Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Golden Argument for Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis had a fantastic year with the glove this year. We know it. But we've watched a bunch of Oriole games this season. How many non-Oriole fans can say that?

So Nick's hopes for a Gold Glove rest on word of mouth and the numbers.

Defensive stats are flawed but if you look at the whole spectrum, you start to get an idea of how good Markakis was this year. All stats are for AL corner outfielders.

RZR for AL Corner Outfielders

Drew .935

Markakis .925

Crawford .911

Ibanez .893

Dye .887

Only J.D. Drew had a better Zone Rating. But...

OOZ (Out of Zone) Plays by AL Corner Outfielders

Markakis 56

Dye 55

Gutierrez 55

Suzuki 50

Rios 50

Nick leads the corner outfielders is plays out of his "defensive zone". Great range, great jump on the ball.

BIZ Leaders

Markakis 295

Ibanez 291

Young 275

Abreu 274

Dye 238

Fielding Percentage

Dye .996

Abreu .993

Markakis .991

Fielding Percentage is a very flawed stat since you can't make an error on a ball you didn't get to in the first place. But Markakis is still third in the league with only 3 errors all year despite leading the league in balls hit to his "zone".


Markakis 17

Young 11

Abreu 10

Anderson 9

Ibanez 9

Markakis is far and away the leader in outfield assists. Only B.J. Upton (a centerfielder) is close with 16 assists. Among corner outfielders, he is the undisputed champ.

All of this while leading the league's corner outfielders in innings played.

What else does he have to do?


The only problem is that voters select the Gold Glovers from the entire pool of outfielders so he'll be competing with centerfielders too. At a glance, there are four centerfielders who are worthy of serious consideration: Carlos Gomez (Twins), Grady Sizemore (Indians), our own Adam Jones and B.J. Upton (Rays).

Jones is a rookie and played fewer innings than the others due to his injuries so he is probably out. B.J. Upton led AL centerfielders in assists but didn't show great range and made a fair share of errors. Carlos Gomez had the best overall range and made the most SportsCenter caliber catches. Grady Sizemore was probably the best all-around centerfielder in the AL.

Sizemore and Gomez should win two of the three available Gold Gloves. I can't see Markakis losing to Upton. Only Torii Hunter, based on reputation alone and not current prowess, could jump up and bite him.

Stupider things have happened.

However, I am guessing Nick picks up the first of several Gold Gloves this year. It won't be because he doesn't deserve it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Base Hits: 10/29/2008

I don't always agree with ESPN's Keith Law but I come to respect his opinion. He's a smart guy when it comes to scouting. In his caht from earlier this week:

Matt J. (Baltimore, MD): Klaw - Wondering if you saw Brandon Snyder at the AFL, and if he can become an everyday 1B for the O's at some point.

Keith Law: Yes, saw him, liked the swing and the raw power, but he needs to show he can drop the head of the bat and get to the ball down. Potential is there for him to be an everyday 1b offensively.

I am pulling for every Oriole prospect but was not that high on the guy given his huge strikeout totals. Law likes him more than I do. Law also seems to like Nolan Reimold a lot more than I didi too. I see these opinions as a good sign that our prospects are viewed in a better light around baseball than we think.

Also from Law:

Greg (philly): Is Ryan Howard turning into a real life Pedro Cerrano?

Keith Law: Haven't seen his locker.

Good line.


Adam Loewen is a tool.

Yes, baseball is a business. Yes, he was well within his rights to sign with the Blue Jays.

But taking $4 million from the club that was willing to let you re-invent yourself as a hitter when you flamed out as a pitcher? A club that you had a handshake agreement with to re-sign with to sign with a division rival? That's a dirty move. I don't care how long a shot it was that he made it back to the majors. It's rotten.

Your have no honor, Adam. Good day, sir! I said, good day!


The stuff going on out in the winter leagues is just too depressing...more on that later...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting to Know Brandon Snyder

Brandon Snyder was the Orioles first round pick in 2005. He was drafted as a catcher but now projects as a corner infielder. After an off 2007, Brandon put together a solid 2008 with the best full season slugging percentage of his career. One of the O's top prospects, he earned a trip to Arizona to play with the other top Baby Birds in the AFL.

(On a side note, the Surprise Rafters, the team the O's prospects play for got beat 28-1 on Monday afternoon. 28-1. Ladies and gentlemen, that's 30-3 for all practical purposes. On the bright side, the lone run came on a Nolan Reimold solo shot.)

Brandon's been hitting the cover off the ball for Surprise, hitting even better than Matt Wieters but not getting the playing time that Matt is. He is blogging from Arizona. I like player blogs. You can learn a lot by reading between the lines. What have I learned?

