Tag Archive | "showalter"

Your Monday Reality Check: Don’t listen to those saying Orioles’ pitching bad

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: Don’t listen to those saying Orioles’ pitching bad

Posted on 15 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

During the course of Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, there will be plenty of stories written and plenty of analysis offered via radio/TV about the first half of the Baltimore Orioles’ season.

As you almost certainly already know, the Birds finished the first “half” of the season 53-43, 4.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot. The biggest headlines of the season thus far have surrounded Chris Davis’ 37 home runs, Manny Machado’s 39 doubles and Jim Johnson’s six blown saves.

But if the Baltimore Orioles want to make it a second consecutive trip to the postseason, the headlines in the second half of the season are going to have to be about something that hasn’t gotten much attention through the first 96 games of the season.

Spoiler alert. It’s the starting pitching.

Yes, the same starting pitching that has lead the Orioles to a 4.39 team ERA to this point…good for 28th in Major League Baseball.

It isn’t hard to pick apart why that number isn’t particularly relevant. Allow me the opportunity.

Eliminating pitchers who barely appeared for the Orioles this season (does anyone even remember Alex Burnett), a number of pitchers posted legitimate innings and soaked up miserable ERA’s.

For example, Pedro Strop pitched 22.1 innings for the O’s and posted a 7.25 ERA. He’s gone. Jake Arrieta pitched over 23 innings in Orange and Black this season and posted a 7.23 ERA. For his trouble, Arrieta was dealt with Strop to the Chicago Cubs Kevin Gausman has pitched 33.1 innings at the major league level this season, tallying a 6.21 ERA in the process. He’s currently pitching for the Norfolk Tides. “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia? 5.77 ERA in 53 innings. The veteran is currently riding buses with Gausman in Norfolk himself. Zach Britton managed a 4.76 ERA over 34 IP before returning to the Tides as well.

Of the current Orioles, only one has a miserable ERA in legitimate innings-Jason Hammel with a 5.24 ERA in 111.2. But even taking Hammel’s numbers into consideration-the current group of Orioles pitchers has posted an incredible combined ERA. If you consider a third of an inning to be .333, the current group of twelve pitchers has pitched a combined 658.53 innings this season. In those innings, they’ve allowed a total of 277 combined earned runs. That would be good for a group ERA of 3.78, which would be tenth best in all of baseball. If you were to subtract Hammel’s gaudy numbers, the ERA for the rest of the 11 would be 3.48-which would be best in the American League.

(I hope Mr. Radcliffe will be proud of all of my math.)

Clearly I’m doing a bit of fuzzy math here. Not all 12 pitchers are going to be the exact group of pitchers the Birds use the rest of the way. Gausman in particular is likely to return, with Garcia, Britton and Steve Johnson being likely options to see time in the second half of the season as well. Tsuyoshi Wada may have to be a consideration for GM Dan Duquette again after the All-Star Break. Of the 12 pitchers included in the math, Scott Feldman made just three starts (including an excellent outing Sunday) since being acquired from the Cubs and Jairo Asencio appeared in only one game (one inning) since being called up Friday night.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Your Monday Reality Check: “I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues!”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: “I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues!”

Posted on 08 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

Coming off what I’m sure you all will agree was a well-earned week of vacation, I thought quite a bit about writing a lengthy piece about Jim Johnson and the Orioles’ closer situation. Despite Johnson’s 1-2-3 ninth inning in Baltimore’s 2-1 win Sunday over the New York Yankees, the situation remains quite fluid and will be followed closely in the coming weeks.

Although I will point this out from an appearance I made Sunday morning on the SiriusXM Fantasy Sports channel…

That happened at 8am Sunday. Call me “Glennstradamus”?

But I’m NOT writing about that. No…because while I was sitting at Chase Field in Phoenix Friday night watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Colorado Rockies I had a thought cross my mind. The thought was furthered during that appearance I made on the SXM Fantasy Channel Sunday morning.

