Tag Archive | "Chris Ray"

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Morning Millwood

Posted on 09 December 2009 by dansoderberg

I gotta admit I really like the Millwood deal for the Orioles. I don’t care what that stick in the mud Keith Law over at ESPN thinks of the trade. I’ve been skeptical of the team’s off-season intentions, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. They’re finally spending some of that MASN money and that’s at least something to get excited about.

In my blog yesterday I questioned the strategy of giving up a pitching prospect to acquire Millwood with just one year left on his contract. Giving up Chris Ray is a completely different scenario. Ray has never lived up the club’s expectations for him and he’s now in line to receive larger paydays through arbitration. The deal opens up Ray’s role for a younger, cheaper pitcher like David Hernandez or Kam Mickolio.

Yesterday I suggested the Orioles sign a free agent starter like Jon Garland, but Millwood was already under contract and will be pitching for a new deal. The other benefit of dealing for Millwood is that he had no ability to block the deal. We all remember the “Confederate Money” quote from the Syd Thrift days, but frankly the Orioles haven’t been a very appealing option for free agents. If a player has options he ain’t coming to Baltimore. Millwood had no such options.

It has been reported that the Orioles traded the 3rd pick in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft to the Rangers as part of the Millwood deal. My guess is the pick is used to select Bowie BaySox Right Hander Steven Johnson, thus making the final deal Millwood plus $3 million for Chris Ray and Steven Johnson.

Welcome to Baltimore Kevin. Hopefully this is the first of many moves for Mr. MacPhail.

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Growing the Arms, Pie in the Sky, and Goodbye to an Un-American Eyesore

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Growing the Arms, Pie in the Sky, and Goodbye to an Un-American Eyesore

Posted on 30 August 2009 by Sam Angell


The past ten games have shown us something about these 2009 Orioles. This year’s record may not show it, but this is not the same team that has put up losing campaigns the last 12 seasons. This year’s team has fight – and isn’t done putting up some positively exciting results. That may not have been more evident than Sunday afternoon, when rookie Brian Matusz set new career highs with eight strikeouts and seven innings pitched. After five starts in which he showed flashes of brilliance but couldn’t put everything together, Matusz knew he was going to have a better day on Sunday, and told teammates and reports to expect it.

He was right.

Matusz seems to be showing an incredible sense of self-awareness. His ability to identify and correct his mechanical flaws with the help of pitching coach Rick Kranitz will prove invaluable over the course of his career, and could help him avoid prolonged stretches of poor outings. There will undoubtedly be more missteps along the way for Matusz, and the team he dominated on Sunday was not exactly one of the Major League’s most potent offenses. But the Indians – especially Andy Marte, who went 0-3 against Matusz – had shown a knack for delivering some painful knockout blows during the four-game series at Camden Yards this weekend. Even when the Birds could retire the Indians, it seemed like they had to put a little extra work in, as center fielder Adam Jones twice robbed Indians of home runs on Saturday night. Matusz shut the Tribe down. It will take time to know for sure, but he certainly looks like he could turn into the top-of-the-rotation ace that the Orioles hoped he would be when they selected him in the first round last year.

Matusz hasn’t been the only Oriole looking good lately. Chris Tillman has continued to impress over his first few Major League outings, and although David Hernandez has suffered a few setbacks recently, he bounced back with a solid effort on Thursday night in a no-decision. Jeremy Guthrie, the anointed ace of the staff coming into the year, has looked like the Guthrie of old in his last two outings. Even Jason Berken, who wallowed through much of the campaign and seemed like a strong candidate for demotion before the injury to Brad “R.O.Y.” Bergesen, has won his last two starts and three of his last five, giving up no more than three earned runs in each outing.

