Tag Archive | "roberts"

How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

Posted on 01 April 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

There’s no sense in shirking the responsibility here in Baltimore — the facts that show this community has been complicit in the damage done during this baseball free fall on the field and profiteering being done off the field by Peter Angelos via MASN. The truth is this: we get the government we deserve.

And the truth is that we get the Major League Baseball team that we tolerate as a community.

The Orioles are about to enter their 15th consecutive year of irrelevance and losing. Fans in Baltimore have turned away from the stadium by the millions instead of demanding a better product and an owner with the integrity to run the team in the best interests of the community.

The judges allowed this to happen by allowing television moguls to pass along unavoidable, mandatory charges you never know about and you vote for these judges.

Comcast (or your local cable TV provder) has passed along the “Angelos Tax” to you and you simply keep paying the bill.

The politicians allowed this to happen to the heart of Baltimore on summer nights and you elect the politicians. You elect the politicians who allow Major League Baseball an almost inarguable anti-trust exemption and public financing for stadia while they pad their pockets and Angelos shirks his “sacred responsibility” here in Baltimore to attempt to field a competitive team that stimulates interest and economic impact to the local economy.

Many local businesses and business owners – intimidated for one reason or another – all talk dirty out of the corner of their mouths to me at cocktail parties all over Baltimore yet no one except me and this radio station and web entity that I own have spoken up over the years and reported the dirty facts.

I am very proud of Free The Birds. I’m proud of being the only one to speak the truth and report the facts. I sleep well at night knowing that I’m TRYING to make a difference and get this corrected for the community.

WNST is the only free media company in the marketplace that is banned from covering the team while CBS Radio, The Sun, WBAL, Pressbox, etc. all have continued to exchange corporate media backrubs and “partnerships” while not demanding accountability from Peter Angelos.

 

Many others — from intimidated former Orioles players who need the autograph money to local fans, former season ticket holders and businesses who previously wrote a direct check to the Baltimore Orioles to sponsor the franchise — all now cough and “look the other way” while the city has been emptied of more than 2 million people every summer. The Ravens’ and their everlasting prosperity seems to only make it easier to turn away from the Orioles.

How can it be possible that local businesses downtown and at the Inner Harbor simply await the arrival of visiting fans from Boston, New York and Philadelphia in order to turn a profit off the fortunes of the Baltimore Orioles?

It’s unspeakable, shameful and YOU should be ashamed of our community for allowing it happen.

When all of this cowardice and the collective “turning of the heads” stops, perhaps the fate of the Baltimore Orioles will change?

Here’s what WNST.net is doing about this Thursday and Friday night as we hold a candlelight vigil and an Opening Day protest of the ownership and the way the team has been run into the ground for Baltimore and its baseball fans…

 

You can follow our Facebook page here and follow us on Twitter @FreeTheBirds12

 

Staying away from the ballpark and not contributing by buying tickets and $8 beers has simply not worked to correct the issues with Peter Angelos and improve the baseball team. We’ve been writing about it here at WNST.net and opining at AM 1570 for the better part of a decade.

Sometimes I think that everyone knows the dirty little secret about Angelos and

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The Orioles will be better next year — and more new lies after The MacFailure

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Our cool, growing (and still free!) sports media company had another great B2B-Business To Business event last week in Towson with @CoachBillick and an old friend and reader of WNST.net approached me and asked the eternal Orioles question:

“So, Nasty, I’ve read all of the issues regarding the Orioles and Mike Flanagan and Andy MacPhail and Free The Birds, but what are we as fans going to do? You need to offer solutions…”

Well, virtually every human being I’ve spoken to over the last three years – and I still have a ton of friends in upper management at Major League Baseball and all over the league — has concurred: this just isn’t going to change on the field as long as Peter Angelos is involved in Baltimore baseball ownership.

But, of course, I came to that conclusion five years ago when I did the original Free The Birds rally and campaign because in my mind – and time has proven me correct – this was long past the point of no return with the local community and most people of integrity within the baseball community in 2006.

And what I’ve come to realize is that this REALLY bugs the hell out of my internet critics – the fact that I’ve been right and honest and accurate all along.

I don’t think it took any “orange Nostradamus” or 19 chapters and 75,000 words worth of my book to predict that this civic nightmare would continue given Angelos’ tactics, mindset, age and propensity through his 82 years on the planet to want to fight with people. He sues people for a living.

I knew a long time ago that it was getting worse and not better. I knew it was going to become an easy $50 million annual profit center given the deal that Angelos negotiated with Major League Baseball once the Washington Nationals were hatched. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth in 2006 but he clearly wasn’t honest and indeed got the “last laugh.”

But I must say my worst fears of where this sick tale was going in 2006 never really factored in the possibility that Mike Flanagan would be committing suicide five years later in the middle of a fifth consecutive last-place season.

But I’m not at all surprised that the team has finished in last place every year since Free The Birds.

And I’ve now spent four full years without a press pass for this last-place debacle and sick civic disgrace while the team’s head of baseball operations runs away from me at public functions when I ask a few questions.

