Friday, July 30, 2010

New Faces, New Places

Lots going on in Birdland over the last 24 hours. First and foremost, is the hiring of new manager Buck Showalter. Showalter was probably choice 1a for me; I liked Eric Wedge a lot but evidently Andy MacPhail and I were the only ones. Reportedly, Peter Angelos liked Showalter a lot and the lengthy negotiation with him was in part to define Buck's role and how he would work with MacPhail.

It's probably a good thing for Showalter to take over before the end of this miserable season. Showalter and his staffs have a pretty good track record of talent evaluation and development and the more time Buck has to evaluate the big league roster and the September call-ups, the better.

Shortly after the Showalter announcement, the Orioles traded 3B Miguel Tejada to the Padres for a pitching prospect. Tejada was considered (correctly) expendable with Josh Bell sitting in Norfolk and garnered the team a fair, but not great, pitching prospect in Wynn Pelzer. Pelzer projects as a reliever but that's decent value for old man Tejada.

By the way, can the current regime come to an end soon enough? From the Baltimore Sun, Brian Matusz talks about the quick hook he received in Thursday's game:

"I was little bit shocked because it was so soon, and my first few innings I was so effective,” Matusz said. “Things were going so well. I still felt pretty good at that point. I was a little upset. Obviously nobody likes coming out of the game, especially when you have good stuff and that’s how I felt. Juan obviously felt that it was a game that we had, we had the lead at the time, and I wasn’t capable of finishing the job, so that was the move he decided to make and obviously I wanted to stay in there and keep going. But if I don’t like it I need to stop walking guys and pitch better.”

Hi there. Out of character for me but I'm about to curse...

Matusz is being just about as diplomatic as he can here but he's absolutely correct. Sure, if he didn't walk those guys, this problem takes care of itself. But Samuel (and Showalter) need to leave these kids in the game for experience, struggles be damned. Wins and losses mean fuck all for 2010. Samuel is managing for a win over the Royals at the expense of valuable innings for a potential future ace? What a cock. I have no doubt that this has at least a little to do with the Showalter announcement and the fact that Samuel is out for himself for these last four games.

From Samuel:

Samuel said after the game that Matusz has become a “major concern,” though he still expects the lefty to make his next start.

“My mindset with these guys is I just didn’t want to put them in position where they could lose the ball game and you end up overexposing these guys,” Samuel said. “We’ve seen it so many times where some young guys come up and they can’t find the plate. Like I said, if I can remove these guys earlier than late, I’m going to do it just so I can protect them. He was throwing the ball so good. We just think he lost focus there for one minute and we didn’t want to leave him out there any longer.”

Major concern? Douchebag, you are not going to be the manager by the time Matusz starts again. It's no longer your concern at all.

And then you show your ignorance by worrying about Matusz "losing" the game. You are managing the worst team in baseball. Matusz is smart enough to realize that even moral victories count at this point. He didn't want to come out. He didn't care if he "lost". He wanted to battle through it. That kid is ten times smarter than you and your slavish reliance on meaningless stats like pitcher "wins" and "losses". Especially on a team that is 30+ games out of first! You prick. You were protecting no one.

Tuesday can't come soon enough...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Around The Oriole Blog-O-Sphere: Meltdown Edition

Go get 'em, Wiggy!


Dan at Camden Crazies makes me feel a bit better about Brian Matusz:

The 1.49 WHIP is high but most of that is all the hits he’s allowed (1.11 hits per inning pitched), and that’s based on a .332 Batting Average On Balls In Play that isn’t likely to continue at that level and has less to do with Matusz’s pitching than his defense and poor luck. Additionally, I’m not sure how a 123:54 strike-out to walk ratio is “clearly indicative of a problem”. At 2.27, it’s better than league average (~2.07), and his individual K and BB rates are also better than average.

And while he's at it, Dan give Stan "The Fan" Charles a good fisking and I can always get behind that.


 Tony Pente's article at Oriole Hangout is up and pretty much sums up the failures of the Angelos regime over the past couple of decades.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. It all seemed like covered ground and it was kind of advertised as having new revelations. It was all lightly fleshed out items of whisperings I have heard before. But it is well written and makes for a one-stop shop for all things Angelos.


