Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm liking the potential for next season...and the rest of this season

I honestly think the O's could finish .500 this year, although that isn't incredibly important. What's important is that they prepare for next season to really compete from start to finish. On offense, that means developing Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold into solid hitters and getting them comfortable in the big leagues. It also might mean giving Brandon Snyder a call up to see if he could be the O's everyday first basemen next season. He's hitting .342 with 9 HRs and 38 RBI's for AA Bowie.

With Jeremy Guthrie finally starting to return to form, the Orioles need to determine who could fill out the remaining 4 spots in next year's rotation. They don't need to know exactly, but they should have 3 or 4 starters set and a good competition for the last couple spots (that means no Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, John Parrish, or Brad Hennessey). The O's need to give David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Jason Berken prove which of them are legit back-end starters and which need to move to the bullpen. That leaves Rich Hill and more elite prospects like Chris Tillman, who is 5-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 8 starts for AAA (44 Ks in 38 IP) to compete for the front end jobs. Tillman should earn a callup sometime after the All Star break unless the current rotation exceeds more than expected. Troy Patton (6-1, 1.75 ERA in 9 starts for AA) and Jake Arrieta (4-3, 2.98 ERA, 56 K/45 IP in 9 starts for AA), also considered higher prospects, should also get chances after the All Star break or in September.

The Orioles have to make some big decisions. Aubrey Huff's contract ends after this season. They could trade him and get a few good prospects, or if they believe they can compete, resign him. I don't see the O's keeping Melvin Mora, so they could potentially move him to 3B to make room for Snyder, or move Huff back to DH. Huff has proven to be consistent and I wouldn't mind seeing him back in an Orioles uniform.

Reimold appears to have earned the left field spot. I think he will be a .270 hitter with 20-25 home runs (think Luke Scott). He's a valuable switch hitter. Scott has also proved in this ridiculous stretch that he is a hitter. I think they should keep him as their DH. That leaves Felix Pie out of room, and I think it's time to cut him loose. He really isn't needed at this point, even if he does have potential. Lou Montanez could easily replace him as the backup outfielder when he returns from his injury.

If the O's pitching prospects live up to their hype, they may have more than 5 major league starters. That could mean moving Koji Uehara to the bullpen. I would agree with that move, as Uehara has struggled after the fifth inning. I think the rotation will look something like: Guthrie, Hill, Tillman, Patton, and a competition between Arrieta, Bergesen, Berken, and Hernandez. I think Bergesen could be an upgrade over Hendrickson as long reliever and Hernandez an upgrade over Matt Albers in the bullpen.

Jamie Walker needs to be released. He is a left handed specialist but lefties are hitting over .400 against him. All he does is come into the game and face one batter, and it's almost 50-50 whether he gets them out. This is his last year in his contract, and the O's would lose $2-3 million, but they could give his roster spot to someone who really deserves it, like Wilfrido Perez, the closer for AA. He has a 0.92 ERA in 17 games, striking out 24 in 19 2/3 innings and earning 7 saves.

Ty Wigginton should be traded, possibly to the Mets, who need a first basemen. He was signed because he normally crushed left handed hitters, but he's hitting like .210 against them with absolutely no power. He's just keeping Scott and Reimold from getting at bats. He's only worth keeping if they trade Huff.

If all goes right, I could see the O's making the playoffs next season. Even if not everything goes right, I could still see them making the playoffs. An outfield combination of Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis could have 80 HRs and 300 RBIs. Throw in Luke Scott. Add a rotation that can actually get people out. This streak might come to an end.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No, you are not mistaken

I am about to post. Why? Because there is actually stuff happening. Nolan Reimold has 4 home runs and 9 RBIs with a .264 average in 13 games compared to Felix Pie and Lou Montanez, who hit 2 home runs and 10 RBIs with a .199 AVG in a combined 53 games. And then of course Matt Wieters is coming up to replace the Gregg Zaun/Chad Moeller duo that's combined to hit .210 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, along with Reimold, are now making up one of the best outfields in baseball. We're also starting to see some new pitchers, like Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, and David Hernandez, who aren't even the Orioles' elite prospects. They have done pretty well, and are a huge improvement over Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson. Rich Hill, despite his poor start today, has also been a pleasant surprise.

The Orioles have been winning some legit games lately, and although they probably won't be able to compete this year, I am starting to think that they are piecing things together. Now if they can only find a way to trade Ty "can't hit right handed or left handed pitchers" Wigginton and Jamie "only pitch to one batter" Walker, I might start blogging again. But for now, we're off to a good start.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Giving Up

Today I saw a stat on yahoo. Using some sort of statistical program, the probability that the Orioles would make the playoffs was 3.5%. That's down from 7.8% last week, and the figure has consistently dropped. Despite a nice win tonight (big time production from my Roberts-Markakis fantasy duo), the O's are sitting at 10-16 and 4-14 in their last 18. Toronto is still looking strong despite pitching injuries, the Red Sox are returning to dominant form, and New York and Tampa Bay are working their way back up.

Therefore, I have decided to officially give up on the 2009 season. That's right. I'm calling it quits. I'm actually quite concerned about their future as well. Felix Pie hasn't worked out, Lou Montanez isn't stepping it up, and Nolan Reimold is solid in AAA but no Nick Markakis. The pitching is a mess, as well as the bottom third of the lineup. They are stuck with unnecessary and underperforming veterans who are blocking the path for their prospects.

Well, I'll still plan on keeping occasional tabs and post here and there, but I can only take so much. Peace out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I hate to give up guys, but I think the O's are done for 2009. I don't see how the pitching will hold out. Don't read too much into Adam Eaton's last start, and the bullpen has a lot of issues as well, even with the resurgences of Danys Baez and Brian Bass. Here are some interesting things to be thinking about the next few weeks:

1. Left Field. Felix Pie is hitting in the .220s with no power, no plate discipline, and trouble on defense. I think he still needs some more time, at least until mid-May to start showing progress. But Lou Montanez is already up with Ryan Freel injured, and although he's struggled in his first 15 at bats, might compete at some point. Don't forget Nolan Reimold in AAA, where he's dominating and possibly earning himself a callup after the All-Star Break. And then there's even Luke Scott, who has been getting more playing time in left field than anyone expected him to get.

2. Trades. Danys Baez is making himself tradeable to a contending team, which is all the O's can unofficially hope for. Jamie Walker is not doing as well. But hopefully, the O's will be able to move both players and give a chance to some young relievers like Kam Mickolio, Bob McCrory, Jim Miller, Wilfrido Perez, and James Hoey. Both Baez and Walker are gone after this year. On the same note, Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora are in similar situations, but the O's could choose to keep them next year if they felt they didn't have younger options. So depending on the development of Brandon Snyder, Billy Rowell, and Scott Moore, the O's should look to trade these two if possible. I really think the O's can compete next year, and they should be looking to add some finishing touches to their minor league system (shortstop, pitchers). Ryan Freel needs to be traded ASAP. My personal #1 trade target is 3B/SS Brandon Wood on the Angels, who don't have room for him.

3. Prospects. When will Matt Wieters be up? Gregg Zaun is hitting about .100. I'm guessing that the O's will allow Wieters to recover from his recent injury, give him a week or two, and we'll see him by mid-May, and maybe Rich Hill will come with him. Also be on the lookout for David Hernandez or Troy Patton to get a callup when the rotation continues to struggle. Reimold and Chris Tillman should get a shot with Snyder after the break. There's still reason to be excited about the O's.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So much for 6-2

Now the O's are 6-6 and the starting pitching is as bad as we first thought. Adam Eaton will probably give up a run per inning, Alfredo Simon, a home run per inning (plus he's injured), and Mark Hendrickson is an average long reliever starting in the toughest division in baseball. Luckily, the O's are bringing up Brad Bergesen. I'm cautious, because he reminds me of Brian Burres and Josh Towers with his below-average fastball. Hopefully Eaton will be gone soon and they give a shot to David Hernandez.

The Orioles top 3 hitters (Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis) are looking legit, and could each score 100 runs this year. The middle 3 (Aubrey Huff and a combination of Melvin Mora, Ty Wigginton, and Luke Scott) is looking pretty decent as well, even with Mora injured. The bottom 3, however is looking pathetic (Gregg Zaun, Felix Pie/Ryan Freel, and Cesar Izturis). They are all hitting less than .200 and have no power. Robby Andino and Chad Moeller have been solid backups. Freel has not and is complaining about his playing time (that should be a hint for the O's to trade him).