I’ve been asking myself for a month how the Orioles are going to handle this offseason of obvious unparalleled despair. Despite the kid gloves Captain Profit Andy MacPhail has been treated with here by his local media co-workers who are disguised as journalists — his tenure here is now complete and was a large, profitable “MacFailure” .

He’s slithering out of town in the dead of the night after changing exactly NOTHING about the Baltimore Orioles in real terms, other than the profit line. Oh, and there’s the spring training home in Sarasota that was 15 years overdue – and now another publicly-aided profit center — I don’t see anything about the farm system, the future or the current state of the roster that’s appreciably better than before.

I know this much: four years, four last-place finishes. That’s the record. It is what it is.

The whole franchise stinks.

What happens to Buck Showalter is anyone’s guess but word is he’ll be the new poobah in charge of “baseball operations” at 10:07 p.m. after Red Sox playoff magic leaves the Charm City – and all that really means is that he’s the next victim who will make a few million and go back to where he came from (in this case Dallas) a few years later with a tainted resume and some more losses and evenings of angst.

Of course, if he really thinks Angelos is committed to winning a World Series, angst is only the beginning.

Just 13 months ago Showalter said he knew what he was getting into with Angelos

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Sure, Angelos is at heart of Orioles misery but 25 others are accountable, too

Posted on 23 July 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

This inglorious 14 years of misery, lies and ineptitude for fans of the Baltimore Orioles all over the world has been hard to watch at every level. I’m exasperated with the media corruption, lack of integrity and pure filth of heart of Peter Angelos and his profiteering and lack of civic pride for something that this community held near and dear to its heart — bringing tens of thousands to literal tears in 1991 when the memories of 33rd Street moved downtown.

But circa 2011, on a night-to-night basis, the only ones who can change the course of the franchise “in the moment” are the players Peter Angelos is paying millions of dollars, Andy MacPhail has hired and the ones Buck Showalter has morbidly signed up to manage this summer.

Sure, Angelos is to blame for this entire mess — that much is self-evident at this point — but that does not exonerate alleged Major League Baseball players from being able to produce in the glare of the bright lights in the eighth inning of a one-run game.

Take Friday night’s multiple fiasco-fest with the game on the line vs. the Angels. Nick Markakis came to bat with two outs and two on and the Orioles a single away from a tie game and a gapper away from potentially winning the game. Markakis — the team’s “franchise” player — clipped the ball about 45 feet down the first base line to end a rally.

I’m a Nick Markakis fan. He’s quiet, he’s professional, he’s Greek, he lives in Baltimore, he’s not a Twitter jackass and last-place loudmouth like his outfield mate. But, he’s also making $12 million per year to win baseball games and put up a better fight in that baseball circumstance. It’s fair to say, his career has been a disappointment vs. the salary and the expectations that he would be the “face” of the Orioles. Like when they put him six stories high on the Warehouse wall a few years ago.

Of course, seeing the Orioles kick the ball around and bring in the likes of overpaid Kevin Gregg in the 9th inning to give up a grand slam to Vernon Wells in an eventual 6-1 loss makes it all seem trivial.

They’re the Orioles. They can’t win, anyway. So what difference does a few outs with RISP mean or a few more blown saves and missed chances by a bunch of arsonists who no one else wanted but the Orioles were forced to over pay.

I opine often about the sins of Angelos and they are more than warranted. But in the few rare instances when he’s done the “right” thing by the franchise, it then becomes incumbent upon the players to produce or face tough questions.

There’s no doubt that fans always want a “fall guy” — a horse to beat when the team loses. Every Monday morning in every fall the players and coaches in the Ravens organization take the weight or the world onto their backs like a civic grand piano.

In some ways, playing for the worst franchise in the history of modern sports in the toughest division in sports and given the lack of financial balance in MLB it somehow seems to exonerate the actual Orioles players.

I’m not willing to make that concession.

Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and the rest of the well-paid professional baseball players need a mirror for their last-place woes as well.

But I have a feeling, in the end, this will get blamed on MacPhail and Showalter.

But then again, the fans seem to put the blame everywhere but where it belongs.

If you want to find the Orioles’ REAL magic — the meaningful games, the community activism, the late-summer wins, the memories and a potential World Series parade — you really need look no further than Angelos’ pockets.

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Time to pack your bags…

Posted on 01 June 2011 by Keith Melchior

As of this writing, there are quite a few reasons the Orioles are 5 games under .500. Injuries are always at the forefront of teams that are struggling, but some really bad pitching, bad hitting, bad managing, and five 3+ game losing streaks are killing the 2011 Orioles.

The season is 1/3 completed after today’s game in Seattle. For some players, it’s time to put up or pack up. If these guys don’t get untracked, it might be time to say goodbye;

Jeremy Guthrie - His  career record with Orioles is 40-55.  As the veteran starter on this staff, he always seems to keep the team in the game, but he simply cannot win in Baltimore and it makes no sense to keep him around if there is a team out there willing to give up a minor league prospect or two for his services come July 31st. Maybe he’ll go become an ace with another team like Dennis Martinez and Curt Shilling did after the Orioles let them go. Martinez thrived with the Expos and Braves after mediocre seasons in Baltimore. Shilling wasn’t that good when he was an Oriole and didn’t really blossom into that dominant pitcher until almost 10 years into his career when he played for Philadelphia, Arizona, and finally Boston. It’s painful to see Guthrie continue to pitch his ass off with not many positive results. Do HIM a favor and send him packing. He deserves better fate and much more money than he’s getting here.

