Tag Archive | "roberts"

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Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy: Birds give finale away in 3-2 loss to Seattle

Posted on 04 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While we’re all drinking the orange Kool Aid these days in hopes of “better days ahead,” it’s losses like last night’s in Seattle that keep anyone who appreciates good baseball scratching our heads in disgust. After a series of boneheaded baserunning blunders and mental mistakes, the Orioles finally succumbed to the Mariners in a 3-2 loss at Safeco Field when Adrian Beltre hit a seeing-eye single past Cesar Izturis off Jim Johnson in the 9th inning to win the game.

Aubrey Huff – allegedly a veteran – not only got picked off of third base by Mariners catcher Rob Johnson in the sixth inning to kill a rally but was also caught stealing in the ninth to thwart any chance of a go-ahead run. To his credit, Huff faced the music afterward, telling The Sun: “There’s no reason to get picked off right there. That’s just a stupid rookie mistake by a veteran guy. It can’t happen. There’s no reason for me to be off the base that much. If Wieters gets a hit, I’m scoring anyway. It was really, really stupid.”

At least he’s showing some accountability for his losing behavior.

Perhaps sometime soon someone will ask Dave Trembley why the team insists on “hit and run” situations with the game on the line?

But aside from the general lack of offensive production and oppotunity, there were plenty of goats to go around in the Pacific Northwest. Nolan Reimold also got caught stealing earlier in the game and the situational hitting has been non-existent. Matt Wieters hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded early in the game and Brian Roberts is now mired in an 0-for-17 slump heading into Oakland for tomorrow’s series with the A’s.

So how bad has the offense been since Friday night’s “Matt Messiah” game?

The Orioles have stranded what few runners they’ve had over the past week and have scored only five runs in 27 innings in Seattle and were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Add in the weekend brilliance of the Detroit staff and they’ve now scored only five runs in their past 39 innings and have scored three or fewer runs in 9 of the past 19 games.

Hitting slumps are acceptable. Mental mistakes are not.

Trembley, who is usually dour even when the team wins, looked downright distraught last night during a terse post-game press conference because he knows this was a very winnable game that got away.

The whole team might want to hit the cage in Oakland with outfielder Luke Scott, who continued his torrid pace with a home run in the second inning and an RBI double in the sixth. He’s now registered five home runs this week while no one else on the Birds has hit a homer since last Friday.

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May Orioles report card

Posted on 02 June 2009 by Keith Melchior

Here’s my May Orioles report card.

Brian Roberts – A … still the catalyst on the team. A very solid player

Adam Jones – A+… He still plays too shallow in CF sometimes and balls fly over his head, but he has been a pleasant surprise. With the solid 2 months he’s had, he definitely deserves All-Star recognition.

Nick Markakis – B+..production has fallen off a bit, stuck out a few too many times with runners on base, deserves All-Star recognition too.

Aubrey Huff - B.. playing a solid 1st base, hoping he’ll heat it up soon. If he does, he is the first one I’d look to trade out.

Melvin Mora – C.. I don’t think he’s 100%. He’s turned into a singles hitter as his power numbers dwindle.

Luke Scott – B+.. In a heck of a hot streak as of late, so they’ll probably trade him in July. He’s just what they Orioles need.

Nolan Reimold – B..(qualifies for an incomplete) He probably saved his job in LF and his spot on the team when he hit that GW HR last week.  He could hit better in his sleep than Felix Pie. He was helped by Lou Montanez’ injury and trip to the DL. Here’s hoping he gets settled in .

Gregg Zaun – F.. Did playing on an artificial surface pad this guys numbers? He has lost it at the plate and behind the plate, and rather quickly.

Ty Wigginton – B.. not playing every day hurts his ability to perform consistently, but he is an adequate utility player. Much better than the other 3

Felix Pie – F.. He should be sent to Norfolk so he can play every day and work on his game. Sitting on the bench here in Baltimore isn’t helping. When Lou Montanez returns from the DL, I’ll drive Pie to Norfolk.

Cesar Izturis – C.. has been pretty decent in the field and producing at the plate is all you can ask for at this position. They got him for his defense

Robert Andino – C.. not lighting it up but he’s not supposed to. He’s a “band-aid player” in case of injuries. There’s no need for him to have to play once or twice a week.

Jeremy Guthrie – B.. has shown flashes but still somewhat inconsistent and struggles to get into 7th inning

Rich Hill – B+.. a pleasant surprise, so McPhail is batting .500 with his ex-Cubs

Koji Uehara – C.. guts alone can’t win ball games, ask Kyle Boller. Runs into trouble after 5 innings way too often. Hopefully he can improve his stamina when off the DL.

Jim Johnson  – B.. looks like he picked up where he left off last season before he was shut down. Dominant at times.

