Tag Archive | "Derrek Lee"

Your Monday Reality Check-If Pitchers And Catchers Report And No One Cares…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check-If Pitchers And Catchers Report And No One Cares…

Posted on 20 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Stop me if you heard this one before.

If Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training but no one has ever heard of them before, did it actually happen?

To at least some extent, that was the case in Sarasota this weekend. Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers reported to Ed Smith Stadium for an opportunity to prepare for a run towards the AL East crown introduce themselves to the men they now call teammates.

A year ago, there was a level of false hope about what a full season under manager Buck Showalter and the arrivals of veteran MLB players like Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds could do for baseball in Charm City. There is of course none of that in 2012, but you already knew that.

To be fair, I’m as surprised as you that Endy Chavez fever simply hasn’t spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

The start of Spring Training (most O’s pitchers had actually arrived in Sarasota in advance of this weekend’s report date) produced neither excitement nor as much as a batted eye to baseball fans in Baltimore this year. I will admit that I did not miss the insufferable “Happy New Year” updates on Facebook and Twitter from snobby baseball fans who are unaware their favorite sport is no longer our national pastime, but that’s the only good thing to be said.

It strikes me on this Monday that I honestly find myself pining for a year in which expectations (or at least hopes) for mediocrity fizzled into just another miserable summer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I’m not pining over memories of a World Series run or even a relevant game on Labor Day. I’m pining for a team that mattered…at least a little bit…on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s that bad.

Some of you will likely use the comments section here to accuse me of wasting hundreds of words on taking a shot at the Orioles. I don’t know that I’ll really bother to argue much with you.

There will be plenty of storylines between now and Opening Day, it’s just that none of them will be interesting.

Someone will have to start against the Minnesota Twins on April 6. Zach Britton is the easy fan favorite, but will have to show his shoulder is 100 percent to even get into the competition. The team will reportedly have to line up four more starters behind whoever goes out for Game 1, despite the fact that you’d be hard pressed to name three quality pitchers in the group of 30 that showed up this weekend.

They also need one of those pitchers to finish games. Jim Johnson is the guy fans most want to see get the role. Fans’ second choice? Anyone not named Kevin Gregg.

Brian Roberts’ health will be the closest we come to seeing something compelling in March. A healthy Roberts would by no means guide the team towards contention, but it would be nice to see the veteran second baseman return to the field instead of being ushered into retirement. Barring injury all other starting positions on the field are set. That’s of course part of the problem, as even with talented players like JJ Hardy, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones suiting up there’s little hope of producing enough against the staffs in Boston, New York and Tampa Bay.

There will be some competition for bench jobs, but that excitement will wear off before I can finish typing the names Matt Antonelli and Jai Miller. But hey! Look over there! It’s Nick Johnson! I’ve heard of him!

We’re going to attempt to have some relevant baseball conversation over the course of the next few weeks. All of it will involve the phrase “not like it really matters, but…” at some point. If it doesn’t, the conversation will probably be started by someone asking “have you heard anything more about those rumors that Peter Angelos is thinking about selling the team?”.

We can only pray that at some point Dan Duquette makes an off-color comment about Brian Cashman’s off-field exploits to momentarily make the Birds interesting. If you’re not, rest easy knowing I certainly am. I’d settle for a rumor that Oil Can Boyd was going to get coked up and make a start at OPACY to promote his new book.

(Now that I’ve typed those words, I actually think it’s a hell of an idea. Please pass it along to someone.)

Yes, it’s baseball season again in Baltimore. Anyone wanna talk about Justin Boren’s future in purple?

-G

Comments (4)

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Sum Of All Fears

Posted on 17 August 2011 by Erich Hawbaker

I had a terrible thought the other day. After reading all about Carlos Zambrano’s latest meltdown and the talk of the Cubs looking for a way to unload him without paying him the rest of his ridiculous contract, it hit me. Could we see Zambrano in an Orioles uniform in the near future? It was one of those random epiphanies that just jumps into your head and takes you by surprise. But the more I think about it, the more afraid I get that it might actually happen.

