Tag Archive | "chris"

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Harbaugh refutes ESPN report regarding Ozzie’s interest in Vick

Posted on 13 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

On a bizarre night for breaking news in Baltimore — with Michael Phelps getting into an accident at Calvert & Biddle and Michael Vick abruptly signing in Philly — the wildest story came an hour after the Eagles fans went into deep shock and disgust when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Ravens were very much in the hunt for Vick’s services.

ESPN reported that Ozzie Newsome wanted Vick and had a lack of agreement with owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh.

It didn’t take me five minutes after the game to find one “off the record” official who called it “bulls**t” and John Harbaugh then told me he was happy to go on the record as saying “that’s completely false, completely untrue.”

Who knows what those conversations sounded like in Westminster last week but both of my sources were very perplexed and almost angry about the report.

Either way, we can collectively breath a sigh of relief that Vick isn’t heading here.

For the folks in Philadelphia the second guessing and the drama has only begun.

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Ravens should end Vick speculation now: Just officially say “no thanks”

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Chris Mortensen of ESPN has opined this morning — with speculation, and nothing more — that the Ravens might be a very interested suitor in Michael Vick. Personally, I think it’s hogwash and one source from the organization has already told me it’s not even close to the truth.

There has been no indication at all that the Ravens have their sights on Michael Vick, nor should they in my opinion.

Barring some miracle, mystery rendezvous that Ozzie Newsome has been doing behind the scenes this almost seems outlandish.

Really, what’s the upside here for a team that was four minutes away and one drive from going to the Super Bowl in late January?

This would be a major late training camp summer distraction for a guy who will have the PETA police and any other dog-lover and convict-hater out in full force in a protest of the organization, league and all things Vick in general.

All of this for a guy who had trouble running real offenses in Atlanta and a guy who — on his best day — would be a No. 2 banana in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco and drive the team and the city to distraction?

All of this for a “wild cat” QB-slash-WR on a John Harbaugh team that jettisoned all of the riff raff over the past 18 months since Brian Billick’s firing?

And would Cam Cameron find this attractive? Would Steve Bisciotti?

None of it makes sense.

Ozzie Newsome — like Lucy Ricardo — would have a “lotta ‘splain’ to do.”

Newsome always makes measured, sensible moves. This doesn’t add up but it makes a nice August summer day speculation for Vick’s ultimate destination.

I hope it’s not Baltimore. I believe it’s not Baltimore. And, further more, I’ve been told it won’t be Baltimore.

The Ravens should officially end the speculation before dinner time tonight: just say “no thanks” to Michael Vick once and for all and move on.

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Live from Brawl-minster: Ravens get chippy in heat, Harbs cancels p.m. practice

Posted on 08 August 2009 by Luke Jones

1:47 p.m. — As fans continue to wonder about the status of Terrell Suggs and Samari Rolle, Harbaugh is not providing much clarity on either player.

“No, nothing really new on that.  They’re both just rehabbing, and that’s where we’re at.”

Suggs injured his heel on Sunday, and Rolle is the only player remaining on the physically unable to perform list.

1:41 p.m. — Harbaugh did not seem upset nor surprised with the morning practice skirmish.  He simply reiterated his preference for the battles in between the whistles.

“We’ve had a lot of scuffles before the whistle gets blown, I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said.  “Those are the scuffles we’re most interested in.  The other ones are irrelevant.  We don’t mind them.  We don’t want them.  We don’t not want them.  We don’t care about them.  The ones before the whistle gets blown—those are the ones that matter.  Our guys have had plenty of those.”

Here are Harbaugh’s comments on the Michael Oher calf situation:

“It doesn’t look serious.  He pinched it, as Bill [Tessendorf] put [the injury report] in there.  It may be a little bit of a calf sprain.  It will be a rehab issue for a little while.”

12:32 p.m. — A few reminders if you’re planning on heading out to Westminster in the next few days.

This afternoon’s practice has been cancelled.  The next practice will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2:45 p.m.  It is open to the public.

Monday morning’s practice is CLOSED to the general public.  The team will have an open practice at 2:45 p.m.

Monday morning’s practice will be open to the media, so WNST.net will have all of the Ravens updates you want and need.

12:30 p.m. — Brendon Ayanbadejo was working out on the other field during practice.  He’s still recovering from a sprained toe.

Suggs walked out to the field for the final moments of practice, wearing sneakers and still limping slightly.

12:27 p.m. — We saw our daily long touchdown to Justin Harper this morning, as Troy Smith threw a deep one to the second-year receiver.  Harper beat Evan Oglesby on the play.

