Tag Archive | "koji uehara"

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More Koji-coddling in 2010?

Posted on 07 September 2009 by mike3505

When I E-mailed Nestor early this year to see if he was a like mind on how the O’s were treating Koji, I had no idea that  that would turn into a springboard for me getting on the ol’ WNST barstool.  So, I thought that I would just briefly mention my previous thought regarding our erstwhile import for anyone who may have had a similar feeling.

When Koji was still in our starting rotation, despite my excitement at his initial signing and my wish for him to be successful here, I became more and more frustrated with the excuses being put out by the warehouse as to his lack of durability and overall success. I cannot recall the exact sequence of events, but I do recall such words and phrases as “humidity too high”, “too many innings”, “too much workload”, and finally the ubiquitous “arm fatigue” until finally they shut him down  for what is starting to look more and more like the remainder of the season, despite the team’s regular assurances.

I couldn’t help but wonder even then if his interpreter, his agent, or someone who had his ear right before signing that two-year, $10 million deal pulled him aside and said something like, “Bro, do you realize what you’re signing up for? You’re used to pitching a few innings every six days in climate-controlled domes. What are you going to do in Baltimore in July and August when its 97 degrees with 97 percent humidity in a 5-man rotation pitching regularly against the greatest hitters in the world?” I suppose they didn’t, because even speaking through an interpreter, Koji seemed downright surprised at what was required to be successful here.

With 2009 nearly in the books (insert sarcastic comment here) our thoughts must turn toward the make-up of the team in 2010..particularly the various options on the pitching rotation. Are the Orioles going to open up and admit that they may have made a mistake in slotting this guy for the rotation and move him to long relief where he seems much more suited? Or, are they going to be a slave to their pride and put him in the rotation to get pummeled after the fifth inning every fifth day because they don’t want word to get out that we’re paying $5 million a year for a long reliever, historically the unsexiest position on the team?

I’d like to think that the Orioles are capable under the leadership of Andy MacPhail to do what’s best for the team,  take the hit, and put him in the bullpen for next season to shore up a very unsteady long-relief choir (going into next year with Albers and Bass again doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence). However, the Orioles of the past dozen or so years don’t exactly have the reputation of admitting to mistakes, so we may have to endure even more “short term pain” until this contract expires. Let’s just see what the Hot Stove  season brings…

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1st half thoughts

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

The 1st half of the season is now in the books and as usual the Orioles find themselves in the AL East cellar. The Orioles have been on a roller coaster ride following up win streaks with detrimental losing streaks, leaving the fans pulling their hair out.

Here are some thoughts I have on the 1st half of the Orioles season:

88 games into the season, we still don’t know about the rotation:

Coming into the season the Orioles knew two things about the starting rotation: Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara were going to be in it. 88 games later, the Orioles seem to have more questions then answers about how the rotation will pan out. Guthrie has struggled, Koji is out for basically the rest of the season and the Rich Hill “experiment” seems to be over. The rotation is left with Brad Bergesen as the only “sure thing”.

It does the Orioles no good to trot Rich Hill and Jason Berken out to the mound every fifth day while Chris Tillman and Troy Patton are tearing it up in the Minor Leagues. I have a hunch we may see both them sometime in early August. This likely spells the end for Hill and Berken. The rotation has already under gone a major face lift and should continue to change throughout the summer.

One thing is certain; outside of Brad Bergesen, the Orioles rotation will continue to be an enigma.

Dave Trembley needs to change his managerial “style”:

When he became the manager a little over two seasons ago, Dave Trembley had a fire about him that exhibited a no nonsense style of managing. Fast forward to 2009; Dave Trembley is surly, mean and fiery, but to the media only and not his players. Although I don’t watch every other major league team regularly, I can’t imagine that they make as many fundamental mistakes as the Orioles. Fundamental baseball is one thing I believe the manager can control but Trembley seems to be more worried about attacking the media then fixing his team’s mistakes.

Personally, I don’t care if its Adam Jones or Felix Pie, if someone makes a bonehead mistake repeatedly then they need to be sitting on the bench next to Dave Trembley. Different players respond to the manager in different ways, but benching them is a universal way to get the message across. Something needs to change and that something to me is Dave Trembley.

