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Samardzija is the wrong fit for O’s needs

Posted on 31 May 2014 by WNST Staff

It’s not that he’s not good enough.

Jeff Samardzija is pitching as well as anyone in the Big Leagues.  His 1.68 ERA, along with his 1.06 WHIP are certainly stats to write home about.  By any estimation, the Cubs’ current ace is a bona fide number-one starter on the majority of the seven-plus teams who are currently coveting his services.

But, while his 2014 numbers have been stellar through the end of May, baseball has a way of making players turn into who they really are.  And, over the long haul, Samardzija isn’t an ace and probably isn’t worth the asking price of a king’s ransom, two first-borns, and nude pictures of the acquiring team’s GM’s wife.

The Orioles, sitting at a game below-.500 aren’t only “a player away” from being a true contender.  They’re at least a starter, a closer, a left fielder, and a fast table-setting leadoff hitter away from being the class of the AL East.  This, coupled with the hard-luck the club has faced with injuries thus far, makes it a no-brainer to pump the brakes on the idea of sending the likes of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or Eddy Rodriguez to the Cubs in exchange for a 29-year-old starter who has never won double-digit games in the Major Leagues.

Some will make the argument that Samardzija would be a perennial double-digit wins guy if he had any offensive support–but what pitcher wouldn’t?  The same argument could be made for the Bud Norris’, Miguel Gonzalez’s, and Wei-yin Chen’s of the world; each of whom are capable of 10-12 wins with some decent four-plus runs per game type of support.

Bringing a pitcher like Samardzija to Baltimore in exchange for two potential front-end starters isn’t the type of trade that creates long-term success.  It’s a stop-gap.  It’s a short-term “what have you done for me lately” type of move.

For what it’s worth, if you look at the Cubs rotation, Samardzija’s numbers aren’t even the best of the bunch.  In fact, Oriole castoff Jason Hammel, has five wins and a WHIP of 0.91.  And, if you want to argue that “wins” are an overblown statistic, please, go for it.  But keep in mind, at the end of the season, the teams that play in October play because of that very statistic.

Some guys are winner  and some aren’t.  There are intangibles that some pitchers have and others don’t.   Before falling in love with the idea that “wins” don’t matter, or “Samardzija would be great on another team,” I’ll toss out some names like the aforementioned Norris, C.J. Wilson, Edwin Jackson, and all of the other pitchers who have convinced fans and front office execs that their mediocrity is based on their surroundings.

When he gets traded, and there’s no doubt he will, Samardzija will help out wherever he goes.  He’ll bolster a contending team’s rotation.

But the Orioles don’t really need that.  They need to make the long-play, and he’s the wrong guy for anything like that.

 

 

 

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Buying high on Samardzija unlikely to bring desired payoff

Posted on 28 May 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles need better starting pitching and they need an ace if they truly want to compete for a World Series title.

That cry has been uttered by fans and media alike for the better part of two years — even longer if you prefer going back to the free-agent departure of Mike Mussina after the 2000 season — as the rotation has mostly been comprised of arms with the ability of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 starters who have often struggled to pitch deep into games, leaving the bullpen overworked and eventually worn out.

It comes as no surprise to see the reaction to a CBS Chicago report suggesting the Orioles are the “leading team of interest” in Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who currently sports a miniscule 1.68 earned run average through his first 11 starts of the 2014 season. That mark is second in the majors despite the 29-year-old being limited to a 1-4 record pitching for the woeful Cubs.

There’s no disputing Samardzija being a talented pitcher as he would be a clear upgrade in the starting rotation, but he’s also expected to be one of the top commodities available on the open market this summer. And that’s why it’s a dangerous proposition to bid on a solid pitcher who’s having a career season if you’re the Orioles or any club hot after his services.

