Tag Archive | "Mark Reynolds"

Your Monday Reality Check-If Pitchers And Catchers Report And No One Cares…

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Your Monday Reality Check-If Pitchers And Catchers Report And No One Cares…

Posted on 20 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Stop me if you heard this one before.

If Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training but no one has ever heard of them before, did it actually happen?

To at least some extent, that was the case in Sarasota this weekend. Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers reported to Ed Smith Stadium for an opportunity to prepare for a run towards the AL East crown introduce themselves to the men they now call teammates.

A year ago, there was a level of false hope about what a full season under manager Buck Showalter and the arrivals of veteran MLB players like Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds could do for baseball in Charm City. There is of course none of that in 2012, but you already knew that.

To be fair, I’m as surprised as you that Endy Chavez fever simply hasn’t spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

The start of Spring Training (most O’s pitchers had actually arrived in Sarasota in advance of this weekend’s report date) produced neither excitement nor as much as a batted eye to baseball fans in Baltimore this year. I will admit that I did not miss the insufferable “Happy New Year” updates on Facebook and Twitter from snobby baseball fans who are unaware their favorite sport is no longer our national pastime, but that’s the only good thing to be said.

It strikes me on this Monday that I honestly find myself pining for a year in which expectations (or at least hopes) for mediocrity fizzled into just another miserable summer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I’m not pining over memories of a World Series run or even a relevant game on Labor Day. I’m pining for a team that mattered…at least a little bit…on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s that bad.

Some of you will likely use the comments section here to accuse me of wasting hundreds of words on taking a shot at the Orioles. I don’t know that I’ll really bother to argue much with you.

There will be plenty of storylines between now and Opening Day, it’s just that none of them will be interesting.

Someone will have to start against the Minnesota Twins on April 6. Zach Britton is the easy fan favorite, but will have to show his shoulder is 100 percent to even get into the competition. The team will reportedly have to line up four more starters behind whoever goes out for Game 1, despite the fact that you’d be hard pressed to name three quality pitchers in the group of 30 that showed up this weekend.

They also need one of those pitchers to finish games. Jim Johnson is the guy fans most want to see get the role. Fans’ second choice? Anyone not named Kevin Gregg.

Brian Roberts’ health will be the closest we come to seeing something compelling in March. A healthy Roberts would by no means guide the team towards contention, but it would be nice to see the veteran second baseman return to the field instead of being ushered into retirement. Barring injury all other starting positions on the field are set. That’s of course part of the problem, as even with talented players like JJ Hardy, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones suiting up there’s little hope of producing enough against the staffs in Boston, New York and Tampa Bay.

There will be some competition for bench jobs, but that excitement will wear off before I can finish typing the names Matt Antonelli and Jai Miller. But hey! Look over there! It’s Nick Johnson! I’ve heard of him!

We’re going to attempt to have some relevant baseball conversation over the course of the next few weeks. All of it will involve the phrase “not like it really matters, but…” at some point. If it doesn’t, the conversation will probably be started by someone asking “have you heard anything more about those rumors that Peter Angelos is thinking about selling the team?”.

We can only pray that at some point Dan Duquette makes an off-color comment about Brian Cashman’s off-field exploits to momentarily make the Birds interesting. If you’re not, rest easy knowing I certainly am. I’d settle for a rumor that Oil Can Boyd was going to get coked up and make a start at OPACY to promote his new book.

(Now that I’ve typed those words, I actually think it’s a hell of an idea. Please pass it along to someone.)

Yes, it’s baseball season again in Baltimore. Anyone wanna talk about Justin Boren’s future in purple?

-G

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The Reality Check Starting Nine Orioles Rock Bottom Team

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The Reality Check Starting Nine Orioles Rock Bottom Team

Posted on 08 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Ryan Chell and I introduced a new segment Wednesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. The segment is called “The Starting Nine (Ten)” and is remarkably similar to “The Tuesday Top 7″ that you hear Drew Forrester and Luke Jones doing every week.

During Major League Baseball season, we’ll use “The Starting Nine (Ten)” to pick out the best players at each position in baseball (Pitcher, Catcher, DH, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and three OF’s). It’s similar to how “The Morning Reaction” guys select the best Baltimore Ravens every week in season.

Outside of baseball season, we’ll select a topic and fill a roster with the same positions based on the topic.

For example, this week’s topic was “The Faces of the Rock Bottom Era of Orioles Baseball (1998-present).”

Here are “The Starting Nine (Ten)” Ryan and I put together…

Glenn Clark’s Nine (Ten):

Pitcher-Daniel Cabrera

Catcher-Brook Fordyce

First Base-Garrett Atkins

Second Base-Delino DeShields

Shortstop-Brandon Fahey

Third Base-Mark Reynolds

Outfield-Felix Pie

Outfield-Marty Cordova

Outfield-Larry Bigbie

Designated HItter-Vladimir Guerrero


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Happy 5th Anniversary to my Free The Birds friends who want change for Baltimore baseball

Posted on 21 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been watching the Baltimore Orioles since 1973 and I’m not sure any of us could’ve predicted what this franchise was to become back in the late 1980’s when Camden Yards was built, our city was starved without football and the Colts had split town.