On the surface, the 21-year old Snyder appears to be pretty grounded and involved with his family. His father was a journeyman major league pitcher and he seems very close to his family. He has interests outside of baseball (cooking, hunting, fishing...hmm, those are all really related aren't they?) and is active in charitable organizations.

Having guns is good. Gives him something in common with Luke Scott, Nick Markakis and, if he stays with the team, Jamie Walker.

Some other tidbits:

Our facilities are UNBELIEVABLE! Our home field is the big league spring training facility of the Rangers and Royals and it is top shelf. It definitely makes you feel like you're in the big leagues when you put on the big league uniform and walk out on a big league field like that.

From this you can glean how crappy the Orioles minor league Spring Training facilities are. They must be really bad. Probably worse than the Ft. Lauderdale site.

Even though we try and get some home cooked meals out here its tuff not being home....My best friend from back home called me to tell me it was opening day of bow season. It stinks not being able to be home for the little things like that but that's the sacrifice that we make to live our dreams. And im sorry if that's a bad example but im sure a lot of you out there will understand what I mean.

That's not an interesting fact in itself but it's just so damn honest! Maybe the most honest thing I've seen a professional athlete write.

I'm rooting for the kid. Hope he blogs some more.

To wrap this up, a comment on this comment left on Brandon's blog.

Brandon,As a fan of baseball I would like to congradulate you on a great season that will hopefully jump-start your big leauge career! As an animal lover I would hope you keep your hunting exploits to yourself! Stick to baseball camps and working on your defense...

What a tool. The kid can't talk about his hobbies because you are an "animal lover"? Hey Brandon, keep talking about your hunting exploits and do it graphically. I love to see a detailed description of how to field dress a buck. What a dummy this hudsdog is.

(For full disclosure, the guy revealed he is a Red Sox fan later in the comment so he has it coming. And for the record, I don't hunt either...)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rudy Ray Moore (1927-2008)

R.I.P. Dolemite.

Keep pimpin'...

O.G. Orioles...This Ain't Pretty

Reading this article by Matthew Namee at The Hardball Times got me thinking. Namee hypothetically returns all MLB players to the original organizations they signed with and takes a look at the rosters. He only covered the teams that could field competent major league rosters so, of course, the Orioles were left out of the article. You can guess what comes next.

If you aren't eating anything, take a look at the 2008/2009 Baltimore Orioles 25 man roster consisting only of players originally signed by the club.

The Starting Lineup

C Matt Wieters
1B Jayson Werth
2B Brian Roberts
SS Augie Ojeda
3B Brandon Fahey
RF Nick Markakis
CF Willie Harris
LF Nolan Reimold
DH Gregg Zaun

Wieters would have been rushed to the bigs and along with Roberts and Markakis would be the bright spots in the lineup. Fahey would be forced to play third and former catching prospect (and current Phillies outfielder) Werth would be converted to firstbase.

I figured that the organization would rush Reimold to the majors in lieu of trotting out Alex Ochoa in left. Current Nationals centerfielder Harris would be back in black and orange. Ditto at DH for Rick Dempsey's nephew.

The Bench

C Eli Whiteside
Util Jerry Hairston
Util Mike Fontenot

Whiteside would be the only available option for a backup catcher. Eeesh. Hairston could be the fourth outfielder and Fontenot would be a capable infield backup.

The Rotation

SP Mike Mussina
SP Erik Bedard
SP Daniel Cabrera
SP John Maine
SP Garrett Olson

It's not a great rotation but, given good health, it's better than we have right now! Brian Matusz would still be waiting in the minors for a shot to crack this rotation too. John Maine would be competent in the AL but not great and Mussina would be wrapping up an illustrious Oriole career.

The Bullpen

RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Hayden Penn
LHP John Parrish
RHP Chris Britton
RHP Radhames Liz
RHP Jim Hoey
LHP Arthur Rhodes
RHP Chris Ray

Liz and Penn take the Albers\Johnson route to the bigs and are probably better for it. But overall, the pen is shaky outside of Johnson and Ray. Welcome back Arthur Rhodes!

In conclusion, it's just another example of the Oriole's poor drafting over the years. The inability to develop corner infielders and corner outfielders is especially glaring since those prosepcts are usually to easiest to find!

Also, only two players on this list were signed from outside of the U.S. (Cabrera and Liz). That will have to change if the Orioles hope to return to contention.

Tomorrow, a check in with some of those players that we hope will change that!

Monday, October 20, 2008

O's Spring Training in Ft. Lauderdale for '09...But Then What?

I got a notice in my e-mail informing me that Orioles Spring Training is just around the corner! Pitchers and catchers will report before you know it! (At this point, the obvious joke is, "What pitchers?" but I'll refrain. Oh, and there's only one catcher anyone will be watching at ST 2009...)

