Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Base Hits: 1/31/2007

According to this blog entry by Roch Kubato over at, O’s officials actually expect Jeremy Guthrie to make the big club. Guthrie is out of options meaning he would have to clear waivers to be sent to Norfolk which is unlikely. If the O’s want to keep him, they will have to keep him in Baltimore.

I had Guthrie pegged for AAA all the way but I was dead wrong. To quote from Roch’s blog:

Another scenario, depending on how everything unfolds in spring training, is Guthrie making the rotation and Adam Loewen being the second leftie in the 'pen.

Either way, Hayden Penn might want to start looking for housing in Norfolk right now.

Add this to the interesting things to watch during Spring Training.

A documentary is being made about the old Baltimore Orioles of the International League called The Forgotten Birds. Any rememberences are being accepted at their website.
FanFest has been rescheduled for April. Better than nothing but a bad move having it so close to Opening Day.
Ripken Baseball Inc. is making a bid for the AA Harrisburg Senators.

The Crystal Ball: Ramon Hernandez

The Crystal Ball: Ramon Hernandez

My projection for Ramon Hernandez consists of one thing only:

Home 256 82 12 1 17 .320 .385 .574 .959
Away 245 56 17 1 6 .229 .299 .380 .679

He really likes hitting at Camden Yards, huh?

I don’t expect him to hit .320 at home again but I also don’t expect him to hit .229 on the road either. So there’s even a possibility that he could improve on last year’s numbers, as odd as that may seem.

Hernandez led AL backstops in throwing out opposing baserunners. They should be less likely to test him this year.

Hernandez is a workhorse and a nice defensive backstop. As long as he is playing half his games at Camden Yards, I expect even better things from him this year.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Base Hits 1/30/2007

From this article over at

On the other end of the scale sit the Baltimore Orioles (excessive sentimentality, overspending on relief pitching, reclamation projects aplenty ... is there any franchise-behaving-badly list upon which they don't appear?). Over the offseason, they reportedly passed on a deal that would've made the team appreciably better -– Marcus Giles and Adam LaRoche for Brian Roberts and Hayden Penn -– because owner Peter Angelos considers Roberts one of his "favorite" players. You get the feeling they'd clear a roster spot for B.J. Surhoff if he felt like lacing up the cleats again.

Unfortunately, the above is not an unfair assessment. Except for the overspending on relief pitching, which may pay off this year.


From the "Aww, you poor little Mets fan." file:

Nonetheless, I’m pissed because this season the Norfolk Tides will no longer be affiliated with the Mets. The whole reason I’m a Mets fan is because I grew up watching the Tides. And now the Triple-A Mets have up and moved to New Orleans. Loyal fans will be stuck watching Baltimore Orioles players in Harbor Park. I call bull.

I know I'll lose alot of sleep for the Norfolk Tides fans.


The O's pick up Jeremy Guthrie off waivers from Cleveland. Guthrie didn't have a bad year at AAA Buffalo last year but has never translated his live fastball into success consistently or in the Majors at all. Still, costs the O's little and he may develop into a decent relief pitcher if things break the right way.


The O's inked Markakis to a one-year deal.


Orioles Mailbag over at The author seems to think it's a slam dunk that Rodrigo Lopez would have been no help to the O's in 2007. I still have a feeling the club may miss him.


Finally, Cal will drive the pace car at this year's Daytona 500.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Crystal Ball: Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis exceeded everyone’s expectations last year. I thought it was a horrible idea to have him break camp with the big club, that it would do more harm than good to his development. Through the first two months of the season, that looked like a good assessment as he struggled mightily, hitting .218 through the end of May.

He hit .319 the rest of the way.

He slugged .532, including 14 HR and 17 doubles, after the All-Star break.

The torrid finish to the season gives hope that Markakis may project much higher than previously expected. There are many difficulties in projecting young players as you never know what’s going to happen once they start facing big league pitching. Albert Pujols never hit 20 HR in a season in the minors. His rookie season, he launched 37.

So, the good points:

1. He hit righties and lefties equally well. He slugs much better against righties but he’s no slouch.

2. He was an above average player in terms of OPS at age 23, even with the dismal start.

3. He was second on the team in OBP. He only struck out 72 times in 491 AB. Good plate discipline can take a young player a long way.

4. He hits the ball well to all fields. His hit chart reveals singles and doubles sprayed all over the place. Only his home runs tend to go to rightfield. It’s a very Jeter-esque distribution.

I’m stumped folks. I can’t find any evidence that this guy will backslide. Here’s a few projections from other sources, all of which I think Markakis will surpass this year.

537 143 49 119 13 2 .265 .329 .418


480 74 140 29 2 15 71 3 1 49 81 .291 .360 .456 .816


424 64 125 23 2 14 57 4 1 39 65 .295 .357 .458 .814

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Base Hits 1/27/2007

An article in Freddie Bynum’s hometown newspaper on the new Oriole.

Roch Kubato looks at where some former Orioles have landed this offseason. has a look at very deep O’s outfield this year. Like night and day from last year, huh?

Also on the official Orioles website, a look at the O’s prospects playing in the Venezualan and Dominican winter league playoffs, including Napolean Calzado, one of my favorite O’s minor leaguers just for his name alone.

Updated team notes for Baltimore over at with a focus on Jay Gibbons situation.

