Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Delving into Brad Bergesen...Again

This past Friday, MASN's Steve Melewski had a post about Brad Bergesen and how his fine performance is at odds with modern statistical assessment. In particular, he references a FanGraphs article about Bergesen where his performance is viewed through the prism of various predictive stats.

But stats, in any sport, have never told a complete story. What about a players experience? What about his poise, his guts, his work ethic, his heart?

Baseball Prospectus doesn't have a number for that. No one does. It seems to me, Bergesen scores high in areas we can't put a number on.

I don't dismiss these useful stats and in fact continue to learn more about them all the time. But sometimes when you interview a player and/or hear his teammates talk about him and then you see him in person you learn things that Fangraphs could never tell you.

The comments were then filled (mostly) with the usual knee-jerk screeds about how stat guys should take their nose out of their spreadsheets, blah, blah, blah. But that's not Steve's fault. I agree with Steve to an extent but let's refute some of the assertions first because,well, it's what I do best and that's more fun.

Firstly, let's look at the FanGraphs article by Dan Budreika that inspired Steve's post. That article was an article on fantasy baseball (which Melewski does mention). Bergesen is a borderline pitcher for fantasy purposes. He doesn't strike out many batters and he allows baserunners. His value is wrapped up in his lack of walks and his ERA, which the article said he might not be able to keep so low. But Dan concludes the article with this:

But if he maintains a similar profile to last year then he’s certainly a serviceable pitcher (and much more valuable in real-life) at the back of your rotation and even more valuable in deeper leagues.

Fantasy has little to do with real-life baseball but the author concedes that Bergesen may have some value even in fantasy and certainly that he is valuable in real-life. He's hardly bagging on Bergesen, he's just trying to get his head around how Bergesen does what he does.

But stats, in any sport, have never told a complete story.

But stats do speak to many of Bergesen's strengths. His GB% rate was 50.1% in 2009. According to FanGraphs.com, that was good for 17th in the majors, 6th in the AL. He walked only 2.3 per 9 innings, good for 11th in the NL. He gets groundballs, doesn't walk a lot of people and keeps the ball in the park. That's recipe for success in the majors, if not stardom. And those things can be quantified with statistics.

What about a players experience? What about his poise, his guts, his work ethic, his heart?

Baseball Prospectus doesn't have a number for that. No one does. It seems to me, Bergesen scores high in areas we can't put a number on.

I agree with Steve on this point. This is what scouting is for. Makeup, work ethic, coachability...these things are the intangibles that must be examined, especially for guys with fringy stuff.

But even knowing those things, there is only so far that wil take you without the stuff to compete. And if you're watching Brad Bergesen in AAA, how is someone to know if his stuff will translate to the majors? Did Josh Towers fail because he had poor makeup? Or Garrett Olson? Both those guys had good reps for makeup. Ultimately, it comes down to talent.

This is not to say that Bergesen cannot continue to do so. He does lots of little things well (in The Bill James Handbook, he is second to only Mark Buerhle in fielding his position according to scouts) and there are some guys who can succeed with his skill set. Mark Buerhle comes to mind. John Lackey's rookie season looked a lot like Bergesen's. Derek Lowe to some extent. And then there are the extreme outliers like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. It can be done but you can also understand the skepticism.

Nobody knows what allows guys with fringy stuff to succeed on the highest level. (Or for that matter, what causes guys with great stuff to fail.) If you can figure that out, you'll be a rich man. As it is, it's far more art than science. And usually, guys like Bergesen will fail as starters.

However, blending the stats with what I've seen with my eyes, I'm a believer. I don't think Bergesen will ever be an ace but I think he could be a slightly above average, back of the rotation pitcher for many years. Think of a Tim Wakefield type guy. Nothing wrong with a dependable starter like that.

But there's little reason to juxtapose stats vs. intangibles. It's a blending of the two where the answer lies. And even that is murky.

For a FanGraphs article that paints Bergesen in a good light and wonders why he was missed on top prospects list, check out this article from Bryan Smith.

Meet Craig Tatum

Orioles MLB.com Beat Reporter Britt Ghiroli is full of information this morning. She has now reported that, in a mild upset, that Craig Tatum has won the backup catcher spot from Chad Moeller.

So who is Craig Tatum?

The Reds drafted Tatum out of Mississippi State with their 3rd round pick in 2004. Tatum's bat never came around like the Reds hoped it would and they placed him on waivers this offseason. Tatum has a career minor league batting line of .253/.318/.385 and hit .239/.300/.338 last year for AAA Louisville. According to MinorLeagueSplits.com, that a Major League Equivalent of .203/.253/.276. That's a .529 OPS and that's offensive futility on a Paul Bako level, even lower than Chad Moeller's career line.

So how's his arm? For his minor league career, Tatum has thrown out 32% of opposing base runners which is pretty damn good these days. However, he only threw out 21% of base runners last season in AAA. Chad Moeller has thrown out 24% over the course of his career but you can make the argument that Tatum will be at least marginally better in this regard.

So the question comes down to this: Is Tatum's defense good enough to offset his potentially horrible bat? I don't know. I have seen Moeller play and he looks like a pretty good defensive catcher. I haven't seen Tatum, so outside of throwing out opposing base runners, I have nothing to base that on. But he had better be unbelievable behind the plate if he's not going to break the .600 OPS mark or somebody on the AAA roster's going to get a crack this summer.

David Hernandez Has Won a Rotation Spot?

Saw this from Oriole beat reporter Britt Ghiroli's Twitter account:

Hernandez smiled secretly when I bugged him about the 5th starter spot. Safe to say he's gonna be the #orioles fifth guy.

That's a shocker to me. Even though Dave Trembley has said all spring that there is an open competition for the 5th spot in the rotation, I certainly didn't believe him. But given Trembley's annoying tendency to take Spring Training performances way too seriously (see Alfredo Simon 2009), I guess I should have seen this coming.

David Hernandez has struck out 20 over 15 innings this spring and only walked 3. A strikeout pitcher in the minors, I suppose that the Oriole brass may believe he has figured it out again after only striking out 68 over 101.1 innings in 2009. I like Hernandez's makeup. Even when he was getting shelled last season, he never seemed to lose his composure. I just wasn't sure he was cut out for the rotation.

Chris Tillman has nothing left to prove in terms of performance in AAA. He dominated the International League and was the best pitcher in the league not named "Tommy Hanson". The only reason they might be sending him down would be to work on his control. He has walked 9 in 16 innings this spring and when I saw him, he was running deep into counts even when he was doing well. This was always a concern for Tillman and if that's why they are sending him down, I guess I can live with that.

