Friday, May 28, 2010

Bullpen Management in Microcosm

Last night, Dave Trembley let Brad Bergesen work into the 8th. After two straight singles, he lifted Brad Bergesen for Jason Berken. Here's what happened next:

"I don't think the pitch count enters into it," Trembley said of removing Bergesen. "He had retired that many, he had a long inning to sit after the seventh. You certainly don't want to put him in a situation where he's going to lose the game. He's pitched so well."

Right-hander Jason Berken entered and immediately picked up a flyout. Trembley then replaced Berken with left-hander Hendrickson to face consecutive left-handed hitters, Daric Barton and Ryan Sweeney...

"I think you're going to go left vs. left there. I think that's really what you're going to do," Trembley said.
"Berken hasn't faced these guys a lot. Their two best hitters are their two lefties right there. … Berken's a fly-ball pitcher. You don't want Berken to give up a home run there. He's never been in that situation before. Hendrickson has. He did a nice job the other night in the same role. That's the decision that was made."

What followed was a debacle as Hendrickson and Cla Meredith combined to blow a 5-2 lead and the Orioles lost the game.

Lifting Bergesen after the two singles? OK. You can second guess that but if Bergey gives up a three-run homer to the next batter, Trembley's getting crucified. And to some extent, I understand that Trembley is trying to limit the psychic damage to a young pitcher. That decision is fine.

But lifting Berken after one batter faced? Berken is your "long man" and, outside of Will Ohman, your most consistent performer out of the pen in 2010. He can certainly give you an inning. He's been sitting on the bench for 7 days...he's well rested. You could also make the argument that you put Berken out there for the two inning save and rest everybody else. And everybody else needs it.

But this would only be a blip if it was one game. Unfortunately, Trembley has been managing this way all season.

Will Ohman is on pace for 84 appearances, Matt Albers, 74 and Cla Meredith, 73. These are not Perlozzian levels of bullpen mismanagement but they are getting close. Meanwhile, Berken has just 12 appearances and we're closing in on Memorial Day. Why not let Berken pitch a little?

This is not how Trembley has managed his bullpens in the past. The work was a bit more evenly spread. I think the losing is messing with his head.

So it's probably time for him to go.

(As an aside, Brad Bergesen has been much improved since his return from Norfolk. 3-1, 4.26 ERA, averaging more than 6 innings a start. OK, 10 walks vs. 8 strikeouts is not good but when you are getting grounders on 67% of your balls put in play, you're certainly going to be in decent shape. This style isn't going to win you any Cy Young awards but Bergesen still looks like a fine back of the rotation starter to me.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Matusz in Trouble? Look a Little Deeper...

The Baltimore Sun's Toy Department has a new post up this morning voicing concern over rookie pitcher Brian Matusz:

The young lefty looks confused out on the mound, never more so than in the first inning of the Orioles 6-1 loss to the Oakland A's Wednesday.

He gave up four runs in that inning -- including Adam Rosales' three-run homer -- marking the second straight time he's been roughed up in the first inning.

And he's starting to take on that bewildered look that Brad Bergesen wore a few weeks ago when nothing he did was working....

"I am just in a bad groove," Matusz told reporters after the game.

The truth is, there are a lot of players in that clubhouse in a bad groove right now.

But the Orioles can't afford to have Matusz stuck in that groove for too long.

Not if he's one of their building blocks for the future.

Which is fine and all but the truth is that Brian Matusz is pitching pretty well, his mainstream stats (2-5, 5.76 ERA) notwithstanding.

His FIP is fine (3.80 and an improvement over his 4.08 FIP form last year) and his xFIP is 4.63. These numbers aren't stellar but they are better than his ERA suggests.

Other peripherals: 7.41 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9; those are all respectable, especially for a rookie. The 1.63 WHIP is not good...but his BABIP stands at .370. There's no way that doesn't come down. His LD% of 21.2% does not support that BABIP and even though he has been a fly ball pitcher thus far his 32.8% ground ball rate is slightly better than last year.

Matusz's defense isn't doing him (or the other pitchers) any favors either. Ty Wigginton, for all his success at the plate, has been the second worst second baseman in the league in terms of UZR. Miguel Tejada is below average. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are not living up to their defensive reps and whoever the Orioles stick in left turns into a butcher with the glove. Only Cesar Izturis is pulling his weight in the field.