New AAA affiliate Norfolk has unveiled their new road design for their hats. I like it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Where Are They Now?: The 1999 Baltimore Orioles Draftees

The Orioles had seven – that’s right, seven – first round draft picks in 1999. The first six never amounted to much, many flamed out fast. But the seventh was Brian Roberts and that fact alone makes this one of the better drafts in recent history. Here they are:

Mike Paradis – P - Clemson University – 1st Round

Paradis never pitched that well in the minors, compiling a 29-47 with a 5.25 ERA in 106 starts. He appears to be out of baseball.

Rich Stahl – P - High School – 1st Round

Rick made it all the way to AA Bowie last season and then ended up in the Reds organization, getting a cup of coffee in AAA Louisville. He has gone 27-39 with a 4.23 ERA in 96 minor league starts.

Larry Bigbie – OF - Ball State University – 1st Round

Bigbie was a good pick, not for what he did for the O’s but for who they were able to trade him for. Sadly, Eric Byrnes was not resigned to play left last year and the O’s got only a third of a season out of him and a poor third at that. No, Byrnes wasn’t a great player but he would’ve been better than any of the other candidates Baltimore had in left last year.

Oh, what happened to Bigbie? He eventually ended up in St. Louis but had a lot of injuries last year. He got released by the Cardinals but I imagine someone will pick him up on a minor league contract at least.

Keith Reed – OF- Providence College – 1st Round

Reed is very appropriately named because he is built like one. Tall and lanky, Reed never filled out or developed much power or plate discipline. Fast but never was able to translate that into steals. Has had a cup of coffee in the bigs but looks to be a AAA+ guy at this point.

Joshua Cenate – P- High School – 1st Round

Appears to have gotten hurt during or shortly after his first year in the rookie leagues. Surfaces again in 2003 as a batter for Bluefield and Aberdeen with exactly one AB in one game for each. Odd to say the least. Out of baseball.

Scott Rice – P- High School – 1st Round

Made it to AAA Ottawa last year and but up some average numbers. Went 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA but his K/BB ratio is not good.

Brian Roberts – SS – University of South Carolina – 1st Round

We all know Brian. All-Star second baseman.

John Kessick – C – Ball State University – 3rd Round

Hit .194 over three minor league seasons. Out of baseball.

Erik Bedard – P - Norwalk Tech University – 6th Round

Developed into a nice number two (or better) starter for the big club.

Dave Farren – P - High School – 7th Round

Reached as high as high A Frederick in 2003, compiled a 15-23 record with a 4.28 ERA. Out of baseball.

Number that are regular contributors for the Orioles: 2
Number still in the organization: 4
Number traded for regular contributors: 0
Number out of baseball: 4
Diamonds in the rough: 2


Even with a lot of guys that missed badly, you have to chalk this up as a very successful draft. The diamonds in the rough were Willie Harris (24th Round) and Aaron Rakers (23rd Round). Harris was traded for Chris Singleton, a decent glove guy who played centerfield for the O’s in 2001. I did not count Harris as one who was traded for a regular contributor since Singleton stayed just the one year. Rakers looked to be a factor in the bullpen before he hurt his shoulder and missed the 2006 season. He may still pay dividends in the future.

You’d like to have seen more than one of the first rounders develop into useful players but it only takes a couple of good players to make a sub-par draft a great one. The O’s got an All-Star caliber second baseman and a potential ace in their first 10 picks. If you do that every year, you’re a World Series contender. This was Frank Wren’s only draft for the O’s and you have to wonder why.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Base Hits 1/24/2007

Luis Matos signed with the Pirates.

A Mailbag column over at in which someone asks why Corey Patterson doesn’t hit leadoff(?!?!?!).

Updated O’s notes over at

Some top prospects for the O's over at Among them, Bill Rowell, Brandon Erbe and Nolan Reimold.

A story by Phil Wood on a little known Oriole connection to Satchel Paige.

Monday, January 22, 2007

GM Mike Flanagan Examined... this article on

This part of the article caught my eye:

Signature Move: After the 2005 season, Flanagan made his first big move has the sole general manager by signing catcher Ramon Hernandez to a four-year deal. He had a catcher in Lopez, but he saw that Lopez wasn’t the answer so he went about changing that by bringing in a proven catcher like Hernandez. Now, Hernandez didn’t have a great year last year and the move could turn out to be poor, but its this decisiveness that Flanagan must keep if he wants to finish rebuilding the once-proud Orioles.

Did I miss Ramon Hernandez not having a great year in 2006? He was 6th in the league in OPS among full time catchers. He threw out the highest percentage of opposing baserunners in the league. He cracked 23 homers. Statistically, it was among his best seasons of his career. Not sure how this is a move that could turn out to be poor...

The Crystal Ball: Danys Baez

Fair warning here. I don’t like this signing much at all. On the surface it really looks bad. $6 million+ a year for three years. 5-6 with a 4.53 ERA for the Dodgers and Braves last season. That ERA is in the Todd Williams range.

But let’s look at the bright side here. We fans are stuck with this guy so lets see what value we can find in this signing.

For what it’s worth, he pitched much better than Todd Williams. His FIP for last year was 3.62, nearly a full run lower than his ERA. His K/9 was at 5.88, not bad but not overpowering. His BB/9 is 3.68 for his career and he will give up the occasional homer. The bottom line is that he is a guy who pitched fairly well last year but was let down by the fielding behind him. Since he is not an overpowering strikeout guy and has a tendency to walk a few batters, he needs his defense to be solid for him to be consistently effective.

