Tag Archive | "huff"

An ode to Aubrey Huff…his “defining moment” is here!

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An ode to Aubrey Huff…his “defining moment” is here!

Posted on 17 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

He bragged about masturbating and not watching video of pitchers, he cursed and acted foolishly tipsy on national radio but, for the most part, the Aubrey Huff era will be remembered for the most brazenly stupid act of the modern-day local athlete era — he called Baltimore a “horses**t” town.

Aubrey Huff

This is simply a convenient set of links to the “Huff-Gate” extravaganza of November 2007.

Two years later — and in the rearview mirror of his trade today to the Detroit Tigers, you can make your own judgments on Huff and his body of work.

For me, he’s the worst athlete and the least likable athlete in the history of my 25 years of covering Baltimore sports for a living. After this incident, he feigned comedy and a weak apology to no less of an excuse than Anita Marks, and to my knowledge never did anything to make any sort of restitution for his comments.

He took $22 million from the Orioles and from the city of Baltimore over the last three years. He had a so-so first year, an outstanding offensive effort in 2008 and has been less-than-stellar during this campaign. His effort was spotty and even his best production was in vain and a waste of money for the franchise.

He has played in the majors for parts of eight seasons. He has finished in last place seven of those eight years. (Yes, in 2004, Tampa Bay managed to finish in fourth place thanks to the benevolence of the Blue Jays, who were the cellar team that season).

So, in the end, Huff not only got all of the money and very little of the ire that he so richly deserved for his comments, he also got himself traded out of here and into first place in Detroit.

Huff must lead a charmed life. He’s made $35 million playing last-place, losing baseball and now finds himself with a rare chance to go to the postseason and win a World Series.

Better to be lucky than good, I suppose.

Below we present the quotes and the video that the Orioles wanted you to pretend never happened.

This was Aubrey Huff’s “defining moment” in Baltimore: (all of these are NSFW…this is crude stuff, not for family viewing!)

Here’s the Deadspin link to the video (contains nudity!!!)

Here’s the link to my blog “outing” the appearance that The Sun, Roch Kubatko, MASN and the Orioles tried to cover up and apologize for almost two years ago.

Here’s the link to my blog with all of the irreverent quotes from Huff on the “Bubba The Love Sponge Show”…

Here’s more tasty quotes from Huff’s appearance on Bubba’s show…

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Orioles doing the el-foldo again. Aren’t you mad?

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Keith Melchior

A month or so ago, Dave Trembley was furious that an umpire allegedly told him his guys weren’t hustling. People were jumping on the Dave Trembley bandwagon after that show of fire and passion for his team.

My, how things have changed. The All Star break began exactly one month ago Thursday. The Orioles were on a mini-streak of winning 2 straight series against Seattle and Toronto and were winners in 4 of their last 5 games and pulled to within 8 games on the .500 mark at 40-48. So much for momentum.  Did Criss Angel make the real Baltimore Orioles suddenly disappear?

Since that break, the Birds have played 24 games and won only 6, that’s right, SIX games. Now sitting at 46-66, they are the 2nd worst team in the AL and 4th worst in all of baseball. Trembley now sits in the dugout looking like he just found out his girlfriend wants to date other guys. The Orioles have reached their lowest point in the season and people are now starting to get a little more than disgusted with this team. 

 I mentioned a few months ago in a blog, they needed to bring in a solid winning veteran pitcher to teach these young guys how to pitch to major league batters. There is no one on this club who is experienced enough or qualified to teach, and that includes the manager and pitching coach. Those guys have proven time after time, either after throwing 100 pitches or lasting 5 innings, they are going to take the pitcher out of the game and turn it over to the bullpen.

Brad Bergesen is the only pitcher on this staff who looks like he knows what he is doing out on the mound. He IS a pitcher. If the other guys follow his lead, maybe they’d be successful. Bringing Tillman and Matusz up were PR moves to try to put fannies in the seats. Neither has really looked like the world beaters they appeared to be in the minors. It is a totally different world in Norfolk and Bowie. The things you get away with pitching against Columbus, Reading or Pawtucket will get you knocked around in New York, Detroit and Toronto.

