Tag Archive | "The Orioles"

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Hello Mr. Berken, Welcome To Baltimore

Posted on 26 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

 

Tonight when the Orioles take the field against Toronto at 7:05 at the yard it looks like twenty five year old right hander Jason Berken will be making his major league debut.

 

Berken was promoted to take the place of Adam Eaton in the starting rotation, and let’s be honest he isn’t taking the place of Jim Palmer.  Berken will be replacing one of the most ineffective starters I have ever seen in an Orioles uniform.  In his eight starts with Baltimore, Eaton had a recorded of 2-5 and an ERA of 8.56; numbers that make me miss the days of Daniel “Headcase” Cabrera and his exceptional command.

 

 The Orioles pitching staff as a whole isn’t reminding anyone of the 1971 rotation.  As a team the Orioles are 28th out of 30 teams with an ERA of 5.47 and are getting hit harder than Jim Rome when he called Jim Everett Chris.

 

So tonight we will get our first look at one of the young arms we are stockpiling on the farm.  Berken was considered a mid-level prospect going into this season; in fact Berken wasn’t even on the major league roster during spring training. But he has dominated Triple-A hitters and forced his way onto the 40 man roster and a spot in the rotation for the big league club.  In five starts for Norfolk Berken was 2-0 with an eye popping 1.05 ERA.  Berken was flat out embarrassing hitters at the Triple-A level; he only allowed one home run and three earned runs while walking just six in 25.2 innings.  Berken isn’t a high strikeout pitcher as he only has sixteen strikeouts and pitches more to contact than attempting to get a ton of swings and misses.

 

Berken a 6-0 175 pound right hander was the Orioles sixth round pick in the 2006 First Year Players Draft.  Berken’s fastball sits in the low nineties and he is improving his command of the pitch in the zone.  He also has a slider that is usually in the low 80’s and shows flashes of good tilt and break; but his slider is still inconsistent and has a tendency to hang in the zone at times.  Berken’s changeup sits in the low 70’s and doesn’t have much movement.  Berken rounds out his pitch repertoire with a curveball that is below average and is not currently an effective option.

 

Berken has shown outstanding growth and has surprised a lot of people with how dominant he was at Norfolk. But if he can not develop either his changeup or curveball to be a effective third pitch he looks more like a reliever in the big leagues especially with the big time talent the Orioles will bringing to the mound in the next year or two.

 

I think the fact that the Orioles decided to cut Eaton and bring up a young talented prospect who was dominating in the minors’ shows a change in philosophy that has been sorely needed for over a decade.  In the long run cutting Eaton will show a lot of the young players that the aura of losing that has floated around the team for far too long will no longer to be tolerated.  It also shows prospects that if you do your job you will get an opportunity at the big league level.

 

While this season has been pretty tough to watch it does reignite my interest when we get to watch young players who could be pieces to rebuilding develop on the field.  And we may get another shot at excitement as David Hernandez may be coming up to take Koji’s spot in the rotation on Thursday.

 

 

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I’m Running Out of Cute Analogies About How Badly The Orioles Suck

Posted on 20 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

 

O.K. this is really getting old, lately Oriole games are like reading the same story over and over again.  Our starting pitching keeps us within striking distance and then the bullpen comes in and all hell brakes loose; players can’t make routine plays and we just fall apart in the latter innings of ballgames. 

 

Jeremy Guthrie looked like he was going to get shelled early in the game when he gave up back to back to back home runs to open the second inning, but Guthrie regained his composure and fought through seven innings.  So far this season Guthrie is getting killed by the long ball, the eleven home runs he has allowed are the most by any starter in the American League.  Guthrie just doesn’t seem right this season, he is having trouble commanding his pitches and he tends to throw a lot of belt high fastballs which are promptly being deposited into the bleachers. I don’t know if he is still feeling the effects of the WBC or if the league has just figured him out but he is no longer an effective starter.

 

What can be said about the bullpen, it is just a mess.  Our relievers have allowed nine earned runs in the last two games and have given up seven and six runs in one inning on consecutive nights.