Are there things Matusz can work on? Sure. Is he as bad as his ERA suggests? Absolutely not.

I'm not going to hit the panic button 18 starts into his career.

And regardless of what The Toy Department might think, the Orioles can definitely afford "bad groove" Matusz. He won't get any better if you don't let him pitch.

Photo used under Creative Commons via Keith Allison.

You Say Ranaudo, I Say Machado

OK, so LSU's SP Anthony Ranaudo is no longer considered a top 5 talent due to health concerns but I can't let that ruin my catchy title.

I'm not a scout and I haven't seen ANY of the players that are to be selected in the 2010 amateur draft but the more I hear about him, the more I like high school SS Manny Machado who should be available when the Orioles pick at #3.

Here's what they're saying:

Baseball America:

Machado is skinny at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds but surprisingly strong and has a swing that produces hard contact. He's familiar with wood bats and has shown a knack for centering the ball on the barrel. Scouts project him to hit for average future power, with a chance to be a .300 hitter. Defensively, Machado will remain at shortstop as a pro and has a chance to be an above-average defender. He's smooth, makes all the routine plays and has a plus arm that allows him to make the play in the hole.

ESPN's Keith Law:'s Jonathan Mayo:

Machado entered the season as the top high school position player and has done nothing to diminish that evaluation. Big and athletic, he can do just about everything on the baseball field, with the ability to hit for plenty of average and some power as he matures. He's got more than enough arm to play shortstop and is fine there for now, though there is some concern he'll outgrow the position. Even if he does, he'd be just fine at third, both in terms of handling the position defensively and providing the kind of offense teams look for at the hot corner.

Here's the link to's Jonathan Mayo's video report...

PNR Scouting:

Machado has the tool set to become an offensive-minded shortstop. Even if he adds too much bulk to field his position adequately, he should hit enough to justify a move to third base, where his soft hands and strong throwing arm would make him a well above-average defender. Machado’s bat-to-ball ability and patience at the plate should allow him to hit for the average and power that major-league managers would expect out of their two-hole hitter.

What's not to like? The mock drafts are starting to think that the Pirates may be thinking of picking Machado at #2 but I still believe that his representation by Scott Boras will frighten off Pittsburgh who will instead pick high school pitcher James Tallion.

Machado will not only be arguably the best player available at #3, he also fills an organizational need. Blue chip middle infielders, especially shortstops, are absent from the Oriole farm system. And position players tend to be less risky picks than pitchers. Time to mix it up, pay the kid and make him an Oriole.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Roster-Go-Round Revisited

Lots of changes on the active roster in the past week and a half. Time to step back and take a closer look.

Justin Turner DFA'd, Claimed by the Mets

Turner was removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Scott Moore and is no longer an Oriole as the Mets claimed him off waivers. I liked Turner a lot. He was probably never going to be a regular but I thought he could have been a solid utility player in a year or two, kind of a Mike Fontenot type. (He really couldn't be any worse than the 2010 version of Julio Lugo...) He still had value but not a ton of it and he's probably more of an NL player anyhow. Good luck to Red.

Scott Moore Recalled from Norfolk

I like Moore a lot and I wish Dave Trembley would find a way to get him in the lineup on a regular basis. Moore is patient at the plate, has some pop in the bat and can play all over the infield (with varying results). Only protecting Garrett Atkins' ego will keep him on the bench at this point. If you're going to bat Lugo 2nd, there's no reason not to put Moore there every now and then.

Koji Uehara Placed on 15-Day DL

Oh, Koji. Back on the DL yet again. Seemingly, he'll never be healthy but Uehara wasn't really a bad signing. Why? According to FanGraphs, Koji has been so good when he's actually been on the field that he has provided $7.9 million in value in terms of WAR over the past two seasons. The Orioles are paying him $10 million so he still has a shot at fully living up to the contract if he gets back on the field. He showed he was able to compete in the American League so he was definitely worth a shot.

Alfredo Simon Placed on 15-day DL

Simon shows you how low the bar is to close in the majors. Don't let his 2.92 ERA fool you, he is walking more than 5 per 9 innings while only striking out 7 per 9. His FIP is 4.49 (which is an improvement; he hasn't posted a FIP below 5.00 since 2005) but he's been adequate "closing out" games. The hamstring should not keep him out long.

