Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Change We Can Believe In

"I think change is good for people. I think the expectations were for me to come here and perform in a different way than I did. I don't think I met the expectations the way I did in spring training. There is nothing wrong with change. I don't think I fit here. I can't control what they do with me. It's putting a damper on my career."

- Ryan Freel

I agree. It's time for a change Andy MacPhail should grant Freel his wish by any means necessary.

I wasn't a huge fan of adding Freel to begin with but figured it was necessary evil to take on his contract so we could move Ramon Hernandez and he kind of filled a need. That need was alleviated a bit with the addition of Felix Pie and even more with the signing of Ty Wigginton. The trade for Robert Andino just before Opening Day made him downright redundant.

So Freel is unnecessary and he's an ass. If you don't believe me, read the rest of his quotes in Steve Melewski's blog post. I won't bother rehashing them here.

It goes to show you that just because you hustle in the field and bring all that energy to your game
...it doesn't mean you're a good guy. Oriole fans everywhere should be sending thank you notes to Justin Masterson for beaning Freel in the head.

His time is Baltimore is done. Either by trade or release, I doubt we'll see Freel in the black and orange again.


Top Five Hitting Streaks in Orioles History: Part 2

Here's the list:



Games
Eric Davis 30
R. Palmiero 24
M. Mora 23
R. Alomar 22
B. Bonilla 22
E. Murray 22
D. DeCinces 22







Davis' 1998 season was pretty amazing. he hit .327 with 28 homers, slugged .582 and OPSed .970. During his 30 game hitting streak, he hit .400 with 10 doubles and 10 homers. That's a monster run of mashing.

Remember the welcome Palmiero got in Baltimore in 1994? Hard to imagine now but the guy was beloved. He helped put the O's back in serious contention that year before the strike and set the record for Oriole hitting streaks at the time.

Melmo got his streak done in 2003, a precursor to his career year in 2004.

Four players tied for fouth; Robbie Alomar, like Palmiero, put this streak together in his debut Oriole season and slugged .750 all the while. Bonilla's streak happened over two seasons (1996-1997) and ditto for DeCinces (1978-1979). You usually won't see a lot of walks during a long hitting streak but Eddie Murray walked an impressive 18 times in 22 games and still put together a string of 22 games with a hit.

Nick Markakis now has a 14 games hitting streak and the reason I show this list is that I think he can break Eric Davis' record. Over the next two or three years, he will be the perfect combination of patience, speed and hitting skill to challenge it. I dare say that he's the best bet of any player on baseball to make a serious run at the all-time hitting streaks in MLB history.

All players who had long hitting streaks in the modern era have been in their late 20's, maybe 30. Paul Molitor was 30. George Brett was 27. So was Jimmy Rollins. So was Chase Utley. Joe DiMaggio was 26, as was Luis Catillo. Markakis is 25...so why not now?

There will be a lot of losing this season...we may as well take a look at the great individual performances some of the Orioles will have.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Top Five Hitting Streaks in Oriole History: Part 1

Nick Markakis has a 13 game hitting streak, only four games short of his career high. And that got me thinking about who holds the all-time record for hitting streaks in Oriole history.

First, who else has had 17 games hitting streaks like Markakis? Cal Ripken did it three times. The rest of the list includes no real surprises; Al Bumbry, Paul Blair, Ken Singleton, Broroks Robinson and Luis Aparicio, all guys who were either great hitters or good hitters with speed. Only Gene Woodling, who was 37 in 1960 during his 17-game hit streak, is kind of an outlier.

So who's at the top of the list? You won't get it if I gave you 10 guesses. And he has it by a large margin.

So take your guesses in the comments section and I'll reveal the list in the morning. I'll admit, I had no idea who it was until I looked it up.

AL East Roundup: Week 3

Jubilation in Boston, angst in New York and Tampa and apathy in Toronto. Here's the latest AL East Roundup...

Toronto Blue Jays

Note: Still no Jays blogger. Anyone know someone? Anyone want to just write the recap weekly? Better from a Jays fan than a Yanks one. Hit me: josephp at riveraveblues dot com.

The Jays continued to roll through the season's third week, taking two out of three from each of their opponents. Their week started and ended with Roy Halladay, who had an uncharacteristic performance on Tuesday, surrendering five runs over eight innings. This is why we need a Jays blogger to take this. Halladay had allows three through six innings, and then another two in the seventh. He tossed just 104 pitches in those eight innings, and struck out nine with no walks. The start didn't seem all that bad, but it's still five runs and a loss in the box score. He came back to win on Sunday, but his line, other than the earned runs, doesn't look as impressive: 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 118 pitches. So he used more pitches in fewer innings, struck out fewer, walked more, and allowed fewer runs. This baseball is an odd game.

Following the Halladay loss, the Jays took an 11-inning affair 8-7 on a Kevin Millar walk-off single. The Jays were actually up 7-4 heading into the top of the ninth, but B.J. Ryan hit a guy and issued a walk to lead off the frame, and it all came unraveled from there. An error and a Michael Young home run later and the game was headed to extras. Thursday was another good start for Kevin Millwood, though he did allow three home runs. The overall damage was limited to four runs over seven innings, and the Jays finished taking two of three from the Rangers.

In Chicago the Jays opened by simply massacring the Sox 14-0 on 21 hits. Lyle Overbay was the only starter to go hitless in the affair. The Sox turned the tables the next day, defeating Brian Burres and the Jays 10-2. Then finally, in the aforementioned Halladay start on Sunday, the Jays took the game 4-3 on a go-ahead single by Scott Rolen in the eighth. Few expected the Jays to play like this, but their offense has been clicking and the pitching staff has been doing the job, despite the flurry of injuries (McGowan, Marcum, Litsch, now Romero and Ryan).

Week's record: 4-2

Season record: 14-6

Injuries: LHP B.J. Ryan (15-day DL, soreness between shoulder and back), LHP Ricky Romero (15-day DL, strained muscle on right side).