For the most part, these guys are keeping the team in the game. There have been a few hiccups from the bullpen, but they are also showing signs of an emerging confidence and dependability. George Sherrill put up a tremendous year-and-a-half for the Birds, and could have rightfully added an All-Star appearance this year to go along with what should have been an All-Star Game M.V.P. outing last season. But Kam Mickolio has shown a calm under pressure and an ability to throw strikes – something that sounds simple but may end up making him one of the most valuable pieces the Orioles got for Erik Bedard two offseasons ago. Thursday night’s blown save notwithstanding, Jim Johnson has looked like a more than capable replacement for Sherrill in the closer role, with a sinking fastball that can reach the upper-nineties and keep batters from making solid contact. Even Chris Ray, who appeared to some as a lost cause at least twice this season, may have finally gotten his mechanical issues figured out on his last trip down to Norfolk.

“Grow the arms and buy the bats.” That has been the philosophy of Andy MacPhail all along. Maybe he’s been on to something.


Speaking of the Orioles’ bats, who saw this coming from Felix Pie? The baserunning mistakes are still there, painful even for tee ball-playing little leaguers to watch. But he has been lethal at the plate lately. More and more often, Pie has sent rockets out of the Yard, allowing him the freedom to circle the basepaths at his leisure. Sunday’s opposite field blast to open up a 3-0 lead on the Indians was impressive, but perhaps his most jaw-dropping bomb of the year came last week in Minnesota, when he teed off on a Twinkie pitch and sent it soaring beyond the deep center field wall at the Metrodome. Cal Ripken got his 3,000th hit at the Metrodome, and the Orioles have always played well there. But that might have been the most impressive shot I have ever seen at that place. This guy can hit, folks. He’s clearly got a lot of work to do, but maybe he was worth keeping around after all. Hopefully he comes back in the spring with a little more understanding of the subtleties of the game.


Since we’re on the subject of the Metrodome, the Orioles’ win on Wednesday night marked the end of their time in that abomination of a ballpark. Although the Birds generally fared well there and it was, as I mentioned, the site of Cal Ripken’s 3,000th hit, it was a lousy place for a ballgame. Oriole Park has the Warehouse. Wrigley has the Ivy. Fenway has the Green Monster. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome had sandwich bags that had been left in Kirby Puckett’s locker hanging from the rafters in right field. The roof wreaked havoc on fly balls, and ground balls hit on the ultra-fast, ultra-hard artificial surface weren’t much more fun. The Mall of America stands where the Twins’ former home, Metropolitan Stadium, once existed. With its sterile, fluorescent environment and deteriorating amenities (on a recent visit, my parents were shocked to find that the place didn’t even bother to sell Twins hats!), there aren’t many more Un-American ballparks in the Major Leagues. Even Toronto’s SkyDome, with its Hard Rock Cafe, McDonalds, and swanky hotel, is more American than that place. And that’s without even bringing up the swastika that perpetually hovers over the cool, clear Minneapolis sky.



That’s all for me today. Happy belated Birthday, Michael.

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Brad Bergesen #35 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium May 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brad Bergesen

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Brad Bergesen: My Orioles 1st half MVP

Posted on 09 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

The term “most valuable player” is one that has differing meaning to everyone. Is the most valuable player the player who has the most impressive stats? Is it the player that is the most recognizable? Or is it actually the player that is the most “valuable” to his team’s success?

To me, the definition for most valuable player is clear and concise. In fact, it is right there in the title. Most Valuable Player to me means the person, who has the most value to their team,which constitutes more then just wins and losses. So my Orioles first half MVP is none other then the new ” ace” of the starting staff, Brad Bergesen.

Many people will be quick to call me out for not choosing Adam Jones because of his numbers and his All-Star status, but they need to look deeper into what value Bergesen and Jones provide the Orioles.

Jones is currently hitting .308 with 12 home runs and 47 runs batted in. These numbers were impressive enough to make him the Orioles lone representative in the All- Star game but they do not make him my 1st half MVP. There is no doubt in my mind that when his career is over Adam Jones will be a perennial All-Star and one of the greatest Orioles to ever put on a uniform, right now I give the MVP nod to Bergesen for many reasons.

Brad Bergesen #35 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium May 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brad Bergesen

Bergesen is currently 5-3 with a 3.59 ERA and only 50 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings pitched. To find the true value of Bergesen to the Orioles, you need to look deeper then his stats.

