Friday, December 31, 2010

Orioles Get Derrek Lee...

Finally, the Orioles have gotten a first baseman. We can all relax ... for now.

They announced this afternoon that they have signed Derrek Lee to a one-year deal.

From the Baltimore Sun: The Orioles are close to knocking off a big item from their offseason wish list as they have agreed to terms with free agent first baseman Derrek Lee, according to sources.

The deal is pending a physical and the terms of the deal aren’t currently known, but Lee’s camp has made it clear that the veteran was content with a one-year pact worth between $8 and $10 million that would allow him to improve his value in anticipation of becoming a free agent again next offseason.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail declined comment.

Lee, a 35-year-old veteran of 14 big league seasons, batted .260 with 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 148 combined games for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves in 2010. However, he played all season with a torn ligament in his right thumb, an injury that he sustained on Opening Day and is believed to have contributed to his decline in power numbers.

The season before, Lee, who had surgery on the thumb early last month and is expected to be ready for spring training, batted .306 with 35 homers and 111 RBIs in 141 games for the Cubs in 2009, and finished in the top 10 in National League Most Valuable Player voting.

A two-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, Lee is a career .282 hitter.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Lee was lukewarm with the idea of signing with the Orioles earlier this offseason, but the number of teams with first base vacancies has dwindled. The Orioles also appeared to be focused on signing Adam LaRoche, but talks with him reached an impasse over the free agent’s insistence on a three-year deal.
Roch Kubatko from MASN Sports has more.

Once again, Andy MacPhail has signed a former Cub; however, if Lee can pick up his career after a poor 2010 and bounce back to what he was as a hitter, it will be a boon for Baltimore.

Although the Orioles have had some issues with guys coming off sub-par seasons - um, Garrett Atkins anyone -- I think Lee, combined with Camden Yards being a hitters park, and simply being a solid professional should help out the team in the lineup.

More importantly (if he's healthy and has not seen that big of a diminish in his skills), he serve as a middle-of-order offensive bat. I do believe his experience will also help him to be a mentor to youngsters like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters.

He's certainly not known as a fiery guy, or a fire and brimstone type, but he will probably serve as a leader on the squad.

The Orioles may not be in the hunt for the big-name free agents due to their-decade plus losing spell, but they got a potentially good slugger with Lee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Palmeiro & the Hall of Fame...

As of most us know, the ballots for the 2011 Hall of Fame induction are due sometime in the next month and the baseball world awaits as to who’ll be included as immortals in Cooperstown, New York.

Names such as former Oriole Roberto Alomar -- who would have been inducted last year if not for the Hirschbeck incident -- and Bert Blyleven will more than likely have busts up in the Hall of Fame when summer comes around.

One person who will probably have to pay to get into Cooperstown is Rafael Palmeiro, another former Oriole.

His is a particularly sad and befuddling case.

Although Palmeiro was never the best player on any of the teams he played, he built a career worthy of the Hall Fame based on his numbers at the plate and longevity.

Of course, in the spring of 2005, he told Congress that he didn’t use steroids – period.

However, a few months later, Palmeiro was the first player snared under MLB’s drug policy.

Even up to now, he says he never used steroids and still sticks to the story of Miguel Tejada injecting him with a tainted ‘B-12” shot.

Do I believe Palmeiro should be left out of the Hall of Fame – yes.

He cheated and got caught. Plain and simple.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nothing Happening

Seriously, nothing is happening. LaRoche is still out there, as is Lee. One will be the Orioles' first baseman, the other will go to the Nats someone just has to make up their mind first. I would say that its like waiting for Christmas morning to arrive, but Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee do not arouse that level of drooling, bouncing anticipation - its more like waiting for the end of a long Thursday - you're happy when its over, but you still have work in the morning. And this Thursday we are stuck in has been stupidly long.

There really isn't anything to worry about, sooner or later someone will make the final phone call and the long malaise of this acquisition will finally end. The only teams that are still actively searching for a starting first baseman are the Nationals and Orioles; two teams, two players just figure it out.

Seriously, it has been a boring couple of weeks on the baseball front. As the holiday season comes to an end January proves to be busy with big ticket free agent Adrian Beltre sitting out there but the Orioles don't figure to be in on Beltre and outside of this pending, make that seemingly endless, acquisition I don't see the Orioles doing much else.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Oriole Park at Camden Yards Tour Photos

Right before Thanksgiving, I took a tour of Oriole Park before they ended for the season. I went to the ballpark on a Saturday and caught some pictures of few of the upgrades taking place in the seating bowl, along with other areas of the park, such as the video control room, press box and from the dugout steps.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot going on in Birdland, much more in the world of baseball. I assume a few things may happen this week, and then pick up right after New Year's Day.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It’s almost Christmas time here for us baseball fans. While the Orioles seem to have made some progress during the Winter Meetings and in the past few weeks in filling in some holes on the roster – now, it seems that things have gone eerily quiet.

During the past month, the Orioles got a new third baseman, shortstop, a reliever and some potential bench help; however, the team is still looking for a first baseman.


As we all know, the Orioles have been after Adam LaRoche and according to sources has been offered a three-year pact. The only problem is that the first baseman has not agreed to a deal – yet.

Maybe he’s on vacation, or might be using the Orioles to leverage another deal.

Or, he just might not be into playing for the Orioles. It does take two sides to come to an agreement.

LaRoche might do some damage at Camden Yards with the short right field porch, and won’t emberass you at first.

However, if you look at LaRoche’s numbers, I don’t think he’s all that great.

>>> Read More

Sunday, December 19, 2010


And waiting still.

The Orioles ARE going to get a first baseman. Of this I am certain. Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee are the two men that the Orioles have tapped to man the right corner of the infield. One of them, most likely, will be wearing an Orioles uniform next year. Reportedly, the Orioles have at least shown heavy interest in both and may, or may not, have made offers to both. In this situation you get the feeling that both Lee and LaRoche are waiting for the other to go first and "set the market" for their services.

Both players want a multi-year deal. Both have perceived shot-comings going into next season. Konerko's contract doesn't really mean anything to them due to the whole Chicago connection. And with the big spending teams already largely set at first base LaRoche and Lee are not in any real hurry. Both of these guys know that no matter where they go competition is unlikely among the teams vying for their services. The money will probably be about the same as will the length and terms of the contracts they receive. SO there is no real hurry for them, and therefore no real hurry for the teams.

LaRoche and Lee are solid, good, reliable options - but they aren't superstar players. They won't increase ticket sales or, by themselves, rocket an under-performing team to sure contention or stardom. The Orioles could easily get one year's worth of production out of a player like Russell Branyan (a move I would hate) or sign an aging DH like Jim Thome or Vlad Guerrero and move Luke Scott or Nolan Reimold to first base. They could do either of those things and probably get production similar to that of either of their two coveted free agents.

I think the Orioles, and the other teams involved, realize that they are largely bidding against themselves here. LaRoche and Lee are fine, but not irreplaceable and both of these guys are taking their time as well, hoping for some impatient GM to blink and tip the first domino.

>>> Read More

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Winter Ahead

Christmas is right around the corner and the Winter Meetings are behind us and might I say that the Winter Meetings were very good to the Orioles. Andy MacPhail had seen Adam Dunn and Victor Martinez had spurned the Orioles; Paul Konerko had made his intentions clear and many fans were sharpening their pitchforks nand loading various implements of destruction into a red VW micro-bus - MacPhail needed to make a splash.

Andy MacPhail pulled off trades for third-baseman Mark Reynolds, Short stop J.J. Hardy and he re-signed Closer Koji Uehara. MacPhail was able to significantly upgrade the entire left-side of the infield and wrap up Koji to a deal that is cheaper than what he would've gotten if he was offered arbitration. All of this was accomplished giving up only one legitimate major leaguer in David Hernandez. Now, I will miss David Hernandez, but these deals were all very solid.

