Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zach Britton and The Art of Tweeting

Late last night, the following tweet went out from Zach Britton's Twitter account:

I blocked out the number but what appeared to happen was the accidental sharing of Jake Arrieta's phone number with the world. Britton intended to send Jake a direct message...but forgot the "D". This is not new...comedian Joe Rogan accidentally tweeted his number to all his followers once.

Then came this:


Covering for a mistake or savviest Tweeter ever? Britton's only been on Twitter for 8 days. If it was a prank, that's a quick learning curve. Just like his big league pitching.

But 512 is a Texas area code. And Arrieta is from Texas. Oops.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Blogging for MASN.com: Derrek Lee

A little late with this link but a quick link to a post I did on MASNSports.com about Derrek Lee's batted ball peripherals and such. Over the last two nights, we've started to see some of his hits drop in for him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not So Fast, Nolan Reimold Detractors

A quick rebuttal to Stacey Long's post about Nolan Reimold over at Camden Chat and answering the question, "(H)as Reimold lived up to the justification" of the Reimold in Exile/Free Nolan Reimold sentiment.

Let me first address the terminology that Stacy uses.

...to prove himself at the minor league level before being handed a major league job....Nolan Reimold hasn't done anything to deserve a major league job.

We have to get past this concept of "handed" or "deserves" a major league roster spot. This isn't about merit or proving one's self. It's just not.

Reimold was and is a viable option in this lineup and can help the team. There is no need to make him earn anything. If you feel he can help the team, you give him a spot. (Conversely, if you don't, maybe you should shop him around...) He shouldn't have to break down the door. It's better for the team if he's playing in Baltimore.

Why is it better? It will be helpful to find out if Reimold can be a regular major league player. The only way to find out for sure...is to let him play in the majors. If he flames out, the team knows they need to find another option for next season through free agency. If he plays well, he's a low-cost solution in left (or at first base) and the team can spend money elsewhere to fill other holes in the roster (of which there are many). This team is not going to contend (or likely win) with the "veteran presence" they signed in the offseason. You might as will find out what you have in house.

But future considerations are not the only reason to let Nolan play. He could actually help the team now. More than the current options on the roster.

It is no secret that I was against the Vlad Guerrero signing. Not because I didn't like Vlad as a hitter at this point in his career (although I didn't) but because they had already signed Derrek Lee to play first base and that Vlad wasn't filling a hole but blocking an option that could be more valuable in the short term and certainly in the long term.

And I'm not crazy about reading too much into 15 or 20 games but that's the premise that was laid out, so it is the premise that I must refute.

I ran Reimold's numbers through the Minor League Equivalency Calculator on MinorLeagueSplits.com. Here's the results compared to Guerrero's actual numbers this season:

                      AB  R   H   2B   3B   HR   RBI  BB   K    BA   OBP   SLG   OPS   
Reimold Equivalent    63  5  15    1    0    2    5    6  21  .235  .320  .328  .648
Guerrero 2011         83  7  22    2    0    3    9    0  13  .265  .265  .398  .663


Neither of those lines is great but is Vlad worth the extra $7.5 million in salary for that production?

(By the way, look at the 0 walks for Vlad. Zero. We are closing in fast on the first of May and the guy has zero walks. A 36-year old DH with zero walks. And we know that Stacy values walks.)

The fact that Reimold can play the field to some extent makes him a more valuable and versatile player. Right now. Today.

Forget about Reimold "earning" a chance. He doesn't have to earn a chance. He only has to be a better option than what's on the roster right now. And he's a better option than Guerrero right now. Right. Now.

And he hasn't even started to hit yet. I'll put my money on the guy a decade younger when looking for a rebound.

But things changed when the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero. Now, nothing short of an injury or a mid-season trade is going to give Reimold a chance to get promoted. I understand that's where the indignation comes from, and to an extent I understand. Vlad won't help the team long term, Reimold might, and whenever he's ready, he'll be stuck at AAA.

Yep, that pretty much sums up my indignation.

Reimold's ready enough for this team. He's better now, he's better for the future.

Free Nolan Reimold.

Oriole Offense is Unlucky So Far

"I'm very sad about that, but some fellas are lucky and some ain't."
- Mr. Pink, Reservoir Dogs


Yes, Mr. Pink, some fellas are lucky. But those fellas aren't swinging bats for the Baltimore Orioles. Quite frankly, this lineup is looking more like Mr. Orange than anything else.

So I bring you the good news. The Orioles are swinging decent bats. The bad news is they are unlucky and all that good work isn't showing up in the boxscore. Using their line drive percentage thus far, I calculated an expected BABIP (adding .120 to the LD% is a quick and easy way to calculate expected BABIP) and compared it to their actual BABIP to see how good or bad things look right now among the full time players.

Name            BABIP     LD%     xBABIP    Dif
Brian Roberts   0.286   26.00%    0.380   -.094
Nick Markakis   0.206   17.10%    0.291   -.085
Derrek Lee      0.259   22.00%    0.340   -.081
Luke Scott      0.250   20.60%    0.326   -.076
Mark Reynolds   0.222   14.90%    0.269   -.047
Matt Wieters    0.262   17.80%    0.298   -.036
Adam Jones      0.226    9.10%    0.211   +.015
V Guerrero      0.284   14.30%    0.263   +.021


Roberts, Markakis, Lee and Scott are getting hosed right now. Reynolds and Wieters are slightly unlucky. The good news is if they keep hitting the ball hard, those BABIP numbers will regress to the mean (around .300 for most hitters) and those offensive numbers will improve.

Jones and Guerrero are another matter. Jones truly is hitting just as poorly as his batting line looks. And Vlad? He's been the luckiest guy on the team and is still just OPSing .663. Hoo boy.

But overall, it looks like the offense will see better days. They just have to keep hitting the ball hard...and hit 'em where they ain't.

Monday, April 25, 2011

John Sickels on Chris Tillman

An pretty thorough look back at the minor league career and prospect status of Chris Tillman. Sickels explores his velocity drop, the control issues, his cutter and comparable pitchers at the beginning of their careers. In conclusion:

Clearly he has nothing left to learn at Norfolk, and his statistics there certainly imply that he should be successful in the majors. But it hasn't happened yet. In 27 major league starts, he's 4-12, 5.69, with an 86/61 K/BB in 138 innings, 149 hits allowed, 77 ERA+, 5.68 FIP, 4.95 xFIP, and a WAR of 0.1...

Overall, as long as he's healthy, I think there's still a good chance that Tillman can live up to his potential, perhaps as soon as this year. He's only 23. If he had gone to Cal State Fullerton instead of signing with the Mariners in 2006, he would have been drafted in 2009, very likely as a first-round pick, and this would just be his second full pro season. He deserves some slack.

It's easy to forget the guy is just 23. I don't know what the future holds for Tillman but I hope he gets the chance to try to work it out in Baltimore this season, all season, lumps and all.

Baby Birds Roundup - 4/25/2011

Delmarva Shorebirds

The story in the Oriole farm system so far has been the wonderful debut of 2010 top pick SS Manny Machado. He has posted a .286/.386/.414 line for the Shorebirds with 4 doubles and 2 triples. The only thing he hasn't flashed too much of is his home run power but the gap power is already there.

