Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Baltimore Oriole All-Geezer Team: The Lineup

You've seen the pitchers, now meet the hitters of the Baltimore Oriole All-Geezer Team!

The Starting 9

RF - Frank Robinson - '71 - Age 35

Frank's final season in Baltimore and he was still up to the task. He hit .281 with 28 homers and only struck out 63 times that year. He led the first place Orioles in slugging and helped power them to the World Series.

CF - Brady Anderson - '99 - Age 35

By this time, Anderson had developed into a really good leadoff hitter. He got on base at a .404 clip and stole 36 bases at an 83% success rate. Very impressive for an old guy. He hit 24 homers just to top it all off.

LF - Eric Davis - '98 - Age 36

Out of nowhere, Davis put up one of the finest offensive seasons in Oriole history and of his career. He batted .327 with 28 homers, slugged nearly .600 and OPS'ed .970. Although he played RF and a little CF, on this team he's in left.

DH - Harold Baines - '95 - Age 35

Harold hit .299 with 24 homers. Yawn. He only did it every year. One of the best clutch hitters ever, Baines can be valuable off the bench on his days off.

1B - Jeff Conine - '01 - Age 35

Conine was the lone offensive bright spot in 2001 hitting .311 with 14 homers. Conine is the starting firstbaseman but can play the corner outfield positions as well.

2B - Rick Burleson - '87 - Age 36

Oriole secondbasemen who qualify for Geezer status are a rare breed indeed. You can tell that by our starter. Rick Burleson came over from the Angels to play his final season for a bad Orioles club. Burleson hit .209 but still had a little pop with 2 homers and 14 doubles. He gets the nod here, however, because he was still a great fielder, even at 36. Burleson will split time with bench players on this team.

SS - Cal Ripken - '96 - Age 35

It was Cal's last year at shortstop but he was still playing better defensively than Derek Jeter ever has! (How is it possible that Jeter has three Gold Gloves while Cal only has two? It's an atrocity. It's a great example of why you have to critically examine some of these awards when they are handed out...) Anyway, stellar defense, a .278 average 40 doubles and 26 homers from Cal.

3B - Brooks Robinson - '74 - Age 37

Duh. Brooks hit .288 with 7 homers and would have his last truly great year with the glove.

C - Rick Dempsey - '85 - Age 35

Oh yeah. Admittedly, Geezer catchers were hard to come by but Dempsey's .254 average with 12 homers is not bad from the catcher spot.

The Batting Order

1. Brady Anderson
2. Brooks Robinson
3. Cal Ripken, Jr.
4. Frank Robinson
5. Eric Davis
6. Harold Baines
7. Jeff Conine
8. Rick Dempsey
9. Rick Burleson

The Bench

With this many old codgers, you're going to need a good bench to help spell them.

OF - John Lowenstein - '82 - Age 35

A bench player in name only, Lowenstein is going to be first on the field when there's no lefty on the mound. .320 with 24 homers is only 322 AB? Are you kidding me? That's sick.

2B - Chris Gomez - '07 - Age 36

Gomez is obviously capable of playing nearly any position in the infield but will primarily split time with Burleson at second. Burleson offsets Gomez' questionable glove and Gomez offsets Burleson's questionable bat.

C - Javy Lopez - '06 - Age 35

He would be a big stretch as a starter but as a backup, he'll do fine. That and the fact that there are very few other options get Javy on the team.

1B/DH - Rafael Palmiero - '04 - Age 39

The Geeziest hitter, Palmiero will serve as a backup 1B/DH, as well as giving us another power bat to pinch-hit. .268 with 28 homers in '04.

OF - Al Bumbry - '83 - Age 36

At 36, Bumbry could still run quite well. He's the pinch runner and defensive replacement outfielder on this team. Hit .275, stole 12 bases in limited action and can play all the OF spots.

Utility IF - Mark Belanger - '80 - Age 36

He wasn't really good enough for regular duty in 1980 but he will serve this team well spelling Cal from time to time, spot starting at 2B and as a defensive specialist. Hit .228 and stole 6 bases.

