Tag Archive | "jonathan schoop"

Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

Posted on 19 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, which brings the unofficial end of the mantra uttered countless times to explain an Orioles offense that continues to sputter over the first seven weeks of the 2014 season.

“It’s still early” doesn’t fly anymore as the season has passed the quarter pole and Baltimore ranks 13th in runs, 12th in on-base percentage, ninth in home runs, and eighth in slugging percentage in the American League. Of course, the Orioles’ free-swinging tendencies and 10th-ranked on-base percentage from a season ago made it clear that the lineup had its flaws, but no one could forecast such a dramatic power outage from a club that led the majors in long balls and was fourth in the AL in runs during the 2013 season.

Save for free-agent acquisition Nelson Cruz, whose 12 home runs are twice the output of any other player on the roster, the Orioles’ power outage has been felt up and down the lineup.

Chris Davis has only three home runs in 30 games after hitting a club-record 53 a season ago. Since returning from a strained oblique on May 11, the first baseman is hitting just .179 and has been out in front of nearly everything, evident by his four groundouts to the right side in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, instead of waiting to drive the ball the other way like he does when at his best.

J.J. Hardy is without a long ball after hitting 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore. Early-season back and hamstring issues appear to be in the rear-view mirror, but the All-Star shortstop has yet to find his usual power stroke.

Manny Machado still hasn’t hit a double — he hit a league-leading 51 last year — and has only one home run in his first 73 plate appearances after starting the season on the 15-day disabled list and completing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. The 21-year-old deserves the benefit of the doubt after a seven-month recovery from last September’s injury, but his .240 average in the second half last year reminds us that the third baseman is far from a finished product even when healthy.

Injuries have impacted all three, but the likes of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have also tailed off in the power department in comparison to their career averages. Of course, the order hasn’t been helped by the elbow injury to catcher Matt Wieters, who was off to the best offensivee start of his career prior to being placed on the disabled list earlier this month.

So, what is manager Buck Showalter to do?

Short of taking a closer look at alternative options at second base, catcher, and left field (or designated hitter if the Orioles elect to have Cruz play in the outfield), there isn’t much to be done except continuing to run the aforementioned players out there on a daily basis.

For some perspective, Davis hit only five homers through May 19 of the 2012 season before ultimately hitting 33, a reminder that a hot stretch or two would put any of these players back on a favorable pace in the power department. In Davis’ case, reaching 53 home runs was always going to be extremely difficult, but he’s still more than capable of posting big numbers in 2014 despite the slow start.

The club’s poor on-base percentage and inability to work counts are valid criticisms and a conscious effort should be made to enhance those areas, but only marginal improvement should be expected when you’re talking about veteran hitters who’ve carried a given approach — flawed as it may be — throughout their careers. Free swingers don’t suddenly transform themselves into selective hitters at the big-league level unless you want to stunt their biggest strengths in the process.

If Showalter wants to change the mindset of veterans who might be pressing, a shakeup of the order might be a simple way to rejuvenate a group clearly capable of much better. Here’s only one example of what could be done:

RF Markakis
DH Cruz
1B Davis
CF Jones
LF Delmon Young/Steve Pearce
C Steve Clevenger
3B Machado
SS Hardy
2B Jonathan Schoop

Such an order would provide Davis with a better on-base percentage option in front of him while also taking some pressure off Machado as he tries to get his 2014 season on track. Showalter also prefers keeping his lineup balanced with right-handed and left-handed hitters to make it more difficult for opposing managers to match up with their bullpen arms late in games.

This alignment would call for Young or Pearce to be in the lineup regularly, which is preferred if the Orioles are to continue carrying both on the 25-man roster. Neither has played much since Davis’ return from the DL.

Are those suggested changes dramatic? Of course not, but there is only so much you can try as a manager when so many core members of your lineup are sputtering. Staying the course sounds cliched, but it’s the only real choice in trusting that proven track records will ultimately prevail over the results of the first 42 games of the season — as concerning as they might be.

