O’s Today: Liz to the ‘pen (I don’t get it…)

March 16, 2009 | Drew Forrester

The ever-changing Orioles pitching rotation got a tad thinner today when the club informed Radhames Liz that he will have to make the opening day major league roster as a member of the bullpen. 

Liz made 17 starts for the Orioles a year ago and was, for the most part, a liability as a starter, with a 1.779 WHIP and nearly as many walks (51) as strikeouts (63).  Still, as far as young pitchers in spring training with major league experience, Liz has to command a small measure of respect from Dave Trembley and Rick Kranitz.  Evidently, any respect he does get will come from performing well out of the bullpen, at least for now.

I’m not completely sure why the bullpen-banishment took place — then again, almost every pitching move the club has made since the start of the off-season hasn’t made sense to me.  

Liz was “decent” in spring training.  His E.R.A. is high (a disease plaguing every O’s starter but Guthrie for about the last three years), but his walks are down. Gotta take the good with the bad, I guess. He is what he is…a young man, somewhat overmatched at the major league level, who has been thrust into an uncomfortable position in Baltimore because the team’s pitching has been so woeful in recent years. That said, he’s occasionally been a bright spot — and with better command of his fastball and the ability to get ahead of the hitter in the count, he could turn out to be a contributor in the rotation.  

They gave Daniel Cabrera 12 lives, it seemed.  Doesn’t it make sense to give Liz the chance to at least LOSE the starting spot he inherited last season because the team had nowhere else to turn?  He might not have been good enough last year — but don’t 17 starts in the major leagues give him the edge over, say, Brad Bergesen?  Or, any of the re-treads they brought in like Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson?  

I thought the mantra for ’09 was:  ”we’re not going to win anyway…”

Isn’t that why the team eschewed conventional wisdom and passed on quality free agent veteran pitchers in the off-season?  

“We’re not going to win anyway…”

So, why not give Liz a shot at starting the season in the rotation? 

If your response is:  ”He got his chance last year — and he stunk…”

Someone following the game of baseball would reply:  ”Yeah, so did Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson…”

Liz’s demotion could also mean the Orioles are more concerned with the health of Jim Johnson then they initially let on yesterday when they announced Johnson would be shut down for a week with a shoulder impingement.  

Perhaps they’re thinking they might need a right handed pitcher to move in for Johnson if his injury is worse off then initially reported?

These are among the questions I’d be asking if…of course…the team hadn’t locked me out of spring training by refusing to provide me with a media credential in Ft. Lauderdale.

On Monday, the O’s dropped a 5-3 decision to the Twins.  Mark Hendrickson went three innings and gave up 5 hits and 2 earned runs…while David Pauley worked 1.2 innings and surrendered 2 earned runs and 4 hits.  Neither of them should be a starter for the ’09 team unless seven other guys get the bird flu.

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