F. Robinson .281 .384 .510 28 99 3
Anderson .282 .404 .487 24 81 36
Davis .327 .388 .582 28 89 7
Baines .299 .403 .540 24 63 0
Conine .311 .386 .411 14 97 12
Burleson .209 .279 .316 2 14 0
Ripken .278 .341 .466 26 102 1
B. Robinson .288 .353 .374 7 59 2
Dempsey .254 .345 .406 14 52 0

Lowenstein .320 .415 .602 24 66 7
Gomez .302 .339 .391 1 16 1
Lopez .251 .297 .386 8 35 0
Palmiero .258 .359 .436 23 88 2
Bumbry .275 .328 .357 3 31 12
Belanger .228 .261 .276 0 22 6

Did I miss anybody?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: The Rest

Anyway, onward and upward. I'm not blogging about any more trades until they are actually announced. We'll see how long I can stick to that resolution...

Now we look at the rest of the expected roster for the Orioles. Since there are so many holes in the lineup, so many roles that seem unsettled (and so many trades that have yet to happen) most of these players won't warrant a full post simply because it is difficult to know how much they will play and where.

Melvin Mora

There's not much to say about Mora at this point in his career. He'll be 36 this season and offensively, he's been in steady decline over the last three seasons. There's even question as to how much he'll get to play with Scott Moore potentially pushing for playing time. Look for Mora to hit about .270 with 15 homers and OPS about .750. Mora's real strength at this point is that he seems to have learned to field his position. He had his finest defensive year at 3B in 2007 and was actually a pleasure to watch.

Kevin Millar

Millar will also be 36 this season but since so much of his value comes from his patience at the plate, I don't see his overall production dipping much. He set a career high for walks last season and hit 15 homers. He will bring much needed patience to a lineup that needs some and don't be surprised if he finishes with a higher OPS than Spanky Huff...again. At half the price.

Jay Payton

What few skills Payton had as a baseball player have begun to erode and he was pretty bad as a regular in leftfield. But he can still hit lefties and it would be nice if he was platooned with Luke Scott in left and Tike Redman (or whoever) in center. We have to pay the guy for 2008 anyway, we may as well let him do the one thing he can do well. Earl Weaver would do it. If he's deployed properly, I could see him hitting .280 and getting on base at a .350 clip making him a pretty useful roleplayer.

Luis Hernandez

Don't let the .290 average from last season fool you. He only batted .250 in 6 minor league seasons so I expect him to be hitting sub-.250 for most of the season. He doesn't walk either. His defense had better be great.

Jay Gibbons

Coming back from injury, it is unclear what role he will have on this team. To stay healthy, he will need to be limited to DH and will have to battle it out with Millar and Huff for at bats. Will he get enough plate appearances to work out his swing? He will need very poor production and/or injuries to others to get a significant amout of playing time. I compared him to Rico Brogna last season. Brogna was out of baseball by the time he was 32. Gibbons is heading down that path.

Adam Lowen

A veritable rookie coming back from injury with a pin in his throwing elbow? Who knows? Can you tell me what to expect from this guy?

Luke Scott

I'm going with the platoon theory here and guess that Scott will get something in the neighborhood of 400 AB. He'll get on-base at a .350 clip, he'll strikeout over 100 times and he'll slug in the neighborhood of .500. You know how many regulars we had slugging .500 on last year's roster? None, brother. Not one. Please platoon this guy with Payton in left. It would be almost perfect...

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Can't Stop Posting...

...about this damned Erik Bedard trade.

Despite denials from The Warehouse, there are more signs that the deal with the Mariners will happen. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"The Mariners appear to be close to signing Brad Wilkerson, an outfielder who could help the Mariners fill the opening in right field that a trade of Adam Jones to Baltimore would leave."

The Mariners have done some silly things in the past but would they really be trying to sign Wilkerson at this point if there were not an opening in RF?

Assuming they were to keep Jones, they would have to split Wilkerson's time between 1B and DH where they already have Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro and young Mike Morse. No way they sign a vet like Wilkerson to ride the pine when they have very good options already in their system.