To recap, not crazy about this move but you can make the argument. I just wonder if the Orioles are making that argument or just making a snap decision based on Spring Training stats.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A History of the Oriole Closer: From Zuverink to Sherrill - The 70's

For the third installment of this series, (the 50's and 60's can be found here and here) we enter the 70's, the Oriole golden years. We have seen saves collected by a collection of swingmen, to a dedicated reliever supported by swingmen, to the primitive closer/setup man roles of Hank Bauer and the lefty/righty closer combos of Earl Weaver.

Weaver would continue his lefty/right pattern in the 70's...but he wouldn't end up that way.


Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Pete Richert     7-2    1.98     13    54.2
Dick Hall       10-5    3.08      3    61.1
Marcelino Lopez  1-1    2.08      0    60.2
Eddie Watt       7-7    3.25     12    55.1

30-year-old Pete Richert acted as the lefty complement to the righty Eddie Watt and they comprised the now familiar 1-2 relief punch that the Orioles had used for the past 8 seasons. Richert, a fastball/slider pitcher had come from the Senators (the best starting pitcher on a wretched team) in a trade during the '67 season but he was converted to a reliever and performed admirably in that role for three Oriole World Series teams. He set a career high for saves in 1970.

Iowa native Eddie Watt was signed out of the University of Northern Iowa by Baltimore in 1961 and would be a vital piece of the Oriole bullpen for four World Series teams. While in Aberdeen, Cal Ripken, Sr. taught Watt how to throw a slider and how to vary his delivery angle. He could throw all his pitches (which included a sinker, a curve, a "reverse change" and a change to go with his slider) either overhand or from a 3/4 slot. This made him formidable out of the bullpen and 1970 was no exception as he saved 12 games. He would take a loss to the Reds in the World Series but that was the only game Baltimore would lose.

Ageless wonder Dick Hall (who had formed a lethal 1-2 relief combo with Stu Miller in the previous decade) posted one more fine season winning 10 games out of the bullpen. In 1970, Roger Angell would write this about Hall in The New Yorker:

"Dick Hall is a Baltimore institution, like crab cakes. He is six feet six and one half inches tall and forty years old, and he pitches with an awkward, sidewise motion that suggests a man feeling under his bed for a lost collar stud. He throw a sneaky fastball and never, or almost never, walks batters..."

Hall himself was proud of his control saying, "In my last seven years in the majors, I only allowed 23 bases on ball that were not intentional..." Indeed, during those seasons he allowed a minuscule 1.9 BB/9.

He would also pitch 2.1 perfect innings to save Game 2 of the '70 World Series. He pitched one more sub par season for Baltimore in 1971 and then hung up his spikes at the age of 41.

Marcelino Lopez kind of comes out of nowhere to post a great season of relief for the O's. A native of Cuba, Lopez had come to the Orioles from the Angel organization via a 1969 trade but had not pitched in the majors in '68. He was a one-pitch hurler with his fastball as his greatest asset but did throw a curve occasionally to keep the batter off his balance. After an uneven '69, Lopez would hold opposing batters to a .217 batting average in a long relief role for the World Champions in 1970. He would be traded to the Brewers in the offseason for Roric Harrison who will appear later in this post.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Eddie Watt       3-1    1.82     11    39.2
Grant Jackson    4-3    3.13      0    77.2
Pete Richert     3-5    3.47      4    36.1

There's Eddie Watt and Pete Richert again. Richert would be shipped to the Dodgers for Tommie Agee after the season. In many ways, this was Eddie Watt's career season.

Who is Grant Jackson? The lefty was acquired from the Phillies during the 1970 offseason and would act as something of a swingman for the '71 club. The Bowling Green alum  would go on to pitch for the O's for the next few seasons and shape Oriole history in many ways over the next decade.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Grant Jackson    1-1    2.63      8    41.0
Doyle Alexander  6-8    2.45      2   106.1
Roric Harrison   3-4    2.30      4    94.0
Eddie Watt       2-3    2.17      7    45.2 

With the departure of Richert, Jackson became the lefthanded Ying to Watt's righthanded Yang. Once he was moved to the pen, Jackson figured it would be tough to crack the rotation again, shelved his big curve and went with just with his fastball, slider and change with good success.

Richert was packaged with Frank Robinson and shipped to the Dodgers for four players, including 21-year-old Doyle Alexander. Alexander would take over the swingman role, saving two games and also pitching two complete games. Alexander would be traded for another future Hall of Famer 15 years later when the Braves would ship him to Detroit for John Smoltz. He would be part of another big trade for the Orioles later in the decade.

Roric Harrison came over from Milwaukee in the Marcelino Lopez trade and turned in a stellar rookie season. He was promptly packaged with Pat Dobson and two future Oriole managers (Johnny Oates and Davey Johnson) and sent to the Braves for Earl Williams and Taylor Duncan. He would essentially be out of baseball by the 1976 season.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Bob Reynolds     7-5    1.95      9   111.0
Grant Jackson    8-0    1.90      9    80.1
Eddie Watt       3-4    3.30      5    71.0

Eddie Watt would save 5 games in 1973 and then was unceremoniously sold to the Phillies in the offseason. He would pitch only two more seasons in the majors. He finished his 8 year Orioles career with 74 saves and a 2.74 ERA.

"Bullet" Bob Reynolds came to the Orioles from the Brewers as the "player to be named later" in the Curt Motton trade in 1972. Reynolds was a fireballer and earned his nickname with his ability to throw 100 mph. Major league success had eluded him but at age 25, Weaver put him in the bullpen and he excelled. With Watt on his way out, Reynolds paired with Jackson to form the closer tandem for '73-'74.

Grant Jackson continued his effectiveness out of the 'pen, going 8-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 9 saves. Jackson took his unblemished record with a grain of salt and instead was prouder of other traits he possessed.

"I got lucky last year,"he admitted. "I'd come in when we were tied or a run behind. Once we were ahead by a run and I gave up the tying run, but we scored in the bottom of the ninth and I won sitting in the clubhouse...."

"All the games I saved last year I earned." Jackson said. "On this team, most of our starters finish...Relief pitchers on the Orioles don't get many saves."

Jackson kind of dismissed saves as a relevant statistic. What did he value? High leverage situations.

"Whoever got you out of the jam should get the save," Jackson said. "If a guy enters in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out, and he gets out of it, he should get the save. Another guy might pitch the last two innings, but he enters with nobody on base."

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Grant Jackson    6-4    2.56     12    66.1
Wayne Garland    5-5    2.97      1    91.0
Bob Reynolds     7-5    2.73      7    69.1

Jackson and Reynolds both turn in fine years yet again.

