Monday, November 30, 2009

Base Hits: In the Company of Felix Pie, Risky (Arms) Business, More Japanese Imports and Minor Transactions

Hey Oriole fans! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. Not a ton went on in Birdland last week but there were a few things I would like to comment on...

MASN's Steve Melewski reports that Andy MacPhail is willing to take a chance on some "high risk, high reward" arms like Erik Bedard and Ben Sheets this offseason. By proxy, I think you can include Rich Harden in that discussion.

If you can't get John Lackey, (and my other favorite to throw money at this offseason, Tim Hudson, is back off the market) this is not a bad way to go. A rotation of Erik Bedard, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jeremy Guthrie and Brad Bergesen is actually, at least, a competent rotation to open the year with.

The Orioles can afford to take a chance on a short term deal on an injury-prone pitcher due to a lot of money coming off the budget and that there are the likes of Jake Arrietta, David Hernandez and Jason Berken in the wings to fill in those potential missed starts.

Besides, how funny would it be to bring back Bedard with Adam Jones patrolling center, Tillman following him in the rotation and Kam Mickolio warming up to relieve him?


Speaking of trades, the Cubs have traded RP Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects.

What does this have to do with the Orioles? Last offseason, the O's traded SP Garrett Olson and RP Henry Williamson to the Cubs for Felix Pie. The Cubs in turn sent Olson and IF Ronny Cedeno to Seattle for Heilman.

So the Cubs traded away Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno and netted minor leaguers Williamson (a minor league career 4.46 ERA), RP Scott Maine (a middling relief prospect) and 1B Ryne White (career minor league OPS .754). Hmmm. That's not a great haul.

Of all the players that traded hands in these deals, the Orioles got the best player. And it's not really close.


The Orioles claimed C Craig Tatum off waivers from the Reds last week. The guy has a good defensive reputation and lately has hit lefties well. May be an interesting guy to watch in Spring Training since the backup catcher spot is currently unoccupied.


Farewell to P Rad Liz who was removed from the 40-man roster and claimed off waivers by the Padres.

Liz certainly had his issues and may never develop the control to pitch at the major league level but the O's did him no favors last season by declaring that he would be groomed as a reliever and then procedded to jerk him back and forth from the rotation to the 'pen.

Good luck Mr. Liz.


In my last installment of Base Hits, I wondered if Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi would consider joining his former teammate Koji Uehara in Baltimore next season. Well, according to NPB Tracker, the Orioles are indeed interested in speaking with Takahashi about pitching for Baltimore in 2010. However, scouting director John Stockstill said that the Orioles would not offer him a contract until January if interested.


I love In this graphic, you can see that Oriole starters pitched fewer innings than any other starting staff in baseball. Which is hardly surprising...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A with's Jonathan Mayo About the AFL and Oriole Prospects

With the Arizona Fall League ending this past weekend,'s Jonathan Mayo took some time out to answer a few questions about the AFL and Oriole prospects in general.

Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for and covers the minor leagues and the draft. Mayo compiles's annual list of the Top 50 Prospects in baseball and is their resident prospect expert. Additionally, Mayo is an author and with his latest book titled, "Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball's Most Intimidating Pitcher".

Dempsey's Army: The Hawaiian Winter Baseball league folded and the Arizona Fall League is still just AA and AAA players. Will MLB move to replace the gap the HWB has left and create a similar league for Rookie league, Single A and recently drafted high school players? I was thinking a small league on Florida’s west coast would work geographically.

Jonathan Mayo: Yes. There are plans for an “AFL Jr,” of sorts, hopefully in 2010. It will be in Arizona and be played in some of the new facilities out there, Goodyear and Glendale . A bunch of the teams that have instructs out there formed a co-op league this year to give the lower-level players a chance to get some game action. Also, the AFL allowed for an extra exemption for A-ball players, up to two from the usual one.

DA: Brandon Snyder looked pretty good in the field during the AFL Rising Stars game. Is his defense improving?

JM: That’s just one game, so you don’t want to draw too much from it. I’ve heard good things about his defense at first. I think he’ll be just fine there. He may not be the kind of guy who is your typical power-hitting 1B, but he’ll drive the ball enough to be a good run producer who hits for average and gets on base.

DA: Two Josh Bell questions: Does it look like he plays the field well enough to stick at 3B? Can he ever learn to hit lefties?