So let’s look at the DER (the percentage of times a team’s fielders turn a batted ball into an out) for the teams he played for last year:

Dodgers .683
Braves .689

The Dodgers were tied with Philly for the second worst DER in the NL. Only the Pirates were worse. Atlanta was more respectable, in the middle of the pack, but still in the lower half of the league. Now, how do the O’s look:

Orioles .681

Ruh-roh, Raggy.

The O’s place 10th out of 14 AL teams. Baltimore will field roughly the same team defensively that they did last year so I’m not sure they will be turning what could’ve been an out in Atlanta into an actual out in Camden Yards.

In conclusion, given the difference made in the AL DERs due to the DH, I think the O’s are way closer to the Braves than the Dodgers as far as defensive efficiency but I am not sure this bodes well for Mr. Baez. Although he may have pitched better than his numbers, those numbers require a good bit of help behind him, help I’m not sure the O’s can provide this year.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Base Hits - 1/21/2007

Phil Wood wrote a nice article on delusional baseball fans and the notion that baseball offers more to a fan than just wins and losses. (I agree BTW.)

Miguel Tejada is content this offseason. I'll never understand why fans gave him such a hard time last offseason for stating what damn near everyone else has: The O's are not committed to building a winning team.

Danys Baez is one of the worst signings of the offseason according to a hot stove wrapup on CBS Ummm...maybe.

More Cal love in an Op Ed piece in the Baltimore Sun. Good story.

And I am thanking the baseball gods that Craig Wilson signed with Atlanta, ensuring that he will not be in orange and black this year.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Crystal Ball: John Maine

Willie Randolph is stating that John Maine is not assured a spot in the Mets rotation this year. There's a good reason for that.

Oh, there has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth since the O’s threw this guy into the Jorge Julio – Kris Benson trade with the Mets. How could we let him go? He had a 3.60 ERA last year! He won games in the postseason! The Orioles have let a talented young arm get away!

Don’t you believe it.

Maine’s success was a product of the team around him, the park he played in and the league that he faced.

Maine’s strikeout totals were reduced every time he went up a level in the minors. A couple of stints in the majors showed he had real problems getting people out in the Majors and was looking more and more like AAA+ type guy who may develop into a spot starter/relief guy down the road. His success with the Mets notwithstanding, I still think that’s what he projects to.

He had a WHIP of 1.13 last year. He has never bested 1.32 before in AAA or higher during his career, not even with the Mets in Norfolk last year. His K/BB ratio is a pretty average 2.15. He is an extreme flyball pitcher (nearly 50% rate of flyballs). Eventually, some of this will catch up to his ERA. He is quite dependent on his outfielders converting those flyballs into outs and some luck may also have been involved.

Let’s not forget that he is pitching in the NL now. Those pitchers help the NL ERA to be about a half run lower than the AL. So if the O’s had kept him, odds are he would not have fared so well against AL lineups and in Camden Yards.

So he either had a quantum leap between Norfolk and New York (possible, it does happen on occasion) or everything went right for him last year and that is probably the best he could’ve done. Which do you think makes more sense?

The best case scenario is that John Maine was a poor fit for Baltimore and that he will continue to be a decent pitcher at Shea, pitching in the NL. I’d look for a bit of a regression this year though. Even with Benson’s disappointing performance, I don’t think the trade was a bad one at all.

Just One Reason The Sporting News Sucks

The Sporting News has named the Baltimore Orioles as their worst franchise in baseball and their “MLB Expert” Matt Crossman wrote a little article about it.

The first thing I have to take issue with is that while the O’s have been a pretty sad sack franchise in recent memory, they are in no way the worst baseball franchise in MLB. Or the AL. Or their own division. Off the top of my head:

Devil Rays

I could make a good argument for the Brewers too and maybe even Cincinatti as more futile franchises. At least the O’s have been in the toughest division in baseball during the last nine years. (And evidently it only takes one year of success to make it off the list. Nobody was more god awful than the Tigers before last season’s run. And they weren’t exactly trending up before last season either.)

He hits on some low points throughout the last 12 years as backup for his case: Losing Davey Johnson, the Albert Belle injury, the Mussina departure and the Palmiero steroids debacle. Fine. All valid. But what about the rest of this crap:

The Jeffrey Maier Incident – I’m not sure how a cheatin’ little kid and a lousy ruling by the umpire that potentially cost us a playoff series is the O’s fault but here it is laid out as evidence by Mr. Crossman.

Sidney Ponson – He’s not the first or last pitching prospect to underperform for this or any team. Happens every year, really no one’s fault. If he had mentioned the lack of major league talent developed overall in the O’s farm system, he would have a strong point. But one guy not panning out? Please.

The Sammy Sosa Deal – The O’s traded two nothing prospects and Jerry Hairston (a nothing major leaguer) for an aging slugger who they thought might be able to rebound. Oh, the Cubs picked up most of his salary that season too. You make that trade 10 times out of ten. It didn’t work out but the O’s didn’t lose anything of significance and were off the hook after one year. Just because the player turns out to be washed up doesn’t make it a bad move.

I stopped being a subscriber to the Sporting News years ago and this article reminds me why.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Base Hits - January 17th

Remember Anthony Telford? He’s pitching again!

An article about a guy who collects Cal Ripken memorabilia.

