Monday, June 29, 2009

MASN to Televise Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate All Star Game

MASN to Televise Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate All Star Game

Special Mid-Atlantic Classic Coverage in HD on July 15 at 7 p.m.

(Washington D.C.) -- MASN, the local leader in live sports entertainment, will broadcast the Mid-Atlantic Classic live on July 15th at 7 p.m. on MASN and MASN HD from the Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, MD, home of the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

The game, which will pit a team of 28 Valley League Stars against a team of 28 Ripken, Sr. League Stars, will air in high definition during MLB's All-Star break. In addition to the game, a Home Run Derby between the two leagues will precede the contest at 5:30 p.m.

Legendary broadcaster Johnny Holliday and former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson will handle play-by-play and color duties for the Classic, just as they did during MASN's broadcast of the Cal Ripken League All-Star Game in 2007.

"As the home of two Major League Baseballl teams, MASN is excited to showcase the best amateur talent in the Baltimore-Washington region throughout MASN's seven state territory," said MASN spokesman Todd Webster.

About the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League:

The mission of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League is to promote, promulgate, and perpetuate collegiate wooden-bat baseball in Maryland and the District of Columbia. By creating community-based summer collegiate baseball teams, the League seeks to promote amateur and youth baseball and softball in the area through the improvement of existing fields and facilities and fostering spirited competition with an emphasis on sportsmanship, teamwork, honesty, and fair play. The backbone of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League is the investment in and partnership with local communities.

About MASN

MASN is the television home of the Nationals and the Orioles. The network carries over 600 live sporting events every year including more than 275 NCAA Division I football, basketball, and lacrosse games. MASN is currently carried on 23 cable and satellite providers throughout a seven-state region.

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...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sell, Sell, Sell!

I was looking over some stats for Baltimore as we approach the halfway point of the season when something struck me...The Warehouse has go to trade anybody on this team that is beyond their arbitration years.

The Orioles team ERA is 5.10, last in the American League next to the 5.26 ERA of the Indians. Terrible. We need help and more help than even our promising farm system can provide.

The O's offense is mustering 4.57 runs per game. That's below the AL average of 4.82. What's so great about all these hitters we have? Sell and sell now!

Aubrey Huff? Ship him out. Cesar Izturis? Robert Andino has made him redundant. See if someone wants him. Ty Wigginton will cetainly be useful to some contender. Out!Melvin Mora? Nobody will want him but we can try. Danys Baez and George Sherrill? Outen zie!

Even Luke Scott. He's the best bat we have and teams should pay dearly but it has to be an option.

The Orioles need to be listening to any and all offers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Base Hits: 6/24/2009

You don't hear a lot in the Oriole blogosphere/chat rooms/article comments these days about the lack of a "fan-friendly atmosphere" at Camden Yards these days. I expect that it is due to the emphasis the MacPhail regime has put on this aspect of the OPACY experience.

But while we were plenty ready to criticize, we haven't always done a good job at pointing out the efforts the Baltimore Orioles are making now. Like this promotion:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is located at 333 West Camden Street, but this summer Orioles fans will have the option to reside at 2110 Eutaw Street by taking advantage of a new ticket offer. The Orioles have combined the uniform numbers of two of their best young outfielders, NICK MARKAKIS and ADAM JONES, to re-identify an area of the Eutaw Street Bleachers and give fans the opportunity to take part in a unique promotion.

For a number of pre-selected games beginning with the game on Sunday, July 12 vs. Toronto, fans can purchase a Eutaw Street bleacher seat and a limited edition "I Live at 2110 Eutaw Street" t-shirt for only $21. In addition, Markakis and Jones will toss baseballs into the stands throughout the game, and for every home run hit by Markakis or Jones in that day's game, one lucky fan in the section will receive a bat autographed by the player who hit the homer.

It's fan friendly, community and brand building, creative, gets the players directly involved and may help to sell a few more tickets in the process. This is good and should be encouraged...


I'm going to keep beating this drum...Last night in Miami, Oscar Salazar gets off the bench in the 8th and gets a hit in the middle of a 2-run rally, then gets up in the 9th with 2 out and 2 on and singles in the tying run.

Give him a shot, Dave!


Notable minor league stuff: In Aberdeen, SS Tyler Kelly, the 13th round draft selection in the 2009 draft is hitting .333/.333/.389 in his first four games. Of Steven Bumbry is only 1 for 8 but his lone hit was a home run.

Japanese import RP Ryohei Tanaka now has pitched 6 innings for Bowie posting an 0.00 ERA striking out 9 and walking just 1. Interesting guy to watch.

Brandon Snyder has struggled since his promotion to Norfolk. He's only posting a .118/.238/.118 line through five games. He'll be fine but perish any thought of him coming to Baltimore this season.

Chris Tillman: 66.0 IP, 70 Ks, 18 BB, 1.17 WHIP and a 2.59 ERA for Norfolk. Dude's only 21. This guy gets no hype compared to 21-year old Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson but he's doing much the same as Hanson did in the same league.


I enjoy playing around with Twitter; there's some good Oriole stuff over there. But even if you don't want to Twitter yourself, you have to check out UnPeterAngelos.


Frost King has moved over to Camden Crazies on the Sports Network. Good luck Dan and congrats on getting your work noticed.


I've got to stick up for my blog's namesake, Rick Dempsey. Seems that Dempsey took some heat for something he wrote in his blog over at

3.) Brian Roberts: He is a quality position player who could draw a lot of attention from a contender and be worth a few good young prospects. Now the only reason I suggest B-Rob is because he has probably missed his window of opportunity to win with the O's and now that the nucleus is becoming much younger, having to wait two more years to contend may take Brian out of his prime and out of his value. I would hate to see him go, but it might be the best overall for the Orioles for the future.

Absolutely correct. I would like to see Roberts stay but for the right package, I'm OK with the club trading him for the reasons Rick stated. This hardly seems a controversial statement but speaks volumes about the near-Ripken level of popularity that Roberts enjoys in this town.

Outside of Wieters, Markakis and Jones (and perhaps Reimold) everybody on the big club should be available...for the right price.


The Orioles have made a trade involving a guy named Aubrey! Not Huff though. They traded for AAA first baseman Michael Aubrey from the Indians organization.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Couple of Links Around the Oriole Blogosphere

A little late on this but Zach at Baltimore Sports Report has started a campaign to get out the vote for the Orioles for the All-Star game with some cool banners to boot. Spread the word and go Vote O!

Right of Russell has the latest installment in their continuing video interviews with Bowie Baysox players. This time, recent Japanese import, RP Ryohei Tanaka.

Welcome new Orioles blog Eutaw Street Hooligans. I am a proponent of injecting a little more rowdiness at OPACY and these guys seem to be on the same page...and then some.

Trade Monitors: The Overhaul, The Update

I am updating and changing up the Oriole Trade Monitor and will switching over to WAR instead of Win Shares for measurement of trade value. There are two reasons for this:

1) Win Shares are no longer being updated at The Hardball Times
2) WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is readily available on and is probably a better metric and easier to understand. It also allows for negative numbers which I think makes sense for these comparisons.

So, on with the switch, starting with the oldest trades first, in terms of WAR.

SP Kris Benson from the Mets for RP Jorge Julio and SP John Maine

Benson - 0.8 WAR

Julio - 0.0 WAR
Maine - 5.0 WAR

Benson was decent for one year, then got hurt. The principle player the Orioles gave up (Julio) was merely average for the Mets. John Maine, a throw in, has been basically an average NL starter which makes this trade a landslide for the Mets.

SP Rodrigo Lopez to the Rockies for RP Jim Miller and RP Jason Burch

Lopez - 1.1

Miller - 0.1
Burch - 0.0

At the time, the return for Lopez didn't look like much. But Lopez wasn't much himself. He pitched OK for Colorado when he wasn't hurt but was hurt a lot and only pitched one year for them.

