Tag Archive | "Baltimore Orioles"

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A’s PBP voice Korach thinks bad luck factor in former Oriole Johnson’s struggles

Posted on 06 June 2014 by WNST Audio

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Fangraphs’ Minnix thinks moving Cruz up in lineup could help long term

Posted on 24 May 2014 by WNST Audio

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Brett & Barry give their arguments for the Orioles to change up their daily lineup.

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles Lineup Makeover

Posted on 23 May 2014 by WNST Staff

The week in Orioles baseball has been a memorable one, for better and for worse. After last week’s difficult 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals in which Adam Jones and Chris Davis stranded the tying run at third, questions surrounded manager Buck Showalter’s stubbornness with his everyday lineup. With Manny Machado playing every day and batting second, the Orioles most consistent hitter, Nelson Cruz, has now been moved down to the fifth spot.

After a week in which the Orioles have actually put runs on the board with Showalter’s “stubborn” lineup, the team has won just once. Cruz continues to impress, while it appears that Jones has settled in to the three hole with 8 hits in his last 4 games. Which begs the question: Should the Orioles make major changes to their lineup? 

 

FOR By: Brett Dickinson 

Though the Orioles had a decent week at the plate, that does not change the long-term reality for some “stars” in this current lineup.  At the top, Nick Markasis has been steady getting on base as needed with some many run producers batting behind him.  Manny Machado has struggled through his first several weeks, coming off a serious knee injury and missing out on the entire off season.  It may be hindering the team now, but getting the young superstar comfortable is much more important for this team’s success later on.  Hopes are he can start to turn things around and be the same type of player that filled the two hole for the Orioles last season.

But the heart of the lineup is where I see Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter really struggling with his inner demons.  He is consistently not putting his best hitters in the best situations to succeed at their highest level.  Nelson Cruz is certainly an extremely early MVP candidate, yet is left batting in the fifth spot.  Showalter has been loyal to a fault in his tenure with the organization; clearly evident with his handling of Jim Johnson and the closer role last season. The same can be said with the team’s highest paid player (and supposed team leader) center fielder Adam Jones.

When everyone watching the game knows the scouting report on a player (including my own wife, who knows baseball, but doesn’t follow it as intently as most fans), then there is a problem. Just the other night Adam Jones came to the plate; her exact quote as a slider was thrown to the outside corner, into the dirt:

“I’m surprised he didn’t swing at that one…”

Adam JonesJones plate discipline this season has been down right despicable.  Yet he still bats third in a lineup that has struggled to consistently score runs all season.  Buck needs to stop worrying about hurting his feelings and tell the young man he is moving down a couple spots.  It should not matter that he is the “face of the franchise;” if that were true, he should do what’s best for the team without hesitation.  Ideally, Chris Davis should move into his slot, because though he does not have the massive power numbers of 2013, he is getting on base at an alarmingly high rate, taking an massive amount of walks in the process.

This would lead to Nelson Cruz batting cleanup, where he has the potential to come to the plate with runners on base each and every time.  Doesn’t that seem like the smart decision for a guy that among the tops in the entire MLB in home runs and RBI? Moving the free swinging Jones down to the fifth spot should not hurt his approach either, because he really doesn’t have one at this point.  Whether he bats third, fifth or ninth, he is going to swing and swing a lot.

Time to stop being loyal to a player’s past performance and looking at his current contributions Buck!

 

AGAINST By: Barry Kamen 

In the month of May, it is very easy to overreact to things that happen during the course of an entire baseball season. Sure, no Oriole fan likes to see the middle of the order fall flat in a close game. But every fan LOVES it when 3 Orange Crushes leave PNC Park. There are ebbs and flows to every season. The goal of the Orioles in May is consistency, ensuring that the peaks and the valleys are not drastically far away from each other.

Manny MachadoOne way to ensure is consistency is with the lineup. The criticism surrounding Adam Jones is largely unwarranted. The free-swinger is what he is; a .280 hitter with above-average home run and RBI numbers for his position. Jones doesn’t walk, and he is going to strike out more than he should. Fan frustration should not be with Jones, but with the injuries that have plagued the team all season. With Manny Machado’s bat starting to come around after joining the team at the beginning of May, the entire lineup has produced as a result. Assuming no other injuries occur, the Orioles have one of the best 1-5 lineups in all of Major League Baseball. Not only is the top and middle of the order talented, but there are very few mysteries associated with each player. The biggest question mark could very well be Chris Davis, as he works to ensure that last year’s production was not a fluke.

