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.