Not to be outdone, fellow teenage shortstop prosepct Jonathan Schoop (he has slid over to play third base for now) is hitting .338/.419/.538 with 7 extra base hits (including 2 homers). The Shorebirds start a 9-game home stand today. You might want to get out there before Schoop and/or Machado end up in Frederick.

Speaking of promotions, that is just what happened to CF Trent Mummey according to his Twitter account. The 2010 4th Round pick out of Auburn has hit .291/.377/.509 for Delmarva and is getting a shot in Frederick after just 14 games.

Anybody have Kipp Shutz on their radar before this season? Schutz, a 26th round pick in 2006 in hitting an eye-popping .386/.453/.649. It's probably a fluke. Probably. But interesting.


Frederick Keys

1B Tyler Townsend has been very, very good when he's been healthy. And so far, he's been healthy while hitting .286/.340/.510 with 2 homers and 5 doubles.

OF Tyler Kolodny has been a low average, high power guy thus far but somehow, he's hitting .317/.417/.488 and even has a couple stolen bases. His 4-to-1 K/BB ratio does not bode well but he is one of those guys I like...a very deep sleeper.

RHP Bobby Bundy is striking out the Carolina League with a 15-to-1 K/BB ratio and a 2.77 ERA. He's one to watch.

2010 3rd round pick Dan Klein is relieving for the keys and repoertedly being stretched out to start. Klein has a 1.64 ERA and a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio.


Bowie Baysox

There's not much to like in Bowie right now. OF Robbie Widlansky is hitting .315/.351/.481 with 6 doubles and a homer. Outside of him and Jeff Fiorentino (who doesn't count) nobody is hitting.

C Caleb Joseph is off to a decent start as he tries to re-establish his prospect status hitting .270/.391/.378.

27-year old RHP Zach Clark is the only bright spot on the pitching staff right now with a 3.07 ERA and showing crazy control.


Norfolk Tides

1B Brandon Snyder is off to a good start in Norfolk with a .279/.333/.525 line including a team leading 4 home runs. Early signs of Snyder delivering on his 1st round promise? Keep and eye on him.

2B Ryan Adams has struggled a bit in his AAA debut hitting .258/.313/.306 but his approach looks good and I imagine he will hit eventually.

This just in: Josh Bell is not walking. He has 23 Ks versus 2 BB.

LHP Troy Patton has only been in two games but has a 1.80 ERA. The staff beyond him is a complete disaster.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This Week in Chat - 4/24/11

Where we distill all the weekly baseball chats down to their Oriole-centric essence...

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus

Todd (Austin):
Odds that Segura is the top SS prospect in next year's top 101?

Kevin Goldstein:
Battle will be between him and Machado. Francisco Lindor gets sleeper odds.

Jay (Madison):
Speaking of Machado, how's his D' looking in the early going? Can he stick at short?

Kevin Goldstein:
D has been just fine, but his future at short is not a question of skills, it's a question of how much that body is going to fill out.


Jack Moore, FanGraphs

12:22 Comment From James
Does Adam Jones have the power speed combo to be the next Carlos Gonzalez? Especially with the lineup support he has is this his year? Or soon in the future?

12:23 Jack Moore: Not that good, I don't think. And until he learns to take more walks, he's not going to have the kind of OBP he needs to really be a table-setter (cliche alert) either. Decent power, good speed for sure. But not nearly that talented of a hitter.


Frankie Piliere, Fangraphs.com

12:46 Comment From Dan (Baltimore)
If you were the Orioles and the draft was today...who would be your top four?

12:47 Frankie Piliere:
If it was my board I'd go Rendon, Cole, Hultzen, Springer. I'm sticking with George in that top group.


Jonah Keri, Fangraphs.com

12:00 Comment From Big Jgke
You've been pretty consistent in projecting the Jays to finish last in the AL East. Why do you think they're worse than Baltimore?

12:00 Jonah Keri:
Have I? Those 2 teams strike me as potentially close, and the difference might not be much. I wouldn't sweat it if the Orioles win 77 games and the Jays 76, or vice versa. Both aren't going to win just yet, but both have bright futures.

12:30 Comment From Bigsmooth
What happens to Britton when Matusz comes off the DL? What can we expect from Matusz?

12:31 Jonah Keri:
I'd keep Britton up and demote Tillman. I like Britton's present, and future, more than Tillman's. Matusz if healthy should be a solid, above-average pitcher.

12:46 Comment From Dan
Pssst, Wieters' OPS+ is sitting at 108 and he's playing fantastic defense behind the plate. I thought he was washed up?

12:47 Jonah Keri:
The rush by people to claim that a hot prospect is not as good as we thought is so silly. My mantra always begins and ends with Brandon Phillips.


Dave Cameron, Fangraphs.com

3:17 Comment From Chief Wahoo
Who's a good comp for Dustin Ackley?

3:18 Dave Cameron
Brian Roberts. Gap power, some homers, good speed, average to slightly above defender.


Jayson Stark, ESPN

kid123 (ny)
haha thank you for posting that, made my day! Biggest Sellers at the trade deadline? Baltimore and San Diego?

Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I'll vote Baltimore. So many marketable players on the last year of their contract. And not much chance they'll contend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guess the Date

A quick giveaway...

AnyDate.com has provided me with 63-page commerorative newspaper full of New York Times articles of great moments in Oriole history. Details of the newspaper can be found here.

I will be giving away this prize by allowing you to guess a date. What is the date that Nolan Riemold will be called up from Norfolk to Baltimore? This question is confused by the fact that Reimold is only hitting .200 in AAA so the field is wide open.

Send your guess to dempseysarmy at yahoo dot com or tweet it to me @dempseysarmy on Twitter. Good luck!



Baltimore Orioles History

Guest Post on MASNSports.com: WAR says Guthrie rates among O's all-time best pitchers

My last guest post for MASNSports.com can be found here. Back to regular programming and thanks to MASN for letting me try something new.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

They Make the Schedules, Right?

A tweet from the official Twitter account of the Baltimore Orioles:



Nothing wrong with this. Except that the Orioles won last night (Tuesday) and not Monday. And the fact that tonight is not the series finale with the Twins....it's a four-game set that ends on Thursday.

But other than that....Aces!

Guest Post on MASNSports.com: Let's Sit Jake Fox Against Lefties

THe latest guest post on MASNSports.com can be found here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Post on MASNSports.com: The Longest Game in Pro Ball, 30 Years Later

The link to my guest post is here. Enjoy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Blogging for MASN.com

I will be doing some guest blogging for MASN.com this week. I will likely still have some posts over here too and I will link to the MASN posts here.

The first post: Orioles Offense Offers More of the Same

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This Week in Chat - 4/17/11

Where we distill all the weekly baseball chats down to their Oriole-centric essence...

Jonah Keri, FanGraphs

12:18 [Comment From YankeesJunkie]
Would you vote for Manny to the HOF?

12:19 Jonah Keri:
Of course I would. Also Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa.

(I'm a maybe on Palmeiro, because PEDs aside, we need to adjust the offensive records of the era, and Palmeiro to me would be roughly the cut-off.)

12:58 [Comment From Dan]
How for real can Zach Britton be?

1:00 Jonah Keri:
Love him! Speaking of SOM, he was my 1st round pick this offseason. Any time you throw a mid-90s fastball that darts and sinks, you've got a chance.

I do think AL East reality will set in and cause something of a correction. But as a guideline, I like him more than Matusz or anyone else the O's have, long-term.