After  pitching 5 2/3 innings in his major league debut on April 21st, Bergesen has lasted less then six innings only three times in his next 14 starts. In his last 8 starts Bergesen has pitched an average of 7.2 innings and has lowered his ERA from 4.94 to 3.59.

Sitting here and regurgitating stats is not going to show Bergesen’s true value but will give you a little basis for my argument. To me, Bergesen’s real value to the team is his ability to save the bullpen and give the Orioles a chance to win every fifth day. He works quickly, and his teammates know that when he pitches they usually only need three or four runs to win. I believe that Bergesen has the respect and confidence of his teammates and that is a value that can’t be measured with statistics.

Another important characteristic that Bergy has is his “bulldog” like mentality and willingness to pitch until he can’t pitch anymore. For Orioles fans that remember seeing Erik Bedard pull himself out after 75 pitches, It is refreshing to see a 24 year old that is willing to throw as many pitches as possible to get the job done.

Bergesen only failed to eclipse the 85 pitch mark just once- a game against the Philies where he tired himself out running the bases the inning before- and has thrown over 100 pitches seven times. The mantra of the Orioles over their 11 straight losing seasons has been that come June, the bullpen is on fumes and they lose a lot of leads. Brad Bergesen has done his best to buck this trend and the less Chris Ray is in the game, the better off the Orioles are.

Ask George Sherrill, Jim Johnson, Danys Baez and the rest of the bullpen who the Orioles 1st half MVP is and they will give you the same answer I gave: Brad Bergesen.

At 23, Bergesen represents hope and rejuvenation to the fans every time he pitches.

That might just be what makes him the most valuable.

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Questions, Comments and Concerns

Posted on 06 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

Sometimes in the sports media world we are forced to deal with tragedy and must talk about it whether we want to or not. Steve McNair’s tragic death has been the topic of conversation for the weekend and probably will continue to be until all the details come out. I have made it known how I feel on the topic, so this blog will be my traditional questions, comment and concerns:


Who is the more dominate athlete, Tiger or Roger?

There is no question that both players are clearly the most dominate athletes of their sport, but who is more dominant?I know people are quick to anoint Federer as the better athlete given the physicality of Tennis to Golf but I still lean toward Tiger. Federer has won 15 majors to Tiger’s 14 but I still believe Tiger is more dominate for a myriad of reasons.

First, I consider golfers athletes and I believe hitting a golf ball consistently accurate is one of the hardest things to do in sports. People shouldn’t  discount it as a sport just because it isn’t “physical”.

Second, just seeing Tiger’s name instills fear in his other competitors and causes them to fold. Mental dominance plays just as big of a role in being dominate as athleticism does. While Federer is good, I don’t believe that people “fear” him nearly as much as golfers fear Tiger.

Lastly, Federer seems to have an equal in Rafael Nadal who has beaten the last few finals that they played in, while Tiger has no equal in his sport. It is impossible to win every golf tournament but Tiger has the best chance of winning every tournament he enters then the rest of the field does. Both are great and I love Federer but I have to give the nod to Tiger.

Has USA soccer done enough to get people to start caring?

To me- and the rest of the world- there is no more exciting sporting event then the World Cup . In all other countries outside of the United States, the country comes to a virtual stop when the World Cup is going on. The United States has been a traditional doormat in international soccer for years, but their win against Spain and hard fought play against Brazil shows they might be turning the corner.

I think if they can continue win in World Cup qualifying then the fans will start to pay attention and should be very excited come June 2010 when the World Cup starts. After upsetting Spain, even the most casual soccer fans, were excited and made it a point to watch the Brazil game. Every person that I talked to was brimming with American pride and made it a point to watch all 90 minutes of the USA/Brazil game.

If the American team can start winning some games consistently then soccer could start to become a more popular sport. Hopefully for their sake- and the sake of the sport- this happens.


I would trade anyone on the Orioles outside of Jones, Markakis and Wieters.

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, the Orioles once again figure to be “sellers” instead of “buyers”. If I was Andy MacPhail I would seriously entertain the notion of trading anyone on the team outside of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters. Certainly MacPhail isn’t going to just give away Brian Roberts and Aubrey Huff, but if he can get a deal that he likes I think he should pull the trigger.