A quick Hayden Penn update: in 4 games with the Marlins, he's thrown 6 scoreless innings, striking out 5 while allowing 5 hits and 2 walks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Orioles are 6-2, but with room for improvement

The O's managed to win in extra innings tonight with an Adam Jones home run against the Rangers. The bullpen pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings after starter Alfredo Simon left with an elbow injury. George Sherrill gave hits to the first 4 batters with a 7-3 lead in the 10th, but managed to pull away with a 7-5 win. That leaves them at a surprising 6-2 record, with a prolific offense, but a lot of other problems.

1. The starting rotation is as bad as expected. The only relief has been Jeremy Guthrie's return to his normal reliable self. Koji Uehara has been decent, as expected, and Hendrickson, a temporary solution, has done well in his first start. Alfredo Simon has given up 5 or 6 home runs in 6+ innings and left with an injury. You can't have a batting practice pitcher as your #3 guy. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go on the DL or go down to the minors soon. Adam Eaton needs to be released, period. Hayden Penn should've got that last spot.

2. The bullpen, which was supposed to be a strength, has been awful. George Sherrill has had some scary final innings. Chris Ray has been hit hard, as has James Johnson. Brian Bass has been the worst; he probably should be released as well.

3. Ryan Freel has no place on this team. They already have Felix Pie, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, plus Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton. He will not get enough at bats (he's 0 for 7 so far) and will just strike out a lot. Once Melvin Mora comes back, it will get worse. The O's should trade him.

4. Felix Pie needs to work on his defense. Everyone is talking about his troubles in left field and his apparent lack of instinct. If he can't play defense, his offense isn't enough to warrant a starting spot.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

O's nearly collapse, but still beat Yankees, 7-5

Dennis Sarfate got the first out of the ninth inning, then walked Nick Swisher as the O's led 7-2. He got the second out before giving up a 2 run home run to Derek Jeter. Dave Trembley made the exact same mistake he did Opening Day when he left Chris Ray in too long, and did it against the same batters. Johnny Damon, a lefty was at the plate, with Mark Teixeira, a switch hitter, and Hideki Matsui, another lefty up next. The obvious move is to put in left-handed closer George Sherrill to get the last out, just like he should have inserted Jamie Walker on Monday. But he didn't and Sarfate gave up 2 more runs before Sherrill came in and barely saved the game.

Still it was a nice start for Koji Uehara, who got his first MLB win with 5 innings, allowing 1 run. He surprisingly had no strikeouts, but only walked 1. Nick Markakis was 3 for 3 with a single, RBI double, 2 run home run, and a walk.

Aubrey Huff and Brian Roberts were both picked off, Roberts for the second game in a row. Baserunning and coaching mistakes are killers and very frustrating, and the O's won't improve on their 2-0 record until they fix that. But their offense has been excellent so far and probably should be pretty good this season. Their first 2 starters have been effective, it's the other 3 we're all worried about.

Monday, April 6, 2009

O's win 10-5 on Opening Day

Jeremy Guthrie looked a lot better than he had all spring, and the O's still almost blew his 5 run lead. He finally got a lucky win, as the O's played very well and drilled CC Sabathia, who happens to be on my fantasy team. Oh well, I'll take one for the team.

Cesar Izturis really impressed me. He not only hit a rare home run to pull the O's way ahead, he made a very aware play on defense. With Xavier Nady on second base, Derek Jeter hit a grounder back up the middle. Izturis made a diving play to stop the ball as it crept into the outfield, then noticed that Nady had rounded third base, assuming that the ball would get through. He threw the ball to Melvin Mora and Nady was tagged out. He will be a big upgrade over last year.

I also liked how Adam Jones tried to bunt a couple of times. It shows more confidence in his speed, and it forced the defense to play in, which allowed him to get an extra hit. He finished 3 for 3 with 2 walks, 3 runs, and 2 RBIs.

One thing I didn't understand: Dave Trembley brought in Chris Ray in the 7th inning to face Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, and Hideki Matsui. Damon and Matsui are left-handed and Teixeira is a switch hitter. I don't know why he didn't bring Jamie Walker in and save Ray for the 8th inning. Sure enough, Ray allowed a walk and a 2 run home run before leaving. Bad coaching right there.

Also, Melvin Mora almost gave the Yankees the tying run by not covering third base on a bad bunt by Brett Gardner in the 8th inning. Overall though, the Orioles did well. Mark Teixeira was booed every time his name was announced or he did anything. Koji Uehara makes his debut tommorrow and the O's still have Matt Albers, Danys Baez, and Brian Bass in the bullpen, who can all pitch multiple innings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Minor leaguers to watch this year

1. Matt Wieters, C
He could be called up anytime after April 17, and I'm hoping the sooner better. He has more hype then Markakis did, and that's because he could be the best catcher in the majors as soon as next season.

2. Brad Bergesen, SP
He is a better version of Brian Burres or Josh Towers, not great stuff, but good accuracy. He will be in the rotation by May, when one of the O's starters is really bad or injured.

3. Radhames Liz, RP
The O's converted him into a reliever, and he shouldn't need long to adapt. He could be very good, especially since he only has to throw 1-2 innings, he can throw even harder. He'll come up if a reliever gets hurt or moved to the rotation, or if the O's dump Baez or Walker.

4. Lou Montanez, OF
The O's will stick with Pie as long as he hits .200 and can throw the ball, but they could trade Scott or Freel (who could also get hurt), and Montanez would be the first one up.

Others to watch:
David Hernandez, SP
Kam Mickolio, RP
Nolan Reimold, OF

The final roster...sort of

The 25-man roster is set, sort of. Adam Eaton will not be put on the roster until he is needed to start. The O's will then have to send down someone, probably a pitcher, to make room for him. But here's the team, including Eaton.

Starting Rotation - I picked 3 of the 5 (Guthrie, Uehara, Hendrickson), Pauley and Hill didn't make it, Adam Eaton wasn't around back then

Jeremy Guthrie
Koji Uehara
Alfredo Simon
Mark Hendrickson
Adam Eaton

- I predicted the whole pen, except I chose Wilfrido Perez over Bass

Matt Albers
Brian Bass
Danys Baez
Dennis Sarfate
Jamie Walker
Jim Johnson
Chris Ray
George Sherrill

Lineup -
perfect guessing here

C Greg Zaun
1B Aubrey Huff
2B Brian Roberts
3B Melvin Mora
SS Cesar Izturis
LF Felix Pie
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Luke Scott

- I called this, too, except for Andino, who wasn't with the O's at the time

C Chad Moeller
IF Ty Wigginton
IF Robby Andino
OF Ryan Freel

Disabled List
- not surprised

Rich Hill

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The O's just traded Hayden Penn to the Marlins for one time prospect and backup shortstop Robby Andino. They basically swapped fading prospects, but at least the O's got something. Andino will be the utility man, Chris Gomez was released, and Jolbert Cabrera will be sent to AAA.

Now the O's have to decide who to cut between Adam Eaton and Brian Bass, or potentially Danys Baez. I'm hoping Eaton, but it doesn't really matter all that much to me. Now we get to wait and watch Penn become the next John Maine.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hayden Penn

The O's gave Hayden Penn every opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation or the bullpen, but he came up short every time. He gave up 6 runs today in a 3 2/3 innings start to bring his spring totals to 19 runs in 17 innings. I have a hard time seeing Trembley keeping him, so don't be surprised if you see him designated for assignment. That means any other team could claim him and put him on their 40 man roster. It's unlikely, but possible, that all 29 teams pass on him and the O's get him back and send him to AAA.

Trembley has ruled out Penn and Brian Bass, leaving Mark Hendrickson, Adam Eaton, and Alfredo Simon as the only starters left, implying that they will fill out the last three spots. Trembley only guaranteed Simon's spot, however. It's also a possibility that the O's could go with 4 starters for now and recall Brad Bergesen when the 5th starters' turn comes up. That would allow them to keep an extra man in the bullpen and have a backup shortstop. That actually makes the most sense to me. I say that Eaton should be the one cut (the O's could keep Penn, Bass, and Simon), but it will probably be Penn or Bass that is cut.