Hitting the “Lough” point

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

Posted on 01 May 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles had a decision to make about the state of their infield with the much-anticipated return of third baseman Manny Machado, and Steve Lombardozzi ended up being the odd man out on Thursday.

Despite hitting .292 in 72 at-bats, the 25-year-old infielder was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Machado on the 25-man roster, raising a few eyebrows among fans who expected the light-hitting Ryan Flaherty or the recently-recalled Jemile Weeks to be demoted. As is typically the case when faced with these decisions, manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sided with the stronger defensive player.

Weeks provides an element of speed that the Orioles are taking advantage of for the time being.

“I think where we are as a club and what are needs are going to be with Manny coming back, just initially [Jemile] might fit us a tad better, but we’ll see,” Showalter said. “But that’s a good tough decision. Two switch-hitting middle infielders.”

With Machado and shortstop J.J. Hardy coming off injuries and the first base position in flux with Chris Davis on the disabled list, versatility is a must off the bench and Flaherty has the ability to play quality defense at all four infield positions. Lombardozzi appeared in 19 games this season at second base but did not play another position as there are questions about his arm strength to play on the left side of the infield.

Of course, the Orioles could revisit the decision if Hardy and Machado play a couple weeks without any injury concerns, which would decrease the urgency for having Flaherty at their immediate disposal off the bench.

For what it’s worth, Lombardozzi’s career .638 on-base plus slugging percentage is only slightly higher than Flaherty’s .636. Of course, the latter is off to a poor start at the plate for the second year in a row and is hitting just .188.

Veteran Steve Pearce was officially back in the Orioles clubhouse Thursday and made the start at first base in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While right fielder Nick Markakis and Flaherty could still factor into the puzzle at first base, Pearce figures to receive an extensive opportunity as he’s played 94 games at the position in the major leagues.

“Stevie’s been hitting, he’s stayed active during the time,” said Showalter, referencing the fact that Pearce was designated for assignment on April 22. “I don’t think he ever left Baltimore.”

Machado did not start in the opening game of the doubleheader as Showalter and the 21-year-old both agreed it would be too aggressive to try to play 18 innings in his 2014 season debut. The Baltimore manager didn’t want Machado playing in Game 1 and sitting around all evening before coming off the bench to play in the late innings if necessary.

The third baseman said he didn’t do anything special over the last three days other than his normal in-season workouts and admitted he would feel some nerves before taking the field in Game 2. Showalter quipped that Thursday night would be Machado’s Opening Day after the All-Star break, referencing the club’s three straight days off because of inclement weather.

“It’s actually been kind of good for him to take his breath and get settled here in the locker room instead of traveling back and forth to Frederick,” Showalter said. “There’s nobody more excited today than Manny.”

The Orioles will activate left-handed relief pitcher Troy Patton after the first game of the doubleheader, meaning they will need to make a roster move before the nightcap. Showalter acknowledged having a roster move in mind and an intention to keep the roster at 12 pitchers, but that was dependent on how the pitching staff made it through the opening game.

Candidates to be sent out included long reliever Josh Stinson — who would need to be designated for assignment — and fellow reliever Evan Meek, who has an option remaining.

In injury-related news, veteran left-hander Johan Santana was able to touch 86 to 87 miles per hour on a few occasions while pitching in a simulated game in Sarasota on Monday. Trying to make a comeback from shoulder surgery, Santana’s velocity has steadily increased since he was signed in the spring.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold took batting practice Wednesday in Sarasota as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired neck on the 60-day disabled list.

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Schoop should stick with Orioles in wake of Davis injury

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Schoop should stick with Orioles in wake of Davis injury

Posted on 28 April 2014 by Luke Jones

It all appeared to be coming together as third baseman Manny Machado started his rehab assignment and the Orioles anticipated having their full lineup together for the first time all season.

Of course, a left oblique strain suffered by Chris Davis has delayed that vision indefinitely, but Machado is expected to return this week, instantly boosting the infield defense as well as helping an offense now devoid of Davis’ Herculean power. Even with the All-Star third baseman’s return, the injury to Davis forces manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to alter the way in which they view the starting lineup.

