Tag Archive | "trembley"

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Flashback to 1988, The Orioles were Lost.

Posted on 28 May 2010 by Dwayne Showalter

We have made it to Memorial Day Weekend and the Orioles season has been over for weeks.  Nothing has really changed since they shot out of the gate to the tune of 2-16.  Not since 1988 has the franchise started so poorly.  Yes, that was the infamous 0-21 start.  So much has changed in the 22 years in between.

 

At the time, the Orioles were just 5 years removed from their latest (and last) World Series victory.  Losing was almost a novelty on Baltimore.  At that point, 1988 turned out to be the franchise’s 3rd straight losing season.  Before that run, the O’s had winning records for 18 straight seasons.  ’86 and ’87 were bad seasons, but the 0-21 start made 1988 almost fun.  And after the “Why Not” season in which the Orioles entered the final weekend with a chance to win the AL East, the 1988 season (and the two previous years) were thought to be a bump in the road of the Orioles prominence in baseball.

 

That ’88 team ended up losing an Orioles record 107 games.  But how bad were they?  They currently have a higher winning percentage then the 2010 version (.335 to .313).  They were coming off two losing seasons.  This year, they come off a dozen. 

 

How do they stack up position by position?  Let’s take a look.

 

Catcher:  ’88  Mickey Tettleton and Terry Kennedy.  ’10  Matt Weiters.  Ok, Weiters has a ton of potential.  But he hasn’t done a whole lot yet.  His average is too low to go with his power numbers right now.  Tettleton and Kennedy weren’t any better.  Edge:  When we look back, sure Weiters will probably be the better player, but right now I’d call it a push.

 

1B:  ’88 Eddie Murray.  ’10  Garrett Atkins and a host of wannabes.  Murray, on his last legs in his first go in Baltimore hit .284, 28 dongs and knocked in 84.  There is a chance no Oriole will approach that production this year.  Edge:  1988

 

2B:  ’88 Bill Ripken.  ’10  Ty Wigginton.  Since 1st Base has been so bad, the Orioles have moved Wigginton over and left this spot for dead (Julio Lugo).  No matter how bad he plays, he won’t be able to offset the production Wigginton put up in his short tenure since Ripken hit a measly .207 and knocked in 33 in 150 games.  Plus, any production from Brian Roberts makes this a laugher.  Edge:  Sorry Bill, 2010.

 

SS:  ’88 Cal Ripken.  ’10  Cesar Izturis.  Cal had a typical Ripken season in 1988.  He hit .264, 23 homers and 81 ribbies.  My educated guess is Izturis won’t approach any of those numbers.  Edge:  Cal saves (f)face for the Ripkens, 1988.

 

3B: ’88 Rick Shue split time with Rene Gonzales.  ’10 Tejada.  Miggy is still a decent run producer.  Neither of the ’88 guys were.  Edge:  Fairly easily to 2010.

 

LF:  ’88 Pete Stanicek and a host of others.  ’10 Corey Patterson and a host of others.  This is a tough one.  Neither group did much of anything, but Patterson has shown a professionalism that the rest of the 2010 team seems to lack.  His numbers may not hold up long term, but against the ’88 group, they don’t have to.  Edge: 2010…..by forfeit.

 

CF:  ’88 Fred Lynn.  ’10 Adam Jones.  2009 Adam Jones wins this matchup hands down.  2010 Adam Jones forces a second look.  Lynn was relatively productive in ’88 but only lasted half the season.  His replacement, Brady Anderson, was not the Brady that Orioles fans came to love at that point.  I have to believe at some point, Jones will pick up the pace.  Edge: With that in mind, Jones gives the edge to this year’s squad.

 

RF: ’88 Joe Orsulak.  ’10 Nick Markakis.  Markakis is solid.  Orsulak never matched the numbers Markakis has put up in his career.  Its not even close.  Edge:  2010.

 

DH:  ’88 Larry Sheets.  ’10 Luke Scott.  Sheets could hit. But he could never carry a team like Scott can.  When hot, no one wants a piece of Scott.  Edge: 2010

 

Rotation:  ’88  Jose Bautista, Jay Tibbs, Jeff Ballard, Mike Boddicker and Oswaldo Peraza.  ’10  Millwood, Guthrie, Matusz, Hernandez and Bergeson.  The ERAs of the starters are darn close.  Dave Schmidt may have had the best year of any starter in ’88 but only started 9 games.   But this ’10 squad, with the ballparks and size of players today, has done an admirable job so far.  Edge:  Barely to 2010.