As desperate as the Orioles should be for better starting pitching with their best competitive window closing after the 2015 season when Matt Wieters and Chris Davis are both scheduled to become free agents, Samardzija needs to be viewed for who he really is and not what the Orioles want him to be. The right-hander is off to an unbelievable start, but his 3.90 career ERA and 4.34 ERA pitching in the National League Central only last year suggest he isn’t much more than a solid upgrade and is not someone worth gutting a top-heavy minor-league system to acquire.

In other words, the Orioles wouldn’t be getting a David Price or a Cliff Lee in adding the 6-foot-5 right-hander to the starting rotation. And pitching in the American League East is a different story than the National League.

The Cubs are undoubtedly looking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Samardzija’s services, and there will be plenty of clubs looking to acquire him, which will further drive up the price. Should the Orioles be willing to part with some combination of top pitching prospects Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez in order to land him?

It’s true that the Orioles have far too often been disappointed in waiting for a slew of top prospects to realize their potential in recent years, but that doesn’t mean executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should willingly fork over what few minor-league pieces he has for what history suggests is an improvement but not a dynamic difference-maker to put the Orioles over the top. It will ultimately come down to Chicago’s asking price and how many teams are sold on Samardzija’s start in 2014 and the idea of him truly being an ace.

Is Samardzija — who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season — worth the combination of Rodriguez and 21-year-old second baseman Jonathan Schoop or the package of one of Gausman, Bundy, or Harvey and a lower-level prospect? Perhaps, but if other clubs are willing to exceed that kind of a deal, the Orioles must remember that Samardzija’s 66 career starts prior to 2014 suggest he’s not even as good as Ubaldo Jimenez.

Despite his tiny ERA, Samardzija is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014 — actually down from his career average of 8.5 — and a .269 batting average on balls in play against him provides statistical evidence suggesting he won’t sustain his incredible start, which even the layman would predict anyway.

It’s a difficult call as the Orioles appeared to signal during spring training that they’re finally “going for it” after investing $50 million in Jimenez and signing slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. Throwing money at free-agent commodities is one thing, but giving up young and cheap talent in a farm system needing more depth is a dangerous proposition if you’re not overwhelmed with what you’re getting in return.

The Orioles know their best window for competing is closing with Cruz, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis set to become free agents after this season and Davis and Wieters the year after. If there were ever a time for the Orioles to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, it’s now, particularly with the AL East looking very average.

But is the Chicago pitcher the right target?

Samardzija would improve the rotation, but whether the Orioles would be so much better with him that Duquette should pony up a couple of his top pitching prospects is open for debate.

And the history before the first two months of 2014 suggests the answer is probably not.

 

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Former Oriole Wada headed to Spring Training with Cubs

Posted on 02 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Cubs invite 24 non-roster players to major league Spring Training

The Chicago Cubs have invited 24 non-roster players to major league spring training, which begins Thursday, February 13 when pitchers and catchers are invited to report in advance of their first formal workout on Friday, February 14 at Cubs Park in Mesa, Ariz.

Position players are invited to report to camp Tuesday, February 18 with the team’s first full squad workout Wednesday, February 19.

The following nine pitchers have been invited to major league camp: right-handed pitchers Marcus Hatley, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Pimentel, Armando Rivero and Brian Schlitter, as well as left-handed pitchers Tommy Hottovy, Eric Jokisch, Jonathan Sanchez and Tsuyoshi Wada.

Five infielders have been invited to major league camp: Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Ryan Roberts, Chris Valaika and Jeudy Valdez.

Seven outfielders have been invited to big league camp: Albert Almora, Chris Coghlan, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Kalish, Mitch Maier, Darnell McDonald and Casper Wells.

Three catchers have been invited to big league camp: John Baker, Rafael Lopez and Eli Whiteside.

Additionally, minor league catchers Luis Flores and Will Remillard will assist at times in big league camp.

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Orioles claim RHP Hendriks off waivers from Cubs

Posted on 23 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Orioles claim RHP Liam Hendriks off waivers from the Cubs

The Orioles today announced that they have claimed RHP LIAM HENDRIKS off of waivers from the Cubs.