Jackson had formulated a blueprint for success; throw hard, challenge the hitter and throw strikes.

Reynolds was traded to Detroit early in the 1975 season and would not pitch in the majors after that season. He never reached the successes that he enjoyed as part of the Orioles' closer tandem in '73-'74 before or after his Baltimore tenure.

Wayne Garland was the Orioles' 1st round draft pick in 1969 and '74 was his first good year in the majors. At age 23, Garland would pitch in 20 games (starting 6) and rack up 91 innings of good work.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Dyar Miller      6-3    2.72      8    46.1
Doyle Alexander  8-8    3.04      1   133.1
Wayne Garland    2-5    3.71      4    87.1
Paul Mitchell    3-0    3.63      0    57.0
Grant Jackson    4-3    3.35      7    48.1

Here's Grant Jackson again. Jackson would turn in another good season as the bullpen ace and become a big part of Oriole history by being part of the package sent to the Yankees for Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, Rudy May and Dave Pagan. In 1979, Jackson would again be tied to Oriole history as he would finish and win Game 7 of the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Doyle Alexander acted as the swingman as he started 11 games. He was Earl Weaver's kind of pitcher, starting hitters off with a low slider and mixing in his sinker and curve from there and he refused to give in to the hitter, walking very few. Despite this, he would be sent the the Yankees in 1976 in the aforementioned trade.

Wayne Garland was unlucky to arrive in Baltimore at a time when the Orioles had an embarrassment of riches in terms of starting pitching depth. But Garland threw strikes, challenged hitters and had a good complement of pitches (curve, slider, screwball, fastball, even a knuckler) even if he didn't command them all at the same time. After another good season as a long man, Garland would be lucky enough to break into the rotation in 1976 and go 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA. Garland was doubly lucky in fact that he was eligible for the initial free agent class before the 1977 season. Garland hit the market and was signed by the Indians to a 10-year deal worth $2.3 million. Garland would only pitch 5 seasons for the tribe before being released.

Paul Mitchell was another Oriole 1st round pick (1971) who served as a spot starter and long relief man in '75. He would be flipped in the offseason with Don Baylor for Reggie Jackson and bounce around the league with a middling career until 1980.

Dyar Miller debuted in '75 at the age of 29 and perhaps led the Orioles to believe that Grant Jackson was expendable. Miller was cut late in Spring Training that year and seeing his career evaporating before his eyes, he took an unusual tactic...he went to Earl Weaver and chewed him out. "It brought tears to my eyes," said Weaver, "it really did. I felt sorry for the guy and, to be honest with you, I didn't know if he'd ever get another chance to do what he had done." But he did get another chance. Buried in the Oriole minor league system for 6 years, Miller got his shot at mid-season and made the most of it. He led the team in saves and strikeout rate (6.4 K/9)

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Tippy Martinez   3-1    2.59      8    41.2
Dyar Miller      2-4    2.94      7    88.2
Fred Holdsworth  4-1    2.04      2    39.2

Martinez came over from the Yanks in the mid-season trade and was plugged into Grant Jackson's spot in the lefty/righty closer team with Dyar Miller. Martinez led the team with 8 saves and, while wild, he displayed a good strikeout rate which would improve over his Oriole tenure.His fastball sat in the upper-80's but he had a wicked overhand curve that he would learn to control as the years went by.

Miller, on the other hand, lost his strikeout touch in '76 but turned in a good year nonetheless. He was sent to the Angels in 1977 for RP Dick Drago.Miller is now a minor league pitching coach in the Cardinal organization.

Fred Holdsworth was a journeyman, the classic AAAA player who only appeared in 72 major league games in a 7+ year career. '76 would be his shining moment in the sun with a 160 ERA+ and 24 Ks in 39.0 innings.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Tippy Martinez   5-1    2.70      9    50.0
Dick Drago       6-3    3.63      3    39.2

Tippy was the leader of the bullpen as he and Dick Drago made up Weaver's left/right ace combo.

Veteran Drago came over from the Dodgers in a mid-season trade for Dyar Miller and turned in a nice partial season for the O's using his slider and change to good effect and would depart in the offseason via free agency to sign with Boston.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Don Stanhouse    6-9    2.89     24    74.2
Tippy Martinez   3-3    4.83      5    69.0

Eddie Watt aside, it was unusual for Earl Weaver to ride one ace reliever. It was usually at least a pair of guys closing games and one guy finishing more than 30 games was rare. Don Stanhouse would finish 47 games in '78 and 46 in '79, something unheard of in back to back seasons for Weaver's O's. Even though Stanhouse would walk more than he struck out in each season and he was known as the slowest-working pitcher in baseball, Weaver trusted him and gave him the ball to close things out more than any Baltimore reliever before him. This amounted to 24 saves for Stanhouse in 1978.

Martinez took a step back in '78 but still was able to pick up 5 saves.

Reliever         W-L     ERA     SV     IP
Don Stanhouse    7-3    2.85     21    72.2
Tippy Martinez  10-3    2.88      3    78.0
Tim Stoddard     3-1    1.71      3    58.0

Stanhouse would save 21 games in '79 and then left for the Dodgers via free agency in the offseason saving the nerves of Oriole fans everywhere.

Martinez displayed better control of his curveball and was dominant, setting up his run as a top reliever for the O's well into the next decade.

Fireman of the Decade: Grant Jackson

Stanhouse led the decade with 45 saves but Jackson pitched more than twice as many innings for Baltimore and had 39 saves himself and a 2.81 ERA for his Oriole career.

Runner Up: Eddie Watt

If you gave this award to the best reliever of the 60's and 70's, Watt probably is the man. As it stands, he is penalized for losing a couple good years to the 60's.

References: Baseball-Reference.com, The Neyer-James Guide to Pitchers by Bill James and Rob Neyer and various issues of Sports Illustrated, Baseball Digest and The Sporting News.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

John Stockstill, David Stockstill to Switch Jobs

Saw this from Ken Rosenthal this morning:

The Orioles, shaking up their front office as Opening Day nears, are replacing farm director David Stockstill, according to major-league sources.

Stockstill will move into another position, sources said. His brother, John, the team’s director of international scouting, will take over some of David's duties...

The Orioles will portray the change in a positive light, one source said, but club officials had grown increasingly frustrated with David Stockstill’s approach to player development.

Andy MacPhail, the Orioles’ president of baseball operations, inherited David Stockstill when he took over on June 20, 2007. John Stockstill had worked for MacPhail with the Chicago Cubs.

Roch Kubatko then had this:

David is expected to switch roles with his brother, John, the director of international scouting... 