Frank Mata Recalled from Norfolk

Mata is having a good season in AAA and it's legit. His FIP in Norfolk is 3.15. Mata seems like the kind of guy who will get lit up in Baltimore though. He needs to miss more bats and I don't think he will strike out major leaguers at a 6 K/9 rate like he has in AAA. We shall see.

Mike Gonzalez Transferred to 60-day DL

I don't think Gonzalez was going to return before mid-June anyway but he's really hurt. I liked the signing (and maybe still do) but missing half a season is going to make it hard for the O's to get a good return on the investment.

Alberto Castillo Recalled from Norfolk

He's baa-aaack. Can he keep the ball in the park? If he can, the rest of his peripherals look great. If he can't....well, the Orioles don't seem to take him very seriously anyway and he'll be back to Norfolk.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Streaky Orioles (or How Streaky is Luke Scott Really?)

How streaky is Luke Scott? That's the question that inspired this post.

Streaky is kind of hard to define. For this exercise, I tracked various Oriole batter's monthly OPS over the last three years. The batter had to have a full three years of action so guys like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters were not included. I then averaged the monthly OPS totals so there was a baseline for each player. Ultimately, standard deviation will be used to determine which players are the most steady and the most streaky.

First, here's the graphical representations.

Ty Wigginton

Miguel Tejada

Brian Roberts

Nick Markakis

Cesar Izturis

Luke Scott

Obviously, Luke Scott's graph jumps off the page but Miguel Tejada and Ty Wigginton have some streaky tendencies too.

How's the standard deviation break down?

Standard Deviation
Izturis 0.095
Roberts 0.109
Markakis 0.113
Tejada 0.138
Wigginton 0.155
Scott 0.206

The semi-streaky Tejada and Wigginton pale in comparison to King Streaker Scott. He is, indeed, a very streaky hitter.

One other thing of note is how steady Brian Roberts has been over the last three seasons. Jeff Zrebiec mentioned in an article last season that Roberts was a streaky hitter but this exercise show no such evidence.

Garrett Atkins Banished to Bench, Luke Scott Siezes 1B

I completely missed this since I did not watch the game last night and I am just now getting around to checking box scores but Luke Scott started at first base last night in Arlington. Apparently, it's going to stay that way for awhile.

"Luke Scott right now is swinging the bat well for us. Going in to play the Nationals, where there is no DH, I have to try and find a way to get a lineup where the best eight guys are in there for us," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think that's why you see Luke playing first base tonight in anticipation of him doing that against the Nationals. That does affect Garrett Atkins tonight, and it probably will affect him somewhat when we go play this weekend."

And this is as it should be. Scott wants to play the field, has offered on numerous occasions to man first base and even before the season had a much better bat than Atkins. Unfortunately, it took desperate times for Trembley/MacPhail to try something like this. (And just in case you think I'm second guessing, I assure you I am not.)

The recall of Scott Moore does not bode well for Atkins either. On the off chance Moore gets off to a hot start, we may finally see the end of the Atkins era in Baltimore. The Rays just swallowed much more money to be rid of Pat Burrell.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can He Play First?

No, not Nolan Reimold. I think Reimold can play first but when you're hitting .105 in AAA it doesn't matter much where your glove plays.

I mean Pat Burrel who was cast off from the Rays earlier this week. You scoff? Burrell's hitting line compared to Oriole first baseman this season:

Slash Line
Burrell .202/.292/.333

Atkins .221/.261/.283
Hughes .213/.275/.255

Overall, Oriole first basemen have combined to OPS .520 this season. Burrell's OPS of .625 would (sadly) be a big improvement.

If you can get Burrell for the league minimum, I say you do it. Burrell started for the Phillies at first for most of his rookie season. I'll bet he can field as well as Atkins can.

Oh, and Atkins needs to be released but I'll write more about that later...

Brian Roberts Hospitalized with Pneumonia

According to Jeff Zrebiec, Brian Roberts has been hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia.

Orioles injured second baseman Brian Roberts didn't board a plane today headed for Sarasota, Fla., like he originally planned in order to begin his rehab program for the herniated disk in his back.

Roberts, instead, was at a Baltimore area hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia...

“We don’t anticipate that it’s going to be anything that impacts his rehabilitation schedule,” Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.

Roberts now probably won't leave for the team's spring training complex in Sarasota for a several days.