Danys Baez – B-.. Quite different than the guy who couldn’t get anyone out 2 years ago, but he still lacks that consistency that middle relievers need. Probably trade material come July.

Brian Bass – B+.. talk about a guy who seemingly rose from the dead. He was probably on his way out but he turned it around in a hurry after a disasterous April. He has become a solid middle reliever. Hope he stays that way.

Matt Albers – C.. Looks like his choice to rehab instead of surgery is working  as has held his own.  Let’s see what June has in store for him

Jamie Walker – F.. after a decent April, that meltdown over the balk last month transformed  him back into the  Jamie Walker of 2008.

George Sherrill – B.. not the All-Star he was at this time last year, but the best option they have since Chris Ray blew up and did his Walker routine.

Bergesen, Berken, Hernandez – Incomplete – They all look like they belong with the big club thus far.  We’ll see how they progress in June.

Matt Wieters – A+ for hype…..incomplete for grade. rocky start of a major league career going 2-11. Once he settles in and plays more, he’ll be fine.

Dave Trembley – C- .. He locked himself into a rut but playing the B lineup on Sundays and usually the last game in a series. You have to have players who can accept that role and can step in and play to make it work for you. If he is that stuck on getting his reserves in a game, then why not stagger them, that way you don’t have all 3 in the game at the same time…i.e. rest Izturis Friday and play Saturday and Sunday and rest Mora on Saturday and play on Sunday, etc etc.. … His bench players are terrible. Pinch hitting a .200 hitter for a .198 hitter? Why bother?  The team is 5 games under .500 at this point, no thanks to Trembley. The top of the lineup all hit and hit and hit and won games despite the rocky pitching efforts. Some of Trembley’s in-game decisions are highly questionable, he is stubborn about his reserves playing time, and his record on Sundays/ final game of a series is worthy of a firing if he can’t turn that trend around. If he’s trying to win baseball games, he is doing it with smoke and mirrors.

Team Overall – C.. the recent 5 game win streak helped. With their lineup, they should beat teams like Washington and teams that are reeling and slumping.  The comeback win over Toronto was impressive, but the 2 losses to Detroit over the weekend were tough to swallow. How they fare in June and July with the development of the rookies will go a long way in determining whether they are serious in contending in the future or will settle for mediocrity. Hanging onto players like Felix Pie, Gregg Zaun  and Robert Andino drag them down. having 3 bench players hitting a combined .198 gives Trembley no options in late innings or against NL teams. Perhaps Baez and Koji can be used as pinch-hitters. Pie should go to Norfolk, Zaun and Andino can just go, period.  The Orioles are better than advertised at times. Now it appears they have a log-jam on the mound when Koji returns from the DL.

Question – What ever happened to Mike Flanagan?

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

Posted on 28 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We fully expect that Camden Yards will be packed tomorrow night for the debut of Matt Wieters. It’s a Friday night, the forecast is good and this is probably the most unique evening of baseball in Baltimore since “Fan Appreciation Night” back in May 1988, when the team was greeted with unconditional love after an 0-21 start.

Clearly, the Orioles marketing folks have finally put the “WNST Cap” on and used an evening to create an “event.” They were already guaranteed about 30,000 on a $6 student/fireworks night. And after a couple of years of press, accolades and hype, the can’t-miss-kid is coming to town. They could’ve made his debut tonight, but they’ve chosen a night when they were already en route to a full house. This alone, is a departure from some of their foolish decisions related to getting people interested in the team.

Here’s where you can make all of the jokes about how few people still DO go to Orioles games. Yesterday, the Orioles battled back from an 8-3 deficit to win a game in dramatic, 11th-inning style with a walk-off home run by young Nolan Reimold and there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium to witness it. On Tuesday night, it was truly a “friends and family” night with less than 3,000 people there in the rain to watch young Jason Berken pitch his debut.

That won’t be the case tomorrow night when the flashbulbs glow all over Camden Yards for the coming of the catcher/messiah. It will be a virtual “sea of orange.”

(ONE FAIR WARNING: If you’re planning on “walking up” tomorrow at 6:30 and getting in, think again! The Orioles have one of the most inept game day staffs in the universe. You will be standing line until the 4th inning trying to get in if you roll up there at any point after 6 p.m.)

Oh sure they’ll say Wieters is “just another ballplayer” and one of the many “fine young prospects in the organization.” Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley have already begun calling for “calm” and have made the “give the kid some space” pronouncements.

They’ll say all of the “right” things because they don’t know if he’ll hit .300 or flop once he gets to the big leagues. No one ever knows but Wieters is about as much of a sure thing as we’re going to get in this lifetime in an Orioles uniform.

All of the indicators of maturity, pedigree and ability are there for Wieters to literally be a Hall of Famer.