The Orioles are interesting enough to keep me watching:

Just when the season looked to be over after a five game losing streak to start June, the Orioles turn around and win five straight, including a three game sweep in Philadelphia. One night they have the greatest comeback in team history then the next game they blow a 4 run lead in the 9th inning. If there is one word you can use to describe the 2009 Orioles its “interesting”.

It is now mid July and the Orioles still have me interested. Even with Ravens training camp two weeks away, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Tillman and Patton and looking forward to see this team improve in the last 2+ months of the season.

The Orioles have been inconsistent but have shown enough in spurts to keep me entertained. These Birds are interesting and after 11 straight losing seasons, interesting is about as good as it gets.

The Orioles are eight games under .500 which is pretty much where I expected them to be. Luke Scott and Adam Jones had career 1st halves, while Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters look to be the real deal.

With the trade deadline looming there could be some fireworks. Any trade Andy MacPhail makes is likely to improve the Orioles for the present and future.

While they may not hit the “unattainable” .500 mark, they are making strides towards it. I believe they will be a better team on the last day of the season then they were on Opening Day. This to me should excite everyone.

For once it looks like it could be a fun summer in Birdland, something I haven’t experienced since I was 13!!

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Orioles’ July will be pivotal on different levels

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Luke Jones

Any baseball fan will tell you the 162-game schedule is filled with peaks and valleys.  You’re never as good as your highest point—such as a nine-run comeback win—or as terrible as your lowest moment—like a five-run blown lead in the ninth inning.

This year’s World Series champion is bound to undergo at least a five- or six-game losing streak, and even the worst team in the majors—I’m talking to you, Washington—will manage to win five or six games in a row at some point this season.

The difference between the good teams and the not-so-good teams in Major League Baseball is an ability to heighten the peaks while shortening the dark valleys.

The Orioles’ last two games are a perfect example of how exhilarating—and sobering—the game can be in less than 24 hours.  After completing the greatest comeback in franchise history Tuesday night, the club collapsed in the ninth inning on Wednesday, blowing a 5-1 lead in an eventual 6-5 loss in 11 innings.

How will the Orioles respond to these two polarizing contests?  If we look at the club’s body of work this season, the west coast trip—and the month of July—will not be pretty.

From the pleasant 6-3 start that was squashed in a four-game sweep at Fenway Park in April to the late-May sweep of Toronto and the electricity of Matt Wieters’ debut that fizzled into an offensive famine of historic proportions, the Orioles have lacked the consistency to show they are anywhere close to contention.

We’ve seen this club play well at times—creating optimism that it’s on the verge of turning the corner toward respectability—only to fall on its face completely thereafter.

The next month will tell whether the Orioles are capable of playing near-.500 baseball or that another summer swoon toward 90 or more losses is underway.

When looking at the schedule, avoiding the latter will be a daunting task.  Starting with a four-game series against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels tonight, the Orioles’ next 19 games will come against teams with winning records.  All but three will be on the road where the club has struggled with an 11-23 record.

Brace yourselves; it could get ugly.

The next month will play a huge part in determining manager Dave Trembley’s fate beyond this season.  In his second full season as the skipper, Trembley has come under fire for his—at best—questionable management of the pitching staff and the club’s horrendous baserunning.  Whether Trembley is the man to lead the young talent into the future is in doubt.

A disastrous July could spell the end of Trembley’s stay in Baltimore, but it may not be prudent to fire another manager in the middle of the season, as the organization did with Lee Mazzilli in 2005 and Sam Perlozzo in 2007.

In both cases, the organization ended up retaining the interim manager instead of completing a more thorough search in the offseason when the chances of finding a more qualified candidate are heightened.

In addition to the manager’s future, the next few weeks will likely determine the fate of every pitcher not named Brad Bergesen in the starting rotation.  With Chris Tillman, Troy Patton, and Jake Arrieta waiting in the wings at Triple-A Norfolk, the pressure will be on the current staff to perform against rigorous competition.

Rich Hill (7.08 ERA) and Jason Berken (6.44 ERA) may only receive another start or two to prove themselves before the organization will be forced to look elsewhere for starting pitching.  Neither has shown the ability to put together a string of good starts and have been downright brutal at times.

