Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Training, Philosophy and Injuries

Freddie Bynum will be out up to five weeks with a knee injury. He'll only miss a week or two during the regular season but the team will suffer without their utility man. It is a big dropoff to Brandon Fahey who would probably serve in that capacity at the beginning of the year.

In related news, the O's are rumored to be interested in Astros IF Mark Loretta. If they're going to trade Roberts (and it looks like they will) I like the move to pick up Loretta as long as they don't give up anyone decent to get him. I'm all for playing the kids but as far as secondbasemen go, the Orioles don't have any prospects. No sense in completely sucking at a position unless there's a potential payoff.

The Cubs are reportedly interested in acquiring Coco Crisp from the Red Sox. Why would they do this unless they find Felix Pie expendable? Pie could sweeten the pot for the Roberts deal a lot.

Let's look at some of the roster battles going on.

The Bullpen - Who knows? Dennis Sarfate has distinguished himself but that's about it. Everyone else has been varying levels of OK. Here's where we find out about Dave Trembely. Will he go with whoever has the hot hand in ST regardless of past track record (Greg Aquino, 4.88 ERA for his career but unhittable this spring), go with unproven youth (Radhames Liz) or look for more dependable veteran help elsewhere.

Outside of Sherrill, Walker and Bradford, I have no idea who's going to make this bullpen. A lot will depend on Trembley's philosophy.

Scott Moore - He's going to make this team and as long as he hits the first couple weeks of the regular season, Jay Gibbons won't be back. Right now, this looks like a done deal.

The Young Arms - With Troy Patton out of the picture and few guys stepping up big this spring, it looks like Steve Trachsel was a good insurance policy for the Baltimore Orioles v.2.0.08

Who's our number 5? Brian Burress has been wild and is best suited for long relief in my estimation. Garrett Olson has been wild as well and fairly hittable. Hayden Penn has been pretty good considering he's returning from injury but I think he should have at least a month in Norfolk to get back to his old self. The leading candidate at this point would have to be Matt Albers (5 IP, 5 Ks, 1 BB) but he's hardly head and shoulders above the other guys.

This one will be interesting to watch over the next three weeks.

The Shortstop - Fahey has hit a bit better that Luis Hernandez this spring but both were supposed to be showcasing their gloves. Not so much. Both have made 2 errors each in only 7 games. Ouch.

We may be missing Miggy more than we realized.

The Backup Backstop - Guillermo Quiroz has looked great this spring, behind the plate and at the plate. I don't expect this guy to hit .300 but I'll bet he'll hit .250 with modest power. That's a big upgrade from last year.

Chris Heintz hasn't looked bad either. Nice to have some options at catcher besides aging has-been retreads.

So I was watching the game on Friday and liked what I heard from Andy MacPhail. One thing he said the organization was tracking (and encouraging players to improve on) was pitches per plate appearance. While he was in the booth, Luis Hernandez struck out but saw 12 pitches during his at bat. MacPhail pointed out that Luis just had a positive at bat because, although he still struck out, he helped wear the pitcher down a bit more and allowed his teammates to see more pitches from the guy. Sure enough, the O's mounted a two-out rally shortly after and drove the pitcher from the game.

Agree with it or not, it's nice to have a philosophy. An organizational philosophy!

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