Jim Miller on the other hand has shown flashes on the majors and AAA that he may be a serviceable big league reliever. He currently has a 1.73 ERA and 14 saves over 26 appearances for Norfolk. Jason Burch is no longer with the organization.

SS Miguel Tejada to the Astros for OF Luke Scott, RP Dennis Sarfate, RP Matt Albers, SP Troy Patton, 3B Mike Costanzo

Tejada - 4.5

Scott - 3.3
Sarfate - -0.1
Albers - 0.5
Patton - 0
Costanzo - 0

Tejada is not the player he used to be but he provides good offense at a premium defensive position (where his glove is still OK) thus nice WAR number.

Based on his decline and contract, getting anything for Tejada at the time he was traded was a bonus. Getting Luke Scott and giving him a chance to play turned out to be a genius move. Scott has played well in LF (at least last season), been a productive slugger and is a fan favorite to boot. Matt Albers is inconsistent but has been good overall. I think Albers is going to be a pretty good reliever. Dennis Sarfate has a great arm but needs work on his control. Troy Patton has recovered from shoulder surgery and has made it back to AAA. Mike Costanzo got sent back to Bowie earlier in the year. Nice glove, bad bat.

SP Erik Bedard to the Mariners for CF Adam Jones, SP Chris Tillman, RP George Sherrill, RP Kam Mickolio, RP Tony Butler

Bedard - 2.7

Jones - 3.8
Sherrill - 0.8
Tillman - 0
Mickolio - 0
Butler - 0

Bedard was having a nice season but is on the DL yet again.

Adam Jones continues to widen the gap. If MacPhail had traded Bedard for Jones straight up this deal would look like a heist. But they also got George Sherrill and turned him into a serviceable closer and Chris Tillman is the best pitching prospect in the Oriole system. Tillman is a heartbeat away from Baltimore, dominating AAA lineups at the age of 22. Mickolio is doing well at Norfolk posting a 3.81 ERA in 21 games. Tony Butler pitched in low A last season and is currently injured.

C Ramon Hernandez to the Reds for UT Ryan Freel, 3B Brandon Waring and 2B/SS Justin Turner

Hernandez - -0.1

Freel - -0.2
Waring - 0
Turner - 0

Addition by subtraction with Hernandez but Freel did plenty of damage during his short Oriole tenure. I thought Hernandez might hit a little in Cincinnati but hasn't and hasn't even been the primary catcher for the team reducing his value even more.

Brandon Waring is posting a .262/.345/.485 line in Frederick but is a little old for the league. Justin Turner has posted a .301/.356/.374 line in Norfolk, OK for a middle infielder. I've seen him play short twice and he looks pretty good in the field. He may turn out to be a nice utility man in a couple years.

SP Garrett Olson, RP Henry Williamson to the Cubs for OF Felix Pie

Olson - -0.3
Williamson - 0

Pie - 0

The Cubs shipped Olson almost immediately to Seattle for Aaron Heilman (who has been mediocre at best) and Olson has bounced between Seattle and AAA Tacoma this season. He's been a bit below average in the majors. Henry Williamson is doing well for A+ Daytona but he is a bit old for the league too.

Pie has had limited opportunities but his defense had offset the bad bat to provide replacement level production.

SP Hayden Penn to the Marlins for UT Robert Andino

Penn - -0.2

Andino - 0.3

I didn't like this trade at the time but Penn stunk in Florida and continues to stink for New Orleans. Andino's glove at short more than offsets the anemic bat and has given the Orioles good value so far.

UT Ryan Freel to the Cubs for OF Joey Gathright

Freel - -0.2

Gathright - 0

Freel has continued to suck for the Cubs. Joey Gathright will probably never contribute anything to the major league club but Baltimore still wins this trade by subtraction alone.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Could The Orioles Switch Leagues? Please?

Isolated in the mountains of north Georgia all weekend, there is little better than coming back to civilization to find a Oriole sweep of the world champion Phillies waiting for me.

You know, I didn't see any of the games but can we get Oscar Salazar some more at bats? Every time he gets a shot to play, he gets a hit. OK, while Aubrey Huff is still here you can't cut into his playing time but Salazar can play third and Melvin Mora's bat stinks.

Mora's OPS by month:

April .940
May .647
June .583

I'm not a Mora basher but he's 37, he's in decline and the club is not going to exercise his option for 2010. Time to give Salazar some of his at bats (and Ty Wigginton too, since we're discussing it...).

Big weekend for Brian Roberts:

Roberts at Philly .385 .400 .693 1.092 5

Where's those people who want to trade him now? Look at our shortstops. Nice gloves but no offense. It's a real luxury to have a good bat at one of the middle infield positions.

Nolan Reimold: another home run, OPSing 1.016 last week and .973 for the month of June.

Jeremy Guthrie gives up another home run but managed to outduel Cole Hamels on Sunday. That's 17 homers surrendered by Guthrie in 15 games and he is on pace to shatter the Oriole record.

Most home runs surrendered by a Baltimore pitcher in a season:

Sidney Ponson 35 32
Scott McGregor 35 33
Robin Roberts 35 35
Scott McGregor 34 34
Mike Cuellar 34 40
Kris Benson 33 30
Bruce Chen 33 32
Ken Dixon 33 33

I was surprised to see Scott McGregor on this list twice. Not really surprised by anyone else (Cuellar had to make 40 starts to make this list.) If Guthrie stays healthy, he should make 33 starts which puts him on pace for 38 homers surrendered.

(I probably don't plug this enough but I compiled this list using the fantastic Play Index. Subscribe or sponsor a page today! I use the site nearly everyday and use the Play Index for blog posts all the time...)

But Peter Angleos should lobby Bud Seling to switch leagues; The Orioles would go to the NL East and the Nats would come AL East. Baltimore would actually contend!

Anyway, more NL East play to come, down to Miami for three against the Marlins and back home this weekend for three with the Nats. Enjoy the wins while they last!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Miscellaneous Ramblings on the Orange and Black

The tie goes to Pie!

How can anyone not like Pie? Clapping like a maniac after he's safe and third and he's the first one out of the dugout to mob Aubrey Huff after his game winning hit. You can tell this guy loves to play and instead of getting down about his lack of playing time, he savors each morsel of the game like a juicy peach. Hope the guy sticks around as a 4th outfielder.

Peter Schmuck points to Pie's hustle as the key to last night's victory:

For all the complaints this year about Felix Pie, you have to give him credit for turning a pinch running assignment into a game-turning play. He flew into third to beat the throw on Brian Roberts' sacrifice bunt and that was the play that unraveled Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez. He had trouble finding the plate after that and walked Adam Jones to drive in the tying run.

Games like last night remind you why you're a fan.

Dave Trembley cannot win. He yanks Koji Uehara after 5 innings on Wednesday and gets it from the fans for having a quick hook. He lets Jason Berken pitch into the 7th and gets it from the fans for leaving him in to long.

1B Brandon Snyder is heading to Norfolk! Snyder put up a .347/.420/.607 line at Bowie and is still just 22. Nice to see some of these prospects forcing the hand of the powers that be to get promoted ahead of schedule.

Speaking of the minors, visiting this link from on a daily basis gives you a one-stop shop for all the Oriole's minor league box scores from the night before. Quick way to keep up with the many Orioles top prospects.

If you're going to lie, stick with it. From this article on Mark Teixeira and his dad:

"My greatest memories as a kid were playing sports with my dad and watching sports with my dad," Teixeira said. "Going to Orioles games, watching football on TV at home -- those were great memories.

C'mon, Mark. Say it with me. "Going to Orioles watch my hero, Yankees first baseman, Don Mattingly!" You gotta sell the lie and sell it hard and often.

Mark's dad was a Naval officer. I suppose I could make a cheap shot about the duplicitous nature of some Naval officers I had dealings with...but I'll refrain.

