Tag Archive | "jason berken"

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Tejada continues hot hitting for Norfolk in win

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

Durham plated two unearned runs in the top of the 10th inning, sending Norfolk to a 3-1 loss Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park.

With the score tied 1-1, Henry Wrigley opened up the 10th frame with a grounder to third base, but Miguel Tejada short-hopped his throw into the dugout, allowing Wrigley to advance to second. One out later, Reid Brignac plated pinch-runner Shawn O’Malley with a single to right off of Jon Link (0-2), giving the Bulls the lead. Former Tide Jeff Salazar later added a single to left-center to plate Brignac, extending Durham’s lead to 3-1.

Norfolk starter Jason Berken was extremely effective, but once again was left searching for his first victory of 2012. Berken, who entered the contest ranked 6th in the IL with a 2.50 ERA, allowed three hits and two walks while striking out five in seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 2.12.

Sunday was the third time this season that Berken left a game with a lead, only to see the opponents rally against Norfolk’s bullpen.

The Tides scored their only run of the contest in the seventh inning, as Joe Mahoney led off the frame with a walk and scored on a two-out triple by Blake Davis.

Tejada finished 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch in the contest, and he’s now hitting .375 in seven games since joining Norfolk.

Hideki Matsui had a single in four plate appearances for the Bulls.

The Tides travel to Pawtucket on Monday to start a four-game set with the Red Sox. Zach Clark will be making his first start for Norfolk since being promoted from Double-A Bowie, and he’ll be opposed by right-hander Doug Mathis (3-2, 4.23). First pitch is slated for 4:05.

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Phillips joins Orioles bullpen, Berken back to Norfolk

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Phillips joins Orioles bullpen, Berken back to Norfolk

Posted on 08 May 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — It turns out pitcher Jason Berken’s second stint with the club will be shorter than his first one in Baltimore this season.

After a terrible inning of work in Monday’s 14-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, Berken has been optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk and replaced by left-handed reliever Zach Phillips. Berken allowed six hits and seven runs (two earned) in the ninth inning, which included a long home run by Josh Hamilton.

Manager Buck Showalter planned to only use three pitchers on Monday — starter Brian Matusz, Stu Pomeranz, and Berken — and will now turn to the southpaw relief pitcher he begrudgingly optioned to Triple-A Norfolk at the start of the season because he had a remaining option unlike a few other bullpen arms. Phillips had a brilliant Grapefruit League with the Orioles, posting a 1.35 earned run average in 13 1/3 innings of spring work.

Phillips owned a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings for Triple-A Norfolk so far this season.

He and Troy Patton give the Orioles two left-handers in the bullpen for the first time this season, but Showalter is not ready to designate one as a situational lefty and cited their backgrounds as starters and the ability for either pitcher to throw multiple innings when needed.

“I don’t think there’s enough track record there to [make either a lefty specialist] for sure,” Showalter said, “but both these guys – he and Troy – have the potential to do both, which is unusual.”

As for who will make Friday’s start in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, Showalter is remaining tight-lipped but knows who he will call as long as rain doesn’t interfere over the next few days. All signs point to Norfolk starter Dana Eveland, who was pulled after 63 pitches on Monday despite throwing five shutout innings for the Tides.

The Orioles would have to put Eveland on the 40-man roster, but second baseman Brian Roberts could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list without any consequence to his efforts to return from concussion-related symptoms. Catcher Taylor Teagarden would also be a candidate for the 60-day DL as he continues to receive treatment for a back injury.

When asked about veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, Showalter confirmed the former Orioles shortstop and third baseman passed his physical without any concerns on Monday. However, the Baltimore manager deferred to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette for more details.

“I don’t know what the process or the plan is at this point,” said Showalter, who was under the impression that Tejada served as the designated hitter during an extended spring training game in Sarasota on Tuesday.

Showalter admitted to not being familiar with Tejada, but he pointed to the positive reviews from former teammates of Tejada that are still on the roster.

Right fielder Nick Markakis is off to a difficult start in 2012, hitting just .230 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in in 113 at-bats. When asked whether he would consider moving the struggling outfielder from the third spot in the order, Showalter brushed it off for now.

“It’s too early,” Showalter said. “I think Nick has swung the bat well for us at times.”

Showalter went on to discuss the batting order in greater detail, acknowledging sabermetrics and varying philosophies on how to construct a lineup. With Nolan Reimold currently on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disc in his neck, the Orioles lack any semblance of a prototypical leadoff hitter — if you could even label Reimold that to begin with.