 

Tonight we all saw the old Danys Baez we have all come to know.  In a third of an inning he allowed four hits, two walks, and four earned runs while his raising his ERA 1.73 from 2.11 to 3.74 on the season.

 

As for Jamie Walker; I have to admit he is a player that has drawn my ire for two seasons now.  He has one job on this team that he is wildly ineffective at performing.  Left handed hitters are hitting .381 against the Orioles “left handed specialist”.  I do not understand why Dave Trembley continues to bring in Walker to get the Orioles out of jams when rather than putting out the fire he is the equivalent of throwing a barrel of gasoline on it. 

 

In the beginning of the year I was screaming that Felix Pie’s defense was killing the Orioles little did I know the horror show that was coming at shortstop with Robert Andino.  Andino has blown routine plays in consecutive games that have directly contributed to huge innings.  I would think it would be a prerequisite for a major league shortstop to be able to transfer the ball from his glove to his hand, but Andino has destroyed that myth.  It is sad when I am wistful for the days of Brandon Fahey and Freddie Bynum.

 

Anyone who knows me knows I am not someone who jumps quickly on the idea of cutting players for mistakes on the field but Andy MacPhail should cut Andino tomorrow.  We need to send a message to this young team that these types of mental mistakes will not be tolerated and we are getting rid of the losing attitude that has engulfed this team for over a decade now.  I’m sure while he is playing second base at Norfolk Oscar Salazar could do a better job at short and improve on Andino’s .226 average until Cesar Izturis is healthy.

 

I am losing patience and interest with every game the Orioles stumble through.  Someone has to take responsibility for the mental mistakes that are killing this team.  The losing culture that permeates from this clubhouse looks like it is going to be harder to get rid of than a lot of fans initially thought.

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The Seventh Inning…that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Posted on 20 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

 

Wow, Brad Bergesen looked to be in a genuine pitchers duel against CC Sabathia tonight and then it all fell apart so quickly. In the Orioles first trip to the new Yankee Stadium Bergesen was cruising through six innings keeping the Orioles within a run and shutting down Yankee hitters.  Then suddenly Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli hit a routine groundball to Robert Andino that was an easy double play to end the inning and whoops, he blows it and all runners are safe.  After that play it looked like the Orioles were shell-shocked and couldn’t get their head back in the game.  On the next play Derek Jeter hit a two run double and nobody wanted to catch the cutoff throw from Adam Jones; Cervelli scored from third and the game was officially out of hand.  On another note the way Cervelli bounces around when he is on base and behind the plate reminds me of the spaz from my Kindergarten class that used to eat paste and his own boogers.

 

On the upside Brad Bergesen looked dominant over the first five innings. He kept the Yankee hitters off balance and other than the homer he gave up to A-Roid in the first inning he was almost untouchable.  At 23 yeas old Bergesen could be a fun prospect to watch develop this season, I don’t think he is a top of the rotation starter but he has shown me enough to want to see how he matures this season.

 

As for the new Yankee Stadium it looks like a beautiful venue for baseball; but I noticed a lot of empty seats behind home plate.  Later as they panned through the crowd I noticed there were a lot of empty seats throughout the entire stadium.  It is too bad to see Yankee fans can’t fill new Yankee Stadium the way they do at Camden Yards when the Yankees come to Baltimore.

 

After A-Roid hit his home run in the bottom of the first “Whoop There It Is” played over the Yankees P.A. system.  Way to keep up with the times New York; maybe A-Roid could have done the Macarena as he rounded third or threw Beanie Babies into the crowd after he got back to the dugout.  “Whoop There It Is” hasn’t been popular for well over a decade, was “Who Let the Dogs Out” to contemporary for Yankee fans?

 

It was nice to see Adam Jones back in the lineup tonight.  I could have done without seeing him leg out an infield single and then attempt a feet first sliding catch in the first inning after missing the last four games with a sore hamstring.

 

Brian Roberts is begin to steal a lot more lately; his steal of third base in the first inning directly lead to the Orioles only run of the night.  After only swiping five bases in the Orioles first 35 games B-Rob has stolen five bases in his last four games and has a steal in four consecutive games.  This is a good sign as B-Rob’s lack of steals early was beginning to make me wonder if he was nursing an undisclosed injury or had become complacent after signing his extension in the off season.