During the tenure of Andy MacPhail and a little before that, the Orioles have had a peculiar habit of snapping up the Cubs’ rejects; Sammy Sosa, Rich Hill, Felix Pie, Derrek Lee. All of them were guys that MacPhail handled while he was running the Cubs, and all (except Sosa, who came here before Andy did) were supposedly proven major league material he brought here to make the Orioles better. NONE OF THEM even came close to meeting that expectation. Granted, the ex-Cubs wing is only a part of the Orioles Rest & Retirement Home For Aged Transient Big-Name Free Agents, but I digress. MacPhail’s track record when bringing in players from teams he worked with previously has been nothing short of disasterous. And having observed Zambrano firsthand while running the Cubs, would he be more likely to take a chance on him if the oppurtunity presented itself?  

Carlos Zambrano is the Terrell Owens of baseball; there’s no question that he has a lot of talent, but it is eclipsed by his inability to control his temper and get along with his teammates. But if the Cubs do indeed cut him loose, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll never pitch in the majors again at just 30 years of age. Could he be the next household name that the front office signs in their continuing attempt to convince us fans that they’re trying to win? Make no mistake, Zambrano is a bull in a china shop much like Albert Belle was. And for some reason, I have a very clear picture in my head of Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey sitting behind the desk and explaining why this is a tremendous pickup for the Orioles and just what they need to start turning things around. King Peter’s propaganda machine rivals that of Fidel Castro.

Maybe I’m completely off my rocker on this one, and maybe I’m not. What do you think? Comments and discussion are much appreciated.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Apologists are taking gas, but Orioles swoon still isn’t funny

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Drew Forrester

It seems like we’ve been down this road before.

The Orioles stumble through a woeful first half and then, following an embarrassing loss or series – or perhaps a lengthy losing streak – the usually-apologetic fan base goes into meltdown mode.

It would be funny if not for the fact that the meltdown is always connected to a woeful period of Orioles baseball.

This week, following a horrible 1-9 road trip that saw them get b-slapped three straight in Texas and four more times in Boston, the orange kool aid drinkers have spiraled out of control.

Some of the media have finally figured it out — they’ve finally discovered that it’s actually OK to question the team’s inability to win and their methods of operation that have contributed to this 14-years of suffering.  A few folks in town still won’t opine critically on the team, but they’re now being exposed for what they are:  afraid to speak the truth.  I stumbled upon a “baseball pre-game show” on Tuesday night and one of the experts offered this outstanding analysis about Derrek Lee:  ”He might not be doing it on the field, but he’s SUCH a good guy.  You have no idea how good of a guy he is.  I mean, the players in that locker room just love him.  That means something.  It really does.”

What it means is that he’s not playing well enough to help the team win.

Nothing else about Derrek Lee really matters, no matter what that “expert” offered as analysis.

So there are still some folks in town afraid to speak the truth.  Or, perhaps, they just haven’t been around long enough to actually know the truth.  Either way, they’re not worth listening to, reading or watching.

Even Steve Melewski over at MASN.com – which makes him an employee-in-law of the Orioles, frankly – has been forced to face reality and question Andy MacPhail recently.  The area’s number one source for orange apology, the Oriole Hangout, has gone hogwild this week as well, spewing criticism and angry messages about MacPhail and the players who aren’t doing the job on the field.  Talk about a reversal in theory…it’s akin to cross dressing, I suppose, when the Hangouters are forced to swallow the vitamin-of-reality and question the very man and the very team they’ve spent so much time defending over the last 13 years.

I’ve received a bunch of emails from people this week practically begging me to LOL (laugh out loud) at the apologists in town, since they’re the ones for years who have painted WNST in a bad light as “haters” of the team.

I’m not going to laugh at the people at Orioles Hangout who have chastised me over the years for being “too negative”.  I’m not going to laugh for a couple of reasons, but the main one is simple enough:  Because it’s not funny.

None of it.

The 14 years of this junk isn’t funny.