 

Bullpen:  ’88 Neidenfur, Mark Williamson, Mark Thurmond, Doug Sisk and others.  ’10  A bunch of bozos.  Sorry.  This bullpen is brutal.  They are an accident (or injury) waiting to happen.  Edge:  1988.

 

Manager:  ’88 Cal Ripken Sr (0-6) and Frank Robinson.  ’10  Dave Trembley.  Here I can only go on historical performance.  And Robinson was a good manager.  Trembley isn’t.  How many games can a manager really affect the outcome??  I don’t know…5 or 10 over 162 games?  But that could be the difference between 107 losses and 99.  Edge:  Robby, easily.

 

Bottom Line:  They both blow.   This year’s team may have a little more talent.  But the ’88 team had more …well… something.  Hope, maybe.  If you went to www.whatifsports.com and pitted them both together for a seven game series, you probably would be bored after game 2.  In the end, the only real barometer is the 107 losses in 1988.  This team can’t be that bad, can they?

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Those O’s sure are a lucky bunch

Posted on 21 April 2010 by Dwayne Showalter

As I sit hit here in front of my laptop, the Orioles are in the midst of another dismal performance to start the 2010 season.  They trail 2-1 out in Seattle and it looks for all the world they will sink to 2-13.  I’ve heard all the bashing on the radio the last week.  I’ve heard Trembley is a bum.  MacPhail has swung and missed.  The owner needs to go and Cal needs to come into the fold.  Things look bleak – again.

Then I started to think that really they are a lucky bunch.  They have done nothing but lose for 12-going-on-13 straight seasons so why in the world would I think that? (By the way, its now 3-1 Seattle)  Well, its because they have been so bad for so long that no one really cares.  There are far too many other things a sports fan can engross themselves in to divert their attention from this nightmare decade-plus.

The O’s are lucky the season usually starts the day of the finale of March Madness.  After twelve dismal seasons, Major League Baseball pushed the Birds off the first Monday in April this year but the general point still holds.  As this team prepares in the Florida sunshine to go through the 162 game slate, we focus on Terps and the tournaments.

After that we have  the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  And this year, the Caps actually are a legitimate threat to win it.  Even though they have been the kings of choke in the playoffs for last 20 or so seasons, the fact that they can hold your intersest until May is good news for the Orioles.

The Orioles are lucky because May comes and the horses run.  Everyone watches the Kentucky Derby.  The Derby winner always comes to Baltimore for the Preakness and no one notices how many games the Birds are now under .500.  Memorial Day comes and we focus on the lacrosse championships that nearly always have a local team reaching the Final Four.

June comes and if you can stomach the NBA, the best athletes in the world are battling in the Finals.  At the same time the NHL is trying to finish its season before it can’t get a sheet of ice to freeze indoors.

The Orioles are lucky that by July, people are talking about training camp.  In August, preseason is in full swing and NFL takes over from there.

I am lucky because there are still a few people out there that love the Orioles so much that they are willing to bet they will finish above .500 each year.  If you doubled up your $20 wager that they’d lose more than they won in each of the last 12 seasons with someone, you’d be nearly $41,000 richer.  But to me, thats not luck, its common sense.  They aren’t winning this year.  Probably not next year either.  Anyone out there wanna double up?  You know who you are.

They are lucky the Pittsburgh Pirates exist (lucky since 1996, not so much back in the ’70s when they blew two World Series to them).  The Pirates have lost a record 17 straight seasons.  But don’t look now.  They are 7-5 this season.  If the Bucs win this year, folks, we are officially the worst baseball team around.

They are lucky MASN exists and baseball basically gave the team a free pass to not put a winning product on the field.  (btw – they are down to their last out now….but Weiters singles to bring up tying run)  They are lucky the Ravens thrive and force the state to update the venerable Camden Yards on its own dime.

I am lucky the game has finally ended.  They lost again and I can rest comfortably knowing that no one really cares that they are last in on-base percentage and next to last in ERA in American League.  I am lucky that this season is over before the end of April this year as opposed to the usual mid-June. 

They are lucky that no one cares they finished 4-13 last year only to start 2-13 this year.  They are really lucky that no one cares that their winning percentage has actually GONE DOWN the last five seasons.  When does rebuilding end anyway? 

They are lucky the losses are so comical that you cant get mad.  30-3?  Really!?

I’m lucky that, at 40, i can remember counting down the outs when they beat the California Angels in 1979 to make the World Series.  I’m lucky to have been at the ballpark for Earl’s last game.  I remember the feeling of winning it all in ’83, getting  jobbed in ’96 and blowing it in ’97.

I’d feel bad for the kids today – if I thought they cared.  They don’t.  In a weird way, they’re lucky.

