Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Ends with a Whimper

2011 is coming to an end. Mercifully.

The Orioles are quiet. Maddeningly.

Of course the Orioles have made some decent depth-building moves. Wada, Endy Chavez, Antonelli; all of them soild moves. But there has been nothing done for Orioles fans to sink their teeth into. There has been nothing done to generate any sort of excitement. Of course, for some, anything short of signing Prince Fielder will mean this offseason will be a crushing failure.

I would love to have Prince Fielder on this team, love it. I don't think there is a fan who would noit want Fielder in orange and black in 2012 but I am not going to fool myself and say that anything less is a "bad" offseason. Far from it, the Orioles offense has the cahnce to be fairly competitive as it stands.

It's true! Believe it or not the Orioles were fourth in the American League in homers. The O's hit 191 homers last year just behind the power-happy Rangers (201) and Red Sox (210). In fact the Orioles had an offense that was rated at 100 OPS+ putting it right in the middle of the AL, what would have made it much more above average was a higher OBP. The O's had a well-below average OBP last year, and that short-circuited the run-scoring ability of a suprising strong, if not potent, power attack. The Orioles reached base at a .316 clip last year, league average was .326 and the Red Sox led the league with .349. All of this adds up to a team that was able to put together a competitive offense even with bad years from Markakis, Vlad, Lee; slow starts from Wieters and Reynolds and virtually no contribution from Brian Roberts.

What the Orioles need is pitching, and a lot of it. Though I have not given up on Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Zack Britton. Matusz' year was the worst thing that could have possibly happened to him - but I think he bounces back. At this time last year everyone in Birdland was giddy with the thought of those three in the rotation. Matusz was the early pick to be the Rookie of the Year this time last year, the talent is still there. The question is can he harness it? Britton should get better, I expect Arrieta to at least maintain. Then you have Jeremy Guthrie and Tommy Hunter. There is no reason to think that these guys shouldn't be at least what they were last year.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Q&A with Greg Bader: Camden Yards 20th Anniv., Uniform Changes and More...

Readers, sorry for the lack of updates. With Christmas time and other outside events, we had to take some time away from the blog.

However, we recently did a Q&A with the Communications Director of the Baltimore Orioles, Greg Bader and we touched upon on myriad of topics - the 20th Anniversary of Camden Yards, the uniform and cap changes, general Camden Yards questions and concerns, plus what has been going on with Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.

The Q&A was quite lengthy, so we have split it up into two parts. The first part is being posted this evening; meanwhile, we will post the second part on Thursday or Friday.

***

With the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards approaching, what does the organization have in store to celebrate the occasion?

We recently announced a series of sculptures that will be erected during the season to honor the 6 greatest Orioles of all time.

While not specific to the 20th anniversary of the ballpark, we believe this honor is appropriate in the ballpark's 20th anniversary season, and we look forward to holding six dates to honor these legends.

We will be announcing a promotions schedule in the coming weeks which should include several items with a 20th anniversary element. There will be other surprises to come as well, but I certainly don't want to tip our hand at this time.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Frustrated So Far...

Happy Christmas week to you all out there; as well, for all those celebrating Chanukah or any other holiday, the best to you also.

As a fan of the Orioles, it’s been rather frustrating seeing some of the acquisitions and moves made so far. For the most part, they’ve been underwhelming. I’m not sure how much the organization has in their coffers, or the revenue that MASN produces for the Orioles, but you’ve got to wonder if the checkbook will be opened at some point.

Dan Duquette thinks that the Orioles can reach the .500 level – or inch above it. Um, I don’t think that is going to happen unless there is a serious overhaul with this team and the front office opens up the wallet big-time. Plus, the young talent – especially, the pitchers – would need to take a serious step forward and avoid the up-downs during a long season.

So far, I have not thought much of Duquette’s moves. It seems like he genuinely wants to see the organization succeed – for his sake and theirs. I do like that he’s going into the Far East and trying to find players of value who won’t break the bank. Plus, he’s retooling the front office and scouting departments; however, I do wish he would be more aggressive.

I would like him to take more risks and bring a tenured veteran (pitcher or slugger) onto the squad; however, I do think he’s very much taking his time with his moves and is definitely evaluating the organization than making a move to just make a move.

I’m sure a lot of fans were expecting the Orioles to do something of note at the Winter Meetings, despite the advance warnings of Dan Duquette and notes from the media.

>>> Read More

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O's Get Endy Chavez; Ravens

On Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles signed veteran outfielder Endy Chavez signed veteran outfielder Endy Chavez to a one year deala one year deal. Right now, I would think he would fill in as a fourth outfielder – mainly playing left and center field – and perhaps a quick pinch runner off the bench.

It looks like Dan Duquette found the fourth outfielder he wantedfound the fourth outfielder he wanted; however, Chavez is a nice fielder, solid player and certainly has wheels, but he won’t be anything at special at the plate. He’s a guy who can provide depth, and has played on a few winners in his career.

Here’s more on Chavez from the Baltimore SunChavez from the Baltimore Sun:

Chavez, 33, has played 10 seasons in the majors, including 83 games last season with the Texas Rangers. In 2011, Chavez hit .301 with a .323 on-base percentage, five homers and 10 steals in 256 at-bats. Known for his good speed and defensive prowess, Chavez also played in 30 games with Triple-A Round Rock last year.

-snip-

A native of Venezuela, Chavez has played with seven big league teams in his career: the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners and Rangers. He spent parts of four seasons with the Expos/Nationals and three with the Mets. His best year was 2006, when he drove in 42 runs, stole 12 bases and set career highs in batting average (.306) and on-base percentage (.348) for the Mets. He also made one of the greatest defensive plays in postseason history, leaping at the outfield wall in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to rob St. Louis’ Scott Rolen of a home run. Chavez quickly threw the ball into the infield to complete an inning-ending double play.

I know Duquette has been working on building up the Oriole benchbuilding up the Oriole bench; however, for the most part, moves like this and what we have seen so far during this winter have been somewhat underwhelming. I don’t know if the Orioles are being ‘cheap’ as Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd thinkscolumnist Kevin Cowherd thinks, but yes, the additions made so far have not excited me – or most fans – in the least. have not excited me – or most fans – in the least.