With Koji Uehara likely out for the next two months, right-hander David Hernandez (4.19 ERA in three starts) will get an extended look against some of the best teams in the American League.  Hernandez has shown a lively arm, but it will need to translate to getting out big league hitters consistently.  With a run of strong starts this month, the 23-year-old could establish himself as a fixture behind Bergesen in the rotation.

Veteran Jeremy Guthrie will be the most intriguing pitcher to watch over the next few weeks as the July 31st trading deadline approaches.  Guthrie has failed to pitch with the same consistency he showed in his first two seasons in Baltimore when he was the club’s best pitcher.  His 5.11 ERA is a product of surrendering 17 home runs and failing to make quality pitches to finish off batters when ahead in the count.

If Guthrie can pitch well over the next few weeks, his value could possibly fetch a young corner infield prospect that the organization sorely needs.

Much like Guthrie, other veterans could be on the move depending on their performance in July.  Impending free agent Aubrey Huff would appeal to a contender looking for a power bat that can play both corner infield positions.  The streaky Ty Wigginton might be attractive to a National League club, but it’s unlikely he’d attract anything of significant value in return.

Regardless of whether the club rebounds from Wednesday’s deflating loss or tailspins into another July collapse, it will probably look quite different a month from now.

The club is focused on developing its young talent, as it should be, but a strong July performance might keep people somewhat interested in the second half.  Fans want to get excited about this team’s future, but the next month will be crucial in holding their attention.

If there’s another July collapse, it will be another crawl to the finish with nobody watching.

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Koji, Bergesen and some other Orioles musings

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

The Orioles had the greatest comeback in team history on Tuesday night bailing out Rich Hill who was once again ineffective. Today the Orioles placed Koji Uehara on the DL while Brad Bergesen was once again stellar.

Here are some thoughts on Koji, Bergesen and other Orioles musings:

Changes likely plentiful in the Orioles rotation:

Earlier today news came in that Koji Uehara would be sidelined for 7-8 weeks all but ending his stay as a fixture in the Orioles rotation, for the present and future. Koji is not scheduled to return until early September and by that point the Orioles will likely just decide to shut him down for the season. As of now David Hernandez will take over for Koji but if he struggles, he may be moved down.

Koji may not be the only starter that will not be in the rotation by season’s end ; in fact I believe that nobody but Brad Bergesen is “safe” to keep their spot. Rich Hill has been flat out awful of late and a few more poor outings could land him in the bullpen.

The most intriguing situation is that of Jeremy Guthrie. Anointed the Orioles’ “ace” before the season( a role now occupied by Brad Bergesen), Guthrie has been incredibly inconsistent but could be a major trade tool for the Orioles. Guthrie has won his last two starts and will only cost a team $650,000 if they were to acquire him. With pitching being at a premium throughout the league it is likely many teams will be calling Andy MacPhail asking about Guthrie. If the Orioles like what they hear, don’t be surprised to see Guthrie dealt.

If Guthrie is dealt and Berken continues to struggle expect Chris Tillman and Troy Patton to be in the rotation earlier then expected, probably  sometime in early August. In addition to these two there are any number of pitchers at Norfolk and Bowie like Jake Arrieta that could be September call ups.

Who is the Orioles best trade chip?

By no means are the Orioles going to have a Florida Marlins like fire sale but they will be sellers as opposed to buyers at the deadline. Many names like Aubrey Huff, George Sherrill, Danys Baez, Melvin Mora and Jeremy Guthrie have all had their names floating amidst trade talks. Andy MacPhail is not going to give these players away for nothing but I expect to see at least two players that are starters or major contributors to the club, playing elsewhere come August 1st.

The players that the Orioles are likely to get offered the most for are Aubrey Huff and Jeremy Guthrie. Huff is power left handed bat that has shown he can play first base better then people expected which now has him garnering interest from National League teams. One of the teams supposedly interested is the Mets, who have the reputation of parting with prospects to win now. If the Mets are in contention for the Wild Card and the Division and Carlos Delgado is still on the DL expect them to offer a lot to the Orioles to acquire Huff.