In other news, David Pauley was designated for assignment, but passed through waivers and was sent to AAA Norfolk. The Orioles optioned Lou Montanez and Radhames Liz to AAA, and reassigned Scott Moore, Alberto Castillo, Oscar Salazar, and Guillermo Rodriguez to AAA. There are now 29 players left. Chris Gomez and Jolbert Cabrera are fighting for the utility spot, which may not exist if the O's choose to carry an extra pitcher. Chad Moeller and Robby Hammock are battling for the backup catcher role. Hendrickson, Eaton, Bass, and Penn are fighting for the last 2-3 pitching spots. There's an outside chance that Danys Baez could be released to make room for one of them, but I wouldn't count on it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pete and Repeat were in a boat...

Today, it occurred to me that the O's have a tendency of repeating their failures in the exact same way as before. If you look at some of their players close enough, they will start to remind you of former O's who didn't exactly pan out.

Adam Eaton - He was a good young starter who got injured a lot and is basically washed up. Can anyone say Jaret Wright? Wright made a few starts, got injured, and cost the O's $4 million and a relief pitcher, Chris Britton. Eaton might end up costing some young pitchers a spot on the team.

Alfredo Simon - As well as he has pitched this spring and as much as I've been impressed, he is really just Rodrigo Lopez in disguise. He's pitched in the Mexican League most of his career, and now has come to the O's in his late twenties with a low 90's fast ball and some good starts early on. Lopez ended up being a good pitcher for 4-5 years before disappearing.

Hayden Penn - The once top prospect has missed every opportunity he's had to make it to the big leagues. This is his last shot to live up to his previous potential; he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006. Sounds a lot like Matt Riley, once the O's top prospect who finally resurged after 4 years of working his way back. Riley collapsed midway through and is lucky to still have an arm.

Felix Pie - A failed Cubs outfield prospect with lots of speed and lots of strikeouts. No it's not Corey Patterson. I honestly didn't think Patterson was that bad.

Danys Baez - Does anyone remember Steve Kline? He was supposed to be a top-notch reliever, but every Orioles fan hated him. Baez fits pretty well into that category.

Ryan Freel - Run fast. Hustle. Play a lot of positions. Really only a backup. David Newhan.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some thoughts

The Orioles seem to think that they need Chris Gomez or Jolbert Cabrera on their roster "just in case" Cesar Izturis gets hurt. Well how about this, if Izturis gets hurt during the game, put Ryan Freel, Ty Wigginton, or even Brian Roberts or Melvin Mora at short until the game is over, then call up Gomez or someone who can play shortstop after the game. Who would choose Gomez or Cabrera, who will hit less than .250 with all singles, instead of having a real option off the bench like Lou Montanez or Scott Moore (who also could play shortstop if needed), or giving another pitcher a chance to prove himself.

Also, I'd really like to see the O's give Hayden Penn the benefit of the doubt and allow him to pitch, whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen, at least until some of the other young prospects are ready or he proves that he really isn't a major league pitcher. The idea of choosing Mark Hendrickson, Adam Eaton, AND Brian Bass over Penn makes absolutely no sense to me. None of those pitchers will be with the O's after this year, so why invest in them?

A lot of people are upset about Felix Pie making the team over Lou Montanez, and I understand why. Pie has been awful this spring, while Montanez has done all the right things, both this spring and last year. But the truth is, Pie is not the problem. The problem is that the O's came into the spring with 5 solid major league ready outfielders: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Luke Scott, Montanez, and Nolan Reimold. But they traded for Ryan Freel and Pie, and signed Ty Wigginton. I like Wigginton and Freel, but they have no place on a rebuilding team. Pie is a legitimate prospect who deserves a chance this year. But acquiring both Freel and Wigginton (even though I like both of them), cost several players, mostly Montanez and Reimold, a chance to make the team. This is another example of poor Orioles' management. And in all reality, Garrett Olson is starting to sound like a nice option for the rotation. Heck, Daniel Cabrera isn't sounding so bad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This year can't be any worse

Despite my recent pessimism towards the O's 2009 season, I came to the realization today that the O's can't do any worse than they did last year. Let's look through their lineup from last year and compare it to this year.


SP 1 - Jeremy Guthrie (10-12, 3.63 ERA)
SP 2 - Daniel Cabrera (8-10, 5.25)
SP 3 - Garrett Olson + Adam Loewen (9-12, 6.84)
SP 4 - Radhames Liz + Chris Waters (9-11, 5.98)
SP 5 - Brian Burres + Steve Trachsel (12-15, 8.16)
CL - George Sherrill (4.72 ERA, 31 SV)

C - Ramon Hernandez + Gustavo Quiroz (.241 AVG, 17 HR, 79 RBI)
1B - Kevin Millar (.234, 20, 72)
2B - Brian Roberts (.296, 9, 57)
3B - Melvin Mora (.285, 23, 104)
SS - Brandon Fahey + Juan Castro + Freddie Bynum + Alex Cintron + Luis Hernandez (.227, 3, 49)
LF - Luke Scott (.257, 23, 65)
CF - Adam Jones (.270, 9, 57)
RF - Nick Markakis (.306, 20, 87)
DH - Aubrey Huff (.304,32,108)

It's amazing how awful the Orioles were at starting pitcher and shortstop last year. The players this year, while not great, should do an overall better job. I'll make some predictions here, but I'm flexible, so if you disagree, comment on it.


SP 1 - Jeremy Guthrie (12-10, 3.75 ERA)
SP 2 - Koji Uehara (10-10, 4.50)
SP 3 - Mark Hendrickson + Rich Hill (11-9, 4.70)
SP 4 - Adam Eaton + Brad Bergesen (9-12, 5.10)
SP 5 - Hayden Penn (9-11, 5.20)
CL - George Sherrill + Chris Ray (4.20 ERA, 35 SV)

C - Gregg Zaun + Matt Wieters (.265 AVG, 20 HR, 80 RBI)
1B - Aubrey Huff (.290, 25, 90)
2B - Brian Roberts (.295, 10, 60)
3B - Melvin Mora (.275, 15, 75)
SS - Cesar Izturis (.250, 0, 50)
LF - Felix Pie + Ryan Freel (.270, 5, 50)
CF - Adam Jones (.280, 15, 70)
RF - Nick Markakis (.310, 25, 105)
DH - Luke Scott + Ty Wigginton (.265 , 30, 80)

I'm guessing that Hendrickson will start until Hill is ready and that Ray will eventually replace Sherrill as the closer. Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton could be a dangerous platoon because Scott kills right handers and Wigginton does even better against lefties. Adam Jones should improve quite a bit. Even though the team isn't looking great, we should be better off than last year, even with Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora probably dropping off a little.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eight more cuts and a message for Baez

The Orioles told Danys Baez that he would be used as a reliever instead of a starter, meaning that the last three spots are between Hayden Penn, Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, Brian Bass, and Alfredo Simon. I was honestly pretty surprised by this move.

The O's made eight cuts:

SP Brad Hennessey
SP John Parrish
RP Bob McCrory
RP Kam Mickolio - would've liked to see him make the team
RP Chris Waters
2B Justin Turner
2B Donnie Murphy
OF Justin Christian

Matt Wieters is not on that list - but I'm not sure what that means.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finally some answers

The O's are finally making some moves toward their roster and Ali will be glad to hear that Hayden Penn will probably be on it. Trembley announced that David Pauley and Chris Waters are out of the running for a rotation spot and will compete for bullpen spots, although I doubt either of them will make the team. Pauley allowed 24 hits in 11 innings this spring, which suggests that he probably can't get anyone out.

Mark Hendrickson is the only left-hander competing for a spot, so it's safe to say that he'll fall somewhere behind Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara. That leaves Adam Eaton, Brian Bass, and Alfredo Simon to compete with Danys Baez and Penn, who will most likely make the team as relievers even if they fail to earn starting spots.

The backup catcher spot is between Robby Hammock, Chad Moeller, and maybe Guillermo Rodriguez. Matt Wieters, unfortunately, is not going to start the season with the O's. The utility battle is between Chris Gomez and Jolbert Cabrera, which I still think is stupid. I'd rather have Scott Moore anyday.