JM: I think he’ll be OK at third. Remember, injuries cut him short for a while when he was with the Dodgers, so I think he’s still learning over there. As for lefties, time will tell. He’ll likely never be great vs. LHP, but he really doesn’t need to be. Very small sample size in the AFL, but he’s had some good ABs against lefties. Hopefully, that’s a good sign.

DA: For the Orioles, CF Matt Angle has gone under the radar in their farm system. His skills are limited but he gets on base and steal bases at outstanding rates. If he can duplicate that success in AA Bowie, should he be considered a decent prospect?

JM: There are always guys who go under-appreciated. Whether Angle is one of those guys will depend on what he does at the upper levels. Guys like him have a hard time getting “prospect buzz.” He’s small, he has no power and he’ll play all season at age 24, putting him on the older side of guys who’ll be in Double-A. But every year there are guys who sneak up and make it when no one is looking.

DA: Outside of Matt Wieters, which Oriole under the age of 26 has the biggest impact in Baltimore next season? (This list includes Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, Brian Matusz, Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell and Troy Patton)

JM: Remember a time where you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on a list like this? I’m one to usually go with the every-day player, though there are some really good starters on there. But I’d have to say Adam Jones is the guy. He showed last year what he’s capable of and he’s still learning. Any time you can have a five-tool guy who can impact the game in so many ways, you have to be excited.

DA: One of the silver linings of the 2009 season is that Baltimore will have the #3 pick for the 2010 Amateur Draft. It’s really early but what player (or what type of player) will be available at the 3 slot?

JM: Umm, a good one? Seriously, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to be out there. It does look like there will be some good college arms, though as you said, it’s so early, anything can happen and players can emerge. But you can never have enough pitching, right?

DA: What do the Orioles need to add to compete at this point? Is 2011 too soon to ask for a winner?

JM: Get the Red Sox and/or Yankees moved to another division? It’s not just that they spend money. The Sox have a terrific farm system to boot and the Yankees spent their money more wisely and if they continue to do it that way, it’ll be an uphill struggle. And I’m not even mentioning the Rays, who are set up to be very competitive for a long time. But that’s the model the O’s are going for, right? Having young talent coming up every year will give them a chance. I think 2011 or 2012 is a realistic time to expect this talent to start paying dividends.

DA: I check in on the Around The Minors video segments on that you and Lisa Winston produce. Any chance of reviving the Around the Minors podcast? There is really nothing else out there to fill that demand.

JM: We would love to revive that, but I’m not the person to ask. For now, you’ll have to get by with the video segments on Maybe we can convince someone to bring something back, a podcast or how about a show on MLB Network?

Friday, November 20, 2009

CHONE Projections for Potential Oriole Third Basemen

Free agency kicks off today! The Orioles need a third baseman so I wanted to look at the free agents available this off-season. I would rather the Orioles fill third through with free agent signee for two years or less. Why? Because:

1) I don't want the Orioles giving up prospects for a Dan Uggla-type (who, by the way, has stated through his agent that he wants to keep playing second, not move to third...)
2) I don't want to sign a veteran to a contract that may block Josh Bell when he looks ready to play.

The 2010 CHONE Projections for some free agent third basemen:

Troy Glaus .247/.351/.436 10
C. Figgins .276/.375/.367 4
A. Beltre .272/.322/.448 1
M. DeRosa .257/.335/.416 -1
J. Crede .255/.317/.439 -1
J. Uribe .254/.299/.420 -10
J. Hairston .254/.318/.380 -11
P. Feliz .254/.298/.393 -16

The Baltimore Sun has mentioned Hank Blalock as a potential target for the Orioles but I have a hard time believing they want him for third base. I imagine if he is signed that he will play third as much as Aubrey Huff did.

I'm eliminating Chone Figgins. That guy's getting a 5-year deal for sure. I am also beginning to believe that Adrian Beltre is going to get a 3+ year deal so he's off the list too.

Glaus is scary with shoulder and back injuries recently. He would be available on a short deal but you'd have to be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Ditto for Joe Crede and the Twins are looking to re-sign him for 2010 anyway.

That leaves DeRosa, Uribe, Hairston and Feliz and that's the definition of slim pickings. DeRosa, Uribe and Hairston all bring varying degrees of offense and defensive abilities and all have the ability to become a utility player once a better option is available at third. Pedro Feliz would be a classic good glove/bad bat.