Jeremy Guthrie, as I mentioned earlier, should peak the interest of many teams due to his low salary and the fact that pitching is at a premium. Despite being 6-7 with a 5.11 ERA Guthrie is more then a serviceable major league pitcher who could be a very effective 3rd or 4th starter for a contending ball club.

Is Ty Wigginton the answer at hot corner?

Ty Wigginton hit another home run on Wednesday afternoon giving him six on the season which is four more then Melvin Mora. Wigginton has 16 fewer at bats then Mora and has the same number of RBI’s on the season. Wigginton is starting to look like the 20+ home run bat that the Orioles hoped he would be, while Mora is having his worst year in an Oriole uniform. I do not believe Wigginton is the 3rd baseman of the future but he is better currently then Melvin Mora and he should play more because of this. Mora will continue to start because of his tenure with the club, but how long can his anemic run producing bat be plugged into the number 5 hole in the lineup before the Orioles realized it is time for a change.

Base running blunders galore!!

Felix Pie was thrown out by five feet while trying to “stretch” a first inning single into a double, quelling any chance for a big inning. Pie joins the long list of Orioles that have made base running blunders to run the Orioles right of the inning, a problem that looks to be getting worse before it gets better.

Poor fundamentals are a direct result of poor leadership and I believe Dave Trembley is a major part of the Orioles poor fundamentals. I know every big league player should know how to run the bases, but if they can go out there and continue to make mistakes with out repercussions from the manager, then they will continue to make those same mistakes. Maybe instead of having the promotion where the kids run the bases after the game, the Orioles should be the ones running the bases instead.

There are still many questions marks about the ball club and it will be interesting to see how things play out after the deadline.

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Weekly Question, Comments and Concerns

Posted on 27 June 2009 by Marco Romanell

Since my Sunday blog is going to be about the USA/Brazil soccer game I decided to move my weekly questions, comments and concerns blog up to Saturday.

Here are my questions, comments and concerns for this week:

Questions:

What should the Orioles do with Melvin Mora?

 

Melvin Mora is longest tenured Oriole on the current roster, but many believe his days in Baltimore may be numbered. Currently hitting at .276 clip with just two homers and 22 RBI, Mora is off to his worst in recent memory and his 23 home run and 104 RBI season of last year is a distance memory. Mora is 37 and becomes a free agent at season’s end but there are a couple factors that could lead to him returning to the Orioles next season.

First, the Orioles really have no 3rd baseman in the farm system that they would consider an upgrade over Mora and I don’t believe they see Ty Wigginton as the 3rd baseman of the future. Second, Mora has a no trade clause, and likes Baltimore so he is likely to veto any trade the Orioles might pull off because he does not want to move his family. Lastly,and  this is just  an opinion, but I believe that the Orioles brass really still believes that Mora is a more then capable 3rd baseman and they are reluctant to part ways with him. Baseball is a business but there is a bit of a sentimental aspect with releasing or trading Mora, even though it maybe in the best interest of the club.

When it is all said and done I believe we will see Mora sign a two year deal and remain an Oriole until he retires.

How much is Dave Trembley to blame for the Orioles woes?

 

The Orioles are now 33-40 on the season, yet many fans are calling for Dave Trembley to lose his job. I have always been of the mind set, that the players, especially in baseball, are the ones who win and lose the game and the manager often takes too much blame. In baseball the manager really only needs to make about 4 or 5 major “decisions” per game, however, more often then not, Trembley makes the wrong  decision.

I believe that Trembley is too “by the book” and that has cost this team many times this season. You don’t have to rest your catcher on Sunday, but Trembley sticks to this adage like it is one of the 10 commandments. Trembley also tends to hit and run in the wrong situations.

All season the Orioles have shown a lack of fundamentals and that begins and ends with the manager. When was the last time you saw any Oriole lay down a sacrifice bunt?

The main problem that I have with Trembley is that I do not believe his personality meshes with this team. The Orioles are still a young team and I believe they need a fiery manager that is not afraid to speak his mind. Trembley showed this personality when he first got the job but has become complacent and comes off as very pompous and arrogant.

I am one of the many that believes Dave Trembley should be on his way out of Charm City at the end of the season.

Why do the Orioles insist on keeping Koji in the rotation?