It’s amazing now because most of the people in my company and many of you reading this under the age of 35 do not remember the Colts at all. Or a time when there was no purple. Or when there was no shiny stadia downtown that we all take for granted.

I watched William Donald Schaefer fight for all of this. I watched John Steadman politic and report through all of this as a colleague and a kid at The News American. I watched the first shovel go in the ground downtown. I was at that magical game in 1988 when all of this civic planning was announced on the backend of an 0-21 start that invigorated the renaissance of not only the Orioles but this community as a whole. I wrote more than 75,000 words on this topic five years ago. You can read all of it here…

I was there for all of it. I’ve got some perspective on just how incredibly foolish this all looks – the Orioles who drew 3.6 million people now barely getting a legitimate 1 million people through the turnstiles from the interior Baltimore community. Let’s face it: if it weren’t for a few tourists and 18 games a year against the Red Sox and Yankees, the place would be empty every night. Even on nights when they give away bobbleheads and orange T-shirts, they don’t have enough productive players to even get the promotions right. How many years in a row will they hand out an item for a player who isn’t even on the team?

Sheesh. Starting with all of the craziness of Peter G. Angelos in 1993, I could write a f**king book.

Well, actually, I did…and it’s all right here.

The civic devastation and their annual derelict status in the AL East (and in all of sports, really) makes them so insignificant as to not even be criticized by most national media and the locals are never going to say a word while their companies collect advertising checks from Angelos, via MASN or the Orioles.

The black cat is out of the bag – there’s intense financial greed behind that legal façade of Peter G. Angelos and that’s just fine, I suppose, if your audience participates in the Fantasyland charade of the Orioles attempting to compete to win a championship in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles are funded by you — the cable television buyer. You give your money to them – specifically MASN — through a third party. I bet if you got a bill every month for a couple of bucks from MASN – and it were optional – you and 99% of the state of Maryland would opt to NOT have MASN.

The same way I opt to not have Sirius radio, an IPad or a newer car.

I don’t like anything about the fact that $3 a month of my money goes directly to Peter Angelos under some mystical civic umbrella and trust that he’s investing it back into making the Orioles a better baseball team for the citizens of Baltimore.

That’s clearly not happening these days.

And that’s not my lie. That’s from Angelos himself. Here’s the direct link to our friends over at Pressbox, who take a check from Angelos and get “inside access” and get to ask questions once every decade. This is from 2006 when the Greek God of Losses told Stan Charles that MASN would change the team’s fortunes via increasing the payroll.

Instead, Andy MacPhail came out from underneath a rock in New York and came to Baltimore to quell the insurrection and help Mr. Angelos better understand the way to the profitland of Major League Baseball. Just like he did for many years for the Tribune Company and the Cubs, who now are entangled in the ownership of The Baltimore Sun.

It’s amazing how most Baltimore sports fans in town have no idea how the business of baseball and MASN and free agency and the MLB draft all work. Angelos clearly preys on the naïve nature of the local sports fans who are being fed the new “company line” that MacPhail has parroted through all of his worthless years here in Baltimore: “We just don’t have enough money to compete with those evil teams in Boston and New York.”

My other McFail favorite is this one: “We’ll grow the arms and buy the bats.”

Yeah, what bats? Mark Reynolds? Garrett Atkins? Cesar Izturis?

I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the end of the Orioles demise or the bottom of the proverbial barrel in this macabre tale of “How to Wreck a Baseball Franchise for a Local Community.” Given the state of the franchise and the fact that they’ll be looking for another “leader” who’s given “full control of the baseball operations” in two weeks, it’s pretty apparent that Angelos and the Orioles will still be big spenders of Syd Thrift’s “Confederate money” this offseason.

Angelos clearly bunkered down five years after Free The Birds. He was angry. He was humiliated. He took my press pass. He issued an edict to every member of the franchise to treat me like a pariah, even though it’s pretty clear that I love the team more than any of those people because I’m willing to face the hard reality and 14 years worth of facts.

Sure, Baltimore came back on the home jerseys a few years (I told Drew Forrester then that it was an empty gesture that wouldn’t improve the team) and Andy MacPhail was brought in to stabilize the organization (at least in the minds of the fans) and put a set of spectacles on it so it could look semi-legitimate.

Everything has been fine since Sept. 21, 2006 except for the fact that the team never won, stars haven’t emerged and accountability continues to be non-existent. Oh, and the fact that the man running the team at the time killed himself a few weeks ago.

The death of Mike Flanagan would be a tragedy anytime, anywhere. It’s a story that’s among the saddest I’ve ever heard as a Baltimore journalist. But amidst his suicide, there’s a story that must be told of his relationship with Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore fanbase.

Someday I might be the one who tells that story. But for now, I continue to grieve his loss with his family and attempt to help them heal.