John has been hanging around the minor league side of the Sarasota complex, so I guess that was the first clue that something was in the works.

Why was this done? Poor player development if you believe Rosenthal but MacPhail has expressly denied this. We may not know for awhile, if ever.

Former Oriole beat writer Jorge Arangure tweeted this which might be the most important development of all::

#Orioles reassignment of J Stockstill is another clear sign of MacPhail's autonomy. Stockstill is very close with Angelos  

Stockstill move is something that won't make major headlines but is an important indication of who is calling the shots for them.

And maybe that's all that matters right now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why SIERA Might Actually Make Sense

When Baseball Prospectus introduced Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average (SIERA), it's version of a defense independent pitching measurement, I yawned. It struck me as a redundant and yet another minor refinement to DIPS, FIP or xFIP. We already have this measurement....why do we need this new one? It just seemed to be an attempt to come up with a new proprietary stat that was not necessary.

I don't know if I missed the back story or if this in just hte first time someone has explained SIERA like this but Matt Swartz lays out why SIERA is different (and perhaps better) than FIP and it's incarnations:

It sometimes seems as if the main reason people are wary of Defense Independent Pitching Statistics as a way to measure pitching performance is that they are reluctant to believe the theory that pitchers do not control the hit rate on balls in play (BABIP). It does not make intuitive sense, and it isn't even entirely true...

When I say that these defense independent pitching statistics "explain" BABIP skill, I mean that you can figure how good pitchers are at preventing hits on balls in play by knowing how good they are at these skills. Specifically, pitchers who strike out a lot of hitters also induce a lot of weak contact. Randy Johnson was good at preventing hits on balls in play, and Tim Lincecum looks pretty good, too. Additionally, pitchers who walk a lot of hitters—those who miss the corners of the plate by a few inches—also have trouble with leaving the ball a few inches towards the middle of the plate, and are more likely give up more hits. Greg Maddux is an example of the opposite extreme as his impeccable control allowed him to keep the hits down. Pitchers who allow a lot of fly balls also induce a lot of pop-ups, easy outs that keep BABIP down. Both Jered Weaver and Ted Lilly are fly ball-prone, and while that hurts their home run numbers, they also induce a fair amount of popups. The ability to control the ball, miss the bat, and hit the top of the bat all correlate very highly and explain most of the pitcher's ability to control BABIP, and this is all utilized by SIERA.

This is interesting because it's the first stat (that I know of) that acknowledges a pitcher skill beyond the Three True Outcomes. I am certainly stat saavy, not a stat guru but this looks like a significant step forward in defense independent pitching assessments.

All that said, good luck finding the stat on the site. This is my first season with a BP subscription and I find the structure of the site maddening. But that's another story.

At some point, it would be interesting to see how SIERA views pitch-to-contact types like Jeremy Guthrie and Brad Bergesen.

5 Things To Watch - Spring Training 2010 (Update)

We're only two weeks from Opening Day! How are things shaking out in Sarasota? Let's revisit some pre-training questions.

1.  Chris Tillman - Despite Dave Trembley's assertions to the contrary, the last spot in the rotation is Tillman's to lose. He has pitched well in Sarasota and nobody else has stepped up to challenge him. He's going north with the big club.

2.  The Bench - Brian Roberts' back injury has this situation in flux. I didn't think Ty Wigginton would break camp with the team with Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada on board.but now it looks like he will be the first bat off the bench with Robert Andino taking over at second if Roberts can't get healthy before the season starts. Wigginton could also be part of a package to bring a second baseman to Baltimore if Roberts' injury looks to be more serious.

Justin Turner has played well when he's been on the field and Rhyne Hughes has hit well. One of these guys could slide onto the roster if Roberts starts the season on the DL.

3.  Health - We've talked about Roberts but I mentioned 4 other players to watch before the O's reported to Sarasota. Brad Bergesen and Will Ohman have looked good as they make their way back from 2009 injuries. As I've mentioned, Nolan Reimold has played but not well and has not played the field for a week. Koji Uehara has hurt his leg again and may not be ready for Opening Day.

4.  The Battle for the Backup Backstop - The competition started out between Chad Moeller, Craig Tatum and Michael Hernandez. Hernandez is out with an injury and Tatum has missed some time with a bruised hand. Chad Moeller has done nothing to lose the job and still appears to have a leg up on the competition.

5.  Shaking Out The Pen - Mike Gonzalez, Jim Johnson Mark Hendrickson were locks for the pen before Spring Training started. Will Ohman has seemingly pitched his way into the lefty specialist role. Cla Meredith has pitched his way into a similiar role from the right side. That leaves two spots and Uehara's injury has opened a door for Matt Albers (who has pitched very well this spring). I would imagine that Dave Trembley would like another long man to go with Hendrickson and David Hernandez would seem to fit the bill.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Worried About Reimold

And that is a misleading title. I'm not worried about Reimold over the course of the whole 2010 season. But I am concerned about how ready he'll be to play on Opening Day.

Reimold had surgery on his left Achilles tendon in September and I have been skeptical about how much he might be able to play the field this April. So far:

  • Reimold has only appeared in 5 games this spring (6 counting tonight)
  • He has appeared in most of those games as a DH
  • He has not played the field since last Sunday
  • He is 0-15 with no walks and three strikeouts (yeah, it's spring but Nolan didn't go 0-15 all last season)
  • He has reportedly been gimpy and seen limping several times this spring
Opening Day is 2.5 weeks away. I don't see a quantum leap happening for Reimold by then. He's going to have to DH when April rolls around and even then maybe not everyday. I don't think it's any coincidence that Luke Scott has been getting some reps at first base.

And if he can't play everyday, he may start the season on the DL.

It's not a gamechanger for the season but if you think Reimold is going to be 100% ready on April 5th, you're deluding yourself. He will not be.

Orioles Minor League Camp in Sarasota, 3/6-3/8

One of the great benefits of the Orioles moving their Spring Training home to Sarasota is that now their minor league camp is just a few miles away from the Ed Smith complex. It is held at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes park just on the east side of I-75.

This encompasses my impressions over two days...

The first day, I arrived waaaay too early. I got there just after 9 AM but on this particular day, the team meeting wasn't even happening until 9:45. At 9:15, this is all you were going to see. Orioles roving catching instructor Minor League Catching Coordinator Don Werner testing out the JUGS machine with C Wally Crancer as they tested out a new training method.

Granted, this is some real "inside baseball" and I really only recorded a bit because Werner said he had never tried it before and I thought something funny might happen but I got a kick out of seeing little drills like this and how things are run on a professional level.

At 9:45, all the players gathered on one field and were given the schedule for the day. After that, calisthenics began.