While Harbaugh is pleased with Harper’s ability to stretch the field, he still wants more consistency out of the 6-3 receiver.  He wants Harper to make the tough catches in traffic, an area in which he’s struggled.

12:24 p.m. — Ray Rice continues to show great moves in the open field.  This morning, Rice caught a pass in the flat and put a tremendous move on Jason Phillips, leaving the rookie in the dust.  Rice continues to get the majority of the first-team reps at running back, but McGahee is still right behind him.

McGahee was seen with an ice pack on his left knee yesterday morning, but he was back out there today with no apparent problems.

12:21 p.m. — Tight end L.J. Smith appears to be finding his way in the Ravens’ offense.  He caught several passes today and seems to be regaining his speed after tweaking a hamstring at the beginning of training camp.

If healthy, Heap and Smith have the potential to be a pretty formidable duo at tight end, a major help to Flacco with the uncertainty at the wide receiver position.

12:16 p.m. — As previously reported, it was an ugly day offensively.  Dropped passes and interceptions were the story of the morning before the big fight.  In addition to Walker, Chris Carr also picked off Flacco.

Despite the rough morning, Flacco did have some nice throws including a nice 17-yard out pattern to Marcus Smith (who was playing Mason’s position with the starting offense) and a long, beautiful touchdown to Smith later in practice.  Considering Smith has had a quiet starting to training camp, it was good for him to make some plays this morning.

12:14 p.m. — Cornerback Frank Walker had another good day, breaking up several passes and picking off Joe Flacco during 11-on-11 drills.  Walker is the most physical corner on the roster and has the ability to play bump-and-run coverage, unlike most of the Ravens’ cover corners.

12:09 p.m. — It was an “over 30″ day off for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, and Matt Birk.

Harbaugh gave a few injury updates after practice.  Oniel Cousins sustained a sprained left ankle, but the head coach said he should return soon.  Terrell Suggs (heel) and Samari Rolle (shoulder/neck) continue to rehab their respective injuries, but Harbaugh did not update when the two will return.

Oher suffered a right calf strain or “pinch” as Harbaugh described it.  The coach did not seem concerned about the injury, but Oher did not return to practice.

12:03 p.m. — It was a difficult day for Gano, but his morning ended in triumph.  After missing kicks from 35, 48, and 53 yards, Gano had a 36-yard attempt with the afternoon off riding on it.  The rookie kicker hit it, and Harbaugh cancelled the afternoon practice to reward his team for all of its hard work.

Gano’s leg was tired today, according to Harbaugh.  He came up short from 53 yards, a distance he had easily been making throughout training camp.

Gano did make field goals from 43, 47, and 51 in addition to his 36-yarder at the end of practice.

10:49 a.m. — John Harbaugh cancelled the afternoon practice today in his post-practice comments. More to come…

10:38 a.m. — Well, we had our first skirmish/melee of training camp in the heat this morning as the offense and defense knocked heads in a team-wide shove-around (apparently started by Paul Kruger and Joe Reitz) with various players involved, including Chris Chester, Jameel McClain & Jared Gaither. It’s hard to say what caused it, but the defense was shoving the offense around pretty good for the second day in a row.

Other morning notes: Michael Oher had a right calf cramp and left practice early. In general, the offense was sloppy and unproductive through much of the morning practice, in front of the usual large weekend crowd here in Westminster. Lots of dropped passes and interceptions.

Perhaps the fight helped matters. After the mini-brawl, the offense looked more focused and was more productive.

Tavares Gooden got limited reps early but didn’t participate later in practice. Jared Gaither was back and took plenty of live reps.

Graham Gano struggled early in the practice (plenty were talking about Matt Stover) but he hit a 36-yarder to end the morning session.

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Tillman scuffles but Orioles beat Greinke & Royals 7-3

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

For those who chose to attend or watch tonight’s game after the rain delay, it was a different kind of game than what we all bargained for more than four hours ago.

In the end, it was a happy night. The Orioles beat the Royals 7-3 with a flurry of late offense and a huge night from Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, who each had 3 RBIs. Matt Albers pitched some key middle relief and Jim Johnson was unhittable at the end.

But the real reason this meeting of two last-place teams caught everyone’s attention was the pitching matchup: Cy Young current vs. Cy Young future in Zack Greinke vs. Chris Tillman. It was a bit of a long and tedious game and it wasn’t because of great pitching.