A quick word from Philadelphia:

Phillies Nation:

(The Orioles) are a team the Phillies should be able to beat. I’m expecting to see a lot of crooked numbers on the scoreboard this weekend. Bastardo might have another rough go of it, and hopefully he can mix in some more off-speed pitches and breaking balls to fool the O’s batters on Friday night.

Maybe. The Phillies have a lot of good hitters but Raul Ibanez is on the DL. The O's should be able to put up a few crooked numbers themselves. The rematch of the 1983 World Series starts today!

Man, I love when the Orioles play the NL East. 6-3 versus that division so far. Here's hoping they keep it up.

photo credit: AP

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oscar Salazar Needs a Place to Play

Oscar Salazar is rotting on the bench. I imagine he and Felix Pie are getting to be quite chummy.

Rumors are swirling about trades involving Aubrey Huff and I can't begin to decide if they're true...but they should be. The Orioles have an adequate replacement for Huff sitting on the bench. Sure, he'll soon be 31. He's certainly no prospect. But Salazar is ready to play and can serve as a nice bridge to Brandon Snyder in a year or two.

Aubrey Huff 2009:

Huff 63 .266 .330 .444 .774 14 9

These numbers are a far cry from Huff's career 2008 where he OPSed .912 but they are far closer to what kind of player he really is at this point in his career.

Conversely, Salazar in 2008:

Salazar '08 34 .284 .372 .506 .879 3 5

Salazar in Norfolk this year:

Salazar AAA 50 .372 .408 .618 1.027 17 10

According to his Major League Equivalent (MLE) stats for his 2009 Norfolk stats:

Salazar 2009 MLE 50 .337 .366 .545 .911 15 9

These are pretty good indicators that Salazar is ready to take a real shot at holding down a regular position in the majors. He certainly will be able to hold his own and may be able to put up better overall numbers than Huff would anyway.

ZIPS projection for the rest of the season for Salazar:

Salazar ZIPS 243 .284 .326 .457 .782 15 9

Then you can trade Huff away for some useful players who will be around when the rebuilding effort begins to bear fruit.

I keep hearing that the Orioles don't have any candidates to take over at first base if Huff is moved. I respectfully disagree. Not only do they have a replacement, they may have an upgrade.

So I don't know what will happen at the trading deadline with Aubrey Huff but I do know what should.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brian Roberts: It Happens...Right?

You would think that fans of a game with 162 games in a season would understand that bad games would happen. Not so for some commenters on Peter Schmuck's blog post about the bad night Brian Roberts had against the Mets last night.

"We play a lot of games,'' Roberts said afterward. "It's not the first time I've gone 0 for 5, not the first time I've made an error, not the first time I've done both in the same game. It's not fun, but we play a lot of games in our careers and that happens. I'm going to go home and get a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow."

A fair assessment and a good mindset for a baseball player. But then there's this from the comments:

Please Mr. Macphail, complete this turnover and try to trade Roberts also while your at it...this is just too much... I'll run the ball out for one tenth of what he makes.

...and this...

I thought AM should have traded Brob. I still think he should try.


And don't forget the weak grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth! He definitely looked less focused than usual.

Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. Or maybe we should remember that he's hitting .368/.458/.526 over the past week or .351/.405/.486 over the last 14 days.

But Roberts is right, it's not the first time he's gone 0-5 with an error.

Date Opponent Score W Error Type
Sun, Jun 30, 2002 Phillies 8-5 PHL Botched grounder in the 6th
Mon, Aug 4, 2003 Twins 3-2 MIN Throwing error in the 6th
Fri, Jun 18, 2004 @Rockies 5-3 COL Throwing error in the 4th
Sat, Aug 6, 2005 @Rangers 10-3 TEX Botched grounder in the 9th
Sun, Jul 9, 2006 @Indians 5-4 BAL Botched grounder in the 2nd
Sun, Sep 24, 2006 Twins 6-3 MIN Botched grounder in the 3rd
Sun, Jun 17, 2007 Diamondbacks 6-4 ARI Throwing error in the 8th

Odd there are so many Sundays on this list. So Brian is right, it's happened before. Apparently, he's good for one of these games about once a year. So the good news is that it's out of his system for 2009.


Base Hits: 6/17/2009

Technically, it was a quality start for Jeremy Guthrie but sloppy play behind him doomed the Orioles in a very winnable game. What does Ty Wigginton have to do to get off the bench against a lefty pitcher?


Wanted to give some more draft news since John Sickels put his evaluation of Baltimore's draft up last week:

Baltimore: I don't have a problem with Hobgood at fifth overall. He's signable, and in my opinion the difference between him and the other elite prep arms isn't all that great. He might not be as projectable as some of them, being more physically mature, but I really like his arm and I don't think this is a huge overdraft....Randy Henry in the fourth round and Ashur Tolliver in the fifth provide more live arms, Tolliver in particular being a good value in that round. 8th round pick OF Devin Harris (East Carolina), 9th round pick RHP Ryan Berry (Rice), and 10th round pick RHP Jacob Cowan (San Jacinto JC) all offer very good value for their draft slots. Harris has tons of tools, and both Berry and Cowan were considered possible second or third round picks if not for injury questions. This may not be a spectacular draft class, but I think it is solid.


Speaking of the draft, a good article in the Sun about top draft pick Matt Hobgood. Some good quotes from Hobgood too:

"I'd like to get to the pros as quick as I can and help the O's start kicking butt in the American League East," he said. "Striking out A-Rod would be a nice way to start."


"Call it my alter ego," Hobgood said of his competitive streak. "I'm a nice guy off the field, but out there that'll get you run over. Nolan Ryan once said he was an SOB on the mound, and if it works for him ... "

If this kid was a Scott Boras guy, I would be suspicious that he was prepped; that's how mature and level headed his quotes are. But he seems really genuine and if he really does have his head on straight, that's one less obstacle for him to overcome to get to Baltimore.

Regardless, it looks like he's set to sign with the O's on June 27th and will report to either Bluefield or Aberdeen.


Ken Rosenthal thinks the future looks bright for the Orioles.

Then he criticizes Nick Markakis for being selfish for not ending his 65 consecutive games played streak and Nick fouls a ball into the press box and shatters Ken's laptop.


The minor league hurler shuffle...

Over the past few days, Brian Matusz has reported to Bowie, Jake Arrieta moved up to Norfolk, so did Troy Patton and Tim Bascom came up to Bowie from Frederick.

Keep 'em coming...


You know, one of these days I have to get out to Bluefield to take in a Bluefield Orioles game. Bluefield has been a Baltimore affiliate for 52 years and is a living piece of Oriole history. The season kicks off on June 23rd against the Elizabethton Twins. Einar Diaz will be the manager this season. The 24th is Hardee's Night! Gotta love the rookie leagues...


Sammy Sosa reportedly tested positive for steroids? See previous post.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Future...Is Now?

Over the last couple of weeks, the Orioles have proven that they cannot even manage to beat the dregs of the American League and find themselves in last place with the worst record in the league and the third worst record in baseball. Coming into Saturday's game, the Orioles had only managed to score a measly 1.7 runs per game for the month of June and it is reflected in the record. This offense was supposed to be decent this season but an anemic offense with the woeful pitching staff makes for a long summer in Baltimore. Does the recent outburst against Atlanta mean the slump is over? I'll believe it when they start doing it against the American League; facing NL hurlers is akin to playing AAA teams.

Instead of whining about the present, let's look to the Orioles' brighter future. There are more important issues than the standings for the Orioles and most of these players won't be here when Baltimore starts winning. How are the players under age 26playing?

Adam Jones:

The last couple weeks have seen Jones flailing and missing with 11 strikeouts and only 1 walk. The slump has worsened as he posted just a .100/.136/.250 line last week.