1:23 [Comment From Big Jgke]
Order of finish in AL east?

1:24 Jonah Keri:
Red Sox
Yankees
Rays
O's
Jays


Jerry Crasnick, ESPN

Jim (Valdosta, Ga)
If the Orioles bullpen holds up they have a legit shot at being over .500, correct?

Jerry Crasnick (1:16 PM)
Jim, I think the bigger question is how Britton, Tillman and the young kids will fare in the rotation. That AL East is a gauntlet, and it's not the easiest place to learn on the job. But the Orioles are now 40-26 under Buck Showalter, I believe, so they've clearly tapped into something good. I can see them finishing at .500, sure. But that might be the ceiling for this season.


Dave Cameron, FanGraphs

12:14 [Comment From Scott]
Matusz or Holland?

12:14 Dave Cameron:
I'm a big Holland fan, but Matusz.

12:18 [Comment From Bucky Show]
Sure, it's early, but when will people realize the O's have potential? Is a wild card really that unrealistic?

12:18 Dave Cameron:
We put them #15 in the Org Rankings, so I'd say that people have been seeing that potential for a while. But yes, a wild card is unrealistic. They're not ready to win 90+ games.


David Schoenfield, ESPN

Jack (DC)
Is the Orioles' Adam Jones going to breakout this season?

David Schoenfield (1:56 PM)
See Jonny Gomes. I don't think so. Jones is still a wild hacker at the plate. No discipline means too many easy outs for pitchers.


Ben Lindbergh, Baseball Prospectus

Tavis Bregel (Covington, KY):
Thanks Ben. Same question, another pitcher, what's the outlook for Zach Britton?

Ben Lindbergh:
Much better than Harrison's. Britton is the real deal. There will be some struggles--he's walked too many batters not to get burned at some point--but he should be fun to watch, and it's hard to imagine that he'll be sent back to Norfolk. If only I could stop calling him "Chris." Old habits die hard.

TGisriel (Baltimore):
How much of a problem is it for the Orioles to lose Matusz and Hardy to the disabled list?

Ben Lindbergh:
Given that Matusz's injury gave the Orioles an excuse to call up Zach Britton, not a huge one. Hardy's was a tough loss, plunging the O's back into the dark days of "Cesar Izturis, starting shortstop," but he'll be back in six weeks or so.

TGisriel (Baltimore):
Buck Showalter has commented recently on the number of third strike foul tips Matt Wieters has caught for a strikeout. He uses it as evidence that Wieters is a superior defensive catcher. Are you aware of any analysis of catchers and third strike foul tips? Does anyone even keep track of them? Are such plays included in ratings of catchers' defense?

Ben Lindbergh:
Hasn't been analyzed or included in any catcher defense ratings, to my knowledge, but it's an interesting question, and one well worth looking into.

Drungo (SoMd):
Chris Tillman: 88 mph buzzkill like Hughes, or kid working on his mechanics and will see his velocity return?

Ben Lindbergh:
To paraphrase Joe Morgan, I haven't seen him pitch this season, so I'll reserve judgement. I read that the velo drop was at least partially an intentional measure to increase control and movement, but I'm skeptical. Progressive velo decline is the norm for pitchers, unfortunately, but big velo drops are usually a cause for concern.


Keith Law, ESPN

Dan (DC)
I know you've advocated giving Tillman 30 starts, but he's been just hard to watch this year. He's throwing straight 88 mph fastballs. It's BP versus the AL East clubs. Do they send him down until they figure out what happened to his velocity, or do they keep throwing him out there and let him learn how to pitch at that speed?

Klaw (2:15 PM)
If a guy's stuff is down, that's another story. I have to question his health, since I have seen him throw harder than that in the past. At 88, with poor command and no sink, he's throwing BP, which means he'd only post a 3.30 ERA in Petco.

Jeff (B-More)
Hultzen or Jungmann to the O's at 4? Which has a higher ceiling/higher floor?

Klaw (2:18 PM)
I think it would go Hultzen, Bradley, Jungmann. That's also how I'd rank them in value, although Bradley has a little more ceiling than Hultzen, who is pretty close to a finished product right now.

John (Lexington, KY)
I'm not sure if your rankings deal specifically this issue, but for the short term (Next two years), do you choose Britton or Pineda?

Klaw (2:38 PM)
Neutral environment, Britton, easily. But he's in the AL East, and Pineda's in Safeco with a great defense behind him.

SportsHui (Seattle)
Weiters HR yesterday off Burnett made him look like everything we've ever hoped for, even for a brief moment. What kind of sample size does it take to convince scouts that a prospect has finally arrived?

Klaw (3:11 PM)
I think the industry never fully gives up on a guy with that kind of pedigree - once a first-rounder, always a first-rounder. And there's an old scouting cliche that catchers develop later, at least offensively, that I can't figure out how to verify, but find useful in situations like this.


Jim Callis, Baseball America

Steve (Baltimore):
To me this makes too much sense not to be considered- O's trade Jake Arrieta to the Yankees for Montero. The Yankees get a desperately needed young pitcher and the O's stick Montero at 1st and have Miguel Cabrera Jr. Moreover, the Yankees are flush with young catchers and the O's seem to have an abundance of young pitchers. Tell me this wouldn't work.

Jim Callis:
Because Montero is significantly more valuable than Arrieta. Montero (as part of a package) almost landed Cliff Lee last summer. The Yankees will use him in that type of a trade rather than for Arrieta. I do like Arrieta, but the Yankees would never make this deal.


Ken Funck, Baseball Prospectus

Rex Little (Big Bear CA):
Travis Snider and Adam Jones are piling disappointing starts on top of disappointing careers. Do you think either or both will turn it around?

Ken Funck:
Well, KG tells me Adam Jones is better than Willie Mays, so he has to turn it around, right? (Of course, that's just his standard intro into how average players today are better conditioned, better trained, etc. -- of course Willie Mays born at the same time as Adam Jones would be better than Adam Jones).

Seriously, though, I fear Adam Jones is turning into Corey Patterson, and I'm losing my optimism about him. Snider is younger and has a better chance of turning things around.


Frankie Piliere, FanGraphs

12:14 [Comment From Matt Wieters]
What's my problem?

12:15 Frankie Piliere:
Inexperience, and that most catchers take more time to develop on the job in the majors. You'll be fine.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taking Another Look at the Tillman Debacle

So I went back and watched Tillman's brief performance in the Bronx last night...and I have to say that while it was not good, it was not as bad as it looked initially.

And I'm sure I will be labelled a Tillman apologist but here it goes.

The first three Yankee batters reached via ground ball hits. Like Scott Erickson used to say, I can make them hit it on the ground but I don't know where it's going to go. If someone makes a play on one of those balls, maybe the inning goes differently. Or maybe the A-Rod homer is a 2-run job instead of a 3-run shot.

Secondly, there were two fly balls to left that I think Felix Pie would have had a very good shot at catching. They weren't easy plays but they were impossible for Scott who gets good jumps but does not have Pie's speed. And then there was Jeter's lucky infield hit in the second inning.

Don't get me wrong. It was not a good outing and he had some hard hit balls. And even if things broke his way, I'm not sure he pitches into the 5th inning last night.

But he gave up some hits on weakly hit balls, grounders and nubs. It was not as bad as the box score looks.