Even if Nick Markakis proves capable of handling the defensive duties of first base — his errant throw on a rundown play led to a run in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City — he’s a significant downgrade offensively just like any realistic replacement would be. It’s why the Orioles may need to take chances elsewhere in trying to make up for Davis’ absence.

In addition to Nelson Cruz filling a full-time outfield role with Markakis in the infield, the Orioles would be wise to continue playing Jonathan Schoop at second base after Machado officially returns. His future appeared to be the club’s biggest roster decision a few days ago as the argument could be made that Schoop needs more seasoning and both Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty are stronger defensive players.

But when missing a player of Davis’ ability, the Orioles would benefit from Schoop’s offensive upside while also remembering he’s handled 30 chances at second base without an error. The 22-year-old has struggled bouncing back and forth between second and third base due to the Orioles’ injury-related needs in the first month of the season, but his four errors have all come while playing the hot corner.

“He’s going to turn the double play well above average with arm strength,” said Showalter when asked to assess Schoop’s play at second base. “That’s one thing that steps out at you. He could profile down the road as an offensive run producer that can play the middle infield. We’ll see. I feel confident that Jonathan is going to be as good as he’s capable of being. That’s what makes me feel good about him.”

Truthfully, his offensive numbers don’t overwhelm you as Schoop is hitting just .241 and has struck out 26 times in his first 82 plate appearances as major league pitchers continue to challenge him with breaking balls, but his numbers dwarf Flaherty’s paltry .188 average and he has more power (.405 slugging percentage) than Lombardozzi (.333), who appears best suited for a utility role.

We’ve seen with Showalter’s patient handling of Flaherty that defense can trump offensive production with the rest of the lineup so dangerous, but the Orioles must be more judicious in that approach with Davis missing from the order. Schoop has given no reason to indicate he can’t play a solid second base — the position at which he had the most experience in the minor leagues — and is fifth on the club in total bases and first in doubles.

The rockets he hit in New York and Toronto earlier this month for his two home runs show what kind of power potential he brings to the table. It’d be interesting to see what he can do without the unrest of switching positions on a regular basis weight on his mind.

“You can be in the big leagues 10 years and it’s never going to be easy, but I think the game’s slowing down a little bit,” Schoop said. “I’ve still got to get better. In situations, I’ve got to think what I’m going to do before the ball comes to me. I’ve got to get better.”

A few days ago, it would have been easy for the Orioles to send Schoop to Triple-A Norfolk and settle on the strong defensive platoon of Flaherty and Lombardozzi at second base while watching the rest of the lineup wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. But with Davis sidelined and his teammates trying to pick up the slack, the second base position needs to provide some of the offensive lifting.

While far from a finished product, the Curacao native has shown more than enough flashes for the Orioles to take a chance that he’ll be up to the task.

“I’m glad he’s on our side. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good one,” Showalter said. “But we’ll see where he settles out and see how things go with Manny in the next few days.”

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How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan: Issue One

Posted on 23 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Baltimore sports fans are irrational, unrealistic, unforgiving, and hard-to-fool.  Baltimore sports fans are unlike any other sports fans, because they’re–as Toyota used to say–”simply the best.”

Every Wednesday, over the next 40-years or so, I’m going to author a semi-regular feature entitled “How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan.”  The idea behind this stems back to a conversation I had with some college students during my time as an English professor at a local community college.

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  ”This season might be another ‘Why Not’ year.”

Student #1:  ”Why not what?”

Me:  The “Why Not” season in 1989; the year the O’s went from worst to ‘almost’ first.

Student #2:  I was born in 1992.

Me:  Don’t you know any Baltimore history?

Student #3:  Ain’t this English class?

Me:  It is.  But you’re clearly struggling with speaking the Queen’s language–and you’re from Baltimore.

Student #3:  How you know dat?

Me:  I can tell by your accent.  I’m from Dundalk.  I could pick out a Bal-murr accent halfway around the world in a room full of people screaming Chinese expletives.

Alas, it’s this conversation that has sparked this column.  Some people–local youth, sheltered stepchildren, non-local-Ivy-Leaguers-of-the-”local media”–need some help on understanding what it means to be a Baltimore sports fan.