Then the news came that the Boston Red Sox signed former Rays Left Fielder Carl Crawford to a mind-boggling contract. All of the sudden the solid moves the Orioles made seem to pale in comparison. Here is Andy MacPhail making smart, sound baseball decisions but they seem all for nothing when all another team has to do is write a check. It doesn't diminish the intelligence or positive impact on the team, but many Orioles fans are coming back down to Earth. Looking at a lineup that has both Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford batting in it; a lineup that it feels like the Birds will see 200 times next year makes Mark Reynolds feel more like Melvin Mora.

It shouldn't though. Yes, Reynolds will strike out a ton, but he is also the first legitimate 30 homerun threat the Orioles have had in awhile. J.J. Hardy is a huge upgrade offensively over Izturis, whom the Orioles re-signed in a utility role, and the Orioles have made headway in the search for a first-baseman as well. Rumblings have the Orioles targeting Adam LaRoche with Derrek Lee in reserve. To me LaRoche seems like the player most likely to come here; he should put up consistent, if un-spectacular, numbers and being a significant upgrade over the 2010 model.

>>> Read More

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Luke Scott and His Obama Comments

Orioles’ outfielder/designated hitter/first baseman, Luke Scott is a player who I had grown to respect over the years for his play and the way he conducts himself in public.

As a fan, I obviously don’t know him all that well – aside from what he’s projected in public and in the press.

I’ve been able to chat with him at a few events, plus as a fan in the park. My opinion of him is that he’s a man of faith and spiritualism, a very hard worker, humble and of course has become a hell of a hitter.

Now, he's proven to be a member of the ultra-conservative, right-wing faction of this country. That's fine.

However, this week, he’s made some very controversial and off-base statements about the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

His comments centered on Obama’s birthplace – and the legitimacy of his citizenship (along with other topics) in an interview with Yahoo Sports.

Obviously, he’s created quite the firestorm…

Here’s a bit of what he said:

"[Obama] was not born here," Scott asserted to Answer Man in the session's last segment. "That's my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go — within 10 minutes — to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, 'See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.' The man has dodged everything. He dodges questions, he doesn't answer anything."

Yesterday, the Orioles – via a tweet on their official page on Twitter – distanced themselves from Scott’s comments.

>>> Read More

O's Make a Trade, Koji Re-Signed, They Still Need a First Baseman, Other Stuff

The overhaul of the Baltimore Orioles continued yesterday as the team acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy and infielder Brendan Harris from the Minnesota Twins for minor-league relievers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. In the past week, the Orioles have filled in a few of their needs – a corner infielder with power, a shortstop and a bench player.

Here’s more information about the trade from the Baltimore Sun:

Hardy, 28, hit .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games with the Twins last season. He is a career .263 hitter. His best season was in 2008, when he batted .283 with 24 homers and 74 RBIs in 146 games for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a Brewers second-round draft pick in 2001.

Harris, 30, hit .157 with one homer and four RBIs in 43 games with the Twins in 2010. He is a career .260 hitter in parts of seven seasons. A former 2001 draft pick of the Chicago Cubs', he has played third base, second base, shortstop and first base in the major leagues.


Hoey, a 27-year-old right hander, had a combined 6-0 record with a 3.25 ERA in 42 outings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He made 35 appearances for the Orioles during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, going 3-5 with an 8.13 ERA. He missed all of 2008 with a right shoulder injury. The Orioles drafted him in the 13th round in 2003. He was put back on the 40-man roster earlier this offseason.

Jacobson, 24, went 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 34 relief appearances for Single-A Frederick. He was dealt to the Orioles in August 2009 in the trade that sent Aubrey Huff to the Detroit Tigers.

According to reports, this deal should get done sometime today.

It’s too bad to lose some young arms; however, the Orioles needed the offensive help and depth in their lineup.

I’m not that in love with Hardy, but he’ll provide a lot more offense than Cesar Izturis probably could and he’s still relatively affordable. Let’s hope his bat could perhaps replicate the numbers he had with Milwaukee.

As for Harris, he should provide some depth on the bench.

The Orioles seemed to be in the works to acquire shortstop Jason Bartlett from the Rays on Tuesday on for Nolan Reimold and reliever Alfredo Simon. The deal was rightfully nixed by the Orioles because they felt that it was not prudent to give up on Nolan Reimold so soon after his nice 2009 season.

Bartlett ended up being traded to San Diego on Wednesday.

Also, the Orioles were (as expected) able to ink a deal with Koji Uehara late last night. It’s a risk worth taking despite his history in Baltimore; however, last season, he was perhaps their most reliable reliever and became the closer. He signed a contract for one year and has an option for another year. There may be more moves and signings today as the Rule 5 Draft is taking place.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mark Reynolds an Oriole, Other Stuff and Koji Uehara

On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles got a third baseman as they acquired Mark Reynolds in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In turn, pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio are headed to the desert. This could be the start of a flurry of moves to finally start happening with the organization.

With the options left on the market, perhaps the move for Reynolds was the best the Orioles could have made. It’s a shame to lose David Hernandez, as I thought he was coming into his own as a member of the bullpen; meanwhile, Mickolo was somewhat expendable. One would think that Baltimore would now have to hit the market once more for bullpen help.

The Diamondbacks, in the trade, get rid of Reynolds’ salary along with his propensity to whiff. Hernandez and Mickolio should help them shore up their bullpen, while cutting costs and infusing more young talent into their system.

Reynolds' upside is that he's still young, a slugger and plays decent third base. The strikeout totals he has accumulated the past several years are scary, plus he seemingly didn't hit his weight last season; however, you can't deny his power and RBI output.

Josh Bell, based on what we saw in his season in Baltimore in 2010, looked overmatched and just didn't look ready for the big show.

Reynolds should fit the bill in the short term while Bell tries to figure himself out in the minors.

Baltimore needed a third baseman and they got it. He spoke to the scribes, professional bloggers, plus sports talk radio after the deal and so far has said all the right things. Well, so did manager Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail, along with Kevin Towers -- the current GM of the Diamondbacks.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Mark Reynolds Joins the Baltimore Orioles

Today, the Baltimore Orioles got a third baseman as they acquired Mark Reynolds in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In turn, pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio are headed to the desert.

With the options left on the market, perhaps this move was the best the Orioles could have made. It’s a shame to lose David Hernandez, as I thought he was coming into his own as a member of the bullpen; meanwhile, Mickolo was somewhat expendable. One would think that Baltimore would now have to hit the market once more for bullpen help.

The Diamondbacks, in the trade, get rid of Reynolds’ salary along with his propensity to whiff. Hernandez and Mickolio should help them shore up their bullpen, while cutting costs and infusing more young talent into their system.

Reynolds' upside is that he's still young, a slugger and plays decent third base. The strikeout totals he has accumulated the past several years are scary, plus he seemingly didn't hit his weight last season; however, you can't deny his power and RBI output.

>>> Read More

Sunday Ramblings and Mark Reynolds

Happy Sunday everyone and hope everything is well with you all.

It's the day before the Winter Meetings down in Orlando, but over the past few days, fans have been wordering what in the world the Orioles are doing?

I'm sure something will happen in the next week -- hopefully. It looks like the Orioles' braintrust and Buck Showalter will be down there to see how the organization can improve at the big league level.

It does look like the Orioles will have a major turnover of talent in 2011, but who the team acquires is anyone's guess at this point. Fans are frustrated, mystified and wondering who the team will get. I'm not going to jump off a building yet and consider next season a failure.

