rejoicing that we Baltimore fans will no longer have to watch the lackluster efforts of Ramon Hernandez this season, there seems to be a surprising amount of enthusiasm for the centerpiece player we received from the Reds in return. I always had the impression that Ryan Freel was a defensive specialist and light hitting utility player. Am I missing something? Is this guy really going to have more impact on the team than, say, Chris Gomez did for a few years. Gomez was a versatile fielder and a decent enough hitter that he could contribute and not embarrass himself. That's nice but is it exciting? There seems to be a common thread when it comes to Freel's apparent value.


"Adding Freel to the mix in the outfield will help boost the energy on the Orioles..."- Dean Jones, Jr., Baltimore Sun

"Freel, a high-energy player and once the Reds' starting center fielder..." - Jeff Zreibec, Baltimore Sun

"Ryan Freel, if any of you have suffered through my talks in Baltimore, you've heard a lot about effort, energy and enthusiasm. Those are the three things as a franchise we want to instill in our players. It is hard to think of a poster child that more represents those things for a major league player than Ryan Freel..." - Andy MacPhail

Freel's a good energy guy that will at least make them more watchable. - Steve D.

I like the fact that the guy's a high-energy player - Dave Trembley


Did the Orioles trade for a player or a couple cases of Red Bull?

So I am starting to think that I am missing something here. Let's take a closer look at Freel and see what we can expect from him in 2009.

First, I'm going to assume that Freel will be healthy in 2009. He hasn't been healthy since 2006 but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

He gets on base. Even with a couple of down years, his career OBP is .357. During the seasons where he was healthy, the rate was in the high .360's. That's a valuable talent and when he's in the lineup, he should probably bat at least in the 2 spot. I can't imagine that with Cesar Izturis on the team that anyone else would hit in the 9 spot to give Dave Trembley the "dual leadoff" hitter lineup.

He hits lefties well. Well, at least as well as he hits against anyone. He has a .737 career OPS against RHPs and a .732 career OPS against LHPs. He would theoretically hit lefties better than Luke Scott or Adam Jones (although not by much over Jones). This would make him a nice, not great but nice, platoon option, especially in LF.

Great Glove. Freel's range is phenomenal when he's healthy. He's a top notch defender at 2B, 3B and the outfield. (The only place where he lacks a bit is in CF but he's still above average. Fantastic range. He'll be a great defensive replacement and will flash the glove nicely when he fills in.

On top of all this, he has a great outfield arm. I have no idea if he has a cannon like Nick Markakis but it must be very accurate. Defensive metrics aren't prefect but by this measure he's as good as anybody. His rep is the same.


(By the way, Buck Martinez seemed to think that Freel "will bunt more" than Brian Roberts. Roberts bunts about 2 times every 100 plate appearances. Freel bunts about 3 times per 100 PA. All that adds up to 4 or 5 times more over the course of a full season. Sure, that's more but I don't think it's a stark difference.)

So Ryan Freel brings a great glove, an ability to get on base and can hit hit lefties better than a couple of our other outfielders. A nice utility player. But am I excited? Not really.

Speaking of energy, I'll leave you with another player whose GM thinks he'll bring a lot of energy to the club. Right.

We do think a change of scenery will help him immensely. We've got a pretty good pitching staff. I think he's a guy who will work well with that staff and develop that staff and have renewed energy." - Walt Jocketty

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cesar Izturis: Brand New Oriole

The Orioles have reportedly inked 28-year old Cesar Izturis to be their shortstop. 2 years and $6 million.

At this time last year, I was pretty horrified that Izturis was in Baltimore's plans for shortstop. But for the first time since 2005, Izturis played more than 900 innings in the field and his defensive metrics were at a point where he was probably one of the top 2 or 3 fielding shortstops in the NL. He seems to have fully recovered from serious injuries he suffered during the 2005 season.

Offensively...he's a black hole. You could argue that his bat (or lack thereof) negates his excellent fielding. He's a .260/.299/.331 career hitter. He had only 8 Win Shares last season and that includes 4 for his fielding alone. Brutal.

Sadly, he is an upgrade over any of our shortstops from 2008. He may be overpaid at $3 million a year but this is an improvement for the club.

Hernandez is a Red; O's Get Freel and Two Prospects

Andy MacPhail shipped Ramon Hernandez to Cincinnati yesterday for utility man Ryan Freel and two infield prospects.

Matt Wieters has made Hernandez expendable. His defense has declined and his heart didn't seem to be in it for Baltimore last season. Hernandez had really bad luck with the bat last year. His batting line of .257/.308/.406 was in stark contrast to his PrOPS line of .292/.341/.457 and he managed to hit .285/.341/.446 in the 2nd half. He hit the ball hard but didn't catch a lot of breaks. He's still got something left in the tank offensively and he'll be moving to a hitter's park in a weaker league. The Reds may get a good year at the plate from him even if they don't get a good year from him behind it.

Freel is a good glove who can play 2B, 3B and all outfield positions. I don't think he'll be able to hit his way out of a wet paper sack in the AL even if he's healthy and he's expensive at $4 million a year but a good defensive replacement and he's only signed through the end of '09.

I like that MacPhail was able to get some prospects although they are not great ones. Brandon Waring is a 22 year old 3B who hit .270 with 20 homers with the Class A Dayton Dragons. But he struck out 156 times to only 43 walks and at 22 was pretty old for that level of ball. Still, it was an .813 OPS from a thirdbaseman and he could be a late bloomer.

Justin Turner is a light hitting 2B who has shown potential to play other positions. He hit .289 at Chattanooga last year with 8 HR in 78 games and got on base at a .359 clip. Interesting guy who should start at Bowie next season at age 24.

Since we were getting rid of Hernandez anyway, this was a pretty good deal though the real impact is the room made for Matt Wieters, not the players we got in return.

Many O's fans are pretty excited to get Freel but he's not really that great at playing baseball. Great attitude, fine glove, mediocre player.

And now a word about Buck Martinez. I'm in the minority, I think, when it comes to Buck. People seem to hate Rick Dempsey and find him annoying as a color guy. I enjoy Dempsey enormously and find Martinez cringeworthy. People complain about Jim Palmer talking about what things were like when he played but at least he was a Hall of Fame pitcher! Why do I have to listen to Buck talk about his lackluster playing career or his pitiful managerial record?

