Well, I'm going to play teacher this morning and assign grades the best I can to the Oriole players on the squad.
Some are going to like what I have said, and the grades I have issued, some are not.
That being said, let's begin.
We all know that the Orioles have more or less sucked this season, and this winter will be nothing short of critical in charting the course of the franchise in the future.
Today, I'll be doing part one of the bullpen.
In 2006, the bullpen was a huge problem. In 2007, the bullpen was supposed to be strength as the Orioles spent $42 million on securing veteran talent in the critical group of pitchers.
Sadly, the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same except with different faces.
Baltimore looked for veteran help, instead it had to go back to the minors for relief late in the season.
A broken record isn't? Well, time to go back to the drawing board for '08.
Jamie Walker, LHP
2007 Numbers: 3-2, 3.23 ERA, 81 APP, 7 SV, 41K, 17 BB
Walker did a decent job in the bullpen; in fact, he was pretty much the go to guy and seemingly in almost every game as he broke a club record with 81 appearances.
Therein, lays the problem.
He was signed to be a situational reliever, mostly to face left-handed batters in key pints of the game; however, due to injuries and other incidents, he was brought into games often at inopportune times.
Considering the situation he was in 2007 with the Orioles, he never complained, took responsibility, and was a stand-up guy.
Perhaps next year with some reinforcements, he won’t be overused and exposed.
Chad Bradford, RHP
2007 Numbers: 4-7, 3.34 ERA, 78 APP, 2 SV, 29K, 16 BB, 77H, 64.2 IP
If you want to know how I feel about Chad Bradford, it’s very similar to what I poined about Walker.
Bradford is a guy that is sort of like a novelty, as he should have been brought in like Walker in key situations. The problem with him was that he was way overused by Perlozzo and Trembley, for the very same reason as Walker – out of necessity, injuries and the ineptitude of some key members of the bullpen.
Personally, I think Bradford should be a guy who faces one right-handed batter or two – that’s it. His delivery is so unorthodox that he’s been able to get batters out for years.
However, if you see him one too many times, he become hittable with the light stuff that he throws (and he does not throw heard at all).
Again, considering the situation that was handed to him, he did pretty well; however, he was over-exposed, appeared in way to many games and gave up too many hits, plus allowed too many inherited runners.
Hopefully, with the retooling of the bullpen, he could even be more effective.
Paul Shuey, RHP
2007 Numbers: 0-1, 9.82 ERA, 25 APP, 1 SV, 25.2 IP, 21 BB, 22 SO
Well, Paul Shuey was a great story in 2007, and was effective for the first few outings he pitched in for the Orioles. He was out of baseball for a few years due to injury and a bad hip; however, thanks a experimental procedure done in Canada, he was valiantly able to resume a Major League Career.
Then, the bottom fell out for some reason. He’s not with the team anymore, and he’s currently not with an organization, but the feel-good-story became bad when he suddenly lost his command, effectiveness and became hittable.
A sad example of what his pitching had come to into the latter part of the season: The 30-3 game.
As time went forth, he became part of the bullpen problem and got worse as time forged along.
Hopefully, he’ll join a team; however, I think he’s at the end.
Jim Hoey, RHP
2007 Numbers: 3-4, 7.30 ERS, 23 APP, 24.2 IP, 18 SO, 18 BB
One of the most dominant pitchers in the Orioles’ minor league system, Jim Hoey rose from Class A to the majors in only season in ’06, and in ’07, he dominated once in the minors and was promoted to the majors.
However, much like last year, his trip through the majors has been once of hard knocks; alas, it looks like he started to settle down in his second trip back.
Only 24, he should be part of the team for years to come, but he needs to be more consistent, grab command of the strike zone and show a lot of confidence in his stuff. He could be an imposing force on the mound; therefore, he just needs to put it together.
Danys Baez, RHP
2007 Numbers: 0-6, 6.44 ERA, 53 APP, 3 SV, 50.1 IP, 29 SO, 28 BB
Last, but not least for today, I feel sorry for this guy and he’s taken his share of abuse from me and others, but since sports is results-driven business and a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” game, I have to tell it like it is.
Danys Baez was supposed to be the anchor of the bullpen, the setup man along with being an emergency closer. With an $18 million dollar contract over 3 years, he was expected to perform and correct a lot of the problems that plagued the team in 2006.
Well, he was an unmitigated disaster.
Time and time in 2007, he could not get the job done at all. Frankly, I along with many criticized the deal given to him because he was not the worth the money and his career had in been in a downturn. Granted, he was injured for a better part of two years and struggled with ailments, the Orioles expected some kind of return on their investment.
Baez started out fine in ’07, but a month later, things went down hill and then became the Titanic.
He could not get anyone out, he gave up key hits, home runs and leads or tie became a one, two, three run advantage for the other team.
The coaches tried to work with him, rebuild his confidence and work on his mechanics, but it was for naught.
Towards the end of the season, he was shelved and it was soon revealed that he’d need Tommy John surgery and perhaps be out until 2009.
I didn’t think signing him was a good move at the time; however, I did not think it would ever be this bad.
Let’s hope he comes back better than ever in 2009, because the Orioles cannot get rid of him due to the money owed.