Rather than tinker with the lineup, depth becomes the next issue for Showalter to deal with. David Lough has played himself out of the lineup, and the end might be nearing for the former Royal. With Delmon Young and Steve Pearce in the fold, there is very little reason to keep Lough. It will not be long before Steve Lombardozzi returns to the majors, and could make a significant impact at the bottom of the order. Until then, tread water in May, and prepare for the high tide in September.

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60 Greatest Members of the Orioles: 60-56

Posted on 19 May 2014 by WNST Staff

If you missed the beginning of the “60 Greatest Members of the Orioles”, it covered the Honorable Mentions–the fellas who were worthy of being in the conversation, but ultimately failed to make the cut.  At last, here is the beginning of the list:

60.  Dennis Martinez, Pitcher

During his 11-year career in Baltimore, “El Presidente” recorded double-digit wins in six of those seasons.  An upper-echelon starter in the late 70s, Martinez was a large piece to the ’79 AL Championship team.

59.  Nick Markakis, Right Fielder

A pitching prospect out of college, Markakis quickly moved through the Orioles system and served as the lone bright spot several historically bad O’s teams.  While his power has diminished from the projections back in the mid-2000s, Markakis is a lock for the Orioles Hall of Fame for the simple fact of tenure and consistency during a time of turmoil and failure.

58.  Matt Wieters, Catcher

The Georgia Tech alum has never quite become “Mauer with power,” at least not to the degree that many expected when he was taken fifth overall in 2007.  With that being said, Wieters has been a mainstay in Baltimore since 2009 and a proven home-grown commodity–something the Orioles had previously struggled with in the 2000s.  Should Wieters sign a contract extension and remain in Baltimore, he’ll go down as the greatest catcher in club history.  

57.  Frank Cashen, General Manager

As the Director of Baseball Operations, Cashen played a major role in bringing Oriole-great Frank Robinson to town, despite the fact that Harry Dalton–who was GM at the time–routinely receives the notoriety.  Cashen’s best days were in New York, as the GM of the Mets, however, his Baltimore roots and contribution to multiple Orioles’ World Series makes him a lock for this list.

56. Rich Dauer, Second Baseman

Dauer, a projected big-time hitter coming through the O’s system in the mid-70s, never panned out in terms of being much of a threat at the dish; however, he was a fan-fave and his presence through the late 70s and early 80s was a big part of the team’s chemistry and its ability to rebound after losing the 1979 World Series to the Pirates.  He currently manages the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

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60 Greatest Members of the Orioles: The Honorable Mentions

Posted on 18 May 2014 by WNST Staff

4,886 wins.  11 playoff appearances.  Six American League Pennants.  Three World Series Championships.

That’s the Baltimore Orioles in a nutshell since 1954.

During the next few weeks, I’ll be unveiling an officially unofficial list of the 60 Greatest Orioles.

The list–which will be comprised of players, managers, and other members of the organization–will attempt to pay homage to the most impactful and influential individuals in the 60-year history of Baltimore’s ballclub.

The Honorable Mentions:

Coaches, Front Office, Media

  • Lee MacPhail, General Manager
  • Pat Gillick, General Manager
  • Paul Richards, Manager
  • Billy Hunter, Third Base Coach
  • Ray Miller, Pitching Coach
  • Ralph Salvon, Trainer
  • Richie Bancells, Trainer
  • Bill O’Donnell, Broadcaster

Pitchers

  • Robin Roberts
  • Eddie Watt
  • Hal Brown
  • Steve Barber

Position Players

  • Mike Bordick, Shortstop
  • Harold Baines, Designated Hitter
  • Bobby Grich, Second Baseman
  • Mike Devereaux, Center Fielder
  • John Lowenstein, Outfielder
  • Melvin Mora, Third Baseman

Next up…

60 Greatest Members of the Orioles (60-56)

 