Jones has broken out this year, now he has to show he can continue to make adjustments.

Nick Markakis:

Since May 15th, Nick Markakis has put up a .211/.262/.307 line for a .569 OPS with only one home run.

That is easily the worst stretch of games for Nick since the first month of his rookie season. Is he injured? Let's hope not. I picked Markakis for a big breakout this season but so far he's gone the other direction. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that Markakis and Reimold are both 25.

Nolan Reimold:

For a guy who was considered a fringy prospect (I don't remember seeing him on anyone's Top 100 list except for Keith Law in recent years), Reimold has been a revelation the last two years. He stayed healthy and dominated the Carolina League last year and didn't miss a step when he showed up at Norfolk this year. Since coming to Baltimore, he is getting on base at a .356 clip (always a concern for him in the minors), has hit 7 home runs in his first 28 games and posted a .316/.435/.526 line last week alone. He appears to be getting better as the weeks go along. The future in the Oriole outfield is bright indeed.

Robert Andino:

I don't think that Robert Andino is ever going to hit well enough to be a starter in the Majors but his glove is giving me enough reason to think I may not hate the Hayden Penn trade in a couple years. A true great glove at short, Andino could be a valuable bench player/utility infielder for the next few years. The bat is Izturis-esque but so is the glove. He's actually played a better short than Izturis in his limited opportunities.

Matt Wieters:

"Matt Wieters Can And Does Assume The Double Play."

In his short professional career, Wieters has shown the ability to move up a level, struggle for a period of time, make adjustments and then destroy opposing pitchers. It looks like he's starting to do that in Baltimore.

Wieters hit .400/.438/.467 last week. He still doesn't have a home run and he still doesn't have an RBI but the signs are there that he's starting to adjust. No offense to Gregg Zaun but he's already a better hitter as he scuffles along.

Brad Bergesen:

When you have a trio of second tier pitching prospects like Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken, (as opposed to top tier prospects like Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta) you really have to feel lucky if just one of them works out as a starter and truly blessed if another of them ends up as a quality reliever.

The Orioles look to be lucky so far as Brad Bergesen is making his way to being a solid 3rd or 4th guy in a major league rotation. His stuff is not great, he's a sinker/slider pitcher who doesn't look like he's going to strike a bunch of guys out but he seems to be learning how to get the best out of his stuff and let the defense behind him do the heavy lifting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Base Hits: 6/12/2009

I am taking down my little "Value Over Daniel Cabrera" widget from the left hand side of the blog. The final results in terms of ERA:

Daniel Cabrera 2008 - 5.25
Daniel Cabrera 2009 - 5.85
Adam Eaton - 8.56
Mark Hendrickson - 5.53
Alfredo Simon - 9.95
Rich Hill - 5.24
Koji Uehara - 4.37

The whole point of the exercise was to decipher what The Warehouse was thinking in regards to the rotation this year. It seemed they were looking for stiffs to eat innings and buy time for the kids in the minors. But then they let go a "proven stiff" in Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera had proven that he was just that kind of pitcher and had proven it in the AL East. It was kind of ironic that they let Cabrera go just at the time he had proven he was forever to be mediocrity but an innings eater. Cabrera was, for the first time in his career, a perfect fit for the Baltimore Orioles and they cut him loose!

Now, you can certainly disagree with me about Cabrera in specific but you have to admit that nobody they brought in has done a better job that D-Cab, save for Koji Uehara. Certainly the trio of stiffs that were in the rotation on Opening Day (Hendrickson, Eaton, Simon) were a downgrade.

I don't have many criticisms of Andy MacPhail so far but his assemblage (or lack thereof) of a starting rotation for the 2009 Orioles has been a glaring and abject failure.

Anyway, it's hardly fair to compare the rotation anymore now that some kids are starting to fill those roles. I've made my argument.


Want the human interest stories behind the 2009 Oriole draftees? Matt at Roar From 34 has compiled them all.


I'm not sure that I've said it before (and he certainly doesn't need the traffic from me!) but the Matt Wieters Facts site (put together by Frost King) is still quite entertaining to me.


I love me some Old Bay. And I love me some Orioles.

I don't reprint press releases very often but if I was in Baltimore on Saturday, I would be at Camden Yards for this promotion:


The Orioles and Charm City Cakes help celebrate the 70th BIRTHDAY of a Baltimore icon.


Cake creator extraordinaire Duff Goldman of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes will help celebrate the 70th birthday of Baltimore’s own OLD BAY Seasoning prior to the Orioles-Braves game with the unveiling of a larger-than-life cake that replicates the iconic yellow and blue can with the red lid. Duff will also be throwing out the first pitch and the first 10,000 attendees age 15 and over will receive an OLD BAY mallet

When: Saturday, June 13th
Presentation begins at 6:30pm

Where: Baltimore Orioles vs. Atlanta Braves Game
Camden Yards


For 70 years, this distinctive blend of twelve herbs and spices has been a time-honored taste of summer. Just as the recipe hasn’t changed, neither has the iconic yellow and blue can. Once only enjoyed by a lucky few along the Chesapeake Bay, OLD BAY® Seasoning has gained fans all across the country. Best known as THE seasoning for shrimp, salmon, crab and other seafood dishes, these days, OLD BAY is used to flavor hamburgers, chicken, pizza, pasta, vegetable dishes and more. For information visit


I like Melvin Mora. I have enjoyed watching him through out his Oriole career. But he's done. The Orioles should not pick up his option for the 2010 season. I'll probably harp on that fact as the season goes on but Mora is doing a pretty good job of sealing that fate himself.

Mora is OPSing .653 which puts his bat within shouting distance of Cesar Izturis (.620) and even Felix Pie (.595). But Mora is no longer a great glove or a kid. It's probably going to get worse. Month by month, his OPS has dropped from .940 in April (over 7 games) to .647 in May and a meager .417 in June.

He'll probably play out the year since the Orioles don't have many internal options but 2009 should be his Oriole swansong.


Some sage words form Rick Dempsey about Jeremy Guthrie:

Usually it is pretty easy for me to watch a pitcher and see what he is doing right or wrong. A lot of times all you have to do is watch the flight and spin of the ball, and it can tell you exactly what you want to know....

From what I've seen, its not just one thing. There's a lot going on right now that nobody can figure out except Jeremy.

Obviously, I don't see every pitch of every game like Rick does (and based on the copious notes and score keeping I saw him taking during the MASN Oriole Blogger Night last month, he's certainly paying close attention) but I was working on a post about Jeremy Guthrie and trying to figure out why he was giving up so many homers this year. After pouring over Pitch F/X data, pitch types, pitch sequence, the counts , his velocity, the types of hitters he's facing...everything I could think of. But there's no common denominator! They're launching home runs off of every kind of pitch he throw without discrimination. It doesn't happen when he's behind in the count. He velocity and control (at least, his walk rates and amount of strikes he throws) are consistent with his first two seasons.

So I've got to go with Rick on this one. It not just one thing...but you would like to think Guthrie can solve it sooner than later.


It's been a rough week for the Orioles but the Braves have been having trouble scoring runs too. Could this weekend be the remedy for the Baltimore win column?

Let's go O's!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Oriole Draft 2009: What They're Saying

I am no draft expert and I'm no scout. So I won't pretend to be an expert about the first three picks the Orioles made yesterday. But what I will do is offer a layman's opinion on the picks and gather up opinions from the baseball blogosphere.

1st Round - Matt Hobgood - RHP - Norco HS (CA)

This guy was nowhere near the Orioles during mock drafts leading up to the draft. I only heard his name connected to the O's for the first time yesterday. If Brian Matusz was a pick that was going to move quickly through the system, Hobgood will be the opposite.