C'mon, Angelos. Let's get this one over with...

Angelos Lurks?

According to ESPN, yes.


Now The National Media Begins to Weigh In...

Been following this all morning, like most of you I'm sure. From ESPN we now know:

That Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly confirmed the team had requested that Adam Jones return from Venezuela (The Seattle Times had reported that earlier this morning...)

That RP George Sherrill and Adam Jones have both told teammates that they are scheduled to take physicals in preparation for a trade.

Andy MacPhail's last word on this was that there is no deal in place. Semantics? It sure looks like this is something that will get done and soon.

All this intrigue is accomplishing two things:

Raising my anxiety and helping me learn to spell Venezuela correctly.

Rumor Mill in Full Swing...

...for the Mariners about Erik Bedard.

According to the Seattle News-Tribune, Adam Jones has been ordered back from Venezuela. The GM's aren't saying much but Adam Jones has been talking to the Venezuelan media stating:

“I’ve got to go to Baltimore tomorrow morning and handle things there. I’m the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners’ side. It’s an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is.”

Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Baltimore Orioles All-Geezer Team: The Staff

The Hot Stove is ice cold and we're still three weeks from Spring Training. That means my Oriole thoughts turn to trivia and I decided to compile the Baltimore Oriole All-Geezer team. What defines an Oriole geezer? I decided to start with seasons turned in by an Oriole when then were 35 or older. The older the player the better. The roster should be 25 men and I would provide for the traditional 10 pitchers/15 batters breakdown. Since the pitchers are easier, I decided to start with them.

The Starters

Hoyt Wilhem - 1959 - Age 36

Wilhem was primarily a reliever up until 1959. But when the Orioles claimed the future Hall of Famer off of waivers from the Indians, Oriole manager Paul Richards had the radical idea to convert Wilhem to a starting pitcher at the ripe old age of 36. Wilhem responded by going 15-11 with a 2.19 ERA for a bad 69-85 team. The old man pitched 13 complete games! An unexpected move gave an unexpected result as Wilhem made the All-Star team in his first full season as a starter. He is the ace of the Geezer staff.

Jim Palmer - 1982 - Age 36

After an injury plagued '81 season, Palmer returned for his final full season and pitched masterfully. Palmer posted a 3.13 ERA over 227 IP but only went 15-5 due to lack of run support. Palmer finished second in the Cy Young voting and the O's would also place an agonizingly close second to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Al East. One hell of a last hurrah.

Mike Cuellar - 1972 - Age 35

Ten years before Palmer, Cuellar also turned in a masterful performance for another disappointing Oriole squad. The Birds led the division on September 1st but faded down the stretch and finished in third place. Anyway, Cuellar went 18-12 with a 2.57 ERA and would continue to pitch well for three more years giving him the most eligible Geezer seasons of any Oriole.

Jimmy Key - 1997 - Age 36

Baltimore signed Jimmy Key away from the Yankees to attempt to wrest the division away from New York and make a run at the World Series. One out of two ain't bad. The O's took the division and Key was their second best starter (behind Mike Mussina) as he went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA. Unfortunately, injuries would end Key's career the next year.

Robin Roberts - 1962 - Age 35

Hall of Famer Roberts is best known for his hurling for the Phillies but he came to the Orioles in 1962 and put up a fine effort for a very mediocre Batimore club. 10-9 with a 2.78 ERA. Not a bad line for our 5th starter, is it?

The Bullpen

Mike Flanagan - 1991 - Age 39

Flannagan came back to Baltimore for a second (short) stint as a reliever and excelled. At least for one year. Flanny pitched 98 innings with a 2.38 ERA. A fine long reliever for this team as he is the Geeziest at a downright decrepit 39.

Buddy Groom - 2002 - Age 36

I had forgotten what a bad man Buddy Groom was in '02. Lefties were shaking in their cleats when he took the mound as they only managed a .181 BA against the crafty LHP. 60 IP with a teeny little 1.60 ERA. Welcome to the club Buddy.