 

The Orioles have dropped four of their last seven and it looks like they are well on their way to another ninety loss season. Our inability to make routine plays is a situation that if it isn’t resolved quickly it is going to lead to the first 100 loss season in Baltimore since 1988.  I guess we still have the call up of Matt Wieters to look forward to but it is becoming increasingly difficult to sit through an entire game.

 

 

 

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Preakness and Orioles….Not a Great Weekend For Either

Posted on 18 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

On Saturday Rachel Alexandra became the first Philly to win the Preakness Stakes since 1924.  This was a great story and made the 2009 Preakness memorable for two reasons, unfortunately the second wasn’t so great.  With Pimlico ending its BYOB policy in the infield, attendance drop from 112,222 last year to 77,850 this year.  A drop off of 34,372 paying customers is a sobering number for a horse racing industry that is already on life support in the state of Maryland.   Such a massive drop off is especially scary for an industry that relies so heavily on one day to sustain itself for the remainder of the year.  I understand that the infield had more of family feel this year and that may be a good thing three or four years down the road but I wonder if the industry can maintain itself in Maryland that long. 

 

The Orioles lost three of four in Kansas City and have fallen to six games under .500 on the season. 

 

On Friday night the Orioles were shutdown by AL Cy Young frontrunner Zack Grienke.  Grienke struck out six and allowed one earned run in seven innings.  On the upside the Orioles did hurt Grienke’s league leading ERA pushing it from 0.51 to 0.60, yes that is a hint of sarcasm.  From what I saw Friday Grienke is the real deal, he has a ridiculous fastball that regularly hit the high nineties.  No only could he ratchet his heater up to 97 but he has pinpoint control that allows him to paint the black of the plate at will.  Perhaps the most impressive part of Grienke’s game is his ability to change speeds; he would throw a 97 mile an hour fastball and then follow that with a 76 mile an hour curve ball on the next pitch.  He also kept hitters off balance by never throwing the same pitch with the same velocity two pitches in a row.

 

As if the pitching hasn’t been bad enough with his recent demotion to the bullpen we got to see Mark Hendrickson and Adam Eaton pitch in the same game Friday.  This was like being forced to watch a double feature of Battlefield Earth and Gigli back to back.  With Eaton giving up seven earned in five innings Friday to raise his ERA this season to 7.93; he better hope that the Orioles don’t decide to bring up Chris Tillman from Norfolk because  would be out of Baltimore faster than you can say Victor Zambrano.

 

Rich Hill looked good in his Orioles debut allowing two earned runs over 5.2 innings on Saturday.  Hill’s yakker looked great, it had good break and he used it well to strikeout six Royals.  Another exciting revelation was the fact that Hill only walked two hitters and did a good job of getting ahead of hitters early in the count.  The major criticism of Hill coming from Chicago was that he had lost his control and was allowing way too many free passes to first base.  I am going to manage my optimism with Hill until I see a few more starts in an Orioles uniform.  Hill has the natural ability to be a fine fourth or fifth starter in a good rotation and is young enough at 29 to be a quality second lefty when Brian Matusz joins the rotation.

 

After watching Koji pitch this afternoon I have come to the conclusion that has the stamina to be effective through five innings.  It seems that for the first five innings he is borderline dominant, controlling hitter with his sick splitter.  Once he comes out for the sixth inning his pitches don’t seem to have the same life they had earlier in the game an opposing hitters begin driving his pitches hard.  This trend scares me mainly because in his last few years in Japan Koji was used a majority of the time as a closer.  I was critical of Trembley earlier in the season for pulling Koji after 90-96 pitches but clearly he knew exactly what he as doing.

 

On the positive side it was nice to see Nolan Reimold play in all four games since being called up.  Reimold may struggle a little with major league pitching early but the Orioles need to stick with him like they did with Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.  Reimold got his first major league hit Thursday night and has an RBI in each of his last two games.  Watching Reimold develop in left field will be a fun ride; he is a player with real major league power.  If given the opportunity to develop properly Reimold has 30 home run potential and the ability to be the final piece in the most diverse, talented young outfield in baseball.