Flanagan’s death has made my phone ring off the hook with former teammates, loved ones and people in the baseball community who are reaching to me to find out what happened.

I know a lot more about what happened than what I’m telling out of respect to Flanny’s family and loved ones. But I know the truth. And the truth should and will be told at an appropriate time.

And, rest assured, the truth isn’t going to make the Orioles look very good or make you feel any better about Peter Angelos’ ownership here in Baltimore.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be Tippy Martinez or Jim Palmer or Rick Dempsey or Boog Powell — when you walk around your hometown every minute of every day getting recognized by people over 45 who don’t know whether to console you, hug you or engage you in any sort of baseball chatter because let’s be honest – the only reason we’d know who any of the former Orioles are is because of baseball. It’s the one thing that bonds us.

And, really, none one of us wants to discuss the Orioles or Angelos or the situation with Mike Flanagan when they’re in last place the entire topic of baseball, suicides and World Series take a backseat to the purple football machine in the fall.

But, therein lies the problem.

No one EVER says ANYTHING.

I hate to say it, but YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

So, embrace that statement, stew about it, send me “F**K YOU!” letters, sharpen your pens and your wit.

And then send them to Peter Angelos and see if the 82-year old can find your thoughts on his Facebook page.

The local media here is such a civic disgrace that they should be ashamed of themselves for burying the topic of the Orioles’ ineptitude and profit line and intentions. And you should be ashamed of yourselves if you tune into any of the Orioles “media partners” (it should say “protectors”) and believe a word any of these hosts and personalities say. They’re all told what they can and can’t say and when they can say it.

CBS & WJZ = guilty

WBAL = guilty

The Sun = perhaps the most guilty because their unique selling point and marketing tool is “credibility” and “knowledge of the community” and “journalism”

Pull Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Gerry Sandusky or Mark Viviano up on the side and ask them what THEY REALLY THINK. Ask any of these “local leaders” and “trusted experts” off the record how they’ve been treated. Ask them how they’ve seen people treated around the organization. Ask them what Mike Flanagan told them about the team when he was running it and beyond.

I saw 15 Baltimore reporters crowded around a young Ravens cornerback named Cary Williams in a locker in Nashville three days and yet no one can make their way to downtown Baltimore to interview a guy who has chased 2.5 million people out of downtown on summer nights and destroyed local business in such a profound way as to be the most powerful man in the state?

Disgraceful…

Ask ANY bar and restaurant owner or anyone involved in the beer industry about whether their businesses would be stronger if the Orioles actually existed in their establishments on summer nights.

I’ve asked them ALL. And there’s not one who doesn’t want to see a stronger baseball franchise in Baltimore.

I go into bars all summer long and see that many don’t even put the Orioles games on their televisions these days. And that’s just in the suburbs.

I live in downtown Baltimore. The city comes to life when events prosper and the community swells with pride. The U2 concert was amazing. The IRL brought tons of new faces into the city that hadn’t been this happy near the Convention Center since the All Star Fanfest in July 1993. The Caps-Predators game last night was an incredible event – bringing 11,000 into the First Mariner Arena and stimulating commerce throughout downtown for a night.

The Orioles success and their verve and mojo doesn’t seem so far away to me. I remember it all. I wrote 19 chapters about it and you can click here and begin that journey if you’re really interested in my thoughts and my rationale and my legitimacy.

I’m not some hack journalist from out of town coming into Baltimore to tell you what to think. I’m not an out-of-town media leader.

I’m a citizen. I’m a taxpayer. I paid to get Camden Yards built back in the 1980’s. My city tax dollars fronted that IRL mish-mash three weeks ago. I own a business in Baltimore County. I employ people and put them to work and I trade off of ONE THING: your trust!

The team routinely doesn’t spend money. They’ve made far more money losing than they’d ever make trying to win. That’s just a fact.

And, right now and for the past decade, that’s been exploited and profiteered from by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. We’ve got a dead Cy Young Award winner who worked for the company for most of 38 years and his life became so entangled that he put a gun to his head and ended his life less than a month ago.

Who’s going to ask the tough questions?

And when is Angelos or anyone at Major League Baseball going to answer them?

Winning is not as profitable as losing. And when the citizens of the state are paying the freight and there’s only tens of millions of guaranteed profit every year, apparently popularity or civic pride or winning ownership and respect for tradition doesn’t factor into the equation for Peter Angelos.

If the richest guy in the state isn’t interested in winning a World Series then the Baltimore Orioles might as well just leave town and return when they’re ready to win.

It’s such a fragile trust to begin with in Baltimore, where Angelos was a resident and apparently unmoved by the Mayflower vans or any of the chicanery of Bob Irsay back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when he did a beauty tour that was a disgrace to everyone but him.

The story of Angelos and his wrecking machine for the baseball traditions of our community is a legendary, well-told tale that as Ronnie Milsap once sang: “It’s too sad to write.”

Free The Birds is five years old today.

What will the Orioles look like five years from today?

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Now it’s time to say good bye..

