Current Orioles are hitting .281 against James Shields. Nick Markakis hits over .300 against Ray pitchers overall.
Jeremy Guthrie was 2-1 vs. the Rays last season.
That's it. A little optimism.
SC posted a speech from Major League that is quite fitting for our season.
Let's go O's!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Current Orioles are hitting .281 against James Shields. Nick Markakis hits over .300 against Ray pitchers overall.
"I hadn't reached any conclusions myself. I was wrestling with this one," said MacPhail, relaying an anecdote. "I was really, more than anything, to be honest with you, looking for advice. His advice was, 'You've got to do what you've got to do.' Those were the last words he left me with, and I took the position that this was what I think we have to do."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
There is now officially someone who deserves a spot on this roster less than Jay Gibbons. That man is Luis Hernandez.
Another error today bringing his spring total to 6. Unacceptable. His glove was supposed to be his calling card. Instead, it's is albatross. He's actually making Brandon Fahey look like a great choice by comparison.
The Warehouse needs to make the right decision on this one. Unlike Gibbons, there is no bad contract to eat. Hernandez needs to go back to Norfolk until he gets his groove back.
Lots of roster decisions to be made today. We'll wait and see what happens.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The thing I love most about the list of Oriole blogs I present to the left of your computer screen is that nearly all of them write far better than I do. ("All of them actually write far better than you do.", I'm sure at least some of you are thinking...) Case in point, Enchanting Sunshine's post reminiscing about Opening Day in Baltimore from the unique perspective of growing up quite literally in the shadow of Memorial Stadium. It's nostalgic, beautiful and a must-read. And she even has the good sense to pair Sam Adams with that Esskay frank. Lovely.
My head tells me to ignore Spring Training stats, at least as a rule. My heart has me wondering if Melvin Mora is about to have a revivial of his largely dormant skills at the plate.
ESPN's Rob Neyer has put together a list of the top 50 players over the next 5 years. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones both made the list.
I really hope that Roch is reading this wrong but it certainly appears that Jay Gibbons is going to bump somebody off of this team (perhaps Scott Moore) that really belongs here far more than he does.
The Orioles need to go out and sign Alex Cintron and cut Luis Hernandez loose. Cintron has elected to become a free agent instead of accepting a minor league reassignment after not making the Cubs roster out of Spring Training. Cintron can still field well, plays SS, 2B and 3B and has a fair bat. He's an upgrade at short for now and can serve as a utility man once a better option is found.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Luis Hernandez made yet another throwing error in yesterday's game giving him 5 total for the spring.
Brandon Fahey is being handed a the job as the starting shortstop on a silver platter. Much like Hernandez, there is no way that Fahey would have a chance to start for any other team in the league. But the Warehouse traded away Miguel Tejada leaving a gaping hole in this organization at short. They have yet to trade Brian Roberts for any other shortstop prospect and Fahey is latching on to the job that Hernandez is (literally) throwing away (into the dugout).
Fahey has out-hit and out-fielded Hernandez this spring. Time to cut our losses with Hernadez and patch the hole with Fahey until someone better (Blake Davis?) comes along.
An interesting read over at The Hardball Times as Sean Smith attempts to quantify the best defensive players since 1956. Obviously, many Baltimore Orioles are at the top of this list. (Including the assertion that Mark Belanger was a better defensive shortstop than Ozzie Smith.)
Then the Orioles caused problems for his system in other ways, through something he calls "the Jim Palmer problem".
The Orioles of the late 1960s and early 1970s had incredible defensive numbers. The teams allowed far fewer hits on balls in play than an average team. If we give all this credit to Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, Mark Belanger and Bobby Grich, then we have to take some credit away from Palmer. Could it be that it was the other way around, that Palmer’s great pitching made those fielders look better by getting batters to hit into easy outs?
Turns out that Palmer was able to induce outs from balls put in play at a rate nearly unheard of by non-knuckleball pitchers. I'll let you sift through Sean's methods but it is fascinating to me and cool to see some of your favorite players showing up on all-time great lists.
Gibbons Headed to Minor League Camp - I got really excited when I saw this headline but it turns out that the Orioles are just sending him there to workout during his suspension. Hopefully, he'll just stay there.
As if any of us cared, Nestor Aparicio has decided he's going back to Camden Yards.
I want to make this clear: the Orioles are as shameful and as pathetic as they’ve ever been in virtually every department (from marketing to media relations to dealing with their employees to dealing with the business community and people in general) – it’s actually getting WORSE, not better -- but I’m going back to the games anyway.
Isn't this the guy who didn't know who George Sherrill was a couple of days ago? I wonder if old Nestor would be reversing course if Free The Birds II has gone well and gotten him some of his much craved publicity?
My detractors and those on Mr. Angelos’ extended payroll called me a charlatan and said it was a “publicity stunt.”