Michael Gonzalez -  The team signed him as the closer before the 2010 season. He had a rough opening weekend then landed on the DL. As an Oriole, he is 1-4 in 48 games with a 5.57 ERA and the glaring number, ONE save. His contract with the Orioles is up after this season. He is not reliable, is wasting a roster spot and needs to be shipped out ASAP. They couldn’t even trade him for a bag of baseballs at this point, but will most likely keep him here until his contract expires if no one shows any interest in the washed up left handed reliever.

Luke Scott – He’s coming off  an Oriole MVP year when he hit 27 HR and had 72 RBI. As an Oriole he’s averaging 25 HR, 55 BB, 100 K’s and 70 RBI. So far this season he’s sitting on 6HR and 19 RBI and is on pace for 18 HR, 57 BB, 114 K’s and 57 RBI. People are waiting for him to get hot for a week or so and carry the team on his back like he did last year. With a partial tear in the labrumon his right arm, that may not happen. After 2010 I said the Orioles should trade him while he has some value. Then, the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero to be the full time DH, which placed Scott in a platoon mode in left field with Felix Pie and recently Nolan Reimold. Scott has been lucky enough to find his way on the field at 1st base with Derreck Lee’s trip to the DL.  I believe they have nothing to lose by trading Scott on July 31, especially if he doesn’t get into one of his “streaks.”  He’s 33 years old and eligible for salary arbitration after this season and a free agent in 2013. They might lose  a few HR’s andRBI but his potential is worth at least 2 mid-level players that might develop into something.

Brian Roberts – He has never played in the post-season and probably is the most beloved Oriole since Cal Ripken retired. You always see him in the community at churches, schools and hospitals. You always hear interviews with him on the radio.  It is hard to believe he is 33 years old and he’s coming off an injury plagued 2010 that kept him out until August.  Currently in his 17th day on the 7-day DL with concussion symptoms, he is not the lead off batter we’ve grown accustomed to for the last 10 years.  Roberts is struggling at .221,  60 points below his career average. You hope he comes back and is able to provide that jump start the Orioles need so badly at the top of the lineup. Regardless of what many fans might think, if Roberts is able to play up to his standards, it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Orioles to explore possibilities of a trade before the deadline.  The only thing that may hurt is his $10 million salary, but if he isn’t on the field and producing at the level the team needs, that $10 million is being wasted anyway.

Vladimir Guerrero – The Orioles ended up overpaying him to be the DH because no other teams appeared interested in the gimpy-kneed former outfielder. He still swings at bad pitches, but leads the team in hitting with a .289 average. The guys ahead of him in the batting order aren’t giving him a whole lot of chances as he only has 23 RBI. He is definitely on the trading block, which will land Luke Scott back into the DH role if he isn’t traded or on the DL come July 31.  The Orioles might be able to get 2 decent AA players for him as long as his numbers don’t tail off.

The roller coaster ride will continue throughout the summer. The starters can’t get into the 7th inning, the big bats brought in during the off season have some major holes in them, the bullpen is shaky from middle relief to closer. The only one really doing the job is Koji with a 2.78 ERA and 0.882 WHIP. He’s actually thrown 22 2/3 innings in 21 games but rarely sees action on consecutive days. Since Koji was only signed to a one year deal, the Orioles should consider unloading him to a team looking for bullpen help in the late innings. Although fragile, Koji is quite capable.

There is not much talent in the AA or AAA levels to push anyone out of his spot. Brandon Snyder and Ryan Adams have reached the majors but weren’t doing enough in their at-bats to warrant them receiving more playing time. They’ve combined for 24 plate appearances, 4 hits, 3 BB, 5 K’s, 1 Run scored and no HR’sor RBI. Thus the position shuffling I wrote about earlier in the week.  Sooner or later the Orioles have to bite the bullet and let these guys see some increased playing time. You can’t keep sticking with older players who are not producing to the level you expect.

 I will probably catch some heat for suggesting these trades, but when you consider the ages of the players involved, it almost makes sense. A few years ago, the Orioles’ promotion was “Come see the kids play” That was a time when, age-wise, they had one of the youngest teams in the majors. With the exception of Brian Roberts, most, if not all, of those guys are long gone and the 2011 Oriole 40 man roster averages close to 29 years of age.

As the season approaches the halfway point, it’ll be interesting to see whether this team unfolds or folds up.

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Orioles at the 1/4 pole

Posted on 21 May 2011 by Keith Melchior

In 2010 the Orioles didn’t win their 19th game until mid-to late June.  Here it is May 21, 2011 and they are almost a month ahead of that pace.  To be this close to playing .500 baseball by Memorial Day is remarkable and gives hope to those who cheer for improvement.  Now, it appears they are in the midst of another 6 or 7 game slide. So much for progress..