 

The love affair with the Orioles first ever Japanese player seems to be over with everyone but the Orioles decision makers. How many times do Andy MacPhail and Dave Trembley need to see Koji wilt away after four or five innings before they decide to move him to the bullpen where everyone knows he belongs. Just because the Orioles promised Koji he would be a starter doesn’t mean that they need to hold this promise and sacrifice wins.

Koji can’t pitch in the heat, lacks durability and struggles the second time through the opposing team’s lineup, any other pitcher with these traits would be coming out of the bullpen not taking the bump every fifth day.

Personally, I cringe in agony every time I see Koji take the mound and after his typical fourth inning exit, I regret that the Orioles ever acquired him.

Hopefully, whoever pitches for Koji on Sunday, pitches at least 7 good innings and becomes a permanent fixture in the rotation.

Comments:

The NBA Draft is the completely meaningless.

 

I am a die hard college basketball fan but I do not have the same love for the NBA. Thursday night, I watched 7 picks in the second round and every one of those picks had their rights traded away by the team that drafted them. In the NFL Draft I find draft day trades exciting but during the NBA Draft I just find them to be bothersome. If a team is going to trade away the player they draft  less then 24 hours after drafting him, then why draft him in the first place. It is more like the NBA “potluck” then it is the NBA draft.

American Men’s tennis is in a sorry state.

 

From the 1960’s until Sampras and Aggassi’s retirement’s the Americans were a major factor in Men’s Tennis but those days are long, long gone. Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Aggassi were all superstars on the Men’s Tennis circuit and helped make tennis relevant in the United States. Today’s current crop of James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and rest of the “no names” are more known for their off the court lives then they are for their games on the court. Until men’s tennis can find the next American star then it will be nothing more then an afterthought to the American sports fan.

Concerns:

These look to be the same old Orioles:

 

Just when you thought the Orioles have turned the corner, they go to Florida and get embarrassed by the Marlins falling further away from the .500 mark. The Orioles have the talent to be much better then their record but seem to make blunders the remind fans of the Orioles of the early part of the decade.

The 2009 Baltimore Orioles seem to take one small step forward then two giant steps back. Until they can get a winning mind set and get some consistency it won’t matter how much talent they have.

These are my questions, comments and concerns for the week, please fell free to give me yours.

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Tonight's Orioles - Marlins Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Marlins Lineups

Posted on 23 June 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Tonight at 7:10pm the Orioles — oh by the way, winners of five straight and seven of eight — will take on the Marlins in the opener of the teams’ three game set at LandShark Stadium in South Florida.  The O’s will shoot for their 10th win in 13 games in Interleague games this season, and more specifically against the National League East.

The Orioles come in fresh off their first road sweep over the weekend by taking three in a row against none other than the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.  In Sunday’s exciting 2-1 victory, Jeremy Guthrie put the exclamation point on their successful trip up I-95 by going toe-to-toe and pitch-for-pitch with the Phils’ ace Cole Hamels.  Guthrie threw seven innings of great baseball, surrendering only three hits total and allowing just one run.

This evening Koji Uehara will make his 12th start of the season and third since returning from the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.  The issue with Koji continues to be whether or not he can give the O’s the length they need from a veteran in the rotation.  To date, he’s only pitched finished the seventh inning once and that was all the way back on April 19th, when he took a loss at Fenway against the Red Sox.  That said, at least its more recent than Koji’s last win… April 13th in Texas.

The Marlins will send out their 24-year old left-hander, Andrew Miller, to make his 10th start of the year.  Miller is still considered a high-level prospect after being dealt along with Cameron Maybin from Detroit to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade before last season.  After appearing in relief in his first two appearances of the year, Miller has registered a 2-3 record with a 4.56 ERA in his 12 total outings.  In his last start six days,  ago Miller took a loss against the Red Sox after going 5.1 innings and yielding four runs in the eventual 6-1 Marlin loss.

