Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Around the Oriole Blogosphere: Utter Collapse Edition

Before I start this edition of AtOB, I wanted to mention that Dempsey's Army has been nominated for a Mobbie for best Oriole blog at The Baltimore Sun. Please vote for us in the Oriole blog category if you feel so inclined.

But if you don't, please go vote for one of the other Oriole blogs I link to or that you may enjoy. It's a long suffering group and they all deserve some good recognition. Voting runs through October 9th. Vote early, vote often!


Stacey at Camden Chat notes something about Brian Roberts' doubles explosion that I hadn't noticed:

Brian Roberts hit his 56th double of the year which is a record for most doubles by a switch hitter. Lance Berkman held the mark before him. It seems like a weird record to me.

In the midst of a 12 game losing streak and 100 losses looming, I'll take weird.


Patrick Smith of Bugs and Cranks is ambivalent when it comes to Dave Trembley's future:

I’d love to write that I’d be outraged if they fired Trembley after presenting him with a stinkbomb of a team to manage. I really should be stumping for the guy and I’m not sure why I’m not. Numb, I guess, after 12 losing seasons.


Dan at Camden Crazies examines Brian Matusz in the midst of a sweeping multi-post look back at the Orioles of 2009. He's a good man. And thorough.


Matt Wieters Facts:

Matt Wieters Doesn't Take Pitches...He Shows Them Mercy.

Matt Wieters Forced Rick Astley To Give You Up, Let You Down, Run Around And Desert You.

Matt Beat Cancer..... Literally With His Bat. There Is No More Cancer.


Orioles Card 'O' The Day highlights the birth of the Baltimore club and gives a tip of the cap to Bill Veeck.

On a side note, the other owners hated Veeck so much that when they heard he was trying to move the Browns to Milwaukee, they swiped the deal out from under him and allowed the Braves to move there instead in 1953. Baseball owners are and evolved breed, huh?


Jay Trucker looks at the losing and the manager:

2 ½ years later, the team has played terrible fundamental baseball. The young guys have a chance to grow in 2010. Right now, it looks like the whole team is trudging to the end of the year. One way to start 2010 on a fresh page is to ax Dave Trembley. He hasn’t had a team with which to compete the last 2 ½ years, but he hasn’t taken the club a step forward by working with what he’s had during that time, either.


It is a cruel mistress but at its root, baseball is still a beautiful game. Anthony at Oriole Post can still remind me of that as he always manages to catch some good action shots during the games at OPACY.


Right Off Russell takes a look back at the 1989 "Why Not?" Orioles:

It was a year when everything broke right. Players had career years and late inning rallies were commonplace. The ‘89 O’s were a young bunch that scrapped and clawed for everything and almost pulled of an amazing worst to first turn around. And personally, it was truly magical. I had just jumped into sports fandom, sure I was aware of the Orioles, but 1988 was the first year I followed them with a passion. Nice timing, huh? Experiencing the ‘89 season only solidified the Orioles lifelong hold on me.


If you don't like Roar from 34's Eutaw Street Chronicles, you hate America.


100 losses? The Loss Column, ironically, says we shouldn't care.

In other words, these last five games of the season mean nothing. Whatever needs to be seen has been seen. Year three of the rebuilding process is already underway.


The Wayward O is backing the manger. Here's Wayward O with more:

Wayward O is backing manager.

This losing streak (collapse) is because Baltimore is not real Baseball Team capable of playing full season.

It is not because Mr. Dave Trembley is bad manager.


Weaver's Tantrum salutes the fine effort of Brian Roberts, even if it has been in vain. Regarding his doubles record for switch-hitters:

A lot of the guys on the single season doubles list are Hall of Famers. Brian is in good company. It seems unlikely that B-Rob can get to 60, tying Todd Helton's post-WWII record, but its not impossible. He can be forgiven for some selfish play at this point in the season. Forget about drawing walks or moving runners along, Brian. Go for the record!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Base Hits: The Long Road Home, Records Broken and Top Draft Picks Galore

I predicted that September would be ugly for the O's but after winning series' against the Yankees and the Rangers, you started to think that they would be competitive with the weaker part of their schedule. I was wrong the second time.

11 straight losses including sweeps at the hands of the Blue Jays and Indians have put 100 losses back on the table. It already has them in line for the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Washington 53 103 --
Baltimore 60 96 7.0
Pittsburgh 59 96 7.5
Kansas City 64 93 10.5

Facing the Rays and the Blue Jays this final week, the Orioles are just about assured of getting the 3rd overall pick and have a great shot at the 2nd pick of the 2010 draft. My advice at this point: keep losing


Also in this last week, Jeremy Guthrie has a chance to give up more home runs than anyone in Oriole history. He has given up 32, the record is 35. Unlikely, as Guthrie has pitched better in September but well withing reach.


Speaking of records, it has been widely reported that Brian Roberts can reach 60 doubles this season. He has 55 with 6 games left so it is unlikely that he will reach 60. But 60 is kind of an arbitrary number. The real milestone is 58.