Rodrigo agreed to a contract with the Rockies.

More Cal love from the UVA paper.

A review of the O's promising prospects.

The Bowie Baysox will be featured on "Dirty Jobs", the Discovery Channel series, January 30th.

The Crystal Ball: Jamie Walker

The Jamie Walker signing concerns me.

On the surface, it looks to be a solid addition to the bullpen. He has averaged an ERA under 3.50 for the past five years, his WHIP has been between 1.15 and 1.25 and while he’s not a big strikeout guy his K/BB ratio is more than respectable.

Unfortunately, he gave up homeruns at near Benson-like levels for the Tigers last year.

While Camden Yards is only slightly more hitter friendly than Comerica Park when it comes to runs scored (both parks are actually pitcher friendly), homeruns are far more likely to be hit at Oriole Park than at Comerica. Did I mention he had an ERA of 4.50 after the All-Star break?

The only hope I can find here is that he consistently pitched below his FIP numbers. I am not completely convinced that pitchers have no control over what happens to a ball that is put in play and if you are consistently getting more guys out than the numbers suggest you should, you obviously have a knack for doing it.

I hope I’m wrong but Walker may not be much of an improvement over our lefties from last year.

Player Projections - The Marcel Method

Go over to The Hardball Times. They have posted Marcel projections (explained here) for each player for 2007. Kind of interesting to look at the principle O's batters and where they project. If the projections hold, the O's could OPS over .800 as a team. That's not Yankee good but still a pretty potent offense.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sammy To Texas?

...on a minor league deal? I can't wait to watch this in Spring Training...

Bedard, Patterson, Roberts Exchange Figures With O's

The figures are here.

Bedard is the furthest apart from the club asking $4 million to the O's $2.7 million offer. None of the players are asking for unreasonable salaries.

The Crystal Ball: Daniel Cabrera

It was a tale of two seasons for Daniel Cabrera. From April to July he was terrible and was regressing by almost any statistic, including a walk rate that was bad even by Daniel Cabrera standards. He was sent to AAA to work things out and came back in August a new man. He posted WHIPs under 1.35 in back to back months, a first for his career. His walk rate was still high but at just over 4 BB/9 it was just over half what the rate was pre-August. And just for good measure he struck out 9.5 per nine.

Has he turned a corner? Did Leo get through and get him to throw it over the plate? It looks to be a tentative yes. He has always struck out a lot of batters and never given up a lot of homeruns (only 11 surrendered last year) but if he really has the walks minimized, he could finally have that “breakthrough” year predicted over the last two seasons.

Looking at some other peripherals, Cabrera’s FIP number gave him an expected ERA of 4.30 vs. his actual ERA of 4.74. So he may have been unlucky, even with the walks, and pitched better than his ERA and his record. His K/9 rate has risen steadily over the past three years from 4.5 to 8.4 to 9.1.

The walk rate is still dangerously high but a 4.25 ERA is certainly reachable if he maintains the K and HR rates. I am pretty excited about his potential (he’s still only 25 when the season starts), especially with a full Spring Training with Mazzone for him this year.

Random Stats

It’s winter and this is when I end up doing most of my baseball (and other) reading. I figured I’d post some interesting tidbits from the books I’m persusing and The 2007 Bill James Handbook is full of those little fun facts and projections. For example:

The O’s hit 56.25% more homeruns at home than on the road (100 to 64).

Ramon Hernandez and the other Oriole backstops held opposing baserunners to an AL low 62% success rate on stolen bases in 2006.

Under John Dewan’s (The Fielding Bible) Plus/Minus defensive rating system (basically awards a point to a player for making a play at least one other player at his position missed and takes away a point for missing a play another player made during the season), Corey Patterson posted a +34 to lead all centerfielders in MLB. Only Adam Everett, with a +43, bested this defensive score.

That’s enough to chew on for now. I’ll provide more as I digest the book.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Crystal Ball: Leo Mazzone

Camp Leo starts in Ft. Lauderdale in three weeks. Let see what Leo might do for the O’s staff in 2007.

The Mazzone Magic did not deliver as hoped in 2006. In 2005, the team posted an 4.57 ERA and an ERA+ of 91. In 2006, the ERA increased to 5.35 for an ERA+ of 84.

Was it disappointing? Yes. Were expectations realistic? Probably not.

Leo Mazzone was working in the Braves organization for years before he became the big league pitching coach and it really wasn’t until his second year with the big club that things started to turn around. The 1990 Braves pitching staff posted an ERA of 4.58 with an ERA+ of 88. In 1991, the Braves put up a 3.49 ERA and an ERA+ of 112.

You wouldn’t think that the O’s could post that kind of turnaround, a drop in ERA of one whole run. Or could they? Here’s a list of the Orioles who logged significant time on the mound and had an ERA over 5.00:

Rodrigo Lopez
Adam Loewen
Bruce Chen
Russ Ortiz
John Halama
Julio Manon
Hayden Penn

So let’s run through these guys real quick. Lopez is gone. Loewen is expected to be a good pitcher and will hopefully progress this year under Leo. Bruce Chen, Russ Ortiz and John Halama were terrible failures at reviving some arms off the scrapheap. Manon is not in the bullpen plans this year. Penn will either start the year in AAA or the bullpen and hopefully also will improve under Leo’s tutelage.