However, let's compare the in-house options to the free agents. Again, 2010 CHONE Projections:

T. Wigginton .269/.323/.446 1
Scott Moore .254/.325/.447 2

Neither of these guys will embarrass themselves with the glove and both are projected to hit better than the quartet I listed above. And neither will block Bell.

Maybe there's an interesting trade that will provide value at third and not move any of our top prospects. But the O's are a long shot to contend in 2010. I think they should look for options at first base and let Wigginton and (a healthy) Scott Moore platoon at third.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Base Hits: The Price of Greatness, Prospect News and The AFL Winds Down

Many have made their thoughts known about the AL Gold Glove selections but Joe Posnanski lays it out better than anyone else can.


Feeling the Hot Stove itch? Wanting the Orioles to get aggressive in the free agent market? Daniel Moroz lays out what kind of money it would take to make the Orioles a contender in 2010...and it's a bit sobering.


Want some good news? Orioles prospects Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder had the reputation for suspect defense. But Baseball America's Ben Badler says that perception is changing fast.


In the stunner of the offseason, the Reds have signed C Ramon Hernandez to a $3 million deal for 2010 with a vesting option for 2011. Really? He's not a great defensive catcher anymore and the likes of Gregg Zaun outhit him in 2009. You would think there would be cheaper options available through free agency.


The Phoenix Desert Dogs have clinched the AFL East in the Arizona Fall League. They will play in the AFL Championship game this Saturday at 2:30 PM. It will be a good chance to see Oriole 3B prospect Josh Bell, among others. Top draft pick and Nationals savior Stephen Strasbourg will start for the Desert Dogs.


From an MLB Network press release I got in the mail...

A new season of Baseball’s Seasons begins this week on MLB Network with a focus on the most memorable moments of the 1979 Major League Baseball season. The documentary-style series created by Major League Baseball Productions focuses on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ championship season led by Dave Parker and 1979 National League MVP Willie Stargell; the story of the Baltimore Orioles, led by Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver and 1979 All-Star Ken Singleton; and the California Angels who, with veterans like Rod Carew & 1979 American League MVP Don Baylor, reached the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history....

The episode will air on Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET and re-air at 11:00 p.m. ET.

Should be some good O's footage in this episoide. Maybe some Don Stanhouse footage...


According to, former Oriole and current Rays farmhand 1B Chris Richard is trying out for the Chiba Lotte Marines of the NPB (the major Japanese league).

On another note, Yomiuri Giants pitcher Hisanori Takahashi recently reported in an interview that he is coming to the US to pitch next year in part because of a current Oriole pitcher.

When did you start considering the Major Leagues?

“The desire to accomplish my dream has gotten stronger since last year. After watching Koji Uehara play baseball overseas, my admiration for Major Leagues increased.”

Maybe his admiration for the Baltimore Orioles increased too and he will come and join Uehara on the Orioles. We need all the help we can get.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Orioles Family FanFest - Sarasota is Birdland!

As far as I know, I am the southern-most blogger who writes about the Baltimore Orioles. As such, I felt it was my duty and obligation to cover this past Saturday's Orioles Family FanFest that was held at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL.

So I gassed up the car, loaded a cooler full of energy drinks, strapped my daughter into the backseat, (Poor kid. Not the last of her father's half-cocked trips she'll get drug along on.) and left Atlanta before dawn.

I drove by Ed Smith Stadium over an hour before the FanFest was set to start but already there were plenty of cars in the parking lot. This was unexpected so I turned around and pulled into the parking lot. There is already a new sign proclaiming Ed Smith Stadium the "Spring Training Home of the Baltimore Orioles".

There was already a line outside the stadium to get in! 40 minutes before gates were set to open, the line already stretched to the parking lot. Were there this many Oriole fans in Sarasota? After getting suntan lotion on and donning our Oriole gear, we went up to wait in line at 1:00 to await the 1:30 open. By the time gates opened,the line snaked up an down the fairly sizable lot. I would estimate that nearly 1000 people were on line.

