Tag Archive | "Mark Hendrickson"

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It’s Sunday, which means O’s lose (8-5 to Nats)

Posted on 24 May 2009 by Drew Forrester

After escaping with two wins in the nation’s capital over the weekend (Palmer called them “fortunate” to win on Friday and Saturday…wonder if he’ll get a memo?), this one was almost expected.

The O’s blew an early 3-0 lead, fell behind, 4-3, then went ahead again in the 7th on an Adam Jones home run.

Unfortunately, the Birds relief corps – ever-reliable all weekend – couldn’t spit the hook this time around, as the Nats rallied for an 8-5 win on the heels of an Adam Dunn grand slam in the bottom half of the 7th.

Brad Bergesen was the starter for the O’s and there’s an argument he was more effective with the bat in his hands than the ball in his right palm.  Bergesen had a single, got on base another time via an error (shoulda been a hit too…but who cares?) and, if nothing else, showed he can be a threat if the O’s make the World Series this year and he has to pitch in the National League Champion’s ballpark.

On the mound, though, Bergesen was serviceable, at best.  He’s pretty good the first time through the lineup and holds his own the second time around too.  Once he’s seeing guys for the 3rd or 4th time, though, it’s not very pretty.  He was able to work into the 6th inning (8 hits, 4 earned runs) before giving the ball to Chris Ray and Jamie Walker, who combined to end the O’s modest 2-game winning streak with a horrific 7th inning.  I wonder if Adam Dunn took it personally when Dave Trembley intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn?  420 feet later, I’d say the answer was “yes”.

There’s not much to debate about the 7th inning.  Ray was the reasonable entry there (just get SOMEONE out…even the mascot) and it made sense to bring in a lefty to face Dunn.  Sure, Hendrickson could have been the choice, but Walker got the nod and promptly served up the grand-salami to the big lefthander.  Bad pitch by Walker…not necessarily a bad decision by Trembley, who makes his fair share of those when it comes to hurlers.

The Birds return home to face Toronto tomorrow afternoon, with “Pay Cut” going to the mound for the O’s.  After Guthrie’s start on Memorial Day, all eyes and ears will be focused on the Tuesday night starter at OPACY.  Trembley has said it’s NOT going to be someone currently on the 25-man roster, eliminating the likes of Brian Bass (as deserving as anyone…actually), Matt Albers (as an emergency?  sure…) and Mark Hendrickson (NOT deserving…).  It’s still anyone’s guess:  Chris Waters?  40% chance.  Jason Berken?  30% chance.  Troy Patton?  20% chance.  David Pauley?  10% chance.  

Odds that the O’s will make a choice that leaves everyone scratching their head?  77%

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5 Ws and 1 H

Posted on 17 May 2009 by Luke Jones

It’s easy to call the 134th Preakness a failure, but it would be more prudent to give the Maryland Jockey Club another year or two to see what can be done to bring the masses back to Pimlico.  The decision to prohibit patrons from bringing their own alcohol was obviously a major change to the culture of the Preakness, but creative thinking should be able to revive attendance.

However, will officials have another year or two to accomplish this?  It remains to be seen with the bankruptcy of Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of Pimlico.  The state government is taking measures to keep the Preakness in Baltimore, but nothing is a sure thing at this point.

Here are the 5 Ws and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who do you expect to be in the Orioles’ starting rotation by year’s end?  We’ve already seen two of the five Opening Day rotation members (Alredo Simon and Mark Hendrickson) replaced, and more changes are sure to come as the season continues.

The next starter on the chopping block would logically be Adam Eaton (2-4, 7.93 ERA).  The most likely candidates for a promotion at this point are Chris Tillman (4-0, 2.03 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk),  David Hernandez (3-1, 3.50 ERA at Norfolk), and Troy Patton (3-1, 1.32 ERA at Double-A Bowie).

Patton is the most intriguing option after missing all of last season with a torn labrum.  He was the top pitcher acquired in the five-player deal for Miguel Tejada.  The organization planned to keep him in the minor leagues for most of this season to regain his pre-injury form, but Patton’s numbers may force a promotion to the major leagues.  Patton has experience at Triple A and the major leagues, so the jump from Double A would not be much of a factor.

My guess for the Orioles’ rotation by season’s end is Jeremy Guthrie, Rich Hill, Chris Tillman, Troy Patton, and Brad Bergesen.