Jaret Wright joins the staff and was a league average pitcher last year. Bullpen depth was addressed in the offseason with several free agent signings. These changes alone could improve the team ERA to 4.35. Leo’s impact will be the young guys, Cabrera, Loewen and Penn. If he can whip them into shape, the O’s staff can see a similar turnaround that the 91 Braves staff experienced. 4.35 would have been good enough for 5th in the AL, more than respectable. It won’t be enough to get into the playoffs but will be solid proof of the Mazzone Effect. I’ll be very interested to see if the staff can improve to that mark.

All of the above assumptions, of course, is predicated on none of the projected cast going without significant injury this year. Let’s all hold our breath.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rodrigo Now A Rockie

Rodrigo, we hardly knew you.

Lopez was traded to the Rockies for a couple of righty minor league arms.

Quick hits on the prospects:

Jim Miller: Was in AA Tulsa last year. He has a history of striking out a ton of batters. A nice 3 to 1 K/BB ratio last year in 45 innings of relief. Bad news is he has a tendency to give up the long ball and a good number of hits.

Jason Burch: Also in Tulsa last year. Also strikes out his fair share (over 7 per 9) but walks his fair share too (just below 4 per 9). Keeps it in the park but had a WHIP of 1.41 in 63.2 innings of relief.

Time will tell if we got something of value for Lopez but these guys won't help the cause this year. Lopez may have. Looks like Hayden Penn will have every chance to break with the big club, probably in a relief role.

The Crystal Ball: Miguel Tejada

Let’s face it. Now that he’s past 30, Miguel Tejada’s days of hitting 30+ HR are probably behind him.

Still, the All-Star shortstop is the Orioles best offensive player. A batting average of .330 with 24 HR and 100 RBI are Jeterian numbers; only from an offensive force like Tejada would these numbers be slightly disappointing.

Tejada OPSed .878, good for fourth among major league shortstops, behind Bill Hall, Derek Jeter and Carlos Guillen. By whatever metric you use, Tejada is still comfortably in the top 10 of defensive shortstops in the majors; none of the above shortstops can boast this (Jeter’s bogus Gold Glove notwithstanding).

He’ll only be 31 this season, so I expect more of the same. He still has a couple of years before a decline begins in a typical ballplayer. In the 2007 Bill James Handbook, the hitter projections for Tejada look like this:

Miguel Tejada .304 .360 .495 .856 27 97 112

I think any Baltimore fan will take that next year.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Orioles On The Corners

On, a preview of the O's corner infielders. Two points:

1. I don't believe Millar will be a regular at first base for the O's.

2. The article states:

"There may even be room for another first baseman. Baltimore will consider
carrying a platoon player to hit against lefties, which isn't a specialty for
Millar, Gibbons or Huff."

Gibbons has trouble against lefties, Huff is not that bad really at .276 for his career. But Millar's career againt righties is .287 and against lefties is .285. No problems starting Millar against lefties as far as I can see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ripken Actually Says He Would Like To Buy O's

If nothing else, Ripken would revitalize Baltimore's pathetic farm system and start doing things "the Oriole Way". That alone would be worth it.

The Crystal Ball: Rodrigo Lopez

You know, I was going to write up a whole Crystal Ball article on Rodrigo Lopez but most of what I wanted to highlight has already been posted over at Camden Chat by silverstadium. To quote:

“Give him a long reliever position and let him know he's first in line for a
starting job if someone gets shelled (e.g. Benson...see a future diary) or
injured. Also let him know that we'll send him elsewhere as soon as we get a
fair offer for a pitcher of his skills. I suspect the market will be much more
favorable once the season starts and other teams find they need starting
pitching more than they thought.”

Couldn’t agree more. Lopez can still be useful to the O’s in various roles and his terrible 2006 was not as terrible as it looks.

I don’t know what 2006 holds for Lopez but if he stays and works out of the bullpen, a 4.00 ERA is not out of the question. As a full-time starter? I am less optimistic. Rodrigo still got hit hard last year, even if he was unlucky.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

One More Cal Tribute Piece

Ok, damn it. I wasn't going to post anymore links to gushing Cal Ripken articles on the eve of his induction (He was inducted, duh, this afternoon) but here's one more.

It's a reprint of an SI article from the 1995 season just before Cal breaks the consecutive games played streak and it reminds one (especially the stuff on page four of the article) of why O's fans and baseball fans in general loved to cheer Cal so much.

Congratulations Cal. As if you really needed to wait for the writers to approve you, you have officially joined the game's immortals.

More Cal Love...

Here, here and here.

O's Radio Leaves WBAL for WHFS

O's change radio partners. The programming will be expanded which will be a good thing. WJFK AM streams on the web so it's especially good news for me...

Monday, January 8, 2007

Ripken Love

There have been and will be lots of these articles this year.

We liked Cal too.

Cal As A Prospect

Nice article over at The Hardball Times that examines how Cal was regarded as a prospect. Cool stuff.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's Recognized for the Injustice it was... least by the good people in Winnipeg.

The Jefferey Maier incident ranks number three in the top 10 blown calls of all time. Don't remember this incident?

Mr. October for the New York Yankees in 1996 was a 12-year-old kid named Jeffrey Maier, who helped the home side win by turning a Derek Jeter fly out into a home run. It was Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 9 and the Baltimore Orioles were leading the Yankees 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Jeter hit his fly ball toward O's outfielder Tony Tarasco, who camped under it and appeared ready to make the grab. That's when Maier's glove shot out of the stands and caught the ball. Tarasco protested loudly and had every right to do so, but umpire Rich Garcia ruled a home run. The Yankees went on to win the game, the ALCS and the World Series.