Pitching…

Solid efforts by Zach Britton 5-2 (who wasn’t even projected to join the club because of the dreaded “service time” contract structure, much like Matt Wieters’ contract) and Jake Arietta 5-2 account for about 1/2 of  the teams’ win total.   Brad Bergesen at 1-6 has been on a roller coaster this season and will be the odd man out when Brian Matusz comes off the DL.  He’ll either be shipped back to AAA Norfolk or be buried in the pen for long relief or mop up duties. Too bad for a guy who 2 years ago showed lots of promise with his 7-5 record and solid outings until that line drive off his leg took him out for the remainder of the 2009 season, then last years’ MASN commercial debacle which also put him on the shelf for a few weeks.  If Jeremy Guthrie got any run support at all, he’d be 5-1 instead of 1-5 and the Orioles would be sitting atop the AL East, but if’s don’t win baseball games. Of the 5 current starters, Chris Tillman is the most inconsistent, averaging a little over 4 innings per start a WHIP of 1.55 and an ERA of 5.35.  Bergesen got shelled last night against the Yankees. Too bad for him considering he was  coming off an impressive CG shutout of Tampa Bay. If Tillman can out pitch him, Bergesen might end up returning to Norfolk.

The bullpen is another story, and a similar story it is. A few blown saves by current closer Kevin Gregg and inconsistency from Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, Jason Berken and Michael Gonzalez have caused late inning meltdowns. Gonzalez is the worst of the group with a 5.83 ERA and a WHIP of 1.9. Not good for a back-end guy in the pen. Berken was lights out the first 2 weeks of the season but has since fallen far short of the dominant pitcher we saw come out of the pen last year and early this year.

The starters are still averaging under 6 innings per start and unless the bullpen can get on track and start getting people out over the final 3 innings, it’s going to be a long hot summer if those guys can’t cut their pitch counts down by 10% and go at least 6 to 7 innings per start.

The good news is the starters have accounted for 14 of the team’s 19 wins, which is a huge improvement over what we’ve seen the last few years. Only 5 of the 21 losses are credited to the bullpen, so that shows the Orioles are probably trailing when the starters  leave the game. The pen isn’t good enough to keep games close and combined, have allowed 152 hits, 75 walks, and 80 earned runs in 140 innings for a 5.71 ERA and a WHIP of 1.62 going in to the series against the Nationals.

Grade: C-  (Arietta B+ and Britton A, rest of staff D+)

Hitting…….

If you said the Orioles would win 19 games by May 20th without much help from Brian Roberts, you’d be called crazy. Roberts is hitting .221 from the leadoff spot and has the worse OBP of the starters.  Roberts helped carry the team to the 6-1 record the first week of the season but has gone into a severe tailspin. Nick Markakis started off slowly too, but has since come around. Derrek Lee started the season as a major disappointment at the plate and wasn’t even hitting .22o. He’s up to .231 now but the power numbers are not improving.  Vlad is Vlad, swinging at terrible pitches but he’s been the most consistent player hitting .303 and lately a doubles machine. Luke Scott, who I still believe should have been traded based on his value after last season, should not even be on this team, especially in left field. He has 6 HRs and only 16 RBI and is currently playing with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, which happens to be attached to his throwing arm. He’s also been mired in a slump as of late, but Buck Showalter keeps running him out there in hopes he won’t hurt his shoulder any further and gets into one of his streaks at the plate. Mark Reynolds, aka the Sultan of Strikeout, gives the Orioles exactly what they paid for, a guy who is going to strike out over 200 times and hit .200 this season. He has 45 K’s in 140 AB.  Adam Jones is developing into the center fielder the Orioles had hoped for when they traded Erik Bedard for him. He is hitting .292 with 5 HR and leads the team with 23 RBI. His defense has improved as well and thus far this season we haven’t seen many balls hit over his head. Matt Wieters  has produced with RISP and is hitting .273 with 22 RBI. He has become a force behind the plate throwing out 50% of runners attempting to steal. JJ Hardy seems to have settled in at short and after his stint on the DL and  has yet to make an error in 140 innings played.

The reserve players have contributed when called upon, especially Robert Andino.  His bat helped him replace Cesar Izturis, who filled in at short when  J. J. Hardy landed on the DL. Now Izturis is on the DL with a mystery ailment which the team says is numbness in his throwing hand.  On the surface, that sounds like a pinched nerve to me. Given a shot to play every day, Andino produced and still leads the team with a .376 OBP.   Andino is a flexible reserve player who can handle multiple positions, but he’s not in the same mold as  an everyday player and the longer he’s out there we’ll see his numbers decline (see Ty Wigginton from 2010) Jake Fox impressed in spring training then sat on the bench for a week and plays sparingly. His .167 average is a result of his lack of playing time. With Hardy back at SS and Jake Fox able to play multiple positions and give the team that possible pinch hit power, it appears Izturis’ days as an Oriole are numbered, as well they should be. Izturis was signed as insurance, but Robert Andino appears to have cashed in the policy. Now with Roberts and Lee on the DL,  Brandon Synder has been called up in Lee’s absence to play 1st base and he must impress the front office if he plans on being a long term member of this club.