Though Koji Uehara has been the team’s most consistent starter, pitching in a five-man rotation—something he was not accustomed to doing in Japan—will likely cause him to wear down as the summer progresses.  Moving him to the bullpen by late August might save his arm and allow the Orioles to promote another young pitcher in the process.

2.  What are the odds that Derrick Mason’s revelation that he might miss most of training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery is related to his contract status?  Mason has made it known that he desires an extension with the Ravens beyond this season.

No one can question the 35-year-old receiver’s toughness after playing the second half of last season with a painful shoulder injury, but it wouldn’t be farfetched for Mason to take it easy during training camp to rest the shoulder and protect his health as he enters his last season under contract with the Ravens.

Even if this were more about his contract and less about his health, it wouldn’t figure to cause many problems, given his excellent timing with quarterback Joe Flacco.  It could even be a long-term plus, forcing Flacco to work more closely with the other receivers on the roster.

3.  Where would you most like to watch a baseball game?  The Orioles travel to the new Yankee Stadium for a three-game series beginning Tuesday, and WNST is even taking a bus full of Orioles fans to the Yankees’ new palace.

I’ve been to a few classics such as the old Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field as well as new beauties Citizens Bank Park and Camden Yards (of course!).

Watching two games at Wrigley was my favorite experience, especially sitting in the right-centerfield bleachers for an afternoon game.  It’s a great atmosphere, and Wrigleyville is a special baseball town.

Next up on the list of parks I want to see?  Dodger Stadium, but I’ll pass on a ticket in the Mannywood section.  Of the newer generation of parks, AT&T Park in San Francisco has been referred to as the Camden Yards of the West.  Hopefully it doesn’t get inhabited by Yankees and Red Sox fans in the same way.

4.  When was the last time the men’s lacrosse Final Four did not have a school from the state of Maryland competing?  The answer had been 1994 before Maryland and Johns Hopkins fell this weekend in the quarterfinals.  The 2009 Final Four at Gillette Stadium includes Syracuse, Virginia, Cornell, and Duke.

Dave Pietramala’s Blue Jays had gone to the Final Four six of the last seven years before falling to Virginia on Sunday.

5.  Why do the Orioles continue to play so poorly in the final game of nearly every series?  They had a chance to take three out of four from the Kansas City Royals, leading 3-1 on Sunday before Uehara gave up three runs in the sixth, and reliever Jim Johnson sealed the Orioles’ fate by surrendering three in the eighth.

The Orioles are now 2-11 in series-concluding games this season.  Their longest winning streak of the season stands at two games.  It’s hard to put together a successful stretch of games if you cannot finish off an opponent in a three- or four-game series.

In case you were thinking back to the dreaded Sunday record from last season, the Orioles are 1-5 in Sunday games this year.

6.  How unlucky was the injury to Maryland goalie Brian Phipps?  The junior injured (and likely tore) his left ACL after making a save late in the first quarter in the Terps’ loss to Syracuse on Saturday.

The injury drew the attention of ESPN who compared it to the Gus Frerotte human battering ram experiment and former Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica’s “tear-up-your-knee” celebration.

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Orioles upend Rays, 7-5

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Luke Jones

Despite a wild start to this one, the Orioles got an outstanding effort from the bullpen and center fielder Adam Jones, as they held on to defeat the Rays, 7-5.

Starter Mark Hendrickson lasted only two innings after surrendering five runs, but Brian Bass entered in the third and pitched four scoreless innings to bridge the gap to the later innings.  Danys Baez, Jim Johnson, and George Sherrill each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the victory.

Adam Jones sparked the offense with two home runs and drove in four runs.  The 23-year-old center fielder continues to be among the league leaders in batting average (.363) and leads the club with eight home runs.

Left fielder Felix Pie left the game in the fourth inning and was taken to the hospital with a stomach ailment.  If Pie is unable to recover for tomorrow’s game, the club will only have a two-man bench with Luke Scott unavailable until the start of the Kansas City series.  In case you were wondering, Nolan Reimold hit another home run for Triple-A Norfolk tonight.

All in all, not a bad ballgame despite the sloppy start for both teams.

The Orioles will go for the two-game sweep tomorrow night before leaving town on a 10-game road trip.  The Orioles will send rookie Brad Bergesen to the hill against Tampa Bay right-hander Jeff Niemann.