Anyway, Roch talked to Buck Martinez about the Hernandez-Freel trade and in between the hurky-jerky gesticulations and spasmic shoulder shimmies, Martinez said this about Ryan Freel:

"He plays with a lot of energy. He's kinda like Brian Roberts with a lot more enthusiasm, you know, he does the same types of things."

Really. Brian Roberts with more enthusiasm? First, if I was Brian Roberts, I would be enormously offended. You think I am Ryan Freel with less enthusiasm? Really? Roberts has slugged over .400 for the last four years. He's hit double digit homers in three of the last four seasons. He has played in 138 games or more for the last 5 seasons. He hit 50 doubles last year!

Freel has never slugged .400, has a lower batting average than Roberts for his career (.284 vs. .272) and only beats out Brian's OBP by .002! Guess all that enthusiasm saps your energy. I'll take the more reserved Roberts, thanks. There's more:

"He'll bunt more than Brian Roberts. He won't steal as much but he'll steal key bases. He's a great baserunner."

Forgetting the fact that Roberts has stolen 226 career bases to Freel's 142, Freel has a career success rate of 74% to Brian's 79%. And Freel's numbers have regressed over the last three years (77%, 65%, 60%) while Roberts have gotten better (83%, 87%, 80%). There's little to support the assertion that he's a "great" baserunner. And outside of the fact that Freel can play secondbase too, he's nothing like Brian Roberts.

Freel's a nice utility player but let's not get carried away.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Base Hits: 12/9/2008

Billy Ripken comes clean about his infamous "F-Face" bat pictured on the 1989 Fleer baseball card. Originally, Ripken said he was pranked by teammates. Turns out, Ripken wrote the "offending" phrase himself...


*****
Kevin Millar would like to come back to the Orioles, even in a part-time role. But evidently he is interested in playing for Seattle as well. My guess is that Millar wants to keep playing...anywhere that will let him.

*****

The Chicago Tribune reports that a four-way deal between the Cubs, Padres Orioles and Phillies is close to completion. I don't chase a lot of Hot Stove talk but the crux of the deal for Baltimore would send Garrett Olson to San Diego and Felix Pie would come in from the Cubs. Also:
The key for that deal to work is for the Phillies or Orioles to take Jason Marquis, with the Cubs agreeing to eat some of his salary.

That's an interesting wrinkle. Marquis is not a good pitcher. But he's only under contract for one more season and if the Cubs were willing to eat 3-4 million dollars of his $9 million dollar salary, he might be a serviceable stopgap.

*****

MASN has announced that the Hot Stove Show is returning December 12th. Roch Kubatko will be hosting with Jim Hunter and Phil Wood. I'm glad that Roch will be on the show, the more work for him the better. I'm even happier that Phil Wood will be on the show. Wood is an excellent baseball commentator and I listened to him for years on D.C. radio. From the press release:

Phil Wood has decades of experience covering Washington and Baltimore sports teams including the Bullets, Capitals, Nationals, Orioles, Colts and Ravens. Wood is widely considered to be one of the region's brightest baseball historians, offering fans both historical perspective and insight into today's breaking sports news.

Absolutely. Look forward to seeing it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Base Hits: 12/8/2008

Still not much going on in the Oriole offseason but...

I though it was interesting that the Orioles signed minor league catcher Adam Donachie. If you've read this blog from the beginning, the Orioles selected Donachie in the Rule V draft and he was with the Orioles during Spring Training 2007. I was a big supporter of Donachie (at least over Paul Bako, an offensive black hole whose defensive prowess paled in comparison to Donachie's) and think he could help the club in a couple years as a defensive specialist.

The Orioles have no organizational depth at catcher (after Matt Wieters) so Donachie has a good opportunity here. Donachie has never hit for average but showed decent plate discipline and some pop.

ISO for the last 5 years:





Year Level ISO

2004 A .043

2005 A+ .173

2006 A+\AA .135

2007 AA .144

2008 AA .087






2008 was not a good year for Donachie but he has shown some raw power over his minor league career. Donachie should start the season at Bowie and, perhaps in a couple years, he can be the Doug Mirabelli to Matt Wieters' Jason Varitek. (Chronic Red Sox haters; please forgive me for the comparison but it's the best analogy I could think of...)


*****


Over on Roch Kubatko's blog, there is some discussion about trading Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds...for Ryan Freel. A couple of comments:


I would take Freel on the O's. He can play many positions and I like the way he plays the game.


I'm going with Ryan Freel. He can play 2B, 3B and OF well. Even some games at SS.


OK. If he could play SS, I would be OK with this. The truth is that Freel has never played a game at shortstop and will be 33 next season. He hasn't played more than 75 games in a season since 2006. He has never been an average bat. even in the NL. Nice glove but outside of a salary dump, that's a bad deal for Baltimore.


*****


The Orioles have not yet made a decision about their future Spring Training home and the suitors are getting impatient. Sarasota has made an offer and wonder if the Orioles are actually serious about coming. Indian County (Vero Beach) has given the Orioles a December 15th deadline or they will rescind their offer to move the Orioles into the old Dodgertown.


*****


Khalil Greene had been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. For the second straight year, the Cardinals have helped the Orioles avoid a stupid move for a mediocrity at shortstop.


*****


I want the Orioles to sign one of these Japanese pitchers they are talking to. We need pitching of every kind and it would be a sign that Andy MacPhail's focus overseas is starting to bear fruit.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Big Homer Index: Powell, Batista and Conine

What is BHI? Look here...

Boog Powell - 303 Oriole Career Homers

It goes without saying that Boog is one of the premier sluggers in Oriole history. While he had only two game ending longballs, a full 47% of his homers were game tying or put Baltimore in the lead, a total only surpassed by Rafael Palmiero. He also only hit 46% of his homers with the bases empty, the best number so far. He hit 23% of his homers in "Garbage Time", mostly when the O's were already up big. It's the only thing that keeps him from the elite.

BHI - 341

Tony Batista - 69 Oriole Career Homers

I really didn't see this coming. Batista spent 2 and half years on some really bad Oriole teams and the only thing he really did well was hit the ball over the fence. And he made it count. He only hit 20% of his homers during when it didn't matter and didn't hit fewer solo shot than average. 36% tied the game or gave the Orioles the lead and he had two game ending shots (the same as Boog Powell) in less than 2.5 seasons. He muscled up when it counted.