Firstly, regardless of what Andy MacPhail says, it absolutely impacts his rehab schedule. He was supposed to leave yesterday, now he won't report to Sarasota for several days. Schedule impacted. I am just incredulous that MacPhail would say such a thing.

Secondly, can we get Roberts on a plan for healthful living? Forgetting the back issues and the abdominal strain, Roberts was sidelined for three days in Spring Training with the stomach flu and now this 32-year old athlete comes down with pneumonia, not in the dead of winter, but in May.

What's up with Brian's immune system? $10 million per year can buy a lot of vitamins.

Time to start taking better care of yourself aren't getting any younger.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Around the Oriole Blog-O-Sphere: Trembley Watch Edition

Dave McNeill of Weaver's Tantrum ponders what's to be done with Oriole CF Adam Jones. And he does it while pinch-hitting for Rob Neyer. Way to go, Dave!


Daniel Moroz takes a detailed look at Nick Markakis' lack of power this season and comes to a some interesting conclusions.


Chris Stoner of Baltimore Sports and Life thinks something good happened while the Orioles were losing the series to the Indians this past weekend but it didn't happen in Baltimore.


The Baltimore Chop thinks Rick Dempsey's wardrobe is uglier than the Orioles' record this season and offers some pointers. It comes from a place of love.


Some good pics of the Matt Wieters' Q&A at the ESPN Zone from The Oriole Post. Special lenses were needed to cut down on the nimbus that shines from Wieters head.


Eutaw Street Hooligans go full Ernie on us and discuss the things that make them happy and sad about the Orioles' season thus far.


Baltimore Sports Report's Zach Wilt drops some sobering news (at least to me)...this is as good as Nick Markakis will ever be.


Down on the farm, Crawdaddy takes a closer look at the Frederick Keys and, specifically, LJ Hoes.


Two things form Roar from 34...Matt takes a look at the career of former Oriole pitcher Mark Brown and also finds the one stat the Orioles' lead the league in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nolan Reimold Sent to Norfolk, Corey Patterson Recalled

(Sorry I've been away from the blog but I'm traveling for work and keeping long hours this week...back to regularly scheduled blogging next week.)

In a way, this is what you have to love about baseball. There's always a surprise. Nobody would've predicted this Oriole transaction back on April 6th.

Nolan Reimold, last season's rookie phenom, was sent back to AAA today after starting the season with a .205/.302/.337 line over 29 games. This represents a failure for the organization as they were too aggressive (or let Reimold be too aggressive) in bringing Nolan back from Achilles tendon surgery in the offseason. Reimold never looked quite right in Spring Training and instead of DHing him exclusively early in the season, they put him in the field far too often when it was apparent he wasn't ready. They should have DHed him exclusively in Spring Training, let him start the season on the 15-day DL, kept him in Sarasota for more rehab and let him come back in late April. Instead, he failed to recover in an adequate manner and is now being sent back to Norfolk. I guess you could call this Monday morning quaterbacking but I expressed this concern in the offseason.

All that said, at this point Reimold should have stayed. He's not hitting for much power and not hitting the ball very hard at this point but he was hitting no worse than Luke Scott and the odds were that he was going to turn it around eventually. The O's cast the die with Reimold, now they should have stuck with him.

Compounding the move is the recall of Corey Patterson. Patterson was (and is) a superior defender but is an offensive black hole. But because he is fast, Dave Trembley will do stupid things like bat him leadoff. Like he did tonight. The first night Patterson was up with the big club.

The bright side? I don't think Reimold will be gone for long. If nothing else, he will force his way back to Baltimore in June and bump Lou Montanez back to AAA. It can't come a moment too soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nestor Smells Blood, Looks to Capitialize...Again

Nestor Aparicio is dusting off one of his old ideas..."Free the Birds". God help us all.

People have been asking me all week, “What’s the problem with the Orioles?” This is a recurring civic question that I’ve known the correct answer to for about a decade. It’s the only “variable” that has remained consistent in Baltimore baseball since 1993. The problem with the Orioles has been, is and will be — until he dies or sells the team – Peter G. Angelos.

Yeah, sure. Angelos is the only problem.

I didn’t need a 1-11 start and the first sniff of a simmering feud with Cal Ripken to know the gospel truth about the Orioles or any business in America in 2010. It starts at the top.