Stu Miller - 1965 - Age 37

Time for some righties to balance out the two lefties. Miller relieved for Baltimore throughout the 1960's and in '65 he won 14 games in relief, saved 24 games and spun a sterling 1.89 ERA. According to Milt Pappas, Miller had three speeds for his pitches: slow, slower and slowest. Every bullpen needs a junkballer.

Dick Hall - 1969 - Age 38

Hall was a member of four Oriole World Series teams and pitched brilliantly in relief for the '69 version. 1.92 ERA over 67 innings while winning 5 games.

Lee Smith - 1994 - Age 36

The most accomplished of the Geezer-eligible closers, Smith's impressive career included one very impressive season in Baltimore. Smith's ERA was 3.29 (in a year when the league ERA was 5.00) and he saved 33 games for a team that only won 63.

Here's the roster so far. Next time, the hitters.

Hoyt Wilhem 15 11 2.19 0 226 139 37
Jim Palmer 15 5 3.13 0 227 103 63
Mike Cuellar 18 12 2.57 0 248 132 71
Jimmy Key 16 10 3.43 0 212 141 82
Robin Roberts 10 9 2.78 0 191 102 41

Mike Flanagan 2 7 2.38 3 98 55 25
Buddy Groom 3 2 1.60 2 62 48 12
Stu Miller 14 7 1.89 24 119 104 32
Dick Hall 5 2 1.92 6 65 31 9
Lee Smith 1 4 3.29 33 38 42 11

Friday, January 25, 2008

Around The Oriole Blogosphere: 1/25/2008

Over at Oriole Central, Ben found a great article in which Mariner's GM Bill Bavasi makes some pretty strong comments that he believes a deal for a starting pitcher gets done. Could he be talking about a certain Oriole lefty?


A great picture of a young Boog Powell while he was playing for the Rochester Red Wings over at Camden Chat, who have been posting up a storm lately.


It must be Daniel Cabrera day because Anthony has a post over at Oriole Magic pondering the pros and cons of the man known as D-Cab.


Pulling double duty, Anthony also posts at Oriole Post that the rumors of Kyle Lohse coming to Baltimore may be indicative of some mental health issues at The Warehouse.


Roch Kubatko notes that if the Orioles are looking for a veteran free agent pitcher that Rodrigo Lopez is still unsigned. If he's healthy, that is no necessarily a crazy idea.


The Loss Column takes some stock of conflicted feelings about the rumored Erik Bedard trade.


The Wayward Oriole, living up to its reputation as the most creative and artistic of the Oriole blogs, has a poem for Miguel Tejada and a graphic tribute to Jeffrey Maier.


New blogger Weaver's Tantrum expresses his reservations about Luke Scott. Keep up the good work, Desert O! There aren't enough of us blogging about the O's on a regular basis.

The Crystal Ball '08: Daniel Cabrera

Before I start this post, let me just admit that I'm a sucker.

I'm deluded and unrealistic. I am overcome by wishful thinking. I am looking through rose colored glasses and I am an overly optimistic fool.

When it comes to Daniel Cabrera.

Before last season, Cabrera's strong finish in 2006 and the prospect of getting a full Spring Training with Leo Mazzone had me positively upbeat about his prospects for 2007.

While there were some good things about Cabrera's season, it was (obviously) poor overall. He allowed a career high (by far) 24 homeruns, his strikeout rate dropped, he posted a 5.55 ERA and he lost 18 games.

The bright side? He posted the lowest walk rate of his career (4.5/9 IP, a huge improvement over the 6.7 he posted in 2006), topped 200 innings pitched and struck out a career high 166 batters.

The real regression for Cabrera was all those homeruns he gave up. One of his strengths over his perplexing career is that he was at least able to keep the ball in the park. It's what has helped him survive all those walks. Last year he gave up homers at a rate that was 40% higher than his career average.

According to Hit Tracker, Cabrera gave up 8 homers that had "just enough" to get out of the park and two of those were "lucky" homers (homeruns that were aided so much by the weather that they would not have been out of the park in neutral conditions). You can't take all those homers away but it is reasonable to assume that if things had gone as they normally would that he probably would've given up somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 homers instead of 24 over 34 starts. Much more respectable.