A reminder that WNST will be at Donna’s Tavern in Dundalk tomorrow night for the Coors Light King of Baltimore Sportstalk Competition semifinals.  Please come out and join us, and I thank the WNST audience for all of its support throughout the competition!

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What else can happen in this game?

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Luke Jones

As I sat down to watch tonight’s Rays-Orioles game, I expected another dull contest with Mark Hendrickson on the hill for what might be his last start before a returning Rich Hill bumps him to the bullpen.

Boy, was I wrong.

Not about Hendrickson—he was gone after giving up five runs in two innings of work—but this game has seen a little bit of everything.

We’ve seen 12 runs scored in four innings of baseball.

Adam Jones is looking more and more like a superstar in the making.

Juan Samuel can’t stop windmilling with his shoulder.

Neither team appears interested in hitting a cutoff man.

And the Orioles started the top of the fourth inning without a left fielder.  Apparently, Felix Pie had a bit of a stomach problem and left the game.

(Insert your favorite joke here about feeling the same way when you watch him play.)

This is definitely one of those head-scratching games the casual fan enjoys, but the baseball purist despises.

“Arena” baseball (as Jim Palmer likes to call it) at its finest.

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Tonight's Orioles - Rays Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Rays Lineups

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles will take the field at tonight at Camden Yards for a 7:05pm start against their A. L. East division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays.  The contest marks the beginning of a brief two-game mid-week series, which will be the sixth and seventh times these two have met already in this early ’09 season.  In such games the O’s are currently 3-2; they took two of three April 10-12 in Baltimore and split a pair at Tropicana Field May 4th and 5th.  By comparison, last season the O’s went just 3-15 against Tampa.

Mark Hendrickson, the O’s 6’9, 240lb left-hander, will be on the mound to start tonight’s game for manager Dave Trembley.  Hendrickson’s last appearance came in the “rain-game” last week against the Twins, and because of the long delays was only able to complete three innings.  However, it should be noted they were three excellent innings where Hendrickson allowed just one base-runner.  Even still, hopefully he’ll be well rested and ready to give his team some quality length, something Hendrickson is yet to do in his previous six starts.  He’s just 1-4 overall this year with an ERA of 5.14, and is yet to pitch a full six innings in any outing.

Taking the ball for the defending American League Champion Rays will be Andy Sonnanstine.  All the way back on April 10, in Sonnanstine’s first start of the year, the O’s knocked out the 26-year old righty after going just 4.2 innings and allowing five earned runs on 10 hits.  Since, he’s shown more of the ability that won him 13 games last season; in his last two outings Sonnanstine has thrown 13 innings and surrendered just four runs against the formidable lineups of the Red Sox and Yankees.

Here are the starting lineups for tonight’s series opener:


Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Lou Montanez – DH
Gregg Zaun – C
Felix Pie – LF
Cesar Izturis – SS


B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Willy Aybar, DH
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Gabe Kapler, RF
Dioner Navarro, C

The O's will try to keep Rays' speed-demon Carl Crawford off the bases in this two-game series. (Courtesy: AP)

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Tonight's Orioles - Yankees Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Yankees Lineups

Posted on 09 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Tonight the Orioles and Yankees will tangle in Game 2 of their three-game set at Camden Yards tonight at 7:05.  Let’s hope that tonight the Orioles offense gets the memo.

Over the span of a long baseball season, 162 games, some nights you got it – some nights you don’t.  Last night, the O’s O didn’t have it… and whatever “it” is, CC Sabathia definitely had it.  The home team only managed to scratch out four hits over nine innings of shutout baseball pitched by the Yankee ace.  Sabathia allowed back-to-back singles in the first and in the ninth, but was in cruise-control all night striking out eight and walking just one.  Alex Rodriguez, appearing in his season-debut,  hit a three-run homer off O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie on the first pitch he saw in the first inning to give the Yankees all the offense they would need.  It should be noted though, after the tough top of the first Guthrie did settle and keep his team in the ball game and pitched five shutout innings afterward and struck out eight batters.

Adam Eaton will take the mound tonight  in his fifth start of the year, and if he doesn’t pitch significantly better than he’s shown to date,  it might be one of his last.  Eaton still has not shown much in his opportunity in the rotation compiling a 1-3 record with an ERA over seven.  Rich Hill has been showing progress in getting stretched out in his rehab starts in the minors and might be knocking on the door soon.  Eaton or Mark Hendrickson could be the odd man out with any more sub-par performances from either.