You absolutely needed this. That's why you're trolling for Free the Birds now.

In 2009, when the team got off to a good start and there was a general sense of optimism surrounding the young guys, there was no Free the Birds talk. There was no demand and no traction. Now, 2-14 has given you a little panic, a little anger and a way for you to get some attention.

I run a business. I spend all day, every day talking to fellow business owners. Peter Angelos has been very, very consistent in how he’s run not only the Orioles, but his law firm as well.

Yes. You run your businesses in similar manners.

Anyone who even implies that Andy MacPhail is “in charge” is just stupid and hasn’t been paying attention.

Wow, what a persuasive argument.

As far as I can tell, Andy MacPhail is fully in charge of baseball operations in Baltimore. Why do I say that? Because I saw how things were run before MacPhail got here.

The biggest crime Peter Angelos has committed against the Oriole fan base was to let the farm system die. Sure, it was on its way down before he got here but Angelos delivered the killing blows. (It wasn't his meddling or not putting "Baltimore" on the away jerseys or not being "sensitive to the fans".)

As soon as MacPhail took over, player development became a huge focus. I haven't seen the farm system look this good in 20 years. Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Brad Bergesen are already here and Josh Bell, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brandon Snyder and more are still behind them. There is hope from within for the first time in decades and MacPhail deserves some credit.

Oh wait, I'm just stupid and not paying attention.

Lots of facts backing up that assertion, Nestor. Angelos is the bogeyman.

But at some point the people who are Angelos’ customers – current, former and future (and we’re ALL customers when you consider the MASN cable television revenue he’s siphoning from every household in the state) will rise up and speak up. We did this back in 2006 and, trust me, he heard our message. We called it “Free The Birds” – and it was designed to create awareness of the plight of the downtown business district more than it was a “protest.”

Not really a protest? From a WNST press release in 2007:

Aparicio and his staff led more than 2,000 fans into and out of Oriole Park at Camden Yards last September 21st, a “Free The Birds” protest rally designed to bring to light the plight of Orioles fans everywhere...

This is a fact: the Orioles are making more money than they’ve ever made — upward of $40 million MORE in profit in 2010 — while the stadium and the city sit empty every night and the team loses 100 games per year.

Ironically, this is the kind of panic thinking that Angelos has been guilty of in the past. The team's losing? Quick, throw a bunch of money at a collection of aging mediocrities to help sell tickets!

Ironically, this is just another piece of evidence that Angelos is not meddling in what MacPhail is building.

Andy MacPhail knew this team needed to be blown up, veterans traded, payroll cut and the farm system replenished. So he did it.

There is a cost in the short term to build the team for the long term.

While the money has been flooding in on the MASN television side — money that was earmarked to be re-invested in the payroll — the team continues to pocket it, lose games and Angelos has zero accountability and takes no responsibility for the bush-league tactics of his franchise – on and off the field, year after year.

The team took on $33 million worth of talent this offseason. I don't agree with all those moves but they did spend some money. They could have (and maybe should have, in my opinion) gone cheap and left Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada alone and gone with AAA guys.

They took that MASN money and spent it. You can argue whether is was spent wisely.

So where to lay the “blame” or “accountability” for a franchise that for 13 years can’t get out of its own way? To my mind, it’s certainly not Andy MacPhail, who told me two summers: “I just do what I’m told.”

I love when professional guys make typos.

MacPhail, who I’ll write about later in the week, is a MLB-approved corporate puppet who is surrounded by co-workers dressed as media members who defend him and deflect criticism elsewhere when things go wrong on the field. why are you worried about MacPhail at all? You've already asserted that he's not in charge. If he actually WAS a "MLB-approved corporate puppet", what difference would it make? Peter Angelos is running every aspect of this show. You said so yourself.

Trembley’s getting fired at some point soon – we all know that – it’s just a matter of when and what poor S.O.B. will replace him.

I'm not about to claim that Dave Trembley will remain the skipper for Baltimore until the season is over but it's been 18 days since this post was written and Trembley still has his job and the Orioles have won 6 of their last 11.

So, today, in reigniting the Free The Birds 2010 movement, we’re trying to find the other disgruntled baseball fans who still care enough about the Orioles and Baltimore to speak up and have their voices heard on the future of baseball here and in the downtown area.