Some Sportwriters...

...are just plain goofy. Paul Ladewski keeps up the whole goofy tradition but also the tradition of no Hall of Famer getting the vote unanimously.

His reasoning is so silly you can't really get mad about it. But if this guy can't get the HOF to change the balloting system, nobody will.

Erstad to.. the O's?

Although I sincerely hope not, an LA Times story lists the Orioles as possible suitors for the oft-injured free agent:

Erstad said six teams have expressed serious interest in signing him, either as a left fielder, center fielder or utility player. Though he declined to name the teams, the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners are believed to be among them.

Where would he play? I can't see signing this guy to anything more than a minor league deal at this point. His recent ankle injury has taken his best asset, his defense, and he is a bad hitter these days.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Quick Rundown of Oriole Prospects

If you have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, a nice article running down the top 10 Baltimore Oriole Prospects. If you don't, a nice rundown on the top four. ;-)

The Crystal Ball: Paul Bako

Paul Bako was signed this offseason to serve as a veteran backup to Ramon Hernandez. He obviously was not signed for his offense and is billed as a defensive specialist, a “catch-and-throw” guy and someone who can help handle a young staff.

That’s the rep but is any of it true these days?

Let’s take a look at some similar backups and their defensive stats:

T. Pratt 54 354.0 4 28 9 7.37 0.986
H. Blanco 69 526.0 1 24 18 8.57 0.998
M. Treanor 61 439.2 3 18 18 8.19 0.993
M. Redmond 43 378.0 0 18 9 8.05 1.000
P. Bako 53 392.0 2 20 9 6.38 0.993

Well, at least they didn’t sign Todd Pratt.

Outside of Redmond, none of these guys are expected to give much offense and these are most of the regular backups that caught in 40-70 games not named Mirabelli. At first glance, there is nothing special about Bako’s defense. In some ways, it’s kind of sub-par. He only threw out 31% of would-be basestealers, his fielding percentage is average at .993 but the most alarming thing is his RF of 6.38 which ranks dead last in this group and very, very low among catchers in general last year. Even Javy Lopez was at .688. Basically, it means he is not getting to balls and turning them into outs.

Now this stat can vary depending of various circumstances but it was it was even worse with the Dodgers the year. Prior to that, his RF was much higher, in the low to mid 7 range and even a couple years over 8 for the Cubs. He’ll be 35 this year which leads to the question: Is Paul Bako’s game in decline? I say yes. He is quite old by catcher standards even if he has never been a full time guy in the majors.

How does he handle pitchers? He got 43 starts, so it must have been because of his calming influence on the KC staff. He must really know how to call a game!

All Other KC Catchers - 6.01 runs allowed per game
Paul Bako - 5.91 runs allowed per game

So the team allows one-tenth of a run less with Bako behind the plate. I'm not sure that’s enough to make up for his paltry offense or that the difference is even significant enough to be acknowledged at all.

So in conclusion, the O’s gave a base salary of $900,000 to a guy who can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, doesn’t throw out baserunners very well, has a small or negligible positive affect on a pitching staff, can’t field his position better than 75% of the catchers in the Majors, is certainly diminished by age and probably in a severe decline and probably won’t see significant time behind the plate anyway.


I have a solution. Give the job to Adam Donachie, the Rule 5 draft pick from the Kansas City Royals system. He looks great defensively in the couple of games I’ve seen, won’t hit much worse than Bako even in a worst case scenario and will only cost the O’s the league minimum That’s it, I’m starting the campaign now. Donachie for backup backstop in 2007!

Donachie, Donachie, Donachie, Donachie

Newhan Signs With Mets

David Newhan signed a one year deal with the Mets.

With utility man Chris Woodward moving on to the Braves, Newhan should have a good shot at that role. Good luck to him.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Orioles Fanfest Postponed

Rescheduled date to be announced.

O's Sign Roger Cedeno, Invite Him To Spring Training

This news will not affect you whatsoever.

We return to our regularly scheduled program.

Ripken: 100% Hall of Famer?


But he won't get 100% of the votes from the BBWAA. No one ever has...

HOF Game Swap: Jays for Mets

The O's will face the Jays in the HOF game after a schedule change for the Mets made it impossible for them to make the game.

Arizona Fall League Championship Game

I watched this online at and jotted down a few notes about the O's prospects in the game. Here they are:

Jeff Fiorentino – Jeff went 1-4, scored and run and played a nice rightfield. Jeff displays a good eye and gets ahead in the count. Once he gets ahead however, he started taking wild swings at stuff out of the strike zone.

Nolan Reimold – Served as DH, went 1-4 with a strikeout. Looked a bit overmatched against some of the better pitchers on the Desert Dogs.

Nick Mccurdy – Entered in the eighth, promptly gave up the only homer of the game, retired the next with a groundout to third, a check swing single to left, did not hold the pinch runner allowing him to steal second easily and then induced another groundout to third before yielding to the bullpen. Not a great outing but McCurdy does have some nice movement on his breaking stuff even if it looks like his fastball is nothing special.

Adam Donachie – Nice arm, great release on this kid. Played a good defensive game representing Kansas City and since has been acquired by the O’s through the Rule 5 draft. I'd like to see this guy stick on the major league roster this year, Spring Training will tell the tale.