And Trembley talked about the lineup, which should look something like this

2B Roberts
CF Jones
RF Markakis
1B Huff
3B Mora
DH Scott
C Zaun
SS Izturis
LF Pie

The biggest surprise is Adam Jones batting second and Melvin Mora batting fifth or sixth. Those last three are kind of weak, though. I can't wait for Wieters.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stat Breakdown

The backup catching spot has been narrowed down to the following 3 players:

Robby Hammock (.261 AVG, .292 OBP, .435 SLG, 1 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB)
Guillermo Rodriguez (.091, .091, .364, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB)
Chad Moeller (.056, .150, .056, 1 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB)

The utility infielder spot has been narrowed down to 2 players:

Jolbert Cabrera (.423, .464, .538, 3 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB)
Chris Gomez (.138, .242, .207, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB)

The last three rotation spots have been narrowed down to 6 players:

Alfredo Simon (0 W - 0 L, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 4 IP, 3 K)
Brian Bass (0-0, 2.31, 1.29, 11 2/3 IP, 7 K)
Hayden Penn (0-1, 5.06, 1.59, 10 2/3 IP, 6 K)
Mark Hendrickson (0-2, 5.00, 9 IP, 3 K)
Danys Baez (0-0, 5.54, 1.38, 13 IP, 4 K)
Adam Eaton (0-2, 5.73, 1.55, 11 IP, 7 K)

The last bullpen spot is down to the starters who don't make the rotation and these 6 players:

Kam Mickolio (0-1, 1.80, 0.80, 5 IP, 5 K)
Bob McCrory (1-0, 3.00, 1.22, 9 IP, 9 K)
Alberto Castillo (1-1, 3.60, 1.20, 5 IP, 5 K)
Chris Waters (2-0, 3.12, 1.15, 8 2/3 IP, 6 K)
David Pauley (2-0, 8.18, 2.36, 11 IP, 9 K)
Radhames Liz (1-0, 5.63, 1.50, 8 IP, 6 K)

Spring Training Update #3

The Orioles made their next set of cuts this weeks, surprisingly sending down Brad Bergesen and Andy Mitchell. Bergesen pitched very well this spring and was expected to be a frontrunner for one of the three remaining spots in the rotation. It's still possible that the O's will do with him what they did in Erik Bedard's rookie season, starting him in the minors until its the fifth starter's turn in the rotation. The Orioles released catcher Gustavo Quiroz, which narrows the backup catcher competition to Chad Moeller and Robby Hammock. They also released pitcher Scott Chiason. Outfield prospect Nolan Reimold, who had a great spring with 4 home runs, was cut, simply because the O's are set in the outfield. Wilfrido in Perez was the real surprise cut. He appeared to have a shot in the bullpen after being lights out in spring training. Brandon Snyder was the next cut, but he appears ready to replace Aubrey Huff next season at first base or later this year if Huff is traded. Blake Davis, who never had a realistic chance, was also cut.

The O's also announced that Rich Hill will start the season on the DL. The competition for the last three rotation spots is down to Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, Danys Baez, Brian Bass, Alfredo Simon, David Pauley, and Hayden Penn. Hendrickson is the only left hander and will therefore probably make the rotation. Pauley has been too hittable and will probably be cut. Penn has been ineffective, but may make the team as a reliever. That leaves Eaton, Baez, Bass, and Simon to battle for the last two spots.

Monday, March 16, 2009

So much to say

The O's made their first cut a few days ago. As I predicted, they sent Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman down to the minor league camp, along with first baseman Craig Brazell. They also cut pitchers Troy Patton, David Hernandez, Fredy Deza, Ryan Keefer, Chorye Spoon, and Jim Hoey; and catchers Adam Donachie and Jose Reyes.

The O's also announced that Radhames Liz will be converted into a relief pitcher. I personally think this is a good move and is what the O's should have done with Daniel Cabrera. Rich Hill is making progress and will either make the team as the 5th starter to give him time to build up his arm strength or start the season on the DL. The team has said that Brian Bass and Mark Hendrickson will preferably compete as relief pitchers. David Pauley and Hayden Penn have really struggled this spring, making it less likely that they will earn spots in the rotation.

My AL-only fantasy baseball draft was yesterday, and 9 Orioles were drafted. You could say that some people jumped the gun, drafting Aubrey Huff in the 3rd round, Matt Wieters in the 6th, and Adam Jones in the 8th. Basically, my team is amazing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Clearer Look

We're about 25 days away from Opening Day and the team is starting to sort itself out. The team has made a few decisions about their roster and let's take a look at what we know so far.

Starting Rotation

Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara are locks for the first 2 spots. Matt Albers is out of consideration now, since the team wants him to start as a reliever to be safe with his arm. Trembley hinted that Brian Bass doesn't really have the stamina to be a starter. H Rich Hill still hasn't made an appearance in Spring Training, so his chances are still good, but not as good as before. The battle for the last 3 spots really comes down to these 9 players:

1. Rich Hill - still not healthy
2. Mark Hendrickson - the O's prefer him in the bullpen
3. Brad Bergesen
4. Adam Eaton - released by the Phillies
5. Radhames Liz
6. Chris Waters - long shot
7. Hayden Penn
8. David Pauley
9. Danys Baez - he's actually done pretty well


Chris Ray is pitching very well and will have a real shot at the closer role, though Trembley said Sherrill will definitely begin the season as the closer. The O's are still deciding between 12 pitchers and 13. The only other players with spots reserved were Jim Johnson and Dennis Sarfate, but Trembley has decided that Albers will also be on the team. Hendrickson would too if he doesn't make the rotation. Danys Baez and Jamie Walker have spots unless they pitch awfully, which they haven't so far. There are really only 0-2 spots, depending on how the rotation shapes up. Here are the competitors:

1. Wilfrido Perez - in 5 games, he has a 0.00 ERA and 0.23 WHIP, including 2 saves
2. Jim Miller
3. Bob McCrory
4. Brian Bass
5. Kam Mickolio


Matt Wieters is making a strong case, he's hitting .444 and slugging .778, but that may have no impact on whether he makes the team. The 6 players competing for the backup catcher spot behind Gregg Zaun are 6 for 42. Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, and Cesar Izturis will round out the infield and Ty Wigginton will have a reserve role. The O's are really looking for a backup catcher and a utility player who can play shortstop. That leaves 7 players with a real chance at 2 spots:

1. Guillermo Quiroz - last year's backup catcher
2. Chad Moeller - veteran experience
3. Robby Hammock - best hitting catcher of the three, worst fielding
4. Chris Gomez - 1 for 15 this spring
5. Donnie Murphy
6. Scott Moore - best upside, learning to play shortstop
7. Jolbert Cabrera


Nick Markakis and Adam Jones have the starting spots secure. Ryan Freel and Felix Pie will almost certainly split left field. There probably isn't room for anyone else, but these 2 players still have an outside shot and are worth mentioning, especially since Freel and Pie have played poorly this spring:

1. Lou Montanez - won the Triple Crown last year in AA
2. Nolan Reimold - rookie is ready for the majors

In all that is 23 players fighting for 5 spots. Let the battle continue.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The first cut

Dave Trembley could make his first cuts anytime in the next week or so. I'm just going to throw out some names of people who might be on that list.

Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman - The O's three elite pitching prospects will probably be cut soon, as the O's just wanted to get a look at their future. They have combined for 9 2/3 innings, only allowing 5 hits, 4 walks, 1 run, and striking out 9. Our future's looking pretty good.

Brad Hennessey and John Parrish - Trembley said that these two injured pitchers have missed too much time to be considered for the rotation. It took him a little longer for him to come to that conclusion than it took me.

Ross Wolf - Wolf is a non-roster invite, and he hasn't pitched well enough to warrant a longer look. He's 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA in 3 appearances.

Brandon Snyder and Justin Turner - these two hitting prospects have played well this spring, but are not quite major league ready.

Craig Brazell - The journeyman first basemen is 0 for 9 with 3 K's. It's not like he ever really had a chance.

Gabe Rodriguez - The first backup catching competitor to be cut will likely be Rodriguez, who is 0-7 in 7 games.

Other less likely possibilities: Troy Patton, Jim Hoey, David Hernandez, Gustavo Quiroz, Chad Moeller, Chris Gomez, Oscar Salazar, Donnie Murphy, Justin Christian.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring Training Update #2

11 days until Spring Break, 13 days until the fantasy baseball draft, 20 days until Orioles Opening Day; I don't know what I'm most excited about!

Bad news:

Rich Hill is injured. They say it's not serious, but that's not the way they're acting. They signed Adam Eaton (stupid, I'm seeing a pattern here) to a minor league deal. John Parrish and Brad Hennessey are also injured (I'm not as upset about this, although Parrish has always had good stuff, just no control). Prospect Troy Patton couldn't do anything in his first appearance since 2007 (he missed last year due to surgery) He gave up 3 hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning, and allowed 2 runs.