Wieters HOF

Go to www.mattwietersfacts.com for more fun like this above…

He was the best player in the draft, who was made hard to draft because of the Scott Boras factor and signability issue. But at the 11th hour two years ago, Peter Angelos found a way to get it done and get him into an orange jersey.

Wieters has come into the organization and literally earned every promotion he’s received over the last two years.

But the franchise needs “saving” as much OFF the field as on the field. Sure, winning will be the ultimate tonic for all that ails the Orioles. (At least that’s what the current ownership believes.)

But what will Wieters’ impact really be in Baltimore over the next four months?

Or four years?

Or for the next decade or so, if he’s truly “The Chosen One” for the organization?

Will he be a guy who does charity work and lives in the community?

Will he be another guy who lives “out of town” during the offseason?

Will he be stupid enough to go on a radio show and call Baltimore a “horseshit” city? (Doubtful, by the way!)

Will he be able to hit .300 and have the kind of impact that Joe Mauer has had in Minnesota?

Will we be comparing him to Mike Piazza or Earl Williams in 2011?

Will he be Cal Ripken or Jim Fuller?

Will he be Eddie Murray or Craig Worthington?

Where will he bat in the order?

Will fans flock to see him after tomorrow night? Will Wieters be playing in front of 40,000 empty green seats once the “shine” wears off his star?

Will he be a “reason to come to the ballpark” more so than Nick Markakis or Brian
Roberts, who have both exceeded any reasonable expectation over the past five years yet still play in an empty stadium most nights when the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in town booing the home team?

What’s going to make this promotion of Matt Wieters “special” somewhere down the line?

Here’s hoping that all of our wildest dreams or fantasies as Orioles fans are realized with this promotion on Friday. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end of the 12 years of hell and the 16 years of lousy ownership and leadership and accountability. (I’m in no way holding my breath that the Angelos clan will ever learn how to be a quality community partner and civic leaders for the greater good of Baltimore, but I never say “never.”)

So, I’m drinking the orange Kool Aid for the time being. (Hey, I’m at least sipping from a Dixie cup until Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz get here.)

If Matt Wieters is here to save us all, then I’m the first convertible soul to sign up for the congregation. But it’s going to take more than just rolling the ball onto the field at Camden Yards to change what has been a generation of despair for anyone in this region who loves baseball as much as I do.

Here’s my message to Wieters:

Change the losing culture here in Baltimore, Matt!

Hit .300 and drive in runs. Be a fiery leader and say and do the “right” things here. (In other words, stay away from Aubrey Huff!)

Buy, don’t rent, here in Baltimore and get to know the people and heritage and history of the city. Put a little effort into being special and you’ll get special treatment! And whatever you do, don’t take marketing or human relations advice from Peter Angelos or any of his kin.

We want a hero. We want another Cal or Brooks. We’ve been patient but it’s now all on you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it goes when you get a $6 million signing bonus and negotiate til the 11th hour and you’re the No. 1 prospect in all of the major leagues according to anyone with a baseball website.

We’ve been waiting a long time for you kid!

I’m not a Wieters beater.

I’m more in line with “Going to bat for Matt!”

Come on up, do your best, make us proud to have “Baltimore” on our chests and give us a fun summer.

After all, if it’s ever going to change here – this sea of ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and arrogance this ownership has wreaked upon Baltimore since 1993 – it has to begin somewhere.

They tell me you’re “The Savior.”

For once — at least — I hope they’re not lying.

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Triple losses: First the Caps, then the Orioles, then Danny Gokey

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Despite the fun we had in Dundalk last night with an evening of 12 semifinal auditions at Donna’s Tavern, it was an ugly night for local sports. The Capitals fell behind early and had one of the most disappointing Game 7 efforts in recent memory. The Orioles got clubbed by the Rays while Adam Jones left the game early with a hamstring pull.

And, adding insult to the injury that effectively ended my hockey season, my favorite American Idol contestant Danny Gokey got bounced by the American public in a shocking turn of events. (Somehow, I think Kris Allen got through just because he looks like Brian Roberts!)

The Capitals played the entire postseason from behind and last night it finally caught up with them. Simeon Varlamov’s magic ended quite early last night and Bruce Boudreau and the troops must be devastated – if not embarrassed – by that performance in a Game 7 last night. It’s always hard getting eliminated, but not showing up prepared to compete in a game like last night is unacceptable.

The home-ice advantage was nullified pretty early last night in D.C. and it will be a tough offseason after losing a game in that fashion.

The Orioles and Rays combined for 30 hits last night and the teams scored eight runs in the 9th inning, taking turns using each other’s bullpens as piñatas. Bob McCrory got a rough big-league initiation last night, giving up four runs in 1 2/3 innings and Troy Percival entered the game with an 8-2 lead and came close to allowing the Orioles to force extra innings.