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Changes, Renovations and Additions to Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles announced that there would be additional upgrades and renovations to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the 2012 season and beyond.would be additional upgrades and renovations to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the 2012 season and beyond.

There’s more news about the changes herehere, herehere and herehere.

Some changes are subtle, others are not.

From the Orioles.com site:

BALTIMORE -- With 2012 being the 20th anniversary season of the famed Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the team announced on Monday a series of upgrades to improve the functionality of the stadium and pay tribute to the proud history of the franchise, most notably with a newly renovated area to honor the greatest Orioles of all time.

Larger-than-life sculptures of the Orioles' six retired numbers and National Baseball Hall of Famers (Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.) will be unveiled during the course of the season. The sculptures will be located in an improved bullpen picnic grove. The area, which will receive significant upgrades and additional landscaping, will be renovated to allow fans access during non-gameday hours, similar to the Orioles Hall of Fame plaques on Eutaw Street.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Barry Bonds

On Friday, Barry Bonds - who has been pretty quiet in retirment - was sentenced (finally) in his role in the BALCO saga. However, he was on trial in federal court in San Francisco for allegedly lying about his steroid use.

Frankly, I even forgot his case was still on-going.

After all the federal money used on his case, years of investigation and probably paperwork numbering thousands of pages -- this is what Bonds got for his punishment: 30 days of home confinement (aka, house arrest), two years of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine.

So, Bonds doesn't go to jail and I'm sure he'll serve his house arrest in a mansion somewhere. That's all fine and well; however, some people are upset that he's not serving time in a penitentiary.

Personally, who cares if Bonds goes to jail? Honestly, he's already serving a harsh sentence as-is. No one really cares about him.

Wherever he goes in the United States - or even on God's green earth - he'll be as a freaking cheater rather than an all-time great ballplayer.

The man could not find a job in the sport after the Giants decided to cut ties with him not too long after the 2007 season. It's not like he was washed up at time. Bonds did have relatively strong numbers in light of dealing with injuries.

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The GIBBYs: Orioles Come Up Empty...

On Friday night, the MLB Network had an awards show called the GIBBY's - Greatness in Baseball Yearly AwardsGIBBY's - Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards. I saw the promos for the GIBBYS, but didn't even remember it until now. Honestly, I was not even home when the program aired.

The votes for the awards were done by fans at MLB.com, and included input from media, front-office personnel and MLB alumni.

Well, the good news is that a few players from the Orioles were nominated for various awards; however, they came up empty handed.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Duquette, the Scouting Shakeup and Other Stuff...

This afternoon, Dan Duquette – in perhaps yet with another move to re-organize things in Birdland – has re-assigned the entire scouting departmententire scouting department, plus a flurry of other moves.

The news was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthalby Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. In addition, the Orioles have hired an ‘economic advisor’, according to the Baltimore Sunaccording to the Baltimore Sun as well as a new cross-checkernew cross-checker.

Here’s the run-down of what’s going on with the scouting department from Rosenthal’s report about the shuffling of the scouting department (FoxSports):

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wada Comes to Baltimore

This afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles introduced new pitcherBaltimore Orioles introduced new pitcher, Japanese southpaw, Tsuyoshi Wada to BirdlandTsuyoshi Wada to Birdland in a press conference at Camden Yardspress conference at Camden Yards.

Being that I left work early, I got to watch some of Wada's press conference on MASNconference on MASN at the gym and he already endeared himself to me by taking the step of introducing himself in English. I’m sure that earned him points with the press that was assembled, along with a fanbase eager for any good news.

Here’s from about Wada from Orioles.com beat writer, Brittany Ghiroli:Brittany Ghiroli:

The Orioles, who signed Wada to a two-year deal with an option for 2014Wada to a two-year deal with an option for 2014, are hoping Thursday won't be the only time the Japanese lefty wows a crowd. The 30-year-old Wada posted a 16-5 record with a 1.53 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2011, and he was signed largely on account of pinpoint control that Duquette said makes up for a fastball velocity that lives in the 80s.

Wada spoke about why he chose the Orioles, and in turn, Duquette chimed on why he felt the Japanese southpaw was a good fit for Baltimore:

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Brian Roberts

As we’re now well into baseball’s off-season, every team out there is currently looking over the inventory of players to see if they are ready for another campaign on the diamond, or there has to be some tweaking involved.

However, for the Orioles, one player is in limbo: Brian Roberts.Brian Roberts.

This week, OriolesREACH held their annual holiday party for local area children and the local media got to have a few words with Roberts and check up on his progress.few words with Roberts and check up on his progress.

The answer the media from Roberts got was very interestinggot was very interesting, and makes you wonder if he will be indeed ready for the 2012 season.he will be  indeed ready for the 2012 season.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Curious Case of Ryan Braun

James brought this up over the weekend, so I’m going to give my two cents.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, one of the biggest news in sports today – to add to the pile of sordid stuff going on – involves the 2011 National League’s Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun.

Of course, as we all know, Braun was found to have allegedly failed a drug test thanks to an elevated – or perhaps excessive –ratio of testosterone in his body.

If Braun is found to have violated baseball’s drug policy, he faces a 50-game suspension. Right now, he is vigorously denying the allegations, will appeal the charges and is mounting a defense.

Major League Baseball and their executive offices are giving Braun and his associates due process; therefore, it will be a while before any ruling is announced – perhaps sometime in January 2012.

Braun says that he didn’t take any drugs and is unsure what would have prompted a positive test. He failed MLB’s drug initial test noted found the positive results: however, Braun took another one, which he says that he passed.

Now, there’s talk (as unrealistic as it might be) in some corners of the media as to what to do with Braun’s MVP award.

I have no idea if Braun is truly innocent or just posturing like the other cheats have over the years, not only in baseball, but in various sports.

Frankly, I thought the man would have much better sense, but we don't know him based on his image – or any high profile athlete – aside from what we get from the media.

If Braun is found to have cheated, taking his MVP award back would be a bold statement. This would be to not so much to punish Braun, but to show guys, if you cheat or do PEDs -- not only will you not get your good name back, but you will lose hardware.