If Roberts hits three more doubles, he will have one of the top ten seasons for doubles since 1901. That's what I'll be looking for this last week.


The Orioles and Sarasota have selected the firms that will renovate Ed Smith Stadium, the new Spring Training home for the team.

The plan is to "either tear down or renovate" the stadium after Spring Training 2010.


Will Dave Trembley return in 2010? It's not looking good.

(Oriole GM Andy) MacPhail has said for months that the club won't make a decision on Trembley's option for 2010 until either the last weekend of the season or a couple of days after it ends...

MacPhail met with Orioles owner Peter Angelos last week to discuss Trembley's status, but he continues to say little about the situation...

MacPhail has talked repeatedly about the importance of avoiding a late-season swoon, which has became an annual rite for the Orioles. He made it clear Sunday that he isn't pleased with the way the club has played on its current 10-game road trip...

Macphail has also said that while the record counts, the management will have to examine underlying factors as well. Yes, they do.

But it's going to be hard to not fire Trembley at this point. That's not where Dave wants to be.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Silver Lining Team: The Best of a Dark Decade

Over the past 12 years, we O's fans have been subjected to the worst stretch of seasons in the team's history (at least since they came to Baltimore). Yes, even worse than the 50's and early 60's.

To that end, here's a team made up of the best Oriole players of the 00's. Some of this list is a bit depressing but this is just to remind us all of the bright spots before we mercifully close the door on this miserable decade (and more).

Catcher - Javy Lopez (2004-2006)

Lopez .293 .343 .468 .811 72 46 0

Lopez was not a great defensive catcher but actually hit pretty well for two of the three seasons he was an Oriole. In the great wasteland of Oriole catchers during the aughts, Lopez stands alone.

1B - David Segui (2001-2004)

Segui .287 .375 .425 .800 35 18 2

Another guy who looks great compared to the other guys at his position is Segui. Over portions of 3 seasons, Segui was a steady performer at the plate and flashed a pretty slick glove. He also reportedly showed some young guys the ropes in regards to chemically enhancing your play...but I'm leaving him in.

2B - Brian Roberts (2001-2009)

Roberts .284 .355 .421 .776 316 76 255

Through all the ups and downs that Baltimore has had this decade, there has been one guy who fans could look to for excellence in every facet of the game. Roberts led all Orioles in doubles during the 00's, is in the top 5 for the entire American League and only second to Jeff Kent among all major league second basemen. Of course, he also led all Orioles in stolen bases with 255.

In addition to this, he has been a the face of the Orioles in the community and a fan favorite for a team that has been pretty horrendous.

3B - Melvin Mora (2000-2009)

Mora .280 .355 .439 .794 250 158 82

As much as I have slagged Mora for his play in 2009, he has had a very nice career for Baltimore and will always be remembered as one of the great Oriole third baseman. Ok, maybe that's because after Brooks Robinson the pickings have been slim at the hot corner. But as a whole, Mora turned himself into a pretty decent fielder, had some monster seasons at the plate and was a steady presence for almost 10 seasons.

He leads all Orioles in hits and home runs for the decade.

SS - Miguel Tejada (2004-2007)

Tejada .311 .362 .501 .863 146 102 17

It was easy to pick apart Tejada's game. He tended to lose power over the course of his stay, his baserunning mistakes were maddening and his fielding was not always great. But as a total package, Tejada was arguably the best player to don the black and orange this decade. He played a premium defensive position and he hit .300 and knocked in 20 homers his first three seasons (and just missed both marks in his 4th).

It's tough to replace that kind of production at shortstop as we have seen.

LF - Luke Scott (2008-2009)

Scott .257 .339 .482 .821 52 47 2

Left field was an offensive black hole as B.J. Surhoff aged and then retired. But finally, Scott came over from Houston as one of the many spare parts in the Miguel Tejada trade and provided more than adequate offense from left in 2008 and 2009 (although he's been mostly a DH in '09).

He's a flawed hitter (can't hit lefties, streaky) but he's a lot of fun to watch and supplies a ton of raw power to the lineup.

CF - Adam Jones (2008-2009)

Jones .274 .323 .428 .751 43 28 20

The jewel of the Erik Bedard trade has become the best Oriole center fielder of the decade after only parts of two seasons.

RF - Nick Markakis (2006-2009)

Markakis .298 .367 .470 .837 158 75 35

Markakis was rushed from AA and struggled mightily during his first 2 months in the big leagues. Since then, he's been a .300 hitter with Gold Glove caliber defense in right. He leads all Orioles in OPB for the decade and was only second in OPS to Miguel Tejada.

DH - Aubrey Huff (2007-2009)

Huff .282 .341 .473 .814 106 60 5

A mediocre hitter who had one monster season in 2008. Another failing of The Warehouse is that Huff is the best DH Baltimore had.

Bench - Ramon Hernandez (2006-2008)

Hernandez .264 .328 .427 .755 69 60 5

Hernandez's value came mainly in 2006 and he dropped off precipitously after that. Rough decade for catchers. Thank God for Matt Wieters.