ESPN's Keith Law, a guy whose opinion I respect a lot, has said that, all things being equal, he would lean toward drafting high school pitchers these days because college coaches tend to overwork their best pitchers and drafting a guy out of high school gives a team more control over his development. That's what the O's have now in Hobgood.

Hobgood had been projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick so this pick may be a bit of a reach but the last two drafts have been good for Baltimore so I'll trust Andy MacPhail , Joe Jordan and the scouting staff for now.

Roch Kubatko gets Joe Jordan's first quotes about Hobgood:

Joe Jordan, the Orioles' director of scouting, deliberated between Matt Hobgood and Zack Wheeler before settling on the California high school product earlier this afternoon. He said signability wasn't an issue, but also believes Hobgood will be pitching "early in the summer" and could start out one level higher than normal for a prep selection.

If Jordan is telling the truth about Wheeler, this move is not a pure "signability" concern because Zack Wheeler (who pitches just down the road from me in Dallas, GA) wasn't considered to be a tough sign either. There's more:

"This is not a money saver," said Jordan, who compares Hobgood to Kevin Millwood. "I knew I would be asked that because this wasn't a name guy that people kept seeing every day in the paper. We scouted this guy all year long. I saw him the first time early in February and saw him a few times after that. It had nothing to do with money. Look at what we've done lately. This isn't about money. It's who I want and who our staff wants."

That seems pretty definitive. It is nice to see that they think this kid will sign before the deadline and play some ball this summer, probably in Bluefield or Aberdeen.

MASN's Steve Melewski has a link (that i guess was on Oriole's Hangout originally) to a video of Matt Hobgood and family leading up to his drafting.

You know you're getting old when 18-year old high school seniors look like middle schoolers to you. Dude still has braces!

From the Baseball Analysts live draft blog:

Rich: Hopgood was named the 2009 Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year yesterday. He is a big bodied pitcher who can also hit. Baltimore clearly liked him better than any other team. He is committed to Cal State Fullerton but is likely to be a fairly easy sign at this spot.

Marc: It's the first of the really surprising picks... but BA (Jim Callis) nailed it within an hour of the draft. A surprise that BAL went with signability this year after taking prospects like Wieters and Matusz in recent years.

In the Oriole blogosphere, nobody does the draft better than the guys at Camden Depot:

Not a huge fan of the pick, as we had Hobgood down in the Mid- to Late-1st Round range. We'll have more on Hobgood this evening -- to Jordan's absolute credit the raw materials are there for Hobgood to be a Joba Chamberlain-type talent. It will be interesting to see if he can follow Joba's lead with regards to trimming down some and attacking the pro lifestyle with vigor. Remember, Chamberlain didn't start to whip himself into shape until after a knee injury and three years of college. Jordan trusts his scouts, and I've liked his picks in the past, so he gets the benefit of the doubt from me -- I'd be curious to know why Wheeler was not the selection.

ESPN's Keith Law on today's chat:

Prep pitchers are unpredictable enough that calling taking the number-18 overall guy instead of the number-8 overall guy "embarrassing" would be wrong. Sure, I liked Wheeler more, and I would have taken him, but Hobgood is in the discussion.

And finally, Baseball America's Jim Callis from an ESPN chat today:

I think we were light on Hobgood all spring. Don't know if I'd put him right with the elite HS pitchers (Matzek, Turner, Purke, Wheeler, Miller), but he's not far behind. The Orioles say ability drove that pick, but his signability relative to the other HS arms couldn't have hurt.

2nd Round - Mychal Givens - SS - Plant HS (FL)

I'm a big fan of taking the best talent available (and givens may have been, I have no idea) but this origanization needs middle infielders and now we have one.

He was announced as a pitcher but Joe Jordan later stated they see him as a shortstop.

"We have a fallback plan, but that's what we're doing," Jordan said. "It's shortstop tools. He's a close to, if not above-average, runner. And he obviously has enough arm to play shortstop. I think there's power there down the road. He's an athletic kid."

3rd round - Tyler Townsend - 1B - Florida International

He played some outfield at FIU but these guys usually slip toward the wrong end of the defensive spectrum when they hit the pros. I'm calling him a first baseman.

Camden Depot:

Pure hitter with power upside. Almost certainly a 1B/DH, I'd imagine. Fine pick -- looks like Jordan and Baltimore had the same thought in looking for a power corner bat here.

Frost King Baseball has a thorough rundown of links about the Oriole draft.

Weaver's Tantrum isn't familiar with Matt Hobgood's body of work but isn't that impressed with the work he puts toward his body.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In Defense of the Orioles

I figured two months was about time to check in on how the Orioles are catching the ball. There is no perfect defensive metric but I think the best one is UZR. So thanks to, a quick analysis of the O's have been flashing the leather.

UZR does not apply to catchers.

Overall, the O's come in 26th in terms of UZR:

Team UZR/150 Inn PO A E DP FP
Red Sox -6.9 4152 1384 461 33 81 0.982
Mets -5.8 4101 1367 499 39 96 0.98
Orioles -5.2 4197 1399 524 33 116 0.983
Braves -4.9 4113 1371 532 29 103 0.985
Rockies -4.8 4023 1341 572 32 116 0.984

The defense has been disappointing thus far. A unit that was supposed to be greatly improved is ranked near the bottom of all the teams in baseball.

Let's break it down. First base:

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR ErrR UZR/150
Ty Wigginton 1B 42 40 3 0 4 1 0.2 11.1 0.1 14.6
Aubrey Huff 1B 424.1 409 26 2 37 0.995 0.1 -4.1 0.6 -11.8

It ain't pretty at first but we all expected that. Huff does, however, rank as one of the worst fielding first baseman in baseball.

Wigginton, on the other hand, has been good in limited action. Perhaps he should start serving as a late innings replacement when the Orioles have the lead? Granted those are rare these days...

On to second base...

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR ErrR UZR/150
Brian Roberts 2B 457.1 75 153 2 34 0.991 0.6 1.5 0.9 6.9

Roberts has actually been quite good so far ranking in the top third of all second baseman. Not bad for a 31 year old speedster.

Third base...

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR ErrR UZR/150
Melvin Mora 3B 300.1 32 61 3 4 0.969 0.2 -1.2 0.3 -3.4
Ty Wigginton 3B 156 14 26 2 1 0.952 -0.2 -1 -0.4 -14.4

Melmo has been below average int he field this year, just like last year. After a few good seasons feilding, age is catching up to him. The good news for Mora is that Wigginton is even worse.


Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR ErrR UZR/150
Robert Andino SS 100 12 32 2 4 0.957 0.4 3.2 -0.8 35.3
Cesar Izturis SS 363.1 69 129 5 30 0.975 0.3 -0.1 0.1 0.1

This one becomes even more relevant now that Izturis is on the DL. Izturis has been steadier, making the plays when he gets to the ball btu has been average overall. Andino is less sure but has demonstrated great range up to this point. If he can cut down on the errors, Baltimore may see play equivalent to Izturis...or maybe better.

Left Field

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR UZR/150
Felix Pie LF 151.1 52 2 0 0 1 4 0.2 25.6
Nolan Reimold LF 140.1 29 0 1 0 0.967 0.6 0.1 6.5
Lou Montanez LF 88.2 23 0 0 0 1 0.4 0.1 3.9

Left field has been the source of great success for the O's. Reimold has been very good since his call up. After a rougn start, Pie has been stellar on the rare occastions he gets to play. Montanez was pretty good too before he got hurt.

Center Field

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR UZR/150
Felix Pie CF 64 18 0 0 0 1 -1.8 0 -25.7
Adam Jones CF 402.1 138 4 4 0 0.973 -6.4 -1.2 -18.6

Jones has been disappointing so far. He has already made more errors this year (4) than he had all of last year. His range has not been good either. Maybe bad luck? Maybe bad routes? Still plenty of time to turn it around here.