With the kind of risk these guys face with these products – you have to know what goes into your body. However, you don't have that kind of result from a test without taking something.

If Braun did take a tainted supplement, well he is a fool.

Remember the case with former Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero? If you don’t know who Romero is, Google his name and the word suspension.

He took a tainted supplement/drink. MLB didn't care what the circumstance was; they threw the book at him.

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Lefty from Japan, Tsuyoshi Wada Coming to Baltimore...

As you know, the Baltimore Orioles made further inroadsBaltimore Orioles made further inroads into the international market in the Far East this week by signing Japanese left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year deal.

Here’s more from the Baltimore Sun:

According to an industry source, the Orioles agreed to termsagreed to terms Tuesday with 30-year-old Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada on a two-year, $8.15 million deal that also includes a $5 million option for 2014.

Duquette and the Orioles have not confirmed the pact.

Wada, a soft-tossing, strike-throwing lefty, starred for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks before becoming an unrestricted free agent Dec. 1. He did not need to be posted — there was no bidding process for negotiating rights — and, reportedly, several other teams expressed interest in Wada, including the Washington NationalsWashington Nationals and Pittsburgh PiratesPittsburgh Pirates.

Here’s more:

Listed at 5 feet 10, 170 pounds, Wada consistently throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 80s, but he survives on a deceptive, three-quarters delivery and the ability to throw several pitches for strikes. He also misses bats, earning him the nickname "Dr. K of Tokyo" while in college. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strikeout-walk ratio of 3-to-1 or better. In 2011, he was 16-5 with a 1.53 ERA in 1842/3 innings with the Hawks. He struck out 168 batters and walked 40.

It’s good that the Orioles are *finally* using the international market to fill their roster after many years of seemingly bypassing it.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Luke Scott and Moves Made...

The Baltimore Orioles attended to some businessThe Baltimore Orioles attended to some business last night as they will probably tender contracts to several of their players who are eligible for arbitration – including Brad Bergesen (a mild surprise); meanwhile, they have decided to cut slugger Luke ScottLuke Scott and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes loose.

Neither Scott nor Reyes being cut was a huge surprise.

Scott was hurt for much of last year, his numbers dipped, so the Orioles made him expendable; however, it’s seems that both sides are up for a reunion. Then again, Scott is now a free agent, but the Orioles do want him back – at their price, and not at north of $5-6 million per year.

He’s got value as a slugger, despite his streaky nature; however, at 33, is Scott part of the future of the Baltimore Orioles?

I know he’s popular despite his politics and over-the-top statements at times. Then again, at this point, should the team move onto seeing what some of the younger guys could do since they are in a rebuilding phase?

Then again, Luke could come cheap (a key)Luke could come cheap (a key) and give the Orioles a left-handed power bat. Why not sign him to a year, or on a year-to-year deal without much risk.

That’s an interesting question to ponder.

As for Reyes, he’s just another arm and would give the team depth on the pitching staff.

Well, he’s not that good. The team can find better. Reyes could not be counted upon as a starter, but was a decent mop-up guy/reliever.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

So Long, Pie...

Well, it looks like Felix Pie is no longer a member of the Baltimore Orioles, as he signed a minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians.

He held himself back at times due to injury issues; however, when Pie played over the past two years, he was woefully inconsistent at the plate and on the field.

Pie showed promise at the end of 2009, but could never translate that in the following seasons. That's just too bad.

The guy should be an amazing ballplayer (based on his look), but he lacked some basic baseball instincts, and in a results-driven league, you're only as good as your recent production.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Braun's positive test: What it means.

Milwaukee Brewers' all-star, MVP, left fielder Ryan Braun has tested positive for PEDs according to ESPN's Outside the Lines. The story states that Braun tested positive for testosterone levels at least four times higher than normal and an additional test from the International Doping Agency in Montreal confirmed that the testosterone could not have been produced by Braun's body. The Brewers' star is, of course, appealing the decision and staunchly maintaining his innocence.

Braun has been considered one of baseball's post-steroid era golden boys. He is supposed to be one of the clean-era good guys that has proven big offense will still exist without chemical upgrades, all of that has come crashing down.

So now Braun is a cheater. He broke the rules, he cheated. The sad thing is even if he somehow does successfully appeal the charges many will still consider him to be a cheater. We live in such a cynical age that even a full-fledged press conference featuring the scientists, Bud Seilig, the President and assorted Gods bith full and demi will most likely not shake the accusations from Braun's record. There will always be a question.

This cynical age has also spawned a cabal of individuals that contend performance enhancing drugs do not actually significantly enhance performance in any real way, at least not in baseball. The same drugs that may give someone the ability to lift more weight do not necessarily help you get the barrell of a bat through the strike zone any faster; nor give one the hand-eye-coordination to hit that ball the necessary way. This may all well be true, but I do not subscribe to that belief. But at the end of the day it does not matter. It does not matter if the drugs did/ do nothing, maybe it is/ was all in the players' minds the bottom line is that they are banned and now serious consequences are associated with failing these tests.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cespedes

Key members of the Baltimore Orioles front office, along with Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette have travelled to the Dominican Republic to take a look at Cuban slugger and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

As you see in the video below, the man has some serious skills and the physique to boot; however, the question is – if and when he debuts in the majors – can he hit major league pitching consistently.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Very Little from the Winter Meetings

I’m sure a lot of fans were expecting the Orioles to do something of note at the Winter Meetings, despite the advance warnings of Dan Duquette and notes from the media.

Overall, the Baltimore Orioles did very little of note in Texas. While the Miami Marlins, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and some other teams made major moves, Baltimore traded for well-traveled pitcher Dana Eveland and potentially filled in some organizational holes with the Rule V draft.

The big move – if you want to call it that – was for Eveland, who has been in several organizations and has had his share of trips in the Major Leagues. I would think this is a clich├ęd, low-risk, high reward signing.

Or whatever you may think…

Here’s more about him from the Baltimore Sun:

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yu Darvish and the Orioles...

As we’re on the final day of the Winter Meetings, the Orioles have done quite a bit of talking with various teams, agents and whatever; however, little has happened so far with the organization.