Roberts and Mora are the longest tenured Orioles but I don’t feel like the Orioles “owe” them anything and should be more then willing to trade them if a team makes a reasonable offer for them. I expect to see quite a few Orioles on the move and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora were traded. 

Dave Trembley has got to go.

I have been a proponent of Dave Trembely getting fired since the season started and I continue to echo those sentiments after some bad decision making and poor fundamental baseball from the Orioles. Managing in the American League is much easier then managing in the National League but Trembley still doesn’t seem to “get it”.

My main problems with Trembley are that I  he is to “by the book” and that he is responsible for the lack of fundamentals. Every time a pitcher reaches 100 pitches Dave Trembley is quick with to pull them and I have a major problem with that. In his last start Brad Bergesen was at 103 pitches after 8 innings bust jut retired the side on eight pitches in the last inning. There is throwing 100 pitches and there is “laboring”, and Bergesen was not laboring. Just because you have a pitchers that are your “7th, 8th and 9th inning guys” doesn’t mean you need to put them in the game in those innings.

Normally, I believe that a Major League manager really only needs to make a few decisions a game and that the players win and lose the game. I think the main role of a manager is to manage the players ego’s and make sure they know the fundamentals and in that role Trembley has failed. Every game the Orioles commit a myraid of mistakes and Dave Trembely does nothing to correct this. I know these players are veterans and should know the fundamentals, however, if they continue to make mistakes without and repercussions then they will continue make them. Trembley needs to make a statement and start benching players or even call them out publicly to light a fire under them.

I have seen enough of Dave Trembley and I know the Orioles are better off without him.

I want to see some changes in the pitching staff.

I don’t know if the Orioles feel like they owe something to Chris Ray and Rich Hill by continuing to trot them out there, but personally I have seen enough of them. I tend to give Hill more rope then Ray because he has shown success starting previously and has had a few games this year where he has looked good, but I am now at the end of my rope with Hill. Chris Ray has been awful this season and was awful the season before his injury and I feel like he should not be on this team.

I would love to see the Orioles trade Jeremy Guthrie and bring up Troy Patton and Chris Tillman. If this happens the Orioles rotation of the “future” starts to take shape with Patton, Tillman, Hernandez, Bergesen and either Bereken or Arrieta. It is not doing anyone any good- the fans in particular- to keep trotting Rich Hill out to the mound and watching him get shelled. The Orioles need to make some changes sooner rather then later.


The Orioles are starting to give up and may go on a downward spiral.

After losing 3 of four games against the Angels in which they blew two four run leads I feel like the Orioles are on their way towards another dismal second half. Players like Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora seem to be disenchanted and it looks like the players have given up on the season.  

I think the Orioles may get swept by the Mariners and if this happens, I think any possibility of reaching the .500 mark goes out the window.

It looks like its going to be another “long” summer of Orioles baseball.

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5 Ws and 1 H

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Luke Jones

I wanted to take a moment to wish all the moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  In the sports world, we tend to overlook Mom in favor of Dad taking the kids to ballgames or coaching the little league team.

In my own childhood, my dad often had the glory, taking me to Orioles and Ravens games and coaching many of my teams, but my mom was right there at every game as my No. 1 fan.  I sincerely thank her for that.

Now, on to the 5 Ws and 1 H for the week.

1.  Who really deserves to be the Orioles’ closer at this point?  The closer-by-committee idea sounds logical, but relievers have to be effective in order for it to work.  The struggles of George Sherrill against right-handed hitting are well-documented (right-handers are hitting .378 against him), but no one else is emerging as a viable option.

Chris Ray (7.20 ERA) still doesn’t look right after returning from Tommy John surgery, Jamie Walker is really a one or two-batter pitcher at this point in his career, and Jim Johnson gave up the demoralizing three-run homer to Johnny Damon this afternoon.

Danys Baez has been the best of the bunch, but the team is hesitant to throw him into the role of pitching on consecutive days at this point.  He has done a great job filling the role held by Matt Albers last season before he went down with a shoulder injury.