Without further ado.

How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan…

#1 Be Irrational: Fire Dave Wallace and release the entire starting rotation.

Miguel Gonzalez went five-and-two-thirds last night.  Wei Yin Chen went five the night before.  Ubaldo Jimenez hurled five-and-a-third on Sunday.  All three pitchers topped the 100 pitch mark.  It’s impossible, yes impossible, to win more than you lose when your starting rotation consistently throws a full-game worth of pitches at the half-way point in the game.

Show me a team who has a rotation that consistently gives way in the 6th and I’ll show you a sub-.500 record.

Perhaps we’re starting to see why Dave Wallace has been away from the Major Leagues since 2007.  Even though he’s still been around baseball, you have to wonder if his tactics and his style are working, some seven years later.

Think about it, what were you doing seven years ago?  Me, I was finishing college and chasing girls around Canton and Fed Hill.  If my wife ditched me tomorrow and I jumped right back into the bar scene, I’d be as effective as water-logged firewood.

 

#2 Be Unrealistic: The Wizards are 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs, build an arena and give Baltimore the ball!

The Wizards look legit.

Down in the fourth-quarter of both games in Chicago, the Wiz–coincidentally, that’s my name too–have come out on top and carry a 2-0 series lead back to the Mid-Atlantic region–Baltimore sports fans refuse to use the word that describes the area in which Congress meets to discuss their vacation plans and fantasy football teams.

All this Wizards’ success means that Baltimore should definitely build a new arena and focus on attracting an NBA team.

 

#3 Be Unforgiving:  Jonathan Schoop doesn’t belong in the Big Leagues.

He can hit.  He’s got some talent.  But he doesn’t understand the game of baseball and desperately needs to return to a slower-pace at Norfolk.

 

#4 Be Hard-To-Fool:  The Ravens aren’t looking for character guys, they’re looking for cheap talent.

Like it or not, the Baltimore Ravens have shifted their focus.  There was a time when the organization steered clear of troubled players–think of all the receivers they passed on during a time when the roster was devoid of anyone with play-making ability.  Brandon Marshall was a head-case, Chad Ochocinco-Martinez-Wong-Abdullah-Kazamakos-Johnson-Smith was a jerk, and so on.

If the flirtation with Rolando McClain proved anything, it’s that the Ravens have given in when it comes to looking past a players’ off-the-field issues or personal flaws.

Maybe it’s just the state of the NFL and society, but if you told me that this organization would have allowed itself to be yo-yoed around and attached to the negative press that Rolando McClain created, I’d have bet you’d first see Peter Angelos doing the Wild Bill O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer atop the Orioles’ dugout in game seven of the World Series.

 

#5 Be The Best:  Ubaldo Jimenez needs some love.

This Friday night, in Baltimore, Jimenez will make his fifth start as an Oriole.  It’ll come against a spry and aggressive Kansas City lineup.  He’s ranged from horrendous to decent thus far.  If you’re at the Yard on Friday night, get behind Baltimore’s $50Million man.  Give him some love.

But if he gets chased after giving up more than five runs in less than five innings, boo him like he’s the lovechild of Billy Cundiff and Mark Teixeira

 

 

 

 

 

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Opening Day roster set after Sunday’s deadline

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Opening Day roster set after Sunday’s deadline

Posted on 29 March 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 7:00 a.m. Monday)

The Orioles aren’t required to finalize their 25-man roster for the start of the regular season until Sunday at 3 p.m., but three more cuts were made to officially eliminate any remaining drama.

Baltimore announced pitchers Kevin Gausman and T.J. McFarland and infielder Jemile Weeks were being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, meaning 32 players remained in major league spring training as of Saturday afternoon. However, the remaining seven reductions will come in the form of players being placed on the disabled list and the suspended list.

Of course, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will scan the waiver wire for potential upgrades, which explains why the Opening Day roster has yet to be announced.

Rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop has made the club and is expected to see time at third base against left-handed pitching and second base against right-handed starters. The short-term audition was largely made possible with All-Star third baseman Manny Machado still working his way back to full strength from offseason surgery. Schoop impressed manager Buck Showalter with a strong spring that included a .385 average with two home runs, five doubles, and eight runs batted in over 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Machado (knee), outfielders Nolan Reimold (neck) and Francisco Peguero (wrist), pitchers Johan Santana (shoulder) and Edgmer Escalona (shoulder), and Rule 5 selection Michael Almanzar (knee) are all heading to the disabled list while reliever Troy Patton will begin his 25-game suspension for amphetamine use, accounting for the remaining seven that must be trimmed from the active roster.

Two non-roster invitees have made the club as outfielder and designated hitter Delmon Young and right-handed pitcher Evan Meek will go north to Baltimore. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore for assignment and Escalona was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Here’s a look at where the roster now stands:

PITCHERS
RHP Chris Tillman
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Tommy Hunter
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Ryan Webb
LHP Zach Britton
RHP Josh Stinson
RHP Evan Meek

CATCHERS
Matt Wieters
Steve Clevenger

INFIELDERS
Chris Davis
J.J. Hardy
Ryan Flaherty
Steve Lombardozzi
Jonathan Schoop

OUTFIELDERS
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
David Lough
Nelson Cruz
Steve Pearce
Delmon Young

DISABLED LIST (will not count against 25-man roster)
3B Manny Machado (knee)
OF Nolan Reimold (neck)
OF Francisco Peguero (wrist)
LHP Johan Santana (shoulder)
RHP Edgmer Escalona (shoulder)
INF Michael Almanzar (knee)

SUSPENDED LIST (will not count against 25-man roster)
LHP Troy Patton

 

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Report: Schoop to make Orioles’ Opening Day roster

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Report: Schoop to make Orioles’ Opening Day roster

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The final major domino appears to have fallen for the Orioles’ 25-man roster and rookie Jonathan Schoop will reportedly get his shot in Baltimore to begin the year.

According to FOX Sports insider Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles plan to keep Schoop on the active roster to alternate at both second and third base while Manny Machado continues to work his way back to full strength after offseason knee surgery. Schoop impressed manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette with a strong spring that included a .385 average with two home runs, five doubles, and eight runs batted in over 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.

The final middle-infield job had been down to Schoop and Jemile Weeks, who was acquired as part of the Jim Johnson trade over the winter.

With Machado not expected back until sometime in April, there had been growing sentiment to reward Schoop’s strong spring with a short-term audition with the Orioles. However, a strong start would certainly go a long way in persuading the organization to keep him in Baltimore for good.

The likely plan for Schoop is to play second base with Ryan Flaherty shifting over to third against right-handed pitching. The Curacao native would then move over to third base with the newly-acquired — and switch-hitting — Steve Lombardozzi handling second base against left-handed starters.

Considered the Orioles’ top positional prospect since Machado was promoted to Baltimore late in the 2012 season, Schoop made his major league debut late last season and homered in his first game. This came after he missed two months of action for Triple-A Norfolk due to a stress fracture in his back.

Schoop hit .256 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and a .697 on-base plus slugging percentage over 289 plate appearances with the Tides last season.

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Schoop deserves major-league audition with Machado sidelined

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Schoop deserves major-league audition with Machado sidelined

Posted on 22 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles haven’t officially ruled out third baseman Manny Machado for Opening Day, but his chances of being ready by March 31 remind you of the Black Knight fighting King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at this point.

The season opener has never been the priority for the 21-year-old in the organization’s eyes as a 100-percent Machado for what will still be a significant portion of the season is preferable to a lesser version being thrown into action before he and his surgically-repaired left knee are ready. Because of the overwhelming success Machado has had in his brief major league career, we easily forget he’s far from a finished product — a .240 average in the second half of 2013 reflects that — so compromising his long-term health and development for a handful of games wouldn’t be a wise gamble.

With Ryan Flaherty expected to move to third base in Machado’s absence, Orioles manager Buck Showalter is faced with the decision of what to do at second, but the combination of spring performancs and long-term potential make for an easy choice among Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks, Alexi Casilla, and Alex Gonzalez.