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A House of Cards

Posted on 15 April 2010 by garyyclark

There is plenty of blame to go around for the wosrt start the Orioles have had since the 0-21 1988 season that saw manager Cal Ripken Sr. get fired after just 6 games (I think it was 6 if my memory is wrong please forgvie me).  This team is built upon a flawed foundation and like a house built on a bad foundation as you fix one problem other problems crop up.  Until the Orioles re-evaluate the way they conduct business this team isn’t going anywhere.  in the Midst of our 13th losing season this team picked right up where it left off at the end of last season and the season before, and most seasons before that since we started losing. 

We were led to believe and many of us started believing in this team based on the things Andy Macphail has said and done.  Like Rex has said on numerous occasions before this season people were putting too much stock in how good the team was going to be this year.  We needed to be more realistic but that being said I don’t think anyone envisioned 1-8 and it is only going to get worse with the west coast road trip and the yankees and red sox coming.  The Orioles very will could be 4-26 at the end of the first 30 games and if that is the case Dave Trembley will be fired. 

The Orioles foundation is built upon a house of cards.  On the surface at times they appear to be trying.  They have a regional network that is “supposed” to infuse money into the team.  We have a farm system that has gotten significantly better with all of this “young talent.”  We have gotten rid of the “bad apples” that were poisoning the team.  We have a new improved spring training facility that allegedly allowed the Orioles extra time to work on some of those lacking “fundamentals” (ie baserunning, bunting, etc.)  We have a back end of the rotation that is young but was expected to be the strength of the team in a lot of ways.  Matusz looks to be the real deal but Bergesen might never recapture the glimmer of success he had before his injury.  The front of the rotation is another matter all together.  We have a
“can’t miss” player in Wieters comparable to say Evan Longoria.  But the truth of the matter is we are myopic due to the 12 plus years of losing.

We have come to trick ourselves into believing that the Orioles are close to turning the corner in the next few years but we aren’t close we just appear to be close.  And we appear to be close because the Orioles are built upon a house of cards that to the general fan until this disastrous start looked solid.  This start has just exposed many of the problems that still exist.  MASN brings in money but the team still refuses to spend the money necessary to lure the pieces that they need to solidify this team.  Rex discussed in his five part blog yesterday how Macphail started off failing by not getting his man Joe Girardi.  In a lot of ways this illutstrates the Orioles flawed philosophy.  They wanted Girardi, he was available, and the right guy for the job.  Macphail had links to him and he traveled to Chicago to court him.  He did not however offer him a serious contract.  3 Million dollars for 3 years is not a serious offer to a guy that was considered one of the top managers in the game and available.  The Orioles routinely over this period of losing have also bought “affordable” players that were once productive but have seen better days.  We have some serious holes that the Orioles cannot fill with their farm system.  We do not have corner infielders, our second baseman is falling apart and aging, and our shortstop can field but that is about it.  We do have a catcher though.  Evidence of these holes are the Orioles always trying to fit square pegs in round holes.  We are a team of DHs, and guys without natural positions.  I mean we got Atkins for third base and he played that position half a season but he will “work” right?  We continue to put Ty Wigginton in the middle infield even though he cannot field, Mike Gonzales closed for maybe one season and has never really been a solid closer but he should work shouldn’t he? Every one that can hit is a potential first baseman for the Orioles right?  Where is the guy in our lineup who can hit 40 homeruns?  Were is the guy to fear?  Nowhere because we don’t have him. 

Its funny we are so blind that when a guy is average we get excited.  Markakis is a good player but he is not this all star some in Baltimore believe him to be.  Adam Jones he is an all star but every team has to have one right and he was ours…LOL.  Sure he won a gold glove but at this point he looks far from a gold glove centerfielder.  Wieters may be what experts expected him to be but he has a ways to go and by the time he is good the Orioles probably wont offer him a competitive contract and retain him.  The only player right now that I think the Orioles really have that I believe will be good is Matusz.  He looks to be a real pitcher.