Endy Chavez has received the most opportunities in Reimold’s absence, but the veteran outfielder is off to a miserable start with a .127 average. Chavez has a .310 career on-base percentage over his 11 years in the big leagues — not exactly what you’re looking for at the top of the order.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Texas
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
3B Michael Young
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland

SP Neftali Feliz (1-1, 3.81 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino

SP Jake Arrieta (2-2, 3.52 ERA)

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Orioles closer Johnson remains hospitalized with bacterial issue

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Orioles closer Johnson remains hospitalized with bacterial issue

Posted on 25 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Though Pedro Strop passed his first test as the interim closer in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the Orioles still anxiously await the return of Jim Johnson, who remains hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

Doctors continue to run tests in trying to pinpoint the bacterial issue, so Johnson will be unavailable for the second straight night. Manager Buck Showalter revealed upwards of nine players are currently dealing with flu-related or upper respiratory issues stemming from a bug that swept through the Baltimore clubhouse in the latter portion of last week’s road trip.

Showalter has exchanged text messages with his closer but is more concerned with Johnson simply getting his body right before talking about when he will return to the mound.

“You’re talking about some things that you have to be careful with, but he’s in great hands — some of the best doctors in the world,” Showalter said. “At some point, he’ll rejoin us and then we’ll start talking about baseball.”

Nolan Reimold is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game but says his neck is improving after taking early batting practice on Wednesday afternoon. The left fielder is still experiencing stiffness in trying to move his head up and down, but his side-to-side movement has improved.

Second on the team with five home runs, Reimold is confident he will avoid the 15-day disabled list and return to the lineup sooner rather than later.

“I think we are being cautious,” Reimold said. “[The pain] was there when I played in Anaheim and then it just tightened up real bad after the game and the next morning. I think they want to make sure I’m right and can come back and remain back and not set myself back any further.”

Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum regarding the ligament damage in his pitching elbow. Showalter confirmed the two options at this point of potentially resting and rehabbing the injury or undergoing a surgical procedure that would presumably end his season.

The Orioles manager had good news on left-handed pitcher Zach Britton, saying his rehab on the left shoulder is “right on schedule.” Britton is close to pitching bullpen sessions from the mound and has not experienced any setbacks since receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy in March.

Pitcher Jason Berken has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take second baseman Robert Andino’s spot on the 25-man roster. As revealed on Tuesday, Andino has been placed on the paternity leave list to be with his wife as the couple gave birth to a daughter, Amarise Hazel, on Wednesday.

Andino joked with Showalter that the couple is now “three and out” after welcoming their third child and that he is planning to purchase a shotgun to keep the boys away since he now has a daughter. The second baseman also celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday.

Making three starts for the Tides, Berken would be on regular rest and is available to pitch multiple innings if needed over the next day or two before he presumably returns to Norfolk upon Andino’s return to the club.

“I’ll be in the pen,” said Berken, who credited a new commitment to his changeup in explaining his 0.60 earned run average in 15 innings at Norfolk. “I’m just here to pitch any time they need me, whether it’s one or five [innings].”

Catcher Taylor Teagarden remains in Sarasota and will receive a third epidural injection in his back. The organization hopes this will resolve the issue before needing to explore other treatment options.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Toronto
SS Yunel Escobar
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
LF Eric Thames
3B Edwin Encarnacion
DH Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
C J.P. Arencibia

SP Kyle Drabek (2-0, 2.00 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty

SP Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.37 ERA)

Follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis throughout Wednesday’s game and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Nolan Reimold, Jason Berken, and Buck Showalter here.

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Orioles shut down Japanese pitcher Wada

Posted on 21 April 2012 by Luke Jones

With starting pitcher Brian Matusz struggling in his first three starts of 2012, it looked like the Orioles might eventually turn to Japanese newcomer Tsuyoshi Wada in the near future, but that will no longer be the case.

The club announced Saturday it has shut down Wada’s rehab assignment, and the left-handed pitcher will return to Baltimore to see team doctors. Wada has been on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury and reportedly was dealing with neck spasms during a disastrous rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday. Wada gave up six earned runs and walked four in just 2 2/3 innings in his only start for the Tides.

Wada was considered the primary option to potentially replace Matusz at the major league level, but there is no timetable for the injured pitcher to resume throwing. Starters Brad Bergesen (8.49 earned run average in 11 2/3 innings) and Chris Tillman (4.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings) haven’t exactly excelled in their first three starts in the starting rotation for the Tides, meaning manager Buck Showalter might be more inclined to turn to journeyman Dana Eveland (2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings) or Jason Berken (0.60 ERA in three starts covering 15 innings) if the Orioles decide to demote Matusz in the near future.

Even if the Orioles weren’t planning to replace Matusz with Wada in the starting rotation, the 31-year-old rookie was considered the most logical choice for a long-relief role in the bullpen, which currently lacks a pitcher who can throw multiple innings at a time.

 

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Roberts, Britton to begin year on 15-day DL; Orioles make more spring cuts

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles continue to sort out which 25 players they’ll be taking north to open the season against the Minnesota Twins on April 6.