The team’s June Swoon, which carried over into July just long enough to saddle the team with a 7-game losing skid heading to the All-Star break, is simply NOT a laughing matter.

I know the players are trying.  I’m certainly not questioning their professional and ethical approach to the games.  I can’t say I’ve seen anyone give up, per-se, although some of the stupid stuff last weekend, like throwing baseballs at players on the other team because they’re beating you, smells of disguised give-up.  You throw at guys and create controversy like that when you’re trying to take the spotlight off the real issue – and the real issue is LOSING.

A caller chimed in on Monday and said, “Even if we blow it up – again – where do we start?”

That was the question of the day.

I don’t know where you would start.  The farm system isn’t good enough to just “go young” and take our lumps for a year or two until everyone is game ready.  The O’s tried that with their young pitching – the so called “cavalry” – and look what that got them so far.  Maybe those arms came up too early, maybe they weren’t quite ready for prime time, maybe they’d be better if the team around them were better…maybe, maybe, maybe.  The only real, quality players under contract past this year worthy of trading — Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis to name the only three, are guys you’d rather hang on to if possible. But how do you “blow it up” and stand pat at the same time?  You don’t.

I look at the Phillies pitching and it strikes me they have a unique blend of guys who were acquired in various forms. Halladay was a winter trade acquisition two years ago, Cliff Lee was signed as a free agent in the 2010-2011 off-season, Roy Oswalt was a trade deadline pick-up last July and Cole Hamels was the team’s first pick in the 2002 draft.

The Phillies grew ONE arm.  They went about getting the other ones in whatever way they could.  They did that for one reason:  They wanted to win.

As Malcom X said:  ”By any means necessary”.

While the Phillies were busy complementing their staff by adding Cliff Lee last winter, the Orioles were busy filling their need for a veteran starting pitcher by inking Justin Duchscherer to a contract.

Enough said about who wants to win and who just wants to fill out the roster.

For the Orioles to turn this around – and that means, most likely, NEXT season (and we’ve heard that over and over for the last 13 years) – they MUST be free-spenders in the off-season this winter.  That will certainly go against the grain of everything the organization has stood for over the last decade, but it’s the ONLY way the team will have a chance at some sort of semi-massive improvement in 2012.  You’ve seen the minor league call-ups who have played this season, the likes of Blake Davis and Ryan Adams, and you’re probably aware of the young players waiting in the wings at Frederick and Bowie and even Norfolk.  Do you think this team can throw 4-5 of them to the wolves in 2012 and compete?  Right, I agree with you on that.  They can’t.

Spending money is so foreign to the Orioles, they have to look up the exchange rate to see what it all adds up to.

But that’s what they’re faced with this winter.

That is, if they want to try and win.

Prince Fielder, Michael Cuddyer…those are two names you’ll be hearing a lot about in November.  There are others, but one of those two would fill the Orioles need for a first baseman who can both field the position and offer production at the plate.

They won’t be cheap.

But they’re both better than any other option we currently have on the radar.

In the meantime, the malady lingers on, as Morrissey once sang, and the dog days of July, August and September will once again remind all of us – even the apologists who hate to admit it – that this losing will only stop when the organization makes that it’s NUMBER ONE priority.

When winning is all that matters, and I mean ALL that matters, the Orioles will start to see a change in their fortune.

In the past few years, the number one priority has ranged from stuff like “fiscal responsibility” to “growing the arms” to “buying the bats” (which still hasn’t happened) to “stocking the farm system” to “remaining patient”…but none of that has added up to a deep, soul-searching commitment to winning from the Orioles organization.

Last year when the Ravens gagged away a 3rd quarter two touchdown lead in Pittsburgh and once again became the Steelers au pair for the AFC Championship Game, I offered THIS opinion about our football team:  ”The only thing they should concern themselves with in 2011 is this:  How do we beat the Steelers?  Every player signing, draft pick and personnel decision has to be made with that question in mind.”