The various scribes and hard working media members who made the trip down to Texas reported that Dan Duquette said that Baltimore is in position to make a move or two at the meetings. Of course, the Orioles are looking for pitching -- and more pitching.

I’m going to assume that a trade or two might be made, but no big signings – at least from what has been put out there.

According to Pete Kerzel from MASN Sports, “Nippon-Ham Fighters have decided to post Japanese pitcher Yu DarvishNippon-Ham Fighters have decided to post Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Major league teams will bid on the right to extend a contract offer to Darvish, a deal that collectively cost somewhere in the $100 million range.”

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Albert Pujols off the Market?

Well, it looks like Albert Pujols is off the market. It's not like he was ever coming to Baltimore, but the Orioles could have used him...

The news of his potential signing came from Yahoo Sports, via MLB Trade Rumors.

The Angels are the bridesmaid no more. Albert PujolsAlbert  Pujols will sign with the Angels for ten years and $250-260MM, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. He'll receive a full no-trade clause. Pujols decided this morning, writes Brown. If Pujols received more than $252MM, his new deal will be the second-largest in baseball history in both its total and average annual value. Pujols is represented by Dan Lozano of Icon Sports Group.

Sorry, that contract will kill the Angels later on.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hoping for Something at the Winter Meetings...

The Winter Meetings are coming to a close in Texas, and so far it’s just amazing how much press the Marlins are getting – and how little we’ve heard about the Yankees. Seriously?

As for the Orioles, while we’ve gotten sound-bites and news out of Dan Duquette (he seems to be quite chatty, unlike MacPhail) and Buck Showalter, little has happened on the organizational front.

They made a minor transaction, re-signing minor league Brandon Erbe, while losing a couple of farmhands; however, the Orioles have been talking about bigger and better things.

For now, the Orioles have not made an impact move, but they have their eyes on Prince Fielder from a distance. In addition, they are rumored to be into Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes and looking for a pitcher or pitchers via trade – specifically the White Sox’s Gavin Floyd.

The Orioles don’t seem to have many pawns available in a trade, and the ones they have – Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, Robert Andino and Jeremy Guthrie – really are not available due to the depth on the roster. However, Brad Bergesen’s name has come up from time to time and they do have some young players that can move in minor deals.

We all want the team to get better and for Jim Duquette to make a move. I do think that the new general manager wants to wheel and deal to show that he still ‘has it’ – in addition to making the Orioles more competitive.

Finally, Duquette thinks that the Orioles can reach the .500 level – or inch above it. Um, I don’t think that is going to happen unless there is a serious overhaul with this team and the front office opens up the wallet big-time. Plus, the young talent – especially, the pitchers – would need to take a serious step forward and avoid the up-downs during a long season.

As painful as it may be to hear, the organization has to focus on rebuilding from the bottom-up and not worry about their win-loss record in 2012. They don’t have any impact minor leaguers to fill-in key positions in case of injury, or bait in need of a trade.

I want the Orioles to be American League contenders; however, I am a realist – I just want them to not finish up with a sub-70 win record.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fielder in the Orange and Black...

The Winter Meetings started Monday in the deep heart of Texas, and the Orioles along with the other 29 teams in the sport are conducting business for next year. Right now, Baltimore needs pitching, pitching and more pitching as Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette have stated to the masses during the past few days.

As most everyone in the media has stated, the Orioles will be trying to build up their teams via trades, and not the way the Miami – formerly the cheap Florida – Marlins are going.

However, despite the Orioles’ reluctance to get into the high-dollar purchases on the market, Dan Duquette mentioned that the organization may be in the Prince Fielder hunt.

I do believe it? Who knows.

Do I see him as an Oriole hitting rockets over the right field wall at Camden Yards. No.

Fielder is one of the elite hitters on the market, he’s still in his prime and Baltimore desperately needs an impact bat in the middle of their lineup.

I think Fielder will go wherever the money is, considering that Scott Boras is his agent and there’s little need to sign somewhere now, especially when the two have time to create their own market.

However, if I were him, I would stay in Wisconsin. He's got a good situation there, full of talent and it may be his best chance to win. Then again, do the Brewers have the money to sign him?

Now, considering what the Orioles have gone through the past decade and half, would they shell out the money for Fielder? Attendance at Camden Yards has fallen greatly, the Orioles really don’t have much buzz in the mid-Atlantic right now – the Nationals have sapped it up, and the fan-base needs someone and something to get excited about.

Lord, would I love to see him in the black and orange. I will pay more to see a player of his caliber in Baltimore. In addition, if he were signed by the Orioles, it would show the sport that they mean business and are beyond desperate to get out the American League East cellar.

Sadly, signing Fielder would be a very bad move right now for the franchise. The Orioles have a lot to fix - from top to bottom - and spending north of $20 million for a slugger isn't a very good way to spend money.

>>> Read More

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Winter Meetings...

This week, the annual MLB Winter Meetings will be taking place in Dallas, Texas. Once again, fans and the baseball world are looking forward to what happens.

While the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals and a few other teams seem to be in the headlines nationally right now, one has to wonder what the Baltimore Orioles will do.

As James noted on Friday, the Orioles have made some moves – albeit, minor – and have been rounding up their new front office under new general manager Dan Duquette.

However, the Orioles don’t seem to be a factor at this year’s winter meetings – of course, what I am writing is based on what I’ve read as of today.

So far, based on what we’ve all gotten from the local media, Baltimore will be looking for value signings and getting talent via trades. Right now, it doesn’t look like the Orioles will be in play for some of the bigger bats and arms out there.

That may or may not be the case; however, we as fans would like the Orioles to make an impact signing.

At this point, we know Baltimore will more than likely not contend for anything in 2012 and are still in a rebuilding phase.

Then again, signing a big name – as prudent as it may or may not be – would show the baseball world that the Orioles do mean ‘business’ and want to make waves in the sport.

Right now, Baltimore needs pitching – both starting and relief.