That thought has everything in the world to do with the movie Mallrats. Or at least kinda.

Stick with me.

If you listen to “The Reality Check” (and since I’ve seen the ratings-I KNOW you do), you’ve probably heard me discuss the fact that in a previous life, I was obsessed with director Kevin Smith and his films. I embarrassingly admitted just a few weeks ago to Allen McCallum that I went to see the movie “Jersey Girl” in theaters THRICE with different young ladies. I’m not even remotely proud.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Mallrats” (and if not, go ahead and take the rest of the day off to view it. In fact, I’m broadcasting at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill Monday afternoon courtesy of Pinnacle Vodka. Just bring your laptop and I’ll bring a copy of the flick you can watch before you head over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.), you’ll probably remember Jason Lee’s character Brodie and his sincere respect for all things related to his local shopping mall. One particular issue he has is with a small child who sits down on the escalator, ignoring the dangers of getting caught.

A few escalator rides in, Brodie’s fears play out as the child gets caught and is hurt. If you don’t mind a tiny bit of foul language, here’s a clip…

The take away phrase in that clip would be “that kid is back on the escalator again!”

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Your Monday Reality Check: Unlike would-be assailants, Buck rises above fray

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: Unlike would-be assailants, Buck rises above fray

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

There are a few of you who I’m assuming were forced to find a new baseball team to root for Sunday night.

Actually, I’m probably speaking to a smaller audience as many of you jumped ship to become fans of the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees or Washington Nationals or some other team.

No? So you’re telling me you don’t know ANYONE who posted something on Saturday night saying something along the lines of “If the Orioles don’t put one in Jose Bautista’s ear Sunday I’ll lose all respect for Buck Showalter and stop rooting for them”?

I’m not talking about a large group of people who suggested they would swear off the team. There were certainly a few, and many more who suggested they would lose respect for the skipper even if they didn’t stop rooting for the team.

The Baltimore Orioles were swept by the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, a disappointing series outcome even against a red hot Jays team that has now won 11 straight games. In Saturday’s 4-2 loss, Jose Bautista hit a tie-breaking two run bomb in the 8th inning. As he rounded third base, Bautista offered the following gesture to Birds reliever Darren O’Day…

It was immediately pointed out by many that O’Day had been a bit animated himself Friday night when he recorded a big seventh inning strikeout of Bautista in the Birds’ 7-6 loss. However quite a few Birds fans (clearly frustrated by seeing the bullpen falter for the second consecutive evening) took to social media to suggest Bautista’s gesture fell into the area of baseball’s “unwritten rules” and meant an O’s pitcher might need to go head hunting Sunday.

I immediately responded to those thoughts with a post at the WNST.net Facebook page Saturday afternoon…

I would share the responses to my post, but they aren’t particularly family friendly. I mean, am I even allowed to share “Go Fist Yourself” as one particularly deranged commenter suggested I do?

Multiple posts suggested I was unaware of baseball’s “unwritten rules” and therefore incapable of doing my job. Those people (of course) couldn’t be further from being accurate. Not only am I aware of the “unwritten rules”, I through a high-five the day Maxim shredded them because I know them well enough to absolutely detest them.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (6)

Your Monday Reality Check: No more “aw shucks” for this team of Buck’s

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: No more “aw shucks” for this team of Buck’s

Posted on 28 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

Do you remember what Baltimore felt like the morning after the 2009 AFC Championship Game?

I most certainly do. After a long, freezing cold night in the upper deck at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Drew Forrester and I hit the airwaves on the show now known as “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” the moment we arrived back in Charm City. We fielded a number of calls relating disappointment and frustration about the Ravens’ loss. We fielded a few calls from people who were shuffling to cancel their planned trips to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl XLIII. We fielded a ton of calls from people who simply hated the idea of losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But more than any of those, we fielded a number of calls along the lines of this.