As for the Orioles, the ONLY question they should entertain going forward is this:  What can we do to win?  What players can we sign that will help us win now?  What can we do to get better than the Red Sox and the Yankees? (You’ll notice there wasn’t any mention of money in there…)

No more garbage from guys like Kevin Gregg about the Red Sox and their $180 million payroll.  Let’s get rid of the TV commercials with Buck in the spotlight where he basically tries to make fun of the Yankees.

Let’s just focus on one thing:  winning.

It’s all that should matter.

And that’s the summary of this whole missive.  The losing isn’t funny.

No matter what the cost, it’s time to win.

By any means necessary.

Comments Off

Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Orioles are now two games into the second half of the 2011 season. On Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I gave our grades for Orioles players during the first half of the season.

CATCHERS:

wieters

Matt Wieters-Glenn Clark B+, Drew Forrester B
Jake Fox-Glenn D, Drew D
Craig Tatum-Glenn C-, Drew B

INFIELDERS:

hardy

Derrek Lee-Glenn D+, Drew D
Brian Roberts-Glenn D, Drew D
JJ Hardy-Glenn A-, Drew A
Mark Reynolds-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Robert Andino-Glenn C+, Drew C
Blake Davis-Glenn C, Drew B-
Cesar Izturis-Glenn D, Drew D
Ryan Adams-Glenn C, Drew D
Brandon Snyder-Glenn C-, Drew C-

OUTFIELDERS/DESIGNATED HITTERS:

vlad

Luke Scott-Glenn D, Drew D
Adam Jones-Glenn B-, Drew B+
Nick Markakis-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Nolan Reimold-Glenn C+, Drew C-
Felix Pie-Glenn F, Drew D-
Vladimir Guerrero-Glenn D+, Drew D+

STARTING PITCHERS:

britton

Jeremy Guthrie-Glenn C+, Drew C+
Jake Arrieta-Glenn B-, Drew C
Zach Britton-Glenn B, Drew B
Brian Matusz-Glenn D, Drew F
Chris Tillman-Glenn D, Drew D
Brad Bergesen-Glenn D+, Drew C-
Chris Jakubauskas-Glenn C-, Drew D

RELIEF PITCHERS:

kgregg

Koji Uehara-Glenn B, Drew B+
Jim Johnson-Glenn B+, Drew B-
Pedro Viola-Glenn C, Drew C
Kevin Gregg-Glenn C-, Drew C+
Alfredo Simon-Glenn C-, Drew C-
Jeremy Accardo-Glenn D, Drew D
Mike Gonzalez-Glenn D, Drew D
Josh Rupe-Glenn D, Drew D
Jason Berken-Glenn C, Drew C-
Clay Rapada-Glenn D-, Drew B-
Troy Patton-Glenn D, Drew F

MANAGER:

showalter

Buck Showalter-Glenn C-, Drew B+

If you missed the breakdown of our midseason grades on Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction”, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nearly a year later, are the Orioles starting to break Showalter?

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Rex Snider

In just a month’s time, Buck Showalter will be celebrating his one year anniversary as skipper of the Baltimore Orioles.

That’s right, if you fast forward 28 days on the calendar, you’ll arrive at August 3rd – which marks the day Buck first appeared in his black and orange garb, while sternly staring at the field from the Camden Yards dugout.

We recall that 6-3 win and ultimate sweep of the Angels to usher in Buck’s first series, right?

It seems like a long time ago.

Thus, I’m obliged to ask how much positive reflecting Showalter will be doing exactly four weeks from today?

He obviously doesn’t strike us as a guy who relishes significant dates on his respective resume’. Indeed, he seems a little more modest …. and a bit more focused on the project of his toils.

However, I do wonder if Buck Showalter, in one of his most private moments, has begun to question the wisdom and ultimate decision that led him back to managing a Major League team, and most specifically, the challenge known as the ORIOLES …..

Following last night’s collapse, is there a remote chance he savored a cold beer and revisited last year’s formed union with Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos?

Is he begrudgingly awaiting tonight’s late night flight from his HOME to Logan Airport, in Boston?