As we entered the turnstile beneath the "arch" of orange and white balloons, we were handed some vouchers for a free drink and a free hot dog at the concession stand and greeted by the Oriole Bird. Off to the left, there was a kid's activity area where kids could get their faces painted, play a bean bag game and they gave all the kids an Oriole Dugout Club hat and a Orioles pennant. Clowns and unicyclists (?!?) were roaming around as well.

Further on, more free stuff. Stadium workers were giving out Oriole hats, Oriole car magnets beer! I wasn't drinking that day but there was free Bud and Bud Lite for whoever wanted to partake (and was of legal drinking age, of course).

The weather was fantastic. 79 degrees and sunny, no humidity to speak of.

Now the stadium: I have been to Ft. Lauderdale Stadium and I have made my opinions known. That place was poorly maintained and still covered in Yankee colors. I didn't expect much from Ed Smith Stadium but it was clean, seems to be well maintained and the field itself looked great. It's still covered in a Reds color scheme but even as it stands now, it's a very big upgrade from the facility in Ft. Lauderdale.

The festivities began with (Sarasota resident) Gary Thorne taking the mic (again, Gary Thorne has great pipes...) at home plate and introduced the various Sarastoa government officials in attendance, Louis (I think) Angelos (son of Peter), Dave Trembley, Jim Palmer, Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen and they each came out to the field.

One of the local politicians read a proclamation that November 16th would be Orioles Day in Sarasota. Then Angelos then took the mic and addressed the people of Sarasota, thanking them for their hospitality and referring to an upcoming renovation of the Sarasota baseball facilities to "a ballpark that is the premier baseball facility, not just in Florida but you can include Arizona."

Angelos and Thorne especially did a lot of sucking up to the Sarasotan which was understandable. Jim Palmer also addressed the crowd and flattered the area and the residents.

After the initial addressing of the crowd, there was a Q&A "hosted" by Gary Thorne on the first base dugout featuring Adam Jones, Jim Palmer, Dave Trembley, Nolan Reimold, Brad Bergesen and Sarasota resident Jim Johnson. after each one of them made a quick opening statement, Thorne opened things up for questions. Let me tell you, those old guys in Sarasota love Jim Palmer. I'd say that Palmer fielded more questions than the rest of the current Orioles combined. "Mr. Palmer, how come guys today don't pitch 300 innings like you did?" "Mr. Palmer, who was the toughest hitter you ever faced?" "Mr. Palmer, do you keep your portrait in your attic?" (The last was a thinly veiled and confusing reference to "The Portrait of Dorian Gray", a reference which Palmer did not immediately catch.)

In between old coots gushing over Jim Palmer, a few Oriole fans got to ask questions to the current players. Adam Jones was asked what his workout regimen consists of during the offseason. So far, that seems to have consisted of relaxing in Hawaii!

Dave Trembley was asked how he intends to fill the hole at third base now that Melvin Mora is gone. Trembley talked quite a bit about Josh Bell and the progress he has made this year but did mention at the end that the free agent pool for 3B is plentiful and that the Orioles will be keeping an eye on things. (I interpret this to mean that Andy MacPhail has told Trembley that he's not going to let him sink with scrubs from the farm system at third next season and that they will at least be looking at signing a stopgap major league 3B before 2010 begins.) Trembely also stated that the Orioles need to score at least 800 runs to compete in the AL East (something the club has only done once in the last 10 seasons, by the way...) and that third and first need to be manned by run producing players in the future.

Reimold and Bergesen were asked about their injuries. Reimold said that his frayed tendon had been repaired and that they had not had to "pick up" the tendon during surgery or he would be in worse shape. He is doing rehab two times and week, is feeling healthier every week and will be ready for next year. (He did not say he would be ready for Spring Training.) Bergesen said his leg is better but still not 100%. He said he would start running "in the next week or so" and that he expected to be 100% for "Spring Training, day 1".

After the Q&A, an autograph session began that was scheduled to last the final hour of the FanFest and the field was open for kids to run the bases. I am not an autograph guy and my daughter had decided against running the bases at this point so we went and cashed in hot dog and soda vouchers and went back to the hotel.

Negatives? The redneck sitting behind me who griped and yelled about the Baltimore fans contributing the customary "O!" during The Star Spangled Banner ("It disrespects the song!!") and complaining about the Oriole promotions team ("The Red Sox did a much better job! They stink!")