Then long toss...

Then they broke up into groups for the drills. The pitchers were working on fielding drills and throwing a short bullpen sessions. The catchers were working on glovework and footwork. Here's catching prospect Michael Ohlman facing the JUGS machine:

A side note about the pitching drills: P Ryohei Tanaka came over from Japan last season but unlike Koji Uehara, Tanaka was not a star in Japan and does not travel with his own interpreter. He seems to know some English but does not appear to be fluent. So when the air horn would sound and everyone would move from field to field, Tanaka would sometimes start toward the wrong station as if he didn't fully understand the instruction given at the morning meeting. RP Brandon Cooney would always make sure he got to where he needed to be. "Tanaka! Over here! This way!" was heard more than a couple times. Cooney instantly became one of my favorite Baby Birds. (Cooney is also on Baseball America's list of Top 30 Oriole prospects.)

After about an hour and a half, the pitchers were done and the batting practice started. It was not time for hitters to report yet but there were a few notable prospects there. Xavier Avery...

LJ Hoes, Brandon Waring and Mike Flacco...

We came back on Monday to watch some more batting practice and more hitters had reported by then. A couple of interesting notes from BP...

CF Xavier Avery and 2B L.J. Hoes were 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2008 and are very similar looking players, same size, same build. Avery took BP and looked how you thought he would; light-hitting, shooting flares and sharp grounders to all fields. Hoes was a different story. The ball jumped off his bat and he was showing good gap power. It was only BP but Hoes is only 20. You might want to look for increased power from him this season.

3B Brandon Waring showed the most consistent power during the sessions I watched. But who showed the most raw power? OF/1B Jacob Julius. 23-year-old Julius only posted a .228/.304/.345 line for Delmarva last year but he was launching ball all over the field and over the fence during BP. Lots of fun to watch.

On Monday, I brought the kids since they wanted to get some autographs. As the guys headed for the clubhouse, many obliged. P Vito Frabizio threw them each a ball from the practice field.

Overall, it was a good atmosphere. I was usually one of maybe 5 or 6 people at most and the complex is wide open. You have to watch out for batted balls because drills are happening everywhere. My only regret is that I'm not here later in camp for live BP, scrimmages or games. That's something I'll have to remedy next year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Around the Oriole Blog-O-Sphere

Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies writes about the unbalanced schedule and its implication for Beyond the Boxscore.

In light of Matt Wieters recent turn as Sports Illustrated coverboy, Roar from 34 takes a look at the last Oriole catcher to grace the cover of SI: Dempsey's Army's namesake.

The Nick Markakis Blingee will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.

Jay Trucker of The Examiner unveils Pie-mold, a plan to platoon Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold. It a fine idea except for the fact that Dave Trembely is platoon-averse.

Eutaw Street Hooligans provides a quick recap of their fantasy draft, a draft which I had a horse in. Due to a family committment, I had to go on Autodraft Monday night but as they will soon learn, I am King of the Waiver Wire.

Camden Depot gives you five players to watch in Delmarva. Looks like it will be a continuing series as he has jsut posted the five players to watch in Frederick.

Harvest the Chesapeake with Luke Scott

Now here's an offer you don't get everyday...

WFN: World Fishing Network, the nation's only 24-hour fishing lifestyle TV channel, enters the Chesapeake region today in a big way. With the help of Baltimore OF/DH and avid angler Luke Scott, WFN is making its presence felt with the launch of a consumer sweepstakes and a web site - http://www.wfnchesapeake.com. - dedicated to finding the Chesapeake ’s most passionate angler.

Scott, who has hit 48 home runs for Baltimore over the past two seasons, will pick one lucky angler to spend the day fishing with him at the 27th annual Championship on the Chesapeake spring tournament on May 1, 2010. The fishing trip will be covered by a WFN camera crew and will air on the network at a later date. The grand prize also includes $1,000 and WFN merchandise. In addition, all entries received by April 1, 2010 will be eligible to win two tickets to see Scott play in the home opener on April 9, from the WFN luxury suite.

Chesapeake area anglers can go to http://www.wfnchesapeake.com to enter.

As a lad in Oklahoma, I remember my uncle would hunt catfish from his bass boat with a bow and arrow. I imagine that Luke Scott would fish with the same level of activity and zeal. Except instead of a bow and arrow, he might use a high-powered rifle. Or an industrial whale harpoon cannon.

Wait a second, has anyone told Scott about Mondy? Hey Luke, for the love of all that is holy, don't harvest Mondy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ESPN Thinks Peter Pascarelli is ++ Ungood Thoughtcriminal

I can remain silent no longer.

I was quiet when ESPN began hassling and editing content from Bill Simmons. I said nothing when they suspended Tony Kornheiser for offhanded remarks about a colleague. But now they have rubbed out former co-host of ESPN's Baseball Today podcast, Peter Pascarelli, for daring to make a joke about the commissioner of Major League Baseball and they've done it in an old school Soviet style.

During the February 11th installment of Baseball Today, Eric Karabell was running through a series of news events, one of which was the news that the Brewers had announced that they would be erecting a statue of Bud Selig outside of Miller Park. To which Pascarelli replied:

"I think that's great. It's a good target for pigeons all over Wisconsin."

Good luck finding those comments now. They were edited (clumsily, I might add) out of the podcast within 24 hours and the next day an unscheduled and abbreviated podcast from Baseball Today appeared in my iTunes queue. But this was not your typical episode as it featured a solo Pascarelli bowing and scraping as he apologized for his comments about Selig and went on to sing the praises and accomplishments of the current baseball commissioner. It came off with all the sincerity and comfort of an Al-Qaeda hostage video.

That was it. That's the last we have heard of Pascarelli on the Baseball Today podcast. Two weeks later, Eric Karabell hosted an episode as a solo host and interviewed Buster Olney the whole time. Two weeks later Karabell returned with new co-host Seth Everett, who works for Sirius-XM's MLB Home Plate channel (where he is a passable if forgettable host) and they proceeded to do the most vanilla, most safe, controversy free podcast you'd ever want to hear. Karabell addressed the Pascarelli situation briefly and uncomfortably. "I want to thank Peter...(as he) focuses on other initiatives within ESPN. He has not lost his job..."

But while Spring Training is in full swing, there has been nothing from Peter on ESPN.com for nearly a month. Similarly, Baseball Today is going on two weeks without a new show while the baseball world moves on.

Outside of some of the print guys who write for ESPN.com, Bill Simmon's "The BS Report" and the "Baseball Today" podcasts were the only things worth watching or listening to on the Worldwide Leader. The removal of an entertaining and honest commentator like Pascarelli cuts that list in half.

