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:

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:

Hendrickson (Adjusted 2008) 5 9 130.7 51 79 6.34 1.60

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

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.

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