 

Overall it wasn’t a very successful weekend financially for horse racing and on the field for the Orioles.  I hope that both can recover as quickly as possible because they are two of the staples of Maryland’s sports history and both have fallen on dangerously hard times over the past decade. 

 

 

 

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Nick Markakis-Best Right Fielder In Baseball

Posted on 15 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

Nick Markakis was the Orioles first round pick in the 2003 draft after being drafted twice by the Reds in the previous two drafts but not electing to sign with Cincinnati.  And Cincinnati’s loss has been the Orioles gain as Nick Markakis is the best Oriole position player to come through their system since Cal.  Nick has gone from a top prospect to the best all around right fielder in baseball.  No other player at his position has Nick’s combination of hitting ability, power, defense skill, and overall baseball I.Q at such a young age.

 

At just 25 Nick has the most mature hitter’s eye I have ever seen in a young player.  His knowledge and management of the strike zone is perhaps the best in all of baseball this side of Albert Pujols.  Nick rarely swings at pitches out of the zone and generally makes solid contact in every at bat.  To go along with his great eye Nick has amazing plate coverage.  From the left side of the plate Nick can stroke pitches on the outer half of the plate into left field with ease and his quick hands allow him to turn on pitches in on his hands. 

 

Nick also has the capability to keep the defense honest by hitting to all fields.  Last night against the Royals Nick hit an RBI double to left in the fifth inning and in his next at bat in the sixth he hit a two run double off the right field wall. Nick is a doubles machine hitting 43 and 48 in his first two full major league seasons.   This season while his doubles production remains among the league leaders, he is driving some balls that were doubles a year ago over the fence for round trippers.

 

So far this season Nick has 33 RBI’s in 35 games; this puts him on a pace for a mind boggling 153 RBI’s in 2009.  Granted that is a number Nick is unlikely to hit but it is evidence that he has become one of the top run producers in all of baseball.

 

Another good sign is that Nick has remained healthy throughout his career playing in 161 games in 2007 and 157 in 2008.  If he can remain healthy Nick has the ability to be one of the greatest offensive players in Orioles history.

 

Nick has shown great aptitude at the plate but what sets him apart from other right fielders is how smooth of a defender he is.  Slick Nick has great recognition of the ball off the bat which allows him to get into fielding position as quickly as outfielder in baseball.  Nick led the AL with a Range Factor of 2.26.  Range Factor is a formula created by Bill James which divides a players put outs and assists by the number of innings played.  Range Factor is considered more relevant in evaluating a player’s defensive play than the conventional statistic of fielding percentage.  Nick was robbed of a Gold Glove last season but should be a perennial winner of the award for years to come.

 

On top of Nick’s great range and fielding awareness he also possesses a cannon for an arm.  Last season Nick led the American League with 17 outfield assists.  On top of having one of the strongest outfield arms in baseball Nick has an amazingly accurate arm.  Most of Nicks throws are right on the money and he is one of the best in all of baseball at hitting the cut off man.

 

With all of the ability Nick shows on the field one thing that doesn’t show up in the box score is his calm demeanor.  I love the fact that Nick is never to up or down and very rarely shows emotion on the field.  You have a better shot at seeing Paris Hilton teaching Microbiology at Harvard than ever seeing Nick chuck his bat in anger or throw a hissy fit in the dugout.  I think Nick compares favorable to Joe Flacco in his even keeled temperament that prevents his emotions from getting the best of him during a game.

 

There are many good right fielders in baseball; but none of them are as good or as young as Nick.  Alex Rios of Toronto is a beast but he is three years older then Nick and has never had a hundred RBI season while Nick look to be on his way to his second. 

 

Hunter Pence of the Astros is a good right fielder but he is a year older then Nick and hasn’t showed the same advanced hitting ability that Nick has.

 

Brad Hawpe of Colorado is a stud but he will turn thirty this season and has never been the consistent run producer Nick is.  Hawpe also doesn’t have anywhere near the fielding ability of Nick.