As ESPN continues to attempt to sanitize it's programming and censor offending opinions, it becomes less relevant. ESPN now views the professional sports leagues and the NCAA as business partners first and foremost; they no longer can cover them with an objective eye. ESPN's programming outside of the actual sports broadcast can never be taken seriously again. They have shown themselves to be shameless shills for the leagues they "cover".

They also seem to have forgotten that the "E" used to stand for "Entertainment".

Perhaps CounterPunch.org's Billy Wharton overstates the case a bit but I think he sums it up better than I:

Peter Pascarelli made me laugh. He said what is on the minds of real baseball fans when we gather for a beer or sneak in a conversation during the work day. He was our voice. His honesty, his cynicism and his clear passion to defend the way the game should be played, provided some hope for honesty in era where baseball has gone corporate. Silencing his voice diminishes our national pastime and moves us one more step away from freedom of speech and the press.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Thin Line Between Greatness and Immortality

Sully Baseball takes a look at the career of former Oriole Harold Baines through the lens of one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham.

Sully takes this line from Crash Davis:

"You know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? 25 hits. That's one extra hit a week...

You get one extra flare a week--just one--a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail--just one more dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium!”

...and he applies this concept to Harold Baines' entire career. With 7 extra hits a season, Baines could very well have been in the Hall of Fame.

But I can’t help but wonder… does he think about those 7 extra hits a year? Does he think about a great catch made on a ball he hit? Does he think about an official scorer ruling a hit of his was actually an error? Does he think about a close call at first base that could have gone either way?

Does he think about games lost to the strikes of 1981 and 1994? Does he think of time lost to injuries later in his career?

A hit here, a hit there… a flare a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail here and there… and he’d be off to Cooperstown.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Brian Roberts Timeline

Some things need to be seen in context. Here's how the Brian Roberts back injury story has spiraled downward over the past three and a half weeks...

Feb 18th: ESPN's Buster Olney reports a rumor about Brian Roberts and kidney stones:

Heard this: Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is coping with some serious discomfort from kidney stones, but to this point, the team has no indication that it will affect his preparation for the start of spring training.

Later that day...

After "internet speculation" about Brian Roberts battling kidney stones, Dave Trembley confirms to reporters that Roberts is instead having "a back spasm".

"He told me when he's here he'll be a full go," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said....

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail also seemed unconcerned that Roberts might come into camp under any restrictions.

"We had our medical review [Wednesday] and we're not anticipating that Brian will be limited,'' he said.

Feb 21st: From a note in the Baltimore Sun:

Mark Pieper, the agent for Brian Roberts, said that the second baseman, who has been slowed in recent weeks by back and kidney issues, is in town and will be ready to go in time for Tuesday's first workout.

Feb 22th: From the Sun...

Roberts reported to spring training camp Monday and acknowledged that he was diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his back about a month ago. However, the injury will not require surgery and is not expected to have any lingering effects besides Roberts taking it slow early in spring training....

It's going to be a little slow probably at the beginning, but it shouldn't set me back hopefully for [Opening Day] on April 6."

Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail said that the club isn't concerned because Roberts has already responded well to medication and treatment.

Feb 23: Brian Roberts had his first workout in Sarasota:

Brian Roberts took grounders at second base, lifted and hit off the tee on Tuesday morning, and is hoping to be able to take live batting practice within the next week.

Roberts, who was diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his lower back a few weeks ago, said he didn't have any pain when bending over to field on Tuesday.

Feb 25th: Britt Ghiroli tries to get a timeline:

So, I sought out Crow with fellow reporter Roch Kubato, and Crowley's plan right now isn't concrete. Seems he's playing things by ear, although Crowley sounded less optimistic than Roberts about when the second baseman would take live batting practice. Roberts had said on Tuesday that he had hoped to start taking BP within a week. It's something that is possible, but I got the feeling from Crowley that that maybe too soon.

Feb 27th: Dave Trembley updates Roberts' status:

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he still isn't sure when Roberts will be ready to take batting practice, but the club is happy with the progress the two-time All-Star has made.

"He's doing a great job in all the drills, playing catch, running the bases," Trembley said. "We're going to take our time with the live hitting."

Feb 28th: Brian Roberts takes batting practice:

Brian Roberts took swings during the Orioles live batting practice on Sunday for the first time since being diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his lower back.The Orioles leadoff hitter, Roberts progressively swung with more authority as he rotated through the team's five stations, taking some good hacks in particular off infield coach Juan Samuel...

"That's the last phase, start hitting live," manager Dave Trembley said of Roberts' program. "So, it was good to get that started [on Sunday]."

With the Orioles set to play an intrasquad game on Monday and open Grapefruit League play against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, the timetable for Roberts' return is still undecided.

"I don't know [when Roberts will get in games]," Trembley said "I will wait until I see what [head athletic trainer Richard Bancells] tells me, what [Roberts] tells me. I can't put a time frame on it."

March 4th: No timetable for Roberts' return:

Trembley also continues to insist that he is not concerned about the back injury that has limited the activities of Brian Roberts.

"No, I'm not concerned," he said. "Today is March 4. If it's April 4, I'll be concerned."

Since there is no firm target date for Roberts' exhibition debut, somebody asked Trembley what he thinks is the minimum number of at-bats that a player needs to get in spring training to get ready for the season. He said 30.

March 6th: Britt Ghiroli reports that no news is, well, no news.

There's no new update on Brian Roberts, with Trembley declining to set any timetable on his Grapefruit League debut. Roberts have been a full-go in practice but has yet to play in a game, as he works his way back from a herniated disc in his lower back.

March 9th: Roberts' back medication causes stomach distress:

Brian Roberts' progression in rehabbing a slight herniated disc in his back hit a speed bump Monday night, after taking medication that upset his stomach.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Roberts was prescribed a megadose pack on Sunday, similar to a cortisone shot, to help reduce the inflammation and is now suffering from a stomach virus.

Roberts was confined to the team's training room on Tuesday and the initial course of action is to stay away from baseball-related activities for the following three days.

Later on that day, Andy MacPhail weighed in...

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he doesn't expect Brian Roberts to play in an exhibition game for at least another week, but he is still confident that the injured second baseman will be ready for Opening Day.

"The medical stuff that I have so far indicates that he should be ready to go when the season starts," MacPhail said. "It is what it is. You have to recognize that you have a month to go before you open. You have time, and you have to take advantage of it to make it right."

MacPhail said that Roberts, who has a slightly herniated disk in his back, has had no setbacks, but the club is taking a "very low-key approach" with the treatment.