Second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion symptoms) and left-handed pitcher Zach Britton (left shoulder impingement) will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. The veteran infielder continues to progress from the concussion symptoms he’s dealt with for the better part of 18 months but is not ready to resume his role as the Baltimore second baseman. Britton is currently receiving platelet rich plasma therapy in hopes of rebuilding strength in his pitching shoulder and will likely be out until at least May.

The decision to place Roberts on the 15-day disabled list means he will remain on the 40-man roster. Some speculated Roberts would be placed on the 60-day list, but it appears he will travel with the club to Baltimore to get re-acclimated to a major league environment before potentially going on a minor league rehab assignment.

The Orioles trimmed their spring roster to 35 on Monday by optioning infielder Matt Antonelli and pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken to Triple-A Norfolk. They also reassigned pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Armando Gallaraga, catcher John Hester, infielder Steve Tolleson, and outfielder Scott Beerer to minor league camp.

The demotions of Antonelli and Tolleson make it apparent that Showalter will keep Rule 5 selection Ryan Flaherty as his utility infielder since Robert Andino will be the starting second baseman. The 25-year-old Flaherty is hitting .279 in 43 spring at-bats with one home run and eight runs batted in.

As for the starting rotation, it appears Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Tommy Hunter have locked up four of the five spots. Lefty Brian Matusz looks to be the favorite for the fifth spot, but Tsuyoshi Wada, Dana Eveland, and Chris Tillman remain in the mix over the final week and a half of spring training.

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Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

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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:

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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

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After labeling Yankees ‘just another team’ all winter, Orioles still can’t beat them

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After labeling Yankees ‘just another team’ all winter, Orioles still can’t beat them

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles talked the talk throughout the winter months, in addition to upgrading their lineup with four new hitters.

They said all the right things about not putting the Yankees and the Red Sox on a pedestal, forgetting about the bloated payrolls and the World Series rings and the absolute domination those teams have held over the Orioles season after season. The game was decided on the field, they said, not with checkbooks, past results, or preseason predictions.

Buck Showalter invigorated a fan base with a confident way about him, building optimism after a 34-23 finish in the final two months of 2010. Make no mistake, his mindset still is the correct one for an organization trying to reverse the losing culture that’s poisoned the once-proud Orioles over the course of 13 years. But he doesn’t throw pitches or swing the bats.

His players bought into it, echoing the skipper’s sentiments about the two biggest foes in the most difficult division in baseball. It all sounded so great at FanFest, during spring training, and after a 6-1 start.

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But, as Showalter always reminds us, games are played between the lines, and the Yankees absolutely throttled the Orioles in a 15-3 massacre in front of 39,054 at Camden Yards, many of them Yankee fans as has become the frustrating custom in Baltimore.

After all the talk of the Yankees being just another team, they’re still one the Orioles can’t beat and are winless against in three games this season.

“It’s one game,” said catcher Matt Wieters about the Saturday night beating. “It doesn’t matter whether we lost 4-3 or 15-3. It’s one game. We’ll come back tomorrow and go after them.”

He’s right. It is only one game with 15 more to go against the Yankees this season. But after going 5-13 against New York a season ago and losing their first three this season, the Orioles have to start beating the Yankees at some point to turn this thing around in the direction toward competing. An 0-3 start against the Bronx Bombers can’t do much for your confidence going forward after blowing a 5-0 lead in the second game at Yankee Stadium nine days ago and giving up 15 runs in your home ballpark on Saturday night.

The spirited talk of Orioles fans “taking back The Yard” sounds great, but you have to make it something worth taking back first. Saturday was just the latest of many embarrassments at Camden Yards as the Yankees hit five home runs, including two by new catcher Russell Martin in the sixth and eighth innings and a grand slam by Alex Rodriguez to make it a 10-run laugher in the eighth.

The Bronx-supporting fans were as loud as ever as hometown fans, trying to fight the good fight, could only head for the exits with their heads down as they have so many times in recent years. Dealing with opposing fans and watching your team get dismantled doesn’t make for a fun experience at the ballpark on a warm Saturday night in April.

In all fairness, CC Sabathia was terrific, improving to 15-2 lifetime against the Orioles. He stifled the Baltimore bats over eight innings, his only blemish a three-run homer by Adam Jones in the seventh inning. However, the Orioles failed to even make it tough on the burly lefty early in the game, allowing Sabathia to get through six innings on just 56 pitches. It was Sabathia’s first win of the season after failing to record a victory in his first four starts of 2011.

Brad Bergesen, on the other hand, struggled at the onset, allowing three runs in the first before settling down to retire 14 of 17 hitters before giving up a three-run blast to Russell Martin in the sixth inning to make it a 6-0 game.

It was the Yankees ace going up against the Orioles’ fourth or fifth starter. No chance, right?

“I was in the dugout, and you could tell [Sabathia] had everything,” Showalter said. “Pitch count was so far down. I think he was less than 60 going into the sixth or seventh. He had that type of stuff. He had everything there for him tonight, and I thought Martin did a great job with him.”