This week: Mon - Thu @Kansas City; Fri - Sun BALTIMORE





Boston Red Sox - Surviving Grady

Not much to complain about in Red Sox Nation this week, the Sox haven't lost a game. Monday they played the traditional Patriot's Day morning game and completed a 4-game sweep of the Orioles with a dominating 12-1 victory. After a washout on Tuesday, the Sox played two against the Twins on Wednesday. Tim Wakefield pitched his second consecutive complete game in the first match-up, a rain-shortened seven inning affair. The offense was fueled with homers off the bats of Lowell, Nick Green, and the Bearded Wonder Kevin Youkilis. The second game featured Brad Penny and a Jeff Bailey homer on the way to a 7-3 win. Thursday was a scheduled off-day, giving everyone a chance to stock up on red meat, cheap beer and bail money as the Yankees were coming on Friday.

The rivalry lived up to its reputation on Friday evening. The Yanks took a 2-run lead into the ninth, only to see Mariano Rivera cough it up when Jason Bay smashed a game-tying homer. The Sox bullpen out-dueled the Yankee pen and Youk ended things in the 11th with a walk-off homer. Saturday's game - what should have been a pitching duel between Beckett and Burnett - turned into an old-fashioned barn-burner. Each team hit 3 homeruns, but it was the Red Sox bullpen again that outlasted New York. Mike Lowell had a 3-run shot and Jason Varitek, perhaps the worst bases-loaded hitter in the game, belted a grand slam. Twelve pitchers, 385 pitches, 28 hits and 27 runs kept the scorekeepers busy in the 4 hour and 21 minute marathon.

On Sunday, the series concludes with Pettitte versus Masterson and audio-pain that is Joe Morgan on ESPN. (ed note: move along, nothing to see here...)

Week's record: 6-0

Season record: 12-6

Injuries: OF Rocco Baldelli (15-day DL, strained left hamstring)

This week: Mon - Wed @Cleveland; Thu - Sun @Tampa Bay





New York Yankees - River Ave. Blues

The Yanks' week began with rain and ended with a storm. The team opened with a solid 5-3 win over the A's, but then had a hitters' duel the next day, as lefties Brett Anderson and CC Sabathia couldn't keep the runs from scoring. The game didn't end until Melky Cabrera hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the 14th off former Yankee Dan Giese. The real story, though, happened over the weekend.

Despite a so-so outing by Joba Chamberlain, the Yanks found themselves leading by two in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and Mariano Rivera on the mound. While Yankees fans began firing up New York, New York in their minds, Jason Bay had other plans, crushing a pitch just to the right of the Monster for a game-tying shot. In the second extra frame, Kevin Youkilis hit a bomb off Damaso Marte to steal a victory. The same could be said of Saturday, a mostly unwatchable game where the lead changed constantly. The Yanks went up 6-0 on Josh Beckett early, and it looked like A.J. Burnett had brought his A-game. Unfortunately those monitions were premature, and A.J. coughed up the lead before leaving the game. Both bullpens were terrible, but a bad call in the bottom of the eighth led to four runs and victory was all but sealed for the Sox. Finally, on Sunday night the Sox straight outplayed the Yanks, who scored just one run on a sacrifice fly.

While the Yanks' record for the week, 2-3, doesn't seem that horrible, the sting of losing winnable games against a division rival stings that much more. Lose one winnable game, that's life. Lose two straight winnable games -- that's cause for considerable frustration.

Week's record: 2-3

Season record: 9-9

Injuries: RHP Brian Bruney (15-day DL, flexor strain), RHP Chien-Ming Wang (15-day DL, hip weakness), IF Cody Ransom (60-day DL, strained quad)

This week: Mon - Wed @Detroit; Thu - Sun ANAHEIM





Tampa Bay Rays - Rays of Light

One team has to be in last place; unfortunately for the Rays, that team is the defending American League Champions. And, let's be honest, the team has no one to blame but itself for its current standing. It's not hitting and it's not pitching. At that point, it's pretty darn hard to win ballgames. The biggest issue for the Rays is that the bullpen is allowing an ERA over 2 runs higher than it did last season. Couple that with struggles of Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine, and you've got the recipe for a 7-12 record, 6 1/2 games behind Toronto for first place in the division.

The Rays hope that a trip into the Metrodome - a place that has been good to the team in the past - will be just what the doctor ordered to get off this snide. They'd better hope whatever's wrong is corrected soon; a pivotal 4-game set against the red-hot Red Sox opens up this weekend at Tropicana Field. It'll take more than just Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena to carry the team. Hits will need to be strung together. Pitchers will need to work deep into games. The bullpen will need to get key outs. Essentially, the Rays need the exact opposite of everything that's happened so far to go down.

Week's record: 2-4

Season record: 7-12

Injuries: Shawn Riggans (shoulder tendonitis) - 15-day-DL, Jason Isringhausen (began rehab assignment) - 15-day-DL

This week: Mon - Wed @Minnesota; Thur - Sun BOSTON

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ripken vs. Jeter: Not Even Close

While I was up in the Baltimore area during opening week, I listened to a fair amount of local sports radio to catch up on the Orioles. Most of it was fine but I did hear somebody repeat a myth and in the process degrade the reputation of one of the all-time Oriole greats.

I was listening to Anita Marks and Scott Garceau on WHFS and someone called in to ask how much longer the Yankees could afford to let Derek Jeter play shortstop given his diminishing ability to play the position. Garceau scoffed and said he was sick of hearing how Jeter can no longer play shortstop. Jeter may not have the raw athletic range he once had, opined Garceau, but he put himself in good positions to make the plays and thus gets to as many balls as he ever did. And then he said it...Just like Cal Ripken, Jr. did later in his career.

I have had this argument before on two fronts. The first to show that Cal Ripken did maintain excellent range until he moved to third base in 1997 and to show that Gold Glover Derek Jeter is, by and large, a fraud in the field. And I usually have this argument with baseball fans who are not necessarily statheads. So how do I make the point?

Total Chances. Most baseball fans understand in general terms how Fielding Percentage is calculated (Assists + Putouts)/ Total Chances (Assists + Putouts + Errors). People understand that your Total Chances demonstrate how many times you got to the ball. The numbers don't care how you did it, just that you did it. Here's the graph of total chances by season as full-time shortstops for Ripken and Jeter.



First, each player has a season where they plunge below 500 Total Chances. For Ripken it was 1994, the strike-shortened season. For Jeter, it was 2003 when he was injured and only played 118 games. The rest of the points all represent full seasons.

Jeter only had three seasons where he got to more than 700 balls. Ripken only had two full seasons in which he did not get to 700 balls. When Ripken got to the point that he could barely keep it above 700, he quit kidding himself and switched to third. Jeter has no such self-awareness. I mean, look at the graph. It's a slam dunk.