Felix Pie seems to be lost in that platoon system with Luke Scott in left. He’s hitting .259 in very limited appearances, but has shown flashes of excellence over the last few weeks. Look for him to begin playing every day if Scott finds himself on the DL.  Pie appeared to show all 5 tools last year and when given the chance to play every day, he chased Nolan Reimold to AAA where he still toils, even after a very good spring showing.

Grade – (D)  Can you say underachievers? The chatter during the pre-season was based on past numbers alone. By signing Lee, Guerrero, Hardy, and Reynolds they were looking for at least 100 HR and 325 RBI out of that foursome. Thus far they’ve gotten limited production with 15 HR, 60 RBI, but 118 K’s and 48 BB. They are lucky Britton, Guthrie (although his W/L record doesn’t show it) and Arietta have all been solid in the rotation. Other than Wieters, hitting with RISP is lacking. IF Lee, Scott and Reynolds start hitting the baseball out of the park, look out. Someone at the top of the lineup needs to start getting on base to give Markakis, Scott, Reynolds, and Vlad some opportunities to plate him. To lose 4-1 to the Yankees in 15 innings, then getting bombed 13-2 the following night then get blown out 17-5 in the series opener against Washington last night doesn’t bode well for the Buck-Os. Too many men left on base and a RISP of about .200 are killing this team’s chances of being at .500 on Memorial Day.

Overall grade – D   Last place and being outscored 41 -9 in the last 3 games plus 3 innings speaks for itself. This team needs to do a 180 in a hurry. Right about now, people are screaming for the NFL to get the labor deal done so the summer in Charm City isn’t a complete waste.

Here’s a side note……. I didn’t realize this, but only 9 players on the current 25 man roster were home grown. Roberts, Markakis, Wieters, Bergesen, Berken, Johnson, Snyder, Arietta and Britton were drafted by the Orioles. The rest were acquired either by trades (9)  or signed as free agents (10).  Jeremy Guthrie was a waiver pick up.  No matter what the front office might tell you, the Oriole farm systems aren’t really as up to par as they’d like it to be. As I’ve said before, there are no position players at any minor league level ready to push anyone out of a roster spot.  They cannot continue this trend if they want to be successful down the road. They’ll eventually need to find replacements for aging veterans Roberts, Scott, Lee, and Vlad. Unless they start winning baseball games consistently, they will not attract any established free agents unless they choose to grossly overpay for them. You know damned well that isn’t going to happen under PGA’s leadership. Andy McPhail might be looking at his final year in charge of baseball ops.

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Roberts 3-run HR beats Tigers 5-1 and ignites Orioles Magic on Opening Day

Posted on 04 April 2011 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE (AP) Brian Roberts hit a three-run homer, Jake Arrieta allowed one run in six innings and the unbeaten Baltimore Orioles thrilled a sellout crowd in their home opener by defeating the Detroit Tigers 5-1 Monday.
On a gorgeous afternoon at Camden Yards, the Orioles extended a surprising winning streak that began with a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay. Off to its best start since 1997, Baltimore (4-0) has not yet trailed, hasn’t given up more than one run in a game and has outscored the competition 17-4.
With the score tied at 1 in the fifth, Felix Pie walked and went to third on a double by J.J. Hardy before Roberts hit a 1-2 pitch from Rick Porcello (0-1) over the wall in right-center. Roberts has Baltimore’s only two home runs this season.
Nick Markakis followed with his third hit, a double, and Matt Wieters delivered a two-out RBI single for a 5-1 lead.
Arrieta (1-0) gave up six hits, walked two and struck out three. Orioles starters have allowed two runs in 26 innings, a 0.69 ERA.
Jason Berken followed with two innings of one-hit relief and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth.
Will Rhymes drove in the lone run for the Tigers, who arrived after dropping two of three at Yankee Stadium. Detroit doesn’t begin the home portion of its schedule until Friday.
Porcello yielded five runs, nine hits and a walk in five innings.
With a crowd of 46,593 looking on, the Orioles continued their solid play under manager Buck Showalter. Baltimore went 34-23 after Showalter took over last year, and the offseason acquisitions of Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Hardy and Mark Reynolds have Orioles fans hopeful that the team’s run of 13 straight losing seasons will end in 2011.
Baltimore went up 1-0 in the second inning when Wieters hit a leadoff double and scored on Porcello’s two-out wild pitch.
Detroit pulled even in the third. After Brandon Inge doubled and scored on a single by Rhymes, Miguel Cabrera flied out with two outs and runners at second and third.
The Tigers got only two runners in scoring position the rest of the way.
NOTES: Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Showalter. … RF Magglio Ordonez started for Detroit after missing Sunday’s game with a sore right ankle. He snapped an 0-for-9 start with a fifth-inning single. … Baltimore is 38-20 in home openers, including 5-0 against Detroit. … Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was hospitalized Monday with a high fever, putting his scheduled start Wednesday in jeopardy.