Even after last night, Tillman's FIP and xFIP are 4.87 and 4.89 respectively. He's not giving up a bunch of homers and he's stopped walking people at ridiculous rates. He has not been good but he has been pretty unlucky too.

Again, for the third time...it was NOT a good performance last night. But it wasn't the unmitigated disaster it looked to be at first blush. And his season so far has been OK regardless of what his ERA reads right now.

Quick Thoughts on Last Night's Game

I have some reactions to last night's game...or some reactions to reactions to last night's game.

Christ Tillman....he was bad. I completely agree. But why would you want to send the guy back to AAA. I'll post his AAA numbers...again.

Lev    W  L W-L%  ERA  G CG SHO    IP   H HR BB  SO  WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
AAA   19 13 .594 3.06 39  2   2 218.0 205 15 56 193 1.197  0.6  2.3  8.0  3.45


Whatever he does in AAA works for him. Call him a AAAA pitcher but there's no reason for him to go down. He should live or die right here in Baltimore.

That future in Baltimore may lay in the bullpen. And that's just fine with me. He needs to face major league hitter and maybe the pen is the way to go.

But until Brian Matusz comes back, you've got to keep trotting him out there every fifth day. I just got done watching the majority of the Norfolk Tides rotation and it's not pretty.

2011 ERA
Ryan Drese         8.18
Mark Hendrickson  12.50
Michael Ballard    6.00
Rick VandenHurk    6.00


The only starter who looked decent was Troy Patton...and he's on the DL now.

There are no better options. There is no help arriving. Tillman should remain in the rotation until Matusz returns and should pitch somewhere for Baltimore all this season. There are no better options.

About Vlad Guerrero...I have seen some grumbling about Vlad's free swinging ways amongst fans and from the press.

The vast majority of the fans and all of the mainstream media were really enthusiastic about his signing. But the guy has been a free swinger at the plate for 15 seasons and he has built himself a Hall of Fame resume with that approach.

And now you expect him to change it?

Vlad is not going to stop swinging. Game situations don't matter to him. His approach is his approach and he's not suddenly going to become more patient at age 36. The very notion is hilarious.

Of course things would be better if he were more patient. His career would have been more brilliant than it already was if he was more patient. But he's not. He's Vladimir Guerrero. He's what he has always been.

I remember a few years back when Frank Thomas was playing for the Blue Jays and injuries and such forced the manager to move Thomas into the cleanup spot in the lineup. And then Thomas was criticized for not being more aggressive at the plate to "drive in runs" and continuing to take walks. Forget the fact that that is what Frank Thomas was and always was...sometimes people illogically expect different results from the same guy.

I was not in favor of the Guerrero signing but I'll be damned if I'm going to criticize his approach at the plate. It's like being critical of a duck for having webbed feet. He is what he is.

And everybody wanted him. Now you have him.

Finally, quit quoting me stats about how the Orioles are hitting with runners in scoring position. It's a completely meaningless stat. So stop it or I'll have to explain why it's stupid.

OK, resume party...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Norfolk Tides vs. Gwinnett Braves: 4/11/11

The Norfolk Tides (AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) fell to a woeful 0-5 last night in fairly woeful fashion, losing to the Gwinnett Braves 8-3.

Things looked good for the Tides early. LHP Troy Patton took the spot of the recently recalled Brad Bergesen and held the G-Braves hitless for three innings. Nick Green had doubled in Josh Bell in the 2nd and Nolan Reimold had a solo shot to deep left in the 4th to give the Tides the 2-0 lead against RHP Jair Jurrjens who was on a rehab assignment from Atlanta.

But G-Braves CF Jordan Schaefer led off the 4th inning with a drag bunt between the pitcher and first base. Patton ran and lunged at the ball, missed it, stumbled and fell, landing on his left side. Patton remained on the ground for a full minute or two, then got to his feet and was pulled from the game. (It was later reported that Patton had a wrist injury although it looked like he had fallen on his shoulder.)

Fellow lefty Mark Hendrickson came on in relief and gave up 6 runs in his three innings including back-to-back homers in the 6th. Tides RF Tyler Henson hit a sac fly to plate SS Nick Green in the 7th. RHP Pat Egan pitched the final two frames and gave up a two-run homer in the 8th.

The Tides are now the only winless team left in the International League. They will try to get their first win tonight at Coolray Field in Gwinnett.

Some random notes:

Troy Patton: On a night when Jair Jurjens' fast ball was sitting at 92-93 on the stadium radar gun, Patton was having to really dial it up to touch 91. His fastball sat at 87-88 on the night but it was his breaking stuff and offspeed pitches that were giving Gwinnett fits last night. His changeup seemed to be the swing-and-miss pitch of the evening as he compiled 4 strikeouts and walked no one. I don't remember a well-struck ball all night. His injury looked kind of ominous, hopefully it looked worse than it was.

Mark Hendrickson: I was a big proponent of bringing Henrickson back to the Baltimore organization. I think he pitched better than he showed last year and is generally an underrated reliever. But there is nothing I saw last night that would lead me to believe that he can still pitch in the majors. His fastball was up all night, even the outs he got were loud ones and he gave up two home runs to a lineup that is not exactly an offensive powerhouse. He has a lot to work on.

Josh Bell: Bell was a mixed bag in the field. He had a couple of sharp grounders that he bobbled a little, one bobble of which allowed a runner to reach. But his arm was strong and accurate all night, something that he had issues with in Baltimore last season. At the plate, he looked extremely comfortable, even against a good major league caliber pitcher like Jurjens. Bell went 3 for 4 with a triple.

Ryan Adams: Adams did not get that many chances in the field but on a routine grounder up the middle, I saw his fielding flaws. Admas ranged deep and nearly got to the ball but it skipped under his glove and there was just no sense that he is athletic or quic enough to make the tough plays. His arm is good and makes the routine play with little effort. I see why third could be his ultimate position but there was nothing I saw to indicate his reactions are good enough for that position either. At the plate, Adams has struggled thus far but managed to draw 2 walks and also had 2 strikeouts. I like his approach and he may hit well enough to offset his defensive trouble at second.

Pat Egan: I was a little disappointed in Egan. His first inning of relief was exactly what I was expecting. A fastball that sat at 92 mph and could touch 94 and good enough breaking stuff to keep the oppostion off balance. He gave up a liner to left in the 7th but nothing else was well hit. He fielded his position beautifully twice that inning, once to start a 1-5-3 double play and another leaping stab of a chopper that looked to be over his head and heading up the middle.

His nest inning of work was another matter. I don't think he touched 91 more than once and his fastball looked very hittable. He gave up the homer and was lucky that was all that was surrendered. He may just be a one inning guy...looked like a different pitcher during that second inning. Something to keep an eye on anyway.

Nolan Reimold: Hit a homer to left off Jair Jurrjens. Would've liked to have seen him work the count a little better tonight as he went 1-4 with the homer and a strikeout looking. (The called third strike looked low...) Reimold is now hitting .250/.333/.633 on the young season and made a nice running grab on a sinking liner too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This Week in Chat - 4/10/11

Where we distill all the weekly baseball chats down to their Oriole-centric essence...


Jonah Keri, Fangraphs

12:09 [Comment From Omar Little]
So which of the Os starters would you most trust for the whole season -- Guthrie, Britton, Tillman, Matusz?

12:10 Jonah Keri: Is this a fantasy question? Because otherwise, why not trust them all? Guthrie is perennially one of the most underrated pitchers in the game, and all three of the young guys have good upside, of course.