With slugger Adam Dunn, along with Lance Berkman off the board and Adrian Gonzalez seemingly on his way to becoming a member of the Red Sox -- or perhaps not, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, it's becoming fairly obvious the Orioles need to make a move for power bat.

I still think Konerko plays out his career as a member of the White Sox. No way do I see him coming to Baltimore.

James, in a blog posted earlier today, notes the Orioles are looking Mark Reynolds for third base. As we know, Reynolds is currently plays the hot corner for the Diamondbacks and is available on the trade market.

As much as I don't want him as an Oriole, he may not be a bad option for the short term. The strikeout totals he has accumulated the past several years are scary, plus he seemingly didn't hit his weight last season; however, you can't deny his power and RBI output.

Josh Bell, based on what we saw in his season in Baltimore in 2010, looked overmatched and just didn't look ready for the big show.

>>> Read More

Sunday, December 5, 2010

For the love of Brooks - GET REYNOLDS!

The Orioles need a third baseman.

Mark Reynolds is a third baseman.

He plays for the Diamondbacks, they want to trade him.

The Orioles have been in talks, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman predicts that the Orioles will get Reynolds at the Winter Meetings that begin on Monday. Simply put, this needs to happen. It simply can't not happen. If the Orioles allow Mark Reynolds to get away then Andy MacPhail, Peter Angelos and the entire Orioles front office need to stand before the crowds in January at fanfest and offer everyone a sincere apology. And possibly resign and sell the team respectively.

First, who is Mark Reynolds?

Reynolds is the 27 year-old thrid baseman for the AZ Diamondbacks. In his four years in the bigs he has averaged 35 homers, an OPS of .817, 100 RBI and an OBP of .334. He plays a solid third base and is considered to be a very fine young player. That is the good. The bad, He has led the NL in strike outs each of the last three years and last year finished with a BA under the mendoza line.

We still get him. Why? He is the definition of buying low.

This is not Carlos Pena who has declined in some way every year since his bust out year with the Rays. Reynolds is young, has raw talent and a big bat. Buster Olney tweeted earlier this week that Reynolds would, "hit 50 homers in Camden." I know the strike out numbers are alarming, but lets take a closer look at them.

Reynolds struck out 211 times last year, leading the NL, and only mustered a .198 BA. That looks bad, on the surface. While striking out 211 times and hitting .198 Reynolds also: maintained an OBP of .320; drove in 85 runs (on a bad Arizona team); hit 32 homeruns; grounded into only EIGHT double plays and had a 1.033 OPS with runners in scoring position! Reynolds also averaged 4.16 pitcher per plate appearance last year well above the league average.

>>> Read More

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez to Boston?

It looks like a big fish -- who's not even a free agent -- is going to end up in Boston.

The Red Sox have been lusting after this guy for a long time, and it may be an early Christmas for fans in New England. From all indications, it seems that Adrian Gonzalez is going to a be a member of the Boston Red Sox.

That means, Oriole fans, we will not get him in any way shape or form at all.

From ESPN: The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a deal in principle to acquire slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney on Saturday morning.

The Red Sox have received permission from Major League Baseball to negotiate with Gonzalez on a new contract, the sources said, and Gonzalez's physical examination, one of the last hurdles to the deal, could happen Saturday. The team already has flown in Gonzalez.

In exchange, the Padres would receive pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes, a baseball source told's Gordon Edes.

Sources told Olney it's very possible the Gonzalez deal would mean the end of Adrian Beltre's time with the Red Sox, because although Kevin Youkilis could move to left field, Boston's preference probably would be to shift Youkilis to third base.

-- snip --

The Red Sox have long coveted the 28-year-old Gonzalez. As far back as the 2009 trading deadline, the Red Sox made a pitch for Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star who last season finished fourth in balloting for the National League's Most Valuable Player.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound left-handed hitter batted .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs for the Padres last season. He finished fifth in the National League in on-base percentage (.393), ninth in slugging (.511) and led the league in hitting with runners in scoring position (.407).

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Dunn, Konerko and Other Stuff...

As the week comes to a close, there again has not been much news with the Orioles.

On Thursday, another target of the team on the market – Adam Dunn – has decided to sign with the Chicago White Sox for four years/$56 million.

Although Dunn is a flawed player (a DH at this point, not a first baseman; strikes out a ton, comes off as apathetic, slow), he’s a bat the Orioles could have definitely used.

I would have definitely liked Dunn on the Oriole roster based on what I saw from him in Washington. But, he's on a contending team for a change...

However, the Orioles only offered four years/$40 million to him? This must be a joke, right?

If so, then he would have never signed with Baltimore anyway. Was this some token offer or something?

It’s been reported that the Orioles have been in talks with Paul Konerko and have made an offer. It would be nice if we got his bat, but he’s older than I’d like. Plus, how much would he costs?

Honestly, he will probably re-sign with the White Sox, in my opinion. Kornerko has spurned the team once before…

Well, there’s still Adam LaRoche, Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee still out on the market. All three have issues, but they need a bat in a big way. Also on the shopping list is a shortstop who can provide some offense. Then again, the team also needs pitching – perhaps another starter and a reliever or two.

>>> Read More

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Orioles, The Market and Other Stuff...

While there have been some teams that have been active on the market, such as the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, things have been quiet on the Baltimore Orioles' front. It seems that the market has been moving a little slow, but players have been signed.

Just not by Baltimore.

The Winter Meetings are next week in sunny Orlando and the discussion will invariably center on, "who will Andy get?”

Good question. At this point, most fans are wondering, "will the Orioles get their targeted players, or will they spurn us?

"Who are they going to sign?"

Fans have suffered 12 losing seasons and there may be a 13th, or even possibly a 14th before the Orioles perhaps even see the magic .500 mark.

Buck Showalter guided the Orioles to a 33-24 record after he showed up and took the reins of the team on-field from Juan Samuel; however, like I mentioned on Monday, a nice finish to 2010 doesn't guarantee an over .500 record in 2011.

The Orioles do have players they are targeting and have made offers to, but little else is known aside from that.

Maybe it's a state secret that's not being divulged or something. We know Andy MacPhail isn’t saying anything at all.

As James, the media and every other blog has mentioned, the team needs a corner infielder - preferably a first base man - plus, a big time bat. Apparently, the Orioles have made an offer to Paul Konerko (who is a free agent), but he's already spurned the team once before and I wonder why he would want to leave the White Sox. Would he come to an organization in a rebuilding stage? He's older and has never been particularly fleet on foot, but he's got a solid bat with pop -- alas, he is also on the wrong side of 30.

I still do have affinity towards Dunn, considering what I saw from him in Washington, plus his power numbers. However, will Baltimore give him the money to come and hit Camden Yards 81 times a year? Plus, would Dunn want to give up the notion of playing first base full-time and be a DH?

Then again, could Dunn hack it as a DH in the American League?

I mean, Pat Burrell joined the Rays in 2008, got released because he seemingly could not hack it the AL. Therefore, he joined the Giants, found a home there and won another championship.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Reality of the Situation

Over the weekend, I was in Baltimore and was with some friends tailgating right before the Buccaneers/Ravens game. Naturally, with all of us being hardcore baseball fans and as well season ticket holders who sit in the same group, the conversation turned to the Orioles.

We’d not seen each other pretty much since the season ended. Rather than talk about football, we all went back and forth about who the Orioles should get, who should be signed, etc.

We all understand the reality of the situation --- however, a few us of in the group were a little dismayed with the results so far in the off-season.

So far, no one in our group of seven has been all that impressed as to what Andy MacPhail has done so far in terms of the free agent market. Then again, there’s still plenty of time for moves to be made – although it was a tad disconcerting to see Victor Martinez end up with the Tigers.