BHI - 406

Jeff Conine - 79 Oriole Career Homers

I always thought of Conine and B.J. Surhoff as sort of the same player so I didn't expect him to fare well in this exercise. I was right. 38% of his Oriole homers came in "Garbage Time". That's a huge number. He hit no walk-off shots. The only thing that keeps him in positive territory is his below-average numbers of solo shots and a moderate level of success in go ahead homers.

BHI - 5

BHI Leaders - Oriole Career
Brooks Robinson - 495
Eddie Murray - 469
Rafael Palmiero - 469
Tony Batista - 406
John Lowenstein - 393
Boog Powell - 341
Larry Sheets - 266
Chris Hoiles - 240
Roberto Alomar - 230
Doug DeCinces - 225
Brian Roberts - 224
Cal Ripken - 197
Brady Anderson - 138
Rick Dempsey - 136
Jay Gibbons - 42
Jeff Conine - 5
B.J. Surhoff - -64

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Santa Dempsey

From the Oriole Buzz blog on MASN:


While they're most at home delivering pitches from the mound at Camden Yards, a few O's hurlers will spend this Thursday afternoon delivering gifts to kindergarten children at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Orioles pitchers Dennis Sarfate, Chris Ray, Jim Miller and Brian Burres, along with former O's Rick Dempsey, Dave Johnson, Scott McGregor, Larry Sheets and Bill Swaggerty will spend this Thursday afternoon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with 90 kindergarten students from Graceland Park Elementary School....

Rick Dempsey will make an appearance as Santa Claus and deliver gifts courtesy of OriolesREACH to each child.

(Update: Rick Dempsey just stopped in the MASN web studio to say hello. He said he flew in from California this morning for this week's festivities. He was on his way back to try on his Santa suit and practice the Christmas songs they'll apparently be singing at the party this week--songs, you ask? They'll be singing? That's what I said. I can't help but think, this should be good...)

Larry Sheets and Rick Dempsey in the same room? Dempsey as Santa Claus? Songs!?!?!?!

Oh, to be a kid again...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big Homer Index: Lowenstein, DeCinces and Alomar

There is so little going on in the Oriole offseason so far...

What is BHI? See here...

John Lowenstein - 68 Oriole Career Homers

Lowenstein had a reputation of being a big clutch hitter and his BHI score bears that out. Out of 68 Oriole career homers, 24 put the team ahead. He also had a walk-off homer and a mere 11 in "Garbage Time". Lowenstein earns a more than respectable score

BHI - 393

Roberto Alomar - 50 Oriole Career Homers

Alomar makes my arbitrary standard of 50 Oriole career homers to qualify for BHI. Alomar was very middle of the road. 22% of his homers came during "Garbage Time", 42% either tied the game or put the O's ahead and 52% of his homers were solo shots. Just above average here.

BHI - 230

Doug DeCinces - 107 Oriole Career Homers

DeCinces demonstrated some limited pop during his Oriole career and tends to hit all extremes. He hit over 30% of his homers in "Garbage Team" but nearly 40% of his homers were tying or go ahead shots. But his two walk-off homers give him respecatability.

BHI - 225

The updated list:

BHI Leaders - Oriole Career
Brooks Robinson - 495
Eddie Murray - 469
Rafael Palmiero - 469
John Lowenstein - 393
Larry Sheets - 266
Chris Hoiles - 240
Roberto Alomar - 230
Doug DeCinces - 225
Brian Roberts - 224
Cal Ripken - 197
Brady Anderson - 138
Rick Dempsey - 136
Jay Gibbons - 42
B.J. Surhoff - -64


Sunday, November 30, 2008

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor...

I don't really blog as a commercial venture. It's nothing more than a hobby and a form of therapy after 11 straight losing seasons. But if I can find someway for this blog to pay for my various baseball related subscriptions for the year, that would be nice too.

So for the holidays, here's something I am trying to achieve that end and maybe you guys will find it useful too. There's a sports merchandise website called BigFlySports.com and I have a free shipping code to pass along to you. The code, CALRULES, gives you free shipping on your order and gives me a little something on the side. They have a lot of Baltimore Orioles gear along with other MLB licensed items. Call me crazy but I am partial to the 1960's era mini batting helmet. So, take a look and please use the CALRULES code for free shipping on your order.

Thanks...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mike Mussina...He Was There for The Ripken Years

Mike Mussina has retired. As long as he stays retired, Dempsey's Army forgives all. The Warehouse mismanaged the whole situation with Moose and although I wish he wouldn't have signed with the Yankees...it's all water under the bridge.

He was the best Oriole pitcher since Jim Palmer retired and he was homegrown. He was one of ours and his best seasons came with Baltimore, not the Yankees.

So, a couple of items to look at from Mussina's long career. Is he a Hall of Famer? Hmmmm....



ERA+
Clemens 145
R. Johnson 137
Maddux 132
Schilling 127
Smoltz 127
K. Brown 127
Mussina 122
Glavine 118
Finley 115




Compared to his peers, Mussina's ERA+ pales a bit against the elite. Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux are head and shoulders above the rest. (So is Pedro Martinez but he fell just short of my 3000 IP criteria.)

The next level give Schilling, Smoltz and Kevin Brown. Schilling and Smoltz will get a lot of consideration from their stellar postseason accomplishments and if there was question about their credentials form the regular season. Kevin Brown is not a Hall of Famer.

Then there's Mussina, Tom Glavine and Chuck Finley. Glavine has 300 wins and like it or not, he's in with nothing else considered. Chuck Finley is not a Hall of Famer. Is Mussina? In that company?

Strikeouts among his peers:


SO
R. Johnson 4789
Clemens 4472
Maddux 3371
Martinez 3117
Schilling 3116
Smoltz 3011
Mussina 2813
Cone 2668
Finley 2610
Glavine 2607




Again, there's the first tier of Johnson and Clemens, the second tier of Maddux, Martinez, Schilling and Smoltz, then there's Mussina. He's on top of the third tier but stil third tier.

Wins:


Wins
Maddux 355
Clemens 338
Glavine 305
Johnson 295
Mussina 270
Moyer 246




The wins will help Mussina's case more than anything.

Other points in Mussina's favor that will not be considered by the BBWA: 1.98 BB/9, 1.192 WHIP, 3.58 K/BB ratio, 7.11 K/9.

My gut feeling is that now that he has added a 20 win season and he played for many years in the top media market he will get in eventually.