As Ripken's range and quickness declined, he adapted in two ways. The first, he positioned himself well for each batter and even each pitch. Secondly, and most important, he was blessed with a cannon for a right arm. This allowed him to play deeper, even out on the grass, and still make the plays he needed to.

With Jeter, he was never an elite defender to begin with. He enjoyed three, maybe four decent seasons in the field. He doesn't make a lot of errors once he gets there but, by and large, he doesn't get there. And that's the most important job of a fielder...get to the ball.

And while no fielding metric is perfect, I could grab a ton more data to show the same thing.

So let's put this myth to rest. Jeter is not Ripken. Certainly not in the field and perhaps not even at the plate.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Base Hits: 4/23/2009

I'm sure Alfredo Simon has friends or a mom that care about him and I would never wish injury on any player. But Simon's season ending elbow surgery is the best news this team has had in this young season. Simon should never have made this team out of Spring Training anyway and his quick departure saves us from watching him stink for weeks before being sent to the minors.

*****

Nick Markakis has a modest 9 game hitting streak going posting a line of .417/.488/.639 during that stretch.

*****

In my ode to small sample sizes, just a note that Lou Montanez has come up and in two games has managed to perform worse than Felix Pie. Good for Pie, bad for the Orioles.

*****

Tim Brennan, a staff writer for DelmarvaNow.com, takes a look at the big league debut of former-Shorebird Brad Bergesen. Nice look at how a kid reacts to his first call-up to the majors.

*****

The Orioles still have not decided where they will hold Spring Training 2010 (or 2011) but Sarasota still seems to be in the mix.

*****

The Orioles are now bribing us to vote "Orange" for the All-Star game:

Fans who vote at www.orioles.com and select the Orioles as their favorite team will receive an exclusive promotional code for $5 off any ticket to any non-prime Orioles home game after the All-Star break. Those who vote the maximum 25 times at the website will receive a promo code good for a free Upper Reserve
ticket to any non-prime home game after the All-Star break.


Well, I have to admit....I can be bought. Cheap.

*****

I am still working out exactly what I'm doing with this but I have started Twittering over the last three weeks. If you use it, you can follow me at DempseysArmy. Mostly it's just links back here but I am starting to post using TwitPics for snapshots that don't warrant a full post.

Top 10 Oriole Pitching Debuts

...in honor of Brad Bergesen:


Date Team IP H R SO BB
Tom Phoebus 09/26/66 CAL 9 4 0 8 2
Dave McNally 09/26/62 KCA 9 2 0 4 3
Jesse Jefferson 06/23/73 BOS 10 7 1 1 3
Charlie Beamon 09/26/56 NYY 9 4 0 9 7
Dave Ford 09/02/78 CHW 8.1 7 0 2 1
Bob Milacki 09/18/88 DET 8 1 0 4 4
Anthony Telford 08/19/90 OAK 7 1 0 0 4
Chris Waters 08/05/08 LAA 8 1 0 3 3
Mike Mussina 08/04/91 CHW 7.2 4 1 1 4
Daniel Cabrera 05/13/04 CHW 6 2 0 3 3




Let's do a quick rundown...

Baltimore native Tom Phoebus went on to be a mid-rotation guy for a couple of pennant winners and won a game in relief in the 1970 World Series. He was traded to San Diego before the 1971 season and was never the same.

Dave McNally famously went on to a stellar career that ended too soon.

Jesse Jefferson pitched a 10 inning complete game in his major league debut! That woulkd be his career highlight as he was never even an average pitcher but he did bounce around the majors until 1981.

Charlie Beamon only pitched in 27 games over three seasons for the O's.

Dave Ford was a 1st round pick who only pitched in 51 games over 4 seasons, mostly on relief.

Milacki! Bob was an integral part of the "Why Not?" O's of 1989 but never built upon a promising rookie season. He managed to hang around the league until 1996.

Anthony Telford, like Jose Mesa and Arthur Rhodes, failed as a starter but the Orioles brass of the early 1990's failed to see the possibility of an effective relief arm. Like Mesa (Cleveland) and Rhodes(Seattle), another team would develop him into a decent reliever (Montreal) and he cobbled together a fair career in the bullpen.

You know the story (so far) of Chris Waters.

Mike Mussina went on to a Hall of Fame career.

Daniel Cabrera has a maddening up and down (mostly down) career.


As if it needed stating, a good debut is no predictor of future success. We have everything from AAAA guys to Hall of Famers on this list.

No conclusion really...but it does finally give me an excuse for an Anthony Telford tag on this blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bergesen Pounds 'Em

Or should I say, "get's them to pound it into the ground". Brad Bergesen won his major league debut with the ground ball. 81% of balls put into play by the White Sox, a staggering number and impressive for a major league debut against a pretty good veteran lineup.

Obviously, Bergesen can't maintain that pace but he has had groundball rates in the mid-50's for the last two seasons and his starts this year in Norfolk. For comparison, Scott Erickson was getting groudballs at a 60% rate when he showed up in Baltimore in 1996, the major reason he was able to be productive and not have the greatest stuff at that point in his career.

So that's the key for Bergesen. Make them hit it on the ground.

He seemed to work away from the hitter's well last night. I wonder if the next team to take him on will crowd the plate to adjust for it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Injuries, Roster Moves and the Trials of Felix Pie

Turns out Ryan Freel is only hard-headed when it comes to his self-perceived worth as a ballplayer.

Freel was placed on the 15 day DL with a head injury after being hit in the head by Boston pitcher Justin Masterson during a pickoff throw to first.

If you read regularly, you know that I was not a big fan of the Hayden Penn trade. But I have wondered if the presence of Ty Wigginton and the addition of Robert Andino made Freel redundant. I guess now we'll find out.

Radhames Liz was sent down to Norfolk to make room for Brad Bergesen. That's where Liz belongs for the forseeable future; he shouldn't have been called up to begin with.

Lou Montanez is being recalled from AAA Norfolk and will get a another chance to stick with the big club as the 4th outfielder and part time DH. Montanez has supposedly worked on his defense in the offseason (and I saw some of that improvement firsthand on Sunday) and he is destroying International League pitching through the first two weeks of the season. I think the team is better with Lou on the bench at this point.