Bench - Jeff Conine (2000-2006)

Conine .286 .342 .440 .782 122 66 32

Conine's flexibility in the field and decent bat made him a valuable role player early in the decade and would make him an excellent bench player for this team.

Bench - Mike Bordick (2000-2002)

Bordick .261 .324 .418 .742 54 31 22

Bordick had a slick glove and managed to swing a pretty good bat for a "good glove, no hit" player. And we traded him to the Mets for Melvin Mora. Good value.

Bench - Tony Batista (2001-2003)

Batista .245 .293 .433 .726 72 69 14

Batista manned third for three seasons and, while not good, was better than he seemed at the time. Lots of raw power, not much discipline.

SP - Erik Bedard (2002-2007)

Bedard 114 1 1 40 34 639 254 58 3.83

By far, the best Oriole pitcher of the group and the best Oriole pitcher since Mike Mussina. In between stints to the DL, Bedard was dominating. While he was here, Beadard set the Oriole record for strikeouts in a season

SP - Jeremy Guthrie (2007-2009)

Guthrie 92 2 0 27 32 343 160 78 4.12

Guthrie was a 1st round bust for Cleveland when Baltimore picked him up off of waivers before the 2007 season. He had surpassed all expectations to become the steadiest Oriole starter since he arrived (even including his sub-par 2009).

SP - Sidney Ponson (2000-2005)

Ponson 160 22 4 53 64 639 343 126 4.84

I guess the thing ot point out about Ponson is that he had 22 complete games as an Oriole and is only behind Mike Mussina among Orioles who played after 1990.

SP - Daniel Cabrera (2004-2008)

Cabrera 147 6 2 48 59 651 478 88 5.05

I cannot revisit D-Cab's Oriole career. I just can't. Oriole leader in strikeouts during the 00's.

SP - Rodrigo Lopez (2002-2006)

Lopez 167 5 2 60 58 614 281 128 4.72

Lopz makes the list. Winningest Oriole pitcher of the decade.

RP - Buddy Groom (2000-2004)

Groom 330 18 15 13 212 72 26 3.91

Groom was pretty good. The lefty pitched 285 innings over the 5 seasons with the Orioles and served as a workhorse when the O's needed him most.

RP - Jim Johnson (2006-2009)

Johnson 116 9 6 10 88 54 9 3.66

Converted starter who dominated in a setup role. (A role he may soon be returning to.) Teamed up with George Sherrill to form a nice 1-2 punch at eh end of games.

RP - George Sherrill (2008-2009)

Sherrill 99 51 3 6 97 46 9 3.71

When I start to worry about who will close for the O's in 2010, I remember that Sherrill arrived with no closing experience whatsoever. He was servicable in that role and made the All-Star team in '08.

RP - BJ Ryan (2000-2005)

Ryan 391 42 15 19 436 182 29 3.57

Feels like Ryan should have more saves here. But Ryan was very good for 5 full seasons, striking out opposing batters at unbelieveable rates.

RP - Chris Ray (2005-2009)

Ray 188 49 10 16 176 82 27 3.91

After Ryan split for Toronto, Ray stepped in and was every bit as good as the Oriole closer. An injury has derailed him a bit but there's hope he can return to form.

RP - Chad Bradford (2007-2008)

Bradford 125 2 7 10 42 23 3 3.00

Of all the free agent relievers the Orioles signed this decade, Bradford was the only one to earn his money. He kept the ball in the park and was a nice matchup guy for righties.

RP - Jorge Julio (2001-2005)

Julio 281 83 11 24 257 133 42 4.20

Yeah, he makes the list. I think I have enough distance on Julio now to mention that he was really awesome in 2002. That's about all I have.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Base Hits: Trembley on Umpire Bias, Reimold for ROY and A Good Baseball Match

Friday morning on Sirius XM MLB Home Plate, Dave Trembley appeared on Power Alley with hosts Seth Everett and Bill Ripken. Regarding Trembley's meltdown with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, Seth asked if he thought umpires had a bias for or against certain teams when calling balls and strikes.

Everett: Do you sense, and you don't have to name names, but do you sense that there is some semblance of a bias amongst umpires and that sometimes umpires are favoring one team to another?

Trembley: (laughing) Hey listen, I don't have enough money in my checking account...if I answered that question truthfully, I could never pay 'cause Mr. Watson would get me severely. But what I would say and what I would say very clearly is that the strike zone is different from umpire to umpire and sometimes from game to game. It's not consistent...I just don't understand that....I've always said that the toughest three outs to get in Yankee Stadium are the six you gotta get in the bottom of the 9th. It seems like the strike zone in some places is a little bit different.

He drives me nuts when he bats Cesar Izturis second but how can you not like the guy...


Via the DC Sports Bog by Dan Steinberg, the Orioles are mounting a Rookie of the Year campaign for Nolan Reimold by sending members of the BBWAA some arguments in Reimold's favor. Here's two that Dan posted:

It's nice that the Orioles are doing this because, quite frankly, Reimold probably just isn't on the average writer's radar.