12:10 [Comment From Matt]
Impressive Start from Britton. Do you expect him to stay in the rotation? What stats could he post this year?

12:11 Jonah Keri: Yes, I think he can stick. Adjust all AL East ERAs up .30 to .50, winning pct and others too. On a neutral level, Britton can peak as a 3.50 FIP guy, and maybe get under 4 this year if things break right.

12:37 [Comment From DRS]
I don't want to make to big a deal out of the O's starting 3-0 but they do have some talented young pitchers. What struck me as the most promising aspect of watching them was that their pitchers pounded the strike zone instead of constantly working deep counts and walking batters. Your thoughts on that staff and the O's overall?

12:38 Jonah Keri: As I said before, I like the starting rotation's potential a lot. Still think they struggle to reach .500 this year. But I'd be encouraged about the future. (Would be even more encouraged if/when Adam Jones takes the next step, and Markakis finally hits for power.)

12:39 [Comment From baltfan]
Is Wieters on his way to be becoming the best game-caller/defensive catcher in the major leagues? He had Britton drop his sinker yesterday. Takes guts to have a young kid drop the pitch that got him there because he couldn't control it.

12:39 Jonah Keri: How the hell do we quantify best game-caller? Seriously, I have no idea.

1:52 [Comment From Robert]
Could Chris Tillman be a future ace? Do you like him or Britton over the long term?

1:52 Jonah Keri: Britton's track record suggest better command, a lot more GB. Could even see Britton being best of the whole bunch.


Steven Goldman, Baseball Prospectus

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): So who you got in the ALDS - the O's or the Royals?

Steven Goldman: Much as with rumors of Boston's demise, the rise of the O's and Royals are much exaggerated. Still, it is heartening to see the Orioles experiencing a little success for once. Sure, it's fun to mock a perpetual loser, but much more fun to see good teams throughout the league playing each other. As for the Royals, see my answer to the first question, but in reverse: some 100-game losers win a few on their way down the standings.

kcroyalsguy (outside): Do you think Jake Fox will get 300+ at bats this year or has his ship already sailed so to speak?

Steven Goldman: Well, it would be nicer if he got his first at-bat before we project him for 300. He might get a few at-bats around the inevitable Derrek Lee DL stint. I don't know that it would be a good thing anyway, given the 10 walks he would draw against those 300 ABs.

TGisriel (Baltimore): As Baltimore rejoices in the Orioles 4-0 start, I am (surprisingly) not hearing many claims that this team will "go all the way". The talk is about having a competitive winning (.500 or above) team that is fun to watch, which I think is a realistic goal for this team. Your thoughts on the Orioles?

Steven Goldman: It has been too many years of suckage for anyone to jump on the bandwagon that quickly. I'm still looking for 81-81, though the way pitchers are dropping (Guthrie, Matusz) that may be increasingly difficult despite the start. And then there's positional depth. There aren't any great players standing behind the starting lineup, so if the oldsters get hit by injuries, look out.

Gisriel (Baltimore): My theory is that the Orioles trade either or both Guerrero and/or Lee at the deadline, move Scott to DH or 1B, and bring up Reimold to play LF. Pie remains the 4th outfielder.

Steven Goldman: I'm not sure how much faith there should be in Reimold at this point...



Dave Cameron, FanGraphs


12:00 [Comment From bill]
which team gets the most wins this year: orioles, pirates, diamondbacks, nationals?

12:00 Dave Cameron: I'll take the Orioles. #15org off to a pretty good start so far.


12:07 [Comment From Oscar]
Will you commit to eating your own keyboard if the Orioles make the playoffs this season?

12:07 Dave Cameron: I just upgraded to a Mac last week, so no, that'd be a really expensive keyboard to eat.


12:19 [Comment From Jason]
RE: The AL East. Last year there were 4 teams with records above .500 against the AL East as a whole. All 4 of those teams were from the AL East. So yah...

12:20 Dave Cameron: All five of those teams would be playoff contenders in any other division in baseball.

12:31 [Comment From The Dude]
Give me your three most under-rated outfielders.

12:32 Dave Cameron: Anyone in the Randy Winn family of good defensive players who man a corner instead of center field and have gap power. These no-plus-tool guys usually get labeled as tweeners or fourth outfielders, but several of them are well above average regulars.

12:54 [Comment From TK]
bigger effect on AGonz HR total in 2011, home park or lineup?

12:54 Dave Cameron: Park, by a lot. There's little to no evidence for the protection theory.


David Schoenfield, ESPN

Zack (Baltimore)
How long do we wait to being adjusting expectations of our O's? Baseball success is built on pitching, and so far 4 games, 4 quality starts.

David Schoenfield (1:10 PM)
As much as I want to jump on the Baltimore bandwagon, four games is four games. Can't overreact yet. The Orioles had seven winning streak of four games last season and still lost 96 games.

Matt (New Jersey)
David, many people got on the Orioles for signing the free agents they did, and I don't necessarily disagree with some of thoughts. But, and I know this can't be quantified (Neyer word), is there something to having veterans around that provide some sort of blanket for the young pups on the roster? Throwing out a young team for the sake of playing time while watching them get beaten up, especially in the East...I don't know. As a former athlete I always found confidence in looking to some older guys and their presence (granted you are counting on them to actually produce to instill confidence). Just rambling...thanks for chatting.

David Schoenfield (1:50 PM)
Good post. I did like the signings and I do think there is at least a *little* something to veteran presence. Now, the vets have to produce, because ultimately it's all about production. But maybe it does help a young guy like Adam Jones, since he doesn't have to think he has to be the big RBI guy and maybe he swings for the fences as much. He can focus on getting on base more and hitting line drives.

Keith Law, ESPN

Brian (MD)
If you were the Orioles sitting with the fourth pick and Francisco Lindor was your top rated prospect would you still take him even though you just drafted Machado last season?

Klaw (1:38 PM)
Yes. Best player available. That said, he won't be the best guy available, IMO. (Actually, one name I forgot for Washington who'd also fit here is Dylan Bundy.)

Raymond (Baltimore)
KLAW, as an Orioles, I do believe that after a week you cannot really change the way that you perceive any team. But my question is WHEN is it accurate to start to legitimately believe in a team? I kind of go back to the Rays (or Padres last year) where it seemed like into September (or November for Tampa) people were still waiting for the shoe to fall off. Now Personally, I think the O's will win 77 games, and hope they trade Vlad and Derrick Lee this summer to get more prospects, and give Tillman 30 starts.

Klaw (1:40 PM)
Well, the shoe did fall off for San Diego in September, right? Tampa Bay shouldn't have surprised anyone, though. To your question, for a team massively out- or under-performing expectations I'd like to see at least 50 games, and even then I'd be uncomfortable making a grand statement.

Amos (New York)
Can you name a guy or two you haven't given up on, even after a decent sample of serious non-performance in the bigs? (Someone like Weeks doesn't count, someone like Milledge or Gordon does.)

Klaw (1:56 PM)
Does Tillman count? Chris Iannetta? Howie Kendrick? I'm not sure what your standard is. I still like guys like Matt Wieters and Gordon Beckham, but have they non-performed enough?