Some are already grumbling about the lack of production from Felix Pie and seem to think that this spells the beginning of the end for Pie's starting gig. That would be disappointing.

They decided to give Pie a shot and they should stick with him at least through the All-Star break. Let's not go crazy based on 11 games.

Randomly, I decided to see how three young Baltimore outfielders fared during their first 38 games as regulars in the Majors.


Adam Jones

.223 AVG, 31 SO, 7 BB, 2HR, .633 OPS

Nick Markakis

.204 AVG, 17 SO, 9 BB, 2 HR, .604 OPS

Luis Matos

.350 AVG, 30 SO, 11 BB, .916 OPS

Jones didn't start to hit until mid-July last season. Markakis didn't take off until mid-June of 2006. And Luis Matos didn't start to come back to Earth until mid-July.

Early returns don't mean much. Eleven games mean even less. Let's give Pie a little more time before we run him out of town.

Tides vs Braves: 4/19/2009

Just a few thoughts on the Norfolk vs. Gwinnett game I attended on Sunday.

I was mildly disappointed that Uber-catcher Matt Wieters tweaked a hammy on Friday (who knew it was even possible for steel to get tweaked?) and did not play on Sunday. The most I saw from Wieters was when he stood for the anthem and jogged out to the bullpen.

The Matt Wieters vs. David Price matchup from last week would have been rivaled by a Matt Wieters vs. Tommy Hanson showdown (Hanson is Atlanta's own uber-prospect, a 22 year old RHP with wicked stuff) but it was not to be. Some highlights:

RHP David Pauley looked pretty good. He gave up a monstrous (though questionably fair) solo shot to C Clint Sammons in the third and that was it through six innings pitched. CF Gregor Blanco hit a rocket right back to Pauley. It knocked him 4 feet off of the pitcher's mound and, as he fell to the ground, for a split second I thought that the ball had killed him. But somehow he had gotten his glove up in front of his face in time and caught the ball. Amazing that he wasn't seriously hurt by that drive.

Justin Turner was playing SS today and made a great grab on a scorcher to his left, flipped the ball to the second baseman to start a nifty 6-4-3 double play. Turner will have no problem playing second in the bigs and could even be passable at short.

I have to give another defensive star to Lou Montanez in right. Braves 1B Wes Timmons shot a liner to right, Lou scooped it up on a dead run and gunned it to Jolbert Cabrera at first. Timmons legged it out but just barely. A fantastic effort by Lou.

RP Kam Mickolio was bringing it in the bullpen and entered the game in the 7th, his first action of the year. He promptly gave up a "just enough" solo shot to center to OF Joe Borchard but retired the next three batters in order. Alberto Castillo pitched a scoreless 8th and Bob McCrory (who was hitting 95 on the radar guns) struck out the two in the 9th for the save.

I was messing around with my camera's movie functions and caught a little vignette in two parts that I like to call "The Joy and Pain of Mike Costanzo"

Costanzo is number 24. There is no sound. Here's the first act entitled, "Costanzo Makes The Play".


video

Pretty nice, eh? Here's the second act entitled "Costanzo is hitting .111 and Is Not Very Happy About It, Thanks"


video


And now, Bob McCrory bringing it in the bullpen.


video


And some random snapshots from the game:




Tides vs Braves

This is only my second AAA ball game that I've attended and I've got to say that the level of play is real close to what you see in the Majors. Must be frustrating to some of these guys to be this good but never quite get good enough to make the big club.

Tides win 4-2 and sweep the inaugural series at Gwinnett Stadium.

Monday, April 20, 2009

AL East Roundup: Week 2

It lives! Week 2 of the AL East Roundup through to eyes of fellow bloggers from rival teams...


Toronto Blue Jays

None of the Jays replacements we've contacted have come through, so you're going to have to deal with ol' Joe's recap of the Blue Jays week. It's a shame none of their bloggers stepped up, because they're off to a remarkable start. They sit atop the AL East which, while it likely won't last long, has to be music to Jays fans' ears. With all the talk about the Sox, Yanks, and Rays, it must be nice looking down at them.

The week started off rough, with Jesse Litsch getting roughed up for four runs over three innings on Monday. Worse, he's now on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain, never a good omen. He won't even throw a baseball for two weeks, and his return is currently set at four to six weeks, but that might be optimistic. Still, they came back and won it for Litsch. Travis Snider went deep for the second time in the game and gave the Jays an 8-6 win. After taking three of four from Minnesota, the Jays stomped the A's for two out of three over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but Brandon League blew Friday's game in the eighth, allowing three runs for an 8-5 A's comeback.

Week's record: 5-2

Season record: 10-4

Injuries: RHP Jesse Litsch (15-day DL, forearm strain)

This week: Tue - Thu TEXAS; Fri - Sun @Chicago



Yankees -- River Ave. Blues

The Yankees experienced quite the crazy week. Surprisingly, they came out on the winning end of it. It started in an inauspicious manner, a 15-5 blowout highlighted by a Nick Swisher relief appearance. The loser was Chien-Ming Wang, who would go on to get blown out yet again on Saturday against Cleveland. Formerly the top pitcher in the rotation, Wang now faces serious issues. Pitching coach Dave Eiland feels that Wang is doing everything right in bullpen sessions, but isn't bringing it out to the field with him. The stoic righty's next start, Friday in Boston, is currently in question.

After the 15-5 drubbing, the Yanks came back with two straight wins against the rival Rays, powered by a strong performance by A.J. Burnett in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The Rays mustered two runs that inning, tying the game, but the Yanks pulled ahead again in the eighth, and Derek Jeter iced the game with a three-run homer in the ninth to give Burnett his second win as a Yankee. Burnett also gave the Yanks innings on Sunday after another Chien-Ming Wang blowout on Saturday. He clearly didn't have all of his stuff, but he got through six and a third with only three earned runs. The Yankees came back to win the game.

And, of course, the Yanks got thumped in their home opener, 10-2. Not something we particularly want to talk about, but I thought the non-Yanks fans on other sites would appreciate it.

