Monday, May 28, 2012

The Week in Chat: 5/28/12

Dan Szymborski,

12:05 Comment From Dauer With Power
Still a lot of deep-engine work left to do to turn the O's into a winning franchise, but Dan Duquette's got a winning team now. What do you want to see him do at the deadline?

12:06 Dan Szymborski:
I expect the O's to be a bit off the pace by that point, hopefully pressure from the brainuntrustworthy upstairs won't make them go all-in now.

12:29 Comment From sds
Dan, if Dylan Bundy could replicate his early-season single-A performances (3 IP, 0 hits, 5 Ks) at the MLB level every five days, how valuable would that be? More than a LAIM like Bruce Chen?

12:30 Dan Szymborski:
That could be useful in very creative hands, but baseball's thinking doesn't usually allow that kind of experimentation. Also, you usually get creative with a guy with a more limited skillset - the O's probably aren't going to have Bundy in the majors until they think he's ready for a full workload

12:55 Comment From The Oriole Bird
Someone in the Orioles' front office was reading your last chat. I asked about Xavier Avery, and they called him up. He has not disappointed. Do you think he'll actually try to steal a base this year?

12:55 Dan Szymborski:
Hasn't he already? Didn't he have one over the weekend?

1:02 Comment From The Oriole Bird
Over/ under on Orioles' true-talent win percentage, if you include soon to return players, like Reynolds and Reimold: .440?

1:02 Dan Szymborski:
81. Lower if we're including injuries here.

1:22 Comment From STiVo
Machado's development seems on track. How will the O's screw this up?

1:23 Dan Szymborski:
They could always decide he's too tall to be in the middle infield or something and move him to 3rd

1:31 Comment From Steve
Wouldn't the Orioles want Youkilis? What could they trade for him?

1:32 Dan Szymborski:
They probably wouldn't trade much. At least he can field 3B.

2:15 Comment From Dan Szymborski
Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta. Both underrated?

2:15 Dan Szymborski:
I think they're both about rated now.

Jerry Crasnick,

Aaron (Baltimore, MD)
The Orioles are going to throw the money at Adam Jones right?.....RIGHT?

Jerry Crasnick (2:00 PM)
Aaron, I have to think they'll try. There aren't many center fielders that young with an all-around skill set like Jones has. But Matt Kemp set the standard with an eight-year, $160 million deal, so Jones isn't going to come cheaply.

Jack Moore,

12:42 Comment From Clark Griswold
Adam Jones- Over/Under 32 home runs?

12:42 Jack Moore:
Push? Right around there, over if you put a gun to my head.

Jim Callis, Baseball America

Kyle (Dallas):
If the 2012 Milb POY was picked today, who would get your vote?

Jim Callis:
Dylan Bundy. Would probably rank him No. 1 on my overall prospects list as well.

Richard Z (North Brunswick, NJ):
All of the mock drafts I've seen so far have the Orioles taking a college pitcher (Gausman or Zimmer). Is that the general feeling?

Jim Callis:
Yes. Can't see them taking Zunino with Wieters on hand. Correa would be tempting, but they have Machado. I think a college arm will be the top guy on their board at No. 4.

Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky):
Does Jurickson Profar or Trevor Bauer have any say in that #1 prospect ranking (currently) or do you think Bundy is clearly above everyone else in the minors?

Jim Callis:
Sure they do. As of today, I'd take Bundy. Profar would be No. 2 on my list.

Doug Thorburn, Baseball Prospectus

dianagram (VORGville):
Best "non-pitcher" pitching performance you've ever seen? Chris Davis?

Doug Thorburn:
Best? That's a tough call, but Davis' changeup was filthy, and you rarely see that kind of secondary stuff from a non-pitcher. The most comical position player to take the mound had to be Jose Canseco

Sky (The Roc, NY):
Have you noticed anything qualitatively different with Adam Jones this year? New approach, new mechanics, better at anything?

Doug Thorburn:
The glaring statistical difference is in the HR/FB rate. His other rates are relatively close to career marks, but more of his flies are finding the seats. He is also swinging at fewer pitches overall, which suggest a change of approach. He could be sitting dead-red on certain pitches early in the count and laying off anything that does not fit a certain profile until he gets two strikes, and perhaps he has picked up no a particular trend that pitchers had established against him. This is another area where batters who do their homework can reap an advantage.

As Crash Davis said, "If this guy starts me off with the breaking ball ... I'm taking him downtown"

Ben Badler, Baseball America

@Jaypers413 (IL):
Do you believe the Orioles made the right decision to promote Bundy by one level up instead of two?