Well count me as one of those who consider you a charlatan. Actually, I called you a carnival barker. Somehow my check from Peter Angelos for writing this little blog has been lost in the mail.
Nestor is and remains a blowhard with paranoid delusions worthy of Richard Nixon. And he's an assclown.
Monday, March 24, 2008
The season kicks off early tomorrow morning as the Red Sox and A's square off in Japan.
Before the season starts, let's get an update on our division rivals.
Tampa Bay Rays
Along with staff ace Scott Kazmir and projected RF Rocco Baldelli, utility man Ben Zobrist is expected to start the year on the DL. Also, in an act of ultimate cheapness, Evan Longoria was reassigned to minor league camp.
Kazmir has a strained elbow and there is no timetable for his return. The staff (Shields, Garza, Sonnastine, Jackson, Hammel) hardly looks as promising with Kazmir out of the picture.
RF will be manned by old man Cliff Floyd who will be lucky to be a league average hitter before he gets injured and Eric Hinske had to take over.
With Longoria gone, third will be manned by the sorry Willy Aybar who didn't play at all last season and is a headcase to say the least. (Tampa shipped out Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes because of their personality flaws but at least they had talent! Aybar is a marginal major leaguer and a problem child...) Aybar us injured and so is Zobrist so your guess is as good as mine who will open the season at the hot corner.
Toronto Blue Jays
It was only a matter of time but even I didn't expect Scott Rolen to go down this fast. Marco Scutaro, a downgrade both offensively and defensively, will play third. Rolen is expected to be out at least a few of weeks.
The Jays great bullpen is showing some cracks as B. J. Ryan's comeback has hit some bumps in the road and their best reliever from 2007, Casey Janssen, is gone for the season.
A.J. Burnett is battling a broken fingernail on his throwing hand. Expect his struggles to continue.
New York Yankees
Andy Pettite is battling back spasms. That's a big deal for a team whose rotation is a bit thin after the number 2 hurler but other than this news it's situation normal for the Yanks.
Boston Red Sox
Schilling's down. Josh Beckett is battling injuries. Mike Timlin has an injury to his right ring finger.
It would be nice if Beckett's injury lingered...
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
1. The Bullpen Auditions - Out of the seven probable bullpen spots, it looks like 4 are now locked up. Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford, Goerge Sherrill (who has now officially been tabbed as the closer) and either Brian Burress or Matt Albers, the loser of the competition for the 5th starting spot in the rotation. Dennis Sarfate is out of options and will likely make the team. Randor Bierd has pitched very well and since he's a Rule V pick, I have to believe Dave Trembley will find a spot for him. That's six. The last spot probably comes down to either Greg Aquino or John Leciester. Leciester has not pitched great but Trembley has expressed a desire to keep two long men in the pen.
2. The Scott Moore Factor - Moore has been a little banged up but has hit .556 and slugged .889 this spring. Moore is clearly making this team. Jay Gibbons will be relegated deep onto the bench if he makes the team at all.
3. The Young Arms - The young arms have disappointed a bit. Steve Trachsel is certainly going to make the team and Brian Burres and Matt Albers are battling it out for the 5th spot in the rotation. Garrett Olson, Hayden Penn and Jim Johnson will go to AAA and look to return later this season.
4. The Least Repulsive Option at Shortstop - So far, Brandon Fahey has the inside track simply because Luis Hernandez has been poor in the field. With Freddie Bynum injured, Fahey's versatility may keep him on the roster anyway. Juan Uribe has been cut by the White Sox so he may turn out to be the starter at short instead.
5. The Battle for the Backup Backstop Part II - It's over and Guillermo Quiroz looks to be a significant upgrade over last years backup catchers.
I'm not really getting my hopes up but Melvin Mora is hitting everything real hard this spring.
A nice article about Adam Jones (and the Oriole's spring in general) on ESPN.com.
An article on former Oriole Larry Bigbie as he begins his career in Japan. The Mitchell Report is also feature prominently.
Reports are that the Cubs brass are getting annoyed about how long the Brian Roberts talks are dragging on. Well, tough luck fellas. We need to trade B-Rob even less than Tejada or Bedard as we have him under contract for two more years. If you want to make a legitimate run at the World Series this year, you'll pony up. If not, the Mets could use some help at second base. Brian Roberts in the National League. He'll be a monster...
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The AL was yesterday, the NL is today.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Inspired by The Wayward O's series, I thought I'd weigh in with my predictions for the 2008 season. I won't be as detailed as Wayward O but I wanted to get them on the record.
Friday, March 14, 2008
It's kind of ironic that the Orioles are hoping that Luis Hernandez becomes a modern day Mark Belanger because on Thursday they squared off against a guy who actually is the modern day Mark Belanger.