The event was well worth the trip for me. There were roughly 2500 people at the FanFest so there is local support for the team (nothing to sneeze at given that the team has been losing for 12 years) and the facility looks good with loads more potential. I have always preferred Florida's west coast to the east so it makes a much more appealing Spring Training destination as far as I'm concerned.

I got my baseball fix and a taste of Spring Training. 95 days until pitchers and catchers report...

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Platinum Tools Awards: American League 2009

We've been talking about the best defenders, the best hitters, Golden Gloves and Silver Sluggers, who's deserving, who's not...but what about the players who bring the best of both worlds?

I took the top players in OPS at each position who qualified for the batting title in each league. Then I took the top players in UZR/150 at each postion in each league. The players in the top ten were then awarded points (10 for first, 9 for second, and so on.) The player with the highgest total score is awarded the Platinum Tools Award for 2009. DH is not included and neither is catcher which has no UZR measure. Ready?

RF - J.D. Drew - It wasn't even close. Drew led AL right fielders in UZR and OPS. Nick Markakis was near the bottom of this list.

CF - Torii Hunter - Hunter had a bounceback year at the plate and flashed enough glove to just edge the trio of Adam Jones, Franklin Gutierrez and B.J. Upton.

LF - Carl Crawford - Crawford was the clear winner over the surprising Jason Bay.

3B - Evan Longoria - No surprise here. But Chone Figgins comes in second which I didn't expect. Melvin Mora brings up the rear.

SS - Derek Jeter - ...and by a big margin. Nobody else began to have the kind of well-rounded game at short that Jeter had. Cesar Izturis was tops in UZR/150 and last in OPS.

2B - Dustin Pedroia - Pedroia had a sneaky good year at the plate and a nice year with the glove. Brian Roberts brings up the rear of a very good crop of second basemen.

1B - Kendry Morales and Miguel Cabrera (tie) - Morales and Cabrera put up near-Teixeira-like numbers and edged him out on UZR.

Later on, the National League.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Base Hits: Jones Gets His Glove, Spring Training (Again) and Prospect News

Will the Orioles hold Spring Training in Sarasota in 2010 after all?

It makes little sense that they won't given the fact that there will be an Oriole Fan Fest in Sarasota this weekend and with so much invested in the move. This problem with notification would appear to be just a technicality.


So after I offered all the rational reasons that Adam Jones would not win a Gold Glove yesterday, he won it anyway.

Congrats to him...if you base it on his last two seasons of work, he is very deserving. But just like I argued last season for Jones and Markakis to win the award and in 2007 for Markakis again, I would be a bit disingenuous if I pretended that Jones deserved the award for his work in 2009 alone. By the same standards I championed him last season, I must say that he is not one of the three best outfielders in the AL. The highest I could honestly put him is 4th.


The Orioles made their first acquisition of the offseason when they grabbed P Armando Gabino off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Who? (Give them this, the Orioles's scouts are paying attention. They seem to always know the guys they feel are worthy of a waiver claim...whether they actually work out out or not.)

Gabino is a 6'3", 215 lb righty who will be 26 next season. He has a 3.30 minor league ERA and while not a big strikeout guy, he does have a nice K/BB ratio (2.67 in AAA last year). He's not really a groundball pitcher but not really a flyball pitcher either. I take nothing from the 3.2 innings he pitched for the Twins last year.

All you people who moan about the bullpen...these are the kinds of moves that can turn a bullpen around.


Baseball Prospectus has released their Top 11 (plus four more) Prospects for the Baltimore Orioles and non-subscribers can check out the list here.

Some excerpts from the write-ups:

3B Josh Bell - As much as Bell improved at the plate in 2009, he made even larger strides defensively. Once seen as a future first baseman, Bell has made significant improvement in his instincts and footwork at the hot corner, while his arm has always been a plus. In an age where many players focus solely on the batting cage, Bell's commitment to defense also speaks to his makeup...While Bell is a switch-hitter, he still struggles against left-handers, as hit he just .193 with one homer against them in 2009.

SP Jake Arrieta - Arrieta's secondary pitches are all works in progress, which leads to an overreliance on his fastball, a habit that had him getting punished at times in the International League.

SP Matt Hobgood - There are concerns about Hobgood's body, as those who saw him in the Appalachian League and instructional league say he was already significantly larger than his listed weight of 245 pounds. That factor, combined with the stress of a long year, saw his velocity dip into the 87-91 range during his pro debut. Conditioning will likely always be an issue with him.