Cliff B (Chicago, IL)
I heard you on All Night w/ Jason Smith the other night. He was trying to tell you what a good signing Vlad Guerrero was for the O's because of his runs and RBI's last year. You quickly corrected him that those stats mean nothing and he laughed it off. After you went off the air, he continued to say how RBI and runs are the most important stats and that "OPS and all the other stuff, blah." Are so few ESPN people knowledgeable about statistical analysis?

Klaw (2:06 PM)
I think we have a lot of folks here who are aware of statistical analysis. Jason clings to his discredited stats for some reason I don't quite get.

Frankie Piliere, FanGraphs


12:44 [Comment From Orioles]
In order: Britton, Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman. Did I get that right? Can all these guys be valuable SP on a contending team?

12:45 Frankie Piliere: I think you nailed it. I have my doubts on Tillman but he's still got a lot of potential.

1:11 [Comment From Orioles Scouts]
How big an addition is Ron Hopkins to the O's scouting team?

1:11 Frankie Piliere: As a big a scouting move as you can make. He's excellent.

1:27 [Comment From Aman Reaka @bkmhoxx]
Scouting question. What makes a scout like Ron Hopkins so good? Other than experience, why are some scouts "good" and some arent? Other than the obvious answer of "results".

1:29 Frankie Piliere: Certain guys you can judge on results, but lower level guys you can't because they don't make the decisions. Hopkins has made good decisions. But, once you see these guys you get to know who the most diligent ones are, the most open minded, and how they are using past experiences to make judgments. Being a scout 20 years on its own doesn't make a good scout. It makes a world of difference if you are still open minded and use all those experiences though.

Jayson Stark, ESPN

Mitch (North Carolina)
Do you think the Orioles will end up with 85 wins or more this year?

Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
I would have gone lower a week ago. I know that. I was thinking .500 would be a great year for that team coming out of spring training. Now I guess, my question is: Should I ever bet against Buck Showalter. They're 39-24 since he got there. They were the '62 Mets before he got there. He's David Copperfield, this guy. But I still think 85 is a little too high.

Jack (DC)
Can the Orioles be this season's Giants, Padres or Rays? Buck for the Hall of Fame if he turns this ship around this year, right?

Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Boy, lots of Orioles questions today. Orioles fans live! I like them. I just don't see them as a 90-win kind of team. I don't see where they have pitching in the same class as those three teams you named, despite how they've pitched so far. And in the AL East, that's going to be the big separator.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Miracle Season

I used to do a yearly preview called "How the Orioles Can Win the East" in which I would talk about 5 things that could go wrong with the other AL East teams and 5 things which could break Baltimore's way and how all these things could combine to allow the Orioles to take the division. It was tongue in cheek but the underlying premise was absolutely true. Miracle seasons happen but they happen for a number of converging reasons; lots of stuff goes right for your team and a lot of stuff goes wrong for the opposition.

This season, part of that equation is falling into place. The pre-season favorite Red Sox and the defending AL East champs are both winless through 6 games. The Yanks are getting old and have questions about their rotation. If you tell me that the toughest competition in the division will be the Blue Jays, well, I'd almost give the Orioles a puncher's chance at making the playoffs.

But the other half of the equation is not. Despite the 5-1 start, the Orioles have already seen Brian Matusz and Justin Duchscherer got to the DL, Jeremy Guthrie hospitalized, Luke Scott missing games with a groin injury and JJ Hardy missing a game with a cryptic ribcage injury.

For the Orioles to surprise, pretty much everything would have to go right and so far, that has not been the case. Overall, the offense has been sluggish. There have been various levels of injury already. The young pitchers haven't all come out of the gate spectacularly.

Even though it is only 6 games into the season, I could be more optimistic about the 2011 season if the Orioles were keeping up their end of the bargain. As it is, we can enjoy it while it lasts but this isn't 1989.

If this was going to be a miracle season, things would be going better for Baltimore right about now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Quick Explanation of the Oriole Nickname

Ran across this yesterday. (Think it was a link from NBC Sports' Hardball Talk...) He provides a little blurb about the origin of each team nickname in Major League Baseball. The Oriole entry:

Baltimore Orioles: Originally the St. Louis Browns, team owners changed the name for the 1954 season. The name “Orioles” had been used for decades by Baltimore minor league and club teams.

Really? That's all you got? Weak. Sauce.

He references Wikipedia as a source. But here's a whole page on Wikipedia that gives brief backgrounds on the origin of each teams nickname. Here's just a portion of the Orioles entry:

The team's nickname is taken from the baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula) a small blackbird of the passerine family. The bird received its name in about 1808 from the fact that the male's colors resembled those on the coat of arms of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, who was part of the Calvert family that established the Maryland colony in the 17th century. The baltimore oriole is also the state bird of Maryland.


Most of the professional baseball teams in Baltimore have been dubbed the "Orioles", with a few exceptions.


The earliest Baltimore teams, in the early 1870s, were called "Lord Baltimore" and "Maryland" respectively. These clubs were short-lived. The "Lord Baltimore" team chose the unusual team color of yellow, and was often called the Canaries or the Yellow Stockings. The Maryland club was simply called the "Marylands", in the pluralized style of the day.


The first club to be called the Baltimore Orioles was a charter member of the American Association in 1882. When the AA folded after the 1891 season, four of its teams were brought into the expanded National League, including the Orioles. These Orioles became a dominant team in the league during the 1890s, in part because of their innovations and their tough, relentless play. The term "Old Oriole" is sometimes used to describe a player whose aggressive style fits the legacy of those 1890s teams. The team's fortunes took a downturn in 1899 when many of its stars were transferred to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Baltimore was one of four teams contracted out of existence in 1900.

And there's more if you care to read it but that's the gist of the story. And all the writeups are pretty informative.

If Jeff Edelstein had thoroughly used Wikipedia as a reference, his "story" would not have been peppered with "probably" and "possibly".

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Thoughts About the Oriole Winning Streak

Yeah, for the Orioles, four games IS a streak. Here are some random thoughts that don't deserve full posts of their own...

*****

With all the veteran power bats the Orioles signed over the winter, it has been the 5'9" Brian Roberts who has been fueling the offense during Baltimore's 4-0 start.


Being a leadoff hitter, Roberts doesn't hit a ton of multi-run homers. He has two 3-run homers and 8 RBI in four games this season.

But this kind of start is not without precedent. If we go back to Roberts' breakout season of 2005, he also had 2 homers in the first four games with 5 RBI.

Will Roberts repeat his April from 2005? That month he hit .379/.459/.726 with 3 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs. Probably not. But April has historically been one of his best months. A hot Roberts (and a hot Nick Markakis) could carry the offense a long way until the big bats come around.

*****

The Oriole pitching staff is holding their opponents to a .191 BABIP which is outstanding. However, they are giving up line drives at a 16% or .160 rate so far. The quick rule of thumb is to add .12 to the LD% to get an expected BABIP. So, the .191 BABIP is way below the expected .280 BABIP derived from the LD%. It's a small sample size and you would expect fluctuations like this over four games. But you should also expect some of those line drives to start dropping in for hits at some point.

*****

The Orioles' April schedule is pretty daunting. They play (or have played) series with Tampa, Detroit, Texas, New York, Cleveland, Minnesota, New York again, Boston and Chicago. That is a long, challenging month.

However, the May schedule has series against Chicago, Kansas City, Tampa, Seattle, Tampa again, two short series with Boston and New York, Washington, Kansas City, Oakland and Seattle again. 