Hendriks, 24, was claimed off of waivers by the Cubs from Minnesota on December 13. He appeared in 10 games (eight starts) for the Twins in 2013, going 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA (47.1IP, 36ER). He also made 16 starts for Triple-A Rochester. Originally signed by Minnesota as an international free agent in 2007, Hendriks will be the third Australian-born Oriole in club history when he makes his debut, joining JOHN STEPHENS (2002) and DAMIAN MOSS (2003). In six minor league seasons in the Minnesota organization, Hendriks went 42-28 with a 2.99 ERA (580.1IP, 193ER) in 100 games (98 starts).

With this move, the Orioles now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.

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Orioles acquire SP Feldman; send Strop-Arrieta to Cubs

Posted on 02 July 2013 by WNST Staff

The Orioles today announced that they have acquired RHP SCOTT FELDMAN and CA STEVE CLEVENGER from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHPs JAKE ARRIETA and PEDRO STROP and INTERNATIONAL SIGNING BONUS SLOTS 3 and 4. Clevenger has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Additionally, OF NOLAN REIMOLD has been activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Feldman, 30, is 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA (91.0IP, 35ER) and nine Quality Starts in 15 outings for the Cubs this season, including a 4-1 mark and 2.25 ERA (40.0IP, 10ER) in six starts in May. He is 46-50 with a 4.66 ERA (818.2IP, 424ER) in 219 career games (116 starts) over nine seasons with Texas (2005-12) and the Cubs (2013). Since 2011, Feldman has improved his strikeout rate to 17.8% of batters faced and lowered his walk rate to 6.4%, compared to 12.7% and 8.4%, respectively, over the first six years of his career.

“Feldman is a proven starter with postseason experience who should help stabilize our rotation for the second half,” Orioles Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said.

He appeared in nine postseason games for Texas in 2011, going 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA (13.2IP, 5ER) while pitching in the ALDS (one game), ALCS (three games) and World Series (five games). Feldman set career-highs with 17 wins, 31 starts and 189.2 innings pitched for the Rangers in 2009.

“We’re having a good season & need to stabilize our starting pitching to advance to the playoffs,” Duquette told MASN. “And that’s what this deal is aimed to addressed.”

Feldman, who was scheduled to start Tuesday for the Cubs against the Oakland Athletics, will fly out to Chicago tonight to join the Orioles, and will start Wednesday against the White Sox, according to an interview Feldman did with Sirius XM.

“I know Maryland’s known for Crabcakes and Football,” Feldman joked while on with former GM Jim Bowden.

He will be the third Hawaiian-born player in Orioles history, joining INF LENN SAKATA (1980-85) and LHP SID FERNANDEZ (1994-95).

Clevenger, 27, has batted .327/.426/.596 in 15 games for Triple-A Iowa and is 1-for-8 in eight games for the Cubs this season. He is a .199/.262/.275 hitter in 79 major league games with the Cubs since 2011. The Baltimore-born Clevenger was selected by the Cubs in the 7th round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft and has batted .310/.372/.429 in 563 career minor league games. He graduated from Mount St. Joseph’s High School.

Arrieta, 27, is 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA (23.2IP, 19ER) in five starts for the Orioles this season. He has gone 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA (358.0IP, 217ER) in 69 games (63 starts) in four seasons with Baltimore after being selected by the O’s in the 5th round of the 2007 First Year Player Draft.

Arrieta was shocked by the trade, but ultimately he understood the decision the Orioles had to make, and he knows that it benefits both he and the two clubs involved.

“I think for both sides, it kind of came to that fork in the road and they chose to make a trade,” Arrieta told the Sun. “I think that is really the best way to look at it. This is something that is going to do me a lot of good.”

Strop, 28, is 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA (22.1IP, 18ER) in 29 games for the Orioles this season. He went 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA (101.0IP, 37ER) and three saves in 111 games for the Orioles after being acquired on September 1, 2011 from Texas.