Now, in my estimation, the top five pitching performances by Michael Cole Mussina for the Baltimore Orioles:

#5 - July 17th, 1992 - Texas Rangers

In his first full season, Mussina mowed down a lineup of fearsome sluggers, striking out 10 and allowing but one hit during a complete game shutout. Kevin Brown took the loss. There is no story here, just pure, methodical domination


IP H R ER BB SO HR
Mussina 9.0 1 0 0 1 10 0










#4 - September 13th, 1997 - New York Yankees

The second place Yanks were making a charge at AL East leading Baltimore and had won the first two games of a four game set. Enter Mike Mussina. He struck out 9 and only gave up 1 unearned run over 9 strong innings. He beat Kenny Rogers and gave the Orioles a bit more of a cushion over a team would only finish two games behind them as they went wire-to-wire and won the AL East.


IP H R ER BB SO HR
Mussina 9.0 3 1 0 1 9 0










#3 - August 1st, 2000 - Minnesota Twins

Two bad teams faced off this day but Mussina was hardly mailing it in. He struck out a career high 15, including punching out David Ortiz three times. The starter for the Twins was not Kenny Rogers.


IP H R ER BB SO HR
Mussina 9.0 1 0 0 2 15 0









#2 - May 30th, 1997 - Cleveland Indians

In a sign of things to come...sort of, Mussina would outduel Charles Nagy as the O's won a faceoff of division leaders, 3-0. Moose one-hit a team whose lineup featured at least two future Hall of Famers (Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez) and multiple All-Star caliber hitters (Matt Williams, David Justice, Omar Vizquel, Julio Franco).


IP H R ER BB SO HR
Mussina 9.0 1 0 0 0 10 0










#1 - October 15th, 1997 - Cleveland Indians

In Game 6 of the ALCS, Moose gave his all on the mound and he and Charles Nagy both left zeros on the scoreboard when they exited the game. Mussina struck out 10 again and surrendered a lone hit but the bullpen gave up the go ahead run in the 11th and the dreams of an Oriole World Series were dashed. But it sure wasn't Mike's fault.


IP H R ER BB SO HR
Mussina 8.0 1 0 0 2 10 0










Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BHI: Palmiero, Dempsey and Surhoff

What's BHI? Look here...

Rafael Palmeiro - 223 Oriole Career Homers

Although the steroid scandal tends to overshadow his Oriole career, Rafael Palmeiro was signed in 1994 with Miguel Tejada-like hype and largely lived up to it during his Oriole career, at least the first stint. Less than 25% of his homers came during "garbage time" and less than 47% of his homers came with nobody on base. (The major league average is about 58%...) More than half his total home runs wither put the O's ahead or tied the game and there were 4 walk-offs. His BHI puts him on-par with the Oriole immortals.

BHI - 469

Rick Dempsey - 65 Oriole Career Homers

I almost hated to do this to the namesake of my blog. Even though Dempsey had a lot of big hits in the postseason, I didn't think he would acquit himself well in this survey of regular season home runs.

But he fares OK for a guy with only 65 career homers for Baltimore. Although he hit a ton of solo shots, very few came during "garbage time" (less than 25%) and nearly half of his homers were game tying or go ahead shots. The lack of walk-off homers renders him fairly average.

BHI - 136

B.J. Surhoff - 120 Oriole Career Homers

Shockingly, B.J. Surhoff is now the reigning Oriole king of the Garbage Homer.

Why? Just over 62% of his homers were solo shots and only 32% of his homers either tied the game and put Baltimore ahead. But the killer was that more than a third of all his homers came during "garbage time", mostly when the Orioles were either up or down by 4 runs or more.

I didn't even know this was possible but Surhoff gets a BHI that is negative.

BHI - -64

BHI Leaders - Oriole Career
Brooks Robinson - 495
Eddie Murray - 469
Rafael Palmeiro - 469
Larry Sheets - 266
Chris Hoiles - 240
Brian Roberts - 224
Cal Ripken - 197
Brady Anderson - 138
Rick Dempsey - 136
Jay Gibbons - 42
B.J. Surhoff - -64

Friday, November 14, 2008

Base Hits: 11/14/2008

Aubrey Huff has won the 2008 Silver Slugger award for DH and deservedly so. Before the season, I described Huff as a "hitter in decline" but I was wrong, at least for last year.

*****

The West Oahu Canefires will play in the Hawaiian League Championship game on Sunday. Oriole prospects haven't had a lot to do with their success (Tim Bascom, for instance, has been horrible) with the bright spot being 3B Tyler Henson hitting .261 with 16 RBI and a team high 25 walks. Adam Loewen plays for the Canefires too. He is hitting .143 with no extra base hits. And he's been hit by a pitch three times in just 8 games. Good!

*****

Sarasota has hammered out a proposal worth more than $30 million to become the Spring Training home for the Baltimore Orioles after two days of meetings with Oriole officials. The offer has yet to be voted on by the Lee County Commission before the offer is official.

*****

Former Oriole manager and universal sad-sack Sam Perlozzo has joined the Charlie Manuel's staff with the Philadelphia Phillies. God help them.

*****

A clip from Dave Sheinin's Nationals Journal blog as the free agent season begins. (The Nationals seem to think they have a legitimate shot at signing Mark Teixeira...oookay...)

*The Nationals' chief competitors might be just up the road in Baltimore. Someone who speaks to Peter Angelos regularly told me that he has never seen him so fixated on a player as he is on Teixeira. Others have told me that Angelos has been asking everyone in baseball what they think of Teixeira.

My educated guess is that the Orioles will end up making the highest bid for Teixeira.

*****

Song of the Week: Bringing a little country feel into the mix with the excellent alt country band out of Athens, GA, Drive-By Truckers with "Gravity's Gone" Have a nice weekend.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

More BHI Analysis

There is close to nothing going on in the world of the Orioles so...time to look at some more Orioles and discern their Big Homer Index (BHI). What's BHI? It's a made up stat that examines who hits the clutch homer and the homer in "garbage time". Look here if you want to see how I determine the score.

Eddie Murray - 343 Oriole HR

I filtered Eddie's homers to only include his Oriole career, both stints. Eddie only hit solo shots just over 50% of the time which is a pretty good number. And nearly 48% of his homers either tied the game or put the Orioles ahead. Add to that the 7 Game Ending homeruns and his clutch homer stats are stellar. He's right up there behind Brooks Robinson on the BHI scale.

BHI - 469

Brian Roberts - 61 Oriole HR

Roberts' career with the Orioles isn't over...yet. But with the possibility of his exodus from Baltimore, I thought it was as good a time as any to put him under the BHI microscope.

