Thursday, November 29, 2007

Don't Look Back In Anger

With a lull in the offseason action before the winter meetings, a look back at some items from the past season...

John Maine

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth was heard from some Baltimore fans about the O's trading away John Maine as an afterthought in the Kris Benson deal. Even my faith was shaken a bit early this season as Maine was looking like the real deal, pitcher's park and lack of DHs to face aside. The more I predicted his demise, the better he seemed to pitch. Well, at season's end it looks like Maine is beginning to come down to earth.

After a 10-4, 2.71 ERA first half, Maine posted a 4-6 record with a 5.53 ERA after the All-Star break. Pitching in a pitcher's park. In front of arguably the best defense in the NL. I'll say it again, no way a flyball pitcher like Maine succeeds in the AL, certainly not at Oriole Park. I expect his 3.91 ERA will be about the kind of pitcher he is, at least when he is under the best of circumstances.

Rodrigo Lopez

I thought it was a mistake to let Lopez go since I prophetically guessed that there would be injuries in the rotation this season. But Lopez got hurt out in Colorado and missed most of the season anyway so it all became a moot point.

But we did get a couple of minor league relievers that can strike batters out and keep the ball in the park. Jason Burch was hurt for most of the season but came back to pitch well for Frederick this year. Jim Miller excelled in Bowie and got called up to Norfolk before season's end. Both are young and miss bats so they may provide some inexpensive relief options for the O's in a couple of years. In retrospect, the trade wasn't so bad after all and I'm not even taking into consideration that Lopez had become a malcontent.

The Great Bullpen Experiment

The O's made news last offseason by quickly signing some free agent relievers to the tune of $42 million. How'd that work out?

Chad Bradford was overworked by Sam Perlozzo in my opinion but Dave Trembley nipped that in the bud and got him into a more reasonable 78 games when he was once on a pace for 90+. Bradford was forced to pitch in situations that he was not suited for due to injuries but still posted a very good 3.34 ERA and had 6 Win Shares out of the bullpen. Worth every penny.

Jamie Walker was also overworked a bit by the former manager but still posted a 3.23 ERA over 81 games and contributed 7 Win Shares out of the bullpen. Again, worth every penny.

Danys Baez sucked and as it turned out, he was hurt anyway. Baez got the biggest contract of the free agent relievers which was ironic because he had the most questionable credentials. He's had Tommy John surgery and who knows when he'll be back. Disaster.

Scott Williamson was signed for $900,000 to see if he could recapture that lightning that once resided in his right arm. He couldn't and was released after 16 appearances. But for the price of a Paul Bako, he was worth a flier. This one's a push.

The free agent relievers weren't the disaster they were portrayed to be but when your bullpen is still horrific with help from competent veterans, it doesn't help your case.

Jay Payton

Giving Payton $4.5 million per year was a questionable call made all the more so because the version we fans were treated to was not very Payton-y. However, the Orioles were desperate to find somebody to help out in leftfield so you can forgive them for reaching. Payton responded by posting the worst season of his career. (I'm beginning to think leftfield at Camden Yards is cursed. Curse of Conine? Or Surhoff?)

The last time Payton was so bad with the bat was 2002 and he responded the next year with the best year of his career. Hopefully, this is the case in 2008 and we can trade him to a contender for prospects during the season.

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