The young arms – from what we saw last season – perhaps were not ready for primetime. Zach Britton had his ups and downs; Jake Arrieta got hurt; we all know about Brian Matusz; Brad Bergesen struggled and Chris Tillman could not muster any consistency.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Orioles make minor moves

So far the Orioles have added Matt Antonelli and Taylor Teagarden. Antonelli and Tegarden will come in as perspective bench players in the infield and catcher respectively. The Orioles are also in the process of luring KBO relief pitcher Chong Tae-Hyon away from Korea and to Baltimore, these moves while solid are in fact very minor.

Many Orioles fans are waiting for the earth-shaking rumble caused by Prince Fielder crashing through the gates of Camden Yards - but that will not happen. New GM Dan Duquette has basically stated in as clear terms as possible that the Orioles will not be inquiring about Prince Fielder.

With the Winter Meetings less than a week away I look for the Orioles to make some moves to secure the starting rotation, add some more depth to the upper minors and the bench and probably address left field.

I know these moves aren't exactly drool-worthy but that doesn't mean they aren't good moves, or at least potentially good moves. The Orioles are a dreadfully thin organization and they need to make moves like these. The Orioles are not a Prince Fielder nor a CJ Wilson away from competition. Even if the Orioles were to add one of those players any success next season will once again rest on the shoulders of the young players. Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Matt Wieters in particular.

I swear I am getting sick of typing that. I feel like I have been typing a sentence similar to that for the last five years. The Orioles struggles to develop their young stars have been well-documented and dissected a million times over. Hopefully, Dan Duquette has recognized this problem and I think he has. Duquette has spent a lot of time this past November adding key members to his front office and it appears that he is not done. Duquette apparently wants to bring in former Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson (a man who is reportedly in-line for the Boston Red Sox pitching coach job) to be the "Minor League Pitching Coordinator". This is, of course, a new position and one that is sorely needed.

Something is going on with Orioles pitchers. in his Top 50 Under 25 blog, blogger, stat-guy and twitter prophet Keith Law ranked Zach Britton at 31 (notably ahead of players like Jeremy Helickson and Ivan Nova) but warned of him coming down with "Oriolepitcheritis". I assume that Oriolepitcheritis is a condition where a young pitcher inexplicably struggles in the majors after cruising through the minor league system. Bringing in a respected major league pitching coach to oversee the development of your minor league arms is a fantastic idea. Of course, one then must ask this: "Why not just make Peterson your major league pitching coach?" But that is why Duqette is paid the large bills so I will give him the benefit of the doubt in that regard.

The Orioles have also be linked with recent Cuban defector, 26 year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. I really hope the Orioles make this guy a legitimate offer. Apparently he has a ton of talent, if a little raw. He could fill a real void in left-field and it would finally end the quasi-urban legend that Peter Angelos refuses to sign Cuban defectors because of some bargain he struck with Castro.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Orioles, the Market and Rebuilding...

As we are now into the off-season, the question on everyone’s mind is – how will the Orioles rebuild their organization from the ground up?

Now, Dan Duquette is at the helm of the Orioles and he’s got quite the monumental task of restoring them back to prominence.

In a few interviews that Duquette has given in the past week or so with the local media, it looks like he will focus on building the team up via draft picks, trades; in addition to trying to find players who could be serviceable, while not breaking the bank.

That means that there will not be a C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder in the orange and black for 2012 – unless a big surprise or miracle happens.

It looks like the Orioles will not be big players in free agency and going to build from the ground up – again.

It’s not a bad plan to follow; however, the formula for one reason or another, has not worked at all for the organization.

As a fan, I would like to see a player or two signed that I can go the ballpark and say, “damn, with this guy, he can be an impact player andange a ballgame”.

Not that the current crop of Orioles can’t do the job; however, there’s not an impact bat or arm on the squad heading into 2012 that can be a game-changer.

Right now, the Orioles needed another starting pitcher or two, possibly a corner infielder, a bullpen arm or two, maybe a second baseman and a backup catcher (not so important right now).

I know that many of us fans are really tired of seeing the team lose more often than win.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

What Needs to Happen

The Orioles are once again in a state of flux. After a trainwreck of a GM search they finally have their man in Dan Duquette. Duquette seems to be as fine a choice as any, given the circumstances. We shall see what Duke, or Deaux-k if you must, will do in the first of his three years with the team and he has a lot to do. The one thing this team needs more than anything else is just for something - anything to go right.

Call it planning, development or luck last year the Orioles saw key players inexplicably under-perform. Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman were just the two most visable examples. Brian Roberts lost virtually all season to a head injury. Nick Markakis seemingly forgot how to take a walk and his OBP plummeted. Matt Wieters turned it on late, but was mediocre for most of the summer. Adam Jones had a break out year, but he is still not considered to be the elite player we hoped he would be. The only true bright spots to last year's team was the remarkable season of JJ Hardy. It was something that just worked, and worked better than anyone could have expected.

Andy MacPhail's tenure was marked by the mantra: "Grow the arms, buy the bats." That was the plan, it has failed thus far. Was it a bad plan - no. Why hasn't it worked is a matter open to debate. Even notable curmudgen Keith Law admitted that he is rather baffled how everything could go as poorly as it has.

That is what the Orioles are in drastic shortage of, something just working for a change. The virtual entirety of Andy MacPhail's reign as GM is littered with the failed execution of a good idea and the only person that should be rooting for this more than the legions of Orioles fans in the greater Baltimore area is the owner himself, Peter Angelos.

Duquette is signed on for three years, this hire and the moves made over this offseason and the next two are it; they are Peter Angelos' endgame. At the end of Duquette's contract Angelos will be on the wrong side of 85. One has to assume that there is little chance of him operating the team in the same capacity as he is approaching 90 so this tells me that Angelos has to be looking at the next three years as his legacy. Right now his legacy is being the on the short list titled, "The worst owners in the history of sport."

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Sordid and Sad Week in Sports...

It’s been a pretty pathetic week in sports with the Joe Paterno/Penn State drama, the NBA lockout going on and Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos being kidnapped in Venezuela.

At times, spectator sports – amateur, collegiate and professional – sometimes needs to put into their proper context in society. For me, they serve as a diversion to life and entertainment – nothing more, nothing less.

However, this week, I’m learning in a very blunt fashion, that sports are a ruthless business and those who run it are in it more the power and prestige, rather than for altruistic reasons.