I think it was a huge mistake to bring Tillman and Matusz to a club that has pretty much packed it in and is simply going through the motions at this point in the season. Yes, it gives them experience at the major league level, but they were winning in the minors and should have remained there for the rest of the season. Everyone is quick to make the excuse about innings pitched during a season. The minor league season is about over and these guys are extending it a little longer. Trembley had talked about using a 6-man rotation as the season winds down, just to give everyone a few extra days off. How did Maddox and Glavine both get to the 300 win plateau? They were pitchers who learned how to get batters out, get into the 8th innings by throwing less than 100 pitches, and most importantly, they knew how feed off of the success of each other while with the Braves. I do not see an inkling of that happening here.

Being 20 games under .500 and 23 games out of 1st place is, in itself, and EMBARRASSMENT to the city of Baltimore. I don’t want to hear, “well, if they played in the Central or West divisions, they’d be better”  They’d be 13.5 out in the Central and 21 out in the West. They have done NOTHING to improve and will continue to lose fans if they keep up that practice.  By packing it in before the season began and telling the fans, “We’re not going to win this season, but be patient, we will,”  they have totally ruined ANY chance of getting a high level free agent to come to Baltimore unless they grossly overpay him. Players do not want to play for losing teams unless they are going to be paid rather handsomely, especially teams that don’t even look like they want to get better. Look at Miguel Tejada. The Orioles signed Tejada by offering more money than any other club was willing to give him. They didn’t before Tejada, didn’t win with Tejada and they aren’t winning without him. What’s that tell you?

TWELVE seasons of watching sub-par baseball being played by the Baltimore Orioles makes me sick. I don’t buy the belief that the future will hold good things. I see no one in that clubhouse that is able to sit down with Tillman, Matusz, Berken, Hernandez, and Bergesen and actually TEACH them the ins and outs of being a successful pitcher in the major leagues.  By signing a Roy Halladay, they could get just that, a guy who is a winner, knows how to pitch, and could be an extremely positive influence on these young guys. They aren’t going to learn on their own and Jeremy Guthrie sure isn’t enough of a winner to show them anything positive.

I said it before and I’ll say it again.  Get the stench of 12 years of losing baseball away from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. FIRE Dave Trembley and his ENTIRE coaching staff. Do NOT replace them with any ex-Orioles. Sign a top-notch free-agent pitcher who is a proven winner and still knows how to win games.  Sign a power hitting 1st or 3rd baseman who can hit 25 to 30 HR a season. The team needs balance andthey aren’t going to have balance with a lineup of mostly 2nd and 3rd year players. They need that veteran winning presence in the locker room.

The Orioles have lots of dead weight hanging on to the 40 man roster. Mora, Huff andBaez are gone after the season if not sooner. I’d dump Guthrie, Pie and Ray as well.  They have a good nucleus with Reimold, Jones and Markakis in the outfield, Wieters behind the plate and Bergesen, Hernandez, Johnson, Albers, Bass and Hendricksonall proven to be adequate on the mound. Izturis and Andino have given them decent play at SS, Roberts is going to remain at 2nd unless he gets totally disgusted and wants out of here, and Wiggintonis a valuable utility infielder. The DH is pretty much set with Luke Scott who should get 500 at bats in that position.  Tillman and Matusz are not proven major league starters just yet, but mixing in a few veteran pitchers may help them develop.

I go back to the record. 46-66  .411 baseball, losing 18 of 24 games, and with 28 being the lowest magic number, they could be mathematically eliminated from winning the division by August 31st.  No more excuses from the warehouse, broadcasters, players, coaches, manager or those wearing orange colored glasses or sipping the orange kool-aid!  No more defining moments. The team has given you nothing but a load of garbage since 1997. When are people going to reach the breaking point and be mad enough to not take it anymore?

 Regardless of what the front office feeds you about the not-so-distant promising future, doesn’t the past and present state of Orioles’ baseball make you mad and less willing to forgive them for making a mockery of the team you love as the losing continues?

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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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Positives, negatives and neutrals

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Keith Melchior

I have been accused of doing nothing but bashing and being totally negative about the Orioles this season and for the last few years. So, I thought I’d celebrate MY independence and share some of the positive, yes  positive things about the Orioles. In the interest of being totally objective and fair, I am also going to share the negative and neutral feelings I have as well.