Now, he's not catching Gordon Beckham for the rookie leader in RBI as the Orioles state may happen but of rookie position players (Beckham, Reimold and Elvis Andrus), he's the best hitter. Pitchers like Rick Porcello and Andrew Bailey are going to cloud the mix as well but Reimold is certainly a worthy candidate.

(edit: So much for this campaign; Reimold is done for the season.
Oriole-Induced Grimace of the Week:

Carl Crawford is pleading to the heavens but The Holiness he seeks to implore is not skyward but behind home plate. And he just gunned you down. Twice. You're out, Carl.

By the way, was Hancock at this game?


From an article at about the food served at various sporting events in England and America:

In the United States, where baseball has traditionally been associated with soggy hot dogs and watery beer, an interesting trend began a few years ago when the Baltimore Orioles began selling regional cuisine like pit beef platters and Maryland crab cake sandwiches on match days.

Can't wait to go down to OPACY for a good baseball match! Match day. That's classic.


On a random note, I was at a poker game on Saturday at the house of the son-in-law of the man who played catcher for the 1979 Pirates. (I believe he was the backup catcher, a guy named Steve Nicosia)

Anyway, besides being on the team that upset the Orioles in the World Series, Steve had an enormous collection of bats that this guy had on display in his basement. Luis Tiant, Willie Stargell, Pete Rose, Manny Sanguillen, Bill Madlock...about 45 bats that Nicosia had collected during his playing career.

Not much to elaborate on but it was pretty cool.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Base Hits: Talking (Speaking) Baseball

With all the Derek Jeter record-breaking hoopla, you may have missed the fact that Ichiro broke Willie Keeler's 108 year old record for consecutive 200 hit seasons when he made 2009 his ninth.

But the press generally doesn't mention the team Keeler's played for and when they do, like Yahoo! Sports' David Brown, they only get it half right.

With another 200 in the hit bank, Ichiro surpasses a Hall of Famer who has one of the more famous nicknames in baseball history, "Wee" Willie Keeler, who did it from 1894-1901 for the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise.

That's only half true. In fact, it's only 3/8 true because Keeler only spent three of those eight seasons with Brooklyn. He spent the first five seasons of the streak (and his career) with the old National League Baltimore Orioles.

Just giving credit where credit is due.


Speaking of records broken, a guy named Jeter moved to 53rd on the all-time hit list and this got a lot of attention. OK, he's now the Yankee hit king. But as you can see in this report I created at, Jeter is also the all-time Yankee leader in outs.

Where was ESPN as he approached that hallowed milestone?


Speaking of the Yankees, the O's take the weekend series! This bodes well for Baltimore avoiding 100 losses. The toughest part of the September/October schedule is over. The rest of the season leaves only three games against the Red Sox. The rest of the schedule is Rays, Jays and Indians. The Indians stink. The Jays are not good. The Rays have turned back into a pumpkin and have lost 11 straight.

The O's went 4-6 against the toughest part of their schedule. It still won't all be pretty but I feel a lot better about it than I did a week or two ago.


Speaking of the weekend series, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman got the wins over the Yanks. The last two rookie pitchers to defeat the Yankees in New York in the same series? Bob Milacki and Dave Johnson on August 26th and 27th, 1989. Why not, indeed.


Speaking of rookie pitchers, the Orioles are leaning towards shutting Brian Matusz down for the season and are expected to make a decision today. Caution is probably the best prescription for this team.


Speaking of Brian Matusz, he was ranked #4 on Baseball America's year end Prospect Hot Sheet. Matusz impressed at all levels in 2009.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Baby Birds: The Notable Minor League Performances of 2009: Part 2

Part 1 was last week and covered the low minors. Now, we look at Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk.

Frederick Keys - High A

1B/3B Brandon Waring

Waring 128 .273 .354 .520 45 120 35 26 5

At 23, Waring tore up the Carolina League. Waring came over from Cincinnati in the Ramon Hernandez trade in the offseason and had the best year of his professional career. Waring took home the Caroline League MVP award and continued to hit well in a brief stint in Bowie to finish the season.

OF Robbie Widlansky

Widlansky 86 .340 .395 .506 29 48 31 7 5

An 11th round draft selection out of Florida Atlantic in 2007, Widlansky won the Carolina League batting title with a .340 average and showed some good gap power. At 24, Widlansky was a bit old for the league too but he and Waring should make the Baysox lineup a bit more formidable in 2010.

SP Zach Britton

Britton 140.0 2.70 55 131 6 1.27

A 21-year-old lefty sinkerballer who was named Carolina League pitcher of the year, struck out nearly a batter per inning and induced groundballs 65% of the time. Yeah, it's time to start getting excited about Zach Britton. The 3rd round pick in the 2006 draft is paying dividends.

RP Pat Egan

Egan 92.2 1.94 16 75 2 0.96

The stats above are cumulative from stints in Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie but the bulk of it was as a Key. A 36th round pick in 2006, Egan keeps the ball in the park, walks damn near nobody and can strike you out to boot.