Ben Badler:
I don't think it's going to make much of a difference, but I usually do believe in a one level at a time schedule.

Matt (VA):
Dylan Bundy is facing his first real stiff test Saturay vs Salem. How much attention should we pay attention to it?

Ben Badler:
Just enjoy the ride. I can't imagine a guy with his combination of stuff and polish running into much difficulty.

Kyle (Indianapolis):
I know everyone has raved about the polish of Dylan Bundy, but shouldn't that be somewhat expected given the fact that he was a fairly old high schooler. Bundy turns 20 in November in comparison to someone like Mike Trout (I know comparing a pitcher and hitter) who turns 21 in August. They are only 16 months apart, but Trout has experienced 2+ years in the minors. Shouldn't Bundy be more polished or mature than any other high schooler in last year's class.

Ben Badler:
He was old for his grade, but the guy has been about as flawless as you can get and is doing it with arguably the best pure stuff in the minors. He's the best pitching prospect in baseball and he might even be the best prospect overall, although Jurickson Profar has a pretty compelling argument.

Keith Law,

Jon V. (Cleveland, OH)
How do Profar, Machado and Lindor compare? How would you rank the three in each of the 5 major scouting categories?

Klaw (1:30 PM)
Profar and Lindor are no-doubt shortstops, both better runners than Machado. Machado is much bigger and I think he'll produce a lot more offense, but there's a non-negligible probability he moves to third base.

Studebaker (NJ)
Would you have skipped Bundy to AA? Does he need a challenge, or is there no rush?

Klaw (1:38 PM)
I would have started him in AA. Throttling his innings AND starting him at a level for which he was overqualified made - and still makes - no sense.

Scotty D (Rochester, NY)
Given O's pitching coach Rick Peterson's reputation for mishandling young pitchers, what are the chances that Bundy can overcome this coach's tutoring and emerge as a #1 starter by 2014?

Klaw (1:40 PM)
Does he have that reputation? I don't think I've ever heard that.

Shoshana (Boston)
Hey Keith any thoughts on X. Avery? Was always known as a tools guy, but really improved his BB% in Az and has carried it through to this year. SSS obviously but he's been fun to watch in Bal

Klaw (2:03 PM)
At bats in Arizona were pretty poor. I'm inclined to say still an extra outfielder, but there's at least cause for optimism.

Chris (AZ)
Will Gausman be gone by the time the Royals pick? How about Zimmer?

Klaw (2:24 PM)
Baltimore is the only team ahead of KC who might take Gausman.

Jay (Florida)
How do you project Jonathan Schoop? All-star/starter/bench guy?

Klaw (2:26 PM)
Above-average regular. Not a SS, though.

Matt Klaasen,

12:20 Comment From Andrew
Can Matusz keep it up?

12:21 Matt Klaassen:
You mean keep up being okay? Sure... Not that excited about him being average, but I guess it's an improvement.

12:43 Comment From Andrew
Are you bullish on Matusz?

12:44 Matt Klaassen:
which animal stands for apathy?

1:09 Comment From inquiringmindswanttoknow
Who wins AL East?

1:09 Matt Klaassen:
Rays. Except that I've jinxed them now...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adam Jones is Staying

The Baltimore Orioles will officially announce the reported 6 year, $85.5 million deal today at 11:30 and Adam Jones will be patrolling the outfield at Camden Yards until 2018.

Keeping a talent like Adam Jones in the organization is a good thing but the immediate questions you have when your team announces the largest free agent deal in their history is a) will Jones be worth the $14.25 million average salary he will receive and b) how will this affect the team if they choose to sign extensions with other young talent in the coming years.

Regarding the first question, I think Jones is likely to be worth every penny or at least he will be for most of the contract. According to's player valuations, Jones was worth $10.5 and $13.0 million during 2010 and 2011 respectively and will be worth far more than that this season. I think even if he regresses a bit, he will at least approach his average annual salary in value.'s Dave Cameron seems to think so too which is more than good enough for me.

Regarding the second question, even if Jones' career goes horribly, horribly wrong, this is not the kind of contract that will cripple a franchise. You are buying out one of his arbitration years where he was likely to make $9-10 million in 2013 anyway.  The Orioles have Mark Reynolds' salary ($7.83 mil) and Kevin Gregg's salary ($5.8 mil) come off the books after this season. Brian Roberts' $10 mil salary comes off the books after 2013. Having $14 mil locked up in one player is not going to kill the team, even if Jones pulls a Vernon Wells on us. We have young, relatively cheap talent coming through the system led by Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado and even less heralded players like Xavier Avery have shown that they can contribute at the major league level. This is still a team that can contend without huge escalations in payroll.