Even though he has only 61 career homeruns, his percentage of Go Ahead and Tying homeruns is a Murray-like 47%. A ton of solo shots but he is a leadoff hitter and has a game winner under his belt. To compare him to another lead-off hitter, Brady Anderson, he actually acquits himself quite well. B-Rob doesn't hit many but he tends to make them count.

BHI - 138

Larry Sheets - 84 Oriole HR

A shooting star, Sheets was a heck of a slugger but had trouble with consistency. However, he didn't hit a ton of solo homers, more than half came with men on base. But only 30% of his homers tied or put the O's ahead and close to 40% came in garbage time. Three walk-off homers bring Larry up to respectability.

BHI - 266

So, the new list...

BHI Leaders - Oriole Career
Brooks Robinson - 495
Eddie Murray - 469
Larry Sheets - 266
Chris Hoiles - 240
Brian Roberts - 224
Cal Ripken - 197
Brady Anderson - 138
Jay Gibbons - 42

If the offseason continues to be this quiet, there will be quite a few more of these posts!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dunn vs. Teixeira: A Closer Look

Desert O of Weaver's Tantrum suggested that I take a closer look at Teixeira vs. Dunn. There certainly isn't anything else going on as far as the Orioles are concerned...so here it is.

I decided to look at the last four years for the two players. All stats cumulative for the last four seasons and rankings are compiled for MLB OF, 1B and DHs (As an aside, Teixeira and Dunn will both be 29 for the 2009 season.)

The lines for each player for the last four seasons:


Teixeira .299/.389/.550
Dunn .254/.381/.524




Dunn seems lacking from those numbers alone, mostly based on his batting average, an average that is incorporated into the slugging and on-base averages too.

Let's look more closely at one of Dunn's other shortcomings, his strikeouts.

SO

Dunn 691
Howard 679
.
.
Teixeira 457




Dunn is the clear leader in strikeouts over the past four years, only Ryan Howard comes close. Teixeira is way down on the list at 14th.

However, if you look at it a different way, the strikeouts aren't so bad. Total outs over the last four years:

Outs

10. Teixeira 1700
.
.
16. Dunn 1656




How does Dunn manage to come in under Teixeira? Well, if you strikeout, you don't ground into a double play. But mostly it's the insane walk rate.

BB

Dunn 449
Burrell 414
Ortiz 402
.
.
Teixeira 330




Dunn walks a ton which puts him squarely in the 100-100 club every year. He is, if you follow this blog, the kind of player I have a soft spot for. It also increases his value over your typical .250 hitter. He simply does not make a lot of outs.

Oh yeah, he can jack 'em too.

Homeruns

Howard 175
Dunn 160
Ortiz 159
Pujols 159
Soriano 144




Teixeira is down the list at 139...Dunn holds the advantage in terms of pure power when you take batting average out of the equation as the ISO numbers show.

ISO (Isolated Power)


4. Dunn .279
.
.
11. Teixeira .251




Next is Runs Created and Extra Bases. Tex is clearly superior here but Dunn is no slouch.

Runs Created

3. Teixeira 510
.
.
10. Dunn 459



Extra Bases

4. Teixeira 305
.
.
11. Dunn 273




Who's the better all-around hitter? Teixeira is and I think that's clear. But Teixeira is thought to be looking at contract offers of $23-25 million per year. Dunn, according to most sources, will probably get a deal in the $12-13 million per year range.

Is Teixeira twice as good as Dunn? I don't think so. If you're the Orioles, it's all about value on the free agent market this offseason. Dunn offers some pretty good bang for the buck if you want to avoid the big bidding wars.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Base Hits: 11/7/2008

You know, I always thought that Keith Law of ESPN had extreme views when it came to completely disregarding postseason awards. I'm beginning to come around. This is a quote from Keith in regards to Chase Utley being passed over for a Gold Glove this season. It can be fairly applied to the decision to deny Nick Markakis his first Gold Glove as well:

If GGs weren't already a complete and utter joke, unworthy of even a moment of our attention, then that's where they are now.

I'm really beginning to agree.

I stated earlier this week that Nick might get bumped by Torii Hunter based on rep alone and I was right. But even I didn't see a choice so lame as Ichiro.

Neither Hunter nor Ichiro are bad fielders but they are far from the best. The best argument you can make for them is that they are average. Neither is even close to Markakis. Not even a little bit. See my other post. They're not even in the conversation.

Of course, how could we put much faith in a system that awards Derek Jeter more career Gold Gloves (3) than Cal Ripken (2)?

Rob Neyer, another ESPN baseball writer, probably summed it up best:

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the managers and the coaches just don't give a damn about the process. It's a strange thing, to care more than the actual voters about the Gold Gloves. But year after year, it sure seems like we do.

*****

The prospects in Hawaii are all playing really bad baseball. It's far too depressing to post about as I can find no silver lining on any of these clouds. The Baltimore Sun's Dean Jones, Jr. offers all the ugly details.

*****

Also at the Sun, Jeff Zrebiec reports that Mr. Reluctant wants to try to return to the Orioles as a starter next season.

Fine by me. The official slogan for the 2009 Baltimore Oriole rotation should be "We'll Take Anybody". Anybody with one arm and can walk to the mound should get a shot.

*****

John Sickels had these observations after watching Matt Wieters in the Arizona Fall League:

1) This won't come as a surprise to you, but Matt Wieters is really, really good. He is a cross between Joe Mauer and Mike Piazza. The only things that could hurt him would be injury (always possible) or a really severe case of Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome (seems unlikely to me).

Nice to hear it!

*****

What the hell. I'm reviving the Song of the Week. Here's Marah performing "The Dishwasher's Dream". I'll warn you in advance that the lyrics reference "a Yanks winning streak". Have a great weekend!



Thursday, November 6, 2008

GM Meetings and Hot Stove Rumors

The Orioles are reported to be one team interested in acquiring San Diego shortstop Khalil Greene (tip of the hat to Jay Trucker of the Baltimore Examiner on that link...).

Rumors swirl during the Hot Stove season so I don't take them too seriously...but this is a HORRIBLE idea! Greene is set to make $6.5 million next season. $6.5 mil for a guy who plays a below average shortstop and has, at best, been an average hitter. And I am being very generous when I describe Greene as an average hitter. And they'll have to give up players, no matter how lowly, to get him.