Good news:

Brad Bergesen, a 23 year old who was the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year, is emerging as a possible replacement. He won 15 games with a 3.22 ERA in AA last year, and pitched 3 scoreless innings in a recent spring training start, striking out 3. David Pauley also rebounded from his horrific start. He lowered his ERA from 108 to 10.50 by throwing 3 innings and allowing only 1 run, walking 0, and striking out 3. Chris Ray has dominated in his return from injury. In 3 scoreless innings, he's allowed only 1 hit and struck out 2. Wilfredo Perez, a sleeper to earn a bullpen spot, has allowed only 1 baserunner in 2 innings and struck out 2.

Former first round draft pick Brandon Snyder, a catcher converted into a first basemen, is off to a hot start and is 3 for 3 in 3 games, with 2 runs, a double, and a walk. The organization had lost a lot of hope after he had two poor seasons, but he rebounded last year and may get called up at some point this season. Scott Moore, who the Orioles designated for assignment to make room for Ty Wigginton but somehow managed to keep, is also hitting well. He's 4-10 with a triple and home run and I'm still mad that the O's chose Wigginton and Ryan Freel over him. Matt Wieters is performing well and hopefully will force the club to consider him as the starting catcher. He's 3-9 with a double and a home run.

For now the O's are 4-2 and there's more good news than bad news. But I would worry about the injury to Rich Hill; he's a solid #2 or 3 starter for the next few years if he can regain his control.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Training Update

The Orioles are 1-2 after 3 exhibition games, but that doesn't really matter. With the starting lineup pretty much locked and mostly a struggle for the last 2 bench spots, I'm more concerned with the starting rotation.

Brad Hennessey, the guy I bashed in my last post, lasted only 1 1/3 innings starting the O's first game. He left with a minor injury after allowing 2 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks. He didn't strike anyone out. While it's too early to count anyone out, this should be an indicator to the O's that Hennessey doesn't have what it takes to be a contributor in this organization. He was followed by Chris Waters, who also struggled (1 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 K), David Pauley (only 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K), and Brian Bass (2 IP, 4 H, 2 runs only 1 earned, 2 K). Waters is an aging minor leaguer who struggled with the team last year but still has an outside chance. While he didn't walk anyone, he also only got one guy out. Bass is basically an older version of Hennessey and Waters, and allowed 4 hits in 2 innings.

Danys Baez (my other nemesis) started the second game and was roughed up in his only inning, in which he walked 3, gave up 1 hit, and allowed 2 runs. Hopefully, the O's realize that he's not worth their time or the money they're paying him. Matt Albers did follow up with 2 perfect innings and he added a strikeout. It's good to see him start well after his injury.

Koji Uehara made his highly anticipated debut in the third game, striking out 3, allowing a hit, a walk, and no runs in two innings. Mark Hendrickson didn't fare so well, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) off of 5 hits and a walk over 2 innings. Hayden Penn (shout out to Alexis!) struck out 3 and allowed 2 hits in 2 scoreless innings.

My conservative outlook: Hennessey, Baez, Waters, Bass, and Hendrickson are too hittable and don't have good enough stuff to be major league starters. If they don't improve soon, the O's should move on. Pauley I'm rooting for, but he has to prove that he's different from the 5 I just mentioned. 5 hits in 1/3 of an inning is pretty horrific. Uehara, Albers, and Penn all did well and are establishing themselves early on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are you serious?

Yeah back on the grind again, I know it's been a little while but it's time again.
Folks askin', Tim when you gonna blog again? I'm like, hold up give me time my man.

Okay, so maybe I'm not Lecrae, but it has been a while and I'm ready to talk about some things that I just don't understand. I read this week that the O's are really interested in Brad Hennessey and Danys Baez as potential starters. Baez is a reliever who was 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA with the O's in 2007. He missed all of last season with an injury. So he is awful and rusty, great combination. Not only that, he wants to be a starting pitcher. Let's look at his career as a starting pitcher. 7 years ago he started 26 games for the Indians, throwing 154 innings (that's about 6 per game), going 9-10 with a 4.44 ERA, walking 75, and striking out 121. Those are Daniel Cabrera-like numbers. But that was when Baez was 25 and throwing the ball 98 mph. Plus he played for the Indians, a good team. I think Baez should have a hard time making the team as a reliever, let alone a starter.

Hennessey is a 29 year old non-roster invite. So if he makes the team, the O's will have to get rid of someone from the 40 man roster, probably someone who is a lot better than Hennessey. But let's be fair and look at his career as a first round draft pick and starting pitcher with the Giants in the last five seasons. He has 44 career starts, but I'm going to use my math skills to show how his career as a starter would look in one season (32 starts): 171 innings (5 1/3 per start, pretty bad), 4.76 ERA (not bad, but in the easier NL), 72 walks (pretty wild), 87 strikeouts (pathetic), and an 8-11 record. He also gives up home runs like it's batting practice. I guess I just don't see what the O's are excited about. He doesn't have great control or great stuff, he is no longer young, he doesnt pitch many innings, and he has never pitched against the AL, not to mention the AL East.

This all leads me to say that I'd rather see Rich Hill, Hayden Penn, David Pauley, Matt Albers, and Radhames Liz fight for the last three rotation spots. Don't even get me started on Matt Hendrickson.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If I was Andy MacPhail...

I would finish up the Brian Roberts extension right now. After that, I would leave the team be. I have to give MacPhail credit, I was angry when he designated Scott Moore for assignment to make room for Ty Wigginton, but no one claimed Moore and the Orioles got him right back. Here's what else I think he should do this year.

Trade Aubrey Huff - Huff had a huge comeback last year, but he's 30 something and in his final year of his contract. If he continues to play well, the O's should trade him for prospects. He's not the long term answer. They have Wigginton who can play every day, and I'm thinking even more of prospects like Brandon Snyder, Billy Rowell, Mike Costanzo, and Scott Moore. They are all 1B/3B types with good power and at least one of them should turn out to be a solid major leaguer. It's time to build for the future.

Trade George Sherrill - This is entirely dependent on Chris Ray's comeback. If Ray can become the closer he was before, the O's don't need Sherrill, who is already in his 30's and not all that great. If he starts out hot again this year, the O's can trade him to a contender and get a few prospects out of him.

Trade for Gavin Floyd and/or Justin Morneau - Floyd is from Baltimore and is a rising pitcher for the White Sox. If they fall out of contention, they may be willing to trade him for prospects, and the O's have plenty of those. They have several elite pitching prospects (Arrieta, Matusz, Tillman) and even more good ones (Patton, Liz, Penn, Albers). Minnesota always trades its players away before they start demanding more money, and Morneau may be in the same situation. He could be the young power hitter that the O's need. He's an upgrade over Huff, still young, and very consistent. Plus he's Canadian, eh?

Trade for Brandon Wood - The Angels have no room for another shortstop. It's just that this SS happened to hit 58 home runs a few years ago between AA and the Olympics in 150 games. He hit 38 last year in the minors. The Angels have never been able to give him enough at bats to really get going. It's possible that the O's could trade Sherrill or Huff straight up for him. They need a 1B to replace Teixeira and bullpen help after losing K-Rod.

You may wonder why I think the O's should trade Sherrill and Huff. I think that they are getting old and don't fit into the O's future. I can't see them being big contributors 2-3 years from now. I also think they are coming off good seasons and there value is high right now. If the O's can continue to make trades like the Tejada and Bedard trades, I say go for it. Sherrill and Huff won't bring as much, but they could bring 2-3 prospects each. I don't think they should trade Mora, because he has been an Oriole so long and adds a lot to the club. Jamie Walker and Danys Baez I would like to trade, but there won't be much interest from other teams. I think that the Orioles have what it takes to compete next season, and if MacPhail can make a few moves like the ones above, he can transform the O's into a contender for years. Imagine this lineup and rotation for the next three years, starting 2010. (This is an optimistic lineup)

2B Brian Roberts .300 AVG, 110 R, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 40 SB
CF Adam Jones .290, 90, 20, 75, 15
RF Nick Markakis .310, 100, 25, 110, 15
1B Justin Morneau .285, 90, 30, 120, 0
C Matt Wieters .290, 75, 25, 90, 0
DH Nolan Reimold .270, 75, 25, 80, 10
3B Billy Rowell .285, 70, 25, 75, 0
SS Brandon Wood .275, 70, 25, 70, 5
LF Felix Pie .270, 75, 5, 45, 40

SP Jeremy Guthrie 17 W, 3.60 ERA, 170 K
SP Gavin Floyd 16, 3.75, 160
SP Rich Hill 14, 3.90, 190
SP Brian Matusz 13, 4.10, 150
SP Chris Tillman 13, 4.20, 140
CL Chris Ray 40 SV, 2.90

I think that looks like a winning team.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fantasy Baseball - The Real Thing

Because the Orioles are so bad, I've really turned to fantasy baseball, or fanbase as my friends and I have renamed it. My draft is only a few weeks away and I decided that I'd spend a little time looking at the Orioles and their values in the fantasy world. I'll rank them in terms of their value, and keep in mind that I'm in an American League only setting with 6 teams. I'll put in parentheses where I would rank them among players at their position.