“Man…that was such a tough way for the season to end. But what a season it was. I never thought the Ravens would make it to their first AFC Championship Game since the Super Bowl year with a rookie quarterback and a first year head coach. I have so much hope for this team moving forward.”

Remember that feeling? Now do you remember what the feeling was like less than 12 months later when the Ravens fell 20-3 to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Divisional Playoff game?

I’ll give you a hint. The response wasn’t quite as forgiving. The response was more along the lines of “I’m not sure Joe Flacco is good enough for the biggest moments and John Harbaugh was completely outclassed.”

Three seasons later the reaction seemed a bit humorous but at the time it was undoubtedly genuine.

I wanted to take you for this trip down memory lane for some perspective about the 2013 Baltimore Orioles and the “elephant in the Warehouse” at the moment, closer Jim Johnson.

It’s not hard to remember the feeling surrounding the Baltimore Orioles after their ALDS Game 5 defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees. There was a very similar feeling in Charm City at that point. Hundreds of fans returned to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to welcome back the Birds, fans took to social media to explain how meaningful the unexpected playoff run was for them and others began to imagine what the postseason appearance would do for building the future of the team.

Things are shaping up to be much different in 2013.

What do you think the reaction to the Baltimore Orioles will be if the team again fails to get out of the Division Series this season? What if unlike in 2012 they were to lose the Wild Card Game this time around? What if they were to fall short in the final week of the season?

In case you were wondering, there were no reports of hundreds of fans waiting for the Washington Capitals outside Verizon Center after their Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers this year in the NHL Playoffs despite the fact that the Caps had won the Southeast Division.

The O’s are now under a significantly different microscope than they were a season ago. The panic from O’s fans surrounding this stretch of four blown saves in five opportunities for Johnson isn’t unreasonable…it’s understandable.

It isn’t acceptable for Orioles fans to think that one of those four games could end up being the difference in making the playoffs or not, the difference in going back to the Wild Card Game or winning the AL East. It isn’t acceptable for Orioles fans to imagine the inability (other than Jason Hammel Monday) of Orioles’ starters to get deep in games to be the difference in whether or not the bullpen has anything left for a September push. It’s unacceptable for Orioles fans to imagine the lack of a #1 starter being the reason why a team with a qualified ace like Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia could take them out in a five game series.

That particular scenario is all too familiar.

The struggles of Jim Johnson cannot be dismissed by Orioles fans, nor should they be dismissed by anyone inside the Orioles’ organization. It is honorable that Johnson’s teammates and manager Buck Showalter are standing by him publicly during his struggles,   but they cannot afford to have the “aw shucks” mentality behind closed doors.

This organization has to be approaching a breaking point when it comes to Johnson. They have to be keeping a close eye on whether or not Kevin Gausman is capable of quickly moving past “exciting prospect” and towards “legitimate seven inning starting option.”

What they can’t do is act as though none of these things are legitimate concerns. They’re major concerns. They’re not likely to doom the Orioles at this point in the season, but they could very well make the difference in whether or not this team can surpass their 2012 accomplishments.

There simply won’t be a parade to celebrate “The team that may have made the World Series had it not been for the starting pitching that couldn’t make it deep enough into games and keep the bullpen rested.”

At least I don’t think so.

-G

Comments (2)

Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: Arrieta’s struggles make second guessing easy

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Glenn Clark

When you see a meme or GIF image posted @WNST on Twitter, it was regularly posted by me. I often know the source of the meme/gif or sometimes make them on my own, but regularly see one being passed around via Facebook or Twitter (I admittedly haven’t gotten involved in Reddit just yet but know it makes me a dinosaur) where the source cannot be identified.

So when I post them on our account, I’ll often say something like “take credit if yours.” It’s my little way of saying “I don’t know the origin of this, but if I find out soon I’ll be sure to offer credit where the credit is deserved.” Many times that leads to a direct response from the creator of said image which allows me to send out another message offering credit to the person who is deserving. It’s an imperfect science as we all continue to learn about social media etiquette, but it has proved effective thus far.