Some fans do not believe in Adam Jones. They will not be happy with this deal. But I am a big believer in Jones' power potential and I think this season we are seeing him come into his own as an elite slugger. Multiple 30 homer seasons are in his future and between that and his "hit tool", I am not concerned about his lack of walks or his free-swinging ways. And by the time he gets to the age that I would be worried about it, he will no longer be playing under this contract.

The future looks bright for these Orioles, for the first time in 15 years, and Jones will be leading the way.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Oriole Farm System Sporting Six-Man Rotations

According to's Steve Melewski, the Orioles are implementing six-man rotations in their farm system from AA down:

The Orioles seem to really like the fact that their starters can get two bullpen or side sessions between starts in a six-man and feel that is a good way right now for some of their young hurlers to get their work in and make improvements to their game.

Two side sessions between starts and not one like pitchers throw in the more traditional five-man rotation, the O's feel, gives those pitchers the best chance to make those improvements.

I have often quoted Branch Rickey on this blog and I will do it again.

"There is quality in quantity."

Six-man rotations give more young pitchers more opportunities to start and, in theory, gives them more time in between starts to work on their weaknesses. The more guys you give opportunities to start, the more likely you are to find diamonds in the rough. Starters are more valuable than relievers, so the more potential starters in the system, the better.

Now, how will this impact a young pitcher's ability to take on a regular MLB workload? I don't know. Will that transisiton from a six-man to a five-man rotation lead to increased risks of injury? I don't know. But aside from that concern, this looks to be nothing but positive for the Oriole farm system.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adam Jones and Robert Andino Put Birds on Things

I am not sure what any of this means but I was amused watching Adam Jones and Robert Andino vandalize various structures (and people) in NYC.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Post on Andy MacPhail's Fingerprints

A new post on the Orioles Buzz blog on about how Andy MacPhail's trades have brought players into the Oriole system who are big contributors to this winning team.


Monday, May 21, 2012

This Week in Chat: 5/21/2012

Where we filter all the week's chats down to their Oriole essence...

Mike Axisa,

12:34 Comment From The Oriole Bird
ESPN has the Orioles at a 42% chance of making the playoffs. That seems... optimistic. What are your thoughts on their chances?

12:35 Mike A.: Do not like. I think they have a much better chance of being this year's Indians/Pirates than winning a wildcard spot. But these wins are in the bank though, no taking them away.

1:11 Comment From Guest
Speaking of change of scenery, is Chris Davis for real in Baltimore?

1:11 Mike A.: I think he'll settle in around 110-115 wRC+, which is basically where he is right now. Going to strike out a ton, will mash some taters.

Jerry Crasnick,

Matt (Baltimore)
The Orioles are reaching the end of a brutal stretch against NY, Bos, Tex and TB and they and 8-5. You ready to buy into the magic yet, Jerry?

Jerry Crasnick (1:27 PM)
Matt, I talked to a scout today who said, "They're not going away." I just don't see enough starting pitching to buy into the magic. But how many teams in the AL really have great rotations from 1 through 5? Boston, the Yankees, the Angels, the Tigers ... they've all struggled at times with starting pitching. That might help the O's hand around until the All-Star break. I still think they fade in the second half.

Tarek (NYC)
Orioles this year remind me of Cleveland and Pitt from last year. But Oriole fans should just enjoy the ride and hope to be in the race Aug 1st.

Jerry Crasnick (1:32 PM)
Tarek, Yeah, I can buy that.

 Jayson Stark,

Justin (Baltimore)
What is your take on the Orioles? I am really concerned about the number of innings that the bullpen is throwing because it will catch up to you every single time...

Jayson Stark (12:09 PM)
I'm with you, Justin. What really made this start possible was how well the rotation pitched early on. But it was hard to look at the track records of those starters and expect that to continue. And that's the biggest reason it's tough to believe in that team right now. But they've definitely upgraded the stuff and depth of that bullpen. And they'll need all of it to hang in there in the AL East.

Keith Law, 

Camden (Newark, DE)
What would carry more weight to you, a 19 year old SS holding their own in AA or dominating at a lower level? (Think Manny Machado). Thanks.

Klaw (2:08 PM)
The former, actually. Someone asked me on Twitter why Machado was so hyped since his stats aren't any good. Age matters.

Ryan (Hanover, PA)
Starting to buy the Orioles yet?

Klaw (2:15 PM) No, of course not.