Obviously, with Adam Jones leaving the game with a hamstring tweak after losing Luke Scott and Felix Pie to various ailments earlier in the week, it was an ueasy night at The Yard. The Orioles (14-20) will take to the road now for 10 games in 11 days in Kansas City, New York and Washington, D.C.

Nolan Reimold is the “next man up” and McCrory is headed back to Norfolk.

More roster decisions are coming for Rich Hill at some point this weekend and the inevitable Matt Wieters call-up and the need for better starting pitching continue to loom for the franchise.

And, last but not least, the loss of Danny Gokey was probably the biggest shocker of the night. Given that the American Idol competition is a pure “viewer vote” it’s almost impossible to handicap who will actually like these singers and then go through the rigors of voting for them.

So, while Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are clearly talented guys, it’s almost like having a phone vote for U2, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Who knows which one would get the most votes? It’s a big crapshoot.

Either way, I hope Gokey does well in the “real” world because he seemed like an affable, talented guy with a great story to tell. I’d buy an album by Danny Gokey. I can’t say the same for Lambert or Allen.

Meantime, we had our own “American Idol” competition in Dundalk at Donna’s last night. I’ll blog a little later with those results and we’ll get the videos into wnsTV soon.

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O’s blow early 7-0 lead, lose 10-8 to Red Sox in Boston

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

These are the losses that bust you up, the ones you never understand. Except that over the years, evenings like tonight have become so commonplace that they’re shrugged off en route to 90 losses. The Orioles blew a 7-0 lead tonight, allowing the Red Sox 10 runs on 12 hits and even sprinkling in a devastating error by Aubrey Huff to lose 10-8 at Fenway Park tonight.

The “BALTIMORE” jerseys were somehow absent tonight (good luck on the explanation for that one). The Red Sox were wearing bright red “warm up”jerseys and blue caps with the cartoon pair of Red Sox with white trim. They were sharp, but looked like a world championship softball team. But I’m sure they’ll sell some hats.

The Red Sox have suffered the first two weeks with an anemic offensive attack and yet while David Ortiz continues to struggle — he struck out three times tonight — Jason Bay and Dustin Pedroia led the way for the Sox tonight battering Jeremy Guthrie out of the game in the 5th inning and hammering the bullpen led by Danys Baez. Matt Albers got into hot water in the 8th but escaped like Houdini.

The Orioles are now 6-4 — not too shabby, all things considered but they are taking on all of the characteristics of a bad team. Orioles pitching has allowed 29 runs in the last 16 innings of baseball.

Not good!

My running blog below…

10:26 p.m. — Markakis flies out. Huff strikes out. Threat ends ugly and empty. Did I mention that they blew a 7-0 lead tonight with their ace on the hill?

10:19 p.m. –The Orioles are threatening in the eighth. Two on, Markakis up. It’s a “defining” moment. Iwajima is in the game. Lefty on lefty…

10:07 p.m. — They’re booing Big Papi…LOUDLY! Fenway Park sounds like a festival of the “Boo-g Powells.” Big Papi has now fanned three times. He looks like Little Papi in 2009 thus far. Alberts got Youkilis to ground into a double play. There’s still hope! They survived a bases-loaded, no out jam! This could be a “defining” moment, a turning point in the season. Or, maybe not…

10:05 p.m. — Matt Albers is in the game. The bases are loaded. Nobody out. And Big Papi is coming to the dish. Trouble?

9:58 p.m. — Someone just left me a comment about how Gawd-awful MASN’s in-house commercials are and how often we are subjected to them. Agreed. Just painful, and we’re only two weeks into the season! And now, after blowing a 7-0 lead, I’m subjected to Amber Theoharis smiling and giving us “minor league” pitching updates from Bowie, which will be a “good news” staple all season.

The biggest story in the Orioles’ universe tonight is their catcher of the future who should already be here tweaking a hammy in suburban Atlanta. I suppose it’s great that so many folks are interested in their farm system and they’re actually “marketing” these kids. I just hope to God a few of them can actually play come 2011. This is the biggest “sell job” the franchise has ever put on us while we watch pitching that has allowed 29 runs in the last 15 innings.

9:48 p.m. –I hear Danys Baez is a great guy. (I’ve never met him.) But he sucks as a pitcher. The Orioles have now officially blown a 7-0 lead with their ace on the hill against a division opponent that was reeling offensively before tonight.

9:35 p.m. — That Kevin Youkilis header was quite scary. Baez looked a little unglued. He clearly felt horrible about it. Always the scariest thing in baseball, next to the pitcher comebackers.