Posted on 07 September 2011 by Keith Melchior

to one of the Orioles fam il eee…. B R I A N M….A T U S Zeeeeee.  (Sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse club closing song)

Sad but true…

Brian Matusz, one of those fabled young arms that was going to lead the Orioles to the promised land in the 2010-2020 era, needs to be sent packing. Plain and simple. Thanks, but no thanks, clean out your locker, pack your bags,  and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.  Your time here is done, kid. We can’t afford to throw you out there every 5th day and watch you get lit up like a roman candle on the 4th of July.  Go fix yourself and if you can hook up with another team, best of luck to you.

The numbers speak for themselves. The pitcher, who led the charge of Buck Showalter’s 34-23 finish to 2010 and gave the team and fans so much promise to finally get over the top in 2011,  got himself hurt in spring training and lost it, all of it. He had 1 decent outing when he returned against a weak hitting Oakland A’s team. If you can call 5 1/3 innings, with 95 pitches decent. It seems like none of the Oriole starters can get into the 7th inning on a consistent basis, so 5 1/3 on this team is a quality start. Since then, Matusz has gone something like 0-8 with an ERA close to the cost of a beer at M&T Bank Stadium.

But he’s not the only one who needs a change of scenery….

Vladimir Guerrero -  Had the Orioles gotten him 8 years ago, they may have been able to make a few playoff runs. But that was when Vlad was a feared hitter and RBI machine. Now, he’s at the very end of his career and just hanging on for a paycheck. His lack of production proves it.

Jeremy Guthrie  – Yeah, the guy pitches his ass off. Yeah, he’s been on bad teams. Yeah, he’s not a true #1 starter.  BUT he  cannot win baseball games in Baltimore.  Jim Palmer was saying last night Guthrie will probably get to the 200 inning plateau within 4 more starts. That’s great Jim, but he is not even going to win 10 games this season.  So, he eats up innings, so did Russ Ortiz      (Ortiz probably ate BETWEEN innings)  but Guthrie’s not a winner. Don’t pass around that BS about lack of run support. He’s hurt this team early and often on numerous occasions and has given up an average of 29 HR per season. In 2011 he’s won 1 game a month. For the 2nd time in 3 years, he leads the league is losses (17 in 2009, 17 thus far in 2011)  He’s 32 years old has a career record of 44-65.  He has averaged barely 9 wins per season over his 5 years in Baltimore. He’s NOT going to get better.   Thanks, but no thanks.  Time to go.  Catch on to another team and win 20 games and a Cy Young award.  Best wishes.

Mark Reynolds -   This guy is the classic Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde type player.  Reynolds as a 3rd baseman STINKS.  He has an .897 fielding % to go along with his 26 errors and is the worst for 3rd basemen in team history. He is so bad at 3rd base he makes Craig Worthington, Rick Schu,  and Wayne Gross look like they were reincarnations of Brooks Robinson.  Now, Reynolds the 1st baseman is totally refreshing with no errors in 26 games and has made quite a few spectacular plays. The team really needs to make a decision on whether Reynolds is going to be their future 1st baseman. He is a major liability at 3rd. His HR production doesn’t offset the multi-strikeout games and the cast iron in his glove. First base or bust.

Luke Scott – a selfish baseball player if I ever saw one. Scott is nothing but a streaky hitter which means he is inconsistent at best. He felt the curse of being the Oriole MVP in 2010 by having issues with the  labrum in his right arm/shoulder area. He stupidly tried to play through the pain and shame on the organization for even allowing it.  His lack of production hurt a team fighting for mediocrity. It came at a time where they really needed to win baseball games to help build the confidence of their young pitching staff. Losing became  contagious and  Scott ends up on the DL.  Luke Scott is a liability in left field anyway, and was taking at-bats away from guys like Felix Pie (who never got it going, then was sent packing)  and Nolan Reimold (who has produced more with less chances) Scott should have been traded after last year’s success when he had value. Now they are stuck with him. Unless he is going to be the full time DH, there isn’t a spot for him on the team.

Kevin Gregg – Closers are a dime a dozen. Just ask Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara. They both did it and look what happened to them. If you pitch well and are any good , you might get traded to a team that can use your talents for a playoff run. If you aren’t any good, you become the Orioles’ closer.

Brian Roberts – The Orioles dumped Jerry Hairston Jr because he was “injury prone”  Brian Roberts happened to be the guy who replaced Hairston. Look what has happened to Roberts over the last 2 seasons… You’d like to see him return next season and repeat his 2008/2009 seasons. But wasn’t that about the time he admitted taking a PHD? Hmmmm…I think it’s time to start grooming a new 2nd baseman and quickly.