22-year old Yankee right-hander Phil Hughes will make his third start of the season for the big club after spending the beginning of the season in triple-A Scranton – Wilkes-Barre.  Back on April 28th, Hughes allowed only two Detroit hits over six innings in a victory over the Tigers, but five days ago at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox he struggled and took the loss while failing to get his club any outs in the fifth before being removed.

Here are the game’s staring lineups:


Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Luke Scott – DH
Lou Montanez – LF
Gregg Zaun – C
Cesar Izturis – SS


Derek Jeter – SS
Johnny Damon – LF
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Alex Rodriguez – 3B
Hideki Matsui – DH
Nick Swisher – RF
Robinson Cano – 2B
Melky Cabrera – CF
Francisco Cervelli – C

Guthrie struck out 8 Yankees, but it wasn't enough to beat C.C. (Courtesy: MLB.com)

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Tonight's Orioles - Twins Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Twins Lineups

Posted on 07 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Tonight’s first pitch between the Orioles and Minnesota Twins is scheduled for 7:05 at Camden Yards.  Afterward, nine innings of baseball are expected to follow.  We hope.

Last night after thunder, lightning, torrential rain, and only six innings of baseball in over four hours, the O’s picked up a 4-1 win over the Twins.  The start of the game was delayed over 40 minutes and it wasn’t officially called until well past midnight in Baltimore.  At the plate, Nick Markakis hit a solo home run in his first AB and collected two RBI’s while Luke Scott connected on a two-run shot in the fourth inning to give the Orioles all the offense they needed.  Mark Hendrickson, the O’s starting pitcher, got off to a great start but was only able to throw three complete innings before a long delay ended his night.  Brian Bass picked up the win out of the bullpen, but did surrender an earned run in his 2.2 innings.

Tonight Dave Trembley will trot out 23-year old right-hander, Brad Bergesen, whom will be making the fourth start of his young career.  Through his previous three outings he’s registered a 1-0 record with two no-decisions.  Last Saturday in Toronto he pitched a full six innings for the first time in the big leagues and only yielded three earned runs in what turned out to be a 5-4 Oriole loss in 11 innings.

Going tonight for the Twins will be left-hander Glen Perkins.  The 26-year old, 12-game winner from a season ago has had mixed results in the early stages of ’09.  His first three starts of the year were very, very good.  He went eight innings in each and only allowed three runs over the entire span against the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Angels.  As for his two most recent appearances… not as good.  After a loss at Cleveland, Perkins gave up five earned and allowed 10 hits over five innings and took the no-decision in a Twin loss to the Royals.  I would imagine manager Ron Gardenhire would prefer to see to Perkins revert back to his early-early season form this evening.

Here are the respective lineups for tonight’s game:


Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Melvin Mora – 3B
Aubrey Huff – DH
Ty Wigginton – 1B
Lou Montanez – LF
Gregg Zaun – C
Cesar Izturis – SS


Denard Span – CF
Matt Tolbert – 2B
Joe Mauer – C
Justin Morneau – 1B
Jason Kubel – DH
Joe Crede – 3B
Matthew Cuddyer – RF
Delmon Young – LF
Nick Punto – SS

Four rain delays and only six innings later, an O's win (Courtesy: Baltimore Sun Photos)

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Tonight’s Orioles – Twins Lineups

Posted on 06 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles will begin a six-game home stand with a match-up tonight against the Minnesota Twins.  The game’s first pitch will be at 7:05pm downtown at Camden Yards… and playing there… hopefully… will be a good thing!

So far this season the Birds own a pedestrian 7-8 record playing in front of their home crowd in Baltimore, but that’s much better than the 3-9 mark they’ve posted while on the road.  Their last road-trip, all against division opponents in Toronto and Tampa, yielded just one victory in five tries.  Fortunately, manager Dave Trembley’s bunch play their next three series wearing white as they’ll take on the Twins the next two nights with the Yankees and and Rays making trips to Charm City over the weekend and in the middle of next week.

Mark Henrickson, the O’s 6’9 240lb left-hander, will make his sixth start of the season tonight against the Twinkies.  The bad news for Orioles fans, and Hendrickson, is that each start he’s made has been progressively worse than the one that preceded it.  In his first outing of the season he went 6.1 innings and only gave up one earned resulting in a W for him and team, but everything since, has been downhill.  At 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA, Henrickson obviously hasn’t been in the win column since his great debut.  Last Friday in Toronto he opposed Roy Halladay and surrendered a season-high nine hits and gave up four earned in five-plus innings .