9:14 p.m. — The game is tied after Nick Green launched one over Adam Jones’ head. Guthrie is headed the shower. Even after being staked to eight runs of offensive support, he can only be the loser. He leaves the game with eight runs scored — no thanks to the Huff botching of a Bill Buckner-esque grounder — and two aboard. Enter Danys Baez. They call this “relief” pitching?

9:12 p.m. — Jeremy Guthrie was sailing through the fifth but all hell has broken loose with two outs. A triple, a couple of walks and then the Aubrey Huff snafu has staked the Red Sox to the brink of getting into the Orioles line of arsonists waiting out in the bullpen.

9:02 p.m. — The Matt Wieters “situation” is apparently nothing too serious, but the Orioles have been known to “fib” with their media relations. So, who knows? We’ll know more tomorrow.

8:48 p.m. — Lots of offense. Lots of bad pitching. Looks like another fun evening at Fenway Park is shaping up. At least Guthrie has survived the initial storm. More than we can say for Josh Beckett. Nick Markakis hits a salami. And Brian Roberts and Adam Jones continue to be the best 1-2 punch in MLB over the first two weeks.

Oh…and Big Papi looks sick. They’re on the way to a series lead. But then again, the bullpen will be called upon at some point.

7:12 p.m. — What the heck happened to “BALTIMORE” on the black road jerseys? Explanation anyone?

7:11 p.m. — Wow, those Red jerseys pop off the screen in HD. Just seeing Brian Roberts stroll up to the plate hitting .444 is pretty cool, especially when you consider how many times this organization dangled him out on the trade market. He’s rich. He’s cool. He’s community-oriented and an all-around good guy. And, he’s hitting .444. What’s not to like about BRob? One of the real reasons to go the ballpark if you do go…

I’m not going to blog inning by inning, but if you want to comment on the game at any point, feel free. I’ll approve them over the next hour during dinner. Looks like a beautiful night to be at Fenway for a game.

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When Second is the Best

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

When Second is the Best 

Most of the time in sports teams, players, fans, and everyone else that is connected with an organization wants nothing more than to be first.  Second is never the best.  After all second is really nothing more than the first loser, right? 

Well that is true most of the time but not when it comes to the Orioles line-up and when we are talking about where to put Adam Jones  At the beginning of spring training this season Adam Jones walked up to his manager and asked that he be allowed to bat second.  Trembley responded by giving his budding star centerfielder a list of challenges that he must first overcome.  Then, if that was accomplished, he would supplant Markakis as the number two-hitter and move Markakis to the number three slot. 

Well luckily for the Orioles, Jones has responded to Trembley’s challenges with flying colors.  He has become a much more patient and disciplined hitter.  Not only is he taking pitches giving Roberts time to steal but he also is taking pitcher’s pitches: pitches that even if he made contact would result in outs more often then not.  His eye for the strike zone has really developed and matured since last season.  He also seems much more confident hitting with two strikes. 

Not only has Jones become more patient he has also been using the whole field.  He is waiting back on the ball and is driving it to right center and right field.  This is important for a number two hitter because it allows your lead off man to move from first to third.  Jones has the power to drive the ball out of the ball park to any field and the fact that he is willing to wait for his pitch and stay behind it and drive to all fields increases his plate coverage as well as prevents him from getting fooled by the breaking pitch.  The key in baseball is to be comfortable enough that you are able to give yourself as much time as possible to figure out what type of pitch is being thrown and what location it is heading. 

Clearly we have established that Jones has responded to Trembley’s challenges early in the season.  But there were some skeptical folks out there that felt that Markakis belonged in the second spot in the order.  After all, he hit great there last year.   I personally like Markakis better as the number three hitter and I think the benefits he gets from the number two spot will be his in the number three slot as well, as long as Jones continues to play well.  The reason is simple.  Whenever you have a Roberts on base in front of you, you will get more fastballs to hit because of the fear that he may steal.  That played a role in why Markakis hit better in the second spot last year.  But by putting Jones in front of Markakis you will make life better for all. 

Roberts will see more pitches to hit because pitchers will not want to walk him to get to Jones, as long as he keeps driving the ball and remaining patient at the plate.  As Roberts gets more fastballs he will get more hits.  Consequently it will bring Jones to the plate with Roberts on base, a threat to steal.  So Jones will see more fastballs, especially with Markakis behind him because people will not want to face Markakis with two on base.  He is too good of a hitter.  The wild card this season is Jones’s speed.  Because he is just as fast as Roberts, he too is a threat to steal.  So now if he gets on base you are in the same position with Markakis in the three-hole as you were with him in the two last year.  He is a patient and disciplined hitter and will wait for his pitch to drive.  This will give Jones time to steal and the threat of the steal will force pitchers to continue to pitch fastballs to Markakis. 