Sadly, there’s a well known idiom that dates back perhaps as much as a century whose creator seems unknown. I can’t imagine social media will be of any help this time.

The idiom is “hindsight is 20/20.”

It’s a very simply concept. 20/20 is nominal vision, as a person standing 20 feet from someone reads it as if they were standing 20 feet from the object. “Hindsight is 20/20″ reflects the notion that when you look back on something that already occurred, it can always be seen in ideal vision. I’m not certain what level of vision someone would be described as having in foresight, but I would tend to doubt it would even be as good as 20/40.

The idiom was fresh in my mind while watching Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jake Arrieta crumble in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arrieta walked OF Skip Schumaker and OF Carl Crawford on four pitches each, sandwiching a plunking of SS Justin Sellers between. The passes brought Arrieta’s BB total to five for the day (while recording only 12 outs). A Mark Ellis two run single would end Arrieta’s outing, his line would show five earned runs after being handed four runs over the first four innings by his own offense.

For Arrieta, the story has been all too familiar this season. In four starts, he has allowed 16 BB and 14 earned runs. The lack of control and elevated pitch counts have lead to the starter pitching an average of just under five innings per start (19 total innings pitched), however remarkably the Birds have gone 3-1 in the span.

Following Sunday’s start, O’s manager Buck Showalter described the pitcher’s issues as being emotional. “Emotions effect mechanics” the skipper noted, comparing Arrieta’s emotional state to putters in golf who struggle when overwhelmed. Arrieta described his lack of control Sunday as “frustrating”, “unacceptable” and flat out “bad”. He noted “this isn’t me…this really isn’t something I’ve ever done at this rate” in terms of free passes.

To his credit, he’s right. To his discredit, it doesn’t matter.

Showalter and GM Dan Duquette now have a difficult decision to make regarding their struggling starter. Arrieta still has options left, meaning they could make a move in the coming days to bring up a starter from Norfolk (they have a decision to make Wednesday already following their doubleheader Saturday). Such a move would perhaps allow Arrieta to get back to the AAA level and work on his control, but it would seem obvious that the starter would likely dominate a lower level of hitting.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (1)

Your Monday Reality Check: Shame Sun bungled “Marylander of the Year”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Monday Reality Check: Shame Sun bungled “Marylander of the Year”

Posted on 31 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I shared this Saturday night on both Facebook and Twitter (via Sulia, which I will admit I’ve NEVER used before).

This is going to be a quick thought from me before New Year’s Eve. It’s the last thing I want to say in calendar 2012. I’ll have plenty to say about the Baltimore Ravens during the course of the next fews days. It’s (once again) Indianapolis Colts week and a lot of people are going to have a lot of opinions.

I’ll save the majority of mine for January 2, 2012. In the meantime, this is it for me in 2012. I hope this final thought will strike you. It was the only thing I could think about after I learned Buck Showalter had been named the Baltimore Sun’s “Marylander of the Year” for 2012.

It’s really important to me.

This is genuine. 

What Buck Showalter accomplished in 2012 was nothing short of amazing. There’s a reason why we named him WNST.net’s “Local Sports Person of the Year”. 

That being said, it’s unconscionable that The Baltimore Sun create an honor called “Marylander of the Year” and screw it up so much. 

There was ONE answer to this question this year. ONE. 

I feel so strongly about this that I would prefer to wait until my show Monday to really discuss it, but because I only have two hours on Monday’s show I’ll do it here. 

Perry Hall High School’s Jesse Wasmer was the only person that should have even been CONSIDERED for this award, more or less named a winner. I understand The Sun made this an open vote, but that’s their own mistake. 

The title of “Marylander of The Year” is far too significant for a popularity contest. A hero who protected our young people and risked his own life/safety in the process should have made this a no-brainer. 

I know Jesse doesn’t want the recognition, but as whatever form of public figure I am, I can’t let it go. 