Right Field

Name Pos Inn PO A E DP FP DPR RngR UZR/150
Nick Markakis RF 463.1 92 5 3 0 0.97 -9.5 -0.5 -26.6

Same for Nick. This Oriole outfield had the potential to be one of the best in baseball but the two best fielders are having down years. Nick, like Jones, already has as many errors this year as he had all of last year. The range is down too. The only thing he is still doing well is his outfield assists. In terms of UZR, Nick MArkakis ranks last in the majors among right fielders.

In conclusion, outside of Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold, there's not a lot to feel good about among the Oriole defenders. The good news is that the talent is there, these guys have performed before. There's still two-thirds of the season to go and plenty of time for things to start moving in the right direction

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Base Hits: 6/4/2009

Sure, Baltimore dropped the series in Seattle but you can console yourself with the fact that the O's have played the second hardest schedule in the majors this season. Only the Indians have had it rougher. Maybe the NL East is the remedy?


Sure the Orioles lost 3-2 last night...OR DID THEY???

Obviously, Yahoo Sports considered that first inning shot by Huff a fair ball...

On the bright side, you have to be impressed by how well Brad Bergesen and Matt Wieters work together. Two starts, both at least 7 inning outings with 2 earned runs apiece.


I like Dave Trembley. I really do. But his odd "aggressive" base runnning and hit-and-run tactics are a bit overused and misguided. Sure, Brian Roberts and Adam Jones could be employed in these maneuvers...but Aubrey Huff?

But zknower of Camden Chat says it way better than I could. And even Peter Schmuck gets in on the act. OK, Peter advocates for the sac bunt but IF you're going to play "small ball", he has a very valid point. And IF, you're going to play "small ball" why not use Felix Pie as a pinch runner late in the game?

I'm an Earl Weaver guy...pitching, defense and the three run homer. Didn't Earl say that the 27 outs you get at the beginning of the game are your most precious commodity? (I have to stop repeating myself and just find that quote...)


OPACY has made PETA's Top Ten Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks for the first time. As a spouse of a woman with specific dietary needs, I appreciate that Camden Yards offers veggie burgers, veggie dogs, salads and fruit cups. It's good for the consumer and prevents me from having to eat elsewhere before the game. But the clever PETA rhetoric goes just a little too far...

Birds fans would be disgusted to know that the meat industry drugs chickens and turkeys, making them grow so fat that their legs often become crippled under their own weight. Luckily, Orioles diehards can help prevent such cruelty by choosing mouthwatering vegetarian options...

That's the new logo! Cartoon Oriole bird, engorged from feasting on it's Major league opponents, no longer able to support his mass on his own spindly legs!

Or....maybe not.


Luke Scott leads the AL in ISO (Raw Power like The Stooges, baby) at .339, tied with Jason Bay. He leads the league in slugging at .669. Streaky hitter? Yes. Could he hit 30 this season? I think so. He being much more disciplined at the plate. His strikeout rate has dropped and his walk rate has ticked up a bit.

MacPhail may have fleeced Seattle but getting Scott as a throw-in in the Tejada deal is becoming a pretty good fleecing too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Evil" Agents, Untapped Potential and Revisionist History: The Ben McDonald Draft Revisited

(toh to Matt from Roar from 34 for linking to this article...)

USA Today's Ben Nightengale has a story that revisits the drafting of former Oriole Ben McDonald, the inherent risks of the draft and draws parallels to college phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

I think the point of the article was to warn of the dangers of star agents and unrealistic expectations for top draft picks. You know, the typical "How can teams pay players so much money? It's crazy!" articles. I am no fan of McDonald's former agent, Scott Boras, but what got me fired up were the quotes by former members of the Oriole front office.

Says current Boston Red Sox president Larry Luchino:

Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino's long-standing feud with Boras started during the McDonald negotiations when Lucchino was president of the Orioles.

"I'll always remember how highly rated Ben was," Lucchino says. "And how unequivocal his representative was in telling us how unique his talent was. And the predictions of a long and storied Hall of Fame career.

"And I still believe those negotiations might have impaired his early development. His agent did not want him to be signed until the last possible moment."

After signing, McDonald made two starts in the minor leagues before being promoted to the Orioles...

Wow. Notice the quotes I emphasized. The problems with McDonald's development were Scott Boras' fault, not the fault of an organization that threw him into the middle of a division race with 9 minor league innings under his belt at the age of 21.

McDonald only had 64 innings of minor league work before he was thrust into the Oriole lineup for good in 1990. By comparison, Mike Mussina (the top pick in 1990) had 178 innings in the minors before getting called up. Did the organization's anger with Boras affect how they treated McDonald?

McDonald was rushed. Instead of viewing McDonald as an investment, the Orioles basically told him, "Are you really that good? Prove it, rook."

There's more:

Roland Hemond is currently an Arizona Diamondbacks special assistant but was the Orioles general manager in 1989 and says he thinks the lengthy negotiations cost the team a playoff berth.

"If he had signed sooner, we might have picked up a couple of wins and gotten in there," Hemond says. "But the negotiations just kept dragging. And sometimes when that happens, the player and the agent lose out in the long run."

I loved that 1989 team. It was awesome to watch. But the reason they missed the playoffs was not because Ben McDonald did not make some starts for that team. That team simply didn't have the horses. And the team was not built to contend. It was a rebuilding effort that caught lightning in a bottle.

If you were so smart Hemond, if you thought this team could win in the first place, why did you trade away Eddie Murray in '88? Or Mike Boddicker?!?! Or Mike Morgan!?!?!?! Who do you think would have been more likely to push that team over the top? A 21 year old rookie with virtually no minor league innings or a slugging first baseman who was on his way to the Hall of Fame?!?!?! Our best starter was Bob Milacki! You think we could have used Mike Boddicker in '89?!?!?!

Don't pull that crap with me, Hemond! You may be 80 years old but you can't possibly be that DELUSIONAL!!!!!

(pant, pant, pant)

Typical management tactics. Blame the player, the 21 year old kid, and his agent for the player's ultimate failure, not the team that pushed him too far, too fast. (And it's not as if Ben McDonald is the ultimate cautionary tale. Injuries prevented him from living up to the hype but he was a very good pitcher, especially toward the back end of his career. Why? He finally learned to pitch. He could have learned better in the minors and reached his potential sooner had Baltimore treated him like a normal prospect...)

Besides, there are others who think that Ben was overworked in college and that perhaps that was the reason he developed injuries in his mid-20's:

(Boras) says a more reasonable explanation is that McDonald was a product of the times, when collegiate pitchers started a game one day and closed it the next.

Granted, Boras has a vested interest in this matter. But Rob Neyer (who is certainly no Boras fan) had heard and seen similar things regarding McDonald's collegiate workload:

Speaking of Ben McDonald, I saw his last outing before he got drafted, at the College World Series in 1989. His brilliant coach left him in for far too long, as he was obviously laboring; some say McDonald was never the same afterward.

But somehow, some way, it was Scott Boras and the lost (at most) 10 weeks of potential extra playing time in 1989 that cost the Orioles the division and ultimately damaged McDonald's career.

Get out of here with that. Pull my other leg, this one's long enough.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Base Hits: 6/2/2009

I was going to save this for the next Oriole Blogosphere post but these interviews with Jake Arrietta and Troy Patton make for good viewing and are a pretty cool "get" for a bunch of bloggers. Well done!


Brady Anderson writes an op-ed piece defending Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Among his defenses:

The article states that....Mr. Angelos began his "notorious meddling" by firing manager Davey Johnson. That is not what happened. Mr. Johnson resigned; he was not fired. The dispute between Mr. Angelos and Mr. Johnson began when Mr. Johnson fined Roberto Alomar, unilaterally, and without the owner's knowledge or consent, for missing a mandatory team function.

I was really bothered by the Johnson resignation. I loved playing for Davey and believe the Orioles would have continued to compete for championships had he stayed. I also think that if Davey had really wanted to stay he was more than capable of convincing Mr. Angelos to retain him for many years.