Andy MacPhail -  It was reported that MacPhail wouldn’t be returning as the Orioles GM or whatever lame title they gave him. I was not a MacPhail fan before and he surely hasn’t done anything with this club to make me a fan now.  Why people gave him a pass is beyond me. He was the GM in Minnesota from 1985-1994 and the Twins won the World Series in 1987 and again 1991 under his watch. He joined the Cubs as CEO/President in 1995 and was with them until 2006. He also served as the GM from 2000-2002.  The Cubs did nothing under MacPhail the  GM, but they did win the division in 2003 after he returned to his full time duties as President and CEO.   With MacPhail in control, his teams went to the playoffs a total of 4 times in 21 years with 2 World Series titles.  So, please  help me understand why this guy is supposed to walk on water?  He came to Baltimore with his BS rebuilding plan in 2007 and here it is 4 1/2 seasons later and the organization has gotten progressively worse averaging about 94 losses the last 5 seasons.   Whether his hands have been tied by the owner or not,  I say good riddance.

Last but not least…..

Two other guys who need to be sent packing as well;

Joe Angel and Fred Manfra – These two have to be the worst team of announcers in any sport, period.  Angel constantly using his phony accent trying to pronounce a Latin player’s name as well as his ending statement “the Orioles are in the ____ column” and Manfra saying a player’s name over and over and over and over and over again during a single at-bat makes for a pretty BAD radio broadcast. Angel has always been a Jon Miller wannabe. Manfra is a “I wish I was.”  These two have had to endure the stretch of losing seasons and it shows in their play by play. Their shtick is as old and crusty as they are and it’s time for them to retire. As much as I love the Orioles, I really hate listening to them on the radio while in the car.  It’s just plain bad.

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Orioles sign Esposito, Delmonico early; get Dylan Bundy signed with seconds to spare

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Orioles sign Esposito, Delmonico early; get Dylan Bundy signed with seconds to spare

Posted on 15 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Well, it came down to the final seconds, but Dylan Bundy‘s an Oriole.

Nearing the 12 PM deadline to sign their draft picks, Baltimore finally got it done with the Owasso High School (OK) pitcher in Bundy, who received a major league deal according to the Baltimore Sun.

Bundy becomes only the third high school pitcher in the last decade to sign a major-league deal, joining two Detroit Tigers in Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner.

He likely will receive deals comparable to Porcello’s signing with the Tigers and Josh Beckett’s signing with the Marlins in the 1990′s.

Baseball America is reporting that Bundy’s deal includes 4 million in just a signing bonus, which would boost his contract all the way up to an estimated six million+ dollars in compensation.

Bundy, 18, went 11-0 with a 0.50 ERA in allowing only two earned runs in 71 innings of action.

He struck out 158 opposing hitters while only walking five batters. His pitches average out at 97 MPH, according to his coach, Larry Turner, who joined WNST back in May.

Bundy will likely report to Single-A Aberdeen to finish the season. Bundy’s brother, Bobby, is a pitcher in the organization for the Bowie Baysox.

Because he signed a major league deal, he will be added to the 40-man roster and sending him to Aberdeen will exhaust one of his options, but this will hasten his trip to the big leagues.

And, if there are any concerns going forward about the third base position in Baltimore, a move Monday certainly helped maybe provide a solution down the road for the Orioles.

The Orioles reached an agreement in principle with second round pick Jason Esposito, a college junior out of Vanderbilt University.

“Thank you to all the Baltimore fans for the support!”, Esposito said on his Twitter feed Monday night. “Looking forward to this experience!”

In 66 games this year, Esposito finished the season hitting .340 with 9 HRs and 59 RBIs with 15 SB in 25 attempts for the 54-12 Commodores who made their way deep into the College World Series this year.

Jason Esposito

Esposito will immediately report as well to Aberdeen and will likely be a few seasons away before taking the hot corner at Camden Yards.

Esposito was one of three Orioles draft picks left unsigned Monday who the team felt like they had a need to sign.

Sixth-rounder Nick Delmonico, a C/INF out of Farragut H.S. in Tennessee, was the other, but he also signed with the Orioles Monday night according to his Twitter, LittleD808.

Delmonico-if he didn’t sign-was ready to head to the University of Georgia.

“Thank you God for leading me. I will always be a Georgia Bulldog, but now I’m a Baltimore Oriole. #GodBless,” Delmonico tweeted.

Delmonico was projected by many scouts to be worthy of a top-ten pick, but he lasted all the way to the sixth round of the draft.

Be sure to follow WNST for all your Orioles and Ravens news! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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With 50 games remaining, Orioles are bound for worst record in 23 years ….

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With 50 games remaining, Orioles are bound for worst record in 23 years ….

Posted on 09 August 2011 by Rex Snider

When I reflect back on the final days of March and all the optimism that surrounded this 2011 edition of the Orioles, I come to one distinct conclusion:

ALL OF US WERE SNOOKERED ….

And, this includes every single soul who follows, loves and ultimately believes the beleaguered franchise will eventually improve.  On such a list, fans, media members and anyone with a related interest in the ballclub are all heaped together.

Not a single one of my brethren thought this team would be WORSE than last year’s product ….

Not a single listener called me and voiced a pessimistic view of the season, especially with Buck Showalter at the helm for a full 162 games ….

Indeed, we consumed and digested the potion pitched by Buck’s birds over the final couple months of 2010.  We chose to rally behind the Showalter energy, especially with the visual reminders on billboards around town and the corny commercials courtesy of MASN.