Week's record: 4-3

Season record: 7-6

Injuries: Xavier Nady (15-day DL; elbow ligament strain/tear)

This week: Mon - Wed OAKLAND; Fri - Sun @Boston



Red Sox - Surviving Grady

A bizarre second week of action for the Sox, they’re beginning to become a bigger puzzle than the reason for Rob Schneider’s acting career. After getting taken behind the woodshed by Dallas Braden and the A’s, the Sox lost a nut-buster in 12 the next night which also sent Dice-K to the DL after one horrendous inning pitched. Then from the ashes came an unlikely hero in Tim Wakefield. He took a no-hitter into the eighth, finishing the game with an 8-2 win. The victory not only stopped an ugly skid of losses, it gave the bullpen a much-needed rest. A rest they would need for the 10-8 slugfest with the Orioles two nights later.

Then pitching became fashionable again over the weekend. With the exception of the proverbial “one bad inning” Josh Beckett shut the birds down on Saturday night as the offense continued to improve, finishing with a 6-4 win. On Sunday, Jon Lester pitched the way we hoped he would – and now need him to – blanking Baltimore through seven to scratch out a 2-1 win. With Lowrie on the DL and Julio Lugo hopefully lost in a time warp, Nick Green has inherited the shortstop position and handled it quite well so far. He’s batting .278 with 3 RBI in his 6 starts and playing steady defense.

RIP Mark Fidrych.

Week's record: 4-2

Season record: 6-6

Injuries: Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-day DL, shoulder); Jed Lowrie (15-day DL, wrist)

This week: Mon BALTIMORE; Tue - Wed MINNESOTA; Fri - Sun NEW YORK



Tampa Bay Rays - Rays of Light

This certainly isn't how the Rays envisioned opening up defense of the American League Championship. But that's what happens when you pitch to an ERA over 5-and-a-quarter and you have an offense that only pads one stat - the strikeout. This week was supposed to be real special for the Rays; opening up at home against the Yankees and then inviting the White Sox in for an ALDS rematch. Instead, every single weakness on this team was exposed over the course of the week. The offense is desperately dependent on the longball right now. The Gabe-Every-Day right-field platoon has been anything but impressive. Troy Percival is still Troy Percival. You name it, it went wrong this week.

If a Rays fan is looking for a silver lining, B.J. Upton showed some of that all-world talent this week in making two Willie Mays-esque catches in center. Ben Zobrist is mashing like there's no tomorrow. Carlos Pena is on pace for about 70 home runs and has hit in 12 straight games. Joe Nelson has been a welcome addition to the bullpen. That doesn't wash the beer-that's-been-sitting-out-for-12-days taste out of a Rays' fan mouth, but at least it gives him hope that Monday's off-day will rejuvenate the team and allow it to get back to basics on the West Coast this week.

Week's record: 2-5

Season record: 5-8

Injuries: B.J. Upton (sore quad) - day-to-day, Shawn Riggans (shoulder tendonitis) - 15-day-DL

This week: Tue - Thur @Seattle; Fri - Sun @Oakland

My Exile is Over...

I had not been to see a ballgame at Camden Yards in nearly 10 years. July 17th, 1999. Scott Erickson pitched a complete game and Will Clark and Harold Baines both hit solo homers to beat the Expos 2-1.

So why so long? Shortly after the 1999 season, I left the area and moved to Maine. Guess what you don't do during the summer when you live in Maine? Leave. Maine is gorgeous in the summer and you tend to get away during the winter instead. By the time we moved south, my parents had moved to southern Virginia and Maryland was no longer a frequent destination. But we finally went up to visit my sister in Maryland this year and I got to take the whole family out to OPACY.

It was last Thursday versus the Yankees, the game that Alfredo Simon and Brian Bass singlehandedly lost but that didn't bother me that much. Why? The fans at Camden Yards.

Unlike years past, Yankees fans did not completely overrun the park. I would say it was probably 60-40 in our favor. Mark Teixeira was booed loud and long everytime he approached the plate, every time he got a hit and every time he made an out. You can quibble with the logic of why Teixeira is hated but it was great to see such passion, for anything, from the Oriole faithful. Booing Mark Teixeira was a lot of fun too. A "De-rek Je-ter" chant was started by the Yankee fans and they were booed and shouted down by the rest of us.

When Camden Yards opened up, an Oriole game became a real event but all too often attracted a more casual fan, a more polite fan, a more subdued fan. This game I just attended felt a lot more like a raucous, fiery Memorial Stadium crowd and made my heart skip a beat. Yeah, there's something wrong with me. But I loved the passion.

Not to mention, this was the first game I was able to take my kids to at Oriole Park and they dug it. So there's that.

The view from the cheap seats:


Yeah, I'm not going to let 10 years go by until the next time I go to Camden Yards.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Here Comes Brad

Brad Bergesen is coming up to start for Baltimore on Tuesday versus the White Sox.

I suppose they had little choice at this point; it was either him or Chris Waters. But given their strategy as stated in Spring Training, Waters would have been a better choice. If they were all for youth being served this season, wouldn't Hayden Penn have been a fine fit?

Bergesen may be fine but I'm not sure a couple starts in AAA make him any more ready for the big time than he was three weeks ago.

Get ready O's fans; the future is now.

Bringing the Energy!

Ryan Freel was supposed to be a sparkplug for this team when he was acquired from the Reds in the offseason. But it looks like he's not crazy about his role...even as the team wins early in the season.

"I know it's somewhat early, but I think my role is what you see right now. That's what they want to do, play those [other] guys. I think they're pretty clear about that....Where we go, I don't know."

Wow! That's what I call energy! That's what I call spunk!

See, just because a guy hustles and plays all out on the field doesn't mean he's actually a good guy, a team player, a nice guy to have around the clubhouse. Freel is a "me first" kind of player. And he's the worst type of "me first" kind of player; the kind who is not a very good player to begin with.

I suppose that playing in Cincinnati all those years on last place teams will inflate the self-worth of a career 90 OPS + player(and declining) but he is not actually very valuable to anyone these days except as a bench player, a spot starter, a guy who fills in when a better player is hurt. Instead, he thinks he was the National League's answer to Chone Figgins. That's simply not the case.

Quite frankly, you have to wonder if Robert Andino makes him quite expendable at this point. Would the team be any worse off if they dumped Freel and promoted Lou Montanez? I think not.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Return of Radhames Liz

"He doesn't have to get real fancy with a whole lot of things and can just throw his fastball. And for short periods of time, I think he can keep his delivery intact."
- Dave Trembley on Radhames Liz's transition to reliever




I wholeheartedly agree with the Dave Mc's assertion over at Weaver's Tantrum that calling up Radhames Liz after only a couple weeks in the minors (between camp and play at Norfolk) to work on his transition to the bullpen makes very little sense.