Weeks, acquired in the Jim Johnson trade this winter, has hit .138 in 29 spring at-bats and has minor-league options remaining.

The non-roster invitee Casilla has been hampered with injuries and didn’t do much to leave a lasting impression as a reserve on last year’s club.

Gonzalez, 37, has hit .440 this spring but has never played second base in the big leagues and hit .177 with Milwaukee in his 15th season a year ago, making him a better fit as a utility infielder than as an everyday player for a couple weeks.

Schoop (pronounced “scope”) has only done everything that’s been asked of him to earn his shot as the Orioles’ starting second baseman against the Boston Red Sox in just over a week. A .406 spring average might be fool’s gold in trying to decide whether the Curacao native is truly ready to be an everyday player in the major leagues, but Machado’s short-term absence provides a convenient window for the Orioles to evaluate what they hope will be an important part of their future.

The 22-year-old added strength in the offseason and has looked solid defensively at second base, a position at which Schoop may not remain because his 6-foot-2, 210-pound listed frame is still evolving. The Orioles would have needed to option him to Triple-A Norfolk anyway had Machado been further along in his recovery, so there appears to be no drawback to rewarding the organization’s top positional prospect with a short-term audition.

If Schoop can perform at such a high level to force the Orioles’ to revisit Flaherty’s status as the projected starting second baseman upon Machado’s return, it’s a great problem to have for an organization that’s struggled to receive consistent production at second base over the last few seasons.

In truth, there is far more evidence to support Schoop needing more seasoning at Triple A than there is proof of him being ready to thrive in Baltimore. In addition to a stress fracture in his back that cost him two months of the 2013 season, Schoop hit only .256 with a .697 on-base plus slugging percentage in 289 plate appearances for the Tides last season. And his .710 OPS as a 20-year-old at Double-A Bowie in 2012 was respectable for such a young prospect but certainly not an indicator of being on the verge of stardom.

Then again, Machado’s .266 average at Bowie two years ago made his early-August call-up to Baltimore a surprise to nearly everyone at the time. It’s safe to say that decision worked out swimmingly.

Much like there was a need for a better defensive player at third base when they called on a 20-year-old Machado, the Orioles have an opening at second base and no other option appears better than Schoop, who homered in his first major league game last September and has five extra-base hits in 32 Grapefruit League at-bats this spring.

If he’s not ready for the big stage, you send him back to Norfolk where he can play every day when Machado returns and Flaherty shifts back to second base. But rewarding Schoop for his spring performance and potential feels like the right move for the Orioles, who haven’t shied away from promoting their top prospects in recent years.

It may not result in another overnight success story like Machado — nor should Schoop be compared to such an unusual talent as he often is– but writing his name in the lineup on March 31 makes too much sense at this point.

 

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Schoop new 2b 9-25-13

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Orioles Disappoint Down Stretch

Posted on 27 September 2013 by Tom Federline

It was Saturday August 24th, O’s vs. A’s, 4:05 game time. Beautiful August late afternoon/early evening, the heat of the day was cooling off, sun was out, partly cloudy, Camden Yards at it’s finest. Perfect size crowd of around 25,000 – the real Orioles fans. O’s lost 2 – 1 on a HR by the A’s in the 9th. I watched the O’s dugout the whole game. Lifeless. No cheering. No banter. No sign of competitiveness. Baseball players just going though the motions. Only person offering any sign of encouragement to his teammates was Weiters. It was half-way through that game – my Orioles season ended. It was apparent – NO Oriole Magic in that clubhouse – discouraging.

It seemed throughout the whole season you were just waiting for the O’s to break out. Put that 10 game winning streak together. Leave the Yankee cheaters and the Tampa Bay “fake indoor baseball guys” in their own steroid dust. Get even with the Red Sux for a division crown run. It never happened. What consistently happened was bullpen/closer breakdown and lack of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. A complete 180 from last year – discouraging.