When all was said and done, although the Orioles did team did finish strong last year, no one thinks that the Orioles will bust out next year and become the San Francisco Giants of 2010. I hate to say it, but from what I see out on the free agent market right now and on the trade front, the Orioles need to keep with their plan.

They need to grow the arms, stock up the minor leagues and keep harvesting talent. Trading for an Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder would be great; however, who do you deal? Chris Tillman? David Hernandez? Zach Britton?

>>> Read More

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who's on First?

The Orioles need a first baseman. No doubt about that. I don't think any fan will be happy with another year of Ty Wigginton at the 3-spot. There are not a lot of top-flight first base candidates out there, especially if you are looking for that whole "future" type player but there are some viable options in free agency that need to be pursued.

Paul Konerko

The Orioles courted Konerko in 2006 but he elected to stay in Chicago after winning the World Series there in 2005 but his contract is up and he is once again a free agent. Konerko will turn 35 in 2011 and while he had a great year last year, posting a .977 OPS, it was a rebound year after a couple years of steady decline since the 06 contract. Granted, even his bad year in 2008 (injury year) his .783 OPS would have been a significant improvement from the 2010 Orioles.

The problem with Konerko is his age/ contract. You will most likely have to give Konerko a four year deal so that raises the question: What will he look like in the last two year of that deal? Granted, 38/39 is not 40/41 and Konerko has not shown any real signs of slowing down it is still going to be a concern.

Also there is the money it would take to lure him away from Chicago. Konerko has spent his entire career, as a starter, in Chicago; he all ready turned down more money from the Orioles in 2006 to stay in Chicago and Konerko doesn't strike me as the type of player to chase the money. Getting him out of Chicago is going to take a pretty solid offer - but one the Orioles should make.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Musings on a Friday

There’s not a whole lot going on with the Orioles after the Thanksgiving holiday; however, during the last week, they did get their entire coaching staff in place.

The final hire, Willie Randolph said all the right things when he spoke to the media, noting that he’s “an Oriole” now. Although his Mets’ managerial stint of sort crashed and burned, he should be a good voice to Showalter as his bench coach.
It seems that the Orioles will have one of the most experienced coaching staffs in baseball. Hopefully, that will play a small role in turning tide with the organization.

The only thing I’m lamenting that there isn’t a former Oriole on the staff; however, after watching 13 years of losing baseball, hiring an experienced staff – and the best out there – was the thing to do.

Other than that, it looks like some are dismayed that the Orioles didn’t sign Victor Martinez and they seemingly missed by a few million. Who knows why Martinez signed with the Tigers – maybe he just wanted to join a team with a chance to win, or just simply catch.

>>> Read More

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Uehara not offered arbitration

As Anthony just reported below, the Orioles have decided not to offer Koji Uehara arbitration meaning the pitcher is free to go off to free agency. This is a monumentally weird move. If the Orioles had offered and Koji still chose to go to Free Agency then the Birds would have been given a compensation pick in this year's draft, now if the Orioles do not re-sign the Japanese closer the Orioles receive nothing.

Yes, there was always a chance that Koji could have accepted the arbitration but all indications are that he wanted to test the market. The Orioles could have still negotiated with him if he rejected the initial arbitration offer.Not offering Koji arbitration is a real-head scratcher bordering on dumb move. It was such a low-risk move and considering that the Orioles have not had a compensation pick in five years I can't understand why Koji was allowed to enter free agency free-and-clear.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Victor Martinez Joins the Tigers

Victor Martinez became a member of the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. The deal is for four years, $50 million.

With Martinez off the market, the Orioles are out another first base option and will probably go after Carlos Pena. Martinez prefers to catch; however, with Wieters in the fold, Martinez would have been a DH, or played first and caught only on occasion.

From the looks of it, the Orioles were right there in the bidding with a 4-year, $48 million dolllar offer. We're not privy to the discussions or the facts of the missed deal with the hitter, but could it have simply come down to a guy wanting to play a particular position? Could the man simply have wanted to go to a winning organization? Or a just a competitive one?

Who knows.

Sadly, Martinez has one hell of a bat and the Orioles missed it. Victor doesn't mash homers like Adam Dunn, but he's consistent. You know that Martinez, year after year, will put up quality numbers and be a professional.

Life goes on and let's hope the Orioles get one of the other free agents out there. My gut says that the Orioles get Carlos Pena on an affordable, one-year pact, and hope he can reproduce his more successful years in Tampa Bay.

I think Baltimore misses out on Dunn because he wants to play first base and does not think of himself as a glorified designated hitter. As for Paul Kornerko, I think he stays with the White Sox.

Some fans will be upset. I'm a little frustrated too. However, Victor Martinez is not like missing out on a Mark Teixiera or an Albert Pujols.

>>> Read More Here...

Victor Martinez ... off the Market?

Well, it looks like one of the names that the Orioles were rumored to go after may probably be off the free agent market sooner rather than later. Both Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and the Boston Globe's Extra Bases blog is reporting that Victor Martinez is about to sign a long-term deal with the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers have plenty of money to burn thanks to numerous contracts that have come off their books.

From Ken Rosenthal:

The first major free agent is about to fall.

Catcher Victor Martinez is close to signing with the Tigers, a source confirms.

Ignacio Serrano, a reporter for Venezuela’s El Nacional, reported that Martinez will receive a four-year, $50 million contract.

The Tigers outbid the Red Sox, White Sox and Orioles, Serrano said.

>>> Read More

Belanger-Grich Double Play Combo to be Featured on MLB Network Tonight...

If you'll be at home tonight and are feeling nostalgic about the good ol' days of Orioles baseball...

Former Baltimore Orioles Mark Belanger & Bobby Grich will be featured in a new episode of MLB Network’s Prime 9: Double Play Combinations tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Belanger-Grich duo will be ranked alongside other combinations, including the Indians’ Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar, the Reds’ Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion, and the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley. New episodes of Prime 9 will air every Tuesday in November beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET

Is Willie Randolph Joining the Orioles?; Other Stuff and Joey Votto Wins NL MVP

It looks like the spots on the coaching staff will finally be resolved within the week for the Baltimore Orioles.

The Baltimore Sun and are reporting that the former manager of the New York Mets, Willie Randolph may be the newest coach. It’s not clear what position he’d take, but it would be more likely be a choice between coaching third or serving as the bench coach.

The two sides are still working on a deal.

The Orioles are negotiating with Randolph, who spent last season as the Milwaukee Brewers' bench coach, for the final spot on Showalter's staff, according to team sources. As the Juan Samuel situation proved this month, it's not a given that the two sides will reach an agreement.

If a deal is finalized, Randolph would work with the Orioles' infielders and either coach third or serve as Showalter's bench coach. Randolph was Showalter's third base coach with the New York Yankees in 1994 and 1995.

Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell would fill whichever role Randolph doesn't between third base and bench coach.

Well, Buck and Willie have a relationship from their days with the Yankees in the mid-90’s – so that’s a good thing. In addition, Randolph is a former MLB manager and his knowledge may served the organization very well, assuming he takes the job.

It’s pretty apparent now that Buck has a fairly solid brain trust and is confident with it. While that may not make the Orioles instant contenders, at least they’ll have one of the most experienced and robust coaching staffs in the game.

>>> Read More

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fandom, Rebuilding and Derek Jeter

I have a friend who’s an eye doctor (a guy with a few years on me) we talk time to time talk about baseball.

He describes himself as an Orioles fan who feels that since Peter Angelos has “ruined the Orioles”, he won’t give him a money nor attend games at Camden Yards. I’ve tried to get him to attend a game with me – even with a free ticket.

His answer has always been a very polite, ‘no’.

