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.