1. OF Nick Markakis (3) - He is a legitimate 5 tool player, who will get you at least 20 home runs, 10 steals, 90 runs, 90 RBIs, and hit .300. Every year he has gotten better, and I expect the same to be true this year. My prediction - .305 AVG, 25 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI, 15 SB. That's worth a 3rd round pick in an AL-only league.

2. 2B Brian Roberts (3) - He is one of the best second basemen in the AL, and that has a lot of value. Especially when you know he will hit for a high average and get a lot of runs and steals. The only fear is that he could be traded. I'll still predict .295, 10 HR, 105 R, 55 RBI, 40 SB. Consider him around the 5th round.

3. 1B Aubrey Huff (7) - I have a feeling that he will regress some this year, but he is still a good hitter at a position where hitting is the weakest it has been in a long time. I'm going to guess .275, 25 HR, 85 R, 95 RBI, 5 SB. He could go anywhere between the 7th and 9th rounds.

4. SP Jeremy Guthrie (15) - I'm a little worried with his injury last year and him playing in the World Baseball Classic, but worries aside, he is a very good pitcher. And if his bad luck ends, he should finally win some more games. I'm calling 14 wins, with a 3.70 ERA, and 160 strikeouts. He should fall to about the 8th or 9th round.

5. 3B Melvin Mora (7)
- No one really knows what kind of year he will have. He could be the Mora who hits .285 with 25 HR and 90 runs and RBIs, or the one who hits .260 with 10 HR, 65 runs, and 60 RBIs. He'll probably end up going in the 18th-21st round. But he may get passed on entirely.

6. OF Adam Jones (27) - He could break out this year, but there are a lot of good outfielders. Still, he is a worth a look and will be taken in one of the last three rounds (19,20,21). He'll hit .270-290 with 15-20 HRs and 10-15 SBs.

7. OF Luke Scott (26) - He may lose at bats due to Ty Wigginton, but when he's in the lineup he will hit. If he's given the at bats, he'll do what he did last year: .260, 25 HRs, 70 R, 75 RBI. I'm betting he doesn't get drafted, but he could be taken in round 20 or 21 as a backup.

It's too early to talk about Matt Wieters, Rich Hill, George Sherrill, and Chris Ray. We don't know exactly when Wieters will be in the majors, who will be the closer, or if Hill makes the team. But they all have the potential to be impact players.

Felix Pie, Cesar Izturis, and Koji Uehara should not be counted on for fantasy production. They aren't bad players, but they won't pack on the stats.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Are we heading in the right direction?

I want to ask my readers this question and see what they have to say.

The contracts of Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Danys Baez, and Jamie Walker are set to expire after this season. Do the O's look to trade them, do they sign them to new contract extensions, or do they let them go? This is a rebuilding team, right? Do any of these players fit into that plan?

But if they are rebuilding, why did they sign Mark Hendrickson, Ty Wigginton, and Koji Uehara. Why did they trade for Ryan Freel? Are these players really going to help in the long run or will they just block the way for prospects? Wigginton ended Scott Moore's stay with the O's. Freel may have destroyed the hopes of Nolan Reimold and Lou Montanez for a spot on the team. Hendrickson and Uehara may cost Hayden Penn his last shot to stick with the O's.

Do the O's have the young talent they need to compete? They have Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Felix Pie. Jeremy Guthrie, James Johnson, and Chris Ray have a lot of potential as pitchers. They have several top prospects who are a year or two away from the majors (Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz) and other prospects who are in between AAA and the majors (Troy Patton, Radhames Liz, Penn, Reimold, Montanez). Are there any holes?

As an Orioles fan, I am left asking questions about whether the future looks any brighter this year than in any other. The hope is there, but I still wonder at times what the O's are doing. I'm looking for your feedback.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Is there any hope?

Sometimes I find myself wondering if it is even worth following the O's. I mean, in all likelihood, they will start out strong, maybe even be in first place by April. Then there will be an injury or two, the young starting pitchers will begin to struggle, and the bullpen will be overused and collapse. Most of you are probably asking the same thing. Well, the truth is that the O's will finish in last place again, unless several of the following things happen:

1. The AL East comes back down to Earth. Last year, Tampa Bay, Boston, New York, and Toronto all had winning records. The Devil Rays made it to the World Series. The Red Sox made it to the AL Championship Series. Unless some of these teams regress at least a little, the O's won't be able to compete with them, even if they did somehow manage to win 81+ games. Probability of happening: 25%

2. Repeat seasons from Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora. Huff and Mora appeared to be declining and nearing the end of their careers until both broke out last year and became RBI machines. They need to again drive in runs from the middle of the lineup. Probability: 30%

3. Run support for Jeremy Guthrie. Last year's ace was 10-12 with a 3.63 ERA. Batters hit .249 against him. On 10 occasions when he gave up 2 runs or less, he did not get the win. That's a third of his starts. The O's scored only 128 runs in his 30 starts. Mike Mussina had a 3.37 ERA. Batters hit . 278 against him. But the Yankees scored 174 in his 34 starts. His record? 20-9. Guthrie should (and needs to) win 15-20 games if he continues to pitch effectively. Probability: 50%

4. Progression of young hitters. Nick Markakis needs to keep improving, as he has in his first three seasons. He needs to hit .300 with 25 home runs, 100 runs, and 100 RBI's. Adam Jones needs to do the same. Felix Pie and Matt Wieters need to have solid first full seasons. All four of these hitters must prove themselves to be capable starters if the O's want to compete. Probability: 60%

5. Starting pitchers that can pitch 6 innings every 5th day. Last year's staff was liable to pitch anywhere from 1-5 innings, apart from Guthrie. That forced the bullpen to pitch way too often and ruined their effectiveness. This is the only reason worth considering Hendrickson for a rotation spot. Probability: 40%

Last year, the O's were 68-94. If they are successful in doing all 5 of these things, they could end up winning 20-30 more games. Probability: 0.9%

Friday, February 6, 2009

Preview: The Outfield

Wow, I'm on fire today. Either that or I have no life. (I'm going to justify myself with the first option) Now let's look at the O's greatest strength, the outfield. The only problem is that they cannot keep them all on the team, which will lead to some tough choices. But you have to like the young combination of Pie, Jones, and Markakis.

Luke Scott - Scott will move to DH this season, although he could also be traded. I prefer the first option. He is streaky, but should build on last year's success.

Adam Jones
- I am excited to see how Jones does this year. I'm going to predict .280, 20 home runs, 80 runs, and 80 RBI's. Add 15 steals and a possible Gold Glove.

Nick Markakis
- I was extremely relieved to see him sign the six year contract. He's the best home grown player we've had since Ripken and we can't watch him go. In this year's improved lineup, he should return to 100 runs and 100 RBI's. Will he make the leap in home runs? My guess is he'll have 25-30, but no more.

Felix Pie
- I don't want to set any expectations on Pie. (no you do not say his name like pie as in the food) Hopefully, he is better at being Corey Patterson than Corey Patterson was.

Ryan Freel
- It's entirely possible that Freel might not make the team, which is a waste. He's a talented player and he can play the infield as well as the outfield. I'm not sure if they should have traded for him, but now that they have, they should make use of him. Maybe that means trading him for pitching.

Lou Montanez
- Montanez was very good last year. He won the Triple A Triple Crown even though he missed the last month because he got called up by the O's. He continued his success in the majors and should ideally be on the team. But there's simply no room for him. I blame that on the front office. Did they really need Freel, Wigginton, and Pie? (The answer is no in case you were wondering)

Nolan Reimold
- Reimold was a top prospect and is still a good one. He is a less athletic version of Nick Markakis. He is ready for the majors but is in the same situation as Montanez.

My Preferred Outfield:
LF Pie
CF Jones
RF Markakis
DH Scott
OF Freel (backup)

The O's Probable Outfield:
LF Pie
CF Jones
RF Markakis
DH Scott
OF Freel (backup)

Hey, they're the same!