The Orioles got to Greinke early when Jones hit a moon shot that just kept going over the left-centerfield wall. Tillman battled but threw 93 long pitches in just 4 2/3 innings and left the game in trouble. Greinke threw a whopping 116 pitches in six innings. Tillman gave up three home runs.

In the end, neither factored in the decision.

Trembley said in the postgame that the most amount of pitches Tillman has thrown this season was 102. He also said Tillman is going to throw a lot of fly ball pitches.  He also said he didn’t pitch in enough.

Aubrey Huff got off the rocks with a big hit. Trembley was almost giddy in the postgame. Jones and Markakis were rock stars. It was a nice night at Camden Yards.

Here’s the box score…

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Rich Hill talks about tendinitis and sorrow after loss to Royals

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As the pending promotion of man-child Chris Tillman for tomorrow’s game gets closer it appears that the Rich Hill era here in Baltimore is about to come to an end. Monday night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals can’t be pinned solely on Hill, who exited in just 2 1/3 innings after surrendering four hits, three walks and three runs, but it’s apparent that he’s not the answer for the Birds.

After the game Hill not only apologized to the fans and his teammates, he also said he’s been hurting.

“I have been having some [tendinitis] issues with the shoulder and we have been doing a good job of keeping the fire down a little bit and unfortunately it is just something that I haven’t been able to maintain any consistency with,” Hill told The Baltimore Sun.

“Other than that, unfortunately I haven’t been able to give any kind of consistent help to this team. I apologize to the front office and the guys in this clubhouse.”

The Orioles have now dropped eight out of 10 games since the All-Star break and are looking at unfavorable pitching matchups on Tuesday and Wednesday before Brad Bergesen takes the hill for the afternoon finale on Thursday.

While the Royals may have appeared to be a “get well soon” kind of visitor this week it’s pretty obvious that their last place status has also given them some hope to win a few games against a fellow cellar dweller this week at Camden Yards.

After the game a more mellow Dave Trembley spoke about tempo and the lost momentum of the victory in Boston on Sunday.

But here’s the bottom line: the Orioles lost to previously winless Bruce Chen at home last night.

They lost to the worst pitcher on the worst team in the American League. And tomorrow, they’ll throw young Tillman into the ring against the best pitcher in the league as Zack Greinke takes the hill at Camden Yards.

Thank God for football season.

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Orioles make it two in a row with mini-sweep of Twins

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It wasn’t a textbook victory last night for the Orioles (12-17) but they’ll take wins anywhere they can find them. After an evening of soggy weather and a six-inning win on Wednesday night, the Birds came back to Camden Yards and finished the mini-sweep with a 5-4 win over the Twins led by Melvin Mora and unlikely Lou Montanez.

Mora homered in the second and got on base in the eighth before Montanez singled to left to account for the game-winning RBI.

The usual speedy work of Brad Bergesen on the hill picked up the pace of the game, but he was in trouble most of the evening and worked some Houdini magic to avoid big innings. All told, the Twins managed 14 hits off of O’s pitching — including 11 off Bergesen in just six innings — but could never plate runs in bunches.

Reliever Chris Ray struggled in the 7th inning, allowing the Twins to tie the game after inheriting a one-run lead, but Jim Johnson was stellar in the 8th inning to vulture a victory and George Sherrill managed to finish a sweaty 9th to earn fifth save of the year.

Afterward, manager Dave Trembley gave praise liberally, especially to Mora whom he discussed in his pre-game speech.

Prepare the pinstripes: the Yankees (13-15) come to town mired in an early-season funk for three games at Camden Yards this weekend.

Tonight it’s a rematch of the Opening Day starters: C.C. Sabathia (1-3. 4.85) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (2-2, 5.05).

On Saturday, it’ll be Phil Hughes (1-1, 2.70) and Adam Eaton (1-3, 7.18) and Sunday afternoon Joba Chamberlain (1-1, 3.77) will face Koji Uehara (2-3, 4.42).

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Capital Star Shine Again

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Capital Star Shine Again 

Monday night began was a crucial game in this Conference Semi-Final Series between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

The Capitals entered the game hoping to hold on to home ice advantage and take command of the series with a 2 game to none lead.  This would put all of the pressure on the pads of the Penguins as the series picks up on Wednesday, in Pittsburgh.

 

With a win in game two, the Penguins would have gotten exactly what they were looking for: a split in Washington, giving the Penguins the home ice advantage.  As the lower seed in this series, if the Penguins were to steal game two they would be heading back to Pittsburgh with the momentum and the advantage of having 3 of the remaining 5 games in this series played on their home ice. 