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Orioles Magic: Tillman, Roberts, Markakis leading men in 3-1 win in Tampa

Posted on 03 April 2011 by WNST Staff

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Strong starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.
Two games into the season, the Baltimore Orioles are clicking on all cylinders.
Chris Tillman held Tampa Bay hitless for six innings, Brian Roberts hit a three-run homer and Nick Markakis made a leaping catch at the wall in the ninth to preserve a 3-1 victory over the defending AL East champion Rays on Saturday night.
“As we all know, you win with pitching and defense, and that’s what we’ve gotten the first two days,” said Roberts, whose eighth-inning homer snapped a scoreless tie.
Tillman, making the 24th starter of his career, lost his bid for a no-hitter when manager Buck Showalter lifted him after 101 pitches. B.J. Upton lined a two-out single off Jeremy Accardo (1-0) for Tampa Bay’s first hit with two outs in the seventh.
The 22-year-old right-hander wasn’t surprised by removed from the game.
“No, I was real inefficient the first couple innings,” Tillman said. “Maybe a month down the road from now, I might still be in the game.”
Roberts drove in two runs with a triple on Friday night when Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight shutout innings in Baltimore’s 4-1 season-opening victory. His eighth-inning homer off Jake McGee came after Mark Reynolds singled and J.J. Hardy drew a one-out walk from Rays starter James Shields (0-1).
With two runners on base, Ben Zobrist hit a drive to right and Markakis, taking a running leap into the padded wall, made the game-ending catch.
“I’ve said over and over again, it’s a crime he hasn’t won a Gold Glove by this point,” Roberts said of Markakis. “To me, he’s the best right fielder in the game. If you didn’t believe before now, I hope you do now.”
Tillman walked three and struck out five in a start that was moved up a day after lefty Brian Matusz was scratched due to soreness on the left side of his mid-back. Matusz underwent an MRI exam Friday that found a strain in a muscle between the ribs and the back and is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks.
Accardo allowed two hits and escaped without allowing a run in the seventh when Felix Pie, who had entered the game as a pinch runner in the top half of the inning, made a perfect throw to the plate from left field to stop Upton from scoring on Kelly Shoppach’s sharp single to left field.
Tampa Bay’s Manny Ramirez singled off Koji Uehara to drive in a run charged to Michael Gonzalez in the eighth inning.
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for Baltimore and benefited from Markakis’ catch to earn his first save as an Oriole.
“I really thought Zo’s ball was over the wall when he hit it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays finished with four hits after being limited to the same number the previous night. Maddon conceded that two runs in two games is not getting the job done, however he found no fault with his team’s effort.
“They’ve just outpitched us,” Maddon said. “It’s gone their way both nights, but at some point it’s going to go our way.”
Shields is coming off a season in which he lost a career-high 15 games, allowed an AL-leading 34 homers and led the majors by yielding 127 runs and 246 hits. He was winless over his final six outings of the season, going 0-4 after Aug. 29 and also lost his only start in the Rays’ loss to Texas in the opening round of the playoffs.
On Saturday, he showed why he made three consecutive opening day starts for Tampa Bay before David Price, a 19-game winner a year ago, drew this year’s assignment.
“Sometimes you can look good and you don’t come out with the win,” said Shields, who allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven. “I hung in there as long as I could … but Tillman was on his game.”
The Rays starter settled after giving up a single to Roberts on the first pitch of the game and walking the next batter, Markakis. He retired nine in a row before Derrek Lee singled for Baltimore’s second hit in the fourth. Vladimir Guerrero singled with one out in the seventh and Reynolds singled leading off the eighth for the other hits off Shields.
Over three stints with the Orioles in 2010, Tillman went 2-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 11 starts. He was 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four career starts against Tampa Bay before Saturday, but the Rays had no answers for his this time.
The closest Tillman came to giving up a hit was Zobrist’s liner to right that Markakis made a nice running catch on in the third inning. He walked Evan Longoria with two outs in the first, Matt Joyce with two outs in the second and Zobrist with one out in the sixth.
The Rays didn’t get a runner past first until Upton singled and stole second in the seventh.
“I was so nervous and at the same time I felt comfortable,” Tillman said. “I settled down there the second and third and from then on out.”
NOTES: Rays RHP Wade Davis will start Sunday’s series finale. He’s set to have his head shaved by a young pediatric cancer patient following the game as part of the pitcher’s participation in “Cut for a Cure,” benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation. … With Matusz scratched from Sunday’s scheduled start, the Orioles are expected to recall left-hander Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk to make his major league debut. … Longoria left in the sixth inning due to muscle soreness on the left side on his upper body. The Rays said the three-time All-Star 3B will have his oblique muscle reevaluated on Sunday.

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90 WINS? POSSIBLE FOR THE ORIOLES THIS YEAR?

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Shawn Credle

“This team is improving. And while it’s nearly the end of the season, one would have to be optimistic about next year’s ballclub. Now, I’m not predicting playoffs just yet. But if the O’s can win at least 16 games per month next season, that will give them a minimum of 96 wins for the year. And I, along with every Baltimore Orioles’ fan, will take that. Don’t give up on the Birds just yet, fans. The best is yet to come. A new winning spirit may inspire a top free agent to come and play in Baltimore. An actual winning record will guarantee it.”