But no excuses, either, as Showalter likes to remind us. Though Sabathia is one of the greatest pitchers of this generation, his career-long domination over the Orioles is downright ridiculous at this point and is a bitter pill to swallow, especially in the first home game against the Yankees in a season that’s supposed to be different.

The 6-1 start and early stay in first place seems like a long time ago as the Orioles (8-11) have now lost 10 of their last 12 and find themselves in last place after the surging Boston Red Sox — who were 2-10 not that long ago — beat the Los Angeles Angels on the west coast Saturday night.

The lineup continues to sputter despite the significant effort to increase run production by adding Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, and Mark Reynolds. The Orioles have now scored 74 runs in 19 games, good for only 3.9 runs per game. With a young pitching staff missing the injured Brian Matusz and clearly struggling in its own right, the offense hasn’t been nearly good enough to compete let alone carry this team to wins.

It’s still very early, but with new names in the lineup against Sabathia and the Yankees, the results looked similar to what we’ve seen over and over.

“It’s really tough to swallow, you know,” said Bergesen about the disappointment of the entire night. “You get beat by 12 runs and with that many Yankees fans, it’s not fun whatsoever.”

No fun is right.

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Several ‘O’-bservations from Monday’s 5-1 victory over Tigers

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Several ‘O’-bservations from Monday’s 5-1 victory over Tigers

Posted on 04 April 2011 by Ryan Chell

Well, the weather could have not nicer on an Opening Day in Baltimore. 80+ degrees and the Orioles fans were out in support of their first place team.

A day like Monday certainly proves that God is a baseball fan.

And the first-place Orioles did their part in their home-opener defeating the Tigers 5-1, as starter Jake Arrieta continued the trend of quality starts by Orioles pitchers, as the fourth-starter in the rotation scattered six hits in six innings of work while only allowing one run to pass home plate.

Jake Arrieta

He struck out three and only walked two Tigers.

The Orioles offense also did its part in the bottom of the fifth against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, whose only mistake was giving up a three-run bomb to Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts after shortstop JJ Hardy doubled and left fielder Felix Pie walked.

Roberts has both of Baltimore’s home runs this year.

Jason Berken came in to relieve  Arrieta, and continued his fantastic start to the season as he struck out another three batters in his two innings of work.

In his two games to start the season, Jason Berken has six strikeouts in three innings pitched.

The Orioles are now 4-0 and still sit atop first-place in the AL East.

The last time the Orioles finished with that unblemished record was 1997, when Davey Johnson’s team reached the ALCS to lose to the Cleveland Indians in six games.

If the Orioles were to take two of three from the Tigers on Wednesday with Brad Bergesen taking the hill for a sick Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles’ 5-0 start would be the best since 1970, when the team won the World Series.

And like I’ve said, it may be early-especially with the defending AL Champs-the Texas Rangers-coming in over the weekend, but it’s better than being 0-4 that’s for sure.

Some ‘O’-bservations from the team so far four games into the season:

1. Starting Pitching

Jake Arrieta kept up with the pace that Jeremy Guthrie, and rookie pitchers Chris Tillman and Zach Britton set over the weekend in Tampa, as he earned yet another quality start for the Orioles starting rotation.

In 26 innings so far in this early season, the Orioles’ four starters have an ERA of 0.69.

As a whole, the pitching staff has an ERA of 1.00 allowing four runs in as many victories. They have struck out 30 opposing batters, which is tied for third in the majors.

We’ve seen before in recent years young pitching staffs who had to go through some growing pains before taking the next step, and the Orioles young staff ( Guthrie-31, Tillman-22, Britton-23, Arrieta-25, along with Matusz-24, Bergesen-25) could be in a position to take the next step.

And don’t forget. Both starters Justin Duchscherer (hip) and Brian Matusz (back) are on the DL and should pose intriguing questions to manager Buck Showalter when they return.

A problem I would like him to have by the way.

2. Bullpen

There could be concerns toward the back end of the bullpen after closer Kevin Gregg faced five hitters in the top of the ninth Saturday in the Orioles 3-1 victory.

In the same game, lefty Michael Gonzalez-who struggled last year as the Orioles closer-had similar issues with his control as he only lasted a third of an inning and walked two.

A big concern considering as of now “Gonzo” is the only lefty in the bullpen-one making 6 million dollars.

But, on the bright side, Jason Berken appears to have made the right decision to rehab his labrum injury in the off-season as opposed to have surgery.

He and late-inning specialist Koji Uehara-also re-signed in the off-season-have combined for 4 2/3 innings of work, seven strikeouts, while only allowing one hit.

Koji Uehara

If Gregg and Gonzalez continue to struggle, could these two be the guys to lock down the eighth and ninth innings? Uehara closed games for Showalter last year, and Berken has always thrived in his one-inning-of-work appearances.