He was down to work on two things: a repeatable delivery and better control (for Liz, these are closely related).

So how did he do? Lets look. This great tool over at BrooksBaseball.net is great and gives me a way to display this data when I don't have the time to make the graphs myself.

Liz's pitches in relation to the strikezone:




Note the fastball way up next to the title of the graph. This also doesn't show two pitches that ended up in the dirt.

Liz really didn't know where the ball was going Wednesday night. Even when he got the ball in the strikezone, it was up and not fooling anybody.

Liz's release points against the Rangers:



That doesn't look too bad until you compare it with Jeremy Guthrie's release points from Sunday's game:



Guthrie's release points are much more tightly grouped. It doesn't look like much but that's the difference between a guy with repeatable delivery and one without one. It's a cliche but it is a game of inches.

Early returns are that Liz still isn't ready and calling him up does a disservice to Liz and the club. Liz has the stuff to be an elite reliever and I'm not sure this helps his development. Chris Waters, Alberto Castillo, Jim Miller or even Bob McCrory would have been better choices for an injury callup.

Hopefully, Liz learns to swim in the deep end...and fast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Season So Far...

I have referred to some of the lesser members of the Oriole rotation as "cannon fodder" and Mark Hendrickson filled that role to a T last night in Arlington. Just one of those nights...and it won't be the last.

(Ironically, the O's lost to Kris Benson, a guy who they showed no interest in during the offseason. He's no great shakes but was he really worse than the crew we brought in instead?)

On a bright note, Adam Jones went 2-4 with a double and his second home run and 3 RBI. Lots of raw power from Jones early this season.

Matt Albers was sent to Norfolk earlier in the week...and brought back last night due to injuries to Alfredo Simon and Melvin Mora. Radhames Liz came back too and both he and Albers were part of last night's debacle.

Chad Moeller, Mr. "No-hit, good glove", has thrown out nobody all season. Turns out, he has never been good at keeping runners honest. The best rate he has ever had was last year for the Yankees when he threw out 38% of would-be baserunners. Before that, his success rate was more in the range of the mid-20's. So he's not good at throwing runners out and never has been. Does he call a good game? Does he do all those little things that make a guy an asset in the field? I don't know, haven't seen enough of him. But I suppose he was the best we could get knowing that his day in the bigs are over when Matt Wieters shows up. (On the flip side, he is hitting .364...)

Ummm...Hayden Penn got the win for the Marlins in relief against the Braves last night. He has a 0.00 ERA so far. Just sayin'.

Mora was swinging a hot bat before his injury and Ty Wigginton will see the lion's share of the work. There's no real silver lining to Mora's injury like Scott Moore or Robert Andino getting a look there. It just sucks.

6-3 is nothing to sneeze at but it's an ugly 6-3. Did we really expect any better?

The good news: Jeremy Guthrie on the mound against Brad Penny and we finally get the heck out of Arlington.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"The Truth" Hurts (Eddie Guardado)

Adam Jones comes up big in the 10th and breaks a 3-3 tie with a two-run shot off of "Easy" Eddie Guardado to spark a 4 run rally (a four run cushion that George Sherrill nearly blew but that's another story...) and secure the third straight series victory for Baltimore.



I don't put a lot of stock in early season numbers as a rule but you have got to love the start that Adam Jones has gotten off to. A .375/.432/.688 line with 5 doubles, a triple, last night's homer and 8 RBI in as many games. Obviously, it's not sustainable but this is the best stretch of hitting Jones has had during his brief time in the majors. He had weeks that approached this kind of production last July, just before his injury, but it looks like Jones has taken another step forward in his development.

And that's "The Truth"!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More on Markakis Last Night...

WPA graph for last night's game, courtesy of FanGraphs:



Just after that Ian Kinsler double is that big swing back in the Orioles' favor. That's Nick's catch.




WPA for batters for the game:


WPA
Huff .225
Pie .150
Roberts .114
Markakis .112
Wigginton .028



And this is one of my problems with WPA...fielding is not easily accounted for. George Sherrill was credited with the WPA shift from Markakis' catch. No way. That ball was smoked. The only reason it was an out was due to the defensive wizardry of Nick Markakis.

So, I'm taking that change of .173 of WPA and awarding it to Nick. That gives him a huge single game WPA of .285. He simply won the game (almost) all by himself.

Nick Markakis is My Hero...




He singlehandedly won the game in Texas last night. What a catch in the 9th.



I often thought that Matt Wieters would be the best player on the team nearly from the moment he set foot in Camden Yards. I may have underestimated the power of Nick.

We're going to be telling our grandchildren about him. He's that good.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AL East Roundup - Week 1

I'm participating with a few other bloggers in this AL East Roundup to keep everyone here up to date on our division rivals and let followers of other teams know what's going on with the Orioles. This will appear every Monday if we can keep it going. Without further ado...


New York Yankees - River Ave. Blues

The Yanks' fan base got into a tizzy on Monday and Wednesday after
dropping two games to the Baltimore Orioles. With such high
expectations, such a reaction was easily foreseeable, but that doesn't
make it any less ridiculous. In true Yankee fashion they bludgeoned
the Orioles on Thursday, defeated the Royals handily on Friday, and
went back to bludgeoning on Saturday. They scored 35 runs over the
first six games, which is remarkable because their best hitter is on
the DL and his replacement managed just one hit all week (and even
that came in the season opener).

After shaky opening starts by CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang, the
pitching staff rebounded nicely. A.J. Burnett looked like his filthy
self on Thursday, striking out six and walking just one in 5.1 innings
of work. He threw a few too many pitches in the third and fourth,
hence the early hook. He was still throwing free and easy, though,
giving Yanks fans high hopes for future starts. Andy Pettite was
nothing but solid on Friday, his only run allowed coming on a
catchable ball that Nick Swisher lost in the sun. Sabathia pitched 7.2
scoreless on Saturday, proving that the rumors of his death were
greatly exaggerated.

Finally, Joba Chamberlain turned in an excellent six innings on
Sunday, needing just 88 pitches to get through while allowing one
earned run, though a Swisher error gave the Yanks just a one-run lead.
Joe Girardi tried to impersonate Tony LaRussa, using three relievers
in the eighth, even though Damaso Marte retired the first two hitters
with ease, leading to a three-run inning and a stolen Royals victory.