Did you know that Cabrera threw his fastball 75% of the time last season? I thought he had utilized his slider much more than that. Can you believe the guy has gotten this far into his career with basically a fastball and no real secondary pitch? That how good that fastball is. According to Roch Kubatko, Cabrera is throwing his changeup a lot in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. This is good news considering he only threw it about 2% of the time in 2007. Does this signal a change in Cabrera's pitching philosophy? If he can mix in his slider and a passable changeup this year, he could be unstoppable.

And this may be my undying optimism talking again but I really think Cabrera just had an off year in 2007. He wasn't great to begin with and he looked really bad during that down year. It happens to all pitchers but looked really bad on Cabrera.

There are only two possibilities for Daniel Cabrera this season: he will either improve as a starter or will end up in the bullpen, trying to reinvent himself as a closer. He will probably break my heart but I think he will make strides, maybe big strides as a starter. I'm thinking he tops 200 IP, posts a 4.50 ERA, racks up 180 strikeouts and cuts down on the longballs.

Yes, I am crazy. And a sucker.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: Aubrey Huff

Aubrey Huff. I'm going to dust off an old nickname and call him Spanky from here on out. I'm sure Mike LaValliere won't mind.

What to expect from Spanky this year? Expect him to be worse than last year. Why?

Aubrey Huff
2000-2004 .295 98 .348 .491 .839
2005-2007 .269 85 .333 .445 .778

He's gone from a fairly useful, sometimes dangerous, slugger to a marginal 1b/DH type.

He has gotten progressively less patient at the plate and his slugging is down almost 50 points over the last three years.

He posted a .779 OPS last year. It isn't as if he brings a lot of speed or defense to the table to offset that number. That puts him right above Jose Vidro and behind Kevin Millar among MLB first basemen for the 2007 season.

(I'll cover this later but Millar has been such a bargain over the last two seasons. He outperformed Spanky and cost the team less than half Huff's salary...I don't find Millar to be a bad player at all, at least for the talent level available on the Baltimore roster. He's the best option for 1B on the 40-man roster. That's right, I said it.)

Is there any hope? Some take solace in that strong August and September Spanky had to finish the season. I don't. He's always finished strong. That's his modus operandi. It's also to start so slow that he is one of the worst offensive firstbasemen in the major leagues before Memorial Day.

All we can pray for is that he posts a first half worthy of notice and some contender offers to take him off our hands. And good riddance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Base Hits: 1/23/2008

There is some concern about the Orioles and their lack of progress in trading Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts and many see the deals as dead. Not I.

Why? MacPhail has made no forays into the free agent market as of yet. If the deals were truly dead, he would certainly be looking for a centerfielder. I just can't believe he's going into this season with Tike Redman manning anything more than a fouth outfielder role.


The Oriole signed RHP Lance Cormier to a minor league deal this week. I watched plenty of Cormier when he pitched for Atlanta last year and I was less than impressed. A long reliever or a AAAA type guy at best. Of course, I said the same thing about Jeremy Guthrie at this time last year.


Daniel Cabrera is asking for $3.3 million in arbitration. Quite frankly, in today's market that is not an unreasonable request even with Cabrera's poor season. Bedard is asking for $8 million and would be worth every penny.


I can't find it right now but Roch reported in his blog that recently acquired 3B Mike Costanzo is to report to Spring Training with the catchers to presumably work out at that position. Very intriguing if true. That would certainly provide Costanzo a quicker route to the majors if he can be even passable defensively as a catcher.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: Jeremy Guthrie

When the Orioles claimed Jeremy Guthrie off of waivers from the Indians nearly a year ago, I immediately had him sized up when I stated that "he may develop into a decent relief pitcher if things break the right way".


Obviously, he was much more than that, contended for rookie of the year after injuries opened the door for him to join the starting rotation and proved to be the best rookie pitcher the O's have seen in more than 15 years.

Predicting Jeremy Guthrie is kind of difficult because he is something of an oddity. There are very few pitchers in the history of the game who have had the kind of success that Guthrie had as a starter (3.70 ERA, 175 IP) at age 28 with so few innings previously logged at the major league level (fewer than 40).