 

I know it is a bold statement but I honestly believe Nick Markakis is the best right fielder in baseball and the scary thing is he seems to be getting better.  The 6 year-$66 million dollar extension the Orioles signed Nick to this off season may seem like a bargain in the next few years.  I could possibly see Nick constantly hitting .325-.330 with 25-30 home runs and driving in 110-125 runs while playing Gold Glove caliber right field.  If these numbers are accurate they would place Nick in the top ten of all offensive players in baseball and a steal at $11 million a year. 

 

Nick Markakis is only 25 years old and has developed as rapidly as any player I have ever seen.  I believe he is the catalyst for the Orioles rebuilding project and will be one of the greatest Orioles of all time by the time he hangs up his jersey.

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Skip Bayless Has A Solid Grip on Reality!

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

I am one of the sixty-six people who actually watches First Take in the mornings on ESPN2.  I must admit it is one of the most poorly produced shows on television; it makes MASN’s Orioles Pre-Game coverage look like Citizen Kane.  If there is one thing that draws my ire on this abysmal show it is the insane, maniacal ranting of Skip Bayless.  Skip Bayless is in fact so moronic and annoying he actually forces me to agree and side with Stephen A. Smith on most occasions.  Bayless is a sport writer equivalent of a “shock jock”; he says whatever he can to make himself controversial and relevant. 

 

This morning as I was watching First Take, and the topic was of a Baltimore nature so I perked my ears up and paid close attention.  Bayless was debating against the drunken Uncle of sports Media Woody Paige about the Orioles players who helped Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena as he fell over the dugout railing catching a foul ball.

 

Skip Bayless had his usually level headed take on the situation saying, “Baseball’s code has said for more then a hundred years, YOU DO NOT HELP an opponent who is trying to catch a foul pop up by leaning or falling into your dugout.”  This great piece of baseball insight comes from a man who has never played the sport at any level during his life.  I also appreciate his insider information on baseball codes from someone who hasn’t actively cover baseball in over a decade.

 

Oh but old Skip wasn’t done yet, he continued; “The message has been sent that we will help an opponent steal an out in our dugout by making sure he stays safe.”  No we have sent the message we will not let an opponent paralyze themselves while making a catch in a BASEBALLGAME.  It is a baseball Skip; not a war or a bloodsport.

 

Well this is a debate and luckily we have Woody Paige to inject some sort of sense back into the conversation, “Would you not help your Grand Mother if she was falling into a major league dugout?”  Ummmm……there are so many things that don’t make any sense in that comment I think I will let it speak for itself.

 

Skip as always has to finish up with a comment that overshadows the stupidity of the ones that came before it. “It’s the law of the jungle, YOU DO NOT HELP!”  So now we are comparing a game of baseball to the fight to survive in the jungle?  Seriously Skipper is this where are going with this?

 

In case you were wondering this is the same Skip Bayless who accused Troy Aikman of being gay in his book “Hell-Bent” without any facts to backup the claim.  Aikman reportedly asked his lawyers how much it would cost to “beat the living hell out of Skip Bayless” days after the book was released.

 

And yes this is the same Skip Bayless who repeatedly refers to Kevin Garnett as “Kevin Garnot” because he thinks Garnett is soft and can’t win a big game.

 

And you are correct if you think this is the same Skip Bayless who wrote an article stating that place kicking should be eliminated from the NFL.

 

Oh and yes Skip Bayless does believe that LeBron James isn’t one of the ten best players in the NBA.

 

So in the end Skip Bayless believes that the Orioles players should have let a man be seriously injured to save themselves an extra out.  Skip get a clue and realize you are talking about sports not World War III.

 

 

 

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Orioles Farm System-Those Are Some Mighty Big Holes You Have There

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

The Orioles are a team that has a lot of talent in their minor league system; especially at pitcher.  But they suffer from a lack of depth at some premier positions on the diamond. 

 

Brandon Snyder is a possibility to take over first base; he is hitting .365 with four home runs and 21 RBI’s in his first 28 games at Double-A Bowie this season.  Snyder is only twenty two and learning how to play first base after being selected in the first round of the 2005 draft as a catcher.  I see Snyder more as an everyday designated hitter. 