3. The Outfield

I saw this “proposal” in the baseball preview of Sports Illustrated, and at first I disagreed with Ben Reiter, who wrote the AL East preview for SI.

His “proposal” was along the lines of leaving the outfield of Pie in left, Jones in center, and Markakis in right the way it is to make sure the defensive range in the outfield remains at a peak variable.

Felix Pie

Clearly, Felix Pie doesn’t offer the pop at the plate Luke Scott or Vladimir Guerrero would should they be in the lineup, but his range so far has been an asset to this Oriole pitching staff. Reiter’s proposal dealt with leaving Pie out in left on a regular basis and having a “streaky” Luke Scott-who clearly doesn’t have the speed and range Pie possesses-and an aging Vladimir Guerrero split time at DH.

Pie had a huge outfield assist in Saturday’s game pitched by Tillman, gunning down B.J. Upton at the plate to keep the game tied at 0-0.

And Markakis saved the game later with his up-against-the wall catch to end the game.

At short glance, the defensive outfield could be an asset to this team and young pitchers. It could be in their best interest to take a hit at the plate (pun intended) while making sure opposing hits don’t drop in front of Luke Scott.

4. Home-grown hitters on fire

The Orioles three first-round picks in their lineup (2B Brian Roberts, RF Nick Markakis, and C Matt Wieters) right now are hitting .294, .429, and .385 respectively.

Roberts has both of the team’s home runs, and Markakis appears to be very comfortable in the two-hole in front of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, where all he needs to worry about is getting on base.

Both he and Wieters recorded their first doubles Monday against the Tigers, and if you’ll notice with Wieters, there is a small change in his batting stance from a year ago.

Last year, Wieters stood straight up the batters box, and now it appears as if he has a small bend in his knees, which not only will help a tall 6’5” catcher shrink the strike zone, but hopefully will get his lower legs more involved in his swing-hopefully bringing that power Baltimore fans have waited for.

5. Free-agent thumpers-are not

Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee meanwhile have not been able to provide that huge spark in the three-hole and cleanup spots in the lineup. Neither of them have an extra base hit, an RBI to their credit, and the two’s batting average is .214 for Lee and .125 for Guerrero.

But, I wouldn’t expect their hitting struggles to continue though. It may only take a week for them to return to their true form.There are still 158 games to play gentleman.

Lee even got a stole base Monday. At least that’s something.

-Chell

ryan@wnst.net

(photos courtesy Rob Carr-Getty Images)

WNST-We Never Stop Talking!

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My 3-part “Orioles in review” series begins with…the report card

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Drew Forrester

With baseball season over in Baltimore – once again, five weeks too early – it’s time to spend a few days reviewing what happened and what lies ahead.

I’ll start my 3-part “Orioles review” with the 2010 Report Card.

When your team only wins 66 games, it’s easy to hand out a bunch of C’s and D’s, but I was a little more kind than that given the club’s outstanding play in August and September.  They took what MIGHT have been a 50-win-campaign and turned it into just another bad season.  And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.  20 years from now, folks will look back at 2010 and say to themselves “well, they were bad that year…”.  Had they gone 50-112, folks would remember that FOREVER as one of those historically bad seasons for ANY club in baseball history, not just Orioles history.

Winning 66 games was a miracle based on where the team was when Buck took over in early August.

Here are the grades:

Pitchers

Brian Matusz (C+) — Didn’t get off to a great start, but came on strong in Aug/Sept and showed he’s here to stay.  Could wind up being next year’s version of this year’s David Price (Tampa Bay).  At some point, it’s all going to come together for this kid.  He has a bright future, for sure. Let’s hope it’s in Baltimore.

Jeremy Guthrie (B) — Was the team’s best pitcher and, honestly, their best PLAYER all season.  Take away the 2009 season when the club cut his salary in pre-season and he’s put together three VERY good campaigns in Baltimore since arriving in 2007.

Brad Bergesen (C) — Another pitcher who responded well to the arrival of Showalter.  He still has a propensity to get involved in a big inning on occasion, but his stuff is as good as anyone’s on the staff and he’ll be in the rotation to start 2011.

Chris Tillman (D) — Sprinkled in the occasional good start, but for the most part he remains overmatched with his lack of control and little movement on his fastball.  Hopefully not a “AAAA pitcher” but that’s what it’s looking like more and more — hitters can’t touch him at the AAA level but he can’t get hitters out consistently enough at the big league level.

Kevin Millwood (D) — Wasn’t nearly as bad as his final numbers showed, but the bottom line is that he appeared disinterested from the start and that lack of enthusiasm translated into the worst season of his career.

Jake Arrieta (C-) — Control problems continue to plague him (52k/48bb) at the major league level, as they did in the minors, but he occasionally showed flashes of good stuff and should contend for a starting rotation spot in 2011 spring training.  WHIP (1.53) and BAA (.271) were way too high, but as a first year contributor, he had some decent moments.