THE POSITIVES:

Brad Bergesen.. He definitely has emerged as the ace of the staff

Adam Jones…. He came into spring training with an energy that carried over into the first 2 months of the season. He HAS to be the Orioles representative in the All-Star game….Eric who?

Luke Scott… the type DH we have needed since Harold Baines

Nolan Reimold… a welcome addition to the outfield. Ranks tops amongst rookies. If he has a solid 2nd half he should be rookie of the year.

Jim Johnson, Matt Albers, Brian Bass….all 3 have done the job when called upon. Yes they have hit some speed bumps but are performing more often than not.

Nick Markakis… a slump came at the wrong time, but he is a force in the outfield and leads the league in outfield assists. He will bounce back in 2nd half.

Brian Roberts… A big contract hasn’t slowed him down. One of the top ledoff batters in the league and has singlehandedly won a few games with his speed and timely hits.

Matt Wieters…. The team chose not to have him here on opening day because of the service time issue. Fans are waiting for him to develop into the “savior of the franchise”  Hopefully the 2nd half he’ll tear the cover off the ball like he did in the minors. A definite upgrade from Zaun.

Ty Wigginton…Accepted his role and has produced when called upon. Perfect utility player with a little pop.

THE NEUTRALS:

Jeremy Guthrie… he has yet to emerge as the true ace and needs to have a better 2nd half. LAst year the team wasn’t scoring runs for him, this year he has fallen behind too often in early innings.

George Sherrill….Puts too many runners on base, but was pretty much money the last month. We’re approaching  the time when he melted down last season and had to be shut down due to being overworked. I think he’s trade bait.

Cesar Izturis, Robert Andino… Both are better than what the Orioles had at SS last season. Still need to see some improvement in the ablity to get on base from these two. Neither has hurt the team that much in the field. If they can get on base for the top of the order it’s a huge bonus.

Danys Baez… Hasn’t been too bad coming back from an injury but has been good at times and bad at times. Trade bait if a team is desperate for  middle relief help.

Aubrey Huff… Power numbers are down and some feel he peaked too early in the season. If he is still here after July 31st fans can hope he doesn’t get hot the 2nd half of the season since he is a free agent. He’ll cost the team too much to re-sign.

Jason Berken, David Hernandez….Both showing some grit and guts after getting called up to fill in the rotation. They still need to learn how to get major league hitters out consistently. Hopefully they’ll continue to grow in the 2nd half.

Mark Hendrickson…He looks more comfortable as the left-handed middle man.

Andy McPhail…. He made 2 seemingly great trades with Houston and Seattle. Other than that he hasn’t done much to help the team. If he has carte blanche from ownership, he needs to prove it to the fans and go spend a little money for some better quality players and not count on retreads to fill roster spots while waiting on the future.

The Future:  This phrase has Orioles fan chomping at the bit. The young arms are coming, but when they arrive, who will be the ace of the staff, who will be the closer, and who will be the manager. Fans cannot put all the eggs in one basket and hope that Tillman, Matusz, Arietta can continue developing  in the minors then step right in and become 20 game winners. Odds say that maybe 1 of the 3 will be that player that breaks through the barrier instantly. It would be nice to see that trio become the 2nd coming of Maddox, Glavine and Smoltz.. It’s a lot to hope for and a big risk. Time will tell. 

THE NEGATIVES;

Melvin Mora – Power numbers are down. He was already on the DL. Another trip could spell his demise. I think he’s a free agent after this season so trading him for a mid-range prospect isn’t entirely ruled out.

Felix Pie… Advertised as a 5 tool player. He never seemed to make the adjustment to playing almost everyday in April and is an option as a pinch runner in the late innings. Lately he has been busting his butt to try to make an impression. He is young and has a lot to learn about major league baseball.

Koji Uehara… Excitement over his first start and win over the Yankees turned into a weak arm, weak hamstring and 2 trips to DL. He simply does not have the endurance to be a starter. He has proven one thing, he was a waste of money.

Chris Ray… meltdown after meltdown hurting his chances to emerge as the closer or set up man again. But he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. He should be in Norfolk all season to develop into the closer should Sherrill be traded.

Gregg Zaun… He started the season batting .091 and although on a recent hitting tear as a part time player, he still looks overmatched at times. That proved he was not an everyday catcher anymore.  He will probably retire as a backup to Wieters and help him develop his skills.