 

The Orioles 2006 first round pick, Billy Rowell made the transition from third base to right field at the beginning of this season.  Of late the twenty year old Rowell has been hot at the dish hitting three homers and eight RBI’s in his last ten games from Class-A Fredrick.  While it is nice to see Rowell’s bat finally coming around his move to the outfield leaves the Orioles with a huge hole at the hot corner.

 

With Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora both becoming free agents the Orioles may have to sign some stop-gap players while they develop replacements on the farm.  The only problem is the Orioles don’t have long term replacements in the system currently.

 

The Orioles are also void of any shortstop talent in the minor league system.  Cesar Izturis is signed through 2010 but I highly doubt he is in the Orioles long term plans at the position.

 

We have some players in lower levels of the system that could help down the line like 21 year old third baseman Tyler Henson who is currently playing for Class-A Fredrick.  Henson is an intriguing prospect with good speed and a solid bat but he is at least three seasons away from the big leagues.

 

 Basically you are left with a team loaded with high level pitching and outfield depth but with void of that same depth at the corner infield and shortstop.  This is an issue that must be addressed either through trade or the draft.

 

With the MLB First Year Players Draft less then five weeks away I have decided to look at some college players at those positions who could help in the near future.

 

Gordon Green, SS, USC

 

Green is a big shortstop at 6-3 180 pounds but shows good athleticism in the field and should remain at short throughout his major league career.  Green will probably be more of a doubles hitter in the majors but he has the potential to be a 15-20 homer guy.  He has ample speed and when he is aggressive is a good base stealer.  In the field Green is very fluid with good range; he has a plus arm that is very accurate. 

 

Green is the #1 guy that I have had my eye on for the past few months; I think he fills a great need and could be a Stephen Drew type player.  If Green is on the board the Orioles should thank whatever God they pray to and draft him immediately.

 

Rich Poythress, Georgia, First Base

 

Poythress is a pure masher; he is a giant man at 6-4 245 pounds.  Poythress is never going to be a guy who hits for a high average at the big league level but he has forty home run potential.  Because of his size Poythress is limited at first base, he makes the routine plays but will never be mistaken for Keith Hernandez. 

 

Poythress is a true “boom or bust” prospect.  He could become a Ryan Howard or Frank Thomas type power bat or he could be the next Calvin Pickering.  I would be wary at taking this type of player so high in the draft and giving him a huge signing bonus but if the Orioles scouts see something in him they could hit big, literally.

 

Ryan Jackson, Miami, SS

 

Jackson is a true shortstop.  He possesses great fielding ability that could make him an annual favorite for the Gold Glove in the majors.  Jackson’s arm is exceptionally strong from short and is extremely accurate.   Jackson is long and wiry at 6-3 185 pounds and doesn’t have blazing speed; he makes up for this with great instincts on the basepaths.

 

The only question with Jackson is will he hit at the next level.  He has an awkward stance and very little pop in his bat.  At best Jackson could be a gap hitter who develops into an average major league hitter.

 

With the fifth pick in any draft a team looks for a dynamic player who can help their team in a multitude of ways; in Jackson the Orioles are getting a guy who only excels at one facet of the game.  I think fifth is a bit too high for Jackson but if he fell to the second round he would be a steal.

 

 

The sad part of this draft is there isn’t much in terms of advanced bats at the corner infield positions.  The positive is the Orioles will likely have another top five pick in the 2010 draft; actually that is very positive.

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Don’t Rush The Future!

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

The Orioles are languishing through a 13-19 season and sitting in last place in the AL East, a place I think they will park themselves for the remainder of the season.  It hasn’t been pretty to say the least but most Orioles fans know there is help in the minor leagues; I just don’t want to damage the future for the sake of attempting to save today.

 

With the injury to Luke Scott and a potential roster spot opening up if he has to go on the DL, many fans are calling for the promotion of Nolan Reimold from Triple-A Norfolk.  I agree that Reimold is deserving of a shot in the major leagues this season, I just want to be sure he is playing everyday when he is brought up. 