Bowie Baysox - AA

3B Josh Bell

Bell 127 .295 .376 .516 61 98 35 20 3

The stats above are the combined numbers from his time in Chattanooga and his time in Bowie but he was equally good on both teams. Only 22, Bell came to the Oriole organization in the George Sherrill trade and looks to be on the fast track to Baltimore. He's the best hope for a "home grown" solution to Baltimore third base vacancy.

SP Steve Johnson

Johnson 145.1 3.41 62 154 18 1.28

While we're on the Sherrill trade, Johnson was the second half of the haul. Johnson's a flyball pitcher but the righty mowed down hitters while pitching for three teams at two levels in '09. May stay at Bowie to begin 2010 but should be in Norfolk shortly.

RP Eddie Gamboa

Gamboa 83.2 1.08 17 75 5 1.17

Another late round pick (21st round in 2008), Gamboa started the year in Delmarva and ended up in Bowie. He's moved fast and seems to be getting better. He's part of the good relief pitching depth in the Oriole system.

RP Luis Lebron

Lebron 60.1 2.54 33 91 5 0.99

The 24-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic was absolutely filthy striking out 13.06 per 9 and saving 20 games between Frederick and Bowie. He throws in the upper 90's and can throw a slider for strikes.

Norfolk Tides - AAA

OF Jeff Fiorentino

Fiorentino 102 .312 .387 .510 48 62 26 12 13

At the age of 26, Fiorentino finally put together a season the Orioles were hoping for when they drafted him in the third round in 2004. He led the Tides in average, on base percentage, homers and RBI. Let bloomer? Fluke season? Who cares? It was a hell of a performance.

SP Jake Arrieta

Arrieta 150.2 3.40 56 148 13 1.37

The stats above are combined and he dominated at Bowie but by season's end he had his legs under him in Norfolk and posted a 3.60 ERA over his last 10 starts. He'll start the season in Norfolk but could be in Baltimore by the All-Star break.

RP Josh Perrault

Perrault 72.0 2.13 18 74 7 1.01

He's 27 but he was lights out in his first year in the Oriole organization. Stats include his Bowie stint and he's heading to the AFL and if he performs well, he may be in position to make the Oriole bullpen out of Spring Training.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

About Those Retired Numbers at Camden Yards...

The theft of Cal Ripken's #8 monument from the outside of Camden Yards gives me the opportunity to comment on these monuments in a larger sense.

Below are some pictures I took of the monuments during a couple visits to the Yard this season:

The retired numbers monuments are a nice gesture but they fall short. They are aluminum. They are hollow. They seem cheap. Earl Weaver's #4 was damaged so they are not exactly durable. And to top it off, they turned out to be mobile.

The Orioles should do this: leave the number monuments but start to add proper statues of the Oriole immortals around the park.

A statue of Brooks ranging wide of third to make the play. Frank Robinson unleashing a mammoth home run swing. Cal tipping his hat to the Oriole faithful. Earl Weaver, cap turned backwards, arguing with the ump. (OK, maybe not that last one...)

The only proper statue at the park is of Babe Ruth! I know he's a Baltimore native...but he's an icon of a division rival! We can do better.

You don't have to do it all at once. Commission the Cal statue this year. In a couple of years, unveil Earl Weaver. And so on. It can and should be done.

I'm going to post some pictures of the statues outside of Turner Field. They are a start. The Oriole immortals deserve better.

A Graphical Representation of Consistency? We Try It...

This article by Jeff Zrebiec in The Baltimore Sun about the "streaky" Brian Roberts got me thinking about how to measure "streakiness". Roberts had never struck me as a streaky hitter but how could you easily tell? Hitters have good stretches and's part of baseball. Monthly splits tell some of the story but not all of it. That's when the idea of symmetry took hold.

Humans can easily identify symmetrical objects from uneven lopsided ones. It's genetic. That's how we judge beauty right?

So I just decided to measure the number of hits in each game and do a radar style graph to illustrate. For the Orioles, you can't get much more consistent than Nick Markakis' 2008 season. Here is is. Games counts go clockwise and hits come out from the center. As always, click through for a larger picture:

A couple of big outbursts throw off the balance a bit but this is about as balanced a graph as you're going to see from a good hitter.

For contrast, Melvin Mora's 2008. If you remember, Mora started pretty slow, exploded in late spring and turned out to have a pretty good year.

Fairly lopsided. That's pretty streaky.

One more from 2008, Aubrey Huff:

Pretty balanced overall with July and August being pretty killer to offset it a bit.

So now, Brian Roberts (so far) in 2009:

There are some gaps there...but really it's not that bad. You want to see real streakiness? Here's Luke Scott, 2009.

By comparison, Roberts looks fairly consistent. Sure, he has his hot streaks and cold but it's not crazy hot and cold. I would describe Roberts as many things before I would use the word "streaky".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Base Hits: Russ Smith is a Tool, What Have They Done For Us Lately and B-Rob Again.