Perhaps when it comes time for “Marylander of the Decade” it will be made right.

(If you don’t remember, Jesse Wasmer was the guidance counselor and Perry Hall High School alum who confronted a gunman on the first day of school at PHHS this year after he wounded student Daniel Borowy. Wasmer was hailed as protecting perhaps many lives that day while placing his own life at risk. He was aided by fellow faculty members Richard Rosenthal and Kathleen Watkins. If you need your memory jogged, please go ahead. I shared some of my own emotions that day too.)

I add the disclosure that I am a Perry Hall alum myself and still involved with the school for multiple events every year. I add another disclosure that I know Jesse, having attended Perry Hall at the same time. His brother and I were classmates. Jesse was always the typed you looked up to because of how cool and collected he was. I never knew as a young man that composure would turn into completely legitimate heroism.

I’m not exactly impartial when it comes to my feelings here. I hardly believe that matters in this case.

As I reminded someone who told me “Whoever they picked, there would be controversy” Saturday night, there is absolutely ZERO debate about a real hero who risked his own safety to save the lives of area children. None.

Thank you Jesse Wasmer. You’re my hero. You deserve so much more than just “Marylander of the Year” for what you’ve done. It’s just a shame they couldn’t even figure that much out.

I promise I’ll ramp up some Indy angst and purple passion in the coming days. I just wanted to leave you with this final thought and image in 2012 as the tragedies of Aurora and New Town have dominated year-end recaps. I’m so grateful this doesn’t have to be remembered the same way, but I hope we recognize that as the year closes.

Happy New Year, Charm City.

-G

Comments (1)

Showalter “Bucking” right choice for Local Sports Person of the Year

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Showalter “Bucking” right choice for Local Sports Person of the Year

Posted on 28 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

There were a number of great choices for WNST’s fifth annual “Local Sportsperson of the Year” in 2012.

Let me remind you that there are only a few qualifications for the honor.

First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.

Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.

And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.

If you’ve forgotten, 2012 is the fifth year we’ve given the honor, with our past winners being Michael Phelps (2008), Todd Bozeman (2009), Greivis Vasquez (2010) and Rob Ambrose (2011).

There were a handful of candidates whose 2012 accomplishments would make them easy winners almost any year.

-Loyola basketball coach Jimmy Patsos lead the school back to the NCAA Tournament after inheriting a program that could only be described as “in the doldrums.” The sweat equity Patsos put into building a MAAC Championship program is perhaps unmatched, as the coach spent almost as much time shaking hands and kissing babies as he did running drills until finally reaching the ultimate goal for a low-to-mid major program.

-Even with the success Patsos had, perhaps he wouldn’t even be deemed the most qualified candidate as his own school. Charley Toomey lead the Greyhounds to one of the most improbable National Championship runs in recent lacrosse history. The Hounds came into the season unranked, but ran off 12 straight wins to open the season and finished the campaign with only one loss-a one goal defeat and the hands of Johns Hopkins. The Hounds posted a dominant national title victory over Maryland to deliver the first national championship in school history (any sport) at the D1 level.

-Adam Jones wasn’t just the Baltimore Orioles’ MVP, an All-Star and a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012. He was the anchor of a team that finally snapped a decade-and-a-half long playoff drought and perhaps most importantly endeared himself to Baltimore baseball fans forever by inking a six year contract extension to ensure fans he wouldn’t be breaking their hearts by donning pinstripes in the next few years.

-Ray Rice is likely headed to another Baltimore Ravens Team MVP honor and also warmed the hearts of purple & black fans by signing a five year contract extension of his own. Rice picked up his third Pro Bowl nod while being the rock for an offense poised to break the franchise record for most points scored in a season and helping to claim a second consecutive AFC North title for the first time in team history.

Like I said, there were plenty of great candidates.

But when it came to picking a winner, Baltimore fans were right. It actually was quite easy.