I mean, guys who break in for good at 28 usually end up as relievers, not above average starters.

I could only find three other guys from the past 50 years who took anything close to Guthrie's path to the majors. The closest was a guy named Jack Sanford, who pitched for the Phillies and Giants in the late 50's and early 60's. Other guys who Guthrie emulates are Bob Veale (another 60's pitcher) and HOF'er Phil Niekro.

The good news? All of these guys ended up being pretty good pitchers for at least 5 years after their debut.

I also find it interesting that nobody like Guthrie has come along in over 40 years.

As far as Oriole rookie pitchers, his performance puts him right up there with the likes of Steve Barber, Mike Boddicker, Mike Mussina...and Rodrigo Lopez. Well, mostly good company.

I've been far too positive in these predictions! I came into this post looking for anything to explode the Guthrie myth but have found very little ammunition. About the only thing I can pin on him is a lousy August where he was almost surely pitching while injured.

Barring injury (the ultimate disclaimer), look for Guthrie to put up the same solid numbers and pitch over 200 innings. On this team, that's makes for a solid number 2 starter.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: Jamie Walker

Jamie Walker certainly exceeded my expectations last year. An aging, flyball relief pitcher in Camden Yards? Not exactly a recipe for success. I predicted a disaster and Walker proved me wrong.

He led all AL relievers with 81 appearances while posting a 3.23 ERA. He and Chad Bradford were the anchors of a bullpen that could have been far, far worse, if you can imagine that. Walker did not see the increase in homeruns allowed that I expected and was very effective when the day was done.

There is nothing about Walker's numbers, outside of his ERA, that predict this kind of success. He's not a big strikeout guy, has only fair control and does not induce a lot of grounders. Still, he relies on that good slider to lefties and gets by on his marginal fastball and changeup against righties. And he's done it for many years. If you looked up "crafty lefty" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Jamie Walker.

I am predicting that Walker will remain an effective pitcher but with a slight decline in performance in 2008. Think of maybe a 3.50 ERA.

Given his track record, I'd be crazy to bet against him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Base Hits: 1/16/2007

Yesterday was not a good day for Miguel Tejada. First, Congress asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Tejada lied before Congress in 2005 when he denied using or having any knowledge of steroids in baseball.

Second, an infinitely worse, Tejada's older brother Freddy was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.


This is a bit off the topic but Chris Shelton has been DFA'ed by the Texas Rangers this week after being DFA'ed by the Tigers late last year. Who is Chris Shelton? Check it out.

He never got a fair shake in Detroit and Texas decided Ben Broussard was a better bet to split time at first base. He showed fair power in his stints in the majors, he strikes out a ton but also walks a ton. If you plugged him in as the everyday firstbaseman next season, he would give you at least Kevin Millar type production but he's 8 years younger, far cheaper and still has an upside. Add to this that he's hit appreciably better away from Comerica Park and I think he's an intriguing option.

I have been one of the few out in the Oriole blogosphere to tout Millar's usefulness at his bargain price but you would have to dump Millar if the O's can claim this guy. Hey MacPhail, give this guy a shot!


I would like to address the Octavio Dotel reports that Roch Kubatko mentioned in his blog. What a terrible move that would be. Signing a 34 year old reliever who has been bad since the end of 2005, who was injured much of last year, who has never really been that good of a closer (he has performed better as a setup guy throughout his career) would be a colossal mistake.

This team isn't going to contend this year and I'm guessing if you put James Hoey or someone of that ilk in that spot that he wouldn't perform much worse (if at all.)

I'll have to agree with Roch's post yesterday that this simply won't happen. I just can't imagine it.


The Atlanta Braves have announced that they are moving their AAA affiliate Richmond Braves to a new stadium in Gwinnett County (GA) and will begin playing there in 2009. Why is this Oriole news? Because the AAA Braves are in the same league, the International League, as the Norfolk Tides. That means that the AAA club of the Baltimore Orioles will play 5 times a year in a stadium less than an hour from my house.