So what can be done about this?  Well first I think the Orioles need to go out and get a manager that these cats will play for.  The aint playing for Dave Trembley and are regressing.  Lets face it how can they respect Trembley when the team doesn’t?  If the team thought Trembley was the guy then he wouldn’t have fallen into the job when Girardi didn’t take it and the certainly would have given him more than the one year contract they gave him at teh end of last season.  They don’t think he is the guy and he knows it.  Dave Trembley is a terrible manager.  He is not strategically a good manager.  I know from coaching baseball when a manager makes decisions that cost games or are perplexing the players begin to lose confidence.  Our players lost confidence the day Mike Gonzales blew his first save and the lost even more on the home opener.  The loss the other night that Matusz went into the 8th with a 4-1 lead was probably just another kick in the balls.  These players are dejected an deflated and Trembley needs to go and go now.  And don’t tell me you can’t fire a manager this early because you can.  Remember when the Rockies and Marlins fired managers in mid season?  Remember the results?  They were good if memory serves correct.  While you are firing Trembley fire the coaching staff as well.  Kranitz and Crowley are terrible.  Let the new guy pick his staff.  After you fire Trembley take some of that MASN money and go buy a good manager.  I don’t care what it takes but hire a guy like Ozzie Guillen that these guys will play for.  We need a no nonsense taskmaster that will buts skulls when he needs to.  After that go pay for some of the infielders we need or make trades.  9000 people at your home game the other night tells you we don’t care and you are running out of our money.  I think each passing loss opens the eyes of another apologist.  You wanna make money Angelos than spend some money you cheap bastard.  This is a foundation that has cracks all in it.  It is time to razz this building and rebuild a new one the right way.  Until then we will continue to suck.  We might even be worse then last year’s nationals the way things are going.

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NHL playoffs, Orioles, etc..

Posted on 14 April 2010 by Keith Melchior

The most exciting time of the year begins tonight with the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin. I sure hope the schedule is better than it was last season, where some teams had to play 3 games in 4 days while others got 2 and 3 days rest between games. It needs to be an equal playing field for all teams. One thing you can count on, if it’s nice outside this weekend, don’t expect a huge following for the NBC game of the week. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing playoff hockey once again in Phoenix. The traditional playoff  WHITE OUT (an idea stolen by the Crapitals in their rock the red campaign)  was brought to the valley of the sun from Winnipeg.  Bar none, it is the coolest thing to see on television or in person.

CRAPitals fans better hope that Jose Theodore comes to play this season or the overall #1 seed will be looking for tee times in the next 2 weeks. The fate of Washington’s cup hopes falls on Alex Ovechkin, arguably the best player in the NHL. If Ovie decides to play hockey and not try to throw his weight around and get that extra hit in, the Capitals should dispatch the Habs in 4 straight games.

The Penguins appear to have lost to the Trashers “on purpose” Saturday night  allowing the New Jersey Devils to win the division and gain the #2 seed. Why?  The reason seems fairly obvious. The NHL wants to showcase yet another Ovechkin vs. Crosby matchup in round 2.  Think about it.

Brian Matusz must be drinking the orange kool-aid with loads of artificial sweetener in it.  Matusz was speaking to reporters after last night’s wasted effort and actually said, “we’re playing good baseball.”  Who is the WE, he is referring to? It’s not the team wearing orange and black, that’s for damn sure. They can’t score runs after the first 3 innings, they can’t run the bases properly, they can’t hit with runners in scoring position, they can’t close out games when they are ahead and Matusz thinks they are playing GOOD baseball?  The Orioles are 1-7 with 5 straight losses at home. They have been close in just about every game had chances to win all of them with a few timely hits or by geting a few crucial outs when they needed them. Remember the one game they did win, Mike Gonzalez tried to give away with his Don Stanhouse-like effort in the 9th inning.

Now, I hear and read comments from the so-called faithful and have to laugh to myself.  I was on the fire Trembley and dump the entire coaching staff bandwagon most of 2009. I was not in agreement to his being brought back in 2010 because I don’t think he is a good manager. He, like Cal Sr, might be a great baseball guy and very loyal company man, but he doesn’t have what it takes to manage a major league team. His press conferences are replays of 2009. He looks like a beaten man 8 games into the season. His career winning percentage spirals down around the .400 mark with every loss. It is actually sad to watch and it’s probably going to get worse with that 9 game road trip beginning tomorrow. Losing their 6th straight game today and having a 3-6 record on the road trip may spell the end for the William Shatner look-alike. Don’t look now, but Matt Wieters has been behind the plate for 8 straight games without being rested. Last year I was all over Trembley’s decision to rest (DH)  Wieters during his first-ever homestand, when I thought the fans should be rewarded for coming out in droves to see him play. Sorry, DHing is not allowing people the chance to see him perform in his proper position. Trembley screwed the fans that Sunday but has seemingly changed his tune the first week of the season.  When was the last time you saw that on this team? Since last night’s game went into the 10th inning, Wieters will probably sit out todays 135pm get-away, rather, give-away, game.

 Keep in mind, Andy McPhail is the one who assembled this version of the Orioles.  15 of the 25 players on the roster as of opening day were not with the team a year ago when the season started.  McPhail signed  guys like Gonzalez, Ohman, Tejada, Atkins, Lugo, Tatum, and Millwood to fill voids and shure up the offense and pitching staff.  This is his team now and if he happens to fire Dave Trembley, which I firmly believe would be unfair, I hope he goes further and dumps the entire coaching staff as well. A turd might appear to be gone, but the smell stays until you clean up all the remains.