The top of the Orioles line-up sets up really well.  If Huff can hit like he did last year the top four spots for the Orioles will be as good as any in the league.  And remember help is on the way as Matt Weiters is preparing to begin his big league career some time in mid to late May or early June.  Just image what this line-up could be if he can step in to the five-hole and deliver as he is expected to do.   

 Clearly second can be the best!!!

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Where are the Fundamentals

Posted on 13 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Where are the Fundamentals

 

All preseason long all we have heard from Trembley was how this year’s Orioles team was going back to the basics.  They are going to be playing fundamental ball and that is how the team will become a contender once again in the American League.

 

While the Orioles have started an impressive 4-2, especially when you consider those first six games came against the Yankees then the Rays, the fundaments for this team have been missing.  To many times I have seen this team make boneheaded decisions on the bases which leads me to question the fundamentals that this team is suppose to be predicated on.

The season is still young but in every game this year there has been some sort of poor base running decision that has cost the Orioles base runners or advancement on the bases.  Greg Zaun has been the culprit for many of those type of mistakes.  In only four games he has been able to get on base 5 times, 3 hits and 2 walks.  One of the times he some how managed to get doubled off of second on a line out to right field.  As Zobrist made a diving catch in right center Zaun was caught hanging off the base and was consequently doubled off.  One might say he was trying to get a jump thinking the ball would fall in but look at the situation.  There was nobody out and if that ball got by Zobrist it goes to the wall and Zaun scores.  If Zobrist does not come up with the ball but knocks it down then the Orioles have first and third with no outs.  That is fundamental baseball.  Know when to take chances and when not to.  On the opposite side of the spectrum two games earlier Zaun hit a ground rule double which sent Pie to third with no outs.  Izturis hit a grounder up the middle and the second baseman makes the playing throwing him out at first.  Pie scores but for some reason Zaun is still sitting on second.  Why?  Some will say he got a bad read on the ball.  But if he were following the fundamentals of base running that would not have mattered.  The ball was hit up the middle and Pie broke for the plate.  That should have been the only thing that Zaun was paying attention too.  If the pitcher catches the ball he throws Pie out at the plate and Zaun would have advanced to third.  If the pitcher misses the ball, as was the case, then Zaun is on third with one out.  The point being here is that all Zaun needed to do fundamentally was keep an eye on the runner in front.  If he runs Zaun runs.  It is that simple.

 

I am not just picking on Zaun here.  It seems like every game we have had some one thrown out on the bases and we have also witnessed several other players fail to make the fundamental decisions on the bases.  Just yesterday Adam Jones failed to tag up on a ball hit to deep left center with nobody out.  He stayed at second and as a result never scored in the inning.  Roberts, who usually is a very effective base runner, has also victimized this team with poor decisions on the base paths.  In the opener he took off for second while the pitcher still had the ball and thus he got picked off.  The next day after drawing a four pitch walk and watching a wild Wang fall behind 2-1 on Jones he attempted to steal second.  The throw from the catcher was short of second and he would have made it easily.  But he did not.  For some reason he stopped half way and got thrown out when the ball was relayed to first before he could get back.  I guess it was a botched hit and run but with a player with the speed, and base running skills of Roberts, this should not happen.  If he is going to run he needs to commit to stealing the base and the Orioles will be forced to live with the results should he get doubled off.

 

The Orioles have come out of the gate quickly this year but if they hope to keep their success going it will be because they play the game fundamentally well.  So far they have been able to overcome some fundamental mistakes but over the course of the year this team is not talented enough to be able to consistently do this.  The Orioles need to start concentrating, especially on the bases, to make sure they are not costing themselves opportunities to add runs to the scoreboard.

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Why the Orioles are Worth Watching

Posted on 12 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Why the Orioles are Worth Watching

 

As a fan of the Orioles it has been tough watching Orioles play for the last decade.  The Orioles have been bogged down in a decade long losing streak which has been mostly painful to watch.  There is only one thing worse than watching you favorite team lose year after year-watching your favorite team lose year after year with no hopes of improving.  Over the years I have turned on the Orioles game not only expecting them to lose but also expecting that not to change anytime soon.  That has now changed.

 

I am not going to sit here and try and sell you on the idea that the 4-1 Orioles will be this year’s great surprise and push the elite teams for a playoff spot.  I am realistic and while it’s been great to get off to such an exciting start I think it would the greatest shocker of my lifetime if they actually made a strong post season run.  This team is not quite built to win this year.  But thanks to recent moves starting two off seasons ago, Andy McPhail has given us hope.

 

As I continue to watch the Orioles win games I am getting more and more excited.  For the first time in ten years I am excited about are future.  I am excited about the development of Adam Jones, who is appearing like a future all-star to pair with the two we already have in Markakis and Roberts.  I am getting excited about the all but certain arrival of soon to be all-star Matt Wieters.  I also check the paper to see how our young pitchers are doing down on the farm.  With every successful outing, my excitement and expectations for our future increases.