Then again, the club really doesn’t need a closer when the bullpen can rarely hold a lead into the ninth inning.  One thing is for sure—the bullpen has been a major disappointment after looking like it might be one of the team’s strengths entering the season.

2.  What do you think was going through the mind of Alex Rodriguez on Thursday when the news broke that Manny Ramirez was being suspended 50 games for failing a drug test?

Was A-Rod happy to have the attention deflected away from him, or did it bring more scrutiny for his return to the Yankees lineup?

3.  Where will the Ravens go with the wide receiver position after trying out Jerry Porter, Kelley Washington, and Tab Perry this weekend?  None of the three will be a savior, but it certainly seems more crucial to find another veteran option after learning Derrick Mason could miss the preseason after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Washington reportedly had the most impressive showing of the three, but Ozzie Newsome will continue to see who else might shake loose from the other 31 NFL teams between now and late July.

Anquan Boldin’s agent Drew Rosenhaus claims he still expects his client to be traded, but don’t look for the Ravens to make the move unless they can sign Terrell Suggs to a long-term extension.  Suggs’ $10.2 million cap number makes a Boldin trade and subsequent new contract virtually impossible.

4.  When will we see the next high-profile minor leaguer in Baltimore?  Rich Hill—though not really a prospect—pitched six scoreless innings and picked up his first victory for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday.

We’ll have to wait and see on the status of Luke Scott (shoulder) and Lou Montanez (thumb) during Monday’s off day.  Nolan Reimold (.381, 8 HR, 25 RBI at Norfolk) would figure to be on Andy MacPhail’s speed dial and is more than deserving of a promotion.

Matt Wieters is now hitting .301 despite only hitting one home run this season in Triple A.  At this point, it seems the Orioles are content waiting until early June to promote the 22-year-old catcher to avoid Super 2 Status, preventing him from being eligible for a fourth year of arbitration before free agency.  The recent hot streak of catcher Gregg Zaun—hitting .478 in May—makes the situation a little easier to swallow.

5.  Why won’t Brett Favre just stay or go away?  I have no problem with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history wanting to continue his career; however, I grow tired of the drama over whether he will return or stay retired.

Here’s an idea:  simply WAIT and THINK before making a life-changing decision, and stick with it when you finally decide.  The drama that has unfolded since he retired from the Packers is more annoying than compelling.

Favre should have taken a lesson from Jonathan Ogden in handling a retirement.  Though the circumstances were different with Ogden nursing a chronic toe problem, he waited and really thought about his future before finally retiring last June.

6.  How are we going to make it to late July for the start of Ravens training camp?  This weekend’s minicamp feels like such a tease for those of us craving football season.

It would certainly help if the Orioles could play competitive baseball until then, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy watching a team that’s 13-19 and cannot pitch at all.  The promotion of young players like Wieters and Reimold will spark some interest, but will it be enough?

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Why the Orioles bullpen held a closed-door meeting

Posted on 05 May 2009 by Luke Jones

From the home office in Glen Rock, Pa., I bring to you the Top 10 Reasons Why the Orioles Bullpen Held a Closed-Door Meeting on Monday Afternoon.

10.  They’re still trying to figure out just how high Radhames Liz’s ERA was in his last stint with the club.

9.  “I know we’ve asked you before, but is it pronounced ‘Danny’ or ‘Dan-eez?'”

8.  They figured since they can’t manage to close the door late in the game, they might as well try to do it in the clubhouse.

7.  With minicamp starting Friday, the relievers discussed who among them could be that big-play receiver the Ravens lack.

6.  To cool complaints about not having established roles, the front office sent over a pack of these for the bullpen to share.

5.  “George, when you’re the closer, we called it colorful.  When you’re not, the brim’s just kind of lame.”

4.  Jamie Walker shared his new seminar titled “How to Critique Umpiring Tactfully.”

3.  After watching another episode of The Office, Chris Ray shouted, “Conference room, 5 minutes!”

2.  Figuring out how to get the bullpen phone to go straight to voice mail is not a one-man job.

1.  In an attempt to jumpstart the club, instead of pitching the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, the relievers will now take turns hitting seventh, eighth, and ninth in the lineup.