The aforementioned sentence is a pretty well-known statement; alas, it’s now been taken to a whole new, disgusting level over the past few days. I know better to believe big-time sports in a Pollyana-ish view, but I cannot believe what is going on in Happy Valley.

Big time sports can be an ugly business; however, when scandal erupts at a university – a place for higher learning – it’s beyond appalling. A university should be run with education and preparing students for the real word, not like a multi-national corporation.

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The New, But Old Guy Now at the Helm of the Orioles...

As we all know, Dan Duquette was named as the new general manager of the Baltimore Orioles this week.

Frankly, it came as a surprise to me that his name was even brought up for the position; however, considering his experience with the Expos and Red Sox, plus his track record, the Orioles made out pretty well – in my opinion – with their general manager search.

Duquette has not held an executive level position in major league baseball since 2002, when he was fired from the Boston Red Sox.

The Orioles have not won since Bill Clinton was president. Camden Yards was packed every night and there was a buzz on game day. Now, that feeling is pretty much gone.

Maybe it is a good match, and perhaps both sides are now hungry for success, plus restoring some old glory.

The two sides have an enormous challenge in front of them.

On Tuesday, Duqeutte gave a press conference to lay the groundwork of rebuilding the Baltimore Orioles and also give us all a formal introduction to who he is.

Duquette said all we expected him to say – the rebuilding of the Orioles starts with the farm system, player development and getting the arms.

He seemed pumped, well-spoken with his expectations, and sincerely wants to restore the Baltimore Orioles as one of the elite teams in the sport.

>>> Read More

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gold Gloves and Perception is Reality...

Despite another poor season for the Orioles, they did get some well-deserved national recognition as both Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters were selected as Rawlings’ Gold Glove winners.

We all know the impressive job that Wieters did behind the plate, firmly establishing himself as of one best young catchers behind the plate.

He was a defensive marvel behind the dish, stopping would-be base stealers with his amazing arm and working with a young pitching staff. As well, he often put his body his body on the line, blocking home plate and preventing runners from scoring.

Although many can argue that Wieters has not lived up to billing he received when he came up from the minors, he has shown to be quite a wise investment for the future of Baltimore baseball.

As for Markakis, it seems that his first Gold Glove award has been a long time coming. We all know as Oriole fans that the right-fielder is one of the most steady, reliable players in the game; however, I’m sure because he plays for a last-place team for a mid-market team, he gets overlooked when it comes to recognition.

I contended for a long time if Markakis played in Boston or New York, he would have a much higher profile than he would didn’t play with Baltimore.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Orioles Still Don't Have a GM...

On Thursday, the official start of free agency begins in Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles still do not have a general manager.

Yesterday, Tony LaCava – who currently is under employment with the Toronto Blue Jays – turned down the offer from the organization, after meeting with the organization a few times and getting pretty far in the interview process. It seemed like LaCava was the man for the job; however, for one reason or another, he was not exactly feeling the Orioles.

Considering there are only 30 general manger jobs in Major League Baseball - and they don’t open up often - it’s a little surprising to see someone turn it down.

At the moment, I would assume the principals of the story really know what happened, but the Orioles are in a pretty rough spot now. I guess one must wonder how the organization could not fill a position with such importance when they knew it was being vacated for a while.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

A simple request

The World Series is over and it was one for the ages. The St. Louis Cardinals largely came out of nowhere to make the playoffs on the last day of the season and did not quit. David Freese, essentially a background figure during the regular season, had one of the best postseasons in history and Cardinals fans everywhere were celebrating.

Watching this series it gives me only one thought: I am getting older.

I will turn 29 in February, I will be getting married in March, I have a career and greater responsibilities than I once had and I will only be getting more. Growing up is a wonderful thing and I look forward to the rest of my life with my fiancee and career and future family. So please, please Orioles - bring me postseason baseball while I am still young enough to enjoy it.

I want to be watching games late into the night. If I can't be IN the stadium I want to be on the street outside waiting to scream my lungs out. I want to eat, drink and be merry well into the wee hours of the morning on a fateful game seven. Now I can do all of these things when I am a bit older as many do, but as the Orioles are looking down the barrel of a 15th straight losing season next year one begins to wonder if the Orioles will be entering a Chicago or even a Boston-like drought.

I wrote a little bit ago the the Orioles need to make the last night of the season "count". The Rays, for example, did not. They were bounced as out of the first round before a home crowd that was in a stadium that was 1/5th empty. On top of everything else there are reports that have stated the Rays may actually have to cut payroll again next year.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Question of Prince Fielder...

As we inch closer to the end of the World Series and the official start of the off-season, we all know the Orioles need to plug in several holes.

Whether the team gets that accomplished this winter, or in the years to come -- who knows; however, a lot of fans already have dreams of seeing Price Fielder or Albert Pujols in the black and orange.

I see neither happening. In fact, I think we all may have to watch another year of Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds at the corner position spots.

Honestly, I see Albert Pujols staying in St. Louis. When all is said and done, the Cardinals will pay him whatever he asks for. He's their hometown hero (much like the Sun's Connolly alluded to in his piece today when he compared Pujols to Cal Ripken).

Pujols is St. Louis' Derek Jeter or Joe Mauer. He's a perfect fit for that region.

As for Prince Fielder ... he wants the Brinks' truck loaded to his house, so he may go whereever the money is. However, if I were him, I would stay in Wisconsin. He's got a good situation there, full of talent and it may be his best chance to win.

The big money teams (well, maybe not the Cubs) already have their bats and first baseman, so the market for him -- and Pujols may be limited. From what I have read, the Nationals and Cubs may have room for one or the other, but we shall see.

Now, considering what the Orioles have gone through the past decade and half, would they shell out the money for Fielder?

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Brooks Robinson statue dedicated

At noon today in the newly-coined "Brooks Robinson Plaza" (across from Camden Yards, between the stadium and Pickles Pub) an event took place that was long, long overdue. The Orioles' great and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson had a simply massive statue of him dedicated before a crowd that spilled out into the street.