This is what I wrote nearly six months ago. And while people thought I was crazy for thinking that the Orioles can win over 90 games, some have seemed to change their minds after watching what the Orioles did this offseason. The signings of Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee have opened the eyes of many fans, and have opened the eyes of many teams. The Orioles plan on not being the team that other teams want to face in order to get a much-needed win. The O’s plan on being contenders right now.

Now, before you go crazy and plan to buy O’s playoff tickets, hold on a second. I’m not saying that the O’s will win the World Series this year, or even the AL East right now. What I am saying is that they will be a contender. There will be meaningful games in August and September. They have to beat the Yankees and the Red Sox during the regular season. Last season, the Showalter-led Orioles finished 2010 at 34–23, the best record among American League East clubs during the same stretch. A fact many seem to have forgotten.

Hopefully, the Orioles will allow Showalter to finish what he started, which is something the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks did not allow. Watching those two teams win championships right after he left, has left a sour taste in Showalter’s mouth. So, in a sense, Showalter has something to prove, as well as the players. And, possibly, in two or three years, and after a top free-agent pickup, a championship isn’t that far-fetched of an idea.

1. Brian Roberts – 2B
2. Nick Markakis – RF
3. Derrek Lee – 1B
4. Vladimir Guerrero – DH
5. Luke Scott – LF
6. Mark Reynolds – 3B
7. Adam Jones – CF
8. Matt Wieters – C
9. J.J. Hardy – SS
With that projected lineup, there will be no easy spots for an opposing pitcher. With the 1-2-3 spot, that could be one of the best in baseball this year, and get on base a lot.  The 4-5-6 spot - that has a lot of power.  And the 7-8-9 spot, that will drive pitchers crazy. Guerrero batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBI last year. Hopefully, we will get at least 85-90% of that this season. Wieters batted .249 with 11 HRs and 55 RBIs last year. And while Wieters has taken a beating in the press lately, this could be the breakout year for him.

Projected Starting Rotation
Jeremy Guthrie
Brian Matusz
Brad Bergesen
Chris Tillman
Jake Arrieta
(Justin Duchscherer)

Plus, one can’t forget about the starting rotation. Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergesen pitched well for Buck Showalter last season. Many are optimistic that they will improve. Jeremy Guthrie will get more run support this year, and that was a problem for him last year. And Zach Britton and Chris Tillman are waiting for their shot.

So, with the new lineup, and with Showalter enjoying his first full season with the team, 90-72 is my latest prediction for the O’s this year. What’s your prediction?

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Baseball’s “Leading” Men are MIA

Posted on 04 May 2010 by dansoderberg

Those of us in Baltimore have watched the Orioles scuffle this season while their $10 million leadoff hitter looks on from the dugout with a herniated disk.  Roberts’ absence isn’t the sole cause of the O’s struggles, but it sure hasn’t helped matters.  Ty Wigginton has filled in admirably at 2nd base, putting up great offensive numbers and limiting his defenses lapses.  But the club is still searching for a competent leadoff hitter.  Dave Trembley has settled on Adam Jones in the leadoff spot for now, but he can’t be happy with Jones’ production.  Adam and his .312 career On Base % are miscast in the top spot of the lineup.  Coming into 2010 Jones appeared to be a budding power hitter but his OBP and Slugging % are both down this year and he’s clearly frustrated.

The Orioles aren’t the only team missing a premier leadoff hitter.  The recently swept Red Sox are playing, and struggling, without Jacoby Ellsbury.  The perennial AL East power is off to a 12-14 start and is just 2-4 against the Orioles this season.  The Boston offense has struggled to consistently produce runs with Ellsbury’s career .350 OBP and base stealing abilities on the bench nursing a rib injury.  Terry Francona is using journeyman shortstop Marco Scutaro to lead off and converted infielder Bill Hall in left.  I wouldn’t expect the Red Sox to make a turnaround until Ellsbury returns, which may not be anytime soon.

Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies extraordinary leadoff man is out with a calf injury and may not return before the end of the month.  The Phillies are off to a 14-12 start, but are just 4-6 in their last 10 games.  Philadelphia had an excellent in-house leadoff candidate in Shane Victorino and they’re getting by with journeyman Juan Castro at short.

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Orioles circa 2010: We know they’ll lie, but will they lie down again?

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I know, I’m like a freaking broken record. Every year I write about how I’ve wrongfully had my media pass revoked and every year the Orioles make up some more lies to justify all of their mean-spiritedness and lack of professionalism. It’s Opening Day, I’ve again been deemed “not a media member” but that’s just the “off the field” stuff.

On the field, the word “improvement” has been thrown around all offseason in regard to the Orioles. As I’ve said many times, when you lose 98 games it’s hard NOT to improve the following season. It can’t get much worse, really.

As sickening as it is that I’ve taken a myriad of phone calls, emails and correspondence wondering “if the Orioles can win 78 games” – as though this disgracefully low bar somehow passes for “improvement” – I am officially one of the optimistic orange Kool Aid drinkers circa April 5th regarding the 2010 season.

It is my belief that this is the best team the Orioles have fielded this century. In 2004, the Orioles “best” performance was indeed 78 wins. Las Vegas has the 2010 Orioles over/under at 74 ½. If I were a betting man, I’d honestly take the “over” for the 2010 Orioles.