Preview: The Infield

The weekend is here! Time for a quick post before I chill. The O's added Cesar Izturis to play short, and are ready to move Aubrey Huff from DH to first base. He will be the only defensive concern this year at any position.

Gregg Zaun - The Orioles signed the veteran catcher to start for the beginning of the year until Matt Wieters is ready and then to become the backup and mentor him. He is good defensively, but below average with a bat.

Matt Wieters - Unless the star prospect pwns Spring Training and the Orioles change their minds, he will have to wait until mid-May to start pwning full time. I feel like they should give him the spot if he earns it, like Markakis did a few years ago. Look how he turned out.

Synonymous Catchers - Gustavo Quiroz, Jose Reyes, Robby Hammock, Chad Moeller, Adam Donachie - If Zaun is below average with a bat, these guys shouldn't be allowed to touch a bat. But one of them will probably be Zaun's backup until Wieters gets called up; then they'll be released. Nice job description. I'm pulling for Quiroz, he's young, has upside, and caught for the O's last year... They'll give it to the old guy, Moeller.

Aubrey Huff - If he can come close to last year and play average defense...the O's still won't win many games. But it won't be his fault.

Brian Roberts - Hopefully he signs a contract extension like Markakis. Otherwise, he will be traded in the next five months. That would be a shame; I mean, he did use steroids once, but he apologized and he loves Jesus. That's good enough for me.

Melvin Mora - This is Mora's last year in Baltimore and for his sake I hope it's a good one. He has been a consistent player for Baltimore the past seven or so seasons. Maybe his kids will become the future O's infield. If he plays poorly, the O's could give Wigginton or a prospect his job.

Cesar Izturis - He will be a good double play combination with Roberts and be an upgrade over last year. Any offense will be a bonus.

Ty Wigginton - I like Wigginton. He's worked hard his whole career, has put up some good numbers, especially against lefties, and can play first, second, and third. But his presence will probably cost someone else, namely Scott Moore, Lou Montanez, or Nolan Reimold. I would have liked to see the O's give one of those young players a chance. They are a rebuilding team. (Aren't they, Andy MacPhail?)

Scott Moore - Moore has good potential. He's a former first round draft pick. He plays first and third, and played shortstop last year in the minors. He needs to hit really well and prove he can master shortstop though, because the O's don't appear to think as highly of him as I do. Keep in mind he has no options left, so this is his last shot to stick with the O's.

Others - Chris Gomez, Donnie Murphy, Oscar Salazar - These guys had a legitimate opportunity before Wigginton was signed. Gomez could make the team if the O's decided they needed him at shortstop. Salazar is unfortunate. He is a good hitter, but 30, and probably won't be used by the O's again. He should catch on with another team.

My Preferred Infield:
C Wieters
1B Huff
2B Roberts
3B Mora
SS Izturis
C Zaun (backup)
IF Wigginton (backup)
IF Moore (backup)

The O's Probable Infield:
C Zaun
1B Huff
2B Roberts
3B Mora
SS Izturis
C Moeller (backup)
IF Wigginton (backup)

Preview: The Bullpen

George Sherrill will be given the chance to return to his All-Star form as closer, and he will be joined in the bullpen by Chris Ray, who returns from injury and James Johnson, who emerged last season as a dominant set up man. The O's are talking about carrying 13 pitchers. We'll see about that.

Danys Baez - After pitching miserably in '07 and missing all of '08, Baez is owed $5.5 million in '09. That may be the only reason he makes the team. But if he can't get people out in spring training, the O's might and would be wise to let him go.

Jamie Walker - Walker is in a similar boat as Baez, but he has the advantage of being left-handed. The O's will give him a little more slack. They will probably not cut both Baez and Walker, as that would be a waste of $10 million. What's a few million between friends?

George Sherrill - The left hander acquired in the Bedard trade was very good in the first half, leading the league at one point with 31 saves. Just don't look at his second half. He will be the closer again this year, although Ray may be used in certain situations and may unseat him if Sherrill is ineffective.

Chris Ray - I'm excited to have "cray" back in business. He is ideally the future closer and I hope to see him regain his '05 and '06 lights out ability.

James Johnson - The former starter was a pleasant surprise last year and is guaranteed a spot in the bullpen. Hopefully he will be able to adjust this year, as batters caught on to his fastball last year. He needs to learn to vary his pitches better.

Dennis Sarfate - Sarfate proved he had the makings of a great reliever, consistently throwing in the upper 90's. He is almost certain to have a spot on the team, but needs to cut down on his walks. He is very comparable to Ray.

Mark Hendrickson - Assuming that he does not win a starting spot, the lefty should be the team's long reliever.

Wilfredo Perez - I had never heard of this guy until a few weeks ago, but insiders say he has a shot of becoming the next Johnson.

Matt Albers - He was very effective in relief last year and will pitch at some point this year. Whether it's as a starter or reliever will be the question.

Radhames Liz - The O's may convert him to a reliever, but I wouldn't expect them to do that this early. They'll give him a chance to win a spot in the rotation, or else have him start in Triple-A. Only if he continues to struggle will they consider him for the bullpen.

Brian Bass - Bass is out of options, but he is in all honesty, not a major league caliber player. If he makes the team, I will be mad.

Others - Kam Mickolio, Jim Miller, Jim Hoey, John Parrish - I liked what I saw last year in Mickolio and Miller last year, but there just aren't enough spots at this point. But when injuries occur or other pitchers are ineffective, they should be the first ones called up, and should still play important roles this year. Hoey missed last season and will need some time in the minors to get back into the groove. Parrish has an outside chance of beating out Walker or Hendrickson as a left-handed option, but I wouldn't bet on it.

My Preffered Bullpen:
LR Hendrickson (long relief)
MR Sarfate (middle relief)
MR Albers
MR Walker
SU Johnson (set up)
SU Ray
CL Sherrill (closer)

The O's Probable Bullpen:
LR Albers
MR Sarfate
MR Walker
MR Baez
MR Perez
SU Johnson
SU Ray
CL Sherrill

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Preview: The Rotation

I'll take a little time between Mere Christianity and The Iliad to address something almost as important: the Orioles starting rotation. Jeremy Guthrie will return as the staff ace, but the picture is cloudy beyond him. Let's look at some of the competitors.

Koji Uehara - The Japanese free agent was given a 2 year, $10 million deal and will therefore find a spot in the rotation, probably in the number 2 or 3 spot. I'm not sure what to expect from him, so I won't say anything else

Mark Hendrickson - The former NBA player is average at best. He is a left hander who can give you 200 innings, but they won't necessarily be good ones. On my team, there is no way he gets in. But who knows what the O's would do. He would make a decent long reliever in the bullpen.

Jeremy Guthrie - Guthrie should continue to improve and hopefully avoid injuries. The past two seasons he has suffered from unimaginably horrific bad run support. (Yes I just said that) That is probably just bad luck and look for him to win 15 games this year.

Matt Albers - He proved he had the stuff last year, mostly as a reliever, and deserves a shot as a starter. But he should and probably will start the season in Triple A after missing the second half of last season due to injury. But he shouldn't stay there long.

Rich Hill - The former Cub has very good stuff and his chances of regaining his control are better than Daniel Cabrera's chances of finding it for the first time. Unless he has a terrible spring, he should earn a spot in the rotation. If he doesn't, he will have to be put on waivers because he has no minor league options left. I guarantee that some other team will claim him if that happens.

Radhames Liz - Liz is scarily similar to Cabrera, and the Orioles have hopefully learned from Cabrera that it is best for young pitchers to learn how to throw strikes before pitching in the major leagues. That being said, he could be a dominant pitcher later in the year, but most likely will resurface in the future.

Troy Patton - Last year's preseason favorite to win the No. 5 spot after being acquired in the Tejada trade, Patton was injured and missed the entire season. Don't expect the O's to rush him back. Don't blame them either.

Hayden Penn - It's a shame that this fine young pitcher has freak accidents every time it looks like he is going to stick with the O's. This time, he is out of options, so if he doesn't make the team, he is probably gone. So unless he gets hit by a runaway cow, the O's should give him a shot at the back end of the rotation. He is older and more mature and could surprise people. If he gets the job, look for 10 wins and a decent rookie season.

Chris Waters - The minor league journeyman was inconsistent last year, but is similar to Brian Burres in that he doesn't have the stuff to be a reliable starter. He will have to prove that he is beyond all doubt better than Penn, Hill, Hendrickson, and company to secure a spot. Don't get your hopes up.