 

I found it to be tough to watch Oriole baseball for the past decade because we were not watching a young team full hope pay their dues as they were beginning to grow into something special.  Instead, I was a fan that was forced to watch my beloved Orioles fall short year after year with a host of over-paid, over-the-hill, washed up veterans.  I have been saying for years that I wish the Orioles would once and for all stop acquiring the league’s retreads but rather try to develop a nucleus of youthful talent that would infuse a dormant organization with much needed excitement.

 

Win or lose, this year will be different.  We are not watching a team of players heading for extinction but rather we are watching a team filled with potential.  Each day I tune in not only to see if we will win, but also to see if Adam Jones is really the five tool player he projects to be or if Felix Pie is really the future for us in left.  I do not just check scores in the paper but I check on the development of what could very well be one of the more talented minor league organizations that houses one of the deepest pools of pitching talents. 

 

Thanks to the injection of youthful talent there is a reason to be excited about the future of the Orioles even on the nights when you watch with one eye closed hoping that it really is not that bad.  The future may not be now, that remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure:

 

Break out the shades-the future is bright!!!

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A gloomy forecast — today and for the ’09 Birds

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The sky is gray across the horizon in downtown Baltimore this morning as the Orioles kick off their 2009 campaign amidst a city full of Yankees fans and the inaugural appearance for Baltimore’s homegrown Mark Teixeira as a pinstriper. It was a dark day even before the clouds and scattered showers moved in from the south.

The Orioles, who haven’t played a meaningful game since October 1997, appear to be about to put another 162 insignificant games into the record books as the “dark era” of Birds baseball continues, the longest stretch of inepetitude in the history of the storied franchise. The Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Orioles “win/loss” total at 71 1/2, which means if the Orioles play just “18 games under .500″ you win the bet.

I’m not a betting man, but based on what I’ve seen for six weeks in spring training regarding their pitching, I’d be jumping at the “under” on this proposition. That said, I like this team, these position players and the quality of the character it appears Andy McPhail has assembled.

I want to cheer for Brian Roberts. I like Luke Scott and Adam Jones. I’m interested in Felix Pie, although I think he’ll probably be this year’s version of Jeff Stone. I think Aubrey Huff looked inspired for six months last summer and I’m not convinced he won’t rebound with another big year. I’m not sure what to make of Melvin Mora at this point in his career and I think Cesar Izturis will be fun to watch field the ball. And Nick Markakis is just a solid ballplayer, almost a throwback.

On the rare nights that the bullpen will be delivered a 7th inning lead, it’ll be fun to see if they’re as good as advertised.

Some things I’m watching for this season:

When will Matt Wieters arrive for good and how will he perform? It’ll be the biggest franchise mid-season debut since Ben McDonald, which was a very, very big deal.

Let’s be honest: these current starting pitching is a joke and if Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, Mark Hendrickson, Alfredo Simon and Adam Eaton are the real five starters we’ll use all season, this team is probably 10 games under .500 before Memorial Day and then it becomes a “what to do?” for McPhail.

How will Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman do on the farm this year, especially before the All-Star break. If the current O’s veterans are as bad as we think they’ll be, which of these guys will be heatlthy, effective and ready to promote?

And will the Orioles start the M.L. service time on any of these kids with a summer call up? Or will McPhail allow the current veteran group to get their heads beaten in night after night? Or will Danys Baez or Brian Bass or David Pauley step in and perform? Or not?

That’s why we watch and certainly I’m poised to talk baseball every single day on WNST and AM 1570.

I just hope in these tough economic times, perhaps the people of Baltimore will return to baseball this summer and come to care again about the Orioles, if not in the stands perhaps on their TV’s around town. Of course, it would help if the franchise actually did its fair share and “came back to the people.” During the last six months, the team did exactly two events to promote their team. One of them was two days ago.

They continue to do foolish, selfish and mindless things that almost go unnoticed by the media that is in the business of making excuses for their sins so they can benefit financially.

Today’s starting pitcher — their No. 1 guy and big “hope” for the season — had his paycheck cut by 15% four weeks ago. Happy Opening Day, Jeremy Guthrie!

They continue to ban free speech, even daring their current players to not speak out about unsafe playing conditions in spring training.

We’ll see how much “progress” the organization has over the next six months. Let’s see how the puppies do on the farm. Let’s see how the young emerging stars perform in a mostly empty stadium and with starting pitching that no one can takes seriously as a team that will compete in the AL East in 2009.

But, let’s see how the season goes. My prediction: 65-97. Probably worse if someone doesn’t come in and save the rotation by July.