OK, but you could conversely make the argument that Mr. Angelos was capable of convincing Johnson to stay as well.

That point aside, Anderson does make a few good points and seems to genuinely admire and respect Peter Angelos.

I certainly have my issues with Angelos as a manager but hardly think he's the win-draining diabolical monster some paint him to be. Nor do I find him a shrewd manager of his resources and a magnanimous owner who is solely responsible for the Orioles' success in the mid-90's. I imagine, as with most things, the truth lies in the middle.


Spring Training update: Arizona? Arizona? What the hell? I'm fine with Baltimore training anywhere in Florida...but not Arizona.

Meanwhile the Orioles are still in negotiations with Sarasota and Lee counties about moving their Spring Training to Florida's west coast. Some commissioners are worried about how much money the Orioles will want in stadium improvements:

(Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann) is concerned that the Orioles may ask for at least $10 million in upgrades.

"If less, I'll kiss a monkey right out there on the steps," Mann said, gesturing toward the north side of the old county courthouse.

Now that would be an entertaining County Board meeting. Do these guys know how to party or what? If I were John Angelos, I would make primate smooching a prerequisite to move to Lee County.


In the biggest no-brainer in baseball, Luke Scott was named AL Player of the Week.


Adam Jones is back in Seattle. The Mariner fans react:

U.S.S. Mariner:

So, as you probably know, the Orioles have this center fielder who is having a pretty good season. Unless he falls apart in June, there’s a pretty decent chance that Adam Jones will make his first All-Star team this summer at the ripe old age of 23. He’s one of the core pieces of the Orioles rebuilding process, and if the M’s wanted to get him back, they probably couldn’t, even if they offered up the entire farm system and the deed to Mt. Rainier. He’s that valuable. And, but for some really terrible decision making, he could have been ours.

Seattle Times Mariners Blog:

Adam Jones came back to Seattle today with an entourage -- two burly guys standing by his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field wearing Orioles' jerseys with "Jones" on the back.

OK, it was his brother and cousin, come up from San Diego to visit Adam -- who actually seems quite unaffected by the giant step into stardom he has taken this season.

"I'm just maturing as a baseball player,'' he said with a shrug. "Figuring out my role and not trying to do too much. Playing the game the way I know how to play it."

Which, as every wistful Mariners' fan is well aware, is good enough to make him one of the game's most exciting young players, almost certainly headed, at age 23, to his first All-Star Game.

Jones is the most hilarious deadpan quote dropper ever. When asked about coming "home" to Seattle:

Asked if he feels any special tugs coming back to Seattle, Jones replied, "Nothing. It's just a regular city. We're on the road. Just got to come here and do what our team tries to accomplish on the road."

In fact, he seemed to have more attachment to Tacoma. "I got to know a lot of the fans there, because I was in Tacoma for most of the time,'' he said. "They're great people. They treated me with utmost respect. I'd say last year was good for me, because they (the Orioles) gave me an opportunity, but I'm also glad I had the opportunity to play over there."

Hysterical. The Orioles gave me a shot in Baltimore but Seattle gave me a shot in AAA Tacoma. I really got to know the people in Tacoma. Not so much in Seattle. Awesome.


Oriole Post got his recap of MASN's Oriole Blogger night up. Ditto for Matt at Roar From 34. Also Baltimore Sports and Life and Baltimore Sports Report.


The highlight of Wieters Weekend for me was watching him get challenged by Justin Verlander and getting blown away that first at bat and then coming back the next time and drilling Verlander fastball off the center field wall for a triple and his first major league hit. Nice adjustment and it bodes well...

Monday, June 1, 2009

AL East Roundup: Week 7

AL East Roundup - 5/25/09 through 5/31/09

New York Yankees - River Ave. Blues

For the first time in over two years, the Yankees reached the top of the AL East standings. It started as a tie with the Red Sox on Wednesday. They lost the lead when the Sox won on Thursday, but retook the lead over the weekend. The Yanks currently sit a half game up on the Red Sox. While the standings on May 31 count for absolutely nothing in the long run, it's a relief for Yanks fans to see their team back atop the standings, rather than ending May in third place as they've done for the past few years.

The offense put up monstrous numbers every other game for the Yanks, as they scored 11 on Monday, nine on Wednesday, and 10 on Saturday. They mixed those with three-run showings on Tuesday and Friday, and a four-run affair in Sunday's walk-off loss to the Indians. The pitching turned in a solid week as well, with the only poor showing coming on Tuesday in the team's 7-3 loss in Texas. Joba Chamberlain had a sub-par start, and after the Yankees tied the game the bullpen blew it open. While the bullpen remains a concern, the continued quality starts from the rotation helps keep the relievers' exposure limited.

Once again, Mark Teixeira was the offensive player of the week. He put up a .357/.400/.786 line in the last seven days (1.186 OPS), smacking three homers and three doubles in 28 at bats. Alex Rodriguez did his part, posting a .417/.517/.542 line on the week. Surprisingly, he hit no home runs, but he did have three doubles and five walks to go along with just one strikeout. It seems like his defense (-27.8 UZR/150) will be the last thing to come around following surgery to fix a torn hip labrum.

On the pitching end, it was a mixed bag. Phil Hughes had a stellar start on Monday in Texas but his struggles in the third inning of Sunday's start in Cleveland tainted that start. CC Sabathia had just one start, in which he was more than good enough to give the Yanks a W. A.J. Burnett lasted just six innings in his start, though they were of the scoreless variety, and came with seven strikeouts. Chien-Ming Wang, however, tossed five scoreless innings in relief. These innings have given the Yanks a bit more confidence in him. If he can return to the rotation and go back to throwing seven, eight quality innings per start he could give the Yanks a big boost.

Week's record: 4-2

Season record: 29-21

Injuries: Melky Cabrera (shoulder, day to day)

This week: Mon @Cleveland; Tue - Thu TEXAS; Fri - Sun TAMPA BAY

Boston Red Sox -- Surviving Grady

The Red Sox hit the road for their longest trip of the season on Monday. First stop: Minnesota. Game one in the series should have been a laugher as the Sox piled up 16 hits against the Twins pitchers. Unfortunately only six of those baserunners crossed the plate, and a two-run homer off Paps in the ninth made it a 6-5 game. That's all the Twins would get but it certainly put a question mark next to Papelbon's name after the fiasco against the Mets.

The Sox would drop the next two, having completely lost the ability to score runs away from home. They lost 5-2 on Tuesday as Lester continued his "one bad inning" theme, giving up all five earned in the fifth. Wednesday they went quietly 4-2, with Dice-K laboring through just five innings. Thanks to Josh Beckett and Cap'n Tek the Sox worked a split, taking Thursday's day-game 3-1 behind seven strong innings by Beckett and two homers off the bat off Varitek. That's his second two-homerun game of the season giving him a total of 10. For a 37 year-old catcher who has only hit more than 15 homers three times in his career to have 10 by the end of May...well...

The Red Sox average 6.3 runs per game at Fenway but just barely over 4 runs per game on the road. The next stop was Toronto and it seemed like a good place to get your mojo back. The Sox had put the Jays on a nine-game tailspin after the sweep at Fenway. But the Jays had other ideas. A wild Tim Wakefield and the inability for the Sox to get the clutch hit (they used to have a guy that did that for them) combined for a 6-3 loss in the first of three.

Saturday would only get worse as the Sox could only manage four hits in the 5-2 loss. It was up to Lester on Sunday, and the way he pitched he knew it. Six innings, just three hits and a career-high 12 K's for young Jon. The bats finally came to life with Bay and Pedroia homering as well as two dingers from Youk. Even Ortiz had a hit! When the dust settled it was 8-2 in favor of the good guys, and hopefully the runs will keep coming. The Sox will take Monday off before finishing up the road trip in the Motor City.