If the Orioles can stay hot and keep their heads above water for April, they have easier times ahead in May. This team could keep winning well into June.

*****

After Monday's game, Matt Palmer from PressBoxOnline.com wrote this:

As an observation, the Orioles are better with the additions of Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee so far. That might seem like an early judgement, but the other hitters in the lineup are benefiting from the veteran presence. Guerrero's only batting .125 with no RBIs. Lee is batting just .214 with 0 RBIs. Brian Roberts, at the top of the order, is batting .294, however, with eight RBIs and two home runs. Nick Markakis, batting second, went 3 for 3 in the opener and is batting a scorching .429 with six hits. Pitchers are fearing what's coming after Roberts and Markakis instead of fearing the formidable duo at the top of the order.

First, I would direct Mr. Palmer here for proof that lineup protection does not exist or at the very least is incredibly overstated.

Second, even if I were to accept the concept of lineup protection, there are some logic fails with this argument. The guys hitting .125 and .214 are providing so much scary offense that Roberts and Markakis are seeing more good pitches? And how come Lee isn't benefiting from Vlad hitting behind him in the lineup? Shouldn't he be seeing better pitches too? If so, why is he hitting .214? And Matt Wieters has hit well so far. Is he benefiting from Adam Jones' .125 batting average too? And shouldn't Roberts and Markakis be seeing more fastballs? Because they're not. Roberts is seeing fastballs at about the same rate as he ever has. Markakis is actually seeing far less. There are a lot of holes in that story.

The top of the order is succeeding in spite of the "veteran presence" through four games, not because of it. Unless you believe in wizardry, voodoo and The Force.

Q&A with Shorebirds Broadcaster Brett Lasky

Delmarva Shorebirds Director of Broadcasting Bret Lasky was kind enough to answer a few questions about some of the Baby Birds. Obviously, nobody saw more of the Shorebirds last season than Lasky so I was curious to hear his perspective on some of the players coming through the Oriole farm system.


Dempsey's Army: Who was the most impressive position player you watched last year?

Brett Lasky: Amongst the guys that we’re in Delmarva for the whole season, I’d have to say Ty Kelly. He’s a switch hitter with deceptive power. His splits weren’t great last year but I think they will improve with experience. He was also the best defensive infielder that the Shorebirds had. I was impressed with Trent Mummey when he came to Delmarva late in the year. His statistics weren’t gaudy but you could tell when you watched him take batting practice that the ball just flies off his bat. Obviously, he also has good speed.

DA: The most impressive Shorebirds pitcher from 2010?

BL: Tough one here, but I’ll say Bobby Bundy. He’s competitive, young and really determined. He was outstanding in the second half of the season. He tossed a nine-inning complete game against the Hickory Crawdads – it was the first nine-inning complete game by a Shorebirds pitcher in a couple years. Bundy has a really good head on his shoulders and he is a tireless worker. One of the hardest working pitchers I’ve seen.

DA: Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado and Mychal Givens: where are all these middle infielders going to play?

BL: I don’t think anyone but Ryan Minor and the Orioles brass know the answer to this one. What I will say is that Ryan does a great job of making sure everyone gets his repetitions. I was here when they began to convert L.J. Hoes to a second baseman. The roving instructors and the staff really do a nice job of teaching – especially when guys are unfamiliar with certain positions.

DA: Assuming his health is fine, is Matt Hobgood expected to come back to Delmarva to start the year?

BL: I know the off season injury set him back a little, so I’m not sure. Matt showed some good stuff at times last season. I vividly remember a nasty breaking ball he throw against the Lakewood BlueClaws at First Energy Park. It had some serious movement. I’m definitely interested to see how the Orioles decide to progress Matt.

DA: Outside of Manny Machado, who is the player you are looking forward to seeing play in Delmarva this season?

BL: Mychal Givens – I only had the chance to watch Mychal play a handful of games before the injury last season in Greensboro so I’m eager to see him play on a consistent basis. I talked to him a couple times around the cages and he was very mature for his age. Obviously he has a cannon for an arm and I’m looking forward to seeing what his bat will produce.

DA: Inexplicably, I am a big Justin Dalles fan. What's the word on his health this offseason?

BL: I’m a huge Dalles fan as well. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dalles this off season. Last year was a tough year for Dalles because of all the setbacks. Hopefully, he stays healthy and has an outstanding year. One thing that I will say about Dalles is that he is a really good clubhouse guy – he got along with all of his teammates.

DA: 3B Tyler Kolodny. Great control of the zone, great power. Any word on a possible position change for him? Will he come back to Delmarva after finishing the season in NY-Penn League?

BL: No word yet on Tyler Kolodny. Raw power, hard working kid. Two things that come to my mind when I hear his name. He was always first to the clubhouse and last to leave two years ago here in Delmarva. If he were to be assigned here, I would be very interested to see what Kolodny is like as a 23-year old. Think about this – he led the Shorebirds in home runs last year with 10 and he only played 41 games.

DA: C Michael Ohlman came into the system with a fair amount of hype. At 19, was he just overmatched facing Sally league competition last season?

BL: He had his growing pains, no doubt. However, you could definitely see the potential. I remember a game last year against Lakewood when Ohlman smacked a couple doubles into the gaps and deep up against the wall. Another guy that would be an interesting watch because he has been here before.

DA: Most impressive non-Shorebird player you saw in the Sally last season?

BL: I’ll give you a couple. Everybody ranted and raved about Phillies prospect Jonathan Singleton. He’s got all the god given talents and he’s smooth at the plate and in the field. He’s definitely up there. Two guys that hurt the Shorebirds last year that not as many people talked about were Justin Bloxom and Destin Hood of the Hagerstown Suns. In 16 games against the Shorebirds, Bloxom batted .412 with 12 RBIs. Hood hit .337 with 10 RBIs against the Shorebirds.

DA: Delmarva is going to be hosting the Sally League All-Star Game this year. Are you going to get to call the game?

BL: Yeah, I’ll be on the call on our flagship radio station 960 The Sports Animal. I’m really looking forward to it. I was in Myrtle Beach back in 2008 when they hosted the California v. Carolina All-Star Game and I remember all the excitement that surrounded that game. Pablo Sandoval, now of the San Francisco Giants, won the home run derby. I’m wondering who will be the first to the majors from the 2011 SAL All-Star Game.


The Shorebirds kick off their season on April 7th at Perdue Stadium in Salisbury. Hey, you can meet Chris Hoiles too! Lots of interesting talent at Delmarva this season, get out there and check them out.



Monday, April 4, 2011

Juggernaut!: Tigers Can't Slow Down Orioles

Butt Bump!
The Orioles opened up Camden Yards for the 2011 season in style dispatching of the Detroit Tigers 5-1 before a sellout crowd this afternoon.

If you've been watching the Orioles play so far, you've seen something rare. The Orioles have not gone 4-0 since 1997.

25-year-old RHP Jake Arrieta held the Tiger offense (a lineup that put up 19 runs during their 3 game series with the Yankees) to a single run over 6 innings. Relievers Jason Berken and Koji Uehara held Detroit to one hit over the last 3 innings to lock down the game.

The big offensive blow came, again, from Brian Roberts. Roberts went deep against SP Rick Porcello for yet another 3-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the 5th and put the Orioles ahead for good.