Week's record: 3-3

Season record: 3-3

Injuries: 1B Mark Teixeira - wrist - day to day

This week: Mon - Wed @ Tampa Bay; Thu - Sun CLEVELAND


Tampa Bay Rays - Rays of Light

The story of the week for the Rays starts and ends with Evan Longoria,
with a little bit more Evan Longoria sprinkled in during the middle
chapters. Though it's a little early to be talking about these things,
Evan is on pace to shatter the April record for dingers as he hit 5
home runs in the Rays' 6 games. He's already silencing anyone who
thinks that there's a "sophomore slump" about to happen. Along with
those 5 round trippers, Evan hit .481 with 10 RBI, 4 doubles, and 5
runs scored (that's a 1.185 slugging percentage, for those of you
keeping count).

All told, it was a rather pedestrian opening act for the rest of the
Rays. After looking pretty good in taking 2-out-of-3 from Boston to
start the week, the Rays then came out all sorts of flat against the
Orioles on Friday and Saturday before beating the tar out of the
orange-birds on Sunday. A 3-3 start to the season when going to Boston
and Baltimore isn't the worst of ways to start the season, but the
team has to be disappointed that couldn't head into the home opener
with a 4-2 mark instead.

This was all done without the services of centerfielder B.J. Upton,
who will be activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's night's
home opener against the Yankees. To make room for Upton, the Rays sent
outfielder Matt Joyce to Triple-A Durham. Joyce hit .100 (1-for-10)
with a home run and an RBI in 3 games for the Rays this week. In all
likelihood, he would be the first man recalled should another
outfielder go down with some kind of injury.

Week's record: 3-3

Season record: 3-3

Injuries: None

Next week: Mon - Wed NEW YORK; Thu - Sun CHICAGO


Toronto Blue Jays -- Drunk Jays Fans

Note: DJF is here for a one-week cameo. We'll have a different
Jays blogger next week.

The biggest news of the first week of the season for the Jays, other
than nearly forfeiting on Opening Day because of debris being thrown
onto the field by fans, was that they actually went out and won. After
an off-season of lowered expectations, following on the heels of a
season where Jays pitchers were arguably the best in the majors, but
the hitters simply couldn't score, the Jays' lineup actually looked
like the "best case scenario" that disappointingly didn't materialize
in 2008. And for the most part, the production was coming from outside
the 3 and 4 spots in the lineup, held down by Alex Rios and Vernon
Wells. Youngster Adam Lind led the way with an MLB-leading 12 RBIs,
and Aaron Hill, back after missing most of last season with
post-concussion syndrome, looks like his old self. Marco Scutaro
(.385/.485/.731 with 2 HR and 5 RBI) has also been swinging a hot bat.
The rotation held it's own as well, with strong outings from rookie
Ricky Romero, second-year man David Purcey, and naturally, a pair of
gems from Roy Halladay.

The Jays' main concern-- apart from the fact that the torrid hitting
certainly won't last, and that the young pitchers are going to suffer
through ups and downs-- has been for $10M closer BJ Ryan. Nearly a
full two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Ryan is still
struggling to find his command, and his fastball is down a couple
notches to the 88-89mph range-- which is up from earlier in the
spring, when he was throwing fastballs that would occasionally top out
at 84. Ryan blew a save against Detroit, though the Jays came back to
win that game, and entered in a non-save situation against Cleveland,
only to load the bases with two outs (two of them by walk), and then
watch Mark DeRosa hit a double that would have been a home run if not
for a stiff wind off Lake Erie, turning a comfortable 5-1 lead, into a
5-4 game with a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth. Jason
Frasor relieved Ryan to close out the game.

Week's record: 5-2

Season record: 5-2

Injuries: RHP Casey Janssen - shoulder - 15 day DL, out indefinitely.

Next week: Mon - Thu @ Minnesota; Fri - Sun OAKLAND


Boston Red Sox - Surviving Grady

Tough going out of the gate for the Sox, dropping 2 of 3 to the Rays
at Fenway to kick off the season, then hopping a flight to the left
coast where they dropped another 2 of 3 to the Angels. Hey, it's only
the first week, but a couple things have us concerned: After Josh
Beckett's stellar performance in the season opener, Jon Lester,
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Timmy Wakefield struggled. Brad Penny didn't
fare much better in his Sox debut against Anaheim, but was saved by
some timely offense. Speaking of hitting, the team's first full season
of Life After Manny may be tougher than we'd imagined; through the
first six games, the team is averaging just 3.4 runs per game, and
some of the big guns we're counting on -- Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz,
JD Drew and Mike Lowell -- are a wretched 10-for-65 combined.

On the bright side, Youk is tearing it up at .526, and Rocco Baldelli
has been a pleasant surprise thus far, legging out a key hit in
Saturday's game against Anaheim and flashing some pretty imrpessive
leather in the field. This week it's on to Oakland for three games,
then back home for Baltimore. Things should be getting better fast. Or
so I pray to the Gods of Baseball.

Week's record: Season record: 2-4

Injuries: None

This week: Mon - Wed @ Oakland; Fri - Sun BALTIMORE

Friday, April 3, 2009

Base Hits: 4/3/2009

Tangotiger is relying on the wisdom of crowds to create a projection system based on playing time. What's missing? Your input? To quote Tango, "Who knows more about whether a pitcher will be in the starting rotation or the bullpen: an algorithm or a true fan?...There are certain human observation elements that are critical for forecasting."

Go give him a hand; it's kind of fun.

*****

Two Oriole related post at The Hardball Times: Evan Brunell asked Five Questions about the 2009 Orioles and Colin Wyers tempers some of the insane projections for Oriole prospect Matt Wieters. The good news? Wieters still looks like the real deal.

*****

Weaver's Tantrum takes a look at Robert Andino through the eyes of Marlins fans.

Dave and I disagree about the merits of this trade...but more on this later in the post.

*****

FrostKing has finished up his WAR spreadsheet now that the roster is more settled. I may finish up mine over vacation...when I'm not so depressed.

*****

The Baltimore Sun rips the Spring Training facilities in Ft. Lauderdale and Sarasota and quotes several players.