“It was frustrating knowing you can do better than what you are doing,” Strop told MLB.com.

Reimold, 29, was placed on the disabled list on May 12 with a right hamstring strain. He is batting .188/.257/.327 in 31 games for the Orioles this season.

The Orioles will not have to make a corresponding roster move with Reimold until Feldman arrives with the team.

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Bovada Sets Orioles Win Total At 69.5, Second Longest Odds to Win World Series

Posted on 14 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Odds to win the 2012 World Series     

Philadelphia Phillies                   11/2

New York Yankees                    13/2

Los Angeles Angels                   7/1

Detroit Tigers                             8/1

Texas Rangers                          10/1

Boston Red Sox                        10/1

San Francisco Giants                 15/1

Tampa Bay Rays                       18/1

Miami Marlins                            20/1

Cincinnati Reds                         20/1

Atlanta Braves                           22/1

St. Louis Cardinals                     25/1

Arizona Diamondbacks               28/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    28/1

Washington Nationals                30/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 40/1

Toronto Blue Jays                      40/1

Chicago Cubs                            40/1

Colorado Rockies                       40/1

Cleveland Indians                       60/1

Chicago White Sox                    65/1

Minnesota Twins                        75/1

Kansas City Royals                   80/1

New York Mets                          80/1

Oakland Athletics                      80/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      100/1

San Diego Padres                      100/1

Seattle Mariners                        100/1

Baltimore Orioles                       150/1

Houston Astros                          200/1

Odds to win the 2012 AL Pennant       

New York Yankees                    13/4

Los Angeles Angels                   7/2

Detroit Tigers                             4/1

Boston Red Sox                        11/2

Texas Rangers                          11/2

Tampa Bay Rays                       9/1

Toronto Blue Jays                      22/1

Cleveland Indians                       28/1

Chicago White Sox                    35/1

Kansas City Royals                   40/1

Oakland Athletics                      40/1

Minnesota Twins                        40/1

Seattle Mariners                        60/1

Baltimore Orioles                       75/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL Pennant       

Philadelphia Phillies                   9/4

San Francisco Giants                 7/1

Atlanta Braves                           9/1

Cincinnati Reds                         9/1

Miami Marlins                            9/1

St. Louis Cardinals                     11/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    14/1

Washington Nationals                15/1

Arizona Diamondbacks               14/1

Colorado Rockies                       18/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 18/1

Chicago Cubs                            22/1

New York Mets                          40/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      40/1

San Diego Padres                      50/1

Houston Astros                          100/1

Odds to win the 2012 AL East

New York Yankees                    2/3

Boston Red Sox                        3/1

Tampa Bay Rays                       9/2

Toronto Blue Jays                      12/1

Baltimore Orioles                       100/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 AL Central         

Detroit Tigers                             1/4

Cleveland Indians                       10/1

Kansas City Royals                   12/1

Chicago White Sox                    12/1

Minnesota Twins                        16/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 AL West

Los Angeles Angels                   4/5

Texas Rangers                          1/1

Oakland Athletics                      30/1

Seattle Mariners                        45/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL East

Philadelphia Phillies                   1/2

Miami Marlins                            11/2

Atlanta Braves                           6/1

Washington Nationals                8/1

New York Mets                          50/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL Central         

Cincinnati Reds                         7/5

St. Louis Cardinals                     2/1

Milwaukee Brewers                    11/4

Chicago Cubs                            18/1

Pittsburgh Pirates                      30/1

Houston Astros                          100/1

 