I can't say enough about what a great resource BaseballReference.com is, especially their Play Index feature (requires subscription). Weaver's Tantrum has sponsored the Adam Loewen page for 2008. I sponsored the Brian Burres page last year (hey, it was cheap) and haven't picked out the Oriole I want to sponsor this year. I encourage everyone to go take a look at the site and sponsor something to help support those guys.*****
The Wayward O has an entertaining series of posts that look at each MLB division and gives a predicted order of finish.
Hayden Penn has been sent to back to minor league camp. Penn is coming off of injury and looked plenty rusty during his play on the Arizona Fall League (although he did manage to lead the league in strikeouts) but looked pretty sharp this spring. With Troy Patton out for the season, he looked like a legitimate candidate to make the team.
Unlike last season, I think Penn needs a month or two of healthy pitching back in Norfolk before returning to the big club, just to tune up a bit. If healthy, I'd like to see him get a long look this summer.
Scouts watching the Astros this spring are saying that Tejada is playing a woeful shortstop and they don't think he will be manning that position by season's end.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
You understand that this is the only team in the league that would consider opening the season with you in their starting lineup right? We don't care if you flirt with Mendoza line. Just make the plays in the field.
Three throwing errors. I hope for the sake of you and the team that you aren't developing a case of the yips. Snap out of it buddy. We'll be waiting for you when you do.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Freddie Bynum will be out up to five weeks with a knee injury. He'll only miss a week or two during the regular season but the team will suffer without their utility man. It is a big dropoff to Brandon Fahey who would probably serve in that capacity at the beginning of the year.
In related news, the O's are rumored to be interested in Astros IF Mark Loretta. If they're going to trade Roberts (and it looks like they will) I like the move to pick up Loretta as long as they don't give up anyone decent to get him. I'm all for playing the kids but as far as secondbasemen go, the Orioles don't have any prospects. No sense in completely sucking at a position unless there's a potential payoff.
The Cubs are reportedly interested in acquiring Coco Crisp from the Red Sox. Why would they do this unless they find Felix Pie expendable? Pie could sweeten the pot for the Roberts deal a lot.
Let's look at some of the roster battles going on.
The Bullpen - Who knows? Dennis Sarfate has distinguished himself but that's about it. Everyone else has been varying levels of OK. Here's where we find out about Dave Trembely. Will he go with whoever has the hot hand in ST regardless of past track record (Greg Aquino, 4.88 ERA for his career but unhittable this spring), go with unproven youth (Radhames Liz) or look for more dependable veteran help elsewhere.
Outside of Sherrill, Walker and Bradford, I have no idea who's going to make this bullpen. A lot will depend on Trembley's philosophy.
Scott Moore - He's going to make this team and as long as he hits the first couple weeks of the regular season, Jay Gibbons won't be back. Right now, this looks like a done deal.
The Young Arms - With Troy Patton out of the picture and few guys stepping up big this spring, it looks like Steve Trachsel was a good insurance policy for the Baltimore Orioles v.2.0.08
Who's our number 5? Brian Burress has been wild and is best suited for long relief in my estimation. Garrett Olson has been wild as well and fairly hittable. Hayden Penn has been pretty good considering he's returning from injury but I think he should have at least a month in Norfolk to get back to his old self. The leading candidate at this point would have to be Matt Albers (5 IP, 5 Ks, 1 BB) but he's hardly head and shoulders above the other guys.
This one will be interesting to watch over the next three weeks.
The Shortstop - Fahey has hit a bit better that Luis Hernandez this spring but both were supposed to be showcasing their gloves. Not so much. Both have made 2 errors each in only 7 games. Ouch.
We may be missing Miggy more than we realized.
The Backup Backstop - Guillermo Quiroz has looked great this spring, behind the plate and at the plate. I don't expect this guy to hit .300 but I'll bet he'll hit .250 with modest power. That's a big upgrade from last year.
Chris Heintz hasn't looked bad either. Nice to have some options at catcher besides aging has-been retreads.
So I was watching the game on Friday and liked what I heard from Andy MacPhail. One thing he said the organization was tracking (and encouraging players to improve on) was pitches per plate appearance. While he was in the booth, Luis Hernandez struck out but saw 12 pitches during his at bat. MacPhail pointed out that Luis just had a positive at bat because, although he still struck out, he helped wear the pitcher down a bit more and allowed his teammates to see more pitches from the guy. Sure enough, the O's mounted a two-out rally shortly after and drove the pitcher from the game.
Agree with it or not, it's nice to have a philosophy. An organizational philosophy!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Since there is so little local interest in Spring Training games in Baltimore, I'm getting to listen to various radio announcing teams from around the country.
On Tuesday, I got to listen to the Cardinal announcers Mike Shannon and John Rooney. Two grumpier old men you'll never hear. It was like watching the game with two of my crotchety old great uncles. Everything was better in the old days for these guys. The only thing they got excited about was talking about the late Max Patkin and the San Diego Chicken. You Cardinal fans must really miss Jack Buck.
