Saturday, May 1, 2010

Forgetting April

If you can remember, 18 losses ago, I mean 1 month ago, I made several predictions about the month of April:

1. Garrett Atkins will be pitiful. I'm thinking an average around .200-.220 with almost no power. The O's may just stick with him or try Ty Wigginton or Luke Scott at first base, but I predict that Brandon Snyder will get off to a hot start in AAA and be on the verge of promotion by the end of the month.

After accumulating 3 doubles and 3 RBI's in the season's first 3 games, my prediction about Atkins came true. He finished the month hitting .224, 4 doubles, 0 home runs, and a .284 slugging percentage. Snyder is struggling in AAA with a .213 AVG, but 1B Rhyne Hughes, acquired in last year's trade for Gregg Zaun, hit .353 in AAA, earned a promotion, and has split time with Atkins at first base to hit a decent .263 in 19 at bats.

2. Koji Uehara will be on the DL. He will either not have recovered by then or have come back only to reinjure himself.

Correct! While Uehara is expected to make his much-needed return next week, he has been constantly set back in his recovery attempts.

3. Miguel Tejada will not be the cleanup hitter. Look for someone else to emerge, maybe Nolan Reimold or even Adam Jones.

False. Tejada has been the O's best clutch hitter, batting at a .293 clip with 4 home runs and a team high 13 RBIs. He is still the best option at the #4 spot, and Jones is busy leading off for some reason, in the place of injured 2B Brian Roberts.

4. Kam Mickolio will be on the roster. There are too many iffy pitchers on this team for all of them to survive the first month of the season. That list includes Jason Berken, Matt Albers, and Will Ohman.

Mickolio was indeed recalled when the bullpen struggled to hold any lead they got. However, he walked 3 and allowed 3 runs in his 3 appearances before being optioned back to the minors in favor of new surprise closer, Alfredo Simon, who has held opponents to a .222 AVG despite near blowups as well. Berken has been one of the most effective relievers, with a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. Ohman, the lefty specialist, has yet to allow a run in his 12 appearances. Albers, after struggling mightily early on, has been scoreless in 3 straight appearances, avoiding a demotion that was instead given to Jim Johnson, of all people. Johnson had blown 3 saves, passing Mike Gonzalez for the honor of team lead. The difference was that batters were batting .349 against Johnson and .232 against Albers, even if their 6+ ERAs were comparable.

5. Matt Wieters will be leading the team in home runs and Brian Matusz in wins.

Wieters has hit well, with a .280 AVG and 8 RBIs, but has only 1 home run. Wigginton deserves that honor with his 6 home runs, 12 RBIs, and .308 AVG. He has been the surprise of April, earning the 2B role. Matusz is in fact the only starting pitcher with a victory. And he has 2! He has shown improvement in every area from last season. His innings per start have improved from 5.6 to 6.1, WHIP from 1.48 to 1.31, AVG against from .292 to .265, K:BB from 2.7 to 2.9, and HRs per 9 innings from 1.2 to 0.6.

The O's finished the month 5-18, 12 games back from the Rays. The season may seem over, but there is room for improvement and they have played better recently. Let's hope the April showers bring May flowers.

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