That’s all “Free The Birds” was ever designed to do – create awareness that all of those empty green seats are angry “invisible” former Orioles fans who would gladly come back if the franchise and its ownership had a true commitment to winning and a partnership with the community.
No, all "Free the Birds" was ever designed to do is to create cheap publicity for your radio station and help you settle petty personal grudges. Let's not kid ourselves.

Those disgruntled fans? They're already making their voices silence. Those empty green seats that you refer to are far more persuasive than your publicity stunt will ever be. they're voting with their wallets...and money talks.

And I know what a bunch of cowards and frauds most of the politicians and “business leaders” are here in Baltimore.
I don't even understand this non sequitur. Nestor doesn't explain further...just calls them names and moves on. Inside joke between him and the "cowards"?

How in the world the Orioles could be this dreadful for this long and have NO ONE stand up and call “Bul&*%$t” on this ownership group is beyond belief?

See the above comment about the empty seats.

I LIVE HERE. I see it every single night and have for the seven years I’ve lived downtown.

Me me me me me.

My anger and disappointment of late has been directed more toward the people who defend these past 13 years of losing, somehow vilifying me and WNST for caring so much and having no idea of the harm it’s done our community – psychologically and economically, especially to the downtown area.

Nobody defends the 13 years of losing. Those are the voices in your head. This is the criticism I have for you Nestor; You can't tell the difference between 2003 and now.

By the way, are the Orioles responsible for the economic well-being of the entire downtown area? If they were winning, would downtown Baltimore be a recession free zone?

How many times will Angelos continue to lie to the community before someone realizes HE’S the problem?

I'm lost. With all the Angleos has done, what's he lying about? There is no further information.

I’ve never lost a game for the Orioles or caused them to lose. I haven’t chased away two million fans per year. I’ve simply said what’s happened is unacceptable and I’ve not been shy about using my platform to preach the truth. (Don’t expect to hear that today on the Scott Garceau Show, by the way…)

Me me me me me.

My beef and message remains consistent for Peter G. Angelos and the stewards of the Orioles: “Do right by the community, field a team we can be proud of and listen to your customers and fans. Be accountable and be community-oriented.”

I think if the team just wins, people will come back. The other stuff is extraneous.

The time has come for us to reunite as one and say “Enough is enough!”

Are you and your horde demanding that Peter Angelos sell the team or die? That is your self-described solution for the franchise.

This is a call-to-arms to all real Orioles fans who are nauseated by this consistent track of lying, losing and making obscene amounts of money off of the goodwill of the people of Baltimore and three generations of Orioles fans who are once again angry at a dismal start to the season.

I guess if you don't answer the call you're not a "real" fan. That's not too insulting.

Four years later nothing has changed about Peter Angelos and his Orioles.

So what good did the first protest do?

Given WNST's ratings, even if all their daily listeners showed up, they would only fill half the stadium.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Gauntlet is Run...How'd the Orioles Do?

The 12-game stretch against the Yanks and the Sox has been pointed to even before the season began. I highlighted this stretch a couple weeks ago saying that it was do or die time for the Orioles. After that brutal schedule, how did Baltimore do?

Over the 12-games:


BAL .276 .342 .436 .778 80 39 15 3 5

A .778 OPS would be good for 5th in the AL if it would stretch over the full season. The blame is falling on the offense lately but that's wrong. It's been respectable. If the team had hit like this all season, they would have won more than 7 games.


BAL 5.4 4.0 1.7 4.84 5 3

The pitching was not good. The walks were up, the strikeouts were down and the 4.84 ERA would only be good for 12th in the AL if they had pitched that way all season. Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez are the main culprits.

Given how everything went, the team was lucky to come away with a 5-7 record. After the sweep of the Red Sox, it was a little disappointing not to win one from the Yanks to go .500 for the trip but winning 5 was respectable. It wasn't pretty but given how they gutted out the wins, I'd have to call this a successful run.

The rest of the schedule for May is a cakewalk compared how the season has looked up to this point. The Twins (sans Joe Mauer), Royals, Indians, Mariners, Rangers, Nats, A's and Blue Jays make up the the opponents until June. Time for the Orioles to start winning. Now.

Lineup Solutions: Luke Scott vs. Hideki Matsui

As the Oriole offense stumbles along, solutions and Monday morning quarterbacking reign in the world of Twitter. One person wondered how much better the offense would be if Baltimore had not signed Garrett Atkins, traded Luke Scott and signed Hideki Matsui instead.