1B Brandon Snyder - Snyder doesn't profile well at his position, as he lacks plus power. While his defense has improved at first base, he's still below average there. A steady diet of breaking balls exposed the holes in his offensive game at Triple-A, and he'll need to make adjustments to have any kind of major league career.

C Caleb Joseph - Joseph will get his first taste of the upper levels in 2010 by beginning the year at Double-A, with a chance to end it as one of Baltimore's best trade chips.

That stuff about Matt Hobgood going all Sidney Ponson on us at age 18 is a bit disconcerting. But there's a lot to like on this list.


The Dan Uggla to Baltimore reports are interesting. A righthanded power bat that can move to first or DH if Josh Bell forces his way to Baltimore.

But I wouldn't give up a ton for a guy who is a career 114 the weaker National League and has little value in the field.


In news that matters only to me, Baysox C Adam Donachie will return to the Oriole organization next season. Donachie is a good defensive catcher and rakes against lefties. Part of me still believes he will make a good backup catcher in Baltimore someday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why Adam Jones Is Not Actually Going to Win A Gold Glove This Year

I'm not one to address a lot of rumors on this site but when reputable sources start reporting them, I feel the need to at least throw some cold water in the general direction.

Rumor has it that Oriole CF Adam Jones will be awarded his first Gold Glove early this week. How do we know this? His brother congratulated him on his MySpace page for the award. Flimsy evidence that everybody seems to be running with. However, there is a ton of evidence to the contrary.

What follows is a look at how Gold Gloves are awarded and how Jones stands up to each set of criteria. This is not an analysis on whether Jones deserves the award or not. I think most avid baseball fans realize that the award does not always go to the most deserving player. (The fact that Derek Jeter owns more Gold Gloves than Cal Ripken, Jr. is a case in point.) I looked at AL outfield award winners from the last 20 years for comparison.

1. Gold Gloves are Awarded on Reputation

The winners are voted for by major league managers and coaches. Managers are not allowed to vote for their own players. This is one of the factors that contribute to players continuing to get a Gold Glove even as their skills in the field decline. If a player has won 4 straight awards, he is likely to be written in again by many voters simply because they "know he's a great fielder". Not necessarily the best but a great fielder.

Jones faces three incumbents in the AL: Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki and Grady Sizemore. Hunter and Suzuki have each won for 8 straight seasons. Sizemore for 2. Was Jones' defense really so spectacular that he unseats one of these three? I don't think so.

But even if you dropped Sizemore (he was hurt for much of 2009), there are other reps to overcome. Would Jones be able to elbow aside Carl Crawford, an AL outfielder with a terrific and deserved defensive reputation? Or Franklin Gutierrez? Or BJ Upton? Or Curtis Granderson? All these guys have a longer track record and a perception that they are great defenders. And all are at least as good as Jones was in 2009.

To paraphrase The Fresh Prince, "Jones is only 23, he don't have a rep yet."

2. Gold Gloves are Influenced by Offense As Much As Defense

Sad but true, many Gold Gloves are given in part because a player's bat gets them some attention. First time award winners often have eye-popping stats at the plate.

Kenny Lofton hits .325 and steals 70 bases in '93. Jay Buhner hits 44 homers in '95. Shawn Green hits 42 homers in 1999. Darin Erstad hit's .355 in 2000. Some of these players were worthy Gold Glovers, some of them weren't. But their first wins all coincided with great offensive years.

Did Jones have a great offensive year? No. He made strides and was a good hitter but he wasn't an elite offensive force.

It works the opposite way too sometimes. But Ichiro hit .352 this season and Hunter had the best offensive season of his career. They are unlikely to be unseated as Gold Glovers. Sizemore

had a down year but his OPS was still better than Jones. Again, Sizemore looks to be the weak link at this point but Jones doesn't have the eye-popping stats that could unseat an entrenched winner.

3. The Rule of 120

No AL outfielder in the last 20 years has won his first Gold Glove while playing less than 120 games. It's rare that it has happened at all, at least in a non-strike year. Hunter won a Gold glove in '05 playing 98. Griffey won it in '95 playing in 72. But these were "rep" awards.

Jones only played in 119 games. I'm sure many managers and coaches didn't even see him this season during the stretches that he was injured. He simply didn't play enough to make a big impression.

