Posted on 11 May 2012 by WNST Audio
Comments Off on Rays PBP voice Freed says Luke Scott has brought leadership to Tampa
Posted on 11 May 2012 by WNST Staff
Comments Off on Eveland makes first start as Birds open series with Rays
Posted on 13 April 2012 by Luke Jones
The Orioles have spent plenty of time over the years pointing out the economic disparities in baseball that contribute to their inability to compete against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
However, no road destination in the AL East has been a bigger nightmare for the Orioles over the last three seasons than Rogers Centre in Toronto, where they will play a three-game series against the Blue Jays this weekend. Baltimore is an abysmal 4-23 in Canada since 2009 and has lost 26 of its last 31 games north of the border since June 2008. The horrific spell reached its low point last June before the Orioles finally snapped a 16-game losing streak in Toronto.
In contrast, the Orioles are 19-35 at Fenway Park, 15-39 in the Bronx, and 24-30 at Tropicana Field over the last three seasons.
With the Blue Jays off to a 4-2 start after an impressive Grapefruit League, the Orioles will have their hands full this weekend against the club that many view as an emerging threat in the division. And the man who’s led the big leagues in home runs over the last two seasons, Jose Bautista, hasn’t even started hitting yet (.174 and one home run).
The club’s futility against the Blue Jays in recent years is a prime example of why many fans grow weary from the likes of former executives such as Andy MacPhail and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette belaboring how the Yankees and Red Sox can spend more money than everyone else in the division.
That argument might hold some legitimacy if the Orioles were routinely pushing into the 85-to-90 win range on a semi-regular basis and falling short of the postseason. But when you’re not even competitive against the Blue Jays — who have finished in fourth place the last four seasons — it’s difficult to buy economics as the primary reason for the club’s failures.
Taking the lead
It’s been a rocky start for Nolan Reimold as the leadoff hitter, with the left fielder hitting just .238 and failing to register a walk in the first week of the season.
Hardly a conventional choice for the top spot in the order, Reimold is eighth among regulars in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.52) and has appeared to be overanxious at the plate in his five starts at the leadoff spot. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size from which to draw any conclusions, and it’s unlikely that manager Buck Showalter abandons the idea before at least a few more weeks of using Reimold in the top spot.
Many fans and media have criticized the idea of Reimold as the leadoff hitter, but the Orioles aren’t exactly dealing with a plethora of viable options to use in the top spot with second baseman Brian Roberts still sidelined.
J.J. Hardy served in the role for an extended time last season, but his .310 on-base percentage in 2011 and .320 career clip doesn’t exactly stand out as a no-brainer for the spot. Second baseman Robert Andino could eventually settle into the spot if he continues to develop as a regular, but Showalter appears content to leave Andino in the ninth spot to help turn the lineup over. Andino’s career on-base percentage is only .304 as he’s served in a limited fashion in his eight-year big league career.
Strictly looking at the numbers, right fielder Nick Markakis is the Orioles’ best option to hit in the leadoff spot, but it’s clear Showalter wants to keep him in a run-producing role. It’s easy to crunch the numbers and discuss the matter as if everything were in a vacuum, but any manager must always deal with egos and politics in the clubhouse when trying to fill out a lineup.
In a perfect world, Reimold would not be the leadoff hitter, but his underrated speed and .336 career on-base percentage are legitimate reasons to allow the experiment to continue for a few more weeks before making a switch.
Too much discussion is exhausted on the batting order — you simply want your best hitters getting as many plate appearances as possible — but it doesn’t take a sabermetrician to see more production is needed from the leadoff spot than what the Orioles have gotten in the first week.
What to do with Reynolds?
Comments Off on Orioles looking to reverse Rogers Centre horrors this weekend
Posted on 09 April 2012 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — As if the Orioles’ three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for the start of the baseball season, the Yankees come to town having not won a game after being swept by the Rays in Tampa over the weekend.
Of course, that means Joe Girardi’s club isn’t in a jovial mood as left-hander Brian Matusz takes the hill for his 2012 debut. To say Matusz’s 2011 season — in which he was 1-9 with a 10.69 earned run average in 12 starts — was nightmarish would be a disservice to unpleasant dreams as the 25-year-old battled injury and ineffectiveness throughout the season.
However, a new training regiment in the offseason and a strong spring in which he pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 24 2/3 innings led to Matusz making the Baltimore rotation as the No. 4 starter. Showing velocity more in line with his first two seasons in Baltimore, Matusz consistently sat in the low 90s as he led the Orioles with 22 strikeouts and had just three walks.