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B&B Big Story Banter: Gausman & Wieters

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

BD: Barry after a disappointing week from the Orioles, there have been some interesting developments at Camden Yards.  The first one involves the handling of the pitching staff, as players have been consistently sent down and brought up for the past couple weeks for fresh arms.  Most importantly the team’s top prospect found himself in the big leagues for just one start on Wednesday, May 14, against the Detroit Tigers at home.  After an underwhelming performance (five earned runs in four innings), he was immediately sent back down to the Norfolk Tides to make room for relief pitcher Evan Meek. So I ask you Barry, what do you make of the Orioles handling of Gausman and are they on the fast track of ruining another highly touted pitching prospect?

BK: The Baltimore Orioles have not had a good track record when it comes to the development of young pitchers, and Wednesday’s performance from Gausman was more of the same. With the Orioles in the midst of thirteen consecutive games, Chris Tillman nursing a minor hamstring injury, and a possible suspension for Bud Norris it made sense for the Orioles to call up a starting pitcher from Triple-A Norfolk for Wednesday’s game. However, the decision for it to be Gausman was puzzling for many reasons. Gausman started the month on the minor league disabled list, and he was not on full rest. Combine that with the 12:35 pm start and Justin Verlander taking the mound for the Tigers, the odds were not in Gausman’s favor.

Kevin Gausman is one of the best pitching prospects in the major leagues, and the Orioles should focus on maximizing his potential rather than risking his development for an early May game against the best team in the American League. While Gausman has had some success at the major league level out of the bullpen, the ultimate goal is for him to become a member of the starting rotation as early as this summer, and as late as Opening Day of 2015.

If the Orioles continue to be at or near the top of the American League East, the team could be faced with a predicament come September. In the thick of a playoff race, is it worth calling up Gausman to pitch important innings out of the bullpen, even though he is being groomed as a starter? Only time will tell. But if it means the Orioles are competitive, then it is a good problem to have.

Injuries have become far too common this season. While the Orioles have been fortunate enough to avoid injuries the starting pitchers, the same cannot be said for the infielders. Catcher Matt Wieters is the latest Oriole to head to the disabled list. Brett, can the Orioles win without Wieters’ steady presence, and are you concerned that the catcher can maintain his longevity? 

Matt WietersBD: Well the good news only comes with more bad for the Orioles, as they finally got Chris Davis back on the field, only to lose Matt Wieters.  This team has not had its starting lineup together all season, but still are hanging on towards the top of the AL East.  But the major issue here is Wieters long term health.  It only figures that he would get off to his hottest start of any season during his career, batting .308 with 7 HRs and 18 RBIs, to be shut down in mid-May.  This shoulder strain certainly reiterates the idea that he may not last as a full-time catcher for much longer in his career.

Defensively, his real strength is the ability to control runners on the base paths with his strong arm.  Without that, he is nothing more than average backstop, without great movement to block balls in the dirt. His value for the team and future free agency drastically drops if he cannot throw out runners.

Though a visit with noted sports physician, Dr. James Andrews, brought positive news that Wieters should not need surgery that would have ended his season.  Concerns do arise if this strain will linger and hinder his performance for the rest of 2014.  The team has already reportedly been on the market for a catcher to platoon with Steve Clevenger.   Which is never a good sign for the near future at the position and the team’s confidence that Wieters will make his way back to full strength.

It is a shame that this has happened after he has finally turned things around at the plate, but I’m pretty I have warned about this in the past.  Buck Showalter’s overuse of his catcher may be catching up to him and Wieters may never be the same.

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Tigers TV Network’s Allen believes there is no perfect team in AL East

Posted on 12 May 2014 by WNST Audio

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Royals TV’s Stewart Believes Team’s Recent History Similar to Orioles

Posted on 25 April 2014 by WNST Audio

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Jays analyst Hayhurst thinks Tillman must pitch like ace to save Orioles’ bullpen

Posted on 23 April 2014 by WNST Audio

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How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan: Issue One

Posted on 23 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Baltimore sports fans are irrational, unrealistic, unforgiving, and hard-to-fool.  Baltimore sports fans are unlike any other sports fans, because they’re–as Toyota used to say–“simply the best.”