Buck Showalter actually came just ONE POINT shy of winning this honor before. The 34-23 finish he guided the Orioles to in 2010 nearly nabbed him the award, and the contentiousness of the fighting between contributors here at WNST actually lead to a change in how we selected our recipient.

In a way, Showalter has essentially owned this town ever since his first game as skipper in orange and black. Fans swooned when he famously proclaimed “I know the save rule and, quite frankly, it doesn’t carry much weight with me. I like the win rule a little bit better” following his late inning handling of Mike Gonzalez and Alfredo Simon in a win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Perhaps even more admirably, Showalter showed immense class each and every time he was asked about the seeming reluctance for Orioles fans to return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in droves after the misery that had experienced in rooting for an organization that seemed disinterested in returning a quality product to Baltimore. Even as the Orioles were in the mix for the AL East crown in late August in front of small crowds during a series against the Chicago White Sox, Showalter continued to say things like ”it would be pretty presumptuous on anybody’s part to think that they’re going to trust us that quickly”. He didn’t just save baseball in this town, he remained as classy as possible in the process.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (1)

I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

There is no 15-7-0 this week. I’m a man with priorities.

My priorities Sunday were quite simple. I wanted to get through pre-game and post-game shows, enjoy a Ravens win and get to Oriole Park at Camden Yards as quickly as possible to watch a playoff game with my family.

At the end of the night, those priorities were realities even if the day didn’t play out exactly the way we had hoped it would.

Sunday night was everything baseball in Baltimore should be. It was an incredible gathering of friends and family for a vitally important civic event in a town where family names have baseball connections. We’re familiar with these types of nights in Baltimore, we just know them as “football games”. We’ve waited not so patiently for another one on the baseball diamond for a decade and a half.

It finally came Sunday night and it was absolutely as intense and electric and meaningful as any lifelong (or even Johnny-come-lately) Baltimore Orioles fan could have imagined it would be.

You know what’s amazing? I stood in the outfield for two hours during a rain delay and never heard a single complaint. Not about the lines for beer, not about the weather itself, not about the massive crowds making it difficult to maneuver or find space to stand comfortably.

Hell, we had waited 15 years. What’s another couple of hours?

After the New York Yankees were introduced to a less than partial crowd, there was a break before introducing the home team to their fans. The break might have been mere seconds, but it felt like time stood still. I remember the first time being alone with a girl at 16 years old, but I don’t remember my anticipation ever being as great as it was in those moments. The opportunity to show appreciation for ending one of the most miserable runs a fan base has experienced was a moment not soon to be forgotten.

That moment was followed up by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Perry Hall High School shooting victim Daniel Borowy and guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, the man who stepped in and defined heroism in fending off the shooter that August morning. As a PHHS grad who has remained very close to the school in recent years (and who both went to school with and grew up down the street from Jesse to boot), I will admit that I lost it a bit during the moment. Even those without Gators ties could certainly revel in the significance of the occasion. THIS is truly a representation of what Orioles baseball should be. The most important things happening in our community should be tied to, recognized by and celebrated with the franchise that has remained in our city since 1954.

This was a moment that far transcended sports.

As Game 1 of the ALDS went along, it felt like every pitch was the most important ever thrown in the history of the sport. Each tantalizing inch around the plate was crucial, with fans hanging on every centimeter afforded to CC Sabathia but taken away from Jason Hammel. When the Birds were able to break through and plate two runs off the bat of Nate McLouth in the 3rd inning the staff at OPACY could have set off actual fireworks and they might have gone unnoticed by a crowd that could only be described as bat-sh*t bonkers.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (1)

In Orioles’ storybook season, a few stand out for me

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Orioles’ storybook season, a few stand out for me

Posted on 05 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

It has certainly been a “storybook” season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. No matter how their postseason run ends, there will be memories that will last for a lifetime.

I had an itch this week to compile a list of the top ten storylines for the season. It wasn’t an easy task, but here goes.

