Friday, August 8, 2008

Base Hits: 8/8/2008

Looking back on the week that was, Rob Neyer of wrote about the improbable performance of Matt Waters. It's part of ESPN Insider so here's the main text:

Waters' masterpiece for O's quite a shocker

I'd like to embrace the utter unlikelihood of what Chris Waters did last night.

As we see in a sidebar here, Waters became just the sixth pitcher in the past 50 years to throw eight-plus innings with no runs and one hit in a major league debut.


Waters isn't even supposed to be in the major leagues. Look at the ages for each of those pitchers; before Waters, fellow Oriole Milacki was the oldest to make a similarly spectacular debut … and Waters is more than three years older than Milacki was. And although Milacki might not have been a Grade A prospect when he reached the majors in September 1988, that summer he'd gone 12-8 with a 2.70 ERA for Triple-A Rochester.

Just looking at the ages of the other pitchers on this list, it seems likely that all had done impressive work in the minors. We do know that Marichal's a Hall of Famer, and we know that May won 152 games in the majors and was still pitching at 39.

Waters, though?

He's not built like a pitcher. He's listed as being 6 feet tall, 170 pounds, which means he's probably 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. The Braves did like him enough in 2000 to draft him out of South Florida Community College in the fifth round. After initially pitching well as a professional, Waters stalled out; four years after being drafted, he was still pitching in Class A, and wasn't pitching particularly well. And after an unimpressive Double-A season (2006), the Braves cut Waters loose.

Last year, pitching for the Orioles' Double-A team, Waters went 8-9 with a 4.49 ERA. Before this season, he wasn't even listed among the Orioles' top 30 prospects, and he shouldn't have been. He is (or rather, was) a 27-year-old Double-A pitcher with yawn-inspiring numbers.
This year? Finally, Waters blew through Double-A: 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA in six starts. Then came a promotion to Triple-A, where he … stunk: 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA in 18 games.
So why did he get the call to the majors, finally? In Waters' last start for Norfolk, last Thursday against Lehigh Valley, he pitched seven innings and gave up one hit.
That's right. In what must be the greatest week of his professional life, Waters has given up two hits in 15 innings.

All of which is unlikely enough. Just as unlikely: Waters already is enjoying a significant major league career. He won't be the best pitcher on that list and probably won't match Steve Woodard's 32 career wins. (Interesting tidbit: After three years out of baseball, Woodard is pitching in the minors again, and you never know.)

However, I do give Waters a 50-50 chance of catching Billy Rohr, who finished his career with three major league wins.

Good stuff. But Neyer rarely disappoints.


Chad Bradford got traded to the Rays. Hard to evaluate the trade until we see who we get back but Bradford was the only free agent reliever from the 2006 offseason who did not disappoint.

But Dave Cameron at reminds us that submariner pitchers are fun. And he's right! Sometimes we get so caught up in the winning and losing, we don't appreciate a guy until he's gone. But it was nice having another submariner on the team. I mean, who didn't love Todd Frohwirth?


John Sickels reviewed his preseason list of Oriole Top Prospects on his Minor League Ball blog.

It's a mixed bag but Matt Wieters continues to crush minor league pitching and Nolan Reimold looks to be close to the big club as well.


Song of the Week:

I recently bought the re-issue of Liz Phair's classic 1993 album Exile in Guyville. Reissue. They let it go out of print! Criminal!

It's reasons like these that the major labels deserve whatever is coming to them.

Here's "Stratford-On-Guy" from said album. Enjoy.

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