Russ Smith wrote a poorly supported article on why the Orioles are not looking at the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to go on a rant but Kevin Lomax did a very good job over at Eutaw Street Hooligans. Besides, he's willing to curse in print.

Also, Shysterball linked to the story and the comments do a fair job of poking holes in Smith's assertions too.

Only two new things to add...

1) Why do some fans/analysts (like Smith) think they can observe ballplayers' mannerisms in the field and draw conclusions about their mood/dedication/love of the game? They're professional ballplayers, not wildlife.

2) As much as I like Brad Bergesen, anybody who sees Brian Matusz's stuff and polish and concludes that he does not have a better chance at being very good than Bergesen just isn't a bright guy.


Roar from 34 continues to be the source for all things Eutaw Street as he notes that Luke Scott, in less than two seasons, is closing in on Rafael Palmiero as the Oriole leader in launching homers that reach the boulevard that runs in front of The Warehouse.


Since August 1st:

* Melvin Mora is hitting .291/.334/.437 with 4 homers.

* Matt Wieters is hitting .243/.292/.333 with two homers, 7 walks and 30 strikeouts. I've got to admit that, hype aside, I expected Wieters to be hitting better by this stage of the season. Not particularly worried, just resetting my expectations for his learning curve.

* Oscar Salazar is hitting .395/.442/.632 with 2 homers. Granted, this is only over 38 at bats but the Padres are starting to see some usefulness in the guy beyond pinch hitter and he has gotten a few starts over the last couple weeks.

* Cla Meredith is posting a 5.94 ERA in 16.1 IP with 10 walks and 11 strikeouts. So far, he is what we thought he was. Didn't we already get this kind of production from Matt Albers? Were we that sure Salazar couldn't platoon at 1st/3rd/DH next season? Really sure?

* Jeremy Guthrie is 3-4 with a 3.83 ERA. I fully expected Guthrie to rebound a bit next season but he's managed to turn it around in August. Make no mistake, Guthrie will be a big part of this team's fortunes over the next two seasons.

* Felix Pie is hitting .321/.391/.605 with 6 home runs. He's not this good but he's pretty damned good and finally starting to show it.

* Luke Scott is hitting .206/.314/.363 with 3 home runs. This season notwithstanding, Scott can't hit lefties and his success against southpaws in '09 is a fluke. I think he makes an intriguing platoon partner with Ty Wigginton (Wiggy has a career .846 OPS against lefties) which is a moot point since Dave Trembley seems very averse to L/R platoons.


Finally, a good piece on Brian Roberts by Jeff Zrebiec in The Baltimore Sun. Zrebiec mentions Roberts' streakiness but I've never considered Roberts a streaky hitter. Which gets me thinking...hmmmmm.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Base Hits: 100 Losses, Sarasota Awaits and Revisiting Felix Pie

Since 100 losses seems to have reared its ugly head again, (many consider it a foregone conclusion), let's see how bad it would have to get for the O's to reach the century mark.

For the Orioles to lose 100 games, they would have to go 8-20 to close out the season. Their month by month records for 2009:

Mar/April 9-13
May 14-15
June 12-14
July 9-16
August 10-20

Baltimore is already 0-2 in September so it would take an 8-22 record for September and October to reach such lows. Throughout this interminable drought of winning seasons, the Orioles have flirted with that level of futility but only achieved it once: last September when they went 5-20.

There are more games left due to playing into the first week of October but even if the Orioles swept the Rangers this weekend they could go 5-20 to finish the year and lose 100 games.

The Orioles are not going to sweep the Rangers. With Adam Jones and Brad Bergesen shut down for the season and Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz soon to follow...this hopeful fan is losing hope.

It's quite possible at this point that we will see triple digit losses for the first time since 1988. (And we still won't get the first overall pick...the Nationals have 8 games on us.)


Sarasota sees the last FSL game at Ed Smith Stadium (by the Reds affiliate) of the season and for the foreseeable future as the Baltimore Orioles prepare to move their Spring Training home there in 2010.

The Florida State League is a high A league and while I can't imagine the O's changing affiliations from Frederick to Sarasota, I also can't imagine them doing nothing with Ed Smith Stadium. The GCL Orioles maybe?


Baseball America has a spotlight article on Oriole prospect and Frederick Key Zach Britton. (subscription only) The key to his success?

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Britton throws a four-seam fastball, changeup and slider. His out pitch has been an exceptional sinker.

"It's not a two-seam grip, its an actual sinker grip which I learned from (Scott McGregor) our pitching coach in (short-season) Aberdeen," Britton said. "I kind of throw it with a type of curveball grip, which gives it a little more sink and gets more ground balls. I throw it about 50 percent of the time when I'm throwing fastballs."

According to, Britton has induced grounders at a 65% rate in 2009. Nothing wrong with a sinkerballer in Camden Yards.


As you probably know, Adam Jones sprained his ankle during the Yankee series and will likely miss the rest of the season. That sucks.

However, Felix Pie will be a regular in the outfield for the rest of the season. That is awesome.