David Hernandez (B-) — Accepted his bullpen role well and turned out to be impressive in his non-starter-work.  Could eventually compete for a starter’s spot again, but his lack of durability was an issue in his previous efforts to start.

Jason Berken (B-) — Was arguably the team’s most consistent pitcher – out of the bullpen – before getting hurt.  Like Hernandez, might not have been good enough to a consistently good starter, but he seems to have settled into his bullpen role with enthusiasm.

Koji Uehara (B-) — When healthy, he’s good to very good.  When not healthy, he’s not helping.  The question isn’t whether or not he can pitch and be effective.  He can be.  The question is “can he stay healthy?”.  Had some success as the closer, but also gave up several big home runs in that role.

Jim Johnson (C) — Injury-riddled 2010 didn’t give him a chance to do much.  Will be interesting to see what role Showalter gives him.  Was at his best as the 8th inning set-up man.

Mark Hendrickson (C-) — The journeyman left hander figures to NOT return in 2011.

Matt Albers (C) — Trade bait, perhaps?  He’s been OK in Baltimore, but with Hernandez and Berken (and maybe Koji?) coming back, where does he fit in?

Alfredo Simon (C-) — Too inconsistent to be counted on.  Experiment as the closer didn’t work.  He can’t start.  So what do you do with him?  Teach him to pitch left-handed?

Michael Gonzalez (C) — Didn’t really get enough work to justify any grade, but on the whole, he was just OK, at best.

Field Players

Ty Wigginton (B) — Should have been the team’s MVP, truth be known.  Carried the team in April and May when they were horrible.  Had an off-month in June, but rebounded nicely under Showalter and looks to be Buck’s kind of player.  Get used to seeing him, he’ll be back next year.

Luke Scott (B) – Blossomed into the team’s best – and, maybe, only – real power hitter.  If not for that 3-week injury where he hurt himself jogging around the bases, he would have enjoyed, perhaps, a VERY good season.  The only knock on him?  Where do you play him in the field?  He was OK at first base…better than I thought he’d be, but he can’t play left field every day, that’s for sure.

Adam Jones (C+) – He is, without question, the club’s most mysterious player.  One week he’s red hot and has that big-player swagger and the next week he’s swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, grounding into double play-after-double play, and watching fly balls sail over his head.  Personally, I think he’s the player with the most potential on the roster.  But his 2010 was just “eh”…some good, some bad…mostly “eh”.

Nick Markakis (C) — Hard to give Nick much better than a “C” when a lot of his numbers were down across the board.  That said, I really believe the power drop-off can be attributed more to where he hit in the lineup than anything else.  Still remains one of the game’s best defensive outfielders and with solid additions to the lineup, he could once again be a .300, 24 HR, 100 RBI guy without question.

Felix Pie (C) –  An incredibly gifted athlete who certainly improved over his injury-riddled 2009, but he’s still not nearly the 5-tool player that everyone imagined he’d be when he came up through the Cubs system.  His blemishes are obvious — not patient enough at the plate, not enough power  and prone to the mental mistake more than you’d like.  But there’s plenty of good with him as well.  Improved defensively, for sure, and looks to be more comfortable against left handers.  It wouldn’t hurt the club to make him part of trade talks in the off-season, but if nothing else, he’s a valuable role player going forward.

Corey Patterson (B) – For what he was – a minor leaguer out of a job in the spring – Patterson turned out to be a more-than-adequate 4th outfielder in 2010.  He probably won’t be back in 2011, but it wouldn’t be a bad decision to bring him back if he’s willing to settle for the part-time role again.  He is what he is — a decent professional player.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But he had a good year in 2010.

Cesar Izturis (C-) – Outstanding defensive year was tempered by the expected offensive fizzle.  He’s better at the plate than given credit for — but the numbers don’t lie.  The Orioles need to do better at the shortstop position, that’s for certain.  Will they?  I’m not so sure.  I have a weird feeling Buck likes him…and that he might be back on a 1-year deal while the team figures out what they’re going to do at the position long-term.

Brian Roberts (C) — Tough to assess him based on the fact he missed 100 games.  As expected, the team benefitted greatly when he returned, but it wasn’t “the old” B-Rob for the most part.  15 RBI in 59 games?  Wow.  4 HR in 59 games?  Ugh.  14 doubles in 59 games?  Eye opening.  But let’s assume his early season injury contributed to his lack of production.  At this point, though, you would figure the Orioles are starting to think about “life after B-Rob”.  It’s coming sometime soon.

Josh Bell (D) — Wasn’t ready.  Period.  Overmatched.  Period.  53 strikeouts in 53 games.  2 walks.  A .214 batting average.  Was OK in the field, and that’s being kind.  Just not big-league caliber yet.  But it also means the Orioles will be in the market for a 3B this off-season.