Every Wednesday, over the next 40-years or so, I’m going to author a semi-regular feature entitled “How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan.”  The idea behind this stems back to a conversation I had with some college students during my time as an English professor at a local community college.

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “This season might be another ‘Why Not’ year.”

Student #1:  “Why not what?”

Me:  The “Why Not” season in 1989; the year the O’s went from worst to ‘almost’ first.

Student #2:  I was born in 1992.

Me:  Don’t you know any Baltimore history?

Student #3:  Ain’t this English class?

Me:  It is.  But you’re clearly struggling with speaking the Queen’s language–and you’re from Baltimore.

Student #3:  How you know dat?

Me:  I can tell by your accent.  I’m from Dundalk.  I could pick out a Bal-murr accent halfway around the world in a room full of people screaming Chinese expletives.

Alas, it’s this conversation that has sparked this column.  Some people–local youth, sheltered stepchildren, non-local-Ivy-Leaguers-of-the-“local media”–need some help on understanding what it means to be a Baltimore sports fan.

Without further ado.

How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan…

#1 Be Irrational: Fire Dave Wallace and release the entire starting rotation.

Miguel Gonzalez went five-and-two-thirds last night.  Wei Yin Chen went five the night before.  Ubaldo Jimenez hurled five-and-a-third on Sunday.  All three pitchers topped the 100 pitch mark.  It’s impossible, yes impossible, to win more than you lose when your starting rotation consistently throws a full-game worth of pitches at the half-way point in the game.

Show me a team who has a rotation that consistently gives way in the 6th and I’ll show you a sub-.500 record.

Perhaps we’re starting to see why Dave Wallace has been away from the Major Leagues since 2007.  Even though he’s still been around baseball, you have to wonder if his tactics and his style are working, some seven years later.

Think about it, what were you doing seven years ago?  Me, I was finishing college and chasing girls around Canton and Fed Hill.  If my wife ditched me tomorrow and I jumped right back into the bar scene, I’d be as effective as water-logged firewood.

 

#2 Be Unrealistic: The Wizards are 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs, build an arena and give Baltimore the ball!

The Wizards look legit.

Down in the fourth-quarter of both games in Chicago, the Wiz–coincidentally, that’s my name too–have come out on top and carry a 2-0 series lead back to the Mid-Atlantic region–Baltimore sports fans refuse to use the word that describes the area in which Congress meets to discuss their vacation plans and fantasy football teams.

All this Wizards’ success means that Baltimore should definitely build a new arena and focus on attracting an NBA team.

 

#3 Be Unforgiving:  Jonathan Schoop doesn’t belong in the Big Leagues.

He can hit.  He’s got some talent.  But he doesn’t understand the game of baseball and desperately needs to return to a slower-pace at Norfolk.

 

#4 Be Hard-To-Fool:  The Ravens aren’t looking for character guys, they’re looking for cheap talent.

Like it or not, the Baltimore Ravens have shifted their focus.  There was a time when the organization steered clear of troubled players–think of all the receivers they passed on during a time when the roster was devoid of anyone with play-making ability.  Brandon Marshall was a head-case, Chad Ochocinco-Martinez-Wong-Abdullah-Kazamakos-Johnson-Smith was a jerk, and so on.

If the flirtation with Rolando McClain proved anything, it’s that the Ravens have given in when it comes to looking past a players’ off-the-field issues or personal flaws.

Maybe it’s just the state of the NFL and society, but if you told me that this organization would have allowed itself to be yo-yoed around and attached to the negative press that Rolando McClain created, I’d have bet you’d first see Peter Angelos doing the Wild Bill O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer atop the Orioles’ dugout in game seven of the World Series.

 

#5 Be The Best:  Ubaldo Jimenez needs some love.

This Friday night, in Baltimore, Jimenez will make his fifth start as an Oriole.  It’ll come against a spry and aggressive Kansas City lineup.  He’s ranged from horrendous to decent thus far.  If you’re at the Yard on Friday night, get behind Baltimore’s $50Million man.  Give him some love.

But if he gets chased after giving up more than five runs in less than five innings, boo him like he’s the lovechild of Billy Cundiff and Mark Teixeira

 

 

 

 

 

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