Dave Trembley… In his 2nd full season as manager. When he replaced Perlozzo he promised a return to fundamentals and showed a fire and determination to lead the Orioles back into the winning ways. He will be remembered as the manager of a team that lost 30-3 and a team that came back from 9 runs down to beat the Red Sox. Other than those two “defining moments”,  Trembley has as much personality and grit as a cardboard cutout.

11 and possibly a 12th losing season… Losing is the most negative thing about this team. When veteran guys like Huff, Roberts, Jones, Markakis and Guthrie  have not experienced  playing meaningful games after August 1st, how can they be an example to the younger players, with the exception of being as positive and helpful as they can. Losing is contagious and the Orioles have proven they know how to lose. They need to learn how to win and build confidence so that winning may once again become as contagious as the losing has been.

 

So there you have it…Regardless of what manypeople think, I am not totally negative about the Orioles. Call it frustration over not seeing the team in the post-season but 3 times in the last 26 years. That’s more than half my life. It is time to return to the promised land of post season play, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If the same pattern of losing continues into 2011 and 2012, there will be more reasons to become negative about the Orioles. How cool would it be to have BOTH the Ravens and Orioles be winners year in and year out?

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Ohhhhh what a comeback: Oriole Magic percolates at The Yard after the rain…

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It isn’t hype to say that a miracle happened at Camden Yards tonight. It isn’t hyperbole to say that this was truly the greatest comeback in Orioles history. It really was.

I’m sure this morning many of you will awake to read this and say what most of the city (or the few who were watching to begin with will say): “They were losing 9-1 when the rain came. How the hell did they win that game?”

Well, the box score will tell you all about the comeback — an amazing display of perserverance that saw them get five runs in the 7th inning and five more in the 8th to overcome the Red Sox in an 11-10 win before a stunned contingent of mostly Red Sox fans, who stayed to celebrate what looked to be a rout at 10:45 p.m. after a lengthy and wet rain delay that came in the fifth inning.

In the 7th, Aubrey Huff, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott heroics were all upstaged by Oscar Salazar’s big home run off of Hideki Okajima.

In the 8th, it was Nick Markakis’ big two-out shot off the left field wall that highlighted a firestorm offensive display against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Everyone got in on the act. They managed 13 hits and 10 runs in two innings against the best bullpen in the game and on a night when all but a handful of their fans walked out of the ballpark during a rain delay.

Afterward Dave Trembley said (without joy): “That’s about the best ballgame I’ve ever been involved in. You play all 27 outs. It was calm. But every time we scored it got a little bit more wild. I guess the word would be: believable. Very impressive.”

Well, for all of Trembley’s relative lack of enthusiasm, at least the MASN boys were in great spirits. Jim Hunter looked like he was going to pee himself. Rick Dempsey couldn’t stop smiling. The remaining Red Sox fans were looking for more cold beer. Jim Palmer looked stunned. Gary Thorne was screaming like it was Game 7 Avalanche-Red Wings on ESPN circa 1998. (I love Gary Thorne!)

Former Baltimore Sun writer David Steele commented on my Facebook thread with this amazing observation: With the biggest win in Orioles history “they quieted their own ballpark.”

That’s a scary thought — but it’s true. The more the comeback came, the fewer the people who were cheering in the stands in red shirts. There was one rowdy group of orange over the O’s dugout, the heartiest of hearty souls after 11 p.m. I’m sure they have some great stories to tell. MASN had one cutaway of a Red Sox fan jawwing with an O’s supporter in the box seats and it looked like a fight was about to throw down.

What a night! These crazy kids are so up and down it’s impossible to know what you’re getting. Lost in this amazing win will be the dreadful start of Rich Hill, who managed to give up 9 runs in less than four innings before the magical rain that changed the O’s fortunes tonight.

You gotta admit that what happened tonight takes a certain amount of chutzpah and stones. It was a comeback for the ages. Like Bills-Oilers. Or Maryland-Miami. Or Len Bias at the Dean Dome. (Or sadly, Duke-Maryland 2001!) That Flacco effort in Cleveland last year didn’t suck either.