Odds to win the 2012 NL West

San Francisco Giants                 5/4

Arizona Diamondbacks               2/1

Los Angeles Dodgers                 11/2

Colorado Rockies                       7/1

San Diego Padres                      15/1

Over/Under Regular Season Win Totals

Arizona Diamondbacks               86½

Atlanta Braves                           86½

Baltimore Orioles                       69½

Boston Red Sox                        90½

Chicago Cubs                            73½

Chicago White Sox                    75½

Cincinnati Reds                         87½

Cleveland Indians                       78½

Colorado Rockies                       80½

Detroit Tigers                             91½

Miami Marlins                            85½

Houston Astros                          63½

Kansas City Royals                   78½

Los Angeles Angels                   91½

Los Angeles Dodgers                 80½

Milwaukee Brewers                    85½

Minnesota Twins                        72½

New York Mets                          73½

New York Yankees                    93½

Oakland Athletics                      72½

Philadelphia Phillies                   93½

Pittsburgh Pirates                      72½

San Diego Padres                      73½

San Francisco Giants                 87½

Seattle Mariners                        71½

St. Louis Cardinals                     85½

Tampa Bay Rays                       86½

Texas Rangers                          91½

Toronto Blue Jays                      81½

Washington Nationals                83½
courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

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Is Vlad simply Sammy Sosa version 2.0 for Orioles?

Posted on 04 February 2011 by Luke Jones

It may have come seven years too late, but the Orioles finally persuaded Vlad the Impaler to bring his free-swinging talents to Baltimore.

And before you shout charges of negativity and raining on a feel-good parade — fans in this town deserve a celebration as much as any city in baseball after 13 years of hell — I’ll admit to sharing enthusiastic visions of Vladimir Guerrero raking baseballs into the left field seats at Camden Yards.

Guerrero brings an imposing presence to the heart of the lineup and should — along with veteran first baseman Derrek Lee — offer the legitimate protection that Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones painfully lacked a season ago. He should make the team better in 2011, though how much is up for debate.

My hesitation isn’t even about the $8 million price tag that so many statheads will whine about with accusations of the Orioles bidding against themselves and blocking Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie for the possible luxury of another two wins (in terms of WAR or “wins above replacement” for the sabermetrically-challenged). The reality is sabermetrics and responsible spending habits don’t exist in a vacuum when you’re playing the free-agent market and no player worth his salt wants to play for you without significant, extra dollars coming his way.

Sure, the Orioles overpaid for a veteran slugger who can no longer play the outfield, forcing Luke Scott to move from designated hitter to left field and weakening the club’s defense. But I’ll credit Andy MacPhail for upping the ante and getting his man, even if it looks like he may have been bidding against himself — we may never know for sure.

Even if the Orioles did spend to sign a hitter for four times the amount Tampa Bay gave Manny Ramirez last week, it’s not the type of decision that will hamper an organization that supposedly had the money to make multi-year offers to Mark Teixeira and Victor Martinez in recent offseasons. It’s not like that money has been shrewdly invested in other outlets, such as upgrading international scouting or spending more on amateur draft picks (two other areas the Orioles continue to neglect if they want to compete long-term in the American League East).

It’s a fair question to ask why the club wouldn’t overpay a younger and more productive option at the DH spot — 31-year-old Adam Dunn, for example — who actually would have helped the club now and when it’s hopefully ready to compete over the next few years. Instead, the Orioles made a token offer of four years, $40 million to Dunn and ultimately went the cheaper route by paying Guerrero.

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With only days remaining until the start of spring training, this is a solid decision by the Orioles that will spark some interest and hopefully bring more fans to the ballpark for Guerrero T-shirt night and maybe even a bobblehead giveaway later in the season if Guerrero puts together a similar first half to what he did in Texas last season.

Who isn’t ready to see Vlad crush a ball at his ankles off the foul pole for a three-run shot against the Yankees?

So then, why do I keep envisioning Sammy Sosa sprinting to right field in an Orioles uniform in 2005?

Perhaps I’m jaded after seeing this charade of false hope too many times, but is this just the latest veteran signing that will create some buzz but lack the reward to really make the team that much better?

It was six years ago Friday when the Orioles introduced Sosa to the Baltimore media after sending Jerry Hairston, Mike Fontenot, and Dave Crouthers to the Cubs in a trade. The Orioles were capitalizing on a barren market for a 36-year-old slugger coming off a poor second half (hitting just .233) despite hitting 35 home runs in 2004.