What can we hope for? Gold Glove recognition! My votes – 1. Some young guy at third, think his name is Manny Mucho Machado? 2. Markakis. 3.Weiters. 4. Davis. 5. Jason Pridie. No Adam Jones – I saw at least 6 errors by him in the first 2 months of the season and he was charged with only one. I believe he has been charged with a total of 2 for the year, yeah right. Jones is good, but he is not the best center fielder in the American league. The Defense was outstanding this past year. Potential record breaking (if Buck-Buck would stop playing the minor leaguers). Reminded me of the O’s golden years in the late 60′s, early 70′s. Machado continuously amazed. If he doesn’t walk away with the award at third………..you know what I’m going to say….The Fix is on. O’s defense – encouraging.

What can we hope for? Thank you, Brian Roberts – but it’s time to go away. Out with the old – in with the new. And it looks like we have new! Get used to hearing this song at the Yards – “Shoop” by Salt N’ Pepa. The song is horrible, but it has a nice reprise/riff. and that’s all we need to hear when the next Future Hall of Famer, Jonathan Schoop come up to bat. Yeah, I’m calling another one. Looks like the O’s have a new second basemen in town and he came from down on our own farm. I don’t know the correct pronunciation of whether it’s (scope), (Scoop) or (shoop). He will always be Shoop, shoop, shoop, da woop to me. Brace yourself gang, I have seen him play in the minors, he’s a baseball player. Now can he hang with the big boys? O’s new 2nd baseman -encouraging.

What can we hope for? MASN and the Orioles FIRE Gary “Thorn in our Side”. What is sadder than his ignorance of the sport and irritating chatter, is the that some O’s/MASN numbnut(s) a. hired him and b. continually renew his contract. Take a clip of 10 minutes from any game and I’ll bet you “Thorn in our side” will screw up a call, incorrectly describe what is happening on the field, call out the wrong count, team, player and the worst of it all…..makes the call for the opposing team with greater enthusiasm than for the Orioles. I just do not understand his presence in a baseball broadcast booth. I have heard him do bowling once and I even had to turn that off. As you know, when I have the chance to watch the game, I mute the TV and listen to the radio. Sometimes on the weekend we are given a reprieve with Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick. The Baltimore area is blessed with Joe Angel and Fred Manfra on the radio end. Now there is talent and entertainment – encouraging.

The Orioles have succeeded in finishing with a second straight winning season. We haven’t experienced that in awhile. Expectations were high. They had a shot. No closer threat and losing as opposed to winning those 1-run games was the difference. Need a different atmosphere in the clubhouse. Bring Kevin Millar back. Buck-Buck needs to stop allowing them to go down into the tunnel and back into the locker room for the buffet table, cell phone texting or tweeting or whatever else they do down there. Get them on the bench with their teammates in the dugout. For a minimum of $15,000/night – they can refrain from pampering themselves. Team unity – discouraging.

Disappointing outcome of what seemingly was a promising year. They are close – just need to find the right “nuggets”. Right Buck-Buck? Orioles need a couple more “gold nuggets” to compete in the east. Preferably ones with powerful right or left arms. Get those nuggets and O’s 2014 – encouraging!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Orioles plan to call up top infield prospect Schoop, three others Tuesday

Posted on 02 September 2013 by WNST Staff

The Orioles will continue a series of September call-ups on Tuesday with the promotions of top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop, outfielder Henry Urrutia, infielder Ryan Flaherty, and right-handed pitcher Josh Stinson.

Flaherty will be recalled from Single-A Frederick while the other three have been playing for Triple-A Norfolk.

With minor-league seasons now concluding, the organization will also send a group of players to Sarasota to be on call in case the Orioles need them later this month. Japanese lefty starter Tsuyoshi Wada and outfielders Chris Dickerson and Jason Pridie are expected to be included in that group.

 

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Pondering second-half roles for Britton, Gausman, S. Johnson

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Pondering second-half roles for Britton, Gausman, S. Johnson

Posted on 10 July 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — After optioning pitchers Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk after Tuesday’s game, the Orioles are now faced with the interesting question of how each will fit into their plans in the second half of the season.