“I’m proud of him. He’s done everything possible to get this opportunity,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Now comes the biggest step of all of them, and that’s pitching competitively at the highest level of baseball in the world against one of the best teams in the world. You can’t shield him from that competition.”
He’ll certainly be thrown to the wolves tonight against one of the most imposing lineups in baseball.
Showalter also provided injury updates on Japanese southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada and left-hander Zach Britton. Wada pithced six innings and threw 88 pitches in an extended spring training game on Monday and “looked good” as observers described to Showalter. Wada will make at least two more starts before the Orioles make a decision regarding his status and potential activation to the 25-man roster.
Britton will begin throwing in Sarasota on Thursday in what will be the first time he’s picked up a ball since undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy in late March. Showalter was cautious when asked to offer a definitive timetable for his return to the big leagues and wouldn’t even rule out the possibility of Britton being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk depending on the state of the rotation.
“He’s got to jump through some hoops to get there,” Showalter said. “But, I’m hoping by the first part of May we’re getting some definitive idea about when [he’s back]. I think the next couple weeks will be key — provided this is where he goes when he’s ready.”
Based on those comments, it would be ambitious to expect Britton back before the middle of May, but that’s mostly speculation at this point in time.
Second baseman Brian Roberts was taking batting practice early on Monday as he continues to work his way back from concussion-like symptoms. There is still no timetable for a potential rehab assignment for the 34-year-old, who is on the 15-day disabled list.
Here are tonight’s lineups:
SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
DH Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
CF Curtis Granderson
LF Andruw Jones
C Russell Martin
3B Eduardo Nunez
SP Ivan Nova
LF Nolan Reimold
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino
SP Brian Matusz
Comments Off on Live from Camden Yards: Orioles, Matusz welcome winless Yankees to town
Posted on 14 March 2012 by WNST Staff
Odds to win the 2012 World Series
Philadelphia Phillies 11/2
New York Yankees 13/2
Los Angeles Angels 7/1
Detroit Tigers 8/1
Texas Rangers 10/1
Boston Red Sox 10/1
San Francisco Giants 15/1
Tampa Bay Rays 18/1
Miami Marlins 20/1
Cincinnati Reds 20/1
Atlanta Braves 22/1
St. Louis Cardinals 25/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 28/1
Milwaukee Brewers 28/1
Washington Nationals 30/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 40/1
Toronto Blue Jays 40/1
Chicago Cubs 40/1
Colorado Rockies 40/1
Cleveland Indians 60/1
Chicago White Sox 65/1
Minnesota Twins 75/1
Kansas City Royals 80/1
New York Mets 80/1
Oakland Athletics 80/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 100/1
San Diego Padres 100/1
Seattle Mariners 100/1
Baltimore Orioles 150/1
Houston Astros 200/1
Odds to win the 2012 AL Pennant
New York Yankees 13/4
Los Angeles Angels 7/2
Detroit Tigers 4/1
Boston Red Sox 11/2
Texas Rangers 11/2
Tampa Bay Rays 9/1
Toronto Blue Jays 22/1
Cleveland Indians 28/1
Chicago White Sox 35/1
Kansas City Royals 40/1
Oakland Athletics 40/1
Minnesota Twins 40/1
Seattle Mariners 60/1
Baltimore Orioles 75/1
Odds to win the 2012 NL Pennant
Philadelphia Phillies 9/4
San Francisco Giants 7/1
Atlanta Braves 9/1
Cincinnati Reds 9/1
Miami Marlins 9/1
St. Louis Cardinals 11/1
Milwaukee Brewers 14/1
Washington Nationals 15/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 14/1
Colorado Rockies 18/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 18/1
Chicago Cubs 22/1
New York Mets 40/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 40/1
San Diego Padres 50/1
Houston Astros 100/1
Odds to win the 2012 AL East
New York Yankees 2/3
Boston Red Sox 3/1
Tampa Bay Rays 9/2
Toronto Blue Jays 12/1
Baltimore Orioles 100/1
Odds to win the 2012 AL Central
Detroit Tigers 1/4
Cleveland Indians 10/1
Kansas City Royals 12/1
Chicago White Sox 12/1
Minnesota Twins 16/1
Odds to win the 2012 AL West
Los Angeles Angels 4/5
Texas Rangers 1/1
Oakland Athletics 30/1
Seattle Mariners 45/1
Odds to win the 2012 NL East
Philadelphia Phillies 1/2
Miami Marlins 11/2
Atlanta Braves 6/1
Washington Nationals 8/1
New York Mets 50/1
Odds to win the 2012 NL Central
Cincinnati Reds 7/5
St. Louis Cardinals 2/1
Milwaukee Brewers 11/4
Chicago Cubs 18/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 30/1
Houston Astros 100/1
Odds to win the 2012 NL West
San Francisco Giants 5/4
Arizona Diamondbacks 2/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 11/2
Colorado Rockies 7/1
San Diego Padres 15/1
Over/Under Regular Season Win Totals
Arizona Diamondbacks 86½
Atlanta Braves 86½
Baltimore Orioles 69½
Boston Red Sox 90½
Chicago Cubs 73½
Chicago White Sox 75½
Cincinnati Reds 87½
Cleveland Indians 78½
Colorado Rockies 80½
Detroit Tigers 91½
Miami Marlins 85½
Houston Astros 63½
Kansas City Royals 78½
Los Angeles Angels 91½
Los Angeles Dodgers 80½
Milwaukee Brewers 85½
Minnesota Twins 72½
New York Mets 73½
New York Yankees 93½
Oakland Athletics 72½
Philadelphia Phillies 93½
Pittsburgh Pirates 72½
San Diego Padres 73½
San Francisco Giants 87½
Seattle Mariners 71½
St. Louis Cardinals 85½
Tampa Bay Rays 86½
Texas Rangers 91½
Toronto Blue Jays 81½
Washington Nationals 83½
courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).