We pretty much agreed on Atkins so the debate became Scott vs. Matsui as primary DH heading into 2010.

Here's some background numbers:

Salary for 2010:

Luke Scott: $4.05 mil
Hideki Matsui: $6.00 mil

Slash Lines for last 3 Seasons:

Scott .257/.342/.486
Matsui .284/.368/.479

ISO for Last 3 Seasons:

Scott .230
Matsui .196

Below are graphs showing Scott's and Matsui's monthly OPS compared to their averages over that span to demonstrate their "streakiness". First, here's Scott:

And here's Matsui's:

Scott's Standard Deviation: .206
Matsui's Standard Deviation: .146

So, Matsui is a slightly more well-rounded hitter, getting more out of his batting averge than Scott. He also is less streaky but his Standard Deviation is only 60 points of OPS deviation different than Scott. Not sure it's that significant but it's a point in his favor.

Scott is just as patient, has more power, is cheaper, younger and can still play the field. (Matsui is an absolute butcher in the outfield; Scott is, at his worst, adequate.

Going into 2010, you could point to Matsui as the slightly better all-around bat but he loses in every other category. Matsui may be the better hitter but Scott is a better ballplayer.

While Scott's streakiness is maddening, he's also a very good bet to turn it around before the end of the season. I would still assume that Scott will give the O's more in terms of WAR that Matsui gives the Angels by season's end. (ZIPS projections for the rest of the season seem to back this up with Scott projected to OPS .788 the rest of the way.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Repercussions of the Sweep

As much fun as it was to watch the Oriole sweep of the Red Sox, it is almost as much fun watching the aftermath in New England. Here's a taste:

Eric Wilbur - Boston Globe: O What A Disaster

There are worse things in baseball than getting swept by the Orioles,, actually that's it. Getting swept by the Orioles is the worst thing in baseball. There....

After watching this team for the past 30 days, anyone who thinks they can make a run at the American League East without either making drastic moves or drinking from the Fountain of Youth (provided it is MWRA approved) is driving the optimistic train to la-la land. Run prevention has become a bigger joke than "Where would we play Willie McGee?"

...Perhaps that's a portion of the reason that you can inexplicably find tickets for this week against the Angels for as little as $6 on StubHub - even more surprising, $6 standing room seats for John Lackey's first start against his former club. Still, isn't that telling all the same?

Tony Massorotti -The Boston Globe: Sox Succeeding Only to Keep It Close

The Red Sox already have lost twice as many games to the wretched Baltimore Orioles as they did all of last season, dropping the third and final game yesterday in a weekend sweep at the hands of the worst team in baseball.

It’s starting to feel like this could be a long summah – and the Sox know it.

"It doesn’t get any easier. Everyone thought Baltimore was three easy wins, and we got our [behinds] kicked three times," second baseman Dustin Pedroia told reporters after yesterday’s loss.

Boston Dirt Dogs - The Boston Globe: Widespread Panic

Sox Swept in the Place Formerly Known as Fenway South, A Nation Prepares to Throw in the Towel on 2010...Getting Swept in Baltimore Is Inexcusable and Unforgivable.

John Tomase - Boston Herald: Big Changes Looming After Sox Swept By Lowly O's

The Red Sox are a dysfunctional mess. Victor Martinez can’t hit to save his life. Beltre keeps making poor plays defensively and has become a free-swinging singles hitter. Mike Lowell is struggling to find a groove while playing sporadically. Jacoby Ellsbury [stats]’s injury and absence have killed them.

A month has gone by, and it is clear that things have to change for the Red Sox to start winning. Is it as simple as waiting for Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury to return?

Or is something bigger needed?

One thing this team could stand to add is home-run power. Well, there's a slugger on fire in the minor leagues that just might be ready. That's none other than Lars Anderson, who slogged through a poor 2009 at Double-A before tearing the level apart this season and getting a promotion to Triple-A.

...Want home runs but don't think Anderson or Reddick is the solution? Perhaps Chris Davis is.

Speaking of looking outside the Red Sox organization ...

...Is the Red Sox' future designated hitter currently cranking home runs in Washington (Adam Dunn)?

...Or could a ex-Boston left fielder assured of making the Hall of Fame and still ripping the cover off the ball make a return to town? Paging Manny Being Manny.