 

After an entertaining and exciting game 1, we learned one thing for sure: each game could go either way and both teams would have to bring their best if they want to win this series and advance to the Conference Finals.  The question would be which team would want it more, and more decidedly, which goalie would bring their best to the ice.  Would Fleury tie this series for the Penguins or would the red hot Varlamov carry the Capitals to a commanding 2-0 lead. 

 

Just as in game one, the first period of game two got off to a quick start.  Both teams wasted no time in getting the puck moving up and down the ice.  The Penguins had to be aware that one of the reasons they lost the first game was because Washington was the more physical team.  At the beginning of this game it seemed as though the Penguins were determined to change that trend as they came out aggressively and physically, landing several big shots on the Capitals.  One of those hits was by Sidney Crosby which led to an early two on one break.  Varlamov read the play well and was at the post to meet the shot of Guerin and turn it away.

After seeing that save, I was reminded of Varlamov’s ability to consistently send the rebounds of shots that he can not handle off to the side of the ice.  It seems as though you never see him give a rebound up in front of the net.  This is huge for goalies as the first goal the Caps had in game 1 was a direct result of a rebound given up right in the center of the ice.  By continuously sending the rebounds off to the side, Varlamov prevents the Penguins from getting cheep goals, goals which often times decide close playoff games.

 

Just as I was thinking this, the Penguins went onto a power play as a result of Semin loosing his cool. Consequently, they got on the board first.  While I was thinking about how remarkable it was that Varlamov never seems to give up easy rebounds, Gonchar took a shot from inside the blue line and Varlamov knocked it down in front of the net and Crosby was on the door step to put it between the legs of the Caps goalie and give the Penguins the early lead.  This is the kind of easy goal the Capitals need to prevent as Crosby makes a living by scoring around the net.  Varlamov needs to clean up the rebounds and the Capital defenders need to stay physical and make sure they push the Penguins away from the front of the goal, thus preventing cheap goals on deflections and as a result of rebounds. 

 

The Penguins were able to take control of the period as they were much more aggressive and physically dominating in the period.  They were able to land a number of clean checks on the Capital players, which seemed to unnerve the Caps a bit as they took several bad penalties.  The worse of which was when the Caps were just about to head to the power play until Chris Clark retaliated with an elbow to the face of Letang thereby nullifying the penalty to Guerin. 

 

Varlamov was really able to bail out his team and keep the game a 1 goal game as he made several huge saves while the Penguins were on a 5-3 power play.  Varlamov once again proved why Capitals fans are so excited about the future of this team, as they see years of this 21-year-old protecting their net.  His great play at the end of the period was able to finally get the home crowd into the game after Pittsburgh successfully quieted them down.

 

While unable to light the lamp in the first period, it was not due to a lack of opportunities.  They had some good scoring chances; they were just never able to capitalize on them.  This was not the case at the beginning of the second period, as they were able to take advantage of an opportunity as Fedorov quickly transitioned the puck into the offensive end where he was able to hit Kozlov with a pass in the center of the ice drawing two defenders his way.  Kozlov quickly moved the puck to his left where he as able to locate Ovechkin, who sent a missile into the lower left portion of the goal, tying the game at one.  The quick transition offense for the Capitals was able to create a great opportunity, one in which Ovechkin did not let pass.  This was the type of puck movement that the Capitals are looking for and need, if they want to win this series.  Anytime you can line Ovechkin up for an uncontested shot, he will score, as his combination of power and accuracy is unstoppable.

 

The Capitals were able to come out quick and change the momentum of the game.  They were able to control the puck more in what appeared to be a less physical second period while using their speed in transition to generate numerous scoring chances.  They were continuously turned away and just past the halfway mark of the period, Crosby and the Penguins tried to reclaim the momentum.  Once again Crosby was able to light the lamp on a garbage goal knocked in from right in front of the net.  Not to take anything away from the Penguins as they earned the goal with their puck movement, but the Capitals once again let the puck bounce free right in front of Varlamov and the inability to get a body on Crosby cost the Capitals again as they fell behind 2-1.

 

The Penguins were able to carry the momentum for the next five minutes, earning several great chances at taking a 2 goal lead, but Varlamov continued his jaw-dropping performance as he made several great saves.  Steckel took advantage of this great effort by the Caps goaltender, as he put home a deflection off of Sloan to tie the game at 2 with four minutes to go in the 2nd period. 

 

 The third period began tied and if the prior games this season were any indication this would be a good sign for Caps fans.  The Capitals outscored the Penguins during the regular season 10-1 and continued that trend in game 1 outscoring the caps one to nothing.  The Capitals hoped this trend would continue as looked to stay unbeaten against the Penguins this year and open up a 2 game to none lead.