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This one is on Trembley

Posted on 13 April 2010 by dansoderberg

I’m not a big fan of blaming the manager for everything that goes wrong. The manager’s job is to put players in position to succeed and hope they reward that trust. Tonight Dave Trembley did not put his players in position to succeed. Brian Matusz was tossing a gem, holding the Rays to 1 hit over 7 innings until giving up back to back singles with one down in the 8th. At that point Matusz was over 90 pitches and clearly starting to tire. Trembley should have pulled Matusz with a 3 run lead and patted him on the butt for a job well done. He could’ve handed the ball to Jim Johnson with 2 straight right handed hitters in Bartlett and Rodriguez due up. Instead Trembley let Matusz give up singles to Bartlett and Rodriguez before pulling him. Now Jim Johnson enters not with the tying run at the plate, but on second base. He also entered to face a lefty, Ben Zobrist, rather than back to back righties. Predictably Johnson gave up a ground ball single to future AL MVP Evan Longoria and the lead and Matusz’ stellar effort went down the toilet.

These are the kinds of decisions that will cause Trembley to lose the trust of his players, and ultimately his job. Tonight he grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory and pissed off a lot of players and fans in the process. The O’s are now 1-7 and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. They must get some wins against a very pedestrian Oakland team this weekend before the MFYs and Red Sox take turns drumming the O’s in the coming weeks. Before the season started there was a lot of talk but National media outlets about the Orioles’ brutal schedule over the season’s first 35 games. At this pace they may be lucky to be 10-25 by that point.

I’ll predict that Trembley is mercifully canned as the team nears the end of that 35 game stretch and a new manager is brought in to lead the team the rest of the season. It’s becoming abundantly clear that this franchise needs an identity. The star players are too young to be expected to take leadership roles and Trembley simply doesn’t command the type of respect needed to lead a real turnaround. Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Willie Randolph; those are the names that Andy MacPhail should have on speed dial in the coming weeks.

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Bats, B-Rob and Bullpen = bad week 1

Posted on 12 April 2010 by dansoderberg

Are any of you really surprised? Really? Come on. This team won 64 games last season and now everyone is up in arms because Mike Gonzalez blows 2 saves? I’ll admit that I do like seeing the passion, but this isn’t the NFL. The Orioles don’t play once a week, they play damn near every night for the next 6 months. Chill out and enjoy the sunshine.

I get it. This team was supposed to be better. This is year 3 of “The Plan” and we want to see results. I’m just as frustrated with 13 years of losing as the next guy, but let’s be honest about what’s gone wrong thus far in 2010.

The Orioles left their bats behind in Sarasota. You just can’t average 3 runs a game in the AL East and expect to be anywhere other than the basement. I went to Opening Day on Friday and when I saw that ragamuffin lineup Toronto rolled out there I thought the O’s would sweep the series, but a blown save and 3 bombs from super scrub Alex Gonzalez took care of that prediction.

Brian Roberts is the O’s spark-plug and he’s out of the lineup for at least 2 weeks. I’m certainly not blaming all of the offensive struggles on Roberts absence, but it sure as hell hasn’t helped things. The silver lining is that Roberts can take the next 2 weeks to heal his abdominal strain as well as his back and return to the lineup ready to produce on 4/24. Of course the team could be 1-17 by that time.

Mike Gonzalez has been atrocious. Gonzalez is a good Major League pitcher. He saved 21 straight games at one point in his career. He has a career ERA pf 2.67 and has averaged nearly 11 Ks per 9 innings. He’ll be fine. The booing that Gonzalez received as he entered the game at Camden Yards on Friday was an embarrassment. I thought I was in Philly for a minute there. Most of the booing was alcohol induced, but it’s never ok to boo one of your own unless he’s not hustling or he’s a dick. Gonzalez has been trying, perhaps too hard, and he seems like a good guy. He deserved better in his “home” debut just as the fans deserved better in the home opener.

All in all I had a great day on Opening Day. My 3 year old son attended his first opener at Camden Yards and he had a great time. The crowd was large and vocal, and like all Opening Day crowds it was over-lubricated. It was nice to see the ballpark full of orange and black clad fans who knew when to cheer, but not when to boo. Also, I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Terps’ Coach Gary Williams on the concourse. Gary is taller than I expected, but he was very gracious as I extended my hand to him. Later we went to the Rusty Scupper and sat at the table next to Dave Trembley and his wife. I resisted the urge to complain about the lineup or Mike Gonzalez and let the man enjoy his meal.