His reasoning is that Angelos has ruined the product in Baltimore, there are no marquee names, and frankly the team has not been good for a long time. The guy wants to see someone like Paul Konerko at first, Adrian Beltre at third, a Cliff Lee on the mound, or even John Garland. Or Victor Martinez or and Adam Dunn at the DH spot.

However, he follows the games on MASN and pretty much reads all the papers, blogs and listens to sports talk radio to get the news. Plus, he really likes Buck Showalter (almost to the point of a ‘man crush’).

Whether he’s a real fan or not, I’ll let you all determine that.

I see the man once a month and the latest conversation – amongst other things – about the Orioles came down to Andy MacPhail.

>>> Read More

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trade Bait and a Shortstop

Well, we all know the Orioles might need a shortstop considering Cesar Izturis is a free agent, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll return. Honestly, as good as Cesar was with the glove, I’m sure most fans would prefer to have someone with a tad bit more offense with the bat.

That being said, with things on free agent market as it is, the Orioles might be looking to get a shortstop via a trade.

The Orioles haven't ruled out bringing back Cesar Izturis, but they are currently looking at other shortstop options, according to club sources.

They've had trade discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about Jason Bartlett, and the Minnesota Twins about J.J. Hardy.

The talks with the Rays included discussion of a potential swap of Orioles reliever David Hernandez for Bartlett, who hit .254 with four homers and 47 RBIs in 2010, but is a career .281 hitter. However, that deal appears unlikely at this point as the Orioles consider other options.

While I like some of the intangibles that Jason Bartlett brings to table despite a down year in 2010, and Hardy has some pop, I’d pass on both if the swap includes Hernandez. With the Tampa Bay Rays looking to get cheaper and restock, who knows what will happen to Bartlett?

Both Bartlett and Hardy will be free agents at the end of the 2011 season.

Although Hernandez clearly struggled in a starting role – much like pitcher Jason Berken – he’s shown his worth in the Oriole bullpen and should be an arm to keep.

Finally, here are your free agent shortstops. Really, do any of them look all that appealing? Let’s not include Derek Jeter, as he’ll wind up with the Yankees again. The only one on the list who looks somewhat desirable is Juan Uribe (who should get a ton of attention). Everyone else pretty much are just rather just fillers or past their prime.

>>> Read More

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Uggla and Beltre

It looks like Dan Uggla - a name that has intrigued some to be had in a trade for the Orioles - has been claimed by the Atlanta Braves. He spurned a contract extension from the Marlins earlier this week and was promptly traded to the Altanta Braves for Omar Infante and relief pitcher Mike Dunn (LHP) earlier this evening.

That being said, it looks like the Orioles may be going after third-baseman Adrian Beltre.

From MLB Trade Rumors: The market for free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre is hot, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, and the Orioles "seem very interested." Heyman tweets that a dozen teams are interested in the Scott Boras client. Last week Boras told MLB Network Radio hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden regarding Beltre, "I would have to say in my years of doing this I’ve never had so much interest in one player." Heyman believes Beltre could be the first star to go off the board, but I'd still be surprised to see him sign before December.

In addition to the contract, the Orioles would have to surrender their second-round pick to sign Beltre. There is recent precedent for that; they gave their second-round pick (#53 overall) to the Braves a year ago to sign Mike Gonzalez.

Beltre, ranked third on our Top 50 Free Agents list, is far and away the best available third baseman this winter. In addition to the Orioles, the Red Sox, Angels, Blue Jays, Indians, Athletics, and Giants could be looking for help at the hot corner. Even the Pirates were said a week ago by Heyman to have interest in Beltre, but not all the clubs named here will be willing to go four or five years at $15MM or more per season.

With Josh Bell not looking like he's ready for prime time based on his stint last season, the Orioles need a strong, defensively-minded corner infielder and Beltre fits the bill.

>>> Read More

Buck Showalter, AL Manager of the Year? No.

Today, the MLB awards season continues as the Manager of Year honors are doled out to the respective leagues.

I do expect the Rangers' Ron Washington to win it for the American League; meanwhile, Bud Black should win the honor in the National League for what he did for the San Diego Padres. It's amazing the job he did getting his team to stay in the playoff hunt before they started to wilt in September.

Despite Bruce Bochy's Giants' winning the World Series, he doesn't get it - in my opinion. The same for Charlie Manuel of the Phillies, and the legendary Bobby Cox of the Braves (who got the most of his team than anyone in 2010 ever expected).

As for the Orioles' Buck Showalter, do I seriously expect him to get some consideration? Maybe?

To win it at all -- no. Who knows is his magic touch will continue in 2011 and beyond. It can't be understated that once Showalter took over as the manager of the team, it was almost like the players got the message and shaped up.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Winter Meetings, John Russell, Willie Randolph and More...

The Winter Meetings kick off today in Orlando this morning and who knows what will result from it. Some deals may be made and there will be a whole lot of rumors; however, the next few days should add more intrigue to the off-season.

Right now, the biggest news out of Birdland is that the Baltimore Sun reported manager Buck Showalter offered former Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell either the bench or third base coaching position. I would figure Russell would choose the bench position, as he was a former manager.

Really, I think the details and financials of the contract just have to be worked out. Who knows, maybe Willie Randolph – who was with Showalter on the Yankees – might join the black and orange.

>>> Read More

The 1971 Baltimore Orioles Rotation to be Featured on the MLB Network Tonight..

In case you're feeling nostalgic about when the Baltimore Orioles were the kings of baseball, the MLB Network will be featuring the 1971 starting rotation tonight on "Prime 9". The program airs at 8:30 ET tonight and other teams featured will be the 1906 Cubs, 1927 Yankees, 1997 Braves and 1986 Mets.

Of course, the 1971 Baltimore Orioles squad featured four pitchers who won 20 games each -- Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 MLB Free Agency: Phillies Close to Re-signing Jose Contreras

Free agent Jose Contreras and the Philadelphia Phillies could be close to completing a two-year contract, according to The report also said that Contreras's contract will be for $ 5 million with a third year option, based on the performance of the 38-year-old player.

Online betting fans should take into consideration that Contreras was the Phillies third most important arm in the bullpen in the 2010 season, with a 3.34 earned run average in 67 appearances as a first-year Phillie. Also, last season, the right-hander had a 6-4 record, four saves, struck out 57 batters, and allowed only 16 walks in 56 2/3 innings.

Not to mention that in his eight-year MLB career, Contreras is 77-67 and 4.55 ERA with the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies and the Phillies.
For his part, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hasn't confirmed the team’s interest in keeping free agent Contreras, but has said that left-handed reliever is a priority for them, taking into account that the bullpen could lose three veterans to free agency - right-handers Contreras and Chad Durbin, and left-hander J.C. Romero.

On the other hand, the Phillies have signed three veteran relievers for the 2011 season: Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Danys Baez, and they seem to be very close of adding a fourth name to the list, so let’s wait and see what happens.

The Bench Coach, Crowley & Free Agency

Not much has been happening in Birdland on the free agent front; however, the Orioles are still trying to fill some coaching vacancies. This weekend, they interviewed former Pirates manager John Russell for the bench coach position.

That being said, I’ve always wondered what the bench coach does and this weekend in an article, the Sun’s Dan Connolly answered that for us. I always thought the bench coach was more or less an assistant to the manager, did the dirty work for him and acted as a buffer/soundboard to the players.

For the most part, my assumption was right; then again, it looks like a bench coach does a lot more for a team than I ever realized. That’s good to know. Meanwhile, Terry Crowley is on the ‘same page’ with the Orioles and their plans (along with his for moving forward).

Obviously, we are not privy as to what goes on behind closed doors, but Crowley said it he was his choice to move on.