Robinson Statue, credit Baltimore Sun

Hosted by 105.7's Scott Garceau it was a full-fledged event featuring remarks from Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, a representative from the Mayor's office (Mayor Rawlings-Blake was unfortunately unable to attend the festivities today), Baltimore native and Emmy-nominated actor Josh Charles and of course from local artist and sculptor of the work Joseph Sheppard.

The statue stands nine feet tall as it depicts Robinson in the motion of throwing to first base. The location is appropriate, if the west wall of the stadium were not there Brooks would appear to be about to throw directly to first base as the statue was positioned with the location of first and third in mind. While on the subject of gold gloves, in honor of Robinson's insane 16-straight awards his glove is finished in gold leaf. The pedestal of granite features delicate engravings of Robinson's name and number as well as a very nice section that gives a brief biographical sketch of his accomplishments.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Yankees Have a Hold on Libya Too, Apparently...

Over years, I've become enamored with the covers of the New York Post.

I would not say that I read the tabloid everyday, but their covers always gets my attention -- and a chuckle at times. Especially when I am at the grocery store in the wee-hours of the morning, and you walk by the newspaper stand.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Random Thoughts; The Future...

It’s been real quiet with the Orioles right now.

At the moment, they are still looking for a new general manager and are going from there.

Despite two excellent weeks at the end of the season where they sent to Red Sox out of the playoffs and into oblivion in the offseason, this fact is indisputable: the Orioles sucked this season.

Again.

The Orioles avoided 100 losses; however, they won only 69 games, one more than in 2010.

Although a few guys on the team had solid years – Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and you can throw Mark Reynolds in there for his power – the Orioles overall at the plate were competent at times; alas, their pitching was just awful in general.

The young ‘calvary’ could not save things and in fact, it seems like the pitching staff has regressed.

Will the new general manager have a lot of sway in the decision making process? How much of a role will Buck Showalter play in molding the Orioles from here on out? Will ownership commit to spending and increasing their scouting department?

Whoever comes in, they need to work to shoring up the pitching staff. Well, that means getting another quality starter or two, plus fixing the bullpen. I figure some of the decisions made will depend on whether Jim Johnson starts, pitches in a setup role, or closes.

I would also think the Orioles will need to decide what they do at first base (and third). Whether that means keeping Mark Reynolds there, using Chris Davis, or backing up the brinks truck for Prince Fielder – something needs to be done.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Changes and What the Future May Bring...

Afternoon everyone, there’s not a lot been going on as of late; however, there has obviously been quite a few developments with the Orioles.

As we all know, Andy MacPhail will leave the organization at the end of the month. Currently, the Orioles are conducting a search for his replacement.

Granted, I have not heard a lot from the media or various sources so far for the general manager position, but one would think that the Orioles need to get someone in place soon. Obviously, there's a lot of work and decisions that have to be made about the team in 2012 and the organization in the years to come.

The Orioles are starting to interview candidates for their GM opening this week.

MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported that Jerry Dipoto of the Diamondbacks and Tony LaCava will interview this week for the general manager spot.

From what I see, the Orioles are not going after a superstar name – ala, the Chicago Cubs; however, it looks like they are going to get someone with experience, competent, that’s not too young, and has a strong handle on player development.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I come to bury MacPhail

not to praise him.



Alas, poor Andy! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite vest, of most excellent trades: he hath
borne me on his plan a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination he is! my gut churns at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your cavalry now? your
pitchers? your Garrett Atkins? your flashes of brilliance,
that were wont to set the internet on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own demise? quite chap-fallen?



Andy MacPhail is out. Showalter will stay in the dugout. However, it looks at though Buck will have a lot of influence in who the Orioles hire and I honestly don't know how I feel about that. At first blush you have to like the idea, but should Showalter (the on-the-field-manager) have that much influence? If you believe the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck no matter what warm mass of flesh sits in Andy's old office Buck will be the guy that is primarily calling the shots. But would you not rather have a normal structure just once? Just have one guy other teams have to deal with? why do we have to be different, why can't we just get a solid baseball mind in the front office and go forward with that? Apparently not and, of course, that comes directly back to the big man in charge - Peter Angelos.

I have never been a guy to jump on the owner much. Organizations are complex things and even a terrible owner makes the right decision by accident once and while. But no longer. Whoever Angelos or Showarter or Angelwalter picks he need to have FULL AUTHORITY. But I know that is not going to happen.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Andy MacPhail Leaving the Orioles

It’s official. Andy MacPhail is indeed moving on from the Baltimore Orioles. He will leave the organization at the end of the month, once his contract expires.

The only thing I can say is that MacPhail has had a mixed amount of success with the Orioles (depending on whose perspective you get). His overall record at the helm of the organization was far below .500 and the Orioles never won more than 70 games in a season during his tenure; however, he has indeed improved the organization. Then again, in a results-driven profession, MacPhail seemingly didn’t do much to get the Orioles out of last place.

He was able to get Adam Jones from the Seattle Mariners in a very lopsided trade for Eric Bedard, traded Miguel Tejada for five prospects, sign J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds bring in Buck Showalter and improve the farm system somewhat; however, like any general manager, he had his share of failures.

I would not consider Vladmir Guerrero or Ty Wigginton in that category; sadly, Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Millwood and Derrek Lee did not do much as part of the black and orange. These moves didn’t placate the fan base all the much as they were band-aids and could not get the Orioles out of the second division.

Whether it is because of poor drafting, bad decision making, not spending the money or whatever -- the Orioles have endured 14th straight losing seasons.

The young pitching that was supposed bolster the big league squad and get Baltimore close to .500 ran into some bumps, and the simple fact is that the American League East is probably the toughest division in all of professional sports. In a results-driven business, MacPhail barely moved the neddle of success to the right direction. That's just the reality of the situation.

Now, four years later, most are simply wondering ... can this organization turn the tide for a change?

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Make it count

Wednesday night was simply the best night of regular season baseball I have ever experienced. My fiancee, friends and local bar-flies huddled in Fraziers on the Avenue heads ping-ponging back and forth between the two televisions. One was set to the Rays' game, the other on the Orioles.