10. The ultimate reclamation

It isn’t SO crazy to think a team would have given OF Nate McLouth another chance in 2012. The former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star was at least playing Major League Baseball, even if he hadn’t had a particularly good season since 2009.

Lew Ford was another story altogether. Ford went a full five years between Major League at-bats before being called up to Baltimore after ripping the cover off the ball at AAA Norfolk.

McLouth has been a significant contributor since being called up in August, taking over the every day LF spot and batting leadoff since Nick Markakis got hurt. Ford hasn’t contributed quite as much, but has come up with three big home runs when inserted into the lineup against lefties.

It has also lead to Tweets like this throughout the season…

9. “Why Not Again?”

Perhaps not the most significant story of the year, the story of Steve Johnson has likely been the most heart warming for Charm City in 2012.

I pulled this picture from Steve’s Facebook page…it’s probably three or four years old. I’d be willing to bet that at this point in his life, he’s probably embarrassed by things like this.

A Kingsville native, former St. Paul’s star and son of a former Orioles pitcher (and current broadcast analyst) made some of the more significant starts of the 2012 season. It’s Hollywood quality stuff. Even more amazingly, Johnson picked up his first big league win on August 8, 23 years removed from the exact date his father picked up HIS first victory during the Birds’ incredible 1989 campaign.

The Johnson & Johnson connection wasn’t the only inevitable comparison between the ’89 and ’12 O’s, as the cartoon birds, no name players and general disbelief of the respective campaigns was impossible to ignore. It even had me singing along…

8. What a dumb great trade.

SB Nation compiled reactions to GM Dan Duquette’s decision to deal SP Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for SP Jason Hammel & RP Matt Lindstrom before the season. Here are a sampling…

This from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was perhaps worse…

For what it’s worth, most of us would probably be forced to admit that we didn’t think much of the deal at the time. Guthrie had been the organization’s only quality pitcher for years and was very popular thanks to also being a stand up individual. How were we to know that Hammel was going to put together an All-Star season (when healthy) and Lindstrom would be a reliable option in the back of the bullpen before helping to land veteran Joe Saunders in a trade? And how were we to know that on the other end of the deal, Guthrie would implode in Denver before being sent to Kansas City?

Certainly the deal has turned out to be quite the feather in Duquette’s cap, as has the signing of SP Wei-Yin Chen-who has pitched to a 4.02 ERA and 1.261 WHIP over 32 starts? The only real question mark for Duquette has been Tsuyoshi Wada, who needed Tommy John surgery before he could make a pitch. The way things are going for this organization, you almost assume he’ll be Stephen Strasburg in 2013. (Okay…not really.)

7. I’m not so sure about this.

“Nick Markakis batting leadoff when he returns? I don’t know…”

I probably don’t need to show you August. Ah hell, I’ll show you August.

Markakis’ effort (before being sidelined in September) was especially crucial following the loss of OF Nolan Reimold, who hit .313 in 16 games to start the season in the role. Without Reimold, the Birds attempted to use a group of players including OF Endy Chavez and even briefly a return of 2B Brian Roberts, but none could hold down the role until Markakis. The Orioles are now hoping Markakis can somehow get back before the season ends.

6. These guys…of course!

While Hammel and Chen were obviously “hits” for the Orioles’ rotation, the other 60% didn’t pan out so well. Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta, former #1 overall pick Brian Matusz and veteran Tommy Hunter struggled mightily over the season’s first few months before ultimately finding their way back to the minors for seasoning (all have since returned and offered solid efforts out of the bullpen).

In their place, the Birds turned not only to the aforementioned Johnson, but more importantly gave the ball to two pitchers have provided a level of stability that could have been expected by absolutely no one, perhaps even themselves.

Chris Tillman was at least viewed recently as a significant prospect in the Orioles’ organization. After being acquired from the Seattle Mariners as part of the Birds’ haul (along with Adam Jones and George Sherrill) for Erik Bedard, there was a thought Tillman would ultimately prove to be part of the “cavalry” of young Orioles pitchers former VP of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail regularly spoke of.