Other than that, the Rookies of the Year for the American and National League are being decided on today as the awards season throughout Major League Baseball continue. Well, I think Buster Posey should win the National League; meanwhile, I think Neftali Feliz has it hands down in the American League.

>>> Read More

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Juan Samuel Leaving Organization and More...

The biggest news out of Birdland today is that former interim manager and third base coach, Juan Samuel, will not be returning to the Orioles.

Today, he took a job as third base coach of the Philadelphia Phillies. From various reports, it looked to be that Samuel was set to come back to Baltimore; however, both sides could not agree on compensation and a contract. Thus, Samuel moved on.

As most of us know, Samuel has a long history with the team, serving as a player during the 80’s.

He seemed to be highly regarded with the team and throughout baseball. I’m sure he’ll help a Philadelphia team already stacked with a ton of talent.

It seems that there will be more changes and additions with the Orioles' staff, so we’ll wait and see what happens.

>>> Read More

Trembley & Renovations/Modernizing Camden Yards

If you all have not read this, former Oriole manager Dave Trembley is back in Major League Baseball. According to the Baltimore Sun, Trembley will be the minor league field coordinator for the Atlanta Braves, working throughout their organization with young players and prospects. He will also work with coaches and key personnel as well.

Good for him.

The man was stuck between a rock and a hard place with the Baltimore Orioles. Seriously, after each and every loss, he looked very grim. Obviously, Trembley didn't have the talent to compete in the American League East; however, a poor start in 2010, struggling players, injuries and just very bad luck did him in.

In addition, Trembley just didn't get the best of his squad that he could have and over time that probably got him fired more than anything. I did feel bad for him when he was let go by the team and declined another position; however, the right decision was made considering the impact of Buck Showalter.

He was probably done a favor by being fired when it happened. I don't think much has been heard from Trembley once he left the team. So far, I don't think he's even given an lengthy interview about his time in Baltimore, much less said anything negative.

The one thing I will remember about him is that he was very much a nice, humble person, plus always said hello to people and interacted with fans before the game. Literally, Trembley would walk down the first base line, wave at fans, sign some autographs and chat (it's a stark contrast to what I see from Showalter before games).

Trembley could get serious at times, but overall, I think he was sincerely glad to have the job as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

We all should wish him well. The man presided over some horrible teams, but there's was only so he could do.

>>> Read More

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Changes coming to Camden Yards

Fans sitting in the upper deck will get a bit more room to stretch their legs as the Maryland Stadium Authority has announced that there will be some changes made to Camden Yards. Larger seats in the upper deck is just one of the few minor changes announced for the ballpark as it enters its 20th year in service. Railings that currently obstruct the view of the field in the upper deck will be redesigned to be less conspicuous and out of the way.

The left field "all you can eat porch" will have its bistro-style seating expanded and further minor improvements. All-in-all the end result will be a reduction in the stadium's overall capacity from just under 49 thousand seats to just under 46 thousand seats.

So any rumors about a restaurant or expanded bar or picnic area - this should put them all to rest. For now at least.

In other Orioles news; in a recent tweet Sports Illustrated Jon Heyman stated that the Orioles were being "aggressive" at the early onset of Free Agency. What exactly does that mean? I have no idea. The cynic in me immediately goes: "...when I see it.." and there is next to nothing we can actually sink our teeth into here but its nice to think that the Orioles are being proactive for a change.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for the American League

The Rawlings' Gold Glove winners for the American League were announced today and this time around there were no Orioles on the list. I really have no qualms about who earned the award this year (except for the up-the-middle-combo, ahem, mainly Derek Jeter), but I do figure if Nick Markakis played for a winning team, the conversation as to who is selected might be different.

As for Adam Jones - who won the award as one of three outfielders selected in 2010, he was not worthy this season. Jones was inconsistent at times in the field, made quite a few gaffes, and just didn't have the form he had in the year prior. Adam's a great athlete and if he can play the position a tad deeper in the field, he'll be better off.

>>> Read More

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random Thoughts on the Orioles

The free agency period for Major League Baseball starts in a few hours (Sunday at 12am) and thought among most Oriole fan is this question – who will the team get?

As it is right now, no one expects the Baltimore Orioles to be a contender, but stranger things have happened in sports. The team did finish strong last year, but that still didn’t stop Buck Showalter from making wholesale changes with his staff.

It’s obvious that the Orioles need a power bat in their lineup, a strong corner infielder, perhaps another starting pitcher or two (an ace would be beautiful – but, I see Andy MacPhail getting a middle-of-road, innings eating arm).

Lest we forget, the Orioles do potentially a shortstop along with some bullpen help. Again, the team has some serious needs and at this point, finishing up with a respectable record would be nice to see.

With a plethora of young talent on the team and up-and-comers, will the Orioles make a splash in Spring Training? These days, unless you’re one of big financial powerhouses of the sport, the mantra for most teams have been building from within (especially arms) and retaining young/cheap talent.

This offseason, I sincerely hope the Orioles do go after an established bat such as Adam Dunn – who played down the road in Washington, or a Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena (the low BA in ’10 was a concern).

>>> Read More

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Mobbies - Vote!

This year, the Oriole Post blog has had the distinction for being nominated for "The Mobbies", the awards given out by the Baltimore Sun for outstanding blogs in the state of Maryland.

As you have probably figured, we are in the "Best Oriole Blog" category.

We're up against some of the most renowned professionals in the business, such as Roch Kubatko and Steve Melewski. In addition, excellent larger fansites and blogs such as Orioles Hangout and Camden Chat are also included.

It's a nice honor the be part of this group; thus, if you feel so inclined, show us a little love and vote.

You have to register and can only vote once every 24 hours.

Feel free to click on the icon to vote!

Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series Thoughts and the Orioles...

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past week or two, but I had gone on vacation and pretty much took a break from blogging for a bit. In addition, life had gotten in the way and to attend to some other things.

In the meantime, the 2010 baseball season in winding down and it’s a big surprise to me that the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are against one another for the championship. Personally, I would have expected Texas to win the American League pennant (or maybe New York), but the Giants I didn’t see taking the National League at all.

I’m sure most fans expected to see the Philadelphia Phillies with their big payroll, high-powered offense and the pitching triumvirate of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the World Series. Let's not forget the Yankees -- I go can on and on about them; however, one has to think they will have to think about their aging playing and the lack of pitching efficiency in the ALCS.

Again, I sure as hell didn’t see the Giants playing for it all. I mean they have a real strong pitching corps with two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez in the fold; however, their everyday lineup perhaps with exception of Buster Posey are filled with non-household names and veteran who have been around the league.

They are an odd team for sure. With the roster they have (Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell (?), Edgar Reneteria, Freddy Sanchez, Cody Ross, Andres Torres & Juan Uribe) don’t note anything special, but they have come together and won. Heck, their highest paid player - Barry Zito - was ommitted from the post-season roster!

I’ve never seen a hodgepodge of players such as the Giants play in the World Series, but like they say you can’t script October and games aren’t decided on paper, in the media, or online.

That being said, I’ll be rooting for the Giants since they have a handful of former Orioles (Huff, Eli Whiteside, Mike Fontenot and Chris Ray) who suited up for the this year. Nothing against Texas and they definitely would make a fine champion, but the Giants would make one hell of a story if they win it all.

Plus, Cliff Lee losing that first game, combined with a litany of Texas errors may have swung the pendulum in the Giants’ favor.

>>> Read More

Monday, October 25, 2010

Musings and Happenstance

Good morning fellow readers.

With the Orioles' season over and my day job in full swing life has torn me away from the internet. This morning, however, I find myself with some time to rattle off some of the thoughts that have meandered through my baseball mind the past week. Meandered like a shallow stream through an autumnal glen; or a small child lost in the mall.