Well, it was big Oriole news for me...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: Ramon Hernandez

After a really good Oriole debut in 2006, Ramon Hernandez put up disappointing numbers (and attitude) in 2007.

To be fair, Hernandez battled the Oriole Oblique Strain(copyright 2006) and a groin injury and probably wasn't healthy until late in the year. Still, Hernandez was one of the better offensive and defensive catcher in the AL in 2006 and the severe dropoff in his play was not expected.

A year after he had thrown out 64% of opposing baserunners, he gunned down fewer than 23% in '07. His OPS dipped more than 100 points (to .715) and easily had his worst year at the plate is since 2002.

Now, being the eternal optimist that I am, I am predicting a strong rebound for Hernandez in 2008. Why?

I think he's healthy now. He hit .241 in the first half but hit .273 after the All-Star break. His slugging was still down but in September he hit .324 with 3 homers and posted an OPS of .852. A strong finish = fully healthy.

Second, he still loves to hit at OPACY. Even in a dismal season, he hit .278 with 4 homers and a .752 OPS at home last year. Those are pretty good numbers for a catcher.

Third, I'm a sucker.

But really, adding health to a friendly home park and that's got to equal good things for Ramon, right? Rest him a bit more this year (Guillermo Quiroz is no Paul Bako), give him some games at DH and we should see the Ramon of 2006.

Hernandez will have every opportunity to regain his form if for no other reason than there is no other alternative anywhere in the organization. Matt Wieters is realistically a full year away and there's no other viable catcher in AAA ready to take a shot. Here's hoping Ramon will be a bright spot this season.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Base Hits: 1/14/2008

As reported (or linked to) by Roch Kubato, the Mariners' Adam Jones has been told to stop playing in Venezuala and to return to Seattle. Hmmmm.....


The official website of the Baltimore Orioles has a look at the O's catchers for 2008 and it made me think about Guillermo Quiroz. Well, actually it made me think about Paul Bako and how happy I am that he is gone. He was an offensive and defensive liability (a fact that The Warehouse would not admit before last season when they signed him; a clear case of a guy getting over on reputation...) and even Guillermo Quiroz will be a nice upgrade. I still don't understand how a team that thought they had an outside chance of contending could afford to give Bako all those at bats but, hey, that's been the status quo for 10 years right?


From the Those Fantasy Guys blog at the Baltimore Sun:

Whether the Orioles trade for a shortstop before spring training remains to be seen, but Hernandez may not be as bad as some people think. Everyone is calling for the youth movement in Baltimore, so why not give the 23-year-old a chance to prove himself?

No problem with letting Hernandez take his shot, especially because the Orioles have nobody who would be obviously better at the position under contract. But make no mistake, he will be as bad as some people think. He will be worse actually. His offensive numbers will be Belanger-esque so here's hoping his defense is at least in the Mike Bordick range.

In 69 at-bats last season, Hernandez hit .290, which is pretty good considering his career batting average in six minor-league seasons was .250.

So would you expect him to hit closer to what he did in 69 at bats in the majors or what he did in six minor league seasons? Anyways...


The Wayward Oriole has some thoughts on the upcoming season.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lies, Damn Lies and the MLB Rumor Mill

THe trade talk seems to be heating up with Chicago for Brian Roberts and with Seattle for Erik Bedard. But honestly, who knows that will happen?

I won't comment of the trades until they happen. Oriole Hangout had a mildly embarrassing moment yesterday jumping the gun on the Brian Roberts trade and I won't waste my time chasing the rumors here.

Do I think these guys will be traded? Yes. And when they are I'll do the analysis.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Crystal Ball '08: Chad Bradford

For all the bashing the Orioles took in the press for spending so much on free agent relievers (and the bashing that bullpen took all season long), it is important to remember that it wasn't all bad. One of the bright spots of the offseason signings and the Oriole bullpen was Chad Bradford.

Bradford appeared in 78 games (3rd most in the AL) for Baltimore in 2007 posting a 3.34 ERA and allowing only 1 homerun all season. The submarine pitcher is an extreme groundball pitcher and continued that trend in '07 with over 60% of balls hit for grounders when he is on the mound.