It was memorable and hopeful. Like Jimmy V, these guys never gave up. You have to respect that. It makes them likable and heroic in many ways. The Markakis at bat could be a “defining moment.”

The Orioles and Sox have a quick turnaround. They play the cap of the three-game series at 1:35 p.m. with Josh Beckett facing Brad Bergesen.

11:26 p.m. — If you are watching the Orioles game right now, you’re one of the few lost souls who have returned. After trailing the Red Sox 9-1 when a brutal rainstorm entered the city early in the evening, the Orioles have come back in the “second half” and brutalized Boston pitching in various ways to take an amazing 11-10 lead in the 8th inning.

There appear to be about 10,000 Red Sox fans still in the ballpark and a handful of rowdy Orioles fans who are truly the last rats on the ship.

A longer blog will follow, but we’re up and we’re paying attention and we’re stunned in amazement at the greatest comeback in Orioles history.

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Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy: Birds give finale away in 3-2 loss to Seattle

Posted on 04 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While we’re all drinking the orange Kool Aid these days in hopes of “better days ahead,” it’s losses like last night’s in Seattle that keep anyone who appreciates good baseball scratching our heads in disgust. After a series of boneheaded baserunning blunders and mental mistakes, the Orioles finally succumbed to the Mariners in a 3-2 loss at Safeco Field when Adrian Beltre hit a seeing-eye single past Cesar Izturis off Jim Johnson in the 9th inning to win the game.

Aubrey Huff – allegedly a veteran – not only got picked off of third base by Mariners catcher Rob Johnson in the sixth inning to kill a rally but was also caught stealing in the ninth to thwart any chance of a go-ahead run. To his credit, Huff faced the music afterward, telling The Sun: “There’s no reason to get picked off right there. That’s just a stupid rookie mistake by a veteran guy. It can’t happen. There’s no reason for me to be off the base that much. If Wieters gets a hit, I’m scoring anyway. It was really, really stupid.”

At least he’s showing some accountability for his losing behavior.

Perhaps sometime soon someone will ask Dave Trembley why the team insists on “hit and run” situations with the game on the line?

But aside from the general lack of offensive production and oppotunity, there were plenty of goats to go around in the Pacific Northwest. Nolan Reimold also got caught stealing earlier in the game and the situational hitting has been non-existent. Matt Wieters hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded early in the game and Brian Roberts is now mired in an 0-for-17 slump heading into Oakland for tomorrow’s series with the A’s.

So how bad has the offense been since Friday night’s “Matt Messiah” game?

The Orioles have stranded what few runners they’ve had over the past week and have scored only five runs in 27 innings in Seattle and were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Add in the weekend brilliance of the Detroit staff and they’ve now scored only five runs in their past 39 innings and have scored three or fewer runs in 9 of the past 19 games.

Hitting slumps are acceptable. Mental mistakes are not.

Trembley, who is usually dour even when the team wins, looked downright distraught last night during a terse post-game press conference because he knows this was a very winnable game that got away.

The whole team might want to hit the cage in Oakland with outfielder Luke Scott, who continued his torrid pace with a home run in the second inning and an RBI double in the sixth. He’s now registered five home runs this week while no one else on the Birds has hit a homer since last Friday.

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May Orioles report card

Posted on 02 June 2009 by Keith Melchior

Here’s my May Orioles report card.

Brian Roberts – A … still the catalyst on the team. A very solid player

Adam Jones – A+… He still plays too shallow in CF sometimes and balls fly over his head, but he has been a pleasant surprise. With the solid 2 months he’s had, he definitely deserves All-Star recognition.

Nick Markakis – B+..production has fallen off a bit, stuck out a few too many times with runners on base, deserves All-Star recognition too.

Aubrey Huff - B.. playing a solid 1st base, hoping he’ll heat it up soon. If he does, he is the first one I’d look to trade out.

Melvin Mora – C.. I don’t think he’s 100%. He’s turned into a singles hitter as his power numbers dwindle.

Luke Scott – B+.. In a heck of a hot streak as of late, so they’ll probably trade him in July. He’s just what they Orioles need.

Nolan Reimold – B..(qualifies for an incomplete) He probably saved his job in LF and his spot on the team when he hit that GW HR last week.  He could hit better in his sleep than Felix Pie. He was helped by Lou Montanez’ injury and trip to the DL. Here’s hoping he gets settled in .