 

The Penguins were hoping to change that trend as they opened up dominating the final period of play.  After killing the remainder of a second period penalty the Penguins went on about a 9 minute attack.  It seemed like the entire portion of this period was spent in the offensive zone for the Penguins and it felt to us Capitals fans that they may have even been on an extended power play.  They kept the pressure on but, as seems to be the theme of every paragraph of every hockey blog I write, Varlamov continued to make save after save keeping his team in the game, tied at 2.

 

After killing the Penguins first actual power play of the period, the Capitals quickly went on the attack after Malkin’s tripping penalty put the Caps on the power play.  They had two minutes but they only need four seconds as Backstrom won the face off in the Penguins zone sending the puck back to his right to Green.  Ovechkin once again got wide open and Green found him.  Ovechkin sent another shot buzzing by the elbow on Fluery’s stick side.  There was nothing he could do to prevent the Caps from taking their first lead of the game, 3-2.

 

Ovechkin broke loose again, showing off his speed in transition as he got the puck around mid-ice, skated into the Penguins zone, and then showed off (what I feel is) the league’s most powerful shot.  Ovechkin sent a shot over the glove side shoulder to seal the game for the Caps and give himself his first career playoff hat-trick.  The Penguins were able to get a power play goal, giving Crosby a hat-trick of his own at thirty seconds to go, but that was too little too late.

 

The Caps and Penguins game entered the final period even.  The Penguins dominated the first half plus part of this period.  They could not get past the great Varlamov.  Just then, like a vulture, Ovechkin swooped in and took advantage of the first Penguin mistake of the period.  That was all they needed as the recent trend of the Caps dominating the score board in the final period against the Penguins continued.  They scored two more times this game which made the season and post season total 13 third period goals for the Capitals to only 2 for the Penguins.

 

That is how you close out a game and with Varlamov consistently keeping this team in the game this ability to close could end this series a lot earlier then most anticipated.  To Pittsburgh we go, Wednesday night, Caps leading 2 games to none.

 

The Caps have the offense that many fear, and now thanks to a 21-year-old net minder, they are the complete team that just might be able to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

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Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

You gotta love the NFL. The league hasn’t snapped the football in almost three months and the buzz is as strong for the draft as it is for Week 7 of the regular season. It never ends this love of American football. So much enthusiasm and energy and talk about the 26th pick on Saturday for the Ravens.

Amidst that, there are all sorts of stories and storylines:

What will happen with Anquan Boldin and are the Ravens really involved?

My gut AND my sources tell me that it’s not very likely. The notion that Ozzie Newsome would trade a No. 1 and a No. 3 and then have to back up a brink’s truck for Boldin is highly unlikely. Plus, the cap issues of taking on another superstar making a super premium salary seem daunting. If the Ravens had that kind of money, they should’ve kept Bart Scott, right?

Who are the players the Ravens really like and would select at No. 26?

It’s always a crapshoot on draft day when you pick so low. The Ravens were greatly affected by the Atlanta trade for Tony Gonzales yesterday because it’s clear that the Falcons won’t be taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with pick No. 24. Every name that comes off the board in the first 25 spots – and every trade up or back, and we expect a few – will affect what’s left when the 26th pick hits the clock.

So, when people ask me today and all day tomorrow, “Who will the Ravens pick?” I tell them the same thing every year: “Even Ozzie Newsome has no idea who they’ll wind up getting with a pick so low.”

That said, I’ll take a low pick on draft day every year into perpetuity. The joy of a single-digit pick is far outweighed by the agony of dealing with 16 weeks of bad football during a 6-10 season. Let Cincinnati and Cleveland pick early every year from now until the end of time.

All of these weeks and months of mock drafts are just that: a mockery. One unexpected trade on draft day – and with lunatics like Al Davis, Mike Brown and Daniel Snyder running drafts there’s always somebody doing something – not to mention other legitimate trades for more picks or value, it’s more impossible to predict a mock draft correctly than filling out a perfect March Madness pool. I think you’d have a better chance of hitting the lotto tonight for $150 million.

And once one team or one player goes awry, the whole draft changes. Everyone tries to handicap it but it’s a futile effort.

But this much I know: The Ravens would LOVE to trade a few times over the weekend, which is all the more reason to be on our text service. They only have six picks. They’d rather have seven or eight.