Comments Off on Bovada Sets Orioles Win Total At 69.5, Second Longest Odds to Win World Series
Posted on 13 March 2012 by WNST Staff
Comments Off on Miller, Flaherty Homer As Birds Tie Rays
Posted on 03 October 2011 by Glenn Clark
You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.
(As a reminder, we don’t do Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)
15 Positive Observations..
I’m not really sure what else can be said about Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is amazing. The team is incredibly deep.
I was wondering the other day why the NFL wouldn’t put a Super Bowl at Lambeau Field if they’re going to have one in New Jersey. Then I had a sandwich. It was quite a day.
Side note: I’m extremely jealous of sports fans in Wisconsin. They the Packers, the Badgers (more on them next) and the Milwaukee Brewers rocking and rolling. SportsGrid.com noted that Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel headline is the happiest in sports history…
The others in my Top 5 are South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Lattimore had a tough day Saturday and Griffin threw his first interception of the year (really) in the Bears’ loss to Kansas State. After you watch the profile ESPN’s College Gameday did of him Saturday morning you’ll certainly forget that ever happened…
Andrew Luck is a quarterback. So explain to me how he did THIS in Stanford’s win over UCLA Saturday night…
Side note: A few sites found this video of the ESPN ticker showing an odd UCLA-Stanford score during the Nebraska-Wisconsin game. I don’t believe it was accurate…
Few people know who Tyrann Mathieu is. Fewer know how to pronounce his name. No one knows how to spell it. But Kentucky fans will never forget any of those things about the LSU CB I assume…
Also stemming from Sunday in the Windy City…
-I don’t know if Steve Smith is still happy the Carolina Panthers didn’t trade him, but it was the absolute right decision based on wanting to develop Cam Newton.
-Matt Forte also ran all over the place and the Chicago Bears looked good in a win. I’m still not buying into them, but I’m a Jay Cutler hater so my opinion should only matter so much.
-Here’s Marion Barber faceplanting after attempting a backflip when he scored a touchdown in the game. Enjoy!
Nate Washington looked good and Jared Cook finally showed why I drafted him to my fantasy team this year (although I already dropped him needing depth), but I’m still not convinced they can keep treading water without Britt…
…in other news, I told Cleveland Browns fans last week to take a picture of the AFC North standings. I hope they took my advice.
I’m confused. Clemson looked good against Auburn, then again against Florida State, then AGAIN against Virginia Tech. Who are these Tigers and what have they done with the roller coaster team we’ve all come to know and not love?
I still think the Hokies are a factor in the ACC before the season is over. I think a lot of things. Like for example, who is Melissa Giraldo and why is this the first I’ve heard of her? (Thanks Busted Coverage!)
Here are the highlights from a thrilling Arkansas win over Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, which included an incredible 510 passing yards from Razorbacks QB Tyler Wilson…
And here’s the .gif of the shirtless “man of a larger carriage” celebrating SOMETHING the Hogs did Saturday…
That’s just fantastic.
Comments Off on The 15-7-0 Doesn’t Have a Diploma To Burn Even If It Wanted To
Posted on 15 June 2011 by Glenn Clark
It didn’t hit me until Tuesday night. To be totally honest with you, I’ve been really enjoying some of the other things going on in the world of sports since you left my life in February.