Dave (Dallas)
Profar or Machado? Does it depend if Machado can stay at SS

Klaw (2:31 PM) I
f you think Machado is a SS, he's the call. I happen to think he is. But you wouldn't regret choosing Profar.

Ryan (Hanover, PA)
If the O's had pick #1 in this draft, who would they select?

Klaw (2:34 PM)
My guess would be Buxton. They are absolutely taking BPA. He's on top of most scouts' boards.

Robert (Owasso)
Do you see Dylan Bundy making 2013 rotation for Baltimore. Ive seen him pitch several times, is an incredible kid with superstar potential. Where do you see Brian Ragira in 2013 draft?

Klaw (2:37 PM)
I think he should make their rotation next year, but I don't know if they'll allow it. Ragira doesn't profile for me - plays 1b now, might be fine in LF/RF, but doesn't have the power for any of those positions.

Bob (Corbin,Ky.)
First of all,really appreciate the hard work you put in so we can all enjoy what you do.Do you think that the reason why the Orioles are being slow with Bundy is because of what has happened to their other prized pitching prospects(Matusz,Tillman,etc.)Or are they just being foolish?

Klaw (3:04 PM)
That wouldn't surprise me. But Matusz didn't flop because he was rushed - he flopped because his velocity disappeared, perhaps because he got hurt.

Marcus (DC)
Keith, Can you explain to me why Yu Darvis is getting so much publicity/hype and Wei-Yin Chen is getting none? If you compare the numbers, Chen is actually has a better ERA and WHP, while walking less batters and is 4-0. The only thing Darvis is doing better is strikeouts.

Klaw (3:07 PM)
Well, strikeouts are pretty important. But Chen has been very good, absolutely.

Mike Newman, 

5:30 Comment From TMT
who is your most surprising prospect so far this season 5:31

Mike Newman:
Gabriel Lino. I had never even heard of him before he crushed the baseball in Asheville. I was very impressed by that Delmarva team overall.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Is It 2005 All Over Again?

Tuesday, Rany Jazayerli wrote an article for Grantland wondering if the Orioles are finally a winner in 2012. He has his doubts and begins by listing the multiple "teases" the O's have given their fans in the 21st century. Most of those comparisions are not really teases, at least not like the ride the Birds have taken us on this year. Most of examples Jazayerli points out arejust hot Aprils or, even worse, a hot 12 game stretch to start the season. Others are years where the team has hovered around .500 until the end of June and then tanked during the dog days of summer. This season is a different story. The Orioles are 11 games over .500 on May 18th. There is only one season in recent memory that compares to this one: 2005.

In fact some of the similarities are kind of scary. Let's compare and contrast.

The Same Record

On the morning of May 18th, 2005, the Orioles had just beaten the Royals in Kansas City and were in first place with a record of 25-13.

On the morning of May 18th, 2012, the Orioles have just beaten the Royals in Kansas City and are in first place with a record of 25-14.

But the similarities kind of end there. That 2005 club came out of the gates red-hot and went 16-7 in April. But by May 18th, they were just 9-6 for the month of May and would finish May with a 15-13 record. It would be their last winning month until May of 2007.

This year's version of the Orange & Black is a slightly different story as they went 14-9 in April (.609) and have imprived on that in May winning 11 of 16 (.687).

Their Best Pitcher is a Lefty Named Chen

The morning of May 18th, 2005, a 28-year old lefty named Chen led the team with 4 wins, a 3.38 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched.

On the morning of May 18th, 2012, a 26-year old lefty named Chen is tied for the lead in team wins with 4, has a 2.45 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in 44 innings pitched.

Wei-Yin is pitching a bit better than Bruce up to this point but Bruce was indeed the best hurler for that 2005 club and Wei-Yin could well turn out to be the best starter on this one. Of course, Bruce did not have a Jason Hammel (2.68 ERA) on his team to help out...he had Erik Bedard (2.35 ERA on May 18th, 2005). But Bedard got hurt after his start on May 21st which coincided with Baltimore's June slide and by the time he started again in mid-July, it was far too late. Like that team, this team could also be undone by an injury to the wrong guy. They'll need to stay reasonably healthy to keep this up.

They Have New Closers

Coming into 2005, 29-year old B.J. Ryan had little experience closing games with only 2 single inning saves in September 2004. In Spring Training, he won the job away from incumbent Jorge Julio and became one of baseball's top closers. By May 18th, he had racked up a (near) league-leading 11 saves with a dominant 1.64 ERA.*

Coming into 2012, 29-year old Jim Johnson had little experience closing games with only 7 single inning saves in September 2011. In Spring Training, he won the job away from incumbent Kevin Gregg and became one of baseball's top closers. By May 18th, he has a league-leading 14 saves with a dominant 0.48 ERA.