Eutaw Street Hooligans express Oriole fandom in terms of Bill Withers.


Camden Depot looks at the "mortgaged future" of 1996 and fisks and refutes some guy writing in Cumberland. Go crawdaddy.

Quick quote I wholeheartedly agree with:

I am certain it is true that this is a mind blowingly silly statement (especially after the writer already said the system was ignored for at least a decade prior to the deals in '96, which is very true).



Roar from 34 gives us the latest installment of Solo Shots, a series examining Oriole players who hit exactly one home run during their career, with a closer look at Bob Hale.


The Loss Column knows that it is all about next year for the Orioles but wonders if 2011 will be a make ir break year for the MacPhail regime.


Patrick Smith at Bugs & Cranks takes a swipe at ESPN's Mike Greenberg for taking a swipe at the Baltimore Orioles.


Finally, rumor has it that the Orioles are fielding calls regarding OF Corey Patterson. Obviously, you move Patterson for anything that might resemble a viable future bullpen arm and count your blessings that you were able to sell high.

The Most Laissez-Faire Chase of a Fan on the Field in Baseball History

This is really a brilliant strategy by the police and OPACY security. It's like when I throw the ball to my dog during fetch and she will not bring it back to me because the game she wants to play is nit fetch but the game of  "watch my 2-legged chubby friend chase me around the yard". But if I don't participate, eventually she gets bored with the idea and comes back to me anyway. That's basically what they let this kid do.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 Biggest Disappointments for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles

The problems with the Orioles in 2010 have been multifold. But some of the season's disappointments have been greater than the others and contributed more to this disappointing season than the others. After some examination, here are the depressing top 5.

5.  Brian Roberts' Injury

Although many of us bloggers raised red flags when the Orioles signed Brian Roberts to a 4-year, $40 million extension last season (some of us, before the fact), I don't think any of us expected age and/or injury to start catching up to Roberts so fast.

Roberts being sidelined early in the season with a variety of back problems hobbled the Orioles' struggling offense even more as a brutal rotation of leadoff hitters tried desperately to fill in. Oriole leadoff hitters have combines for a .302 OBP and .645 OPS.

Roberts could return as early as this weekend but fans have to wonder about his durability and effectiveness as he plays through the 3.5 years left on his contract.

4. Adam Jones' Glove

Adam Jones has had his struggles at the plate this season but has come around of late and, I feel, he'll be just fine in the long run at the plate. Despite his Gold Glove last season, Jones is not showing a great glove in center. He plays shallow and repeatedly let's balls go over his head. He takes bad routes on balls. He sometimes misplays the routine.

Jones, in terms of UZR, is the 3rd worst fielding centerfielder in baseball. UZR does not always tell the whole story, especially for partial seasons, but last season he has the third worst UZR/150 among regular centerfielders as well.

The most frustrating thing about this is that Jones has all the tools: great speed, great leaping ability, an arm that rivals that of Nick Markakis. But he just hasn't put it together in the field this season.

3. Nolan Reimold

After a breakout year in which he forced himself onto the Baltimore roster way ahead of schedule, Nolan Reimold fell off a cliff. Hitting .279/.365/.466 over 104 games during his rookie campaign, Reimold attracted serious Rookie of the Year consideration before having to have surgery on his Achilles tendon toward the end of the season.

I don't believe that Reimold was completely healthy to start the season as he hit an anemic .205/.302/.337 with Baltimore before a May 12th demotion. But being back in Norfolk has not helped matters as he has only .212/.303/.335 since his return and shows no sign of coming around. Reimold has been playing some first base for the Tides and, perhaps, if he is fully healthy in 2011, he could still fulfill some of that promise while filling a need for Baltimore. But that looks like a real longshot at this point.

2. Brian Matusz

Continuing the theme of disappointing young talent, Brian Matusz has yet to become the staff ace that he was predicted to be when he was promoted to Baltimore late last season. Sure, he was a bit rushed to the majors and, sure, I expected him to struggle a bit at the beginning of the season. But as the most polished member of "the Calvary", I thought Matusz would have started showing some life by now. He hasn't.