Spring Training will remain in Ft. Lauderdale...for this year. I've talked about this before but I am all for the Orioles leaving Ft. Lauderdale for a more attractive location. Ft. Lauderdale is a) a dump, b) so small that the O's minor league camp is across the state in Sarasota and c) is still painted with Yankee colors, the field's previous tenants.

The obvious and attractive choice would be to move into the historic Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach that the Dodgers left vacant after 61 years of spending Spring Training there. But as Ray McNulty opined in the TCPalm, that may not be the only option:

...if the Orioles decide this month to move their spring-training operation to Vero Beach in 2010 -- it will be on their terms and at their price...

Because our Indian River County representatives, elected and otherwise, have botched this thing from the start.

They've bargained from a position of weakness, rather than strength, conducting these negotiations as if the Orioles held all the cards, as if the team would be doing us a favor...

I have to admit, I'm surprised that the county would be so eager to keep a team in Vero Beach. I've always understood that the area has a lot of wealth and that they wouldn't be in a big hurry to have another team move in. But this must be good for the Orioles, right? What did they get by dealing from a perceived position of strength?

They've given the Orioles the upper hand -- first by signing a ridiculously one-sided exclusivity agreement under which the team could continue to talk to Fort Lauderdale but the county couldn't talk to any other teams, then by extending the deadline for accepting their offer until Halloween, thus allowing these negotiations to drag on far too long.

Worse, they've allowed Orioles owner Peter Angelos to use the county's pitch as leverage in simultaneous negotiations with Fort Lauderdale, his team's current spring-training headquarters.

And now that the exclusivity agreement with Indian River County has expired, Angelos is free to talk to any other community interested in becoming the Orioles' spring-training home.

He can talk to Fort Myers, which could lose the Boston Red Sox to Sarasota.
He can talk to Sarasota, which lost the Cincinnati Reds to Arizona and is sure to call the Orioles, if the Red Sox stay in Fort Myers.

So Angelos has options.

If Angelos is truly deeply involved in these negotiations, I have to grudgingly say he's doing a masterful job.

He's going to parlay substandard Spring Training facilities into a) a brand new facility in Ft. Lauderdale, b) a beautiful and historic facility in Vero Beach or c) reunite the whole organization (major and minor league) in Sarasota where the minor league camp is right now. (for now, the Red Sox look like they're staying in Fort Myers....)

If so, there's still a chance the Orioles will bring spring training back to Vero Beach.

But because of the way this thing has been handled, it will be on their terms and at their price.

Lucky us, huh?

So Indian River County may get held hostage by Peter Angelos? Welcome to the world of an Oriole fan, Mr. McNulty.

So where are the Orioles in spring of 2010? In order of likeliness, I'd say Vero Beach, then Sarasota, then the new Ft. Lauderdale facility.

Personal preference? My sister moved across the state to Fort Myers so Sarasota would be excellent. Then Vero Beach and lastly Ft. Lauderdale.

Vero Beach has extended the deadline to Halloween. By the end of the month, at least one option will be eliminated.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Base Hits: 10/2/2008

Well, the one last thing I was rooting for the last week of the season was for Nick Markakis to walk 100 times this season. Sure, it was just a way to keep interested during the last few games of yet another losing season but I was pulling for him nonetheless!

Nick lost his bid to become the third player in Oriole history to join the 100-100 club by one walk. 99 walks for the season. Still, the season was another nice step forward in his career. But more on that later...


It's this time of year when I put away my Oriole loyalties and start following...the West Oahu Canefires and the Surprise Rafters!

Yes, it's time for the fall and winter leagues and the Orioles continue to play, albeit as different entities.

2007 4th round pick Tim Bascom heads the list of players playing in Hawaii this winter and the Canfires are undefeated on the young season at 4-0.

The real glamour players for the O's minor league system are in Surprise this year. C MAtt Wieters, OF Noland Reimold (for the third straight fall) and top 2008 pick Brian Matusz will all represent the Orioles against the best talent in the minors this fall in Surprise, Arizona. Games start next week.


Win Shares on the trade monitor are complete for the year. Again, I always like these trades in the long run but had no idea that Adam Jones would outperform Erik Bedard by himself in the first season of the trade! Likewise, I liked the addition of Luke Scott but had no clue that he would nearly make up for the Miguel Tejada's offense by himself. An there are 8 other players we got back in those trades. We may be able to point to those trades in three years as the point where the Orioles turned the corner to becoming a winning organization again.


At long last, Desert O of Weaver's Tantrum has finished his hike of the Appalachian Trail. More than 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine that took him the better part of the baseball season. Congrats to him!


I'll be quiet with posting (probably for the next week and a half) while I am in Belgium next week. If you're interested in such things, you can follow along at Bottles of Barley. But you never know, a layover at an airport, a delayed flight might prompt me to do some Oriole blogging during the trip as well.