The return of left-hander Wei-Yin Chen after nearly two months takes away a spot in the starting rotation and hopefully provides more stability than the Orioles have enjoyed since the start of the season. The starting five of Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, and Scott Feldman doesn’t appear to have any candidates dangerously close to being removed from the rotation, so the question of what to potentially do with Britton and Gausman becomes more interesting.

Josh Stinson’s promotion to the Baltimore bullpen wouldn’t figure to be a long-term solution, but the right-hander provides length that Britton nor Gausman would have been able to offer for at least a couple days. As a result, the two will complete a workday in Norfolk before split pitching duties in Sunday’s game before the International League has its own All-Star break next week.

Though manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday that Gausman working out of the bullpen was a positive in terms of further acclimating himself to playing in the big leagues, the infrequent work he received was a major drawback as opposed to him pitching every fifth day in either Baltimore or Norfolk. Should a need arise due to injury or ineffectiveness, you’d expect Gausman to be near the top of the list of candidates to crack the rotation in the second half.

The thought of Gausman serving in a relief role late in the season is an intriguing one with his tremendous velocity, but it makes more sense for him to pitch regularly and to continue to develop his secondary pitches at Triple A instead of serving in long relief for the Orioles with just under half of the season remaining.

What to do with Britton is a much more interesting case as I broke down his shortcomings following last night’s game. It appears that his best chance for making a contribution to the 2013 Orioles would be as a reliever, but finding a spot for him appears tricky at the moment.

The club already has T.J. McFarland as a long reliever and you wouldn’t expect a second left-hander in that role to be a great fit. Brian Matusz and Troy Patton are also in the bullpen, so carrying a third middle reliever or specialist from the left side doesn’t sound ideal either. For what it’s worth in a small sample size this season, lefties are hitting .325 in 45 plate appearances against Britton while right-handed hitters own a .292 average in 109 plate appearances.

As for the spot currently being held by Stinson in the bullpen, right-hander Steve Johnson would appear to be a good option after the break as he was essentially serving in that role while former Oriole Pedro Strop was on the disabled list earlier this season. Johnson threw off the mound for the first time in Sarasota on Monday and will throw live batting practice on Thursday.

Johnson would be a great fit as a right-hander who can provide length — unlike Strop, which made it virtually impossible to continue to hide his struggles in the bullpen prior to last week’s trade — as well as the ability to contribute in the later innings when necessary. While the club is remaining cautious with his recovery from a strained left oblique, it wouldn’t be farfetched to see Johnson in the bullpen shortly after the second half begins.

In other injury-related news, infield prospect Jonathan Schoop will begin a minor-league rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. It had previously been thought that Schoop would complete his stint with Aberdeen before returning to Triple-A Norfolk, but the club will instead keep him in Florida.

Outfielder Steve Pearce underwent an MRA on his left wrist in Sarasota to check for any structural damage as progress has been slow for his recovery. On the DL since June 21, Pearce’s right wrist is feeling better, but he’s been unable to increase his activity level because of continuing discomfort in the other wrist.

Showalter acknowledged lefty Tsuyoshi Wada was someone the club briefly considered before recalling Stinson for Gausman’s vacated spot, but the Orioles would like to see Wada continue to make progress with the Tides. Asked about his potential second-half role with the club, the Orioles manager said Wada wouldn’t appear to be a candidate for a relief role, making his timetable for a potential major league debut cloudier.

Wada has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last four starts, but the organization feels it’s best for him to continue to pitch every five days instead of in the long-relief role that Stinson will serve over the remainder of the homestand. It also made sense for the right-hander Stinson to be available to back up the lefty Chen on Wednesday night and the Orioles already have McFarland in that role from the left side.

Infielder Wilson Betemit continues to make slow progress and participate in baseball-related activities “as tolerated” while recovering from the torn PCL in his right knee suffered during spring training. Showalter remains optimistic that Betemit will be able to contribute at some point in the second half, but there is no firm timetable for the veteran to even participate in sim games let alone project a return date to Baltimore.

Reserve outfielder Chris Dickson was scheduled to serve as the designated hitter in Wednesday’s game but was a late scratch as Nolan Reimold replaced him in the lineup. No immediate reason was given prior to the third game of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers.

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