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.

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

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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.