Gregg Zaun – F.. Did playing on an artificial surface pad this guys numbers? He has lost it at the plate and behind the plate, and rather quickly.

Ty Wigginton – B.. not playing every day hurts his ability to perform consistently, but he is an adequate utility player. Much better than the other 3

Felix Pie – F.. He should be sent to Norfolk so he can play every day and work on his game. Sitting on the bench here in Baltimore isn’t helping. When Lou Montanez returns from the DL, I’ll drive Pie to Norfolk.

Cesar Izturis – C.. has been pretty decent in the field and producing at the plate is all you can ask for at this position. They got him for his defense

Robert Andino – C.. not lighting it up but he’s not supposed to. He’s a “band-aid player” in case of injuries. There’s no need for him to have to play once or twice a week.

Jeremy Guthrie – B.. has shown flashes but still somewhat inconsistent and struggles to get into 7th inning

Rich Hill – B+.. a pleasant surprise, so McPhail is batting .500 with his ex-Cubs

Koji Uehara – C.. guts alone can’t win ball games, ask Kyle Boller. Runs into trouble after 5 innings way too often. Hopefully he can improve his stamina when off the DL.

Jim Johnson  – B.. looks like he picked up where he left off last season before he was shut down. Dominant at times.

Danys Baez – B-.. Quite different than the guy who couldn’t get anyone out 2 years ago, but he still lacks that consistency that middle relievers need. Probably trade material come July.

Brian Bass – B+.. talk about a guy who seemingly rose from the dead. He was probably on his way out but he turned it around in a hurry after a disasterous April. He has become a solid middle reliever. Hope he stays that way.

Matt Albers – C.. Looks like his choice to rehab instead of surgery is working  as has held his own.  Let’s see what June has in store for him

Jamie Walker – F.. after a decent April, that meltdown over the balk last month transformed  him back into the  Jamie Walker of 2008.

George Sherrill – B.. not the All-Star he was at this time last year, but the best option they have since Chris Ray blew up and did his Walker routine.

Bergesen, Berken, Hernandez – Incomplete – They all look like they belong with the big club thus far.  We’ll see how they progress in June.

Matt Wieters – A+ for hype…..incomplete for grade. rocky start of a major league career going 2-11. Once he settles in and plays more, he’ll be fine.

Dave Trembley – C- .. He locked himself into a rut but playing the B lineup on Sundays and usually the last game in a series. You have to have players who can accept that role and can step in and play to make it work for you. If he is that stuck on getting his reserves in a game, then why not stagger them, that way you don’t have all 3 in the game at the same time…i.e. rest Izturis Friday and play Saturday and Sunday and rest Mora on Saturday and play on Sunday, etc etc.. … His bench players are terrible. Pinch hitting a .200 hitter for a .198 hitter? Why bother?  The team is 5 games under .500 at this point, no thanks to Trembley. The top of the lineup all hit and hit and hit and won games despite the rocky pitching efforts. Some of Trembley’s in-game decisions are highly questionable, he is stubborn about his reserves playing time, and his record on Sundays/ final game of a series is worthy of a firing if he can’t turn that trend around. If he’s trying to win baseball games, he is doing it with smoke and mirrors.

Team Overall – C.. the recent 5 game win streak helped. With their lineup, they should beat teams like Washington and teams that are reeling and slumping.  The comeback win over Toronto was impressive, but the 2 losses to Detroit over the weekend were tough to swallow. How they fare in June and July with the development of the rookies will go a long way in determining whether they are serious in contending in the future or will settle for mediocrity. Hanging onto players like Felix Pie, Gregg Zaun  and Robert Andino drag them down. having 3 bench players hitting a combined .198 gives Trembley no options in late innings or against NL teams. Perhaps Baez and Koji can be used as pinch-hitters. Pie should go to Norfolk, Zaun and Andino can just go, period.  The Orioles are better than advertised at times. Now it appears they have a log-jam on the mound when Koji returns from the DL.

Question – What ever happened to Mike Flanagan?

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O’s Shutout, Then Take Yanks To The Woodshed

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Friday Night – O’s Shutout

 

A-Rod returned to visit Camden Yards for the first time this season and promptly crushed a three run homer.  It must be the start of new cycle for him as it was the end of a cycle for Mannywood. 