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

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

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

If Tejada still has it?

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

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

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

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

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

My real prediction: 78 wins.

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

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

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O’s: I’m Having my Doubts About Dave Trembley

Posted on 01 April 2010 by Matt Duggins

It reminds me of a line from Hoosiers where Cletus says to Gene Hackman’s character (Norman Dale), “Norm, I’m trying hard to believe you know what you’re doing here.” 

 

Even as an eternal Orioles optimist- especially on April 1st- even I’m having to try hard to believe Dave Trembley knows what the hell he’s doing. 

 

If I’m not mistaken, the Orioles play exhibition games today, tomorrow and Saturday in Florida.  I would imagine they fly to Baltimore on Saturday night, get a day at home on Easter Sunday, stretch it out at OPACY on Monday morning, and then head to Tampa to open the season on Tuesday night.

 

Keeping that schedule in mind, why in God’s name did Dave Trembley send Jason Berken out there to start yesterday’s game?  Better yet, why is he sending Jake Arrieta out there to start today?  At this point shouldn’t the starting five be in their regular rotation?  

 

Brad Bergesen made his last outing of the spring on Tuesday.  If he is indeed the number 4 starter, he would next pitch a week from Friday in the home opener against Toronto.  On Tuesday he got roughed up for 6 ER in 5 IP.  He gave up three homeruns. 

 

So instead of keeping his guys in rotation, Trembley is going to let Bergesen sit on THAT outing for a week and a half?

 

I understand they got rained out on Sunday and everything got pushed back, but having Jake Arrieta pitch against Tampa Bay today is just a waste of innings. 

 

Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I’m sure there is some grand plan here to make sure everyone is well rested for Opening Day and the stretch of 16 consecutive games that the Orioles open the season with, but I’m just not getting it.

 

According to the MASN website, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Cesar Izturis have stayed behind in Sarasota today rather than make the trip to Port Charlotte to get some AB’s against the Rays. 

 

Today’s lineup includes lineup against the Rays includes Scott Moore and Brandon Waring.  Ty Wigginton is batting second and playing second base.  Craig Tatum is catching.  Felix Pie is leading off.  Nolan Reimold is hurt and hitting fifth.

 

In years past, it seemed that guys were champing at the bit to get the hell out of Florida and on with the regular season.  This year it seems like they could use another three or four weeks down there. 

 

It really is starting to feel like they’re crossing their fingers and just hoping that the pieces of the puzzle all magically come together by Tuesday.  Or maybe there’s some magical switch that they flip when the calendar turns to April.

 

Don’t count on it.

 

I mentioned that 16 game stretch to open the season.  It’s really a pretty brutal stretch.  After nine divisional games with Tampa and Toronto, the Orioles wing out west without an off day, for a seven games in seven days stretch with Seattle and Oakland.  Rest for the weary?  Nah, after that they get twelve, yes twelve, straight against the Yankees and Red Sox. 

 

The point is that trying to make adjustments on the fly is going to be hard in April.  They can’t simply figure it out as they go.  Unless, of course, they don’t really care about winning this year. 

 

They don’t have the luxury of being able to string 8 or 9 wins in a row together like the Yankees do.  The Orioles simply don’t have the pitching for those kinds of streaks. 

 

The pitching matchups in Tampa are not favorable.  The Rays send Shields, Garza, and Niemann.  The Orioles counter with Millwood, Guthrie, and Matusz. 

 

Starting slow out of the gate could be devastating to this team.  If the Orioles come out of that 16 game stretch something like 6-10, things could get really ugly in a hurry. 

 

In my estimation, March was a fiasco for the Orioles.  Maybe it’ll come together in April.  Just pray it’s before 7:05 Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

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And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

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And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

Posted on 31 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I just got pinged by a friend who tells me that WBAL slipped out a quiet report a few days ago that the Orioles have again made one of their more outlandish moves of 2009. (And that’s saying something, when you consider the kind of season they slept-walked through this summer.)

Remember a few years ago, when Angelos and the boys set up camp in Farragut Square near their “Orioles Store” in downtown Washington, D.C., to feign interest in the market after holding it hostage for five years in exchange for the MASN TV rights that were supposed to buy the Orioles some semblance of respectful balance on the playing field in the AL East. That day — with a 7:05 game looming in another summer of distress — they shipped the entire roster on a bus down to a big city square and served free ice cream and hot dogs and soda to everyone in the park.