Will he wakeup this morning, look in the mirror and simply say to himself “I’m 55 years old …. what in the hell was I thinking?”

These are all fair considerations, right?

After all, Buck Showalter finds himself managing a team that is now a season-low 11 games below .500 and 14.5 games off the AL East pace.

So much for changing the culture …..

So much for demanding better results …..

And, herein lies the question …..

As the title of the blog suggests, have the Orioles finally changed the man who supposedly had the character, toughness and no nonsense demeanor to remold them into the image of a contender?

Perhaps, the MacPhail and Angelos tandem are not living up to their end of the bargain. That wouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. And, at the same time, we’ll likely never no such a truth, because Showalter is not a “dirty laundry airing” kinda guy.

Yet, the blunt reality is the Orioles really are no better today, as opposed to the team that finished the 2010 season on a 34-23 run, under the watchful Showalter eye of accountability.

Professionalism and a commitment to fundamentals are part of the good talk that exists when a managerial change takes place. But, in the end, results are deemed by TALENT and the Orioles simply don’t have it.

There is no room for excuses. Injuries are part of the game. Slumps and inconsistent production are part of the game. Evaluating prospects beyond their true worth will always be part of the game.

You can probably attribute a mixture of the 3 components, listed above, as primary reasoning for what appears to be another failed season for the Baltimore Orioles franchise. At least they’re consistently inconsistent, huh?

I can’t imagine Buck Showalter didn’t examine the true lack of depth within the organization’s minor league system. He had to know about the stripped down scouting department. He had to gauge the MacPhail and Angelos track record of penny pinching.

So, he shouldn’t be surprised that he finds himself managing a last place team.

The optimism that brimmed with a new baseball season was dependent upon everything going right. And, well, that’s hardly been the case …..

Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero have not lived up to expectations.

Brian Roberts is hurt, again.

Brian Matusz has lost IT.

For every bright spot, there are equally bad spots to void any hope of a resurgence. That’s what happens when you gamble …..

In the end, even the best managers are HUMAN. They’re only capable of reaching the heights posed by the quality of their roster.

A year ago, Buck Showalter inherited a bad baseball team. A year later, he’s still managing a bad baseball team.

And, it’s beginning to appear they’ll break him before he changes them.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , ,

Orioles demote Matusz to Norfolk following sweep at the hands of the Cardinals

Posted on 30 June 2011 by Peter Dilutis

BALTIMORE – Brian Matusz spotted the St. Louis Cardinals eight runs on Thursday night as the Cardinals defeated the Orioles 9-6 to complete their three game sweep in front of 28,340 fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Matusz was brutal once again for the Birds. He surrendered eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work in a performance that earned him a demotion to Norfolk following the game. Matusz hopes to regain some strength and muscle in Norfolk which he believes will help him get back the velocity that he clearly has been lacking.

“For me I need to continue working on my strength and conditioning, keep getting stronger,” Matusz said. “I’m working with Brady Anderson, putting weight back on and getting my conditioning in line.”

Matusz seemed resigned to the fact that he simply was not getting it done at the major league level.

“It’s going to be tough, but I’m not getting it done up here,” Matusz said. “It’s not fair for the team for me to go out there and make starts like this. This is motivation for me to go down there, work with Mike Griffin, and get myself back to regular form.”

A common belief among Orioles’ fans is that Matusz is not totally healthy. However, when asked about his health, Matusz did not hesitate in declaring himself injury free.

“Physically I’m 100 percent healthy,” Matusz said. “I feel really good. I’ve been working real hard with Brady, working on my strength and conditioning. I feel like I’m in a lot better shape, but I need to put on some weight.”

Buck Showalter was asked whether he was sure that Matusz wasn’t pitching through an injury.