O's Prospects Wrapup in Venezuela

Not much good news here outside of Luis Hernandez...

Baby Steppin'

Peter Schmuck's article in the Baltimore Sun addresses how the O's did not make a big splash in free agency but did enough to make significant positive progress nonetheless.

I would have to agree here. This team is cannot be fixed with one big Carlos Lee or Alfonso Soriano signing. They have deep organizational issues that are just now being rectified by internal player development (Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Chris Ray, Erik Bedard), Rule 5 signings (Jay Gibbons, Adma Donachie), successful scrapheap salvage cases (Corey Patterson, Kris Benson, Jaret Wright) and strategic mid-level free agent signings (Aubrey Huff, Jay Payton, Ramon Hernandez).

The big signing of Miguel Tejada, although he remains our best player, wasn't enough to get us out of fourth place in the AL East. Tossing $22.5 million to Javy Lopez didn't improve the record. The Orioles have a lot more work to do on the foundation of this team before signing an Andruw Jones-type player (hint, hint) will put them over the top. Maybe next year...

P.S I'm glad Randy Johnson's gone and think this significantly weakens the Yankees for no other fact than Johnson may have rebounded and had a fine season for the pin-stripers. Anything that weakens the Yanks is good for the O's...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Where are They Now?: The 2000 Oriole Draftees

Get out your clothespin and clip tightly onto your nose. Behold the first draft of the new millennium!

Beau Hale – P – University of Texas – 1st Round
Looks like Beau had some injury problems. He reached AA Bowie in 2001 but missed the entire 2003 and 2004 seasons. In 2006 splitting time between Frederick and Bowie, he went 6-6 with a 3.33 ERA and 85 Ks in 116.3 innings.

Tripper Johnson - 3B - Newport High School – 1st Round
Tripper is still playing third for the O’s and has risen as high as AA Bowie. Over 7 minor league seasons, he has hit .265 and OPSed .741.

Richard Bartlett - P - Kamiakin High School – 3rd Round
Rose to A+ Frederick in 2003 and was then selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Dodgers. Last year in AA Jacksonville he went 3-3 with a 4.33 ERA

Tommy Arko - C - Cooper High School – 3rd Round
Only reached A+ Frederick by 2005. Hit .204 with 39 HR over 6 minor league seasons. Out of baseball.

John Skaggs – P - Rice University – 4th Round
Skaggs did not sign with the O’s. Eventually signed with the Yankees and was in AA last year.

Doug Gredvig - 1B – Sacramento City College – 5th Round
Rose as high as Frederick in 2004. Played in the Philadelphia organization in 2005 and played in an independent league in 2006.

Brandon Spillers - P - Tattnall Square Academy – 6th Round
Brandon pitched for Class A Delmarva last year. In 6 seasons in the minors, he is 11-11 with a 4.67 ERA.

BJ Littleton - OF - Lamar University – 7th Round
Reached AAA Ottawa in 2003. Now in A ball for the Phillies.

Jayme Sperrring – P - Rice University – 8th Round
Rose as high as Frederick. Out of baseball.

Mike Russell - C - Bothel High School – 9th Round
Got to Frederick in 2005. Now playing in the Frontier league for Kalamazoo.

Top Ten Draft Pick Stats

Number that are regular contributors for the Orioles: 0
Number still in the organization: 3
Number traded for regular contributors: 0
Number out of baseball: 2
Diamonds in the rough: 1


Wow. This is one of the worst drafts I’ve ever seen. The diamond in the rough is Kurt Birkins, the 33rd round draft pick who went 5-2 with a 4.94 ERA out of the bullpen for Baltimore. He is by far the best pick for the O’s in the 2000 draft. Thanks Syd Thrift. If you want to get really disgusted, go look at all the players who were selected in the 2000 draft by competent teams.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

I'm Really Beginning To Hate This Guy...

A partial article from Keith Law (partial because I refuse to pay to be an ESPN insider) about the HOF selctions.

I don't have a Hall of Fame ballot -- according to the BBWAA, I don't exist

If only that were true.

-- but if I did, here's who'd be on it.

I'm riveted. Do tell.

Cal Ripken, Jr.: I do agree with the criticism of Ripken's streak -- he probably hurt his team at a few points by his refusal to take a day off --

I'm not going to curse in this blog, I'm just not. But %#$! I hate this argument. I heard it for years. Who was going to come in off the bench, play a great defensive shortstop and produce offensively the way Cal could? These were the Randy Milligan-Leo Gomez-Kevin Bass Orioles. Who was going to outperform him? Bret Barberie? Jeff Huson? Answer me Keith!

-- but he's also one of the five best shortstops in history and changed the way people in baseball think about who can stay at shortstop. (Let's hope that Ripken prominently thanks Earl Weaver in his acceptance speech, as it was Weaver who put Ripken at short, contradicting the conventional thinking that shortstops needed to be small and slight.)

Let's hope? If anyone thinks that Cal will not be gracious and understand who helped him get where he is now, they have not followed the man's career at all. Forget to credit Earl Weaver? Yeah, sure.

I'll be watching you Keith...