And it's rare that I wholeheartedly agree with Nestor Aparicio but he throws his two cents in on the stadium in Ft. Lauderdale too. He's 100% correct. It's a joke. (tip of the hat to Anthony at Oriole Post for linking to Nestor's post...)

*****

Some things are so good and so consistent that you take them for granted. It goes without saying that I read Rock Kubatko's School of Roch blog religiously. What hasn't been said is that Kubatko's Spring Training coverage is always stellar and that he provides the better coverage of the Orioles than any other writer on the beat. And it's not even close.

Really, his posts are unmissable if you are a diehard fan.

*****

The Wayward Oriole is ready for the season to start.

*****

Just a few parting shots and predictions for the season...

I hate the Hayden Penn trade. We could have just kept Jolbert Cabrera if we needed a fourth bench player. I'd rather fail with a 24-year old pitcher than with a bunch of retreads or never-were's like Eaton, Simon and Hendrickson. So my first prediction is that Penn turns out to be way more useful to the Marlins than Robert Andino will be to Baltimore.

Alfredo Simon is out of the rotation by the end of May. He won't be with the big club by July.

Matt Wieters is here in May.

Brad Bergeson is here in July.

Brian Matusz is here is September.

The Orioles win 72 games.

Lou Montanez won't OPS better than .750 at any level...unless he goes back to Bowie.

Nick Markakis OPS's .900+

Felix Pie gets better in the second half.

Adam Jones hits 20+ home runs.

Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton provide the best Oriole platoon since...well, in a very long time.

*****

Ironically, I won't be posting much next week as I'll be on vacation and will have limited access to the internet during that time. Let's hope for a respectable opening series...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oriole Power 2008 - A Retrospective

Just finishing up a few fillers while waiting for Opening Day...

I never followed up on this mid-year post that examined Baltimore sluggers using data from HitTrackerOnline.com....so here it is.

Home run leaders for 2008:


HR
Huff 32
Mora 23
Scott 23
Markakis 20
Millar 20




Now, who hit the longest shots of 2008?

Top home runs by Standard Distance:


Distance Date
Scott 450 5/20/08
Scott 437 9/8/08
Jones 435 9/1/08
Markakis 434 8/30/08
Huff 429 8/24/08




Look at Adam Jones in there with the big boys. He's got a lot of potential to hit 20+ very soon.

Who hit the longest home runs on average? Give them the Golden Sledgehammer!

Golden Sledgerhammer

Avg. Distance
Scott 401.6
Huff 394.6
Mora 390.5
Markakis 388.9
Millar 372.5




Now for three classifications of home runs: No Doubts, Just Enoughs and Lucky. The names are pretty self-explanatory but if you want to see how Hit Tracker determines this, look here.

No Doubts

HR
Scott 11
Huff 7
Markakis 3
Mora 2
Millar 2





Raw power. Look at Luke Scott! Nearly 50% of his homers were never in question. See Nick Markakis? Make a note of that while we look at the next category.

Just Enoughs

HR
Huff 11
Mora 10
Millar 9
Markakis 9
R. Hernandez 8




Nearly half of Markakis' homers were just making it over the fence. Why? He's a line drive hitter, not a classic power hitter. That's why I don't think Nick will ever hit 30 homers regularly; he's just not that type of hitter even though he might have the power to do so. I don't think that's a bad thing either.

Lucky Homers

HR
Markakis 5
Millar 4
R. Hernandez 4
Huff 4
Mora 2




And just for kicks, let's take a look at the Isolated Power leaders.

ISO

ISO
Huff .247
Scott .215
Mora .199
Markakis .185
Millar .160




Mora's ISO is startling, we haven't seen power out of Mora like this in years. From FanGraphs.com, Melmo's ISO compared to league average from the past few years.




Mora's power was up in the 2004-2005 range again. Can he maintain it for one last season?



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Base Hits: 4/1/2009

I don't want to let this go but I don't want to beat a dead horse either...but one more comment on Montanez vs. Pie.

Comments like this are prolific on discussion boards and article comments:

I also fear Pie will be one of those can't do anything wrong types because the resident genius hand picked him.

OK, just to set the record straight....Yes, Andy MacPhail picked Pie...but he picked Montanez too! 1st round pick in 2000! Andy hand picked him too!

OK, I feel better now.

*****

Dave Mc (formerly Desert O) has created an O'specific Search Engine that is on the front page of Weaver's Tantrum. It works great. I searched for Reggie Jackson and Pat Hentgen for a test case and both came up with Oriole-centric results. Click on some of the ads while you're at it.

*****

I did a quick Q&A with Sadler of Right Off Russell. Nothing earth-shattering if you are a regular reader but a lot of good stuff on this new Baltimore sports blog.

*****

Nick Markakis had a chat on ESPN.com. He struggles against Roy Halladay, loved to hit in Safeco Field and thinks Adam Jones has a far superior arm. All of these thing, statistically, appear to be true.

*****

Hayden Penn has been traded to the Marlins for IF Robert Andino.

Andino seems to be a no-hit, good-glove guy who moved up the Marlins farm system while only hitting at a moderate level. Some preliminary digging around shows a questionable glove but I guess we'll have to see how he does in the Orange and Black.

I'm still a fan of Penn. Good luck Hayden. I'll add this to the Trade Monitor...

*****

Matthew Taylor continues the impressive Eutaw Street Chronicles with a full list of all the Eutaw Street plaques on Roar from 34. Nice work!

Simon Makes the Rotation?

Alfredo Simon and his ERA:

2005 AA Norwich - 91.1 IP, 5.03 ERA
2006 A+ San Jose - 36.1 IP, 6.44 ERA
2006 AAA Fresno - 52.0 IP, 6.75 ERA
2007 AAA OK. City - 119 IP, 6.43 ERA
2008 AAA Norfolk - 4.2 IP, 5.79 ERA
2008 MLB Orioles - 13 IP, 6.23 ERA

I don't know if Hayden Penn will be claimed off of waivers. I don't know if he will ever be a decent major league pitcher. But I can guarantee you that Alfredo Simon won't outperform him in 2009.

Even CHONE (optimisitically) projects Simon at a 5.45 ERA. It puts Penn at a 5.14 ERA.

I'm predicting an ERA north of 5.75 for Simon this year. Not really sure that this is worth potentially kicking Penn to the curb for.

Andy, Dave: You really didn't need Daniel Cabrera for one more year?