(Update:  Gregg Zaun, Cesar Izturis, and Felix Pie were unavailable for comment, as they were working in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.  MASN’s Jim Hunter immediately praised the decision.)

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If I Were In Charge Of The O’s

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

If I were in charge of the Orioles’ front office what would I do?  Well the Orioles are mired in a six game losing streak and have lost 14 of their last 18 games.  The precipitous fall down the standings has come about two months early this year and I for one would like to change that.



The first thing I would do is cut Adam Eaton and his 7.17 ERA.  Yes he did have that one good start against the White Sox, but as the saying goes a broken clock is right twice a day.  He is hardly the “veteran” presence that the O’s need when they eventually call up their pampered pitching prospects.  The second thing I would do is call up David Hernandez to take Eaton’s spot in the rotation.  Hernandez is a young guy who has been in the system a while and he deserves a shot, I think at worst he could post a 7.17 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.  And for those of you who are scared about hurting our young pitcher’s psyches it doesn’t appear that he is in the team’s long term plans for the future so seeing what he has to offer affords very little downside.  Right now Hernandez isn’t exactly tearing up AAA Norfolk but I guarantee you he can do better than Eaton.



As soon as Rich Hill proves that he is ready to return from the DL I would recall him and send Mark Hendrickson to the bullpen.  This move also has little downside because if Hill does not pan out the O’s didn’t really lose anything, but if he does regain the form that made him into a touted prospect he can help solidify the rotation.  I would say to cut Hendrickson but as he is owed considerably more than the $400,000 they are paying Eaton (1.5 million to be exact) he can serve out his term as a lefty reliever/mop-up guy and spot start in a pinch (he doesn’t have much arm left so blowing it out isn’t a concern).  This move of course would send Brian Bass and his 6.62 ERA to Norfolk to get some more “seasoning.”



The last pitching move I would make would be to replace George Sherrill as the closer.  Last season Sherrill showed signs of his inability to be the primary closer when he scuffled in the second half.  He has continued to regress this season from his All-Star worthy performance of a year ago.  I personally don’t care for the idea of a left-handed closer anyway.  With the game on the line I think the better match-up would be to have a right-handed power arm and it just so happens the Orioles have one of those in Chris Ray.  I think Ray will eventually round into form and reclaim the job as the season progresses but until then I would use a combination of either Jim Johnson or Ray (occasionally Sherrill) to finish games.  Let’s be honest with ourselves the Orioles will seldom be in the lead late in games this season so blowing saves will severely hamper the win total.  Sherrill is best in small doses as primarily a situational/set-up guy.



As far as the Felix Pie experiment I would have to call it a day for now and bring up Nolan Reimold.  Again Reimold has been in the organization for a few years and he deserves a shot with the parent club, especially the way he is tearing the cover off of the ball.  It would be a tough decision on what to do between Pie and Lou Montanez.  I would like to see Pie develop into something special but that day may never come.  He is a liability in leftfield, he runs the bases haphazardly like Melvin Mora, and he can’t pinch hit, so being the 4th outfielder is not really going to help him progress.  I have a feeling he may slide through waivers and if so I would send him down.  However if I thought he may be selected by another team I would have to send Montanez down just because of my desire to see Pie reach his promise.   As far as Ryan Freel is concerned I would try to trade him to the National League where he can get more playing time and not be such a distraction.  I don’t think he realizes that utility players batting well under the Mendoza line don’t play often in the American League.  If I couldn’t find a trading partner I would probably see if he would accept assignment because injuries could play a factor down the road and depth is something, as O’s fans we know all too well, is hard to do without.  Outright release would be the next option as far as Freel is concerned.



These are some of the moves I would definitely make if I were the in charge of the birds.  I would also like to address the Matt Wieters situation in more depth later because it is an interesting topic unto itself but obviously Greg Zaun isn’t cutting the mustard.  These are my thoughts what do you think they should do?  Post a comment so we can discuss.