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Drinking the orange Kool Aid at Fan Fest

Posted on 04 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

There are two types of Orioles fans left in the Baltimore area and they are distinct groups:

Those who drink the Kool Aid…

And those, like me, who have examined the big picture of what’s happened to this franchise over the past 13 years and are pretty angry about its impact on our fun, our lives and the community.

With Opening Day looming, everyone who has EVER loved baseball perks up and pay attention. Even if it’s only to notice: “Hey, its’ Opening Day!” Most people in Baltimore realize this team won’t contend but if you love baseball you’ll at least open one eye on Monday afternoon to catch the score. I’d venture to say that 75% of the city will wake up Tuesday morning at the office and know whether the Orioles won. (That number used to be more like 98% in 1998!)

Those who unconditionally still drink the orange Kool Air or “want” to drink the Kool Aid probably went down to Fan Fast today at Camden Yards. I opted to not give Mr. Angelos any more money that he won’t spend to get the team a quality spring training facility.

Instead, I’m sitting here watching the Fan Fest festivities on MASN HD television and getting some of my WNST “CEO work” done and thinking about baseball season and how it’s going to go for the Orioles and Matt Wieters and these young players and what inevitable drama will unfold.

The only real “punishment” I’m getting for not having a press pass is being “banned” from knowing the Orioles players, which is almost ludicrous because as you saw last week, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Roberts were happy to chat with me at the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. Charley Eckman would’ve called them “right guys” and they are decent, solid dudes. (As an aside, I also exchanged pleasantries with Davey Johnson, which is always fun.)

As a media member – well, at least I was for about 23 years until I was banned – I got to know so many of the players and what kinda guys they are. So I guess that’s my “price to pay” — I don’t get to report to you what good people the Orioles have on their team this year. Or not…

While it looked a tad bit chilly and windy at Camden Yards, the event was a “made for TV” informercial/season preview with interviews between co-workers Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer and the like of Andy McPhail, Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, Dennis Sarfate and Ryan Freel.

They did a nice job with “get to know you” chats with these players and  I especially like that I can see Jim Palmer in high def. For a well-compensated network to finally “discover” HD in 2009 tells you all you need to know about the vision people at MASN.

But I digress…

Here are a few observations, because my seat is the same as yours at this point, which is its own unique point of view watching Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis and others interview their co-workers in black hats that say “O’s”.

I honestly didn’t know what Ty Wigginton or Koji Uehara looked like until today. Ditto Freel, who really seemed to be a pleasant “aw, shucks” kinda guy. He reminded me of Bob Backlund back in the late 1970’s when he was a baby face.

Freel freely thanked the fans several times and seemed genuine. (As an aside, why doesn’t the owner of the team ever do that? Just come on the TV and say “thanks” on his own network that he’s making over $100 million this year on?)

Andy McPhail did a stand up with Jim Hunter and said all of the right things. He made it clear he expected a big improvement in Adam Jones. He also talked a lot about character and what kind of players — “gamers, blue collars guys, character guys” — he wants on the team. Fair enough.

I like hearing that the Orioles want good people in their organization. From what I know of the 2009 Orioles, they’re pretty good guys and they clearly dislike Angelos’ management and ownership style as much as the rest of us. (Again, this is one of the reasons the Orioles banning legitimate media isn’t a good thing for the fans. The fans never get to know the truth unless, like yesterday in The Sun, they speak out.)

I’ve known Gregg Zaun for 17 years. I’ve cheered – VERY hard – for Zaun for 17 years through his days in Kansas City, Florida, Toronto and Houston. He’s a great person and loves Baltimore and the Orioles. That’s an upgrade there no matter how you look at it and he’ll keep the seat plenty warm for Matt Wieters, whenever the Orioles decide to promote him to the bigs.

Even today on TV, a couple of the young players talked about what a cool guy Zaun is for them to be around and how he tells great stories (which he does!)

I must say that I didn’t envy Buck Martinez’s press pass today, interviewing his co-worker, Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara, whose only word in English was “Thank you!”

Uehara had an interpreter and the answer to the first question regarding Camden Yards was this: “Right field is pretty shallow.” That was the first of several laughs.

Honestly, it was like I needed an interpreter for his interpreter. It was borderline hilarious. It reminded me of my four days in Tokyo where communication was definitely at a premium.

I don’t care how much Uehara speaks. The Orioles need him to be a rock star if they’re going to win 75 games. But he seemed pleasant enough and thrilled to be at Camden Yards in a big-league uniform. Good enough for me.

If the only “communication” I’m going to have with the players is to see their co-workers ask them questions I might as well think they’re nice guys. Even if they’re complete turds, at least this won’t spoil it for me.

I’m ready for Opening Day. I’m ready to get to Hooters and have a Bud Light. I’m ready for baseball.

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