But after 2009 (5.40 ERA 1.554 WHIP in 12 starts), 2010 (5.87 ERA 1.528 WHIP in 11 starts) and 2011 (5.52 ERA 1.645 WHIP in 13 starts), it appeared as though Tillman was all but done in Baltimore.

And then this happened.

Of course it did.

Perhaps even more improbable was Miguel Gonzalez, who was all but abandoned by the Boston Red Sox following 2009 Tommy John surgery. Executive Director of International Recruiting Fred Ferreira signed off on Gonzalez to the Birds after seeing him throw just nine pitches (according to SI’s Albert Chen). Perhaps we should have expected the man who discovered Vladimir Guerrero knew what he was doing.

And just like that, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez saved a rotation and very likely a season.

I feel like there’s someone else we should thank…

Of all of the decisions made by Dan Duquette upon arrival, perhaps the decision to make Rick Peterson (a fixture of the “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics) the team’s Director of Pitching Development has immediately paid the most dividends.

(5-1 on Page 2…)

Comments (3)

Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

The second half of the Baltimore Orioles’ re-awakening 2012 season is about to begin and the local baseball fans are a bit befuddled by it all.

As a Baltimore sports fan, I’m never allergic to exciting wins and a 12-game over .500 start to any baseball season. We’ve seen a manager who not only channels Earl Weaver in his size, stature and mannerisms but also with shrewd use of role players and borderline big leaguers. It’s been three months of watching guys who are trying hard no matter who is called up from Norfolk or who hits the disabled list. We’ve witnessed the blossoming of a true superstar in Adam Jones, who signed a record contract in mid-May against all previous precedent given by the Angelos family.

And, for the first time since 1997, this version of the Baltimore Orioles has stirred fans’ awareness – if not necessarily their emotions or beliefs – that this could be a dog-days-of-summer presentation that will bare watching as the fellows in the purple sweaters practice in Owings Mills in two weeks.

But here’s the problem: the 2012 Baltimore Orioles roster — as currently assembled on July 13th — is either in parts of tatters, simply unproven or just flat-out stinks.

I’ve been watching baseball for 40 years and I can’t think of any situation that compares to this.

The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are 45-40, now just five games over .500. However, if the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs. It’s officially the second half of the season – I watched the All-Star Game on Tuesday night even if none of the rest of you did – and the Orioles have a legitimate chance to play at least one postseason baseball game in October.

In the new Bud Selig fantasy world of more October baseball and profit, the Orioles are truly contenders in a way we couldn’t have imagined in March and haven’t seen since the Clinton administration. And no one else in the American League East looks to be galvanized to go on a tear, either.

Meanwhile the young guns of Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter are all in Norfolk after repeated self-inflicted shots into the bleachers after a series of “Ball Ones” and long, hot innings of ineffectiveness and blown leads.

The now-rested bullpen will attempt to continue to atone for the sins of the many failed starts over the past eight weeks.

The offense is in tatters. Despite the trade for a post-40 Jim Thome – yet another acquisition a player who is in the December of his career ala Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero — the Orioles are at least making some attempt to get to October after such an encouraging start.

Will Brian Roberts be a factor in the second half? Is Nick Markakis fully healed from his hamate bone injury? Can J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters provide more offense in the second half? Is Xavier Avery a star or just another so-so-outfielder from the Orioles’ depth chart?

There are far more questions than answers heading into the second season of baseball.

The Orioles have been irrelevant for 15 years. This year it appears we’ll have the first-ever Ravens’ training camp opening where the orange team will be the ones making summer headlines.

Will they trade? Who will they trade? What will they get?

One thing we know: trades for legitimate pitchers and hitters who can help the Orioles will not only cost some prospects but will involve large sums of money to pay these proven

Comments (5)