Orioles April Report Card

May 01, 2009 | Keith Melchior

Overall the Orioles finished April with a 9-13 record.  They began the season 6-2. Their 3-11 finish has really soured some of those orange kool-aid drinkers. Here is my Orioles’ April report card;

Brian Roberts – A+..a proven lead off hitter —-

Adam Jones – A+…vastly improved at the plate —

Nick Markakis – A+..turning into a top notch superstar —

Aubrey Huff – B.. Has cooled down a bit since a hot start but still doing the job. He is not a solid everyday 1st baseman and his error against the Red Sox opened the flood gates for the Boston Massacre —

Melvin Mora – C..  HAS to stay healthy..if healthy he gets an A..If he ends up on DL again this season the team needs to seriously think about his future here —

Luke Scott – B+.. This guy needs to be the full time DH —

Cesar Izturis – B.. better than last years parade of SS —

Gregg Zaun – F.. He has lost it at the plate. His experience is the ONLY thing keeping him in the lineup at this point. He has 6 more hits this season than you and I. Batting .111 is not acceptable for an every 2 of 3 games player —

Felix Pie – F-..  I still think McPhail sold us a bill of goods on this guy. He reminds me of Willie Mays Hayes from Major League. Run like Hayes, plays like Mays.. Manager Lou Brown was quoted as saying, “well… you might run like Hayes, but you hit like sh*t.”  If he could learn to bunt, maybe  he could hit .200 —

Ty Wigginton – C.. A role player. He got lots of playing time while Mora was on DL but he is a role player on this team.  His recent slump dropped his grade from a B-  —

Chad Moeller – B+.. I think he should play more than one game every series. He is better than any backup catcher we’ve had around here in a long time. Let Zaun play the day-after-night-games until Moeller proves he can’t get the job done when playing full time. —

Ryan Freel – F.. You shouldn’t be popping off about playing time when you bat .133 . And just WHY is he here to begin with? Management must have wanted Montanez and Reimold(cs)  to play every day and continue to develop in the minors… Boston brought up Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and just look what they have done when given the chance to play every day. Why is Oriole management so stubborn? If they aren’t going to let these guys come up and play every day, get rid of them. —

Robert Andino – B+.. A month ago, the question was “who is he?”  He’s turning into a viable utility player. Why Trembley pinch hits for him at times is beyond me. —

Lou Montanez – B-.. he should have been here from day 1. —

Various Pitchers;

Guthrie – C..  Averaging just over 5 IP per start… Allowing  too many runners 46 in 27.2 innings.. —

Uehara - A-.. Was an unknown commodity but emerging as a solid competitor. Averaging 6 IP per start. It is too early. He’s learning the American game and, for now, he’s the  best we have. —

Sherrill – B-.. 4/5 in save ops. Blown save vs Texas last week was awful. He doesn’t need to pitch in games where he “just needs to get some of his work in”  he can do that on the side or during practice. They’ll burn him out like they did last season and when they really need him he won’t be ready. —

Baez – A.. Who IS this guy? Has become effective after his surgery. Only  9 runners allowed in 12 innings. —

Bergesen – C.. Decent 1st start, shaky 2nd start..Let’s see how he fares in May before raising  the C. —

Walker - B+.. other than his meltdown over the balk, he has done a total reversal of 2008 when he couldn’t get anyone out. I hope that episode and the fine imposed by MLB  doesn’t hurt him over the long run. —

Rest of staff – D-.. Not much worth wasting time on these guys. No one has stepped up to prove themselves. Eaton and Hendrickson are doing the best they can, so we can’t blame them. —

Dave Trembley – D..  He doesn’t have much to work with, but other than the top 4 hitters and Koji, he’s not getting very much production from the other guys he has, either.  It’s the manager’s job to manage and motivate his players and he doesn’t look like he is doing that very well. I still don’t like the way he handles the pitching staff and I think he needs to put Andino and Moeller out there more often since they are producing. Let Luke Scott play LF and DH Andino for a few games to see how that works. His press conferences after the games are miserable. They could almost tape and replay some from last year to save him the embarrassment of having to explain what happened.

Team overall grade – C-.. They overachieved at beginning of season taking 2 of 3 from NY. The  Boston Massacre proved to be their undoing as they fell into what we knew they were going to be this season over their last 13 games. It’s really too bad to waste the outstanding efforts Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Huff and Mora have had thus far, but can you imagine where they would be had these guys not been so hot at the beginning of the season when they were tearing the cover off the ball?  When was the last time the Orioles had 4 regulars hitting over .320 after the first month of the season. If these guys suddenly go into a prolonged slump together, the season will be a total washout. This is entirely Andy McPhail’s debacle, but Dave Trembley needs to consistently put his best 8 position players out there game after game if he wants to keep his  job in 2010.

Future prospects – Stats in A, AA and AAA can not accurately gauge how a player will perform in the majors. There’s no guarantee these kids in the minors are all going to prosper once they arrive here. Matt Weiters should be here soon and I hope he can continue to improve his game and continues to hit the ball as he has done thus far. If this guyturns out to be a bust at the major league level, there will be a lot of hearts and hopes crushed around Birdland.

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Just for the heck of it, I am also grading the flagship stations MASN and WHFS, or WJZ-FM, or 105.7 the Fan, or whatever the heck their call letters are..

Gary Thorne – B+..he is a seasoned veteran behind the mic. I think he is much better doing hockey.

Jim Palmer – A+.. Always tells it like it is and doesn’t pull punches. I have always liked Palmer in the booth. He definitely makes the games worth watching when he’s in the booth.

Jim Hunter – C.. I liked him as the play by play guy a few years ago, but something must have happened behind the scenes that put him into purgatory with Dempsey.

Buck Martinez – C-.. When hedoesn’t sound like he’s drunk, he doesn’t do a bad job, but when you have to follow Palmer as the analyst, it would lead anyone to drink. He is hard to stomach at times.

Rick Dempsey – D.. MASN must keep him around because he is a local fan favorite, well, so was Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson and Dempsey couldn’t tie their shoes on his best day ever.  Some guys weren’t meant to be in broadcasting. Dempsey is one of them.

Joe Angel – C.. He was better as the 2nd guy in the booth instead of lead play by play guy.I hate the phrases, “Orioles are in the ____ column, here are the lovely (or not so lovely) totals, ______wave it  bye bye.

Fred Manfra – F.. one word describes him……TERRIBLE… he overuses the names of the players in a single at-bat and makes it painful to listen to the game on the radio in the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th innings. God forbid we play a 10th, 12th, and 14th inning.

Tom Davis – B.. Tom has become a sports staple around these parts over the last 20 years. He knows enough to want to tell it like it really is but they probably have a muzzle on him. He is a  good company man who will do what they want him to do.

Dave Johnson – B+.. For a mediocre pitcher, he has proven he has great insight on the game and he doesn’t hold back his comments but he does it in a tactful manner. I’m sure they muzzle him too. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and hear what these 2 really think when the microphones are turned off.

Has everyone on the 105.7 the Fan and MASN been given any lessons on how to correctly pronounce Koji Uehara’s name?  I have heard it pronounced, Way-harra, Waya-harra, Ooooeee-harra, Oooooh-harra…So which is right?  Why can’t these guys all be on the same page with the correct way to pronounce Koji’s name.  Doesn’t part of their job consist of educating the fans?

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