 

I was glad to see O’s fans giving him the business because he deserves it.

 

Unlike Opening Day CC Sabathia was on his game.  Much to my surprise he pitched a complete game shutout against the birds.  Sabathia has been relatively ineffective thus far but the best cure for a slumping team, or a slumping player is to see the Orioles come up on the schedule.

 

Jeremy Guthrie gave the Orioles an adequate start for the first time in a while.  His lone mistake was giving up the homer to A-Rod as he struck out eight over six innings.  He certainly gave the birds a chance to win.  McCrory gave up a run in two innings in relief as he has been decent filling in for the injured Dennis Sarfate.  Sarfate will be out at least six weeks with a circulatory problem so McCrory will have a chance become a staple in the pen during his absence.

 

It was good to see Brian Roberts break out of his mini-slump with two hits albeit in an Orioles loss.

 

Saturday Night – O’s dominate Yankees

 

The Orioles chased Phil Hughes in the second inning by scoring eight runs.  It was awesome to see that type of offensive outburst considering they were shutout the night before.

 

Adam Eaton was not impressed however because he tried to give the game away by walking the bases loaded in the fourth.  He was only able to muster a five inning performance even though he was staked to an eight run lead.  He managed to give up four runs and walk five.  I personally can’t wait to see this guy leave as he was lucky to win this game based on his performance.  Eaton possesses an apparent desire to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory virtually every start he makes.

 

The offense came alive again and it was great to see the bottom half of the lineup contribute to sealing the win.  Montanez appears to have recovered from his thumb injury as he hit a two-run shot last night.

 

The bullpen should not have had to work so hard with such a lead but our veteran “innings eaters” have proven ineffective in their roles.  I just hope that we don’t burn out any more arms this season with Sarfate and Albers (key contributors last season) already out of commission with injury trouble.

 

Greg Zaun’s bat has also started to come around which is good to see.  Maybe now the public outcry for Matt Wieters will subside for a bit. 

 

Jones and Markakis are still raking.  I imagine that they are pushing each other to higher levels of performance with the anything you can do I can do better routine.  I want to state again that I am excited with Markakis’ development into a solid RBI guy having only eclipsed 100 once in his brief career.

 

Danys Baez has proven to be the O’s best option out of the bullpen so far this year.  The rise in his level of play has significantly affected the Orioles in a positive way as he has had a hand in many of their wins.  I still don’t trust him over the long term but he is finally healthy from his elbow surgery so maybe he will continue to be effective.  I refuse to go as far as to apologize to him for my previous negative criticisms just yet as he still has a lot to prove.

 

As Aubrey Huff continues to deliver his price tag continues to grow.  I would sign him to a two or three year deal now Mr. MacPhail unless you have a plan in place to deal him at the deadline for a younger power hitter.

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Orioles can make all Moms happy today with Yanks series win

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The Orioles have the chance to make all orange Moms smile today with a potential series win over the Yankees at Camden Yards after an impressive 12-5 win last night.

Once again, the middle of the lineup is sizzling and even on nights when they give up a less-than modest five runs, they can beat around mediocre pitching with the likes of Phil Hughes, Edwar Ramirez, Jonathan Albaladejo and Brett Tomko. (Makes you ask, “Where have you gone Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton?”)

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are both batting .353 now, and have been rock stars since Opening Day. They are both now making a strong bid to be in St. Louis for the All Star Game. Aubrey Huff hit a homer last night and I’m not convinced last year was an aberration. Go back and read my blogs. He was one of my favorite “non Orioles” to watch when he was in Tampa Bay. He always put up big numbers and I think with ducks on the pond so often this year, he’ll be productive. Even if he still thinks Baltimore sucks as a place to party after dark.

Hey, even my boy Gregg Zaun is batting .221 all of a sudden. Luke Scott is one hit away from .300. And at some point relatively soon, you’ll be getting the WNST Text on Matt Wieters getting promoted.

The pitching is still beyond shaky – especially when every first five innings is an adventure nearly every night and they won’t be having 8-run second innings like they did last night – but beating the Yankees is always a nice treat.