All of us were fooled, because we chose to believe our hearts.  And, to be quite honest, we chose to ignore the very basics of baseball; pitching is the root of winning at this very highest level of the game.

A year ago, today …. on August 9th, 2010, the Orioles rattled off their sixth victory in seven attempts under the guidance of a newly appointed Showalter.  Under his tutelage, they displayed a renewed vigor and devotion to the basics of winning baseball.

Today, the team is reeling.  They’ve lost eight of the last ten contests and it seems as if they invent ways of squandering leads and outcomes, just as they did last night.  Of course, this dilemma is compounded by a current starting corps of pitching that might be the most dismal witnessed in years.

And, this is exactly where ALL OF US took the bait and fooled ourselves in the context of conventional wisdom and history’s teachings, if nothing else …..

It’s easy to sit back and blame Vlad Guerrero for not living up to expectations.  Say what you will, he’s not the primary problem.  Vlad is hitting a disappointing .274, with 9 homers and 15 doubles, but the problems run much deeper than a lackluster effort from the designated hitter.

Yes, you can defer any blame headed Mark Reynolds’ way, as well.  He’s hitting .219, with 26 homers and a peutrid 26 errors.  But, he too, is not part of the root problem with this Orioles team.

The blunt truth is Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter gambled the entire house on a young, inexperienced pitching staff ….

.

.

Prior to the start of this 2011 season, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman owned a combined 41 big league starts.  And, Britton claimed none of those numbers.  Yet, each of these young pitchers had a spot in the rotation to start the season.

Of course, Britton’s inclusion was necessitated by an injury to Brian Matusz – which surfaced just hours before the season opener. 

Yes, this is the same Brian Matusz who has not returned to his 2010 form.  Heck, he probably hasn’t found a repertoire consistent to 2008, when he starred in the rotation at the University of San Diego.

As for the others, we know where they’re hanging their hats these days …..

Jake Arrieta is done for the season, due to injury.

Zach Britton also finds himself on the disabled list.

And, Chris Tillman is in the current rotation, because there isn’t a body to challenge for the spot.

In vivid honesty, MacPhail obviously overestimated the durability and overall readiness of the organization’s young pitching prospects – and we bought in !!!!

Call it blind faith or a belief in what Buck Showlater produced in last season’s abbreviated window …. or a hope that things couldn’t get much worse.  But, just like the Orioles’ President of Baseball Operations, we too, overrated the inexperienced and largely untested pitching prospects.

Following last night’s loss, the Orioles find themselves at 44-68, which is just 6.5 games ahead of last year’s team.  And, remember that’s a team that mounted a 28-22 record over its fnal 50 games.

This current edition of the Orioles also has 50 games remaining.  They’re a team that has lost 9 out of 12, as well as 27 of its last 36 contests.  The starting pitching staff bears one name that would merit a spot in most rotations around the game.

They need to win 20 of the final 50 games to avoid suffering the worst organizational record since the trainwrecked 1988 season.

I’m betting they won’t do it.  I’m just being honest – I don’t see how this team wins 2 of 5 games throughout the remainder of the schedule. 

Is this team worse than 2010?  Heck yeah …. it’s going to be the worst Orioles team in the last 23 years. 

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Reynolds hits historic blast, but O’s still can’t win a series

Posted on 07 August 2011 by Peter Dilutis

BALTIMORE – The Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 on Sunday as Ricky Romero dominated the Birds for the second time in 10 days.

Romero pitched eight innings for the Jays, giving up 4 hits, 2 earned runs, and no walks while striking out five Orioles. Romero also won against the Orioles back on July 27th, making his 10 day “against the O’s” line a sparking 16.1 IP, 8 hits, 2ER, 3 BB, 14 K’s.

I don’t know about you, but I call that domination.

“He’s tough,” said O’s 3B Mark Reynolds. “He’s real tough. He throws his fastball and cutter. He lives on the inside corner. Tough pitches to lay off of because they look so good coming in. He keeps you honest with his changeup away. We didn’t really get at him today too much but we scored some runs off him and hopefully next time we face him we can put something together against him.”

Speaking of Reynolds, he was responsible for the only two runs the Orioles scored off of Romero on Sunday afternoon, hitting two no-doubt solo HR’s, the second of which landed in the club level (second deck) in left-center field.

The blast measured 450 feet, and Reynolds became only the second player in Camden Yards history to hit a ball into the second level. Rex Hudler (Angels) on June 11, 1995 was the first and only other player to accomplish the feat, hitting one down the LF line off of Jamie Moyer.

“Yeah it was cool,” Reynolds said. “It is what it is. All counts for one run. We lost the game and it’s tough, but we have to get over the hump, start winning series’, and get some confidence.”

Buck Showalter noticed the blast, but caught himself wishing that it counted for a bit more than one run.

“He centered it up pretty good,” Showalter said. “I think that was one that regardless of the score of the game you’re waiting for the tale of the tape. Too bad it only counts for one. That one I think we could stretched out and gotten an extra half run more.”