Kevin Slowey gets the ball tonight for Minnesota and manager Ron Gardenhire in his first start since turning 25-years old two days ago.  He’s been the recipient of outstanding run support so far this season and has accumulated a flawless 4-0 record, but with it carrying an ERA of 5.17.  Slowey’s last outing is a perfect illustration of his fortunate luck; he gave up five earned through only five innings, but his teammates picked him up with 6 runs over the 4th and 5th innings to get him the win in a 7-5 game.

Here are the starting nine for both squads for tonight:


Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Luke Scott – DH
Gregg Zaun – C
Felix Pie – LF
Cesar Izturis – SS


Denard Span – LF
Matt Tolbert – 2B
Brenden Harris – SS
Justin Morneau – 1B
Michael Cuddyer – RF
Joe Crede – 3B
Delmon Young – DH
Mike Redmond – C
Carlos Gomez – CF

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Tonight’s Orioles – Blue Jays Lineups

Posted on 01 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles have hit the road and will be in Toronto tonight when they take on the Blue Jays at 7:07 in the opener of a three-game weekend series at the Rogers Centre.  It’s also the first of a five-game trip against division opponents away from Baltimore as they’ll be in Tampa to play the Rays this coming Monday and Tuesday.

As they travel north of the border, unfortunately they bring with them a three-game losing streak, which has come on the tail end of a stretch where they’ve lost 11 of their last 14.  Not good, especially considering they’ll be playing a Blue Jays squad that has gotten off to nice start at 15-9 overall.

Mark Hendrickson will have the ball in his hands to start tonight’s game for the road team.  So far in his first season pitching for the Orioles the big left-hander hasn’t exactly put up big numbers; he’s just 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in his four starts.  Almost amazingly, in his last appearance, a loss against Texas, he allowed a home run to the Rangers lead-off hitters in the first, second, and third innings.  And a little did you know tidbit… Hendrickson broke in with the Blue Jays and compiled a 12-9 record in the ’02 and ’03 seasons.

The Orioles’ starting nine will have the unenviable task of facing one of the game’s best starters when Roy Halladay stands 60 feet 6 inches from them this evening.  The Jays ace and workhorse has already picked up four wins this season and has been a rock in a Toronto rotation that has been devastated by injuries the last two seasons.  The 2005 A.L. Cy Young Award winner led the league in innings, complete games, and WHIP last year in ’08.  He also made two starts against the Birds last season and went 2-0, pitching seven-plus outstanding innings both times out.

Here are the teams’ batting orders:


Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Melvin Mora – 3B
Luke Scott – LF
Ty Wigginton – DH
Gregg Zaun – C
Cesar Izturis – SS

Blue Jays

Marco Scutaro – SS
Aaron Hill – 2B
Alex Rios – RF
Vernon Wells – CF
Adam Lind – DH
Scott Rolen – 3B
Kevin Millar – 1B
Rod Barajas – C
Jose Bautista – LF

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O’s today: It’s already time to start thinking about trades

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Drew Forrester

It’s not even May yet and we’re already talking about the trade deadline and who might go and who might stay.

THIS, is Birdland, 2009.

With Wednesday’s matinee loss to the Angels, the Birds have now dropped 11 of their last 14 games and any excitement from the club’s early 6-2 record has quickly dripped away.

I fully realize the club spent most of Winter ’08-09 saying – and proving, in their actions – “we’re not going to win anyway…” — but folks in these parts couldn’t help but get their blood pumping a little when the team raced out to that great start with series wins over New York, Tampa Bay and Texas.

The last two weeks, though, have seen a return to reality.

Worst of all?  It’s going to get worse (again) before it gets better.

The team’s “issues” right now far outweigh any of the positives.

The #1 starter on the team has scuffled through his first five starts and doesn’t seem to have the same sharpness as he did a year ago.  Of course, it could (emphasis on COULD) have something to do with that $120,000 pay cut they offered Jeremy Guthrie to get his spring off to a rousing start…or perhaps it’s fallout from the ill-timed World Baseball Classic in March…or, maybe Guthrie has just missed a pitch or two that changed the course of a couple of early season games.  It might be a combination of all three.  Whatever the case, Guthrie is no longer the rescue-squad leader of a year ago, when he was just about an automatic 7-inning eater when he took the mound.