Today I got to listen to the Twins broadcasting team of John Gordon and Dan Gladden. I had never heard these guys before. John Gordon is actually pretty good, does a nice no-frills play-by-play. Dan Gladden is a bloviating gas-bag. Every other event during today's game spawned a story from Gladden about his days playing the game. Every ex-player does this but the good ones balance it well. Gladden does not. He is also quite derisive and derogatory toward the "modern" players. Christ. He's unbearable.
I heard about one of the most unusual promotional giveaways today. The Twins will be giving away "Dirt Shirts" during one of their home games. What is a Dirt Shirt? It is a shirt that has been infused with dirt from the construction site of the new Twins stadium. Ummm...awesome?
Brian Roberts has been on base 5 times this spring and has stolen 5 bases. He is running for his career! His feet are on fire.
Mike Costanzo and Scott Moore are raking this Spring. I think you can envision Constanzo and Moore taking the place of Gibbons and Millar on the roster, maybe as soon as this fall. But both are more flexible than your standard 1B/DH types.
I didn't know that Eddie Murray could levitate.
Finally, at long last, I will be able to watch an Oriole Spring Training game tomorrow.
Monday, March 3, 2008
A beautiful spring day here in Atlanta and if you can't be outside, listening to the Orioles is not a bad way to spend your afternoon.
Outside of our local broadcasters (of course), does it get any better than listening to Charley Steiner and Rick Monday call a ballgame? Outside of Vin Scully anyway. It doesn't, does it?
'Follow me! Follow me to freedom!"
You gotta love Charley Steiner. Very happy he is no longer with the Yankees. The fact that he didn't get along with that tool John Sterling only raises my opinion of him.
In the interest of equal time, Rick Monday saves the flag:
The Orioles faced two of their former pitchers today. Jason Johnson pitched for the Sebu Lions in Japan last year but is trying to win a roster spot with L.A. Matt Riley pitched for AAA Las Vegas last season and came on in relief. Adam Jones took his first pitch over the centerfield wall. But then he struck out two of the next three batters. Such was the tantalizing allure of Matt Riley.
When Budweiser highlights "Mr. T-Shirt Launcher Inventor Guy" during one of their "Real Men of Genius" ads, haven't they just run out of ideas?
Leave it to Estaban Yan to make the game exciting. Trembley saw enough of that last season Esteban. Good luck making the club!
To leave you today, I found this video on YouTube while looking for Rick Monday saving the flag. It made me laugh. Creative heckling is an art form.
I find this article in Sunday's Baltimore Sun fascinating! Great work, Jeff Zrebiec!
When I said the O's were going to have some real weapons in the outfield this year, I didn't mean actual real weapons! (badoon-bum-ching!)
A mugger's worst nightmare: jumping a group of guys in a dark alley and having them be Luke Scott, Jamie Walker and Nick Markakis.
Seriously, I have no problem with this. It's legal, it's fine with me. Must be the Libertarian streak in me.
Nor do I have an issue with his strong religious beliefs. For all the concern about religion causing issues in the clubhouse, it almost never happens. The only guy I can remember really causing issues in regards to his religion was an outfielder named Chad Curtis back in the 1990's.
Anyway, great article. A must read.
A few thoughts on the games this weekend.
Spring training stats don't count for much but if you are Jay Gibbons you really don't want to get off to an 0-8 start with 3 strikeouts and no walks. Very poor.
Highlighting Gibbon's struggles in the versatility being shown by Scott Moore in the field and the hot bat he's been swinging. He's eating Jay's lunch at this point.
Is Brian Roberts ever going to stop running? Do you think he's trying to get traded or what? He's practically screaming, "Hey Lou, I'll steal 100 for you is you want!" Enjoy the showcase while it lasts...
One thing you can learn from Spring Training was demonstrated yesterday. I do expect the Orioles to blow leads late and have to rally if they expect to win. Lance Cormier surrendered a four run lead in the 9th. I have to say I saw this plenty over the last couple of years when he was with the Braves. He's very inconsistent and prone to getting shelled. And he's really not a good pitcher.
Should I be reading anything into the fact that Luis Terrero is getting a lot of at bats and playing well while Tike Redman is hardly playing at all?
Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey both made errors in yesterday's game. Crap.
Troy Patton, I predict, is going to be done for the year. I know I'm going out on a limb here. No shock at this point.
I am a total Daniel Cabrera apologist but even I don't care that he walked nobody during 3 innings of work on Saturday.
You can't really beat Thomas Boswell as far as baseball writing goes and it's especially enjoyable when he highlights my team. But Tom, Baltimore got 10 players back from the Tejada/Bedard trades, not nine.
My respect for Dave Trembley grows the more I hear about him.
Finally, a story on Matt Wieters from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.