Here are some names of guys — and some key positions of need for the Ravens — that you should keep an eye on over the weekend as the names come off the board:

Center – Alex Mack, California. The Ravens brought him into town and checked him out thoroughly. He’s a tough, smart “Raven” kinda guy. If they trade out of No. 26 to move backward (and I still think this is VERY likely because they really want more picks), Mack would be a early 2nd rounder that will help the team. The only question is whether he can help the team at guard because the team already has a two-year solution at center in Matt Birk.

Tight end – A “dream” scenario for the team would be if Brandon Pettigrew fell to them at No. 26. The Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21 would be the one team to tie them up but that’s looking less likely. Again, the Falcons deal yesterday to acquire Gonzales helps the Ravens if they indeed covet Pettigrew, who is a beast at 6-6 and could help the pass protection and provide a safety valve for Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver – While the whole universe seems to think the Ravens are desperate for a wide out, I’m not convinced they’ll take one in the first round. Perhaps they’d select Kenny Britt of Rutgers if he’s still on the board but I don’t think Hakeem Nicks will be their choice. I’ve been saying for two months that WR is not the team’s most acute need nor should they burn a first-round pick on the riskiest of all positions on draft day.

Defensive back – Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. You can never have too many cornerbacks. They’re like pitchers in baseball. If you don’t get one in the first round you’re probably not getting one you feel comfortable in calling a starter. It’s the toughest role this side of QB to fill in the NFL. Davis comes with some immaturity and a little bit of baggage, but he’s the closest thing to a poor man’s Chris McAlister in this draft.

Defensive line/LB – Rey Maualuga. He’s probably the only player in the No. 26 range that the Ravens would consider and this isn’t their greatest need. If they were to take a LB here it would tell you a lot about how highly rated this player would have to be on their overall board. Honestly, all of the USC linebackers look attractive and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Ravens get on the clock in the second round with pick No. 55.

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

The real story of the Ravens’ drafts and their relative success since 1996 has been tied to what happens AFTER the first round. Between Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Phil Savage and their staffs, over the years the Ravens have become the best team in the league on the last weekend of April. It’s how Newsome and this department has survived so long in one place. It’s an absolute anomaly.

Think about it: What were the odds that in 1996 when Ozzie Newsome passed on Lawrence Phillips and selected Jon Ogden and then went on to take Ray Lewis instead of Leland McElroy at the No. 26 pick that he’d STILL be here in April 2009 making decisions for Baltimore’s football team?

Newsome is still here because he’s really, really great at evaluating talent. He’s got a gift. He’s not always right but he’s been right more than virtually anyone on the planet at doing this.

And most experts say this draft is NOT deep for starting talent beginning Sunday morning. For whatever reason, most scouts aren’t feeling great about finding the next Adalius Thomas or Jason Brown late in the day on Sunday.

It’s a great weekend to be a football fan. It’s a great weekend to be a draftnik. Or just a nerd, like me.

I’ll be bellied up to the bar at Padonia Station at 3 p.m. drinking $2 Michelob Ultras and watching the draft and sending texts to everyone on the text service.

We’re having a “Textathon” weekend because this is the one weekend when we know we’ll be sending you a lot of stuff.

We hope if you’re not on the service you consider joining. And, if you are, we hope you’ll forward our texts to your PSL, purple-loving friends so they know the news and know about WNST.net and our cool text service.

Thanks!

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Fixing the O’s without risking the future

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Jason Jubb

It’s not as complex as the team makes it out to be. A few simple moves and the team can be a little more palatable with a little more hope for the rest of the season.

The first move to add Brad Bergeson to the rotation is a start. Bergeson is a control pitcher who is the most ready of any of the prospects and even though he has had limited experience at AAA it is not a stretch to put him in the majors. The same cannot be said for the likes of Arrieta, Matusz, and Tillman who still need a year of seasoning before they should be considered.

Next, drop Adam Eaton and bring up David Pauley. Over the past 3 years Eaton has consistently had a WHIP of over 1.50 while averaging an ERA around 6.00. Do you really think anyone can do worse than that? You would be hard pressed to find a guy who has had his last 60 starts in the majors go so bad, and yet end up in a major league rotation the next year. David Pauley gets the nod after going 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA at AAA Pawtucket last year. I’m not saying Pauley will be the answer but I would rather see us get beat with a 25 year old pitcher who has a little upside as opposed to the consistent bad performance of Adam Eaton.