Matusz's changeup, his best pitch, gets hit pretty hard. His strikeouts are down and walks are up, neither to a great degree but they aren't moving in the right direction. Granted, his FIP and xFIP are significantly better than his 5.21 ERA. But while Tillman, Arrieta and Bergesen were kind of expected to scuffle through this season, Matusz was expected to be a respectable pitcher by now. He's not and he needs help to get there.

1. Matt Wieters

The most highly touted catching prospect since Joe Mauer, one of the most praised minor league bats of all time, one of the few prospects that basically had no criticism from any scout or analyst about his offensive game, Matt Wieters has been a anemic bat in the Oriole lineup. After a torrid September, many were predicting a breakout season for Wieters (including me). Predictions called for average, power and great control of the strike zone. It hasn't happened.

Only Jason Kendall, Yadier Molina and Russell Martin have lower ISO's among catchers. Ditto for average. Only A.J. Pierzynski has a lower OBP.

Were all the scouts wrong? I don't think so (or at least, I hope not). But Wieters' struggles are the latest indictment of Terry Crowley's work with young hitters. Jones hasn't advanced much. Wieters has struggled. Reimold floundered. It seems that hitters develop in spite of Crowley rather than because of him.

Wieters needs help to get his head back on straight. A new coaching staff could do wonders for that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Attack, Chris Tillman, Attack!

After watching Chris Tillman last night, time for me to state the obvious, with graphs.

The first is from Tillman's disastrous outing last night. The second is from his masterful performance against the Rangers on July 10th.

PitchFx graphs courtesy of

A few observations...

1) Tillman was wilder last night, not around the zone as much as he was against Texas.
2) Tillman got behind and had to groove more balls late in the count.
3) The balls Tillman threw in the zone last night were basically in the same distribution as they were against the Rangers

The thing that I take away from this is this: Tillman's stuff plays in the zone. He didn't get hit because his stuff was "up in the zone" or "right down the middle". He can work there. His stuff is that good. If he attacks the zone, he will be fine most nights. Hey Chris! Attack the zone!.

Easier said than done obviously. He is either not throwing in the zone because he is a bit gun shy or that he has mechanical issues that affect his control and he can't throw it across the plate without taking something off his pitches. Either way, the pitching coach should be trying to give Tillman the confidence to go after hitters aggressively or correcting whatever flaws he has in his delivery so that he can hit the zone more consistently. Maybe that guy should be Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin since he seems to be the only one to guide these guys to any sort of success.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Programming Note...Again

I am still having major issues with my internet service at home making regular updates on the blog difficult. Bear with me, hoping to have this issue resolved with my internet provider this week...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fearless Predictions Revisited

Before the second half kicks off, I thought it was a good time to revisit preseason predictions. It ain't pretty but here it goes.

* Garrett Atkins won't be a regular with this team by June 15th. Somebody has to come to their senses.

Atkins was barely with the team until June 15th and certainly wasn't a regular by then. Atkins played just two games for Baltimore after June 15th and was then released.

* Nick Markakis...breakout! Enos Slaughter for the new millennium. I'm recycling this from last season.

I'm giving up on this. Markakis will probably never be a guy who hits .320 AND 25 home runs. Probably a high average, high on base guy who strokes a ton of doubles. A nice player but not the star I keep predicting. He's had a nice rebound from 2009 but not a leap forward.

* Brian Matusz....breakout! Don't be surprised if Matusz is having Tim Lincecum-type success (without the gawdy strikeout totals...but damn good ones) by the second half of the season.

I still kind of believe this one. I think Matusz gets much better in the second half.

* Matt Wieters...breakout! I'm going with the Keith Law prediction of "well over .300 with 20-25 homers" for his sophomore season.

Wieters actually has taken a step back and has been the most disappointing young player on the Orioles this season. Over his last 15 games, Wieters had hit a hot streak posting a .354/.448/.521 line but now finds himself on the DL with a strained hamstring. I still believe in him for the long run but I thought he'd be something of an impact bat by now.