Matt Wieters (C-) — Seemed to pick it up when Showalter arrived, but it wasn’t a good sophomore season from “Mauer with Power”.  His defense was questionable at times and his long, loopy swing was victimized throughout the early part of the season by fastball pitchers.  A .249 batting average clearly isn’t good enough, but the more eye opening stat was 11 HR in 130 games.  Not time to panic yet, because he’s a year and a half into his career — but we all probably expected more at this point.  Patience, young grasshopper, patience .

Julio Lugo (D) – Not much there.  Nothing memorable stands out, which is why he won’t be back next year.

Craig Tatum (C) — He’s the back-up catcher, but an adequate enough one.  Was actually decent defensively.  Not dangerous at the plate, but back-up catchers rarely are.

Staff

Andy MacPhail (C-) — Rescued from a “D” or even “E” grade with Showalter’s August-September impact.  All four of his off-season acquisitions were basically either non-contributors (Atkins, Gonzalez), not motivated to succeed (Millwood) or not good enough (Lugo).

Buck Showalter (A) — Nothing else to say.  Easiest grade to give.  Gives everyone hope for 2011.

Dave Trembley (D) — Game after game, there were always “next-morning-questions” about his strategies and in-game decisions.  Was never given a decent roster to work with, but he turned out to be overmatched as the head honcho.

Juan Samuel (B-) — I thought he was better than Trembley, for sure, and the questions about strategies and what not weren’t as prevalent as those involving Trembley.

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 09 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Monday!

It’s a Happy Monday for me because I was out of town yesterday-but had an outstanding experience. I poked my head into a random farmers market (for security reasons, I’ll leave the location undisclosed), and it was a magical experience. A friend of mine (I think for future reference we’re going to call her “Boomer Sooner” here) made a delicious concoction of beeksteak tomatoes, feta cheese, a multigrain baguette, lemon basil and pepper.

Seeing as how my meals are usually made up of frozen pasta or Chick-Fil-A, it was a refreshing change of pace. Unfortunately my phone was dead, so I failed to Twitpic the experience. I’m sorry everyone!

But as I pointed out yesterday on Facebook (search “Glenn Clark” and add the guy who is drinking orange kool-aid and shaking his head because he lost a bet to Ed in Park Heights), the highlight of the event was the fact that this vision of food took place in direct earshot of a group called the Second String Band. I wish I had their version of “If I Had a Boat” available, but instead you’re going to have to settle for Dave Matthews’ version. No offense to Lyle Lovett, it’s just that everyone else does his song better…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap1ruVdAwl8[/youtube]

And while we’re here, let’s go ahead and post Dave Matthews (& Emmylou Harris) covering “Long Black Veil”-most famously from Johnny Cash. I mean, as long as we’re here…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCLqphW77aA[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net says Peter Angelos directly involved with Ravens, MASN divorce

My initial response? “Surprise, surprise.”

It’s frustrating to read this story, but it is by no means stunning. MASN has been nothing short of a trainwreck since it’s inception (that’s not a low blow), even when one Glenn Clark was briefly part of the programming. In fact, if you ever needed proof that MASN was a trainwreck from the go, the fact that Glenn Clark was ever part of it has to be absolute proof!

The good news that comes from the MASN/Ravens divorce? We’ll NEVER have to watch Tom Davis have to talk about a franchise he so clearly despises. The guy was almost comical in his snide comments regarding the organization-which was a bit interesting considering his over-the-top love affair with the Major League Baseball team in town. You know, the Major League Baseball team that employed him.

There was a sense that the Orioles finally came around to working with the Ravens out of necessity. The Ravens pep rally and giveaway nights at Camden Yards would attract the biggest crowds of the season; and it was always fun to see the likes of John Harbaugh, Steve McNair and Willis McGahee throw out the first pitch at a game.

I hope the Orioles don’t really think they don’t “need” the Ravens anymore. I hope they’re not foolish enough to think that they’ve fixed their problems and don’t need the help. I’m as excited as anyone else about the 5-1 start under a new manager, but this is still a desperate situation.

2. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Tavares Gooden, Chris Carr amongst Ravens who missed practice Sunday

The good news? Tavares Gooden returned to practice Monday, according to our own Luke Jones-who is reporting from the practice field at McDaniel College.

The bad news? Chris Carr did not practice again Monday morning. He wouldn’t answer questions about the injury (believed to be his hamstring) after practice Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, and John Harbaugh dismissed questions as well.

I’m not sure what there is to know, but I know that an injury to Chris Carr is reason for concern. With Domonique Foxworth out for the year and Lardarius Webb on PUP, Chris Carr is a very important part of this football team. Hopefully the injury is not significant.

Luke passed along a few more notes from this morning-as OL’s David Hale & Stefan Rodgers as well as safety KJ Gerard WERE practicing, while Ramon Harewood, Tony Moll and Marcus Paschal were again NOT practicing.