Why don't you just sign Juan Uribe? They're the same player. They'll both be 29 next season. They both strike out a lot and walk rarely. They both have some decent pop. And you could argue that Uribe has a better glove. And he only made $4.5 mil last season and can be signed as a free agent without giving up prospects.

Don't believe me? Compare Uribe to Greene.

(Keep in mind that Ken Rosenthal has reported the Oriole interest in Greene as well which casts a huge shadow of doubt that any of this is substantial...)

*****

Brian Roberts continues to be coveted by clubs around the league. The latest team to express interest seems to be the White Sox. GM Kenny Williams loves speedy guys and Brian Roberts would certainly fit that bill.

*****

I don't get all the A.J. Burnett to the Orioles buzz either. They estimate that he's looking for $15-18 million for a four or five year deal. Is that really what the O's need? I'm no big fan of chasing Mark Teixeira but if you're going to spend in the neighborhood of $20 mil for a free agent, that's where it should be spent.

Burnett has had one healthy season out of three and is on the wrong side of 30. A four year deal? Any team that gives it to him is just begging for that deal to blow up in their face.

Given that Andy MacPhail's philosophy is to develop pitching from within and spend free agent money on position players, I hope there is nothing to the Burnett rumors.

*****

MLB.com has a video highlighting the Oriole prospects in the AFL. It's here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Base Hits: November 5, 2008

My dream lineup for the 2009 Baltimore Orioles. Only two rules for this list. A) No trades allowed. There is no way possible to predict what would happen in trades. It would be crazy to predict. But free agents and internal candidates are allowed. B) The key phrase here is "bang-for-your-buck". This team will not contend so there is no reason to break the bank But all these Free Agent pickups are very realistic.

Starting Lineup

C Matt Wieters
1B Adam Dunn
2B Brian Roberts
3B Melvin Mora
SS Adam Everett
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
LF Luke Scott
DH Aubrey Huff

Now let me explain...

Wieters has nothing left to prove in the minors. Jump in and swim.

All Adam Dunn does is hit homers, walk and strikeout. Anybody who reads this blog with regularity knows I have a soft spot for 100/100 club guys. Especially when they hit 40 homers a year, every year. Dunn only hit .236 so his value will be diminished and he can learn to play firstbase. You could probably get him for less than $10 million a year for four years (he turns 29 in '09) and he'll give you Mark Teixeira-type production for less than half the salary. Obviously, they are very different players but Dunn is very productive in his own way.

The prospects at shortstop are bleak but if Adam Everett is healthy at least the defensive side of the game would be taken care of. IF he's healthy, you throw $1.5 mil his way for a couple years and watch a modern day Mark Belanger in action. If any town would appreciate Everett's talents, it would be Baltimore. Over the next two years, you look for a better option.

Pitchers


SP Jeremy Guthrie
SP Derek Lowe
SP Braden Looper
SP Josh Fogg
SP Garrett Olson

RP Radhames Liz
RP Jamie Walker
RP Dennis Sarfate
RP Chris Waters
RP Daniel Cabrera
RP Chris Ray
RP George Sherrill

Basically, you make a run at a couple of mid-level free agent pitchers and sign them to reasonable contracts. Lowe and Looper would be at least competent until our prospects are ready and they won't have to be rushed. Next, you bring in every scrapheap pitcher (Odalis Perez, Matt Clement, Livan Hernandez, etc...) you can lay your hands on and hope someone shines in Spring Training. That's where a guy like Josh Fogg comes in. Olson can continue to develop at the bottom of the rotation.

The bullpen continues to be developed from within...

Just my imagination running wild but I think it's a start.

*****

WHFS 105.7 has gone all-sports as of Monday. Lots of sports talk in Baltimore now but only the new "The Fan" and WNST provide primarily local sports talk. ESPN 1300 will now be exclusively ESPN national programming and newcomer WVIE will have a lot of Fox Sports programming.

*****

Adam Loewen is hitting .273 thus far in Hawaii. That's higher than any hitting prospect from the Oriole organization in Hawaii. (ujhmn ujhmn tfgv...banging head on keyboard)

*****

I don't get the perception that former Orioles GM Pat Gillick is some kind of miracle worker in Philly. The core of the Phillies team that just won the World Series was already in place when he took over in 2006! Here's what he did: signed the horrible Pedro Feliz, paid a whole lot of money to Geoff Jenkins to ride the bench, signed Jayson Werth, acquired Jamie Moyer, traded for Joe Blanton and Brad Lidge and signed J.C. Romero.

Pedro Feliz is a horrible hitter. Geoff Jenkins is nice off the bench but overpaid. Jason Werth was a nice pickup but he's an average player at best. Jamie Moyer was a nice pickup. Joe Blanton was fairly effective but he only had to trade for Blanton because the terrible contract he gave to Adam Eaton blew up in his face. Brad Lidge was a good move and Romero panned out well too.

But Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Kyle Kendrink, Ryan Madsen and more were already with the organization. They won the title but only time will tell how ravaged the Phillies farm system is after all Gillick's wheeling and dealing...



*****

Baseball America has released their scouting report for the Baltimore Orioles. Here's their opinion on the Top Ten Prospects in the Oriole system:

1. Matt Wieters, c
2. Chris Tillman, rhp
3. Brian Matusz, lhp
4. Jake Arrieta, rhp
5. Nolan Reimold, of
6. Brandon Erbe, rhp
7. Billy Rowell, 3b
8. Troy Patton, lhp
9. Brandon Snyder, 1b
10. Kam Mickolio, rhp

*****

From Keith Law's blog:

The Orioles likely will be players for free agents who are already "motivated to come to Baltimore," meaning players with Maryland ties -- Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. Neither player would block any of the Orioles' many prospects. They would entertain serious offers for catcher Ramon Hernandez, knowing that ├╝ber-prospect Matt Wieters could easily start the year in the majors and that several contenders are looking for short-term catching solutions. It's not out of the question that they would fast-track their top 2008 draft pick, left-handed starter Brian Matusz, by starting him at AA Bowie, although it's just as likely that he'll begin in the Carolina League, as Wieters and right-hander Jake Arrieta did.

I don't get the whole A.J. Burnett thing. More on that later...

*****

I was reading Sports Illustrated this week and a writer suggested that the O's should move Brian Roberts to shortstop and pursue a free agent secondbasemen. Dave Trembley has squashed that idea in these comments to Roch Kubatko.