You pick.

-If I hear the phrase, "Great series - no one will watch it," one more time I am going to need bail money. Yes, we get it. Texas and San Fran are not the markets of Philly and NYC. We get it. We get that West Coast teams not based in LA are largely ignored by the national mind with its rather large Eastern bias. But guess what, the networks only really care about four maybe five teams anyway so odds are there is going to be a series every once and awhile that "no one" will watch. The snark behind that comment always drives me nuts. The people in San Francisco will certainly watch it as will all of the people in the greater Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth metro area. That is who we should be worrying about. Don't these teams deserve a chance to play on the big stage just as much as the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox and Angles?

-As you all know by now the Yankees lost and were knocked out of the playoffs again. I know I am just all broken up about that. Haven't been able to sleep for days. Neither has the NYC press which has been, delightfully, all over the Yankees. What does this have to do with the Orioles? Because as Mike Lupica in the Daily News and the Joel Sherman in the NY Post bring up - the Yankees are getting old. Next season Jeter will be 37, Posada will be 40, Rivera will be 41and as these players have aged everyone has expected them to finally succumb to age like EVERY player - especially Posada. But the problem is they never seem to do it. After the lackluster performance in the ALCS people are starting to seriously look at this Yankee team and wonder how it will go on from here. This is great news for the Orioles.

The Yankees simply have to bring back Jeter and Rivera. I mean, I think Yankee fans could deal with Posada going and even Pettite but not Jeter. Jeter is Ripken. In the Sherman piece linked above he likens Jeter to Ripken as both a blessing and a curse. The difference here is that as Ripken aged he was able to shift over to third to keep from being anything less than a defensive asset to the team - Jeter and the Yankees do not have that option with a soon to be 36 year-old A-Rod and his albatross-like contract parked at third base. The Yankees have to bring him back he is the international face of a near-trillion dollar empire, but in the sense of good baseball it is probably a bad idea, but they are stick with him.

Again, great for the Orioles? Because if the Yankees have to trot out an older version of Jeter 162 times a year that makes them just that much weaker. Going out and getting Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford can help but the Yankees are getting old quickly in key positions with next to no help in the minor leagues and huge contracts that no other team could take on in a trade. The more questions the Yankees have this offseason the better. I think we are seeing a team finally on the downswing.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Season that Was; Playoffs

As we are well into the MLB Playoffs, it seems like the 2010 regular season didn’t end just nine days ago – rather it feels like it’s been a month or so.

On October 3rd, the season for the Orioles came to a conclusion. Despite a 66-96 record, for the first time in perhaps a decade plus, there’s some tangible hope for fans.

Under Buck Showalter, the team played well over .500, finishing up with a 34-23 record. They wound up splitting a four-game series at the very end, but they didn’t fold at all towards the homestretch. Frankly, they looked like they could compete with any team in baseball.

It was quite astonishing – albeit, in a good way to witness. The young pitching rose to the occasion – especially Brad Bergesen and Brian Matusz (who recovered from poor starts to the season), the team got injured players back and the hitters seemed to do much better in the clutch.

As we all saw in the final months of the season, the team does have pieces to build upon for the future. However, it’s also pretty obvious that they need help – a big bat, perhaps another starter, help at the corner positions, and also another bullpen arm.

Something needs to be done.

>>> Read More

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 2010 Orioles, Part 2: What it could be

Brian Matusz was masterful last night. Six innings pitched, a career-high nine strikeouts and one earned run. The run came on a homerun in the second inning courtesy of Brandon Inge; Matusz did not allow a Tiger reach second base for the rest of his start. Matusz's final line: 10-12, 4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.1 K/9. Nice.

At the beginning of the year Matusz was on a lot of writer's short-lists for Rookie of the Year, as the Orioles went into their tailspin those thoughts went down with it. But Matusz deserves votes. He deserves to be a serious contender, but I know he won't be. Look at the way Matusz has pitched in the second half: 3.63 ERA, 7-3, 7.9 SO/9. Since Showalter has joined the team in August Matusz has just one loss against seven wins and an ERA of 2.11!

Matusz leads American League rookie starters in strikeouts, innings pitched, fewest walks, starts, WHIP and is second only to Wade Davis in ERA by .16. Matusz deserves to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation, and last night dominant performance put an exclamation point on that argument.

Last night's win was a lot more meaningful than some may realize. First, the obscure, that win tied an MLB record for wins after futility (I made that up). After a team has recorded their 73 loss, only one other team has won at least 37 games (Terry Francona's Phillies). Also, more importantly and visible, last night's win means that the Orioles will have no worse than a .500 record in the second half of the season.

Let me repeat that. No matter what happens today, the Orioles will have played at least .500 ball in the second half. This team was THIRTY (!) games under .500 at the break and was challenging for the worst recod of all time. They have played .500 ball since and have a chance to finish the second half over .500 with a win today. If that happens it will be the first time since 2004 and only the second time since 1997 the Orioles finish strong.

>>> Read More

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Season is Winding Down...

With the season down its final two games, I’m happy this team didn’t fold towards the end like they during the past decade. It’s clearly evident with the doubleheader sweep yesterday against the Detroit Tigers and taking two-out-of-three from the playoff bound Tampa Bay Rays.

It’s obvious that the Orioles do have some keys to rebuilding what was once a proud franchise. However, it’s also pretty obvious that they need help – a big bat, perhaps another starter, help at the corner positions, and also another bullpen arm. The holes must be plugged in.

They may be better in 2011, but even with improvements, will they contend against the best in the East?

The Rays may slip some because of the inevitable departures of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena; however, the financial wherewithal of the Yankees and Red Sox will always make them threats. The Jays, in the past several seasons have always managed to put a good team out on the field and this season is no exception.

>>> Read More

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Orioles, Tampa and what might be

With the win this evening the Tampa Bay Rays clenched a playoff spot - something that was little more than a foregone conclusion. Congrats to the Rays and their fans, they are a great young team and they are truly one of the best this year. Moreover, the Rays really need this because I think everyone in baseball can see the writing on the wall and the Rays' window may be rapidly closing. Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Eric Aybar among others are most likely gone. Longoria, Price, Davis et al will still be around but with the Rays' ownership announcing that payroll will be cut next year I think everyone can feel that the 2011 Rays will seem like a much different creature.

I think Rays fans feel the same thing. A lot has been made of the atrocious attendance in St. Petersburg this series. With a chance to clench a playoff spot and the best young team in baseball the Rays drew only 12,466 fans out to Tropicana Field, tonight was did not differ that much only drawing a little more than 17,000. Evan Longoria and David Price did not mince words calling the showing "embarrassing". Adam Jones tweeted: "I wonder what Baltimore would look like [in that situation]?".

Why am I writing about this in an Orioles blog? Because as an Orioles fan seeing an empty stadium entertaining a team with as much talent as the Tampa Bay Rays angers me. Jones, I will tell you what Baltimore would look like - it would be packed to the gills. If in 2011 the Orioles are in a situation to clench a playoff berth I guarantee that not only will the stands be packed to capacity but every local establishment not only in the city-proper but the greater Baltimore metro-area will be packed waiting for the final out and a ticket to the post season.

But this post isn't meant to denegrate the people of the Tampa bay area, they have their reasons I'm sure, but rather to comment on the state of the Orioles, Rays and AL East going forward.

2010 will soon be in the books, and the Baltimore Orioles season can not be summed up in one post. So let this be part one: The Baltimore Orioles; what could have been.

>>> Read More

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thoughts and Jose Bautista

Three games. Three straight losses.