If Guthrie doesn’t pitch well, the Orioles are in trouble.  More trouble, I should say.

The club’s defense – thought to be a strong point at the outset of the season – has recently dipped into the “semi-liability” category and that, as much as anything else, is a reason why the club labored through a 3-6 homestand.  Seven errors in those 9 games…several of which were routine-ish type plays — and gaffes by typically reliable Nick Markakis highlighted the recent fall in the American League East. 

More than anything else, though, two issues continue to plague the team and will no doubt be season-long scabs if they’re not attended to soon.

The team can’t pitch very well.

And the bottom 3rd of the team’s lineup can’t hit.

With Guthrie off-key, the pressure mounts on the team’s other four starters to get the job done.  Koji Uehara has been better more times than not, but he’s not a savior by any means.  Once through the American League, we’ll have a better idea of Uehara’s long-term value, but he’s looking more and more like he’s going to be “just OK” instead of a world-beater.  The O’s don’t need “just OK” though.  They need better — and it doesn’t look like the trio of Hendrickson-Eaton-Bergesen will give them much.  All three have enjoyed one very good start and not much else.  Bergesen, two starts into his major league career, leans far too much on his low ’90’s fastball and offers little variety.  Without a breaking ball in the major leagues – or at least a nasty “out pitch” – you’re not going to get very far.  Hendrickson and Eaton are both on short-term leases but they still play vital roles while the club waits on the young-pitching-calvary. 

The bullpen has either been great — or — terrible.  Oddly enough, Danys Baez has probably been the team’s best thrower in relief.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with those guys.  They either come in trailing 7-1 in the 3rd and hold the opposition to 2 hits and 0 runs over the last 6 innings.  Or, they enter the game protecting a 4-2 lead and can’t get anyone out for 25 minutes and cough up 4 runs in 2.1 innings to lose, 6-4.

The bullpen isn’t bad, per-se.  They’re a stronger unit than the starters, for sure.  But they’re not nearly reliable enough for a team that needs stability. 

So, as May rolls around and teams start to fine tune their line-up and get serious, the O’s are likely going to settle not-so-comfortably in the basement of the American League East. 

That leaves a couple of months for the club to start pondering their trade deadline nuggets.  At this point, I’d say the only field players that are absolutely off-limits would be Markakis, Jones and Wieters.  Even though they signed Roberts to a nice, new deal in January — and I’m the guy who has ALWAYS said Roberts has to be here — I’d approve a July deal that sends Roberts off to another team just to give him his chance to shine in a winning environment for once in his career.

Huff?  Sure, I’d trade him.  Scott?  Yep.  And almost none of the pitchers are off-limits, including Guthrie.  In fact, if this promised calvary of young arms is as “slam dunk” as the team is telling the fans they are, I’d have a Jeremy Guthrie yard sale in July and make Guthrie the prime discount offering.  I like Guthrie as a pitcher.  But he’s expendable at this point.  And think about this.  Huff is a free agent at the end of ’09.  Is he going to want to re-up here in Baltimore and lose 90 games again in 2010 and, perhaps, 2011?  I say he won’t.  So, with that in mind, the club needs to start thinking ahead for a first baseman with some pop in his bat.  A July deadline deal for Huff or Guthrie might pry away some other team’s hot shot first base prospect or young major leaguer, like the Braves did in ’08 when they peddled Teixeira to the Angels in exchange for Casey Kotchman.

I know it’s early, but it’s obvious by now that these pieces of the puzzle aren’t going to fit together for 162 games. 

The team, at some point, will have to elevate some of their young minor leaguers to Baltimore just to keep THEM interested and to keep the fans interested. 

In the meantime, the next 10 weeks will be nothing more than filler until mid-July rolls around and teams start thinking about the playoffs and who they can steal from the lower-rung franchises. 

In the case of the Orioles, perhaps they should be proactive, not reactive.  Make a deal NOW, like the Indians did a year ago with Sabathia and the Brewers.  See if anyone wants Guthrie or Huff now.  Fleece someone for a first base prospect, a third base prospect or a left fielder who can actually field and produce a batting average higher than his weight. 

I know “we’re not going to win anyway” but it sure hurts to see the team be this bad, this early.

Let’s get something out of it, if nothing else.

And when the team starts looking like they really are trying to win, I hope the fans go back to the ballpark.  Until then, I suspect folks are going to stay away in droves.

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