Week's record: 3-4

Season record: 29-22

Injuries: None

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

Toronto Blue Jays - Blue Jays Daze

It seems that the lack of pop has been hurting the Jays over the course of their latest losses. By lack of pop I mean that the Jays have had to score runs the hard way this season. Instead of the odd HR to clear the bases, they've needed to have consecutive hits - many of which have come with 2 outs - to drive in runs. My best example was when I looked at the scorecard of the 2nd game they played against the Red Sox. The Jays had 10 hits in their 6 innings against Penny and 3 runs to show for them, while the Red Sox had 3 hits and 3 runs. When I noticed this I went back over the course of their slump and found that this is what has hurt the Jays the most. The proof is that they've only managed 3 HRs over their last 11 games. Ouch.

Back to the week that was, the Jays turned out a disastrous start to the week that even Doc Halladay couldn't resolve. It all started in Baltimore, where the Jays were swept despite decent starts by Brian Tallet (6 IP, 2 ER, 5 Ks) and Doc (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 Ks) in games 1 and 3. The pen lost the handle on Doc's start with Brian Wolfe having a breakdown 3 ER 11th inning after BJ Ryan had already proven ineffective. Romero had a rough start for the second game, a game in which the Jays offense was shut down by O's starter Jason Berken which was a little embarrassing. At least they managed 10 runs the following game, maybe as a result of that embarrassment. Of note offensively for the Jays in that series was Marco Scutaro, who is second in SS All-Star voting for the AL by the way, who went 7 for 15, with 3 doubles, a walk, and a stolen base. Despite his efforts most of the other Jays were fairly silent until the 3rd game of the series.

I'm not sure what Cito told the guys during the day off, but one thing is certain, he's keeping the roster as is. Some managers may have panicked, switched guys in the lineup and called up half of AAA after 9 straight losses, but not Cito. The lineup was the same and he put the trust in the guys to change their own fortunes, and boy did they ever. Janssen kicked it off with an edgy win even after allowing 11 hits and 2 walks. He managed to weasel his way out of jams and allowed 3 runs overall. Offensively, the Jays finally learned how to hit the knuckle ball and Scutaro and Rolen led the way with 2 hits a piece. In the end, they managed to manufacture enough consecutive hits in the 5th inning to win it 6-3. The second game ended the same way as the first, with League and Downs shutting the door with small leads. Rios was on fire that game, going 4 for 4 and Lind chipped in with a much needed HR. Rios hit one of his own in the 3rd game, but Romero was roughed up for the second time this week and the Jays ended the week with a loss, but a series win versus the Red Sox (we'll take it!). Overall, an up-and-down week, with the hope that the series win leads to a new winning streak to build on.

Week's Record: 2-4

Season Record: 29-24

Injuries: New - Robert Ray on 15-day May 30th (Strained right shoulder), Michael Barrett (Shoulder-hitting off tee), Jesse Litsch (Right Forearm), Shaun Marcum (Elbow-resting), Dustin McGowan (Labrum-threw from 120 feet for the first time 23rd May).

This Week: Tue- Thur ANAHEIM ; Fri - Sun KANSAS CITY

Tampa Bay Rays - Rise of the Rays

By most accounts, the Rays had a bad week. To begin the week, after losing 2B Akinori Iwamura to a season-ending injury, they had to place SS Jason Bartlett and left-handed reliever Brian Shouse on the disabled list. Then, they went on to be swept by the Cleveland Indians in a four-game series in Cleveland. To end the week, the came back to the Trop to beat Minnesota 2 out of 3 to close the week.

In Cleveland, it was obvious that the recent rash of injuries were taking their toll. Not to mention the fact that the Rays were nearing the end of a stretch in the schedule that had them playing 40 games in 41 days. On Monday, the Rays ran out to a 10-0 lead in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Indians tallied 11 in the final five innings, capped by a 7-run ninth inning, marking the largest lead that the Rays have blown in the history of the team.

After the Cleveland sweep, the Rays came home to take on the Minnesota Twins in a three-game series. The Twins came to the Trop with the worst road record in the AL. And, the Rays took advantage of that, winning the first two games of the series, before dropping game three on Sunday.

The highlight of the week had to be the impressive starting performance of LHP David Price. He rebounded from a shaky first outing by striking out 11 in 5 2/3 innings. In the start, he allowed just one run on five hits and two walks, on his way to his first career win.

At the plate, the Rays were led by Carl Crawford, who finished the week 10-27 with two HR and two stolen bases. Carlos Pena also hit a pair of home runs for the Rays. And, Matt Joyce returned to the roster to hit a home run on Sunday.

Week’s Record: 2-5

Season Record: 25-28

Injuries: Akinori Iwamura, season-ending torn ACL, Jason Bartlett, sprained ankle, Brian Shouse, left elbow strain, Scott Kazmir, right quadriceps strain, Troy Percival, right shoulder tendinitis, Pat Burrell, stiff neck.

This week: Tue - Thu KANSAS CITY; Fri - Sun @New York

Baltimore Orioles - Dempsey's Army

A very eventful week in Birdland!

First, let’s take care of the elephant in the room. Matt Wieters, Christ in a Catcher’s Mask, made his major league debut on Friday. Matt went an uneventful 2 for 11 over the weekend but his first major league hit was a triple crushed off the centerfield fence. More impressive was his work behind the plate. He called his games, fielded his position well and seemed more veteran than rookie when the catcher’s gear was on. The power is there, it’ll be interesting to see how he develops over the next month or so.

But while Wieters was the big story this week, he was not the only rookie making an impact this. LF Nolan Reimold has hit 5 home runs over his last 11 games and is posting a .279/.340/.651 line over the past two weeks putting a stranglehold on the left field job. SP Brad Bergesen went 8 innings giving up only two runs in beating the Tigers on Friday night. SP David Hernandez made a spot start for the injured Koji Uehara, winning his major league debut and SP Jason Berken made two starts this week, winning his debut and posting a 2.25 ERA. Wieters is big but there are several rookies helping to improve the club and erasing the bad memories of Adam Eaton and his ilk.

DH Luke Scott came off the DL and homered in 4 straight games this week with 6 total homers for the week.

Now to bring this whole thing down a notch…it was a nice week but the O’s still have a long way to go. Yes, they went 5-2 with Adam Jones and Nick Markakis slumping but the bottom line is that the rookies will have their growing pains, the bullpen is suspect and the starting rotation is still very shaky. The lineup is decent but it can’t carry the team by itself. Getting the record up above .500 is still a pipe dream at this point.

But with Seattle and Oakland on the schedule for this week, Baltimore has a fair chance of having another winning week.

Down on the Farm:
21 year old SP Chris Tillman is 5-0 with 44 Ks, 13 BB and a tiny 2.13 ERA in 8 starts for AAA Norfolk. He tweaked a hammy last week but should be back in the rotation this week. Unlike some of the rookies called upon to pitch this week, Tillman is a legit top prospect who may be in Baltimore before the All-Star break.

Speaking of top pitching prospects, 2008 first round pick Brian Matusz has lowered his ERA to 2.37 and has struck out 69 in 60.2 innings for A+ Frederick. He could be promoted to AA Bowie anyday.

Previously disappointing 1B prospect Brandon Snyder has put up a stellar .342/.418/.595 line at AA Bowie so far. Still only 22, Snyder should be in Norfolk soon and could play into the O’s plans for 2010.

Week's Record: 5-2

Season Record: 23-28

Injuries: SP Koji Uehara (hamstring, 15-day DL), RP Dennis Sarfate (hand numbness, 15-day DL, out until July), OF Lou Montanez (Right thumb surgery, 15-Day DL, out 6-8 weeks)

This Week: Mon-Wed @Seattle, Fri-Sun @Oakland