As for the lineups… here you go:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Nick Markakis – RF
Adam Jones – CF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Nolan Reimold – LF
Matt Wieters – C
Robert Andino – SS

Marlins

Chris Coghlan – LF
Emilio Bonifacio – 3B
Hanley Ramirez – SS
Jorge Cantu – 1B
Jeremy Hermida – RF
Dan Uggla – 2B
Cody Ross – CF
John Baker – C

On Sunday, Roberts drove in the game's winning run with an RBI single in the eighth inning, one day after hitting a two-out, go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth Saturday night. (Courtesy:AP)

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Tonight's Orioles - Mets Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Mets Lineups

Posted on 17 June 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles and New York Mets will square off in game two of three tonight at Camden Yards with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm.  Hopefully the O’s won’t be as gracious with their hosting responsibilities as they were in last night’s 6-4 loss, where all six Met runs can be directly traced back to three costly Oriole errors.

O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie looked displeased with the lack of help behind him during his 6.1 innings of work; he allowed five runs, but only three were earned.  Two errors in the fourth led to four Mets runs when Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold made miscues, not being able to handle and grounder and on an errant throw, respectively.  Then the nail in the coffin came in the top of the seventh when two unearned runs came across on Guthrie when Aubrey Huff couldn’t come up with a bases loaded pop-up off the bat of David Wright near foul territory behind first base.  Offensively of note, Nick Markakis connected on his eighth homer of the season in the sixth inning, his first since May 18th.

The O’s will send their rookie Japanese-import Koji Uehara to the mound this evening to try attempt to set up a rubber-game tomorrow night.  In his last start, his first since returning from the DL with a left hamstring injury, Koji threw just 81 pitches over five innings of work and yielded four runs while taking the loss in the eventual 6-3 Mariners victory.  It remains to be seen whether or not Koji has or will ever have the strength and stamina to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues.  In his last two seasons in Japan’s Eastern League, Koji worked mostly out of the bullpen.  So far in his first season in Baltimore he’s shown a good ability to go through the opposition’s lineup through the first time or two, but has tailed off significantly past the fourth and fifth innings in almost every start.

MASN fans might remember the Mets starter for tonight, Tim Redding, from spending his last two seasons in the Washington Nationals rotation.  Since leaving the District via free agency this off-season, the 31-year old righty has battled through an early season DL stint and has put together three decent starts in his five chances with New York’s National League affiliate — he’s just been reeeally bad in the other two.  The problem for Redding is that he’s gotten no-decisions in each of his good starts and losses in both not-so-good; he’s 0-2 overall with a 6.18 ERA.

Here are lineups Koji and Redding will work against:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff- 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Luke Scott – DH
Nolan Reimold – LF
Matt Wieters – C
Robert Andino – SS

Metropolitans

Alex Cora – SS
Fernando Martinez – LF
Carlos Beltran – CF
David Wright – 3B
Ryan Church – RF
Gary Sheffield – DH
Daniel Murphy – 1B
Brian Schneider – C
Luis Castillo – 2B

Unfortunately for Guthrie and the O's, Wieters couldn't corral this Nolan Reimold throw from left in the fourth. (Courtesy: Lloyd Fox)

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So, Dave Trembley is Frustrated ???

Posted on 14 June 2009 by Rex Snider

So, I’m checking out Saturday’s edition of The Sun and I see Dave Trembley is starting to exhibit some signs of frustration. Is that perceived shield of armor that makes up the skipper’s persona starting to crack?

According to Sun reporter Jeff Zrebeic, Trembley wishes everyone “will just turn the page” when it comes to asking the same old questions. Really? And, does he ever think we might be tiring of the same old results?

While I’ll concede the Orioles find differing incidental reasons, which usually lead to losing respective games, the entirety of this MESS has been tied to one distinct root cause. It’s pretty obvious – they’ve been a very bad team for a very long time.

While I’m one of the guys who buys into Andy MacPhail’s stewardship, I really find it hard to believe his field general thought the “Summer of 2009” was gonna be anything more than an excruciating six month ordeal.

They broke camp with Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson in the rotation. Did Dave Trembley honestly think the season would be a success? Heck, he’ll be lucky to make it through Labor Day, without developing an ulcer.

Yeah, the Orioles lineup might’ve stranded 17 baserunners in last night’s game, much to Trembley’s chagrin. And, they’ve struggled to put runs on the board over the last couple weeks, but the pitching on this team has been AWFUL.