March 10th: Andy MacPhail changes the party line:

"I talked to Richie Bancells, our head athletic trainer, about it again today, and at this time he still thinks Brian is going to be ready for Opening Day, but you have to be concerned now," MacPhail said. "To me, you get 10 days into spring training before you start really paying attention, but the clock is starting to be an issue. ... By now, we have to start thinking about, 'What if he isn't ready?' "

MacPhail said he might start having his scouts look at who is available on the trade market along with exploring internal options.

March 14th: Brian Roberts is flown back to Baltimore to see a back specialist:

Brian Roberts was back at second base taking infield early today, which appeared to be a sign that he was making progress in his recovery from a nagging lower back injury.

That appearance turned out to be deceiving.

Soon after Roberts returned to the Orioles clubhouse at Ed Smith Stadium, the team announced he was being sent back to Baltimore to see Johns Hopkins back specialist Dr. Lee Riley and, perhaps, pursue an altered course of treatment on the herniated disk that has limited his activity throughout spring training.

The team said that Roberts will receive an "epidural" (a local pain-reducing injection) to deal with the remaining soreness, but Roberts said later that will be just one of the possible options when he is examined on Monday...

If this latest revelation about his condition would seem to raise a red flag after several weeks of physical therapy, Roberts insists that he has suffered no setback and he still thinks he will be ready to play when the Orioles open the regular season on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

"Certainly, my goals haven't changed for April 6,'' he said. "I don't think that anybody, from the trainers room to anybody else, I don't think their goals have changed at this point."

That all sounds nice, but Roberts admitted in almost the same breath that he has not made a lot of progress recently, and he did not hide his frustration with this latest series of events when he spoke to reporters before Sunday's exhibition game...

The situation is a study in mixed signals. Roberts says he has not had a setback, but he was swinging a bat a week ago and he hasn't since. The Orioles say they still think he'll make it back in time, but they are working on a Plan B. Roberts took infield on Sunday and looked very comfortable, yet he's headed back to Baltimore.

So to recap, the diagnosis went from kidney stones to back spasms to a herniated disc. The timetable went from full speed at Spring Training to workouts only, (originally with no BP) to ready for Opening Day to "we're not really sure". It's not a good trend.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pirates vs. Orioles in Sarasota, 3/5/2010

In my continuing non-linear recap of my Spring Training trip, I present a few items from the first game we attended in Sarasota. The Pirates came down I-75 from nearby Bradenton to play a night game at Ed Smith Stadium.

For this game, I had good seats (I checked Stubhub.com and got a good deal on tickets in the field boxes on the visitor's side) but the weather was not ideal. It was chilly and windy and got more so as the evening wore on. I was not dressed for it but we did manage to hang in there for 5 innings.

Some notes from the game:

  • Miguel Tejada got the start at third and did not look very comfortable there. He made the plays but was not smooth. As it stands, he is probably about as good as Melvin Mora was for most of last season and you have to figure that he will get better. Big arm on Tejada still.
  • Chris Tillman got the start and was effective (2 perfect innings with 3 Ks) but was a bit wild and ran the count to 3-2 a few times.
  • Adam Jones clubbed an opposite field homer in the 3rd providing the most exciting offensive moment of the night.
  • On a shallow popup to center, Adam Jones ran under it and seemed to call for the ball but Robert Andino was running at full speed from shortstop and ran into Jones' left arm as he made the catch. Jones didn't drop the ball but had a few words for Andino afterwards.
  • Starting 2B Blake Davis hit a rocket to Aki Iwamure at second that bounced off his knee and rolled away into foul territory behind first base. Davis was flying out of the box and was rounding second before anyone got to the ball. It looked like he had a good shot at taking third on a close play but Juan Samuel held him up and Davis put on the brakes and scrambled back to second. Samuel was lustily booed as he denied us all a chance to see an exciting play at third.
  • Mike Gonzalez started out well but looked uncofortable pitching out of the stretch once runners were on base.
  • Jake Arrieta was wild and had a hard time finding the plate.
It was a sparsely attended game which meant the kids could stand down by the Oriole dugout and get autographs almost up until game time and the Pirates were signing on the other side too.

Again, it was unseasonably cold once the sun went down, low-50's at best, so we left early. But even a cold baseball game is better than spending the evening at home.

Red Sox at Orioles, Sarasota, March 7th 2010: Slideshow

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mike Flanagan Replaces Buck Martinez in the MASN Booth

I was happy to see this release from MASN:

MASN, the television home of the Baltimore Orioles, announced that Mike Flanagan will join the Orioles broadcast team as a color analyst for the 2010 season. Flanagan will make his MASN debut in the broadcast booth for the Orioles game against the Oakland Athletics on April 15th.

I was no fan of Buck Martinez at all and nearly anyone would have been an improvement but I always thought Flanagan did a pretty good job in previous stints doing color for TV.

Reportedly, MASN will also have other former players rotate in for color analysis including Eddie Murray and Brady Anderson.

And how are Martinez's new fan's embracing him? I'll include this photo of Martinez from Birdland Banter and their caption.

Cito and some old gray haired woman watch players workout. What? That's not an old woman? That's Buck Martinez? Buck, time for a hair cut man.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

"Welcome to Birdland South!"

As I handed the elderly usher my ticket to last Saturday's Oriole spring training game against the Red Sox, he exclaimed, "Welcome to Birdland South!".

And he was right. The place was overrun with Red Sox fans, they played "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" during the 7th inning stretch and the O's lost in heartbreaking fashion. I felt just like Birdland to me.

All kidding aside, I knew this game would be a madhouse. I just bought a bleacher ticket and figured I would focus more on the ballpark experience more so than the game itself.

The game was sold out with record attendance of 8,088. Even the bleacher seats were packed. And early on, it looked like the orange and black would outnumber the red jerseys. It was not to be. By gametime, the stadium looked more Port Charlotte than Sarasota. Oh well.

With the bleachers packed, it looked like my best bet was to stand along the rightfield wall and that did turn out to be the way to go. At Ed Smith Stadium, the clubhouse is located past the rightfield fence so all the players have to walk by the rightfield wall and the stands on the first base side to get to the dugout which gives you some good photo and autograph opportunities.

There is an intimacy at a spring training game that you don't get elsewhere. When a fan asked Jeremy Guthrie how it went for him today, he told him. When Luke Scott was heckled repeatedly by an obnoxious Red Sox fan, he gave it back to him a little drawing appreciative laghter from the crowd. And lots of guys cam over to give people autographs and to chat.