David Pauley - The Orioles traded for him in the offseason, and he too is out of options. I don't know much about him, but the Orioles should give him a fair look and treat him similar to Penn. Because he is out of options, he should be given the nod in a close race over Albers or Liz. But the O's have a tradition of defying all logic.

Others - Danys Baez, James Johnson, Alfredo Simon, Brad Hennessey - Baez is awful enough as a reliever, Johnson should be given a shot, but the O's are set on him as a reliever, and Simon will be lucky if he is not designated for assignment to make room for Ty Wigginton. I don't even know why the O's invited Hennessey to spring training or why I am even mentioning his name.

My Preferred Rotation:
1. Guthrie
2. Uehara
3. Hill
4. Penn
5. Pauley

The O's Probable Rotation:
1. Guthrie
2. Hill
3. Uehara
4. Hendrickson
5. Pauley

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Looking at the Offseason Acquisitions

C Ramon Hernandez traded for IF/OF Ryan Freel and 2 prospects

Hernandez was aging poorly; his arm was not what it used to be and he was extremely slow on the base paths. I once saw him hit a grounder that bounced off the diving shortstop's glove. The shortstop slowly got up from the ground, stumbled over to the ball, picked it up, made an off-balance throw, and still got Hernandez out by at least a step. He was a good player, but overpaid, injury prone, and blocking the path of upcoming star Matt Wieters. Freel has the right type of mentality for a young Orioles team. He hustles and uses his athleticism in every aspect of the game, reminding me a lot of David Newhan. He will be a solid backup and the two prospects add infield depth to the Oriole organization. Justin Turner may be Brian Roberts' eventual replacement.

SS Cesar Izturis signed to a 2 year deal

Last year we watched Luis Hernanez, Brandon Fahey, Freddie Bynum, Alex Cintron, and Juan Castro hit less than .225 with less than 5 home runs. Izturis is no superstar, but he is an excellent defensive player and will provide stability at a position where there was none last year. Even if he hits .260, he will be a huge upgrade. He also has the ability to steal 20-30 bases.

LHP Mark Hendrickson signed to a 1 year deal

Hendrickson is not the type of player to get excited about. He is strictl a consistent innings eater, whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen. The Orioles were smart in only signing him to a one year deal. It made sense at the time, but with the additions of other, younger pitchers, Hendrickson has becme a veteran with no future on the the team and no reason to be on it. Unfortunately, he will make the team and keep a more promising player from getting a chance.

RHP Koji Uehara signed to a 2 year deal

It didn't make much sense to me for a rebuilding team to sign a 34-year old who spent part of last season in the Japanese minor leagues and only throws 85 miles per hour. The only potential upside is that he could surprise Major League hitters and also open up Japan as a future O's market.

LHP Garrett Olson and prospect traded for OF Felix Pie

The O's may have given up on Olson too quickly (see John Maine), and it didn't make sense to add another outfielder when they already had Luke Scott, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. But Olson upset the team when he called his '08 season a success a success, even though he finished with an ERA above 6. In all likelihood, he is a 4th or 5th starter at best, and the prospect the O's gaveup was not considered an impact pitcher. Pie was once considered one of the top prospects in the game, but performed poorly in brief stints with the Cubs, who may be giving up on him too early as well. He should give the Orioles one of the best outfields in the AL for many years and allow Scott to move to DH. The O's quickly replaced Olson with other young pitchers, making this deal a good one. Plus a friend and I wrote Garrett Olson a letter. We figured he would be upset that he keeps getting traded, but we believe in him.

RHP Randor Bierd traded for RHP David Pauley

Bierd was a Rule 5 pick who dominated in the bullpen last year until he was messed up by injuries and finished poorly. The Orioles may someday regret letting him go. Pauley has pitched well in the minors and provides the O's with a young option for the back of the rotation. He is similar to Jeremy Guthrie in that he was discarded by the Indians after he failed to live up to expectations. He is also similar in that he has no options left, which means that if he doesn't make the Orioles, he will likely be lost to another team. The O's should give him a shot, but may have trapped themselves with the additions of Hendrickson and Uehara. If he doesn't make the team, they will have wasted a potential set-up man in Bierd.

C Greg Zaun signed to a 1 year deal

Zaun will likely be the starter until Wieters is ready and then will become his backup and mentor. He understands his role and should be a welcome addition.

Player to be Named traded for LHP Rich Hill

Hill had a breakout year in '07, had one out of control season, and was let go by the Cubs. But even last year with his control problems, his ERA was 4.12, which shows his stuff is still very good. If he regains his command, he will be an excellent number 2 or 3 starter and the Orioles will give up a good prospect. If he remains wild and doesn't make the team, the O's will give up a no-name prospect. Either way, this deal was worth it.

INF Ty Wigginton signed to a 2 year deal

Wigginton has hit well the last three seasons and is a good player. He has the ability to hit .280-.290 with 20-25 home runs. But he is 31 years old and the Orioles already have Ryan Freel. The Orioles are now stuck with Wigginton for two years, when they really should have given an opportunity to Scott Moore and Lou Montanez. This move reminds me of the Jay Payton signing a few years ago.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Introducing the Orioles: A History of Losing

The year is 1997. What is significant? It is the last time that the Baltimore Orioles had a winning season. For several years they rode their aging stars, from Cal Ripken to Mike Bordick, B.J. Surhoff, and Brady Anderson, each year coming up short. Other stars like Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Armando Benitez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roberto Alomar left the team when it was apparent that the O's were not heading in the right direction. How did they know? When you have that many All-Stars on one team and you only win 70 some games, something is wrong.

The Orioles turned to a strategy that proved to be equally unsuccessful. They tried spending on big names and proven veterans like Albert Belle, Will Clark, Jeff Conine, Charles Johnson, and Delino DeShields, but they mostly underperformed and were unable to make up for the pitching staff's ineffectiveness.

In 2001, the Orioles attempted to dump their high-priced veterans and bring in a more youthful team to add on to their existing core of Sidney Ponson, Jason Johnson, and Jerry Hairston. Their moves proved largely unsuccessful (this is an understatement), with the only notable additon being Melvin Mora. They gave young players like Chris Richards and Josh Towers a chance to make a name for themselves, but their success was shortlived and the Orioles began a tradition of starting out strong and collapsing midseason. This would become a very long tradition.

Failing to accomplish much, the O's turned to a new ideology, one that made the least sense of all. They filled their roster with overpaid, average veterans like Omar Daal, Deivi Cruz, Ken Singleton, and Marty Cordova. They were a team without a superstar and lacking young talent. Fortunately, several pitchers developed or emerged into definite talents. Sidney Ponson had a breakout season, joined by Jason Johnson, Rodrigo Lopez, Jorge Julio. But they proved to be one year wonders or inconsistent major leaguers. Ponson became famed as the husky Aruban knight with severe drinking problems. Julio was known to walk the bases loaded before getting the save. The O's continued to tease fans with glimpses of talent, but they never convinced anyone that they were close to competing.

The team took an aggressive approach to the 2004 season. They signed stars Javy Lopez, Miguel Tejada, and Rafael Palmeiro. Rookies Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard became cornerstones in the rotation and B.J. Ryan proved himself as a dominant reliever and future closer. Melvin Mora established himself at third base, Brian Roberts showed he was a reliable second basemen, and Luis Matos and Jay Gibbons flashed with potential. Somehow, they still couldn't manage to win. They made even more headlines in 2005 by trading for slugger Sammy Sosa and raced to first place early on. They stayed atop the AL East for several months, until the yearly downfall kicked in; this time it was worse than ever. Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for steroid use, days after collecting his 3000th hit. (Kind of awkward going to games the rest of the season and seeing a huge "Congratulations Raffy" sign.) Several Orioles have since been linked to steroids: Palmeiro, Roberts, Tejada, Hairston, Gibbons, and Larry Bigbie. The O's have become living proof that steroids don't work. After Palmeiro's suspension, the Orioles had one of the worst collapses in history. They went from 14 games above .500 to 14 games below and lost B.J. Ryan after the season.

The Orioles have recently turned towards a rebuilding mode. They traded ace Erik Bedard and superstar Miguel Tejada to restock their minor league system. They let go of fading veterans (Ramon Hernandez and awful hitter/clubhouse leader Kevin Millar) and failed projects (Daniel Cabrera). New GM Andy MacPhail seeks to create a team that is competitive in 2010. Despite his efforts to build a winner around Jeremy Guthrie, Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones, experienced O's fans have to wonder, is this going to be enough?