But this might be the year they finally prove they were right all along over these past 13 years of “rebuilding” and buying the bats and growing the arms.

Apparently, 78 wins will get a number of people here in Baltimore excited. At least that’s what people think until they realize that even that lofty “goal” would still be 25 games out of first place in AL East and the season would once again be effectively over right around June 20.

People have asked me every day for a month: “What do you think of the Orioles?”

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

Millwood is an unwitting victim of the wrong end of a big contract and the overlooking of putting Baltimore on his “not to visit” list when he inked his last contract in Texas. But, alas, he’s here now and needs to selfishly pitch well, even in MLB’s version of Siberia. He can set the tone with a big effort tonight in Tampa Bay.

It was different when guys like Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson were poisoning the next generation of Erik Bedard’s with their antics of bush-league, lack of professionalism. Millwood needs to be the “anti-aging” Orioles starting pitcher. He needs to be more like Rick Sutcliffe and less like the aforementioned bunch of vermin who spread their foul temperament and antics through the franchise like baseball’s version of a clubhouse cancer.

I’m not sure what kind of guy Millwood is – and again, therein lies the Orioles ability to unlawfully deny me a chance to do my job after all of these years – but I hope he acclimates, pitches well and leads by example for kids like Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman, who seem like the real thing.

Matusz might win 15 games this year if he stays healthy. And while that certainly IS progress, it’s not really much different than what Rodrigo Lopez and Eric Bedard both did twice in orange en route to meaningless, forgettable seasons for the Orioles.

But, as stated before, I’m bullish on the Orioles in 2010 in regard to “progress.” I think they might be OK and quite competitive against teams not named New York and Boston — if pieces fall into place and if good health can be found.

If the starting pitching can get them to the 6th or 7th inning five nights a week, that will allow for a more rested bullpen and a real chance for .500.

I’m sold on Miguel Tejada as a relevant third baseman in the AL East. I think he’ll hit .300 and be an RBI machine like he’s always been. He might be 50 years old for all we know, but I think he’ll be the least of the Orioles concerns at this point in his career. He’s coming as a complimentary player not the leader and “franchise” guy he was counted on to be six years ago. His lies, transgressions and B-12 shots will not even be a factor this summer in Baltimore.

Of course, this would be a good year for SOMEONE to step up and be the REAL franchise player.

Is it Nick Markakis, who is quietly putting together a nice Orioles career?

Or could it be Adam Jones, whose Tweets are fun to follow when he’s not up all night in San Diego?

Or will it be Matt Wieters, whose hype seemed justified over the final two months of 2009 when it appeared he was ready to become a star?

At least there are several All Star Game candidates in orange this summer. It’s not another summer of David Segui, B.J. Surhoff and Gregg Zaun playing out their late 30′s at Camden Yards.

I’m not a Dave Trembley fan – the team tanked and quit down the stretch last year and each of those 98 losses were well-earned late last summer. Again, when the owner is the cheapest in the game and when Trembley will manage for 1/10th of what the best managers in MLB yield for a salary, I get what the team is doing.

They’re making money. They’re hoping these kids pan out and selling it to what’s left of a tortured fan base and using their media moles to “plant the seed” of hope. At least they can say they “were patient” while Andy MacPhail built what this cake turns out to be circa 2013, when it allegedly will mature. (They’re always two years away from competing with the Yankees and Red Sox, aren’t they?)

So, are the baby Birds ready to fly? Can the team be relevant enough to compete through the All Star break without falling 15 games behind Boston and/or New York?

We’ll see. But for the first time in a long time, they can legitimately threaten to be a .500 team if they stay healthy and have some key young prospects step up the way the insider pundits around the sport believe they will.

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

If all of the young starters can get to the 7th inning with consistency?

If Tejada still has it?

And this is before we start projecting the likes of Jeremy Guthrie, Garrett Atkins, Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimond, who are all a literal box of chocolates. Does anyone really know what any of these guys will wind up doing come mid-summer? And what does anyone know about the bullpen, led by Mike Gonzalez?

Again – it’s the worst run franchise in professional sports. It’s not even close. That much has been borne out in living color over the past 13 summers. That will never change, even if Brooks Robinson is throwing out the first pitch on Friday. They are the worst group of people I’ve met in my 42 years on the planet — pure evil in their deeds, intents and actions.

But, perhaps this is the summer that all of their bloody deeds since 1997 are justified and they get people in Baltimore truly excited and energized about baseball.

If Tampa Bay could do it two years ago there’s no reason to believe the likes of Matusz, Wieters, Reimold, Bergesen, Tillman and company can’t step up to become very productive, young major leaguers and all hit their stride this summer.

It’s certainly a lot more possible than during the era of Omar Daal, Marty Cordova and Kevin Millar or any of the past sins of Peter Angelos’ ugly stewardship as the suddenly disappearing owner.

My real prediction: 78 wins.

I don’t think they can be above .500 with 54 games coming in the division against New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. But I think they will certainly be far better and more interesting on the field than we’ve seen here in Baltimore over the last 13 years.

But given the history, let’s all sip the orange Kool Aid one ounce at a time…

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