“Of course not,” Showalter said. “Nobody ever is. You never know that for sure. You can only base it on what he and the trainers say. What else do you have to base it on other than what they tell you? The arm swing is good, he throws some crisp breaking balls now and then, but he’s just not able to carry things. I understand that’s what you usually look at. Believe me, I’ve had pitchers who two or three days from now talk about something else. I’m not going to sit here and smugly say it’s definitely not. I can only go by what he tells me and what everybody else says. I’m not going to sit here and just say blindly it isn’t, but all indications are that it isn’t, and that’s what’s a challenge because we all want to know why. I’m right there with you.”

Comments Off

Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The official halfway point in the Major League Baseball season is all but upon us and by now we have a pretty healthy body of work to scrutinize. When it comes to scrutiny, no one has seemingly gotten more, from an Orioles perspective, than 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds. While his defense has been an exercise in frustration and has to improve going forward, Reynolds’ offensive numbers have seemingly polarized the fan base. Those whose cup of Orange Kool-Aid is half empty are having a tough time getting past the strikeouts and batting average. The half full Orange Kool-Aid crowd looks at his walks, runs, doubles, homeruns and RBI while getting less at bats in the bottom of the lineup than many less productive O’s and try to quantify his production.

While the science of Sabermetrics has pervaded baseball in a big way, and attempted despite great resistance from the establishment to educate and enlighten baseball fans – and they have too- baseball is still scored based on the number of guys who cross home plate. WAR, OPS, PECOTA and BABIP do a great job in helping to identify trends and tendencies and to quantify what we’ve seen and can therefore expect going forward, but games are still scored in runs and identifying credible run producers in the era of modern stats can be a confusing endeavor to say the least.

 

At the end of the day, baseball is and always will be largely a function of luck and timing. Offensive prowess can certainly help to tip the scales in the favor of one team or another, but timely hitting still beats good hitting on most nights. Consider the old Strat-O-Matic baseball game; it assigned probablitites to dice rolls and reduced the game of baseball to a board game. It worked because like weighted rolls of the dice, over time the probabilities in baseball are bound to play out, but on any given game or roll or at bat, the improbable was and is possible.

 

Since stats are skewed based on numbers of at bats, plate appearances, RBI opportunities etc., comparing them without an Ivy League degree can be challenging. So in Strat-O-Matic baseball, or more comparably simple lottery calculations I offer the following.

 

Below is a chart listing the production of the regular members of the Orioles’ lineup based this seasons numbers per 100 plate appearances. As opposed to at bats, plate appearances take into account everything including walks, sac flies HBP’s etc. Think of each member of the Orioles lineup as a bucket of 100 lottery balls. Each time a player goes to the plate they pull one. For my money, it’s a lot like the luck and timing necessary to baseball success.

 

When Nick Markakis goes to the plate for example 67 of his 100 lottery balls are outs (10 of those strikeouts); he also has 21 singles, 2 doubles, 2 homeruns, 6 walks 1 sac fly and 1 HBP to pull from. Does that make him a better bet to produce runs than Mark Reynolds who has 64 outs in his bucket (26 of those K’s) and only 9 singles, but who also has 5 doubles, 4 homeruns, 16 walks 1 HBP and 1 sac fly to draw from? Some of the numbers were surprising to say the least.

 

The 2011 Orioles per 100 plate appearances:

 

 

 

 

 

Player

 

 

 

1B

 

 

 

2B

 

 

 

3B

 

 

 

HR

 

 

 

BB

 

 

 

HBP

 

 

 

SF

 

 

 

OUTS

 

 

 

K

 

 

 

RUNS

 

 

 

RBI

 

 

 

Markakis

21

2

0

2

6

1

1

67

10

9

9

A.Jones

18

4

0

4

5

1

2

66

18

12

14

Reynolds

9

5

0

4

16

1

1

64

26

13

13

Guerrero

21

5

0

2

3

1

0

68

11

9

10

Wieters

16

5

0

3

7

0

0

69

17

10

13

D. Lee

20

4

0

2

8

0

1

65

22

11

9

Scott

12

5

0

4

10

0

1

68

22

10

10

Hardy

16

6

0

5

9

0

1

63

15

14

14

Pie

19

4

1

0

2

0

0

74

15

11

5

Reimold

14

2

0

5

14

2

2

61

20

11

14

 

 

 

 

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guthrie gets overdue help from offense in Orioles’ 7-5 win over Reds

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Luke Jones

It was far from Jeremy Guthrie’s best performance in a 7-5 win to give the Orioles their first series win since June 6-8.