If you've been reading the blog this season, you know that I have been a strident supporter of Pie remaining the Oriole. I backed him when Lou Montanez outplayed him during Spring Training, I backed him when he struggled to start the season and only relegated him to "the 4th outfielder" when Nolan Reimold was called up and showed he was more deserving of an everyday role. But I still believed in Pie and thought that Dave Trembley wasn't utilizing him enough as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. (Even with his early season struggles in left, Pie has been the best defender in the Baltimore outfield this year.)

So this silver lining to a bad injury, these 28 games of opportunity are Pie's shot. Maybe they keep him in left and move Reimold to first. Maybe they trade Pie (or Reimold(!!!)) in a package for a veteran pitcher or young third baseman. Regardless, I believe Pie will increase his value to the team, either as trade bait or a player in September.


Off topic.

I love the Baltimore Orioles. No surprise. But I live and die with my beloved Washington Redskins just as much, if not more.

The team under Daniel Snyder has been frustrating. They underachieve, the front office signs aging players, there is a coaching merry-go-round and all of it never seems to gel right. But I'm an Orioles fan. I know how to root for a loser.

The team gouges its fans. Parking, concessions and tickets are ridiculously expensive. They charge admission to training camp. They have a captive, loyal audience that they milk for every dime they can. But I've excused it because pro football is a TV game anyway (in my opinion) and I'm all for a guy making a buck. Football is a business too.

But this may be the last straw...the team is suing fans who default on their (insane) 10 year season ticket contracts. Including 72-year-old grandmothers like Pat Hill:

On Oct. 8, the Redskins sued Hill in Prince George's County Circuit Court for backing out of a 10-year ticket-renewal agreement after the first year. The team sought payment for every season through 2017, plus interest, attorneys' fees and court costs...

Hill is one of 125 season ticket holders who asked to be released from multiyear contracts and were sued by the Redskins in the past five years. The Washington Post interviewed about two dozen of them. Most said that they were victims of the economic downturn, having lost a job or experiencing some other financial hardship.

OK, if someone can't or doesn't pay for their season tickets, the team is well within their rights to revoke the fan's claim on those seats and sell them elsewhere. Redskin season tickets are still a hot commodity; those won't be empty seats for long.

But to sue for the entire value of the ten-year contract? Your biggest fans? And you're the richest team in the NFL?

It's too much. I'm taking a break. I can't root for the Redskins this year. time to find a new team for 2009...and maybe beyond.

Boooo, Mr Snyder! Booooo!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

O's vs Yanks...It Could Be Worse?

And it has been...kind of.

The Orioles have to play New York for one more three-game set this season. If they get swept again, it will be their worst beating at the hands of the Yankees since the unbalanced schedule started..a .166 winning percentage against the Bronx Bombers.

But it has been worse.

In 1955, the Orioles won only 3 games out of 22 against New York for a .136 winning percentage. And in 1985, Baltimore won but a lone game out of 13 against the Yankees for a sad .077 winning percentage.

This is not supposed to make anyone feel any better as the Orioles are on the verge of a historic season drubbing at the hand of the New York Yankees...just saying that it could and has been worse.

The best year? 1982 when the O's went 11-2 for a .846 winning percentage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baby Birds: The Notable Minor League Performances of 2009: Part 1

With the minor league season wrapping up this week, I wanted to shine a spotlight on some fine performances from players in the Oriole minor leagues. Not all of these guys are considered prospects but they all had good seasons in 2009. Part 1 will cover the lower leagues up to low A Delmarva and Part 2 will cover high-A Frederick through AAA Norfolk. I will not be talking about guys like Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz who made the jump to the majors...everyone knows about them already.

Bluefield Orioles - Short Season Rookie

RHP Vito Fabrizio

Fabrizio 12 70.0 2.96 16 64 5 1.04

Hats off to you if you can find any background on this guy. (Feel free to leave it in the comments if you do.) Great name though.

He doesn't appear to have been drafted but the 20-year-old righthander tore up the Appalchian League and was the only Oriole named to the 2009 Appy League All-Star team. Batters hit just .223 against Fabrizio in '09. I expect he'll be with Delmarva next season.

SS Gary Helmick

Helmick 43 .282 .346 .479 15 22 10 4 5

Severn native Gary Helmick had a solid season with the glove and the bat for Bluefield. He's 21 and displayed a well-rounded game. Sadly, this was the best offense performance for any batter in Bluefield this year.

RHP Sam Taveras

Taveras 19 23.0 2.74 7 19 0 1.23

Here's an interesting relief arm. 21-year-old Taveras saved 4 games for Bluefield, posted a nice strikout rate and is an extreme groundball pitcher who has only given up 1 homer in 75 professional innings. I'm curious to see if he can keep the ball in the park at the higher levels.

Aberdeen Ironbirds - Short Season Low A

3B/DH Levi Carolus

Carolus 44 .320 .346 .426 8 38 13 1 9

Another great name! 21-year-old Curacao native is a free swinger but hit .320 with some gap power and stole 9 bases while being caught only 3 times. He has continued the good work in Delmarva for the 9 games since his call up. Sadly, (again) he is the only bat of note at Aberdeen this year.