(This is my favorite. Brunell is a tool who has written about Baltimore derisively and arrogantly viewed them as a Sox farm team (especially when he hungrily eyed young Nick Markakis). I love watching him flail for solutions like Chris Davis, Manny Ramirez and rushing young prospects to try to save an lost season. Good stuff.)

Tides vs. G-Braves: 4/29/2010

It was a gorgeous spring evening in Lawrenceville, GA as the Tides took on the Gwinnett Braves. If only the promotion for the evening hadn't been a thunderstix giveaway, the evening would have been perfect. OK, maybe if the Tides had not lost 6-1, it would have been perfect.

Starting pitcher and top pitching prospect Jake Arrieta battled wildness during Thursday night's loss but was still able to turn in a quality start going 6 innings and giving up three earned runs, all on a three-run homer to G-Braves RF Mitch Jones.

Arrieta cruised for the first three innings, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters, surrendering only a walk to G-Braves 1B (and top prospect) Freddie Freeman. In the 4th, he then gave up a blooper to left center, a sharply hit grounder to right and the three-run Jones homer.

Arrieta was working deep into counts most of the night and walked 4 batters on the night but still had the stuff to pitch out of trouble and struck out 4 as well. His fastball sat at 89-91 but he hit 94 several times. He works under control, doesn't overthrow but can reach back for extra when he needs to. He mixed in a slider in the mid-80's and an occasional curveball in the high-70's.

Arrieta was visibly frustrated with his control at times. But really, Arrieta pitched OK. He only gave up two solid hits (the sharp grounder and three-run homer, both in the 4th inning) and was able to pitch around the walks and errors. Even with the loss, Arrieta has only a 1.16 ERA over 5 International League starts.

The offense was another story. G-Braves starter Chris Resop, a journeyman pitcher, was wild as well but managed to strike out 8 Tides batters over his 6 innings of work. The Tides twice loaded the bases on Resop as he walked five and threw a wild pitch but Resop was always able to work out of the jams with minimal damage. Tides 3B Scott Moore's RBI single in the 3rd was the only run allowed by Braves pitching.

More player notes:

SS Robert Andino - Whenever a player is sent back to the minors, you would like to think it won't affect his attitude. In Andino's case, it looks like it has. I am not normally one to jump on players for not trying or not hustling when they are playing poorly but Andino barely looked interested. He failed to run hard on a groundout to short even though he certainly had a fair chance of making it to first safely (if the throw wasn't perfect) and made no effort to throw to first to complete a double-play later in the game. Both those plays were makeable but Andino just didn't make the extra effort. (OF Jeff Salazar, in stark contrast, ran hard on similar groundball to short.) He misplayed a flare that dropped for a hit in the 4th and made a throwing error in the 8th that seem to be extensions of the general lack of focus on defense that he displayed in Spring Training. It's just one game but I don't want to see him back in Baltimore. I'm not sure I even want to see him in Norfolk.

C Adam Donachie - Long time readers know that I have liked Donachie ever since the Orioles picked him in the Rule 5 draft in 2007. He didn't stick with the team that time but was signed by the O's later on. He works hard behind the plate, seems to have a good rapport with the pitchers and, on the rare occasion that he hits the ball, hits it hard. Donachie will never be a good major league starter but I think he could be a very good backup, a defense-first backstop with some power. I don't think he would be any worse than Craig Tatum and Tatum has found major league work.

1B Brandon Snyder - Snyder has not had a great start at Norfolk but it doesn't seem to be making him desperate. His approach is still good, he works the count and drew three walks on Thursday.

OF Corey Patterson - For the first time since the end of 2007, Patterson is back in the Oriole organization. He's not hitting much so far but was playing his signature stellar defense in rightfield last night and made3 a nice play on a foul ball down the rightfield line.

RP Pedro Viola - It's easy to see why the Orioles took a flyer on Pedro Viola and claimed him off waivers from the Reds earlier this month. The lefty reliever's fastball was sitting at 92-94 and hitting 97 on a regular basis. That kind of left arm doesn't grow on trees. Unfortunately, he didn't know where it was going last night as he gave up 2 hits, a walk and a run in just one inning pitched. If they can get him straightened out, he'll be nasty. When that fastball is over the plate, nobody can hit it.