But the bats owed him one.

Guthrie pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and six hits while uncharacteristically walking four batters in an afternoon in which deep counts caught up with him, forcing an early exit against the Cincinnati Reds. However, five runs in the first four innings and two late insurance runs proved to be enough despite eight walks by Baltimore pitching.

Receiving the ninth-worst run support in the American League entering Sunday, Guthrie was grateful for the extra hand in securing his third win of the season despite a very respectable 3.93 earned run average in 16 starts. It marked the first time since May 26 that Guthrie had received five or more runs and just the fifth time all season.

“Winning three games in three months, it’s frustrating,” said Guthrie, who improved his record to 3-9. “I want to be better; I want to have better results. At times, momentum seems to swing against the Orioles, so it’s nice to have held on and won this game. It’s important for the team.”

Though not his sharpest outing, Guthrie’s stuff removed any shred of doubt that might have lingered after straining his back two starts ago in Toronto. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and struck out five Cincinnati hitters despite giving up his 13th home run of the year to Brandon Phillips in the fifth inning.

Racking brains over Reynolds

No Oriole in recent memory has sparked more debate — or created more frustration — than third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Despite raising his batting average from .190 to .227, clubbing seven home runs, and walking 20 times in the month of June, Reynolds’ defense continues to suffer after committing two more errors on Sunday, giving him 18 for the year. Manager Buck Showalter is preaching patience with Reynold’s glove and arm, but the miscues haven’t yet affected his performance at the plate.

“I can’t think that way,” Reynolds said. “I have struggled over there at third base, it’s no secret. Just have to stay focused and not carry my at-bats into the field with me. Just keep going out there and making all the routine plays.”

Casual observers cringe at the low average and the high strikeout numbers (78 in 242 at-bats), but Reynolds’ .819 OPS is better than any regular in the lineup not named J.J. Hardy (.907) or Adam Jones (.823). His .356 on-base percentage makes him a strong candidate to be moved higher in the batting order if Showalter wants to maximize his return.

Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee were brought to Baltimore to be run producers for the middle of the order, but Reynolds has done a far better job than either veteran if you can look past the unconventional numbers.

Unfortunately, the glove has overshadowed what he’s been doing at the plate.

“I am working every day with [third base coach Willie Randolph] at it, trying to get better,” Reynolds said. “It’s just one of those things I can’t really explain. Hopefully, I can be more consistent in the future and keep getting better.”

Markakis on the rise

Following a three-hit afternoon in which he drove in two runs, Nick Markakis is riding a 16-game hitting streak that includes eight multi-hit games. He’s elevated his average from .236 to .277 over the 16 games in what many are hoping is a sign of better things to come for the struggling right fielder.

“He’s letting the ball travel, getting deep,” Showalter said. “He’s making them get him out. He’s not getting himself out as much, and he’s taking what they give him. Nick’s not going to sneak up on anybody. Everybody in baseball knows what kind of hitter he is, and they’re pitching him tough. Also, some of the guys around him swinging the bat better with J.J. and Jonesy and D-Lee coming on have made the focus less on him.”

Markakis has recently been choking up about an inch on the bat, with the knob noticeably taped. His 14 extra-base hits are still far below his yearly average of over 60 over the first five seasons of his career, but a homer on Saturday and three hits Sunday are encouraging to see as the All-Star Break approaches.

Comments Off

Orioles’ walk-off victory caps “throwback” night at The Yard

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles’ walk-off victory caps “throwback” night at The Yard

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Friday marked the 5,000th day since the Orioles lost Game 6 of the 1997 American League Championship Series.

That’s according to a friend, who sent me the message earlier in the evening. If you’re hellbent on confirming the number and ruining your weekend, I’ll leave you the sobering math.