* Adam breakout! It would be hard to call this a breakout since he was pretty good last year but I expect that this is the year Jones starts to show people that Adrian Gonzalez is not necessary because the Orioles already have a bat as good in centerfield. Look for an average around .300 with something approaching 25 homers.

After a horrid April, Jones is starting to approach those numbers. He's hitting .276 with 14 home runs. I'd like to see a little more patience at the plate but he seems to have made the adjustments needed to keep on hitting.

* 80 wins. That's my guess. And with a little never know.


* Ben McDonald becomes a surprise hit on MASN.

Not so much. He's fine but I've been much more impressed with Eddie Murray in the booth.

* Kevin Millwood 2010 = Rick Sutcliffe 1992

He started that way. He'll have to regain some of his mojo to be league average in the second half...something I am doubtful of.

* Felix Pie forces something this summer...a trade, a position change....something.

Pie forced a serious injury on himself and not much else. Nolan Reimold appears to have a future at first base now but that is due as much to his bad defense in the outfield this season as the prospect of Pie manning leftfield. Still time for Pie to cement his position though.

Snapshots: Bowen Field, Bluefield, WV

On our way back from a family vacation, I talked my wife into a stopover in Bluefield, WV so I could catch a game at this historic stadium. Unfortunately, rain earlier in the day had caused a rain out. (They have a tarp...but it appeared to not have been placed on the field before the rain. Water was pooled all around the first base area. Not sure why that was or if the tarp would have helped anyway...)

The rain out was a real letdown but as I am want, I managed to get into the stadium anyway to snap off a few pictures of this field that is rich in Oriole history. The Bluefield Orioles have been Baltimore's team in the Appalchian League since 1958. Memorial Stadium is gone; Bowen Field is the oldest link to the team's early history. Boog Powell, Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Murray and many other Orioles have begun their professional careers on Bowen Field.

Here's the pictures. Next time, I'm hoping for an actual game...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Programming Note

My access to the internet is sporadic at best this week...I hope to have this issue resolved by tomorrow. Expect regular posting to resume by tomorrow afternoon...I hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All Star Break Catch Up

I'm back from vacation and a lot has been going on. Time for a quick catch up...


O's swept the Rangers in Texas before the All Star break. How'd they do it? With a little help from the offense. For the series:

Adam Jones: .313/.353/.563
Markakis: .316/.316/.632
Patterson: .368/.400/.684

Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta kicked a little ass but the much-maligned Orioles bullpen pitched 15.2 innings in the series without surrendering an earned run. That's the biggest reason they swept and a trend I just can't see continuing.

International News

The Orioles are reportedly ready to sign Dominican 3B Vector Heloz. According toBaseball America:

The Orioles have signed 16-year-old Dominican third baseman Hector Veloz for $300,000, according to his trainer, Victor Baez.

The bonus is a franchise record for an amateur player signed out of the Dominican Republic and is believed to be a franchise record for all of Latin America...

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Veloz, who is from Santiago, stands out for his plus raw power from the right side, though he has been inconsistent hitting in games. He also shows an above-average arm and solid hands at third base.

The deal is not official yet, as Veloz still has to clear his age and identity check and pass a drug test, which in his case could get interesting. Veloz has also already tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol when he took a drug test in mid-May as part of Major League Baseball's new registration program for 40 of the top Dominican prospects in this year's international signing class.

 This is a good news/bad news situation. This guy has already tested positive for steroids at the age of 16. However, that test probably dropped his price a bit and he is among one of the 40 best players in the DR.  And this shows a willingness to spend on Latin American talent that the Orioles have not showed before.

However, he was not considered one of the top 33 talents by Baseball America. It a positive step but they need to do more here during this signing season.

The DL

Guys seem to be getting healthy...

Except for Kevin Millwood. Millwood is on the DL and Brad Bergesen looks to be the man to take his place. Probably better in the long run to keep trotting Bergesen (and for that matter, Matusz, Tillman and Arrieta) out every five days anyway.

LF Felix Pie is finally back from his torn muscles. Although he strained his quad over the weekend so maybe he doesn't belong on this list.

DH Luke Scott is set to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow.

RP Mike Gonzalez is continuing a rehab assignment in Aberdeen.