 

Felix Pie is not my favorite player in the world but he did have a nice game going 2-3 with a rare walk during the Orioles loss to the Yankees on Mother’s Day.  Pie is still only hitting .183 with two extra base hits this season and has more strikeouts (17) then total bases (15) but he has shown some improvement.  Pie’s defense has slowly improved in left field as he gains more experience; the catch he made to end the opening game of the Tampa Bay series last week was a great, athletic play.  He has the ability to make plays in left that neither Reimold, Scott, nor Montanez have the athleticism to make; and his recognition of the ball off the bat has improved leaps and bound over the first month of 2009.  I do not think Pie will turn into the five tool stud they were hoping for when they got him from the Cubs but just sixty at bats into 2009 they seem to have given up on him. 

 

I don’t have an issue with giving up on Pie after 60 at bats only because left field is one position where the Orioles have great depth in their system.  Lou Montanez deserves a proper shot at playing everyday; in just 33 at bats this season he is hitting .212 with a home run, three doubles, and five runs driven in.  Montanez’ playing time took a hit after he injured his thumb making a diving catch in Toronto but he seems to have recovered from that injury and is ready to roll.  Montanez showed some of his great potential at the plate Saturday against the Yankees going 2-3 with a homer, two RBI’s, and two runs scored in the Orioles 12-5 blowout win. 

 

I think if the Pie experiment is indeed over then the Orioles should give Montanez a real shot at playing everyday.  Trembley should write Montanez’ name on his lineup card everyday until the All Star break and see where we stand.  If Montanez has entrenched himself in the Orioles lineup then we can begin to look at other options with Reimold, if he hasn’t then we can bring up Reimold to take over for the remainder of 2009. At 25 it may not be out of the realm of possibility to trade Reimold in a package for more young pitching, a third base or shortstop prospect.  There is also the possibility of moving Reimold to first base if teams show an interest in trading for Aubrey Huff at some point the season.  I have full faith in Reimold to become a future power hitter at the major league level and believe he could also be a very serviceable designated hitter; as a player who has a history of injuries perhaps this could maintain his health for the long haul.

 

While there is a huge question as to who will be the Orioles future left fielder there is no question who will be the Orioles catcher.  Matt Wieters is a once in a lifetime talent that will be an All Star within his second full year in the big leagues. 

 

When will Wieters be called up has been a bigger mystery than anything M. Night Shyamalan has ever come up with.  The date of Wieters major league debut has been moved more times then the island on Lost.  I don’t really have a problem with him being called up at anytime this season, because I think Wieters natural talent will allow him to succeed at a rapid rate in the big leagues.

 

Wieters has been hot lately in Norfolk, hitting .313 with five doubles, and seven RBI’s in his last ten games.  The power numbers haven’t been quite where you would like to see them with only one big fly in 86 at bats but I have no doubt his power will come as the weather warms up. 

 

I wouldn’t mind seeing Wieters staying on the farm until the All Star break; he still needs to develop in areas other than at the plate.  Wieters needs to continue learning how to call a game behind the plate.  The most underrated part of a catcher’s game by most fans is his ability to call a game and maintain the confidence of his pitchers in his pitch selection. In 1971 Elrod only hit .250 with nine homers but he lead his pitching staff and caught four twenty game winners, showing offense is only part of the big picture of being a successful catcher.   

 

It will be good for Wieters to stay at Norfolk and continue to catch and develop a working relationship with Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Rich Hill; all of whom he may be catching for years to come in Baltimore.

 

I would also be nice for Wieters who turns 23 on May 21st to really gain some success in the minors before coming to the big leagues where he will be viewed as the “savior of Baltimore baseball”. 

 

Something else I think that would be a huge help to Wieters development would be placing him in the six or seven hole when he is called up.  I hope that Trembley doesn’t become wrapped up in the hype and throw a 23 year old rookie in the clean up spot in his major league debut.  I think hitting Wieters a little lower in the lineup will take some of the enormous pressure off of his shoulders and add some much needed pop in the bottom of the lineup. 

 

Reimold and Wieters are exciting young prospects who could help make the Orioles lineup one of the best in baseball from top to bottom.   I am an impatient man but I think I can wait until July to see what they have to offer the big league club.