This weekend, the Orioles got swept by the Jays. While the black and orange didn't embarrass themselves, they only really came close to beating the Toronto on Saturday, where they lost in extra innings. The pitching wasn't terrible (ok, it was shaky on Sunday - especially VandenHurk and Simon), but the homer happy Jays got the best of the Orioles this series.

Perhaps the Orioles will get back on track against the Rays this week and finish out the season next weekend against the Tigers.

Really, overall during these past three games, I've just been astonished by Jose Bautista and his success. As we all know, he was once a Rule 5 pick by the Orioles, but then bounced around, ended up in Pittsburgh and found himself in Toronto. Many observers thought he had the skills to be more than a platoon/part-time player, and sure enough, he broke out of it.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Boston Series; Millwood

Last night, the Orioles could not complete the three game sweep in Boston on Wednesday with a 6-1 loss after wins on Monday and Tuesday; however, they've continued their strong finish to the 2010 season. After getting their arses handed to them the past few seasons by the Red Sox, the Orioles finished with a .500 record - at a 9-9 clip.

I though the Orioles might made a smart move by signing Kevin Millwood in the off-season. One would figure that signing a veteran pitcher might help to stabilize a young rotation, but it's funny how Millwood has the worst record statistics-wise for any starting on the team.

He fell to his 16th loss on the season, giving up five runs in his outing and for the most part looked like the pitcher he's been all season. Millwood has shown some flashes of brilliance, but overall, his season has been one to frankly, say has been a great disappointment. Despite the lack of success this year on the mound, Millwood never really complained and he went out did his job - start after start.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Yankees Come and Go...

The Orioles avoided a three-game sweep by the New York Yankees with a incredible walk-off win, 4-3, in front of slight less than 40,000 on Sunday afternoon.

Despite losing a heartbreaker on Friday off a Alex Rodriguez go-ahead, three-run homer in the ninth and getting their arses handed to them on Saturday, the O’s fought back on in the final game of the set. Down 3-2 in the ninth, Luke Scott tied the game with a home run off Mariano Rivera and then earned the win in the 11th off Ty Wigginton’s double.

What was more amazing is that the Orioles won a game they surely would have lost not too long ago. The bullpen came through a held the game in check, with Koji Uehara striking out the side in the 10th and Mike Gonzalez nearly blowing the game in the 11th, but getting a crucial double play with the bases loaded.

New York had plenty of chances to finish off Baltimore, but they seemingly could not get the knockout punch.

Although we all probably hoped that the Orioles could have taken two-of-out-three or swept the Yankees, it was great to see them fight. Once again, the park was full with Yankee fans – I’d say they were at least 70% of the attendance that day – but it was good to see them frustrated at the outcome and Joe Girardi’s overmanaging.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Orioles finally beat the Jays...

...But the Ravens were on Monday Night Football to open the season and no one cares.

Seriously, the Orioles recorded the fourth lowest all-time attendance with their game against the Jays last night in Baltimore. Fewer than 10,000 people turned out to see what was actually a very good game between the suddenly respectable Birds and the homer-happy Jays. The Orioles finally beat the Jays having gone 0-12 against them so far this year. Not only that, but last night's win means the Orioles are no longer the worst team in AL. The birds have jumped over the Seattle Mariners and are closing in on the Indians and Royals.

The resurgent birds need only to win eight more games to eliminate the possibility of a 100-loss season, something that seemed like a foregone conclusion a couple of months ago.

The Orioles did not get away unscathed. Brian Matusz left the game after throwing only nine pitches and recording only one out. A line drive of Yuniesky Betancourt struck Matusz square in the throwing arm. He was removed for purely precautionary reasons. Brain Roberts was also hit by a pitch in the leg and left the in the eighth. The fastball from Jason Frasor nailed Roberts just above his knee and he crumpled to the ground. After getting up and gingerly jogging to first he would be removed from the game for Josh Bell.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Orioles Finally Win Against Jays

It's been a great month-and-half for the Baltimore Orioles. After taking two of three from the Tigers over the weekend and winning six out of their last nine games, the Orioles returned home to take on the Blue Jays at home.

Despite being well out of the AL East race, the Jays have managed to stay over .500 and play for something -- pride.

Having beat Baltimore in twelve straight games this season, one could consider that Toronto had their number. However, the Jays were facing the Orioles managed by Buck Showalter - not Trembley or Samuel.

They finally beat the Jays last night, 4-3, off a walk-off single by Luke Scott that plated in Nick Markakis. Brian Matusz, who has looked like a different pitcher over the past month, started the game, but left after being hit on the arm in the first inning. The Baltimore bullpen which had blown the game on Sunday in Detroit did a bang-up job, thanks to Rick VandenHurk's 5 1/3 innings in relief and everyone else doing their part to keep the game close.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

On a Roll...

The Orioles have been on quite a roll as of late, as we know. They won their fourth game in five chances this week, defeating the Tigers in Detroit last night, 6-3.

After their gut-wrenching loss in New York on Wednesday, thanks to a Nick Swisher ninth-inning homer run off Koji Uehara, the Orioles held firm on Friday. Although Kevin Millwood didn’t get a victory, the bullpen once again in as many times for the past few weeks kept Baltimore in the game.

They broke open a 3-3 tie in the eighth off a Matt Wieters’ sacrifice fly and Adam Jones’s RBI-single help put away the game for the Orioles.

Uehara bounced back from his Wednesday outing and got the save. David Hernandez got the win.

At this point, it is conceivable that the Orioles may not lose 100 games after all? They are as of this morning, 54-87 – not good, but much better than where they stood at the beginning of August.

The surge of the Orioles has been to due players coming back – healthy, much better clutch-hitting, a starting pitching corps greatly improved and the bullpen (a healthy Uehara and Gonzalez). Perhaps some players may have realized their jobs are on the line and are now playing with some initiative and hustle.

It’s good to see that the reasons above plus the influence of Showalter has brought some promise to Birdland.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Weekend That Was, A Good Start in New York

After a bumpy start to September, the Orioles are once again looking like the team we saw in August.

Now the question in September is – can they avoid the swoon that has engulfed them for more than a decade? So far, the answer may be yes.

The Orioles took two-of-three games from the AL Wild Card leading Rays over the weekend thanks to a dominant win on Saturday and a razor thin victory on Sunday. As well, they kicked off a three game set in the Bronx on Monday against the Yankees and won it, 4-3.

It’s nice to see the young arms picking it up and the work of Brian Matsuz as of late has been impressive. After a horrific start to the season, he won his fourth straight game yesterday going six innings and allowing three runs to come in.

If you look at it all, Baltimore’s surge in the last month has been due to the starting pitching – not the offense. The New York Times, this morning has a piece on Buck Showalter and his effect on the 2010 Baltimore Orioles since he took over:

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

September off to a rocky start

The Orioles have encountered their first three-game losing streak of the Showalter-era having lost their first three games of September. The Orioles saw two very winnable games against the Sox slip away and then last night were shut down by the Rays and the ever-chatty Matt Garza.

During the losses the Orioles have seen a regression in their overall game. The starting pitching has been solid enough but defensive miscues, shoddy pen work and an inability to get get that one clutch hit have reared their ugly heads yet again.Injuries to Adam Jones and Corey Patterson haven't helped out much. Nick Markakis continues to be mired in a month-long slump hitting only .232. Heck, Nicky is only hitting .243 for the second-half! If this is any indicator on how things are going to go from here-on-out it will be a long September.

One bright-spot has been the starting pitching. Despite losing the last three the Orioles starting pitching has only given up 10 ER over the last week, Millwood being responsible for four of those runs last night. The starters' ressurgence over the last trip through the rotation was just a wonderful thing to watch and even though they don't get to play the Angels every game in September if the starters can keep that type of momentum up the Orioles should finish fairly strong. Or at least a lot stronger than they normally finish.

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