2B Brian Roberts is playing in the GCL, his first significant work since the first week of the season. Roberts returning would be a big boost to this lineup...I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Getting all these guys back healthy would be a big boost to the team. At this point, I kind of don't want the Orioles to lose the #1 overall pick in 2011 but it might be more beneficial in the long run for this team to have some success in the second half.


Markakis has reached base in 17 straight games.

The undead carcass of Julio Lugo is OPSing .871 for July.

Since May 1st, Adam Jones is hitting .298/.328/.480 with 11 home runs.

Since May 1st, Ty Wigginton has hit .236/.317/.380.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th Tradition

And Independence Day tradition at Dempsey's Army...Rick Monday saves the flag!

Happy Independence Day everybody.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's July 2nd...Time for the Orioles to Sign Some Talent

It's the start of the Latin American signing season and it's time for the Orioles to make some noise. They have spent the last two seasons accumulating bodies (enough to have two full teams in the DSL this summer) and now they need to add some top tier talent. There were whispers back in May that the Orioles were set to make some noise this signing season but there has been little heard from them recently.

I don't know much about the top prospects, only what I read in Baseball America. Here's the list of the top 33 players in Latin America eligible for signing.

Which guy do I like? The guy with the most power, of course. From Baseball America:

Elvis Sanchez, 3B

Sanchez, who is from La Romana, is one of the best power hitters in Latin America. After traveling to the United States in October for the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Sanchez has worked out for teams in the U.S. this spring and made an impression in front of a hoard of scouts at the La Academia complex on June 15 by hitting a home run into the wind over the left-center field fence. He has plus to plus-plus raw power that comes from his strength and bat speed, though his stroke can get long and he has a tendency to try to muscle-up the ball with his swing....

Here's some video:

Elvis Sanchez from Kiley McDaniel on Vimeo.

Of course, ultimately I don't care who they sign. But they should get in here and sign at least one of these top 33 guys. But they have been linked to no one. Also from Baseball America:

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles haven't had much success funneling international talent to Baltimore, and their farm system is lacking in Latin American talent. There are signals they're increasing their international presence, and the club was high on Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano last year but couldn't get him signed. Baltimore could make a surprise move for a top player this year, but in a down year it might wait until a much better 2011 class to make a strike.

While it's true that it is considered a bit of a down year, couldn't that be a chance for the Orioles to get in here and pick up a bargain? A few teams aren't doing anything in Latin America this year. There should be less competition for the top guys this season.

Of course, the revelation that several of the top prospects in Latin America have tested positive for steroids may reduce the available pool. Scouting in Latin America is a dicey business that is difficult to navigate...

Roster Moves and Random Thoughts

OK, is everyone satisfied now? Luke Scott is hustling out of the box. Do you believe it now? And now he's hurt himself. Next time, I'll take the trot for the double.

Sure, I'm kidding. But the fact that Scott pulled a hamstring during a home run trot pretty much sums up the season, doesn't it? After a horrific April, Scott put up a line of .306/.376/.590 with 10 home runs over June and July. He was looking like a nice trading chip for the Orioles, now he'll be out for at least 2 weeks.

It was assumed by many that Felix Pie would be brought back from his rehab assignment a little early to take Scott's roster spot but instead they called up Norfolk 3B Josh Bell. The top hitting prospect in the minors, Bell is only hitting .265/.310/.453 in AAA but has been hitting better of late, hitting .269/.337/.495 in June. Expect Bell to struggle mightily; he strikes out a ton and doesn't walk much.

Bell may not be long for Baltimore though as Felix Pie is close to returning to action. With only three outfielders and a ton of infielders, Bell will probably get his taste and get sent down...barring a trade.

Pie will push Corey Patterson to the bench which is as it should be. But I have to say that Patterson, in his short time as a leadoff man...has kind of done a decent job. As a leadoff hitter, Corey has hit .295/.345/.423 with 12 stolen bases (vs. 2 time caught). That's decent. No, it can't possibly last but I have to tip my hat to him.

By the way, Matt Wieters is getting worse. His OPS by month in 2010 goes like this: .686, .663, .606. We need a new manager to perform triage on Wieters...stat!