Of course, the fun for Reynolds came in yet another losing effort for the Birds, and Mark was asked if it is frustrating not to have been able to win a series since the end of June.

“It is,” Reynolds said. “We’ve had a lot of rubber matches with teams and we just can’t get over that hump lately. It’s frustrating but at the same time we have to keep going out there and playing, keep grinding at it everyday, and try to win as many games as possible.”

The Orioles welcome in the Chicago White Sox for a four game series beginning Monday night. The O’s will send Jeremy Guthrie (5-15, 4.34 ERA) to the mound against the lefty John Danks (4-9, 3.90 ERA).

Make that 42 days since the O’s have won a series.

And counting…

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It’s time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week …..

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It’s time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week …..

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Rex Snider

Each Friday, Ryan Chell and I ponder the rosters of sports personalities that have made a GOOD or BAD impression throughout the week. We consider athletes, coaches, owners, media and just about anyone else with a connection to sports.

Fittingly, we call the segment GENIUS & JACKASS OF THE WEEK …..

Given the sparingly thin amount of sports action over the past seven days, I really had to dig deep for my current list of nominees. And, in keeping things fresh or ever changing, I have decided to list my potential recipients for your consideration:

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GENIUS OF THE WEEK

1)  Roger Goodell: by simply taking the high road and keeping his mouth shut regarding the James Harrison/Men’s Journal article, he merits support and a more positive image in the immediate future. And, God knows he needs it.
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2)  Vince McMahon: the dude has absolutely no shame and he’ll gladly be the butt of a joke or the proverbial “slapdick” when he walks into the rasslin’ ring in front of a national audience. This past Monday night, he emerged after months of seclusion to counter a good exchange with noted heel, but audience favorite, CM Punk. Do you think Vince knew he had some competition with the All Star Homerun Derby? Yep …..
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3)  Mark Reynolds: yeah, yeah, I know this incident actually took place last week, but we didn’t learn about it … OR the photo … OR the photoshopped images that would create such a buzz on the web, until just a few days ago. Say what you want, MILLIONS of people now know Reynolds wears #12 … and that he LOVES sunflower seeds.
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JACKASS OF THE WEEK

1) PacMan Jones: uh oh … you know what this means, right? Correct, PacMan ended up behind bars AGAIN. And, I know the world was shocked to learn he got arrested in a nightclub. After that, the story gets sketchy. Police say Pac’ resisted arrest. However, the Bengals misfit claims the cops are lying. Sure they are … and they probably fabricated the facts in the other 1,384, 277 incidents, as well.
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2) Steve Durham: I realize you probably don’t recognize the name, but he’s the federal prosecutor who entered prohibited evidence in the Roger Clemens trial. That’s correct, the long awaited perjury case ended in a mistrial during its FIRST WEEK. Hey, what’s a few million dollars of taxpayer money? We’ll see ya again, in September.
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3) Derek Jeter: the dude racks up his 3,000th hit while garnering adoration and accolades from an entire sports lovin’ nation, and what does he do to show his gratitude? He skips the freakin’ All Star Game !!!! Yeah, he’s nursing an injury. But, he looked fine, last weekend. I don’t care if he’s sore … he owed it to the FANS to show up in Arizona.
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Well, who would your choices be? You can find out my selections during today’s Afternoon Drive, which kicks off at 2pm …..

(NOTE: JAMES HARRISON IS BEYOND BEING A JACKASS; THUS, HE IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THIS AWARD)

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The One Sign That Buck Does Not Have The Control That You or I Thought He Had

Posted on 07 July 2011 by Tom Clayton

When Buck Showalter became the Orioles manager last season he sparked an amazing rebirth and Orioles fans had found their savior.  Now after just under a full season at the helm of the sinking ship that is the Baltimore Orioles it looks like Buck is not the savior of Baltimore baseball; it looks like Buck is another in a string of managers that have been beaten down by lesser talent, an overbearing front office, and an organization that lacks the passion to win.  I think one thing has exemplified the fact that something is a little “off” in the organization and that maybe Buck doesn’t have the control everyone thought he had when he accepted the job last season.

The sign that Buck has either become apathetic to the team or that a higher power is controlling Buck more than the average fan would like to believe is the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is still hitting in the cleanup spot after more than half the season.  Vlad has been wholly ineffective this season and his power numbers are not just on the decline but they are in a drop to its death free-fall that has killed the Orioles offense many times this season.  Vlad has had two home runs and seven RBI since June 1st , hitting primarily in the cleanup spot.  What other team would allow a hitter to remain in the most important spot in the lineup after accumulating four extra base hits in his last 87 at bats?  The only answer I can think of is a crappy team that is trying to showcase a once great hitter so that they can get something in return for him around the trade deadline; does anyone honestly believe Buck Showalter is leaving a completely ineffective hitter in the cleanup spot as his team plummets to the depths of the standings in the American League? 