Talking about football is just so great…

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says ‘cutting down penalties’ area of concern for Ravens in Training Camp

An area of concern for Glenn Clark? Finding more pictures of Nikoleta Rali (Thanks Don Chavez!)…

nikoleta

And a few more Ravens notes before we move on…

-Remember, today and tomorrow are the only days this week you can go watch the team practice at McDaniel College. The team will have a walkthrough Wednesday that is closed to the public, and are off Friday following Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

-Our own Luke Jones is back out in Carroll County all day today, keeping you updated with Thyrl Nelson and Rex Snider every hour on AM1570 WNST.

4. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Jeremy Guthrie out-dueled Mark Buehrle as Orioles topped White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Who in the hell are these guys?!?!?

I had a TERRIBLE feeling when Ramon Castro crushed the home run in the 9th off of Alfredo Simon to make it 4-3. But much like when I had a terrible feeling as the team tried to blow a 9-1 lead against the Los Angeles Angels last week, the team managed to hold on.

And with that in mind, I say “Buck Yeah!”

koolaid

It doesn’t REALLY matter what happens in these games the rest of the way as the season ended before even Memorial Day; but it is nice to actually win some of them anyway. What happens from April-June of NEXT year will be significantly more important, but I’ll continue to enjoy it for now. It certainly beats the alternative.

5. The AP/WNST.net offer numerical evidence of another win

And once again, I’m left without my tag line here.

Guthrie was absolutely stellar, allowing one run on 6 hits and just one walk over 8 innings. Felix Pie homered, and just about everyone in the lineup (including Cesar Izturis) had a double.

I CANNOT figure out who these guys are.

But just to keep up appearances, take a look at the numbers and THEN take a look at this picture of Shanna McLaughlin hanging out in the Central Florida locker room. I don’t know why she did it, but I’m glad she did. Thanks Busted Coverage!

shanna

6. The Sun’s Steve Gould says Troy Patton optioned to Norfolk, Craig Tatum expected to take his place on O’s roster

Apparently Buck Showalter went to Andy MacPhail and said he wanted another position player for the bench. I’m sure Andy MacPhail was happy to have someone offer him thoughts about personnel.

When Tatum officially gets called back up, make sure you’re signed up for the WNST Text Service. You’ll find out the news as soon as it happens.

I’m guessing Jake Fox will be happy to not have to catch anymore. Or at least I am…

7. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Buck Showalter wants to give Jason Berken ‘a break’

And given how he’s struggled recently after lighting the world on fire earlier in the season, it is apparent that his workload (leading the league in innings pitched) has caught up with him.

Now it is a bit strange that the team would option Troy Patton at the same time that they’re giving Jason Berken a break-but I will admit that the starting pitching has been pretty good recently. When Kevin Millwood wasn’t hammered in the first inning Saturday night, I thought it a minor miracle.

That doesn’t mean that I’m convinced that the starting pitching is somehow “fixed.”

I have a bad feeling that the team will end up getting at least a few rough starts soon (maybe not against the Cleveland Indians-they’re terrible; but possibly against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend despite the fact that everyone else has no-hit them this season). It is probably a risk worth taking though, and hopefully Berken will be ready to go before too long.

8. NorfolkTides.com says Zach Britton roughed up in Tides’ loss to Louisville Bats on farm

And a few things before we move on from the Birds…

-They’ll close up their 4 game series with the Pale Hose tonight at OPACY, Brian Matusz takes the hill against Edwin Jackson. First pitch is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN.

-Did you miss Jay Jaffe from Baseball Prospectus this morning with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Mark Kelso (Buffalo Bills Color Analyst)-as Drew continued to preview the teams on the Baltimore Ravens’ schedule this season
  • Rex Hoggard (Golf Channel)-who broke down Tiger Woods’ struggles in Akron and previewed the PGA Championship this weekend
  • A live check-in from Luke Jones this morning from Westminster at Training Camp
  • John Harbaugh’s Sunday press conference
  • Lomas Brown (ESPN Analyst and former NFL O-Lineman)-who joined Eric Aaronson to look around the league.

Now you have your day planned. You can thank me later.

9. UMTerps.com says 22 Maryland freshmen reported to College Park Sunday before practice begins Tuesday

Overheard from Ralph Friedgen’s tour of the area Sunday…

“This is Route 1. Never go here. I know you will anyway, so when you do-don’t act like an idiot. Don’t let me find out how stupid you are. Don’t get arrested at Cornerstone. Don’t bother women at Bentley’s. PLEASE and Thank You.”

Hopefully the young Terrapins were listening.

10. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terps trying to break streak of 6 straight seasons scoring 25 or fewer points per game

You know what would help this team offensively? A little photographic inspiration. May I suggest Pia Muehlenbeck? (Thanks Guyism!)…

pia

And finally, I leave you with this.

As I said yesterday via Facebook, I’m not sure if it even technically counts as a board game, but I know what the greatest board game of all time is…

connect4

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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