I liked Arrieta's poise this afternoon. He only struck out 3 and walked 2. He got the ball up in the zone and few times and gave up some hard hits. But he defense let him down on a couple of occasions. Adam Jones broke back instead on in and turned a flyout into a single and Mark Reynolds bobbled a sure double play ball in the middle of a Tiger rally. But Arrieta did not rattle. He kept throwing strikes and although he threw 99 pitches to get through 6 innings, he held the line.

Now the nitpicking...the offense is not hitting well overall. Roberts is not going to keep hitting 3-run bombs. Luke Scott is day-to-day. Vladimir Guerrero can't buy a hit and Jones looks no better as they both flail at everything thrown their way. Nobody but Roberts has hit a home run. The pitching staff has been fairly lucky and been bailed out by great defensive plays early. Signs point to a regression unless performances improve.

But for now, the Orioles are taking care of business. The performances from the young hurlers are extremely encouraging and should give them a bit of confidence moving forward. Scott could play on Wednesday. Roberts, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and JJ Hardy are hitting well. The defense, overall, is playing pretty well.

Jeremy Guthrie is in the hospital with pneumonia. Brad Bergesen will have to make a start on Wednesday. This little winning streak could come to an end very soon.

But winning is always better than losing. The Orioles had some really bad luck on their way to a 5-18 April a year ago. I'll certainly take a few good bounces our way. And I can't wait to see the young guys take the mound again.


(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

This Ain't 2010...Orioles Pull Off Sweep

This is a bit different, isn't it?


The Orioles completed a series sweep of the defending AL East champion Rays on Sunday to start the season 3-0. 

How did this happen? For all the talk of the improved lineup this season, the Orioles did not win on the strength of their bats. The O's have hit just .222/.250/.313 for the young season which leads you to believe that they are lucky to have scored 12 runs in the series.

No, the Oriole fortunes for 2011 still rest on the strength of their young rotation and that's how they beat the Rays. The three starters in the series gave up just one run combined and the entire staff gave up just three runs overall. 

Can the Young Guns keep this up? Chris Tillman and Zach Britton have done their part and now Jake Arrieta will take the hill against the Tigers at Camden Yards. He'll have to be ready to go. When your $8 million veteran cleanup hitter is OPSing .333, you aren't going to score a lot of runs.

Hopefully, that will change during this next series...


Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Week in Chat - 4/3/2011

Where we distill all the weekly baseball chats down to their Oriole-centric essence...


Jonah Keri, FanGraphs

11:38 [Comment From kyle]
guerrero HOF career?

11:39Jonah Keri:
Vlad, of course. Yes, I'd vote him in, even if he retired today.

11:47 [Comment From Jason]
McLouth, Aaron hill and mark Reynolds, tell me why these guys do or do not bounce back this year

11:48 Jonah Keri: Hill
BABIP'd...what was it, .196 last year? Maybe the easiest bounceback pick in the league. Not a big McLouth fan. I could see a bump for Reynolds, sure. He's still fairly young.


Dave Cameron, Fangrpahs

11:41 [Comment From JTrea81]
Am I crazy or should Zach Britton have made the O's rotation?

11:41 Dave Cameron:
The O's are just playing with his service time. He'll be up in a month.

12:21 [Comment From Kolbe]
Do the Fighting Showalters break .500 this year?

12:21 Frankie Piliere:
Nope, division is just too potent.

12:15 [Comment From Matt]
Given that your org rankings seem reasonable (give or take minor quibbles) how would you change baseball to give teams like Jays and Orioles a decent shot?

12:16 Dave Cameron: I will continue to pound this angle forever - put a team in Brooklyn. Diluting the Yankees revenue stream would fix a lot of problems.

12:29 [Comment From Ian]
When do you see Zach Britton getting the call back up? Potential impact arm?

12:30 Frankie Piliere: He'll be down there a month tops I think. Very high impact guy. Potential #1, easily a #2. Very mature already and has the arsenal to go with it.

12:48 [Comment From Kolbe]
Santana, Posey or Weiters.. Who are you taking?

12:48 Frankie Piliere:
 Posey


Keith Law, ESPN

Jeff (Baltimore)
Who do the O's take in the draft? Starling?

Klaw (1:25 PM)
The only substantive thing I've heard on them is a preference for a college player, which would probably put them on Hultzen, Bradley, Jungmann, Gray.

Phil (NJ)
Still holding out hope for Wieters? What's his ceiling now?

Klaw (1:29 PM)
Yes. Unchanged.


Marc Hulett, FanGraphs

12:03 [Comment From D]
Manny Machado's ranking seems high. Is it + defence or his bat that has him that high?

12:03 Marc Hulet:
Machado's ranking might seem high but he has the potential to play good defense at shortstop while also displaying plus hitting skills... As we've seen recently, the pool of quality offensive shortstops in the MLB is dwindling.



John Manuel, Baseball America

Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown, MA):
Manny Machado or Francisco Lindor?

John Manuel:
Machado, though Lindor does seem to have some helium for this year's draft. Machado's bat projects to have more impact potential than Lindor's.

Chris Tillman Takes a Step


The Orioles went to 2-0 last night as they continued to get amazing performances from all areas. Jeremy Guthrie threw 8 shutouts innings Friday night. Brian Roberts tripling Friday and hitting a three-run homer last night. The great defensive plays by Felix Pie, Matt Wieters and, of course Nick Markakis.

And last night, Chris Tillman, a guy whose spot in the rotation was in jeopardy less than a week ago, stymied the opposition for 6 innings last night.

Chris Tillman really needed to make the most of his opportunities early in the year. Last night, he took a step in the right direction as he threw 6 no-hit innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. How did he do that? Plain and simple, he threw more strikes. At least relatively more.

PitchFX data generated for the great tool on BrooksBaseball.net.


Tillman stayed in or around the strike zone pretty well last night. He threw 57.4% of his pitches for strikes. He only exceeded that percentage three times all last season when he threw 6 or more innings. Not surprisingly, his line looked very good for two of those games and he got the win.

Tillman's stuff plays in the zone. He froze hitters, got swinging strikes and had the lineup off balance all night. There were only two well-struck balls all night by my count.

Tillman seems to have gained a bit more control by taking a little off his pitches.


Tillman got the best results when he kept his fastball between 88-92 MPH. Sure, he can dial it up an hit 93-94. But the 90 MPH fast ball paired with that curve...well, when he's throwing them for strikes it's a pretty potent combination.

Tillman has not has control issues in AAA. I believe he is still gaining confidence that his stuff is good enough to get major league hitters out and as his confidence grows, he will attack the zone more and get more results like last night.

And yeah, he walked three guys and he needed 101 pitches to get through 6 innings. It was not a wholly masterful performance. But my advocacy for Tillman in the rotation has not been that he is a finished product but that he needs to improve on his game in the majors. And last night, he took a big step. Now he needs to build on it against the Tigers in Baltimore.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Day in Baltimore: Still a Hot Ticket


Even after 13 years of losing, Opening Day at Camden Yards is still a hot ticket. But over at our sponsor TiqIQ, you can find Terrace Box seats for the home opener for just $44. And if you are looking to save even more cash, the tickets for Tuesday's game start at just $14. Check it out.

What? Well, of course this is a shameless shill for our sponsor. Support them! Help put gas in my car so I can get to Asheville, Rome, Baltimore, Sarasota and everywhere Oriole news may be happening this summer.