Even when the Yankees clearly aren’t “the Yankees” we used to know.

Koji Uehara takes the hill on what looks to be a glorious, stunningly beautiful day for baseball at Camden Yards. I’m just wondering how many Yankees fans will take over the place today?

P.S. Ray Bachman got thrown out of Orioles Park at Camden Yards last night. He has quite a tale to tell.

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Wandering Thought Of The Day 5/1

Posted on 01 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Just a quick topic here as I was in class today thinking back to the Orioles draft of 2008, I know what you’re thinking but it was a terribly boring class.  I actually watched the draft coverage that year because I was really interested in the Orioles’ selection in hopes that they might choose a savior to lead them into the next decade and hopefully competitive seasons.  One might ask why anybody would watch the MLB draft, especially considering many of the players are high schoolers whom no one has probably heard mention of before, and the answer my friends is a simple one, I really love the Orioles that much.  I strive to find any bit of good news in order to placate my desire for a winning baseball team and since the product on the field has been horrendous for over a decade I have to look to the future.

 

 

I find it incredibly interesting that they chose Brian Matusz that year.  Yes I think we can all agree that the Orioles have lacked a decent pitching staff since the Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson days or even before then, but Matusz is a younger version of Jamie Moyer.  And as birds fans know Jamie Moyer was a baseball nomad until he mastered the art of pitching, which he finally was able to do only after years of getting knocked around the ballpark like a piñata.  Like Moyer, Matusz is a left-handed pitcher with a high 80’s (occasionally low 90’s) fastball who has to rely on painting the corners and mixing pitches in order to be effective.  Unlike Moyer, Matusz has no big league experience and is 22 as compared to 46.  I am not saying that Matusz is a bad pitcher I am merely pointing out that the Orioles’ first round draft pick has the potential to be at best a number three guy in a decent rotation.  His draft status was further helped by the fact that the 2008 draft was devoid of prime pitching talent thus making him the most polished and highest rated pitcher of the bunch. 

 

 

The problem however is that the 2008 MLB draft was a like cornucopia of hitting prospects, something which the Orioles also desperately needed at the time.  I was quite upset that the Orioles did not select Justin Smoak, which is the reason for my post today.  Smoak happened to go to the Texas Rangers with the 11th pick that year, and Texas as you know is a ball club that effectively evaluates offensive players.   Tim Kurkjian currently has an interesting article up about the Rangers’ offensive prowess over the years (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=4117980) but if you don’t feel like reading an article on them just try to think back to the Aug. 22, 2007 beat down of the birds by a final score of 30 to 3.  I know we have all repressed that memory but it did actually occur.  If MLB was not so bereft of catching talent Smoak would have surely went higher in the draft that year because he is a switch hitting first baseman with adequate defensive skills who will hit for lots of power and a high average.

 

 

Just as a comparison Smoak is currently in AA playing for the Frisco RoughRiders where he is raking to the tune of .351 with 4 HR and 13 RBI with .467 OBP, .568 SLG, 1.035 OPS, while the soft-tossing Matusz is in single A playing for the Frederick Keys where he has a 2-1 record with a 3.32 ERA.  The reason for this article is not to disparage Brian Matusz because like all O’s fans I am hoping that he will develop quickly into a major league caliber pitcher, but rather to point out the mistake of not drafting Smoak.  The Orioles have a long history of selecting first round players who have never even sniffed the big leagues, players they poorly scouted whom they shouldn’t have selected, and others who were abject failures when they did make it such as Beau Hale, Chris Smith, and Wade Townsend to name a few from this decade.

 

 

If we had drafted Smoak then instead of Matusz we would be able to move Aubrey Huff at the deadline possibly for some decent prospects, as it stands we have no one in the organization ready or capable of supplanting Huff in the near future.  Smoak has a chance to be a fixture in the middle of the lineup for years to come providing 30-40 hr/year power, and while Matusz could be good we have guys like Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta who have loads more upside that will be ready in the next few years.  I suppose it all comes down to the fact that you can’t really teach someone to pitch left-handed, but if given the chance I think Andy MacPhail could swing a great deal involving someone like Huff and bring back some left-handed prospects.  Plus I am still holding out hope that Troy Patton will recover and pitch like the number one prospect he was anointed to be during his time in Houston.

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