And I am sick of the argument of “if not Vlad than who will hit in the cleanup spot”?  The answer is simple, Mark Reynolds.  Reynolds has exceeded Vlad in every single offensive category this season hitting 13 more home runs and driving in 19 more runs while hitting 3-4 spots lower in the lineup.  And the argument that Reynolds strikes out too much is debatable; he has an OBP that is .33 higher than Vlad and he had shown a far better eye at the plate this season with 50 walks to Vlad’s 11.  On top of the statistically facts, Reynolds at 27, is nine years younger than Vlad and he could be a major piece to the Orioles rebuilding process while Guerrero is a one year player that will not be here next season.  So while on the surface it may look like Buck is sticking with his veterans and waiting for them to hit their way out of an early season slump….it is now past the mid-way point of the season which to me constitutes something more than an early season slump. 

I think the Vladimir Guerrero situation is a very public statement that Buck doesn’t have the type of control that Oriole fans believed he would have when he took over this job; in fact I believe this may be a statement that Buck doesn’t have the control HE thought he would have when he took over this job.  With a team that is already out of contention before the All Star break isn’t it time to stop filling these important spots in the Orioles lineup with stop-gap, over the hill players and begin to build for the future?  I think it is imperative to remember that when the Orioles began their search for a manager last season Bobby Valentine turned this job down and made it very public that he decision was due to the controlling nature of the Orioles front office.  While Buck was the better choice for this job than Valentine I think he is beginning to see why his old TV costar decided to turn this job down. 

If the Orioles hope to ever get back to respectability it is time to shake up the status quo of the last 14 years and begin to make moves that build for the future.  The future is not a 36 year old designated hitter on a one year deal…..the Orioles are going to need to begin to show fans that they understand their past mistakes or unfortunately it is their fans that are doomed to repeat them. 

 

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With O’s in freefall, focus turns to future: Who is a nugget, and who isn’t?

Posted on 07 July 2011 by Peter Dilutis

So it’s July 7th. The Orioles are again in the midst of their June/July swoon. The wheels are quickly coming off of what once was an interesting and relevant season for the Orioles. Fans are beginning to pay less and less attention to the Birds. The talk of blowing the team up and trading the veterans before the deadline is increasing everyday.

In short, it is a typical summer in Birdland.

The Orioles’ 2011 season is quickly spiraling out of control. Everyone is pessimistic. I get that. But where do the Orioles stand with regards to their future?

How many players on the current team are key pieces as the Orioles head into the future? Which players are long-term nuggets?

Let’s start with the position players.

Nick Markakis hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him after his first two seasons in the big leagues, but the guy is still an above average right fielder. He’s under contract for the next three seasons, so there is no doubt that Nick is the O’s RF of the future.

Adam Jones has two years left before he becomes a free agent, but if no deal is reached by this time next season, he may become a prime trade candidate. Jones has clearly stepped up his play in 2011 to a more productive and consistent level, and he will command a very hefty contract whenever the Orioles decide to extend him. That said, Jones seems to like being in Baltimore, and I can’t imagine why the O’s would let the main piece of the Bedard deal, and more importantly a young, talented outfielder in the prime of his career, walk away in free agency.

When I filled in for Glenn and talked some baseball with Drew a few weeks back, we disagreed on whether Mark Reynolds was a long-term guy at 3B. I felt that he was, and I argued that even if he isn’t even a solid defender, he isn’t nearly as bad defensively as he has been this year. Since then, while Reynolds has continued to accumulate some errors, his offense has picked up dramatically. He has well above-average power and he gets on base at a very good clip. Reynolds has value, and as his defense creeps back to his career norms, that value will only increase. Reynolds is under contract for 2012 and the club holds a reasonable team option for 2013. I feel that Reynolds is the long-term, or at least immediate-term, answer at 3B for the Orioles.

While Matt Wieters hasn’t lived up to his “switch-hitting Jesus” hype, which instantly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Orioles fans who were desperately craving a franchise superstar, he is still a well above-average catcher with the potential to turn into more. Wieters is the long-term answer at catcher for the Orioles and is under contract for four more seasons after this one. That was easy.

We all know the J.J. Hardy story. MacPhail acquired him for basically peanuts. He had potential, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Even though he continued that trend and missed a month of 2011, Hardy has turned it on and is playing at perhaps the highest level of his career. I don’t see why Hardy would extend with the Orioles before the season ends, but many people believe he would want to lock up his multi-millions to avoid risking an injury. Even if he isn’t re-signed during the season, I have to believe MacPhail will make a key run at Hardy. Why wouldn’t he? If he isn’t going to be active in real free agency, he needs to retain the players that he acquires that are successful. If Hardy is re-signed, he would be a key piece of the Orioles’ long-term future. If not, SS once again becomes a very big hole to fill.

Brian Roberts cannot be counted on anymore. That is the harsh, sad reality for the Orioles. But if he can come back from his concussion-related issues, he is very likely to be at worst an average 2B and leadoff hitter. That still has great value to the Orioles considering their alternatives. He is still under contract for two more seasons after 2011, so Roberts’ health really is a key for the O’s moving forward.

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