LHP Nick Haughian

Haughian 13 74.2 2.05 20 54 2 1.08

22-year-old lefty who was drafted out of Washington in the 8th round of the 2008 draft. Not a ton of strikeouts but he got the job done ranking 4th in ERA among New York-Penn League starters.

RHP James Brandhorst

Brandhorst 19 24.0 1.50 6 26 0 1.04

21-year-old righty drafted in the 20th round this year saved four games for the Ironbirds and struck out more than 10 per 9 IP in relief. Another guy to keep an eye on out of the Delmarva bullpen in 2010.

Delmarva Shorebirds - Low A

OF Ronnie Welty

Welty 114 .294 .373 .422 41 113 24 9 12

21-year-old outfielder showed a well-rounded game with very good onbase skills. Drafted in the 20th round in 2008, Welty has progressed well for a later round draft pick. He was the sole Shorebird to be named to the 2009 South Atlantic League All-Star Team.

LHP Cole McCurry

McCurry 24 125.2 2.86 42 128 1 1.23

Another late round pick, (43rd round in 2008), McCurry's strikeout rates continue to grow. The Tennessee Wesleyan product struck out more than 1 per inning in 2009 and is still just 23. He ranks in the top five in ERA among SAL starters.

RHP Brandon Cooney

Cooney 47 54.2 2.47 19 45 2 1.24

The stats above are his combined numbers between Delmarva and Frederick but he spent most of the season as a Shorebird. Cooney is enormous at 6'6" and 240 pounds and was drafted in the 30th round in 2007. His strikeout rate is decent but he was killing worms this season as he groundball to flyball ratio was more than 2 to 1.

Next time, Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Base Hits: September Plans, Andy Pettitte and The Oriole Advocates

Lots of stuff in this Dan Connolly/Jeff Zreibec notebook entry for The Baltimore Sun.

First, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman will only make 2-3 more starts before being shut down for the season. It may be ugly on the field but given their youth and the fact that the future of the rotation hinges on these guys, I think that's a prudent move.

Second, Brad Bergesen will not return this season. I was watching as the line drive rocketed off his leg and he limped, hopped, stumbled and ultimately collapsed in the tunnel heading toward the locker room. I figured that he would not be back at that moment...damn Oriole luck. And although I am generally an optimist, consider this; an unconventional control pitcher like Bergesen needs everything to go right for him to have success and a lot of that comes from a repeatable delivery. Chien-Ming Wang was one of the best pitchers in the AL for a couple seasons, hurt his leg and was never the same. Cross you fingers for Mr. Bergesen.

Chris Waters and Chris Lambert will be recalled from Norfolk to pick up the leftover starts. Buy your blindfolds now.

Speaking of blindfolds, Alberto Castillo, Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate are being recalled today to provide "relief" for the overworked bullpen. For some reason, I like all these guys enormously. If they had recalled Bob McCrory, they would have been my full set of "favorite marginal big league relievers" that keep bouncing back and forth from Norfolk (or the DL) to Baltimore. All are flawed but I can't shake the feeling that they will all contribute to the success of the Oriole bullpen next season.

Norfolk pitching coach and former Oriole hurler Mike Griffin will finish out the season in Baltimore once IL play wraps up. Interesting...

Good to see Screech coming back to Baltimore. He's put together a fantastic season at Norfolk and I love to see guys rewarded who hang in there and overcome adversity in the minors.


Speaking of overcoming adversity, former Oriole top pick Darnell McDonald has been playing for the Reds this season and hit his first major league homer last week against the Brewers.

McDonald was sent down in May but was called up a week ago and has been tearing it up. It probably won't last and he probably won't stick but it's nice to see a guy ride the buses for 12 years and finally get some limelight.


It's rare that a New York sports reporter would write a thoughtful, informed piece about the Baltimore Orioles without a hint of arrogance or indifference. But Tyler Kepner has done just that.


Mark Teixeira article on being booed at OPACY:

"The 29-year-old, who once listened to Camden Yards fans call him out for wearing a Don Mattingly T-shirt, said that the jeers in this ballpark don't register. "

Still waiting for photographic evidence of Teixeira wearing a Don Mattingly t-shirt. That sight must have been more elusive than the Loch Ness monster...


By the way, I consider Jerry Hairston's botched play on an Adam Jones grounder to spoil Andy Pettitte's perfect game bid a cosmic universal shoutout to the club that drafted him.

And no, I didn't want to see a perfect game. Not by him, not against my team, not in Baltimore. The less Yankee celebrating in Charm City, the better. Hell, I would've been OK if Trembley had somebody lean into one to spoil it.

And can we stop it with the "near perfection" crap already. He didn't even make it into the 8th with a no-hit bid. That old man wasn't throwing a perfect game...he didn't even come that close.


How have The Oriole Advocates escaped my attention for so long? Among many other things, they created the O's Dugout Club, a product which I have actively endorsed. Lots of other cool stuff at the site. I wonder if they would accept members from the Oriole Diaspora?