4. If Voters Look at Fielding Stats at All, They Look at "Traditional" Stats

Voters tend to look at basic fielding stats like errors and fielding percentage, if they look at all. Jones' .986 fielding percentage is near the bottom of regular AL centerfielders. There are not many outfielders who can top 5 errors either...and Jones only played 118 games in the field.

Nothing from the basic stats (or the advanced stats for that matter) make Jones stand out. If you were looking at these basic stats, David DeJesus would have to be a strong candidate (and he may be one anyway).


So, Adam Jones is going to unseat incumbent Gold glove winners, overcome other veteran outfielders with good defensive reputations and win his first Gold Glove with a "meh" offensive season and a "meh" season with the glove, all the while playing less than 75% of the season on a small market losing team? Add to this the fact that to the "eye" and the advanced defensive metrics, Jones did not always look great in the field.

Is it impossible for Jones to win? No. Is he deserving? Probably not. Is he likely to win? Absolutely not. It just doesn't make sense, regardless of what a guy on MySpace claims.

Arizona Fall League Update: 11/9/2009

I watched the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday. The quick stats for the Oriole prospects:

1B Brandon Snyder: 1-4 with a walk
3B Josh Bell: no official at-bats but a walk and an RBI sac fly in 2 plate appearances
P Brandon Erbe and 1B/DH Brandon Waring did not play.

Beyond the numbers, Brandon Snyder's bat looked a bit slow against the hard throwers. He was late a lot. On the other hand, Snyder made a great play diving to his right in the first inning, flipping the ball to the pitcher at first for the out, robbing Mike Moustakas of a base hit. Snyder looked very good in the field all night.

Josh Bell demonstrated a pretty good eye and a lot of ink on the forearms. I can't think of another Oriole who has sported tattoos that were visible while they were in uniform.

Jason Castro: Big arm. The 22-year-old Astro catcher looked great behind the plate.
Yonder Alonso: Big power
Jemile Weeks: fast, fast FAST!
Dustin Ackley: Plays a great centerfield. Makes it look easy.

Oriole Prospects

Brandon Snyder continues to hit well psoting a .355/.453/.597 line for the Desert Dogs.

Josh Bell has cooled a bit but is still hitting .309/.397/.473. Snyder and Bell continue to be intriguing possibilities to fill the holes at the corner infield positions, maybe as early as next season.

CF Matt Angle continues to get on base. His .298/.370/.362 line is pretty impressive when you consider that he has stolen 6 bases and not been caught yet. There is a place in the bigs for a leadoff guy who gets on base at a .370 clip and steals bases. He is a guy to watch closely at Bowie next season.

Brandon Waring is hitting .290/.361/.613 in limited action.

P Brandon Erbe has pitched the best of the Oriole prospects albeit only over 3 starts and 9.0 innings pitched. A 1.11 WHIP, a 2.00 ERA and a 4.5 K/BB ratio so far.

Out of the pen, RP Eddie Gamboa pitched well before getting hurt, posting a 3.86 ERA. RP Josh Perrault sports a 2.70 ERA but has walked 4 while only striking out 3. Those numbers will need to improve is Perrault hopes to break camp with the Orioles out of Spring Training.

P Ryohei Tanaka has served as a swingman of sorts for the Desert Dogs and got knocked around during his last outing to rasie his ERA to 5.54. But before that, he had pitched fairly well and still boasts 10 Ks to only 3 BBs over 13.0 IP.

Other Prospects

Toronto hitting prospect is getting exposed in this hitter's league and is hitting a measly .167/.281/.250.

Oakland 2B Jemile Weeks is hitting .300 with 5 stolen bases and leads the Dogs with 3 triples.

CF Grant Desme continues to own Arizona hitting .354/.433/.754 (!) this fall.

At 13-9 and a 3.5 game lead on the rest of the AFL East (with 10 games to go), the Desert Dogs are virtual locks to play int he AFL Championship. The game will be on MLB Network Saturday, November 21st at 2:30 PM. There should be Orioles-a-plenty in action for that game.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Base Hits: The Offseason Begins, Sarasota Hits a Snag and the Strange Case of Vito Fabrizio.