Roberts is a good fielding secondbaseman...but he's 30 and I don't think his range is good enough at this point to play an acceptable shortstop.

*****

Vero Beach has supposedly made its "final offer" to the Baltimore Orioles to make the old Dodgertown facility their new spring training home. Sarasota, who is losing the Reds and have been spurned by the Red Sox, are targeting the Orioles as well.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Golden Argument for Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis had a fantastic year with the glove this year. We know it. But we've watched a bunch of Oriole games this season. How many non-Oriole fans can say that?

So Nick's hopes for a Gold Glove rest on word of mouth and the numbers.

Defensive stats are flawed but if you look at the whole spectrum, you start to get an idea of how good Markakis was this year. All stats are for AL corner outfielders.

RZR for AL Corner Outfielders


Drew .935

Markakis .925

Crawford .911

Ibanez .893

Dye .887







Only J.D. Drew had a better Zone Rating. But...

OOZ (Out of Zone) Plays by AL Corner Outfielders

Markakis 56

Dye 55

Gutierrez 55

Suzuki 50

Rios 50







Nick leads the corner outfielders is plays out of his "defensive zone". Great range, great jump on the ball.

BIZ Leaders

Markakis 295

Ibanez 291

Young 275

Abreu 274

Dye 238







Fielding Percentage

Dye .996

Abreu .993

Markakis .991







Fielding Percentage is a very flawed stat since you can't make an error on a ball you didn't get to in the first place. But Markakis is still third in the league with only 3 errors all year despite leading the league in balls hit to his "zone".

Assists

Markakis 17

Young 11

Abreu 10

Anderson 9

Ibanez 9







Markakis is far and away the leader in outfield assists. Only B.J. Upton (a centerfielder) is close with 16 assists. Among corner outfielders, he is the undisputed champ.

All of this while leading the league's corner outfielders in innings played.

What else does he have to do?

Nothing.

The only problem is that voters select the Gold Glovers from the entire pool of outfielders so he'll be competing with centerfielders too. At a glance, there are four centerfielders who are worthy of serious consideration: Carlos Gomez (Twins), Grady Sizemore (Indians), our own Adam Jones and B.J. Upton (Rays).

Jones is a rookie and played fewer innings than the others due to his injuries so he is probably out. B.J. Upton led AL centerfielders in assists but didn't show great range and made a fair share of errors. Carlos Gomez had the best overall range and made the most SportsCenter caliber catches. Grady Sizemore was probably the best all-around centerfielder in the AL.

Sizemore and Gomez should win two of the three available Gold Gloves. I can't see Markakis losing to Upton. Only Torii Hunter, based on reputation alone and not current prowess, could jump up and bite him.

Stupider things have happened.


However, I am guessing Nick picks up the first of several Gold Gloves this year. It won't be because he doesn't deserve it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Base Hits: 10/29/2008

I don't always agree with ESPN's Keith Law but I come to respect his opinion. He's a smart guy when it comes to scouting. In his caht from earlier this week:



Matt J. (Baltimore, MD): Klaw - Wondering if you saw Brandon Snyder at the AFL, and if he can become an everyday 1B for the O's at some point.



Keith Law: Yes, saw him, liked the swing and the raw power, but he needs to show he can drop the head of the bat and get to the ball down. Potential is there for him to be an everyday 1b offensively.



I am pulling for every Oriole prospect but was not that high on the guy given his huge strikeout totals. Law likes him more than I do. Law also seems to like Nolan Reimold a lot more than I didi too. I see these opinions as a good sign that our prospects are viewed in a better light around baseball than we think.



Also from Law:



Greg (philly): Is Ryan Howard turning into a real life Pedro Cerrano?



Keith Law: Haven't seen his locker.



Good line.

*****


Adam Loewen is a tool.

Yes, baseball is a business. Yes, he was well within his rights to sign with the Blue Jays.

But taking $4 million from the club that was willing to let you re-invent yourself as a hitter when you flamed out as a pitcher? A club that you had a handshake agreement with to re-sign with to sign with a division rival? That's a dirty move. I don't care how long a shot it was that he made it back to the majors. It's rotten.

Your have no honor, Adam. Good day, sir! I said, good day!

*****

The stuff going on out in the winter leagues is just too depressing...more on that later...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting to Know Brandon Snyder

Brandon Snyder was the Orioles first round pick in 2005. He was drafted as a catcher but now projects as a corner infielder. After an off 2007, Brandon put together a solid 2008 with the best full season slugging percentage of his career. One of the O's top prospects, he earned a trip to Arizona to play with the other top Baby Birds in the AFL.

(On a side note, the Surprise Rafters, the team the O's prospects play for got beat 28-1 on Monday afternoon. 28-1. Ladies and gentlemen, that's 30-3 for all practical purposes. On the bright side, the lone run came on a Nolan Reimold solo shot.)

Brandon's been hitting the cover off the ball for Surprise, hitting even better than Matt Wieters but not getting the playing time that Matt is. He is blogging from Arizona. I like player blogs. You can learn a lot by reading between the lines. What have I learned?

On the surface, the 21-year old Snyder appears to be pretty grounded and involved with his family. His father was a journeyman major league pitcher and he seems very close to his family. He has interests outside of baseball (cooking, hunting, fishing...hmm, those are all really related aren't they?) and is active in charitable organizations.

Having guns is good. Gives him something in common with Luke Scott, Nick Markakis and, if he stays with the team, Jamie Walker.

Some other tidbits:

Our facilities are UNBELIEVABLE! Our home field is the big league spring training facility of the Rangers and Royals and it is top shelf. It definitely makes you feel like you're in the big leagues when you put on the big league uniform and walk out on a big league field like that.

From this you can glean how crappy the Orioles minor league Spring Training facilities are. They must be really bad. Probably worse than the Ft. Lauderdale site.

Even though we try and get some home cooked meals out here its tuff not being home....My best friend from back home called me to tell me it was opening day of bow season. It stinks not being able to be home for the little things like that but that's the sacrifice that we make to live our dreams. And im sorry if that's a bad example but im sure a lot of you out there will understand what I mean.

That's not an interesting fact in itself but it's just so damn honest! Maybe the most honest thing I've seen a professional athlete write.

I'm rooting for the kid. Hope he blogs some more.

To wrap this up, a comment on this comment left on Brandon's blog.