Needless to say, it’s been an excruciatingly long time since those exciting days and nights at Camden Yards, making the 45,382 in attendance for fireworks and the first visit by the Cincinnati Reds since the 1970 World Series all the more interesting. It was the first sellout since the Orioles’ home opener and only the second game all season in which the club drew more than 40,000 fans.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

To top it off, the Orioles didn’t disappoint, as Derrek Lee’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th finished an exciting 5-4 victory for a club badly needing a win after a 3-6 road trip and losing eight of its last 11 overall.

“I knew I got that one,” said Lee about his 381-foot drive into the left-field seats. “I put a good swing on that one. If that one didn’t go over the fence, we would have had some problems.”

Of course, it wasn’t perfect as Baltimore squandered an early 4-0 lead, stranded 13 runners, and went a combined 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. These are the last-place Orioles, after all, but it was refreshing seeing far more orange and black — with a sprinkling of red from Reds fans making the rare trip to Camden Yards — than empty, green seats at one of the most beautiful, and lonely, parks in baseball. At least for a game that didn’t include the Yankees or Red Sox.

Yes, fans came for the fireworks.

It was union night and Friday student night.

They came to see a Cincinnati team not named the Bengals — who also happens to be the defending National League Central champion — playing in Baltimore.

Regardless of the reason, the outcome gave all those people a reason to come back.

“I’ve always felt like when you have a good crowd you want to [watch] a good game and go home and want to come back and enjoy the experience,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I’ve always felt a little added, I don’t want to say pressure, but you really want them to have their day at the park and the Orioles win and then want to come back and be a part of it.”

Showalter understands how important it is for the Orioles to capitalize on these rare occasions when the ballpark is full and to provide a product people want to see again sooner rather than later. It’s a gesture far more meaningful than the single victory that pulled the team to within five games of the .500 mark.

Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. The results on the field will dictate when — and if — the fans return to Camden Yards, but Friday night was plenty of fun for anyone who flocked to the ballpark.

“This place is a beautiful park,” said Lee, the 35-year-old veteran whose career was only getting started when Camden Yards was drawing 3.5 million people every season. “When the seats are full, it’s definitely a nice electricity. It would be nice to get a few more nights like that.”

If he only knew the half of it.

Over five thousand days ago.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hardy and Reynolds are key pieces of Orioles’ future

Posted on 20 June 2011 by Peter Dilutis

Andy MacPhail’s 2010-2011 offseason has been criticized by many. MacPhail went out and overpaid for Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee, two veterans on the downside of their respective careers who were unlikely to play on a contending team in Baltimore, unless of course that contending was going to occur in 2011.

He acquired an average pitcher in Kevin Gregg who happened to rack up a bunch of saves the previous four seasons, thus making him a $5 million man.

MacPhail also traded for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds. Hardy was set to become a free agent after the 2011 season, while Reynolds could be under team control through 2013 if the Orioles exercise their club option for ’13.

Throughout the early stages of the season, Reynolds and Hardy weren’t looking so great. Hardy was injured again, a problem that has overshadowed his production the past few seasons. Reynolds was striking out way too much, while homering at a career low clip.

However, both of these players have really gone on a tear throughout the month of June. Hardy is arguably the team’s best player right now, and has produced with the best SS’s in baseball. In fact, Hardy’s numbers are better than they were in 2007 when he hit 26 HR’s and drove in 86 with Milwaukee. His defense has also been better than advertised. In short, he has been the best outside acquisition for the Orioles since Miguel Tejada in 2004.

Reynolds has picked up his offense of late, hitting 6 HR’s in June, while raising his average from .186 to .217 in just one month. He also has an on-base percentage of .335, which while not wonderful, it isn’t awful either, and it is actually extremely impressive for a guy who is hitting just .217. Reynolds, despite his strikeouts, has a very good eye at the plate, and at the very least is someone who Jim Presley can count on to work the count and make the pitcher work a bit.

Comments Off