They hoped for a renaissance, or at least one more productive season, from one of the generation’s finest hitters.

As pessimistic as it may be, you have to admit it sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

Guerrero won’t bring the same baggage as the diva-like Sosa and has no desire for the limelight considering he doesn’t even speak English after all these years in big league baseball. He is simply a baseball player, and that’s all he’s ever wanted to be. However, it’s hard to overlook a 2010 second half in which his batting average dropped 41 points (from a .319 first half to .278) and his home run total declined from 20 in the first half to just nine over the season’s final 81 games. His 2010 postseason is even more concerning as Guerrero batted just .220 and failed to hit a single home run for the Rangers in 59 at-bats.

Anyone’s entitled to a bad few months, but when you’re 35 and already coming off a poor season in 2009, the whispers of being washed up become a little louder with every misstep. Let’s face it, if talent evaluators thought Guerrero was anywhere close to the player he used to be, he wouldn’t be unemployed and accepting an offer from the Orioles in early February.

Again, the Orioles should be applauded for spending a little more to close the deal and bring a high-profile player to the Baltimore lineup. Maybe Guerrero will find his fountain of youth and provide the protection for the team’s key young players to take a step toward stardom while the Orioles move toward respectability in 2011.

It’s the same bet the organization was making six years ago when they introduced Slammin’ Sammy as Orioles fans pictured the Sosa Hop over and over in their minds.

I’m all for it.

Let’s just hope it works out a little better this time.

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My Day at Citizens Bank Park

Posted on 20 May 2010 by dansoderberg

Philadelphia, PA – After attending two O’s games in April I decided it was time to see some actual  Major League Baseball action, so I packed up the family and headed to Philly to watch the Phils and the Cubbies.  I’ve always rooted for the Cubs and became a full fledged Cubs fan after taking a trip to Wrigley about 8 years ago, so I went to the game with a rooting interest.

First off, Citizens Bank Park is a very nice ballpark, it’s not quite Camden Yards but it is damn nice.  There is an open concourse all the way around the park so you can see the field from the concession lines and when walking to the restrooms.  I’ve been to Comerica in Detroit and PNC Park in Pittsburgh an they also have an open concourse.  It’s really the one thing those parks have all over Camden Yards, though the concourse at Camden Yards is much wider and easier to maneuver while carrying a 9 month old and a 3 year old, as I was today.

Citizens Bank Park also had a great play area for kids called the Phanatic Phun Zone.  We spent about 20 minutes there before the game letting my 3 year old son stretch his legs after the long car ride.  He had a great time and frankly would have stayed there all day had we let him.  The ballpark also features a Build-a-Bear workshop just in case you want to drop $80 bucks on a stuffed Phanatic, we passed.

Citizens Bank Park also features an area beyond the outfield called “Ashburn Alley”, which is Philly’s version of Eutaw Street.  Ashburn Alley had some  activities for kids, plenty of concessions (including Greg Luzinski’s “Bull’s BBQ) and some interesting exhibits on Phillies history.  The authenticity of the B&O Warehouse, and the fact that it’s the original, give Eutaw Street the edge on Ashburn Alley.

As for the game, the Phils beat the Cubbies 5-4.  The game featured a 3-run bomb from Jimmy Rollins and solo shots from Chase Utley and the Cubs Kosuke Fukudome.  If you’ve never had the chance to see him play, Chase Utley is ridiculously good.  Also, the Cubs 20 year old Shortstop Starlin Castro jut looks like a future star.  He exhibited tremendous range, quick reflexes, hustle on the bases as he beat out a dribbler for a single, and he stroked an RBI single to the opposite field for the Cubs first run.

Going to Citizens Bank Park and seeing the park packed with fans for a Thursday afternoon game really made me miss the spectacle that was Camden Yards in the 90’s.  Unlike Camden, Citizens Bank Park is not in the city center and is basically surrounded by parking lots and access roads.  The area around the park lacks the carnival type atmosphere that used to exist outside of Camden Station.  There are no street vendors or ticket scalpers to speak of; ome people may look at that as a positive but I missed the chatter and the activity.