We, of course, opined that the Orioles have NEVER given away free hot dogs and ice cream in Baltimore. And Angelos’ true interest in D.C. extended about as far as how much he could extort out of Bud Selig and MLB, then Comcast, then pass it along to each and every one of you who pay a cable TV bill in the state of Maryland. Angelos is in your pocket for a few bucks a month and 90% of people in the Free State don’t even KNOW it.

The result: the Orioles lost 98 games this season, will spend nearly NOTHING on free agents this winter, Andy MacPhail will pocket a big “bonus” check for his role in the profiteering and Angelos and Co. will make upward of $40 million in profit this calendar year while continuing to eschew common decency toward its own community and heroes and continuing as the worst franchise in North American sports.

Now, after holding Fort Lauderdale up for well over a decade and playing a political shell game with half of the real estate from Orlando to the Florida Keys — at long last Sarasota, Florida is getting the Orioles for spring training. I’m not sure if that’s considered “good fortune” or stupid politicians who will live to regret working with this ownership group, like everyone else in their wake.

Here’s a dream photo of what the project is supposed to look like at its finish:

So WBAL via an Orioles press release announced that an offseason “Fan Fest” will be held in two weeks in Florida with a bunch of Orioles players and dignitaries.

“In celebration of their new spring training home, the Baltimore Orioles will join with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to host Orioles Family FanFest-a free event for the entire community-at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, November 14 from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will feature autograph sessions with current and former Orioles players, Orioles giveaways, fan forums, a variety of kid-friendly family activities, including Kids Run the Bases, and a free hot dog and soda for every person in attendance.”

So, for all of about 250 people who might be interested in seeing the worst team in MLB over the past decade with the WORST reputation for hijacking Floridian communities in modern sports, come to their town to bring “civic spirit and cheer.”

Fact: there are a LOT of pissed off Sarasota residents that this deal was ever done and a lot of speculation about its merits in the community. The Orioles already have a problem before they dig dirt at Ed Smith Stadium. (Not to mention their reputation in their own community, which is apparent to everyone but the local “journalists” — or propagandists — who look the other way past the stench to draw a paycheck).

Maybe, the Orioles could ask that everyone brings a covered dish?

The report says that “Orioles Manager DAVE TREMBLEY, centerfielder and 2009 All-Star ADAM JONES, outfielder NOLAN REIMOLD, pitchers BRAD BERGESEN and JIM JOHNSON, and Hall of Fame pitcher and current MASN broadcaster JIM PALMER, are expected to attend the event. The Oriole Bird will also be on hand to greet families throughout the afternoon. Free parking will be available for all fans.”

Well, a little civic spirit might’ve been nice last Monday night here in their “branded hometown” of BALTIMORE when the most celebrated Oriole of all time was being honored for the final time of his life at the Meyerhoff and the franchise couldn’t find a way to get one single heartbeat to the event to speak on behalf of the current players and their respect for the brand and franchise that Brooks Robinson and his ilk built for our parents that’s now been left for dead by the Angelos family and this last 15 years of civic-hostage baseball.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken what formerly was a weekend-long, sold-out, line-down-Pratt-Street event in Baltimore known as “Fan Fest” (and before that, “Moonlight Madness”) and destroyed every ounce of goodwill guys like Brooks Robinson spent their entire adult lives dedicated to building and preserving and turned it into a half-assed, thrown-together “day before the season begins” chilly disaster that isn’t cheap, but somehow FEELS cheap. Like an “obligation” before the season begins…and the same refrains of “improvement.”

The team follows it up with disgraces from Aubrey Huff to the manager calling out the organization’s professionalism during a post-game press conference. And MASN shows goofy house ad after goody house ad. I’m glad the season ended just so I could regroup after seeing those two chicks trying to hit on the Oriole Bird six times a night for six months. And that’s BEFORE they lost 98 more games…

And the owner never shows his face, never spends money, never answers questions and the team never wins. And Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the city (and, once again, THIS is the biggest disgrace in the whole dreadful fiasco of the last 15 years — just disgraceful!). And the downtown business district — sorely in need of assistance — is left for dead except when half of the Northeast quadrant of the United States descends upon the Harbor for the routine of pinstripes and chowder.

Oh, and while Daniel Snyder is down the B/W Parkway banning signs and threatening the media and suing the fans, Angelos is here doing the same thing here and no one dares talks about or ask questions of any substance.

I wonder when Snyder will tell The Washington Post they no longer have media access. (But, apparently that wouldn’t happen because the NFL wouldn’t allow it.)