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The Orioles Weekend

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Melvin Mora has been activated from the disabled list today which is surprisingly good news.  Ty Wigginton has been a butcher at third base so far this year and it may be because he needs to lose a little weight.  He rakes lefties but is much better suited to come off of the bench due to his lack of defense.  The return of Mora not only improves the infield defense but it also forces the Orioles to send Matt Albers down.  I think Albers’ slow start is due to choosing rehab for his labrum injury instead of electing to have surgery.  I still think that he is going to be a good reliever in the long run but he needs to get the surgery if he wants to return to form.


Over the weekend the Orioles lost a series against the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers are a team that contenders will routinely pound night in and night out because they lack pitching.  Losing 3 of 4 to the Rangers sums up the Orioles’ season thus far considering we hit well but couldn’t get anyone out.  I attended the game on Friday night and I was thoroughly impressed with the crowd.  The camaraderie in the stands was fantastic and it was evident that the town still loves the birds.  However, the strong showing probably had more to do with the great weather and ice cold beer than with Oriole magic, considering the amount of Yankee jerseys and apparel from teams not named the Baltimore Orioles seen around the yard.  There was a little too much alcohol flowing on this particular college night because a shirtless punk decided to run out onto the field, the game was delayed for a time but it was good to see the fans were at least paying enough attention to notice the idiocy. 


It is however apparent that George Sherrill is not a closer, he puts too many guys on base and he gives up too many hits.  Sherrill may have made the All-Star team last year but he is at best a situational closer as witnessed by his performance toward the end of last season.  Chris Ray needs to assert himself as the closer so that Sherrill can return to a more natural set-up role.  The fans deserve to leave the stadium in a good mood instead of departing with elevated blood pressure because Sherrill gives up a walk-off to Michael Young.  Having a lefty as a closer is tricky because they often face tough match-ups against good right-handed hitters at the end of the game and can be overmatched in that situation.


The offense is still clicking most nights which helps keep the game interesting especially if the Orioles are behind in the later innings.  How good is Adam Jones by the way, he is a complete stud and is rapidly approaching star status, his homerun on Sunday was only a harbinger of heroics to come.  I like the fact that we can slug it out with teams adept on offense, it’s truly a wonderful thing considering a couple of years ago Jay Gibbons was the power in the middle of the order.  But the truth is the O’s will not approach .500 until they get better effort from the starting pitchers.  I didn’t think I would ever say I am excited to see Rich Hill but I think he has a chance to improve the rotation when he returns.  Also, something appears to be wrong with Jeremy Guthrie and I hope that he does not have any residual effects from last season’s shoulder impingement.  Guthrie is no ace but he can pitch more effectively than what he has shown thus far.


The weekend didn’t go so well but hopefully they bounce back tonight against the Angels.  The birds have won all of their three game series this year so hopefully that trend continues.  Good luck to Adam Eaton, it would be great if he produced another miracle start just as he did on Thursday against the White Sox.  A sweep of the Angels would be nice in order to be in good standing heading into their match-up against Toronto. 

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Merry Christmas, Ravens fans!

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Luke Jones

The NFL Draft feels a little bit like Christmas for football fans.  By the end of the weekend, the Ravens will have unwrapped five or six new players that can make an impact in 2009.  Many teams will not be able to say this, but the outstanding work of Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, and the scouting department makes this possible.

Whether it’s a Brandon Pettigrew in the first round or a surprise in the fourth or fifth round, the Ravens are certain to grab a few players that were higher on their board than where they actually select them.  It seems to happen every year.

Not counting weekends in the fall, this is easily the best sports weekend of the year with the draft, NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, and baseball.  The Terps also play their spring football game today.  Here are some other random thoughts on this action-filled sports weekend:

– The Orioles’ 5-4 loss was a tough one to swallow last night.  George Sherrill should ideally be a left-handed specialist rather than the closer, but what other option do they really have?  Chris Ray hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, and Jim Johnson doesn’t miss enough bats to be a reliable closer. Dave Trembley should really use all three relievers to close games and allow the situation to dictate who pitches in the ninth inning.