Ryan's season may have not helped the Orioles win but it did make him a very rich man by season's end when he jumped to the Blue Jays for a $47 million contract. The Orioles will have no fear of losing Johnson so quickly as he still has one more season until he can become a free agent. If there is one major failing of the Andy MacPhail regime, it was spending $22 mil on free agent closers when they had one under their nose the whole time.

*Francisco Cordero had 12 saves. Sue me.

They Have a Breakout Star

That day in May, Brian Roberts had broken out in a big way, hitting .376/.453/.669 with a team leading 11 home runs. While he had shown progress in previous seasons, Roberts had never even had an .800 OPS before 2005 when he finished with an OPS of .903 (139 OPS+).

This day in May, Adam Jones had broken out in a big way, hitting .296/.345/.604 with a team leading 13 home runs. While he had shown progress in previous seasons, Jones has never even had an .800 OPS season before 2012 and he currently has an OPS of .949 (157 OPS+).

Miguel Tejada is in the Organization

OK, now I'm stretching. In 2005, Tejada was one of the top offensive shortstops in baseball. Now, he is down in extended spring training trying to get in baseball shape so he can go play in Norfolk.

There are other similarities too. Our first baseman was playing in Texas last season (in 2005, it was Rafael Palmiero). We are relying heavily on some young pitching to lend a hand. (In 2005, it was Bedard and Daniel Cabrera, now it's Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz). And like that 2005 team, this year's team is not deep enough to absorb key injuries and keep winning.

But that 2005 team featured one of the worst outfields in recent memory (Larry Bigbie, Luis Matos and Sammy Sosa), did not have a second emerging star like this team has in Matt Wieters and had far less depth in the bullpen.

Can this team hang all season with the like of the Rays and Yankees? I still think that is unlikely. But you really have to like their chances to win. And if they don't, this team will go down as the biggest tease during this seemingly interminable era of loss.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Post on Mark Reynolds Could Be Worse

A new post up at in which I mount a tepid defense of Mark Reynolds' performance thus far.

If you don't see posts going up here, I will have a post up at the Orioles Buzz blog over at every Tuesday morning.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Miguel Tejada Coming Back to Baltimore, I Try to Figure Out Why

Reports started late yesterday afternoon, first through a Twitter account that is billed as the official twitter feed of Miguel Tejada and then through various media outlets (although I believe Britt Ghiroli of was the first) that Tejada was reporting to Sarasota for a workout and a physical with Baltimore.

However, Tejada started talking. First, he went on Z101 in the Dominican Republic to talk about the signing, then ne spoke to the AP and ESPN Desportes. I ran a few of his quotes through Google Translate and here's a  compilation:

"It's a Major League contract, on Monday the team will give the details of the contract...I'm super happy for this opportunity to return to the majors, that's what matters most to me...I report Monday to Sarasota, then I will have a physical and after a few days I will report to the big team."

So from Tejada's mouth, we learn that, pending a physical, the Orioles have offered him a major league deal (Tejada has hinted that he believes it will be for more than the MLB minimum) and that he expects to be in Baltimore a few days after he passes the physical.

So where does he fit on this roster?

I suppose the easy answer is that C Luis Exposito is sent back down to Norfolk to make room for Tejada but that would give the Orioles 8 infielders which is an odd configuration. Wilson Betemit could slide over as a fourth outfielder but to say he's played the outfield sparingly during his career would be a huge understatement. Ryan Flaherty was playing out in left yesterday so maybe the Orioles have no set infielder/outfielder roles anymore? I mean, I guess if Chris Davis can pitch, all barriers are down.

One would assume this signing is in response to Mark Reynolds' abysmal fielding. But Tejada is going to have to field at Gold Glove levels to make up for the difference in offense. Miguel Tejada is the definition of washed up. No projection system has him slugging even .400 and on the most optimistic have his OPS over .700. His fielding at third, if you recall 2010, was not so great. If fact, Reynolds' UZR numbers are waaaaayyyyy better than last season, at least so far. He has a -10.8 UZR/150, right in line with his career averages (his errors have been really bad, his range has been respectable). Tejada's UZR/150 at third base for 2010? -9.9.

It's a puzzling move all around. If you were going to pick up someone to play third, why not grab Brandon Inge who was waived a couple of weeks back?

Hopefully, I'm wrong. But this signing looks like a colossal waste of time and resources.