Look, obviously a groundball pitcher like Bradford is only as good as the fielders behind him. If you believe that Luis Hernandez is a defensive upgrade over Miguel Tejada (I believe he will be), then that only means good things for Mr. Bradford.

By the way, Chad Bradford is an excellent fielder for a relief pitcher. I guess with all those groundballs he induces, he would have to be.

So what does all this rambling mean? I don't know. Relief pitchers can be so volatile. With the improved fielding and, hopefully, not so much use, I expect a groundball pitcher like Bradford to perform slightly better in 2008. Look for an ERA closer to 3.00.

Patterson to Return?

According to a story in the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have some interest in bringing back Corey Patterson.

As the free agency period winds down, Patterson has found himself still waiting for an offer and the Orioles have found themselves still needing a centerfielder. (Chris Roberson? Really?) I have always been in favor of bringing back the right price. Unless Erik Bedard is traded soon, there is no other viable option currently on the roster.

Patterson is not a great offensive player but he would be at least one of the top three defensive outfielders in the AL and is an outstanding baserunner. If this team is looking to build on pitching and defense, Patterson isn't a bad choice.

Funny how so many O's fans ridicule the good glove-not much bat style of Patterson but are more than happy for the same formula from Luis Hernandez at short.

As long as it is a short contract at less than $5 million per year, it's a good price to pay.


Trade rumors for Erik Bedard are heating up again. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Big Hits: Miguel Tejada as a Baltimore Oriole

The Miguel Tejada era is complete. While Tejada's arrival did not turn the fortunes of the team around as we had all hoped and we watched him slowly decline in offensive prowess over the last four years, there were some good times. So after calling repeatedly for him to be traded this offseason, I thought I would send Miggy off on a positive note and look back at the 5 biggest hits that he had as an Oriole.

How will I define the biggest hits? I will use Win Probability Added (WPA). What is WPA? This definition will get you started. It basically is a tool that shows how much a single event in a game swings the odds in your team's favor. It is an especially good tool for examining how a player does in the clutch. With WPA, a homer in the first inning of a tie game is not worth as much as a homer in the 9th inning of a tie game.

With that, let's remember the good times...

#5 August 12th, 2007 - .378 WPA - Red Sox

In the bottom of the 8th, Corey Paterson walked and then Markakis hit into a fielder's choice. With one out and the O's down 3-1, Eric Gagne took the mound in relief of Hideki Okajima and Tejada took a 3-2 fastball an deposited it in the leftfield bleachers to tie the game.

The O's would eventually win the game with Kevin Millar's homer in the bottom of the 10th.

#4 May 24th, 2007 - .408 WPA - Blue Jays

There were 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th against the Blue Jays and the Orioles were down 2-1. Corey Patterson was at third and Markakis had walked to set the table for Tejada. Miggy turned that 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead as he laced a homer down the leftfield line off of Shawn Marcum.

The O's would lose this one in the 10th as John Parrish and Danys Baez would fritter away a fine outing from Jeremy Gutherie.

#3 July 18th, 2005 - .408 WPA - Twins

Tied 2-2 with the Twins with 2 outs in the top of the 11th, Tejada sent a ball deep into the left-center seats off of Juan Rincon.

Jorge Julio would pitch a scoreless 11th to close out the 3-2 victory.

#2 May 14th, 2004 - .414 WPA - Angels

Down 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles showed some life as Luis Matos (!?!?) would lead off the inning with a homerun. With one out and Melvin Mora and Brian Roberts on Second and third respectively, Miguel struck a Troy Percival pitch for a single to center to drive them both in, tying the game.

This time, Jorge Julio would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing the Angels to score in the top of the 10th and giving them a 10-9 win.

#1 September 24th, 2004 - .468 WPA - Tigers

The bottom of the 9th started with Roberts and Mora getting on base. Down 5-4 to the Tigers, Tejada took Estaban Yan deep for a 3-run walk-off homer. Simple enough.

I wonder how many big hits Luis Hernandez will deliver?