Keeping with the pitching, go ahead and send Hendrickson to the bullpen as the long/mop up man. If you have to send someone down, I think Brian Bass may pass through waivers…Then call up Chris Waters to be the lefty in the rotation. Once again, Waters is not going to set the world on fire but I would rather lose with a guy who has a chance to not totally stink. Mark Hendrickson lost that chance long ago as he has compiled a career ERA of 5.06 in 991 career innings. Also, this may only be a short term gig for Waters if he does not produce since we are hoping Rich Hill will get healthy and return to the rotation sometime in May.

Lastly, cut ties with Felix Pie. I know he has only had a handful of AB’s with the O’s but I have never seen someone who looks so awkward in the majors. He is rigid and timid in the field, while he looks to have no approach at the plate. I find it hard to believe that he can master these skills at age 24 (allegedly, he looks older to me). To draw an analogy, it’s kind of like the wide receiver who can’t catch, you learn to catch when you are 7 years old not 23. Pie lacks skills that should have been acquired years ago. And I have a funny feeling he also might pass through waivers at this point…

In Pie’s spot I would give the AB’s to either Montanez or Reimold. Neither guy is young by prospect standards so it’s about time that one of them makes or breaks in the majors. I would give the edge to Reimold mostly because Montanez has had his chances in AAA and failed more than once. His lifetime average at the AAA level is .241 in 510 AB’s before this season. I am not that impressed with his year last year at AA since he was two years older than the league average at that time.

It’s that easy. The team gets a little better, fans will appreciate the fresh faces, and we do not have to rush the young pitching. If you see Andy MacPhail let him know he can hear me on the Sunday Morning Blitz along with Rex Snider from 10am-12pm or email me at Jason@wnst.net for more advice.

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Eaton beaten badly, Bass was a fish — Birds lose 11-3 to Rays

Posted on 12 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

All was not completely lost. The Orioles managed some offense — too little, too late — in the 9th inning as they eliminated the doughnut from behind a bad effort today in an 11-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays to cap their opening homestand at 4-2.

Orioles pitching allowed a whopping 17 hits today and the Rays looked almost vengeful for the two beatings handed out by the Birds behind good pitching on Friday and Saturday. Keep in mind, the Rays beat the Orioles 15 of 18 times last year. A win today would’ve matched last year’s total.

I wrote a live blog as I’ve turned an eye toward The Masters this afternoon, the one day of the year that I attempt to appreciate golf and culture.

Below are my observations from a day of baseball with the O’s.

4:01 p.m. — I’ve been monitoring Phil Mickelson’s miraculous run this afternoon with one eye on the game. But I’ve now managed to switch over fast enough to see back-to-back homers by Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena. Brian Bass is making Dave Trembley and Andy McPhail look bad for sending Matt Albers away last night. It’s 11-0. The O’s have managed just three hits on the day off of James Shields.

The good news: the “Baltimore” grey sweaters will be on the team’s crests tomorrow night in Dallas. We’ll be watching the game from Padonia Station as we talk football and draft with Eric DeCosta and Brian Billick.

3:09 — Well, I thought Adam Eaton stunk today but Brian Bass has been an arsonist of the highest order, allowing four MORE runs in one inning coming out of the bullpen and this one is becoming a snoozer. I’ll continue to monitor while I watch The Masters and follow Drew’s blog there. It’s 8-0 and “relief” is not what Bass has brought to the hill today.

3:04 p.m. — Jim Hunter just said that the Rays “have exploded.” Well, Ben Zobrist just made Brian Bass look like he’s next on the Norfolk Express, with a three-run homer after Bass allowed two of his first three hitters aboard. It’s now 7-0. The Masters is calling me…

2:59 — Mercifully, it’s over. Adam Eaton has left the game with a nauseating line and it was worse to actually witness:

100 pitches, 4 IP, 8H, 4ER, 2W, 6K

His ERA to start the season is 9.00.

2:56 p.m. — I like Adam Jones but I’ll call that what it was: stupid base running. If the flyball from Markakis gets down and goes to the wall, Jones could limp in from second base. And instead, CF Ben Zobrist ran it down and Jones got hung up at second instead of being at third with one out. With Huff coming up and a fly ball meaning a run, it wasn’t good baseball by Jones. The Orioles end the fourth quietly, still down 4-nil.

2:45p.m. — Alright, watching Adam Eaton stinks. Like watching most of the Orioles’ pitching over the last decade, today’s game has been long, frustrating and is making me consider the azaleas of The Masters here any second with Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry teeing off soon. Adam Eaton has thrown 94 pitches, allowed nine baserunners and isn’t even holding runners on base. Only a miracle “phantom” tag and tripping at the plate from Chad Moeller on Gabe Gross has saved the Orioles and now Moeller was shaken up but stayed in the game. Miraculously, it’s still 4-0. Eaton ends the fourth having thrown 100 pitches.