Here’s a telling stat – this pitching staff has surrendered 7 or more runs in 20 games. I don’t care how much an offense struggles – if the opposition is throwing up a touchdown, or more, you’re gonna lose.

For weeks, Drew Forrester has been saying “the Orioles are not trying to win.” God bless Drew, because he’s right. And, no, this is not some half-baked attempt to latch onto Drew’s crusade – I disagree with some of his opinions, including off-season options like Jon Garland or Derek Lowe.

But, Drew is absolutely correct, this team does not care about putting the best possible product on the field – with their own talent. For example, I’m still scratching my head over the demotion of David Hernandez. While Koji Uehara garnered a respectable contract during the off-season, he can’t carry Hernandez’s lunch.

Even a dimwitted talk show host, from Pasadena, can see it …..

You can bet Koji wasn’t activated from the DL and sent to the bullpen (where he was assigned, in Japan), because of the financial ties to that same contract and the appeal with Japanese media and fans.

That’s right, no mention of winning or losing in the equation, huh …..

How about Jason Berken and his 7-run ERA ??? Yep, there we go with the Orioles pitching staff and their “7-run problem,” again. While Berken struggles to strikeout batters, he can’t keep ‘em from scoring. He’s surrendered twice as many runs, as batters he’s struck out.

Say what you will, that equation will result in LOSSES.

Meanwhile, David Hernandez and his 3.95 ERA was shipped back to the minors, on Thursday. Never mind nearly a strikeout, per inning. Or, how about his Triple-A stats for this season? 60 strikeouts in 43 innings, 2.93 ERA and 1.090 WHIP, in 9 starts for the Norfolk Tides.

The Orioles are not ready to contend, that’s for sure. But, they are absolutely capable of putting a better product on the field. The fans of this city deserve it. Whether it’s the substantial commitment of purchasing ticket plans, buying merchandise or a monthly drop in the hat to Comcast or another cable provider, the people of Baltimore continue to pay for baseball.

I will not buy a ticket to watch Koji Uehara pitch …..

I will not buy a ticket to watch Jason Berken pitch …..

But, I would open the wallet for a night of baseball, featuring David Hernandez on the mound. I’ve watched him in his limited time in an Orioles uniform, and he’s been as good as anyone, and better than most.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard Hernandez isn’t ready for the big leagues. Really ….. and Jason Berken is ???

If Dave Trembley is really tired of the same questions, he should do something LEGITIMATE to change the course of what’s happened on the field, at Camden Yards. And, frankly, I’ve heard enough about the development of the team’s minor league system.

While I agree the backbone of any organization is found in the strength of its minor league franchises, those same “kids,” who are considered the jewels of this treasure chest are beginning to sniff around Baltimore’s city limits.

David Hernandez is one of those jewels. Although, he’s commonly overlooked for the likes of Arieta, Matusz, Tillman or Patton, this young man is arguably more overpowering and he’s truly dominated at every minor league level.

Andy MacPhail and Dave Trembley can’t honestly believe Koji Uehara or Jason Berken stand to put this team in a better position to win, whenever they take the mound. But, I’m sure the decision had something to do with money, rather than talent.

It is what it is …..

But, if Dave Trembley really is tired of losing, I’d suggest worrying a little less about the questions and stranded baserunners – and a little more about those 7-run games. And, how about going with the better player, regardless of a few bucks …..

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Another listless effort at the Yard, O’s fall 6-3

Posted on 11 June 2009 by Luke Jones

Another missed opportunity and another series loss.

Despite jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Orioles fell to the Seattle Mariners, 6-3, losing two out of three in their return to Camden Yards.

The wait for the Orioles’ offense to snap out of its two-week long funk is nearly as long as the seventh inning bomb Russell Branyan hit off Brian Bass that still hasn’t landed yet.

The pitching has performed—or not performed—just as we expected entering the season.  Despite ranking 13th out of 14 American League teams in ERA (5.17 entering Thursday night), young pitchers such as Brad Bergesen and the recently-demoted David Hernandez have shown glimpses of hope.  The bullpen has been solid—and at times, exceptional—when starters have been knocked out early over the last few weeks.