Brandon,As a fan of baseball I would like to congradulate you on a great season that will hopefully jump-start your big leauge career! As an animal lover I would hope you keep your hunting exploits to yourself! Stick to baseball camps and working on your defense...
By hudsdog@comcast.net

What a tool. The kid can't talk about his hobbies because you are an "animal lover"? Hey Brandon, keep talking about your hunting exploits and do it graphically. I love to see a detailed description of how to field dress a buck. What a dummy this hudsdog is.

(For full disclosure, the guy revealed he is a Red Sox fan later in the comment so he has it coming. And for the record, I don't hunt either...)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rudy Ray Moore (1927-2008)

R.I.P. Dolemite.

Keep pimpin'...

O.G. Orioles...This Ain't Pretty

Reading this article by Matthew Namee at The Hardball Times got me thinking. Namee hypothetically returns all MLB players to the original organizations they signed with and takes a look at the rosters. He only covered the teams that could field competent major league rosters so, of course, the Orioles were left out of the article. You can guess what comes next.

If you aren't eating anything, take a look at the 2008/2009 Baltimore Orioles 25 man roster consisting only of players originally signed by the club.

The Starting Lineup

C Matt Wieters
1B Jayson Werth
2B Brian Roberts
SS Augie Ojeda
3B Brandon Fahey
RF Nick Markakis
CF Willie Harris
LF Nolan Reimold
DH Gregg Zaun

Wieters would have been rushed to the bigs and along with Roberts and Markakis would be the bright spots in the lineup. Fahey would be forced to play third and former catching prospect (and current Phillies outfielder) Werth would be converted to firstbase.

I figured that the organization would rush Reimold to the majors in lieu of trotting out Alex Ochoa in left. Current Nationals centerfielder Harris would be back in black and orange. Ditto at DH for Rick Dempsey's nephew.

The Bench

C Eli Whiteside
Util Jerry Hairston
Util Mike Fontenot

Whiteside would be the only available option for a backup catcher. Eeesh. Hairston could be the fourth outfielder and Fontenot would be a capable infield backup.

The Rotation

SP Mike Mussina
SP Erik Bedard
SP Daniel Cabrera
SP John Maine
SP Garrett Olson

It's not a great rotation but, given good health, it's better than we have right now! Brian Matusz would still be waiting in the minors for a shot to crack this rotation too. John Maine would be competent in the AL but not great and Mussina would be wrapping up an illustrious Oriole career.

The Bullpen

RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Hayden Penn
LHP John Parrish
RHP Chris Britton
RHP Radhames Liz
RHP Jim Hoey
LHP Arthur Rhodes
RHP Chris Ray

Liz and Penn take the Albers\Johnson route to the bigs and are probably better for it. But overall, the pen is shaky outside of Johnson and Ray. Welcome back Arthur Rhodes!

In conclusion, it's just another example of the Oriole's poor drafting over the years. The inability to develop corner infielders and corner outfielders is especially glaring since those prosepcts are usually to easiest to find!

Also, only two players on this list were signed from outside of the U.S. (Cabrera and Liz). That will have to change if the Orioles hope to return to contention.

Tomorrow, a check in with some of those players that we hope will change that!

Monday, October 20, 2008

O's Spring Training in Ft. Lauderdale for '09...But Then What?

I got a notice in my e-mail informing me that Orioles Spring Training is just around the corner! Pitchers and catchers will report before you know it! (At this point, the obvious joke is, "What pitchers?" but I'll refrain. Oh, and there's only one catcher anyone will be watching at ST 2009...)

Spring Training will remain in Ft. Lauderdale...for this year. I've talked about this before but I am all for the Orioles leaving Ft. Lauderdale for a more attractive location. Ft. Lauderdale is a) a dump, b) so small that the O's minor league camp is across the state in Sarasota and c) is still painted with Yankee colors, the field's previous tenants.

The obvious and attractive choice would be to move into the historic Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach that the Dodgers left vacant after 61 years of spending Spring Training there. But as Ray McNulty opined in the TCPalm, that may not be the only option:

...if the Orioles decide this month to move their spring-training operation to Vero Beach in 2010 -- it will be on their terms and at their price...

Because our Indian River County representatives, elected and otherwise, have botched this thing from the start.

They've bargained from a position of weakness, rather than strength, conducting these negotiations as if the Orioles held all the cards, as if the team would be doing us a favor...

I have to admit, I'm surprised that the county would be so eager to keep a team in Vero Beach. I've always understood that the area has a lot of wealth and that they wouldn't be in a big hurry to have another team move in. But this must be good for the Orioles, right? What did they get by dealing from a perceived position of strength?

They've given the Orioles the upper hand -- first by signing a ridiculously one-sided exclusivity agreement under which the team could continue to talk to Fort Lauderdale but the county couldn't talk to any other teams, then by extending the deadline for accepting their offer until Halloween, thus allowing these negotiations to drag on far too long.

Worse, they've allowed Orioles owner Peter Angelos to use the county's pitch as leverage in simultaneous negotiations with Fort Lauderdale, his team's current spring-training headquarters.

And now that the exclusivity agreement with Indian River County has expired, Angelos is free to talk to any other community interested in becoming the Orioles' spring-training home.

He can talk to Fort Myers, which could lose the Boston Red Sox to Sarasota.
He can talk to Sarasota, which lost the Cincinnati Reds to Arizona and is sure to call the Orioles, if the Red Sox stay in Fort Myers.

So Angelos has options.

If Angelos is truly deeply involved in these negotiations, I have to grudgingly say he's doing a masterful job.

He's going to parlay substandard Spring Training facilities into a) a brand new facility in Ft. Lauderdale, b) a beautiful and historic facility in Vero Beach or c) reunite the whole organization (major and minor league) in Sarasota where the minor league camp is right now. (for now, the Red Sox look like they're staying in Fort Myers....)

If so, there's still a chance the Orioles will bring spring training back to Vero Beach.

But because of the way this thing has been handled, it will be on their terms and at their price.

Lucky us, huh?

So Indian River County may get held hostage by Peter Angelos? Welcome to the world of an Oriole fan, Mr. McNulty.

So where are the Orioles in spring of 2010? In order of likeliness, I'd say Vero Beach, then Sarasota, then the new Ft. Lauderdale facility.

Personal preference? My sister moved across the state to Fort Myers so Sarasota would be excellent. Then Vero Beach and lastly Ft. Lauderdale.

Vero Beach has extended the deadline to Halloween. By the end of the month, at least one option will be eliminated.