Shame, shame, shame…

I watched Bud Selig squirm in David Letterman’s chair the other night and it’s no wonder MLB is a damaged brand despite the innate greatness of the game of baseball, which has been decimated over the last 15 years since the strike in many ways (steroids, Hall of Fame, bad pitching, greedy owners, sleezy agents, difficult “heroes” like Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and their ilk, All Star fiascos, Pete Rose, World Series games in November, etc.) but is printing money. Just like Angelos is here.

They’re all ringing the cash register so that justifies it all.

Just like MacPhail — a leading candidate in baseball’s collusion in the late 1980s and whose sole function as President of the Chicago Cubs was to field cheap baseball teams to make the Tribune money (yeah, that company once wasn’t in bankruptcy like they are on Calvert Street these days) for fans who were too drunk to care and who were addicted to Wrigley Field and lore of the loveble, fuzzy, loser Cubbies. The Cubs fans ACCEPTED losing a birthright and a way of life as MacPhail padded the pockets of the shareholders.

It’s all pretty well documented but here’s the worst-kept secret in Major League Baseball:

MacPhail is reading Selig’s cue cards for the direction of the game so as to be able to take the throne when Selig decides to walk away from his $18 million-a-year job. (We’ve written many times: Selig doesn’t own a computer, doesn’t have email and doesn’t have a Black Berry. Just take a second and THINK about that in 2009 if you’re the C.E.O. of of of the biggest brands in America?)

Think Andy MacPhail would be interested in an $18 million-a-year position in 2012? (Me too…)

But as we’ve pointed out many times, they have no shame. Or common sense or decency. But they DO know how to make money. And they do have anti-trust exemptions by our federal government that are so laughable it completely masks the corruption.

Just look at the product on the field here in Baltimore. And look at the empty stands. And the amount of “house ads” on MASN.

To STUPID people, they look “broke.” But they’re not. FAAAAAR from it!

And watch all of the “Confederate money” that MacPhail won’t be waving in free agency in a few weeks. All of sudden, they’re “building through the farm system” which is the code word for “pocketing the goodwill of the Maryland people.”

The REAL money is going in their pockets and no one sees it or talks about it or writes about. And more $$$ is about to come out of the pockets of the good people in Sarasota. Just wait. This will end badly. It always does.

Not a low blow, just a fact.

UPDATE: 1:01 — Searching the web, I found a wonderfully delusional blog here from a Sarasota newspaper columnist named Doug Fernandes:

We’re getting two renovated public assets that desperately need rehabbing, we’re getting the Orioles to pay for their operation and maintenance, we’re getting it funded primarily through tourism tax revenue, and we’re getting it far south of Baltimore’s original demand.

I don’t know about you, but I call that savvy negotiating. And to those who label the $31.2 million expenditure as too exorbitant amid this crummy economy, I respond thusly:

The economy will turn, it always has, and a far greater burden would have been the cost of losing spring training.

So it appears safe for stadium czar Pat Calhoon to begin purchasing gallon upon gallon of black and orange paint.”

We’ll see how “tourism dollars” equates in Sarasota. The Orioles can’t get people to come to BALTIMORE to see them for $1 on summer nights. How the hell are they gonna get fans to Sarasota in March? Mark my words: the crowds will be DOWN from Fort Lauderdale, and that’s really saying something…

Just take a look at the comments under this blog. People in Sarasota are apparently VERY up in arms about the $32 million sweetheart deal that Peter Angelos got from the good people of Florida.

One more city about to be held hostage…just wait and see!

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When 99 > 100

Posted on 04 October 2009 by dansoderberg

The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays last night for their second straight win after 13 straight losses. The win also guaranteed that the O’s couldn’t reach the much dreaded 100 loss mark. Maybe Andy MacPhail should have picked up Trembley’s option 2 weeks ago.

Frankly, I don’t see much difference between 99 losses and 100. The fact is this team is dreadful and doesn’t figure to be much better in 2010. I think picking up Trembley’s option was the right thing to do. He seems like a stand up guy and a good man. He has his players’ backs, perhaps to a fault. I’ve heard complaints about his in game management, but I don’t see how anyone can fairly judge him given the complete lack pitching on this roster. And after watching Sam Perlozzo’s bullpen management Trembley looks like Tony LaRussa.

I think Trembley is set up to fail in 2010. The Orioles need a RH power hitter to slot behind Markakis, major upgrades at 1st and 3rd, an innings eater if not an ace, and a couple of bullpen arms. My guess is MacPhail makes a half hearted run at a few bats before settling on an injury risk like Troy Glaus, passes on the available front line pitching and signs a closer coming off a bad year, a la Kevin Gregg. Despite progress by Matusz and Tillman, and the debut of Arietta, the 2010 Orioles are a near lock for at least 90 losses. A total that will likely cost Trembley his job.

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