If you’re looking to see some real Major League Baseball and are tired of waiting for the Orioles to become relevant again I’d strongly suggest making the trek to Philly.  Today the sky’s were blue without a cloud in sight and the temps were in the low to mid 80’s.  It was a great day for baseball, win or lose for the Cubs.

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Pudge plugs along, Castro’s flubs down Cubs

Posted on 10 May 2010 by dansoderberg

I remember back to 1991 when the Rangers recalled then 19 year old Ivan Rodriguez to the big leagues.  Pudge was an obvious phenom brought to the big leagues for his glovework.  He gunned down would-be basestealers from his knees and picked off runners at first.  Anything he did with the bat was a bonus.

Well, 19 years and over 2700 hits later Pudge is still plugging along.   The Washington Nationals signed Rodriguez to tutor their young catchers and help guide a young pitching staff.  Anything he gives them with the bat is a bonus.  And quite a bonus it is.  The now 38 yo Pudge is hitting .365 through his first 24 games as a National.  The upstart Nats are a surprising 18-14 and just 1.5 games behind the defending NL Chmp Phillies in the NL East.

In an interesting contrast the Cubs recalled 20 year old shortstop Starlin Castro from AA on Friday.  They sang the same tune as the Rangers 19 years ago, stating that Castro was brought up to solidify the defense and anything he does with the bat is a bonus.  Well, the kid started off with a bang; hitting a 3-run bomb in his first at bat and a 3-run triple later in the same game.  Tonight, the Cubs lost 4-2 to Florida in Castro’s first game at Wrigley.  The star-crossed Starlin made 3 errors, and another bad throw that could’ve been an error, leading directly to Marlins’ runs.  Here’s hoping it was just a case of the jitters and Castro can enjoy the same type of staying power as future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez.

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Boo Tex, but don’t blame him

Posted on 03 September 2009 by dansoderberg

The Yankees once again roll out of Baltimore on a winning streak and this time they’re take 30,000 Cesar Izturis t-shirts with them up the Jersey Turnpike.  Mark Teixeira’s reception in Baltimore wasn’t nearly as hostile this time around, mostly because any O’s fan with half a brain sold their tickets on Ebay months ago.  I went to an O’s/MFYs game in May and lustily booed Tex.  I didn’t boo him for turning down the Orioles to sign with the Yankees.  I booed him because he said that he wore a Yankee cap to Memorial Stadium and Mattingly was his favorite player.

I don’t blame Tex or think he’s the devil for signing with the Yanks.  The Orioles were never serious about signing him and made nothing more than a token offer for his services.  Yes, $140 million is a lot of money, but it’s a lot easier to offer it when you know it’s $40 million below the high bidder.   We also know it was a token offer because it’s not as if that $140 million is burning a hole in Andy MacPhail’s wallet.  After Tex rejected the offer Andy went out and signed Ty Wiggington to a $6 million two year deal.  I guess that means the Orioles have $134 million to spend on free agents this off-season.  That should be more than enough to add Chone Figgins and Matt Holliday to the lineup.  That would constitute buying the bats.   I won’t hold my breath.

On a brighter note, Aaron Boone returned to the Majors today with the Houston Astros just 5 months after open heart surgery.  Boone had surgery in late March to correct an exisiting heart ailment that had recently worsened.  Boone, who went 0-3 today against the Cubs, certainly serves as an inspiration and a great example of the progress that can be made with hard work and dedication.  My Father had a triple bypass a few weeks ago and is recovering nicely, while dealing with an extreme amount of pain and discomfort.  To think that Boone is playing in the Big Leagues just months after heart surgery is truly remarkable and an example of all that can be good about America’s Pastime.  I hope Boone has a productive  month of September and a healthy future.

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