What we didn’t foresee was the mediocre performance from the Orioles’ bats, expected to be a strength in 2009.  The offense ranks ninth in the American League, hitting .264 entering Thursday.  Orioles’ hitters are batting just .222 in the month of June, leading to the recent collapse into the lonely, deep cellar of the AL East.

So, how did the Orioles respond tonight with a chance to gain a much-needed series win?

Inexplicably, the savior Matt Wieters was not in the lineup after posting back-to-back two-hit games against Seattle.  Yes, the returning Koji Uehara has a comfort level with backup Gregg Zaun, but isn’t it more important to get Wieters going offensively?

Unless Dave Trembley plans on sending Zaun behind the plate to catch Uehara every start, there’s no point in delaying Wieters’ first encounter with the Japanese pitcher.  Even if Zaun made miraculous use of the acclaimed Rosetta Stone software, it couldn’t have made that much of a difference tonight.

If he wasn’t going to be the catcher, Wieters should have been in the lineup tonight as the designated hitter with Luke Scott playing first base.  Ty Wigginton (hitting .222) has done nothing to warrant playing time at this point.  With a struggling offense, Trembley needs to go with any hot bat available—especially when it’s the top prospect in the big leagues trying to establish himself.

It makes little sense to sit Wieters after catching two games, especially with the rookie appearing to be on the verge of breaking out.

With former Orioles pitcher Garrett Olson taking the hill for Seattle,—having not started a game since May 31—the lineup figured to feast off the former prospect, but wrong again.  After a 27-minute rain delay, Olson settled down and pitched five solid innings, his only blemish being a two-run homer by Luke Scott in the first inning.

After watching Olson pitch his way right out of Baltimore over the past two seasons, it was frustrating watching him stifle the Orioles’ bats.

At this point, I’d love to see what Radhames Liz could do against this lineup, but, alas, he’s still with the organization, being pummeled in Norfolk.

The offensive famine won’t last forever, but the team-wide slump could not have come at a worse time attendance-wise.  The good vibes from Matt Wieters’ promotion less than two weeks ago have completely vanished—quite apparent with the sparse crowds for the three-game series with Seattle.

Perhaps the appeal of interleague play will draw some more fans to the gates over the next week, but the Orioles are providing few reasons to hand over the money to watch them play—even if it’s to watch Matt Wieters.

After all, there’s no guarantee he’s going to play anyway.

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Tonight's Orioles - Mariners Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Mariners Lineups

Posted on 11 June 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Tonight the Orioles and Seattle Mariners will meet in the rubber-game of the teams’ three-game set at 7:05pm downtown at Camden Yards.

Koji Uehara has officially returned from the disabled list and will be starting his first game tonight in almost three weeks for the O’s.  Back on May 23rd at Nationals Park in D.C. Uehara needed to be removed after completing just three innings due to a strain in his left hamstring.  In his nine starts before going down Koji went 2-3 with a 4.09 ERA.  He’s probably pitched better than his numbers would indicate, but it has to be at least a little eye opening, even with his DL stint, that he hasn’t picked up a victory since April 13th.

On the bump tonight for the Mariners will be a familiar face to Baltimore baseball fans.  Garrett Olson, who has been mostly pitching out of the Seattle bullpen, will make his third start for the M’s.  Before this season, Olson, who spent parts of the last two seasons with the Orioles, was sent packing to the Cubs for Felix Pie.  Chicago then flipped the lefty to Seattle with Ronny Cedeno for Aaron Heilman before in Spring Training.  On the year in total Olson has appeared in nine games and has a 4.93 ERA over 26.2 innings.

Here are night’s starting nine for each side:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Nick Markakis – RF
Adam Jones – CF
Luke Scott – DH
Melvin Mora – 3B
Nolan Reimold – LF
Ty Wigginton – 1B
Gregg Zaun – C
Robert Andino – SS

Mariners

Ichiro – RF
Russell Branyan – 1B
Adrian Beltre – 3B
Ken Griffey Jr. – DH
Jose Lopez – 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt – SS
Wladimir Balentien – LF
Guillermo Quiroz – C
Endy Chavez – CF

Uehara is back in action tonight and to make room the O's have sent down David Hernandez (Courtesy: Google Images)

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