The Oriole designated a few players for assignment this week and three opted for free agency. Farewell to Guillermo Rodriguez and Jeff Fiorentino. Rodriguez will continue his journeyman career elsewhere. I think Fiorentino would make a nice 4th outfielder in the National League. I don't think he's any worse than a lot of bench players in that league.

Rich Hill seems to be open to returning to the Orioles and the Orioles seem to be willing to give him another shot. As long as that shot starts in Norfolk, I would be fine with that.

Unfortunately, Alfredo Simon accepted his assignment to Norfolk.


A potential snag in Sarasota? Last week, I mentioned that citizens who live near Ed Smith Stadium were concerned about pollution at the site of the complex. There has been more light shed on that situation but there is a concern that those questions may delay funding for the stadium renovation and pollution clean up. Could this jeopardize Baltimore's move to Sarasota? Stay tuned...


Way back in September, I highlighted some top performances by player in the low minors of the Oriole farm system. I wondered who on Earth Bluefield pitcher Vito Fabrizio was and where he came from. Recently, a commenter provided some information. Kepp in mind, it's from an anonymous commenter and I cannot verify this information but I wanted to share it anyway.

ok this is the story on frabizio... he did not graduate high school in 08 he was a high level prospect as both a short stop and an outfielder the orioles found his spot and that was on the mound ... he is a low 90s guy with a big league curve ball and a plus plus change up he throws 4 pitches for a strike .. he was not able to be drafted because of high school.. he got 8th round money as a free agent with no high school diploma witch is unheard of .. he is legit . he knows how to pitch and the boy can do it well .


Roch Kubatko was venting over at School of Rock on and said one thing that struck me as odd...

Case in point: The story (not produced by beat writer Spencer Fordin) with the headline "O's hope to re-sign two free agents"

I've read it twice and can't find where the Orioles are expressing their desire to bring back reliever Danys Baez. For whatever reason, he's lumped in with Mark Hendrickson, perhaps causing the confusion. But all we have is Baez's agent stating that his client has "very much enjoyed his time with the organization and would certainly entertain the prospect of returning."

Roch is right, the headline is misleading. However, by pointing out that the article was not produced by regular beat writer Spencer Fordin, he implies that the writer of the article jumps to incorrect conclusions. But that's not how it works. writers submit the stories but do not write the actual headlines. The story itself is consistent and factual but the headline is misleading..which is not the writer's fault.

It is my understanding that this is how most newspapers work too...given Roch Kubatko's history at The Baltimore Sun, you would think he might have known that.

Just seemed an odd thing to call someone out on.

Or maybe he was just venting too hard.


So, I went to do some research on the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league but could find nothing. That's because there is not one!

I completely missed this but according to this article from Baseball Prospectus last winter, the league has folded.

I guess after the Hawaiians saw Matt Wieters last winter, that normal prospects would just not do.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oriole Trade Monitor: A Bit of Perspective

As you may know, I update the Oriole Trade Monitors throughout the season to show how certain trades are working out for Baltimore. I measure the values in terms of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) but I realize that is hard for most people to quantify in real life terms without a frame of reference.

So here's a frame of reference. The Glenn Davis trade of 1991, measured in WAR. Totals listed include all seasons played from the day the trade was made.

Glenn Davis: 0.1 WAR

Curt Schilling: 69.8 WAR
Pete Harnisch: 16.6 WAR
Steve Finley: 40.4 WAR

That's what a lopsided trade looks like. The Orioles gave up 126.8 WAR in talent and got just 0.1 in return. They gave up 1,268 times the value they got back!

On a happier note, the 1976 trade with the Yankees that netted Baltimore, among others, catcher Rick Dempsey. WAR is for years played with New York and Baltimore only.

Tippy Martinez: 6.0 WAR
Rudy May: 2.1 WAR
Scott McGregor: 17.5 WAR
Rick Dempsey: 20.1 WAR
Dave Pagan: -1.5 WAR

Doyle Alexander: 1.1 WAR
Jimmy Freeman: o.o WAR
Ellie Hendricks: 0.2 WAR
Ken Holtzman: -2.8 WAR
Grant Jackson: 1.6 WAR

The O's won this one 45.7 to 0.1. Yep, Rick Dempsey turned out to be the gem of that deal for Baltimore.

Hopefully, this exercise gives a bit of perspective to the Oriole Trade Monitors.

Historical WAR data taken from Trade data from