My favorite NHL team (the Phoenix Coyotes) were quickly swept out by the Detroit Red Wings, but the Stanley Cup playoffs have been really good otherwise. Most of the cities I don’t like have already seen their teams eliminated (Pittsburgh, Washington, New York) and the Vancouver Canucks have the opportunity to deliver the most painful heartbreak to Boston Wednesday night, with a chance to win a Game 7 at home against the Bruins.
There’s been a ton of scoring but still a ton of close games, and the hockey playoffs in general have been pretty good.
My favorite NBA team (the Phoenix Suns) didn’t even qualify for postseason play, but it had little effect on how exciting the NBA playoffs were. Between the Los Angeles Lakers getting swept out, Greivis Vasquez and the Memphis Grizzlies getting within a game of the Western Conference Finals and the riveting series the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat played in the NBA Finals, the postseason was thrilling.
Even those of us that don’t spend too much time watching regular season hoops found ourselves making postseason games destination television.
Comments Off on Dear Football, Please Just Come Back Already
Posted on 11 June 2011 by Luke Jones
1. Déjà vu all over again.
After Friday’s 7-0 win over Tampa Bay, the Orioles once again find themselves on the brink of the .500 mark with a 30-31 mark entering Saturday night’s test against Tampa ace David Price. A win would put Baltimore at the .500 mark for the first time since May 26.
The problem was the Orioles responding to the achievement with a disastrous 1-5 West Coast trip from which they have yet to fully recover in the win-loss column. They are 2-4 this season when entering the day with a record of one game below .500.
“We understand the math of common denominators of teams that have a good season,” said manager Buck Showalter before the Rays series. “At some point, we’ve got to get to and pass that threshold as an organization.”
Of course, Showalter knows .500 is not the top of the mountain — notice how he said to “pass that threshold” — but it’s still a significant step for a franchise lacking a winning season since 1997. The Orioles have not been above the .500 mark since April 14 when they fell to 6-5 after suffering a two-game sweep to the Yankees in the Bronx.
2. Hardy the offseason prize
The signings of veterans Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero grabbed the headlines. Third baseman Mark Reynolds was acquired via trade three days earlier in December.
But is there any doubt that shortstop J.J. Hardy — even after missing a month with a strained left oblique — has been the offseason prize for the Orioles?
Entering Saturday, Hardy has more home runs (six) than Guerrero (five) in only half the at-bats (118 to 236). He has more runs batted in than Lee (19 to 15) in 57 fewer at-bats, many coming far lower in the lineup.
His defense has been superb after replacing the slick-fielding, light-hitting Cesar Izturis of the past two seasons.
With Brian Roberts continuing to miss time with concussion-related symptoms, Hardy has recently taken over leadoff responsibilities and responded with two leadoff home runs this week. His .370 on-base percentage entering Saturday’s game is a welcome change at the top of the order from the impatient Felix Pie and allows Robert Andino to hit more comfortably in the ninth spot.
Though there are more than three months remaining in the season, the Orioles should already be contemplating a new contract for Hardy, who is scheduled to become a free agent. Manny Machado may be the future at short, but Hardy has been a pleasant surprise in the present.
3. Arrieta racking up wins while Guthrie and Britton bite the bullet
After pitching seven shutout innings Friday night, Jake Arrieta recorded his eighth win of the season, becoming the first Baltimore pitcher to record eight wins by June 10 since Sidney Ponson in 2003. A season ago, no Orioles pitcher recorded his eighth victory until August 29 (Jeremy Guthrie).
Arrieta’s eight wins equal the total number by Guthrie (two) and Zach Britton (six) despite both holding lower earned run averages. Entering Friday night’s game against the Rays, Arrieta benefited from the fourth-best run support (7.14 runs per game) in the American League. Wins are a poor indicator for how well — or how poorly — a pitcher is performing, but Arrieta has done what’s necessary to win in most instances.
The 25-year-old still walks too many hitters and needs to be more economical with his pitches, but no one can deny his array of four pitches and overall makeup. His strikeout rate per nine innings has increased from 4.7 his rookie season to 7.5 this year, but his walks per nine innings have increased from 4.3 to 4.5.
Britton and Guthrie have been better overall in 2011, but Arrieta has solidified his position in the starting rotation. His command issues may always keep him a notch or two below the seemingly more-polished Britton and Brian Matusz, but you have to be pleased with Arrieta’s progression through 14 starts in 2011.
4. Interleague Vlad
With interleague play set to pick up again next weekend, the Orioles will travel to D.C. to take on the Nationals followed by a three-game trip to Pittsburgh the following week. That, of course, means the Orioles will be without the designated hitter spot.
What do you do with your cleanup hitter?