The first four batters of the ninth inning last night hit from the right side (Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a switch hitter).  This is not the ideal situation for Sherrill—especially if he’s only going to throw fastballs to Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.

Unless your team has a dynamic closer like a Mariano Rivera or a Francisco Rodriguez, the choice to designate one person as the closer continues to baffle me.  But it’s all around baseball—not just the Orioles.

– While admittedly preferring college basketball to the NBA, it’s hard to ignore the excitement of the NBA playoffs.  For the first time since Michael Jordan walked away from the game for good, the league has legitimate star power with the trio of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade.

Take notice how often you see these three in the commercials over the weekend.  The NBA and NFL do an outstanding job marketing its players—Major League Baseball should take notes, as their marketing efforts are abysmal.

– Though often overlooked for some of the bigger stars in the league, Baltimore’s Carmelo Anthony is still one of the best players in the NBA.

His scoring was down this season (22.8 from 25.7 in 2007-2008), but the Nuggets are the No. 2 seed in the West and have a chance to win their first playoff series since 1994.  It’s no surprise that Anthony has largely been ignored playing in Denver.

If Anthony and Chauncey Billups can lead the Nuggets to finally break the five-year first-round losing streak and move to the Western Conference semifinals, Anthony will get the recognition he deserves.

– Though it probably won’t be Anquan Boldin, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens make a trade to acquire a veteran this weekend.  Ozzie Newsome surrendered a fourth-round pick to acquire Fabian Washington last season and another for Kevin Johnson in 2004.

The chance of a trade probably diminishes with only having six picks, but Newsome could dangle next year’s third- or fourth-round selection if an appealing veteran receiver would become available.

– Even though no one really knows what’s going to happen today (including Newsome and DeCosta), I’ll go on record to say the Ravens trade down into the first few picks of the second round and select wide receiver Hakeem Nicks from North Carolina, who surprisingly falls into the second round.

Of course, this pretty much confirms that it won’t happen, so if you were coveting Nicks for the Ravens, my sincere apologies.


Enjoy the afternoon.  I’ll be checking in later in the day.

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Your 6-0 final…

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Luke Jones

Here are my final thoughts on the Birds’ 6-0 victory over Tampa Bay tonight:

– Jeremy Guthrie pitched well, turning in six shutout innings.  His velocity was right around 91-92 miles per hour according to the stadium radar gun, which should ease some concern about his health entering the season.

After a terrible spring, Guthrie is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.  He would probably be no more than a good third starter on a contending team, but the Orioles are certainly glad to have him at the top of the rotation with so many question marks behind him.

– Melvin Mora’s first-inning grand slam was the third of his career and his 82nd career home run at Camden Yards, fourth all-time.  Only Rafael Palmeiro (124), Brady Anderson (91), and Cal Ripken (85) are in front of him.

– Jamie Walker looked like the pitcher from two seasons ago in his 1 1/3 innings, striking out one and getting Evan Longoria to ground into a double play in the eighth.  The left-handed specialist would be a huge lift to the bullpen if he can regain his 2007 form.

– Chris Ray struck out the side in the ninth inning and looked very impressive.  His slider was especially effective in fooling Tampa Bay hitters.

His velocity was up to 94 miles per hour tonight, an improvement from his last appearance but still not where he was a couple seasons ago.  Overall, it was an encouraging outing for the 27-year old right-hander.

– The Orioles will be faced with a roster decision tomorrow when Adam Eaton is expected to make his first start of the season.  My best guess is the club attempts to sneak Brian Bass through waivers.

(UPDATE: Roch Kubatko is reporting the Orioles will option Matt Albers to Triple-A Norfolk.  The move makes sense, as the Orioles will likely need several long relievers throughout the season due to the shaky rotation.  This allows Bass to give the team some more innings without exposing him to waivers.  Albers will probably be back sooner rather than later.)

– Two series wins against the Yankees and the Rays to begin the season.  Not a bad start against two of the best teams in the American League.

We’ll see if the Orioles (4-1) can earn the sweep tomorrow before starting a seven-game road trip.

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