2:32 p.m. — Nice of the idiots at MASN to feed me a commerical pimping how great the game is in HD complete with Nick Markakis promos. Yeah, I know how great baseball in HD is. Wanna know HOW I know? Because I’m watching the game in this crappy “low def” presentation, morons, and it makes me long for ESPN and Sunday Night Baseball tonight! (It’s like comedy. You can’t make this stuff up…)

2:24 p.m. — It’s taken Adam Eaton almost 80 pitches to get nine outs in less than 51 minutes. At least there’s no mystery: the bullpen knows it’s going to be seeing plenty of action and quite early today. James Shields is perfect and here come Felix Pie, Chad Moeller and Robert Andino to start a rally in the 3rd. I’m not expecting any offensive production from the bottom of the order today.

2:06 — I’ve called him Adam “Eaton-up-innings” but it doesn’t appear to be the case so far given his propensity to throwing a ton of pitches. He’s gone deep into counts with virtually every batter the Rays have brought to the plate. It took him 49 pitches to get through the first nine batters and he had only secured four outs. He loaded the bases with a laborious pace and then allowed Carl Crawford to stroke a lazy three-run triple into the right field corner. Longoria then followed with a 370-foot double to right.

The Orioles are losing 4-0 and Eaton is on pace to get the bullpen moving by the fourth inning. He’s thrown 60 pitches and gotten six outs.

1:51 — The Adam Eaton era has begun in Baltimore. Looks like “lots of baserunners” will be a tag that follows him to his fourth big-league destination. Despite allowing two on with one out, he escaped like Houdini, even after it looked like he had struck out Pat Burrell to end the inning on a 1-2 inside pitch. Burrell eventually skied to Adam Jones and ended the threat. Evan Longoria now has a six-game hitting streak and the O’s will not begin this one in the hole.

With Felix Pie, Chad Moeller and Robert Andino at the bottom of the order, a good start will be necessary to take the sweep today against the Rays.

P.S. When I see No. 24 on an O’s pitcher from the centerfield camera, I think about Dave Schmidt. (Don’t ask me why?) There are many other 24′s — including Rick Dempsey — but Schmidt’s name was like “number association” for me.

1:35 p.m. — So much for HD promises of the Angelos family and MASN. For the third day in a row, I’m watching the Orioles on the “poor little cousin” of MASN HD, which is Channel 17 on my Comcast featuring the 1985-style production of Major League Baseball. The double whammy? We’ve also got the B-team of Jim Hunter and Buck Martinez snoozing us through the action. The good news? The freaking team is beating the best the AL East has to offer to start the season. Adam Eaton and James Shields. This one figures to run long…

Between this and the Masters, it’s gonna be a great afternoon on the couch. Especially, when it looks sorta chilly at the ballpark. Feel free to comment. I’ll post them all!

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The brooms will be in tow at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this afternoon but will they be put to use? For the second time in as many series, the Birds have a chance to take three in a row from an AL East favorite to close the homestand before donning the “Baltimore” script for the first time in 37 years in Texas tomorrow night. I’ll be live blogging during the game today so join me for a chat if you’re watching the game with your laptop nearby on this chilly Easter Sunday.

Here are the lineups for today:

Rays

Akinori Iwamura 2B
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist CF
Gabe Gross RF
Jason Bartlett SS

James Shields RHP

Birds

Brian Roberts 2B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Aubrey Huff 1B
Melvin Mora 3B
Luke Scott DH
Felix Pie LF
Chad Moeller C
Robert Andino SS

Adam Eaton RHP

Last night’s masterful effort by Jeremy Guthrie (6IP, 5H, 0 runs) has continued a “magical” run for the Orioles to beging the season. Melvin Mora’s grand slam in the first set the tone and the Tampa Rays went quickly and quietly on a Saturday night. Even Chris Ray, who struggled against the Yankees, got into the act with a trio of strikeouts in his one inning of work.

Today the Birds will send Adam Eaton to the hill against James Shields. Eaton, who was not on the active roster and will activated later today, will replace Matt Albers who got some work last night before his expected option to Norfolk after last night’s win. Brian Bass was an other candidate for the AAA demotion, but he’s out of options and will remain with the club.

I’ll be sharing thoughts — kind of like I do on live radio — in my live blog at 1:35 p.m. today. Drew will be watching the Masters all afternoon as well. It’s a great holiday, Sunday and weekend of sports as the Stanley Cup playoffs beckon. Some would say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially with the better weather en route.

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