Showalter will not reveal his plans just yet, but admitted Guerrero hasn’t made a strong request to play the outfield in National League ballparks. Anyone who watched Guerrero hobble around right field as a member of the Texas Rangers in the World Series last October should hardly be surprised.
Though hitting .288 entering Saturday, Guerrero hasn’t exactly provided the power (.394 slugging percentage and five home runs) that suggests the Orioles absolutely need his bat in the lineup. The defense lost in right field or first base — the only two positions you could conceivably imagine Guerrero playing — creates a simple decision.
The Orioles will likely have “one heck of a pinch-hitter,” as Showalter quipped on Friday, but it’s hard to justify putting Guerrero in the field for any reason.
5. Adams’ splinters continue
If you asked most fans, they probably couldn’t even tell you if Ryan Adams was even on the 25-man roster. The rookie second baseman has 16 plate appearances since being recalled on May 20.
Instead of an anticipated platoon, Andino has solidified his job at second base, and the 2006 second-round pick continues to waste away on the bench while veteran infielders Brendan Harris and Nick Green hold spots for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
Showalter has conceded that Adams needs consistent at-bats somewhere, but the manager has also said the young infielder is gaining exposure to life in the big leagues by being in the clubhouse and dugout during games.
Maybe a hint of truth, but I’m not buying it.
Whether it’s Baltimore or Norfolk, Adams needs to be getting regular at-bats. It’s not helping the future of the club — especially with Roberts’ status becoming cloudier every season — to have Adams sitting on the bench on a nightly basis when he could be playing everyday for the Tides.
Comments Off on Orioles on cusp of .500 (again), other random thoughts
Posted on 11 June 2011 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — Nick Markakis shyly quipped to reporters that they finally wanted to talk to him for something good in a nightmarish season for the six-year veteran.
There was no doubt about it Friday night after the right fielder hit a grand slam and added a two-run double to collect a career-high six runs batted in in the Orioles’ 7-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. It ended a drought of 88 at-bats without an extra-base hit for Markakis and temporarily halted concerns about a disappointing 2011 season. His six RBI matched the total he had over his last 27 games since May 8.
“I guess you could say it was a relief for me, but it was a relief for the whole team,” said Markakis, who entered the game with only eight extra-base hits in 240 at-bats. “We got a big hit in a big situation.”
His grand slam off Jeremy Hellickson in the second inning gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead and provided enough for starter Jake Arrieta to collect his team-leading eighth win. Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitched seven shutout innings to guide the Orioles to their fourth straight win, but the right-hander could credit his right fielder for driving in six of the Orioles’ seven runs.
“I’m really happy for Nick to get that hit,” said Arrieta, who completed seven innings for only the second time this year. “I feel like he’s been one hit away like that.”
The Orioles and fans alike envision it as the start of a turnaround for the right fielder. Before Friday, endless hours of watching video and working on his swing had appeared fruitless over much of the last two months as Markakis tried to get himself back to the level of production he enjoyed over his first five seasons when he averaged over 61.2 extra-base hits per year.
Always quiet and stoic, Markakis barely cracked a smile when asked whether the weeks of extra work had finally paid off.
“There’s still a lot more hard work to come. I’m feeling better. I still don’t feel like I’m where I need to be. I’m just going to keep plugging away. You got to take it game by game, at-bat by a-bat. You can’t worry about what has happened or what’s coming. You have to stay within yourself where you are right now.”
Only time will tell whether Markakis’ career night was a start of the law of averages swinging back in his favor or a temporary aberration in a season of frustration for the Orioles’ highest-paid player.
The Orioles (30-31) hope it’s the former as they once again climbed to within one game of the .500 mark after picking up their sixth win in 10 games against the Rays. With Brian Roberts still out with concussion-related symptoms, the club needs Markakis’ production in the No. 2 spot to produce runs for an offense that’s struggled through the season’s first 61 games.
“Everybody sees the work Nick’s been putting in,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He feels such a responsibility to the team and the Orioles and fans. We see it, he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. He grinds it, almost to a fault, but that’s why you love him. He’s a piece for us because of the things that he does to give himself a chance to be successful.”
To see how excited his teammates were following the second-inning grand slam was a clear indication of just how much Markakis means to the Orioles and how sorely his production has been missed. They wish that it’s only a preview of what’s to come with the Orioles still hanging around in a competitive American League East.
Everyone — including Markakis — can only wait and wonder.
“If it’s there, you’ll see it,” Markakis said. “You’ll see the results. I’ve got a lot more work to do. I’ve been getting as much [work] in as I can and not wearing myself out, and that’s the beauty of this game. We have a whole lot of games left to play.”
Comments Off on Orioles, Markakis hope 6-RBI night begins turnaround of frustrating season