The Backstop Backup

An article over at looking at the catcher position for the team. Of special note is Rule 5 draft pick Adam Donachie. If he can flash a little offense in Spring Training may have a chance to make the team:

"We're not sure if we'll carry three catchers," Duquette said shortly after adding Donachie and Bako at the Winter Meetings. "But because it's an area we don't have depth in, we liked [Donachie] enough that we wanted to take a look at him and see. If we like him enough and he doesn't make the club, we can always try to work out a trade."

Donachie has a good defensive reputation and in my opinion could be as good defensively as Paul Bako with a better offensive upside (that wouldn't be difficult quite frankly). But Donachie will have to knock management's socks off to force them to give up on a veteran they have already invested in.

Sir Sidney Returns To Rochester

Sidney Ponson signs a minor league contract with the Twins. Good luck with that fellas...

Perlozzo and Huff's Blind Date

Enough said.

I'm happy you're here Aubrey.

Rockies Want Rodrigo

From the Rockies Notes at

"The Rockies continue trolling for a starting pitcher and O'Dowd confirmed talks with Baltimore about veteran Rodrigo Lopez. The Orioles haven't been persuaded by the Rockies' initial trade proposal. "

It may be time for Lopez to move on but I hope the O's just don't give him away. His peripherals show he may not have pitched as bad as his ERA and win total suggest. I think he could still be very useful to the team in long relief (when the young pitchers get shelled) or as a spot starter should one of the front line guys get hurt.

O's Spring training Home Gets A Lift

The state of Florida has approved $15 million over 30 years to assist the Orioles in renovating Ft. Lauderdale Stadium.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Hint of Hope for Knott

From Roch Kubatko's blog on

"Perlozzo is intrigued by Jon Knott, who will be given every chance to make the club."

After the Huff signing, I didn't give Knott much of a chance to make the team. I'm still not sure where he fits in unless they see Huff playing more leftfield than I anticipated. Knott could be a nice righthanded slugger off the bench to compensate for some of the overly lefthanded lineups the O's could field this year.

Huff Can't Hit Lefties. And Your Point Is?

Keith Law writes on

Aubrey Huff was the best bat left on the free agent market, but perhaps not the best fit for Baltimore. The Orioles will now be spending over $10 million per year over the next three years on two so-so left-handed bats who don't hit lefties and who are probably best suited for DH duty.

OK, lets look at this point by point. $10 million per for three years. Check. So-so left-handed bats. You can certainly make that argument. Don’t hit lefties? No, not as well as they hit righties but they are not abysmal. (Huff is actually a career .276 hitter against lefties so at least in his case this statement is just wrong.) But forget how they hit against lefties. How many lefty starters will these guys have to face? With the unbalanced schedule in the AL East, here’s the list of guys they may face on a regular basis:

Randy Johnson – leaving for Arizona
Andy Pettite – a tough lefty
Casey Fossum – lousy against righty and lefty hitters
Scott Kazmir – tough lefty
Gustavo Chacin – lousy against all hitters
John Lester – he may be in the rotation but is young and was worse against lefties too

So that’s three tough lefties if Randy Johnson stays which looks unlikely. Sometimes people forget that it doesn’t matter if you are righty or lefty if you suck. Huff and Gibbons will wear out crappy pitchers no matter which hand the ball leaves from. And the tough lefties? That’s why you have guys like Millar and Payton who wear out lefthanded pitching. Pick apart the signing if you want but throwing out the “don’t hit lefties” card doesn’t stick. They aren’t there to kill lefties.

Huff hasn't been a front-line hitter since 2003, when he looked like a star on the make. After a small step back in 2004, he fell off severely in 2005 and was more of the same in 2006.

This is true. It is one of my concerns.

He no longer has the big power teams want in a defensively-challenged corner bat, and has a questionable work ethic and a rep as a sour guy in the clubhouse -- certainly not what Baltimore, with clubhouse problems of its own and a few guys who visibly dogged it down the stretch last year, needs at this point.

Defensively challenged is a bit harsh. He is better at third than Mora. He is not great but he is more than passable.

As far as his clubhouse rep, I don’t put a lot of stock in that. Millar helped recruit the guy and Millar is the ultimate clubhouse guy. But I don’t know what that proves either.

Become an ESPN Insider to read the rest. I won’t bother.

Gibbons to Philly?

Some speculation in this article at that if GM Pat Gillick can't get Trot Nixon, he may make a play for Jay Gibbons.

"Having brought in Huff, the O's may decide that fellow left-handed hitting power outfielder Jay Gibbons is available and the Phils have shown interest in the 30 year old Gibbons before. "

The downside for this trade for the Phils is that the speculation is that the Gillick would have to give up a front line pitching prospect to get the O's to part with Gibbons, which probably means this rumor will not happen.

As far as similarity, they are left handed power hitters but Huff has shown to be superior to Gibbons at this point in their careers and is more versatile in the field. If the Orioles decide they are too similiar, Gibbons could be on the short end of the stick.

O's Attendance Drop Due to Baltimore Crime Rate?

That's what's intimated in part of the article in the Baltimore Examiner. Um, guys? Did you ever think that it's because the O's stink these days? Just a thought.

Minor League Signing, Another Former Cub

The O's have signed Jason Dubois to a minor league deal. The outfielder has a career .729 OPS over 227 major league games. Spent last season in the Indians system in AAA Buffalo and put up a .834 OPS.

Monday, January 1, 2007

MLB Orioles Preview

A nice article that focuses on the O's young arms over at A nice preview that does not take into account the Aubrey Huff signing.