Monday, June 29, 2009

Base Hits: 6/29/2009

A rambling version of Base Hits on this Monday. A lot to talk about...

Some good news from Birdland this weekend. Firstly, they won the series with the Nationals 2-1.
Secondly, The Warehouse came to terms with 2009 1st round pick Matt Hobgood. Here's the video from The Baltimore Sun's website.

The kid sure says all the right things. I imagine he'll end up in Bluefield with the rest of the high school signees.

Also a couple of nice articles about Orioles players from the national media. Marc Hulett writes about the Oriole acquisition of Cleveland farmhand Michael Aubrey this week for

The 27-year-old former Tulane University start has below-average power for a MLB first baseman, but he can hit for a solid batting average with gap power and he is an above-average fielder. It's a very nice low-risk, medium-reward move by an organization that is getting better by the season.

I know nothing about Michael Aubrey in particular but organizational depth at the corner infield positions is something the O's really need and Aubrey can't hurt.

Also at, Dave Cameron takes a look at underrated rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen.
When you can command a sinking fastball and have an off-speed pitch to keep opposite handed hitters at bay, you can be an effective major league starter. Bergesen doesn’t have the same potential as some of the more hyped arms in the Orioles system, but don’t discount his strengths and write him off as a no-stuff guy who belongs in the bullpen. Command, sinker, and change-up - it’s the recipe for a solid back-end starting pitcher.

Bergesen takes a lot of criticism from many analysts due to his anemic strikeout rate in the majors. It's a fair criticism but you also have to consider a couple of other stats too.

Ground Ball percentage among AL starters:

Rick Porcello 56.9%
Roy Halladay 56.3%
Brad Bergesen 54.0%
Felix Hernandez 51.3%

If Bergesen can keep inducing grounders at this rate, he's going to hang around awhile. Interesting to see fellow rookie Rick Porcello on this list. Halladay and Hernandez strike out a ton of batters but Porcello doesn't have that kind of stuff. Let's take a closer look.

GB% K/9 BB/9 K/BB
Porcello 56.9% 5.03 3.09 1.63
Bergesen 54.0% 4.30 2.04 2.11

Odd that Porcello is touted for Rookie of the Year and gets none of the criticism that Bergesen gets. He only strikes out one extra batter per nine and walks an extra batter per nine.

If Bergesen keeps the walks and the ball down, he's going to have some success in this league. If he can edge his strikeout rate closer to 6 K/9, he could be a great one.

Shysterball had a funny post regarding Sindney Ponson's positive test for a stimulant during the WBC.

It includes the killer line, "The only non-natural substances in Ponson's pee-pee are Yoo-Hoo and failure."

Well played, sir.

Speaking of Shysterball, he also has a post up about Matt Wieters at the NBC baseball blog, Circling The Bases questioning the divinity of the Oriole's rookie catcher.

But a funny thing happened on the way to immortality: Wieters has proved human.

Twenty-one games into his big league career he's at .243/.300/.405. Yesterday he dropped a ball at home plate, turning a sure out into a run for the Nationals. Overall, he's thrown out just two of 15 base stealers and has committed three errors in less than a month.

Now, this post is mostly tongue in cheek but I wonder about Dan Connolly:

Sunday, though, it was back to work at the old ballpark. And let’s just say my Saturday was a whole lot better than Orioles catcher Matt Wieters' Sunday.

The phenom went hitless in three at-bats, made his third throwing error in four games and dropped a ball to wipe out what would have been a sure out at the plate.

Afterward, Wieters was typically calm -- saying he’s working on his defense, and he’s not worried about a bad game...

But, here’s the funny thing: The way things are going right now, Wieters (.234 average, two homers, six RBIs) is not the Orioles’ best candidate for Rookie of the Year. Outfielder Nolan Reimold (.286, 9 homers, 20 RBIs) is, with pitcher Brad Bergesen (5-2, 3.76 ERA) also ahead of the backstop.

Look, it's not even June yet. It's certainly fun to dream on Matt Wieters but who really thought he was going to show up and start dominating right away? Wieters dominated High A immediately, struggled for a couple weeks in AA before taking off and was overmatched his first month in Norfolk before beginning to bludgeon opposing pitching.

Based on that, you had to figure for an adjustment time of at least 2 months in the majors. And you have to forget his cumulative numbers at this point; even with his recent struggles he is OPSing .786 the last two weeks. It's in fits and starts...but he's coming.

Besides, Jesus wandered in the desert for 40 days before showing up in Galilee and dropping miracles on everybody? We'll call Wieters first 40 games his "desert period".

Koji Uehara goes on the DL and David Hernandez gets recalled from Norfolk. One has to wonder if Uehara's future on this team is as a reliever. He can't go more than 5 innings, at least not while staying healthy. Of course, the prospect of Hernandez and Jason Berken going up against the lineups in the AL East for the rest of the season is frightening.

Speaking of pitching, Braves 22-year-old rookie pitcher Tommy Hanson continues to dominate all comers. On Sunday, he shut out the Red Sox for six innings and Atlanta eventually won 2-1.

I bring this up to compare and contrast Hanson against Chris Tillman. Both started the season in the International League.

Hanson 66.1 90 17 .859 1.48
Tillman 72.2 75 21 1.142 2.97

Not quite as dominant but he's still striking out more than 1 batter per inning. And look at the tiny walk rate of 2.6 per nine. The concern about Tillman was always his control but he seems to be addressing it. How long until he shows up in Baltimore?

Adam Dunn launched a monster shot off of David Hernandez on Sunday, way out on Eutaw Street. At first, I thought he had actually hit the warehouse on the fly but it wasn't even the longest shot in Eutaw Street history. For more, we go to Eutaw Street expert, Roar from 34:

Adam Dunn stroked a 442-foot home run in the second inning of Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Nationals that one-hopped the warehouse. Dunn's blast was the second-longest Eutaw Street home run during game action, missing Henry Rodriguez's 443-foot shot on June 17, 1997, by just a foot.

I never saw the Henry Rodriguez shot but Adam Dunn's shot was an absolute monster. The biggest Eutaw shot I've ever a lot!

A plug now for Roar From 34:

Roar from 34's Eutaw Street Week

Monday, June 29 through Sunday, July 5 will be "Eutaw Street Week" on Roar from 34. All content posted during the week will have a Eutaw Street theme or connection, including additional entries to The Eutaw Street Chronicles and an interview with Greg Bader, director of communications for the Orioles, about the new 2110 Eutaw Street promotion.

I'm a big fan of The Eutaw Street Chronicles so some good stuff to look forward to this week.

While I'm beating the drum for marginal players (Oscar Salazar...), I've got to say some nice things about RP Matt Albers. He's really been pitching well since his latest callup. A 1.29 ERA over 14 innings for the month of June. If only he could cut down on the walks. A nice 7-8-9 inning combo would be Albers-Johnson-Sherrill (at least as long as Sherrill's here...).

Tough week as the Orioles return to the AL. Boston in for three at the Yard and then another road trip west to take on the Angels. Can they manage .500? Eh...

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