Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blogger on Blogger with Matt Vensel

Blogger on Blogger: Where I answer some questions for BaltimoreSun.com's Matt Vensel or the worst YouPorn category ever? You decide!

This Week in Chat - 6/27/11

Hello there.

My TWiC entry for the week is up over here at Camden Depot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Week in Chat - 6/21/2011

Hello, again.

If you liked the "This Week in Chat" recaps I had been doing this season, I have started posting them with Camden Depot over at the ESPN Sweetspot blog. Here's the link to this week's rundown.

More on this space soon, I promise...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Guest Blogging for MASN.com Again

Hi! You miss me?

Well, you didn't have to. I was guest posting over at the Oriole Buzz blog on MASNSports.com this week and never had a chance to let anyone know. But there's a week's worth of posts over here.

Back to regularly scheduled programming next week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

2011 MLB Amateur Draft: For the Orioles, It's Got to be Cole

For most of last season, it appeared that the Orioles would have the first pick in the 2011 Amateur Draft and that Anthony Rendonwould be their third basemen of the future. As the end of the season neared, the Orioles seemed assured of the second pick, at least, and that if they didn't get Rendon, they would certainly get UCLA stud pitcher Gerrit Cole. But they kept playing well and ended up at #4. Nobody knew what to expect with the #4 pick.

But if you had told those draft saavy Oriole fans that Baltimore would still have a chance to get Gerrit Cole with the #4 pick, they would have been pretty happy about that.

And now, that just might happen.

I would love to have Rendon in the organization, assuming his medicals are good but he's not going to slip that far down. However, there is word that Cole might.

With the ascendancy of other pitchers in 2011, UVA lefty Danny Hultzen, UCLA hurler Trevor Bauer and Oklahoma high school wunderkind Dylan Bundy are all putting themselves in the conversation among the first three picks. So there are scenarios in which Cole could fall into the Orioles' lap.

And if that happens, they have to take him. He was the best pitcher coming into the season and I really don't think anyone else has unseated him. There are many devotees of Bundy among the Oriole fan base (whose brother Bobby is already pitching in the org for Frederick) but I'm sorry, I don't think he's better yet. Bundy is reportedly very polished for a high school pitcher but he's not more polished than Cole.

Don't get me wrong. Unlike last year when I would have been very disappointed if Baltimore had not signed Manny Machado, I don't think the O's can go wrong with any the talent available at #4. Bundy would be awesome. Hultzen would be an amazing lefty to pair with Brian Matusz and Zach Britton and would have a fast track to the majors. And there are other college arms who are intriguing.

But in the unlikely event that Cole slips....Baltimore has to pounce.

(I'll be on vacation next week, hence the early post on the draft. See you in 10 days or so when I do another round of guest posting for MASNsports.com.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vlad is Teflon. There's Nothing to be Done

In Vlad's dreams, Father Time takes the shape of a large parrot...
I was going to say that this post was not me picking on PressBoxOnline.com Oriole beat reporter Matt Palmer. But that would be disingenuous. I am totally going to pick on him to make a larger point.

Matt decided to give grades to various facets of the team for their performance up to the end of May. Here's a sample.

Grade: C-

...Hardy missed most of April with an intercostal strain, but in 25 games, has not made an error. Offensively, he's been decent, batting .234 with 12 runs driven in and nine runs scored.

Reynolds is no better now than he was when he arrived with the Orioles. He is batting .198 and has struck out 52 times, good for nearly one per game. At this pace, he'll miss .200 for the first time since 2007. Still, he has just seven home runs. If that's his bread and butter and that's not happening, something's wrong. His on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages are at career lows. He has nine errors and is halfway to the number he had last year...

Now, if we're just going to cite batting averages, hitting .234 is not "decent". Cesar Izturis hit .230 last season. But Hardy is up to .250 and will likely hit better so that's just nitpicking on my part.

And he is not at all wrong about Mark Reynolds. All those thing are absolutely true. Remember them.

Designated Hitter
Grade: B+

For the most part, the Orioles are getting what they expected out of Vladimir Guerrero. He has 23 RBIs with five home runs, so his power abilities are starting to diminish just a bit. Still, he changes the lineup's dynamics just by his mere presence. He leads the team in batting average (.295) and hits (61). The question remains, how long will he be in Baltimore? He's going to be attractive to American League teams with playoff hopes next month.

Let's take this line by line. Getting what they expected out of Guerrero? He is on a pace for 15 home runs so far. 15. Vlad has never hit fewer than 25 over a full season. That is NOT what the Orioles expected out of Vlad. His "power abilities are starting to diminish"? They've diminished! They're gone!

And there it is. Let's let this phrase lie for a second:

"Still, he changes the lineup's dynamics just by his mere presence."

Oh, it's OK then. Because Vlad is magic.

I am beginning to believe that Vlad is magic. He is able to make his poor performance look attractive to a whole lot of fans and media.

And how has this change in dynamic helped the club? This is one of the worst scoring teams in the American League. Only Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland are worse. (And we see how our offense stacks up against Oakland and Seattle in their home parks.) Vlad Guerrero is not a talisman. He's a washed-up hitter. Period.

And he is NOT going to look attractive to AL teams with playoff hopes. He stinks. Let's apply this phrase written about Reynolds to Guerrero.

Still, he has just (five) home runs. If that's his bread and butter and that's not happening, something's wrong. His on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages are at career lows.

All of the above statements are as true about Vlad as they are about Reynolds. Hell, Reynolds isn't even hitting that much worse than Vlad at this point. (.307 wOBA for Reynolds, .315 wOBA for Guerrero.)

And Guerrero gets a B+. It's just unbelievable.

Matt's not alone is his assessment. Many people think Vlad is having a fine season and is just peachy. It's the great Orange and Black swindle of 2011.

The Obligatory Nolan Reimold Post

Reimold in Norfolk...for the last time...
I haven't written about Nolan Reimold since his recall from Norfolk nearly two weeks ago which may seem odd since I kept the "Reimold in Exile" vigil on Twitter for 53 straight days.

Mostly, it's been because I had mixed feelings about the call up. Reimold was only called up due to injuries to other players and, after some struggles in AAA, Reimold was finally hitting his stride in Norfolk and I was afraid that he would ride the bench in Baltimore and not get enough at bats to help his development or help the team.

Those fears have turned out to be unfounded. Reimold has gotten plenty of ABs which is all I was wanting for the guy. Failure or success, I wanted Reimold to get his playing time in the majors. Not because he "deserved" it (which is such a nebulous concept anyway) but because it was best for the team to find out what he was and what he could be.

The fact that he has started so well is great. But mostly it's great that he is helping the team and it will help him get more playing time going forward. There is no vindication for me. Not yet.

(Of course, I think that even with the limited sample we have here, it is apparent that Reimold absolutely has the potential to be a good major leaguer. It was incredibly frustrating to see him dismissed by those who gave him absolutely no credit for 2009 but chose instead chose to judge him from 6 weeks of at bats in 2010. So I lied. There's a little vindication here.)

I mean, I saw how he played in 2009. I know he was not fully healthy last year. I know that a young hitter with good patience and good power has a fair shot at being successful in the major leagues. His .357/.455/.714 line through his first 10 games is not at all surprising to me. He's a good hitter. He won't hit like that all the time obviously but he's going to have stretches where he does.

I was just hoping he would get a good 400 plate appearances this season. I'm hoping the hit start will get him those chances and we can see how much (or little) he could help the team in 2012. When Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee are long gone.