MASN was set up nearby and the players giving interviews got walked right through the fans on their way to talk to Amber Theoharis. Miguel Tejada drew the biggest reaction and high-fived with the fans on his way to and back from his interview. Tejada also hung around the field for quite some time and signed autographs for everybody which was surprising to me given his veteran status and his overall reputation.

All in all, a relaxed atmosphere even with the irritation of the home field being overtaken by The Nation. I can't tell you all that much about the actual game. I had lousy seats and the PA system is barely intelligible away from the grandstand area making the game nearly impossible to follow. But I met some nice Marylanders, some nice locals too, saw Nick Markakis hit a solo shot to right and Miguel Abreu go 2-3 with a stolen base and some fine defense at second. All in all, a good day at the park.

By the 9th inning, I had maneuvered my way back out to the grandstand, staked out some standing room and then snagged a seat in the upper reserve section on the visitor's side. That was just in time to see David Hernandez give up a ninth inning go-ahead homer to a AAA catcher who hit .214 with 3 homers for Pawtucket last season. And all those old coots started celebrating like they had won the series again. Oh well. It put a damper on the game but not the overall experience which is unique. You will never see major league players in so intimate a setting than you can at a spring training game.

Ed Smith Stadium, as I've said before, is a far nicer facility that Ft. Lauderdale Stadium and with the proposed renovations, it should be even better in 2011.

More pics to follow...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MacPhail Thinks O's May Need a New Second Baseman...But Who?

It's the Herniated Disc Felt 'Round the Harbor. Andy MacPhail now admits that he is concerned that 2B Brian Roberts may not be ready for Opening Day.

When asked if the team would seek outside relief to temporarily fill the hole at second base, MacPhail didn't rule out the option. 

"We will see what's out there," he said. "Obviously, we have weekly calls with our pro scouts, and we have to let them know what's going on in our camp. We might have to shift their focus a little bit from what the initial menu was. And then, obviously, we are going to have to start exploring more internal options as well." 

Well, checking the list of available free agent second baseman over at MLBTradeRumors.com reveals this:

Second basemen
None available

Unless you count Ryan Freel, there is literally no one out there.

So then you have to figure that Baltimore would have to trade for someone which would seem pretty unlikely...unless they think Roberts' injuries mat threaten his season.

So the realistic internal options come down to these guys: Robert Andino, Justin Turner, Blake Davis and Miguel Abreu.

Abreu and Davis are not on the 40-man roster so that leaves Andino and Turner. My guess? Andino takes over second with Ty Wigginton getting the occasional start with Michael Aubrey taking the empty roster spot.

I'm not panicking yet but as I've shown before, second basemen of Roberts skill set do not age well.

My First Look at Matt Hobgood...

...or "What I Learned On My Spring Vacation".

I went to the Oriole Minor League Camp at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex in Sarasota this past Saturday and I think I learned something.

I and others have discussed the troubling reports over the weight of top Oriole 2009 draft pick Matt Hobgood, first reported by MASN's Steve Melewski. Naturally, I was curious to see how the kid looked. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

Here's Hobgood throwing long toss with fellow top pitching prospect Zach Britton. (Pardon the sound...it was windy...):

He's a big guy, no doubt, but watching him go through the various workouts, he moved well and came off as fairly athletic, at least for his size.

For instance, here's some video of a fielding drill. Hobgood is the first guy off the mound.

This was pretty indicative of what I saw. Through fielding, runs and agility drills, Hobgood did not look like a lumbering hulk, he looked like a good athlete. He looked more athletic than about half of the other pitchers and seemingly was well-conditioned. For lack of a better term, he carried his weight well. (On a side note, RP Eddie Gamboa, the Orioles 29th best prospect according to Baseball America, was probably the most athletic pitcher I saw. He was quick, smooth and threw well in fielding drills. He could probably do a yeoman's job as an infielder.)

It will be interesting to see if his conditioning improves but for now, I am reassured.

If any scouting or conditioning experts are reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

More on the minor league camp later...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Save the Strays

Saw this over at Big League Stew. It could have been Melmo.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Luke Scott Equals Gilbert Arenas? Logic Fail.

So Washington Post reporter Dan Steinberg tweets this today:

@dcsportsbog: Orioles DH Luke Scott says he's brought guns into MLB clubhouses. Waiting for national outrage to begin.

And then he links to this post in the DC Sports Blog. There he makes these points:

Gilbert Arenas didn't become a pariah solely for bringing handguns into an NBA locker room. I get that. He violated D.C. gun laws, leading to severe legal problems. And he violated the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, which expressly forbids players from bringing guns onto NBA property.

Let's start here. Scott neither violated any laws (at least, none that we know of) and didn't violate any league or team rules. These rules have only been created and enforced in the last few months. Those two distinctions make these situations worlds apart to begin with.

Now, did Scott use the weapons as part of a practical joke during an argument with a teammate? Was he part of a story so messy and entangled that someone wound up chucking a weapon across the room? Does he have a history of inappropriate jokes, including sneaker defecation? No, no and no.

More differences that are ENORMOUS. They don't even deserve a comment. Onward.

But he brought a weapon into that sacred and secure athletic safe haven we heard so much about throughout Gil's Gunz coverage, and so these are some folks I'd be curious to hear from in the coming days.

Then he quotes/links to a bunch of writers who commented on the Arenas situation...but the quotes are removed from the very context that Steinberg just laid out for us.

The differences in these situations is staggering. Arenas (who evidently did not bring guns to the stadium on a regular basis) allegedly brought the guns to the locker room, showed them to a teammate who he was having a gambling dispute with, perhaps as a joke, perhaps as a veiled threat, an act that resulted in weapons being loaded with ammo and brandished.

All we know about Scott is that he carried guns with him, left them in the locker room and after the game, left with them. Nobody was any the wiser because he conducts himself like a responsible gun owner and not some clown. Thus, Luke Scott has never has a "Gilbert Arenas Moment". Not even close.

If you are sitting around waiting for the same moral outrage about Luke Scott that you saw about Gilbert Arenas then you'll be waiting a long time. Because anyone can see that the situations aren't even in the same ballpark...pun intended.

Programming Note

Just a heads up to any readers that I will not be posting a lot this week. I am working on a redesign for the site, a longer historical post and prepping for my Spring Training trip among other things.

You may have noticed that instead of collecting a bunch of links for my "Base Hits" posts that I am posting little reaction blurbs as I see them, hopefully keeping those observations more timely than the other format and you may see some of those this week but little else.

Look for some photos, video and more starting this weekend as I report back from Sarasota. You can follow me on Twitter too (@dempseysarmy) if you like.

Speaking of Spring Training, here's the link to my Unofficial Orioles Spring Training Guide that I have updated and will continue to update. Some find it useful.