 

 

 

 

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Closer By Committee; Why Not?

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

In an interview with Spencer Ford, Dave Trembley stated that George Sherrill is no longer the Orioles full time closer.  “I’m going to play the ninth inning as a day-by-day situation and do what I think is best to try and win the game,” Trembley said Monday. “I think sometimes it depends on the score and also depends on who’s available and who’s pitching well. And I also think sometimes you have to go away from the norm a little when things aren’t going well for you. And right now, things aren’t going well for us. I think it’s important to do something different.”

 

Closer by committee has been proven ineffective in the past; but I don’t have a problem with the Orioles using it right now.

 

As I have said before I do not think George Sherrill is a major league caliber closer.  I honestly can not think of any other team in baseball where he would be a full time closer.  So far this season right handed hitters are hitting .429 against Sherrill and he has allowed eighteen base runners in 10.2 innings.  Left handed hitters are .214 against Sherrill in 2009; this would lead anyone with a minimal knowledge of baseball to see Sherrill’s position in the bullpen should be a left handed specialist.

 

I like the fact that we should get to see younger, power arms like Chris Ray and Jim Johnson get a shot at closing.  If you look at this team objectively they have no chance at competing for a post season appearance.  So why not allow two young talented relievers to get a look at closer and see what you have?

 

I believe in the end Jim Johnson would make the best closer of the bunch.  Johnson reminds a lot of Minnesota’s closer Joe Nathan; one of the top five closers in baseball.  I think Johnson has that kind of stuff and potential as a closer. At 25 I think Johnson could be a dominant closer for years to come.

 

In the pasts closer by committee hasn’t worked; but with a young team trying to find an identity on the mound why not try something different?  At least Trembley is thinking outside of the box, something I have rarely seen from the Orioles skipper.

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MASN-What Is It Good For??

Posted on 02 May 2009 by Tom Clayton

I am one Orioles fan who records every game on my DVR so I can catch every minute of the “action”.  I was just wondering if I am the only person who is sick of watching Oriole games in standard definition while National games are in high definition seemingly every night.  In fact Oriole games are only in HD when they are not playing a simultaneous game with the Nationals; if both teams are playing the Orioles are relegated to second fiddle on MASN 2.  I am one Orioles fan who is sick of watching Adam Eaton get light up in video quality on par with the Zapruder film.

 

The MASN website and promotional items claim to have 105 Orioles games in HD; but what is the point when the live feed is in regular definition and the replay is in HD? You can not tell me that while the Orioles haven’t been the most relevant team in baseball over the last decade, they are not more relevant or bring in higher ratings than the worst team in baseball.

 

 I understand that Washington, DC is the 7th media market while Baltimore is 22nd but could we get alternating games on HD?  Have the Orioles in HD one night and the Nationals the next? 

 

MASN is basically spitting in the face of Orioles fans and reaffirming Baltimore sports fans paranoia that we are disrespected.  Our home team’s games are bumped from MASN HD for the worst team in baseball.

 

As if this is not bad enough I am forced to watch the public access quality post and pre game shows MASN provides.  Most nights Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey seems as if they are reading from a script written directly by the old man in the warehouse.  Can you honestly tell me there are positives to take from a 6-19 loss against Texas; tell me the truth MASN our pitchers are awful.

 

As for the ad wizards that MASN has brought in, how much did we all love the Broadcasting Fantasy camp spots last year?  Hilarious I know.  And now we have the “What is your defining moment campaign” but they are defining moments from last season. How do you even have a defining moment when you lose 93 games?  And as if the ads weren’t bad enough we not only have to sit through these horrible Orioles ads but we get the exact same ads but done with Nationals broadcasters and players.

 

The Orioles have a 90% stake in a network that shows an away team in a majority of its HD games.  This would be the equivalent of Bud Light showing nothing but people drinking Coors Light in their advertisements.  It doesn’t make any sense how do you not highlight YOUR product on YOUR station?

I guess in the end as an Orioles fan I don’t have much of any other options.  The old man in the warehouse knows he has a monopoly on Baltimore baseball and fans mean nothing to him.

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