When Davis doubled we cheered; when Reimold doubled the place went nuts; when Andino slapped a soft single and Reimold crossed the plate the entire bar erupted in an exultation of sheer joy that spilled out onto the sidewalk as the Orioles spilled out of the dugout. From the sidewalk we saw Evan Longoria's game-winner and we cheered again.It truly was an amazing night.

Do I feel bad? On a certain level I do, I mean the Orioles destroyed the Red Sox season and likely cost Terry Francona his job. But then I remember the countless times that I have been intimidated, heckled and nearly assaulted by the various members of Red Sox-nation and I feel OK again. Personal feelings aside it was an amazing night of baseball in general, the sheer odds of a night like that happening are astronomical. If the Yankees had won, it would have not been as magical; if the Sox had won it would not have been as special; if the Orioles had won in a total blowout it wouldn't have meant as much. Now the Orioles need to make it count.

In 2012 the Orioles need to ensure that Wednesday the 28th of September was the start of something and not just another game. Because if the Orioles come out next year and run out another 70-win team then the magic of that night will have been all for nothing. It would be a fun night, but nothing more. Even the most cynical among us can feel it, you just get the feeling that the video of that night should end up as the beginning of a DVD. You can almost hear the baritone of the announcer's voice explaining how the scrappy Orioles, in dead last, never gave up and knocked out the predicted class of the division: "And thus, two teams diverged - Boston was unable to get away from giant, under-performing contracts while the Orioles ascended finally after 14 years of waiting."

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Five Places Baseball Fans Visit Frequently

#1 - The Local Stadium

It’s hard to ‘root root root’ for the home team if you’re not actually there to root for your local heroes. If you’re in New York, ‘local’ becomes a little bit of a misnomer, since technically you’re sharing your hometown heroes with millions of other locals. But for people in towns and smaller cities, the minor league team could be the big thing, and you can really rope them in as your home team. A visit at least once a season is in order for any true baseball fan.

#2 – The Batting Cages

People who love baseball find it difficult to be apart from it for too long. So after the World Series ends, baseball enthusiasts are left staring blankly at walls unless they can find something else to do to fill up the time. Visiting a local batting cage can be fun for friends and family. After all, when you are swinging at high speed pitches being thrown at you by a pitching machine, you may almost feel like you’re a pro yourself. Well, at least while you’re delusional from your baseball game deprivation during the off-season.

#3 – School Fields

If you’re near a high school or college, chances are they have their own school baseball teams. Baseball is great to watch at the high school or college level because it doesn’t get nearly the attention that football or basketball often get, leaving you with great house seats whenever you want them. Sure, you won’t want to show up alone if you’re a single 45 year old man to watch the JV team play, but if you have friends and family willing to come along, that can erase the weirdness and help you get your baseball fill whenever you need it.

#4 – The Shopping Mall

No baseball fan has completed his ensemble until he’s hiked a pair of baseball socks up to his knees and sported a brightly colored version of his favorite team’s cap. Of course baseball isn’t all about the commercial aspect, but it’s hard to say you’re a bigger Orioles fan than another guy if he’s wearing the hat and you don’t have anything to show for yourself. Granted, if you want to show anyone up, just flash him recent ticket stubs to the big games, and you’ll show your competitor who really loves the game and who is just a novice fan.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What a Night... The Orioles Win and Red Sox Complete Their Collapse...

What a night yesterday. I know there are some purists out there who hate the wild card concept; however, if it was not for that – the drama we had on Wednesday night would not have existed.

You could not have scripted what happened in your wildest dreams on in a Hollywood script…

The Orioles were playing a completely meaningless game to them in terms of their final result. Their season was well over – like in July.

However, Buck Showalter had his guys playing out on Wednesday like it was a pennant clincher for them.

Despite another losing season, today in Baltimore and in Birdland, a sense of happiness arose on the horizon this morning.

Yes, the Orioles defeated the Red Sox, 4-3, thanks a clutch game-winning single from Robert Andino – who has become a vital part of the team after having his role in doubt during Spring Training.

Before that, Nolan Reimold tied the game with an RBI-double off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.

I was at the game and stayed through the rain delay.

I left Camden Yards at the end of the 8th inning because of a thing called *work*. I had to be there at 8am all dressed up, so staying into the next day was not an option. This morning, I feel like a sucker.

Even more amazing … after the Orioles win, only a few minutes later, the Rays clinched the American League Wild Card. Evan Longoria’s homer in the 12th inning against the Yankees – which featured an even more improbable comeback – down in Florida made a crazy night even moreso.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red Sox Narrowly Defeat Orioles...

Well, the Orioles last night, in their 161st game lost to the Boston Red Sox, 8-7, in a close game that has a ton of intrigue and drama surrounding it. We all know that the Red Sox have tanked and are tied with the Rays for the Wild Card spot in the American League East with a game to play.

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon got the save in a crazy ninth inning where the Orioles plated in a run off a Matt Wieters’ infield single; however, Baltimore could not do much more as Adam Jones grounded out with a runner on base to finish up the game.

Although the stadium looked half-empty on TV, it sounded like a playoff game at Camden Yards and it was good to see Oriole fans standing up and rooting for their team in the final inning. Of course, Red Sox fans were there too, but being at the game Monday night, it too seemed that Oriole fans had a vested interest in the final home series of the year.

Although my interest in the Orioles in the last few games of the season is there, I’m more intrigued to see how the Red Sox finish up and wonder if they finish their epic collapse, or squeak into the playoffs.

I do like how the Orioles are fighting, playing better and refusing to fold.

Zach Britton finished out his year with an 11-11 and only getting through 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday night. Brittton was mediocre on the night, but all things considered, you can count this year as a moderate success for him despite all the ups and downs.

The Red Sox got clutch homers from Jacoby Ellsbury, Marco Scutaro and rookie Ryan Lavarnway - who had unexpectedly stepped in to catch because of injuries to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek - who hit two homers.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Orioles Pour More Gas on the Red Sox Fire...

For the Orioles, Monday night’s game was their 160th of 2011. While the contest may have not had much impact on their place in the standings, it may have meant more than that for Baltimore.

With only two games left in the season, fans at Camden Yards may have seen more good than bad with the Black and Orange. The good news is that they no doubt came to play against their rival – the Red Sox, who are now seriously hanging for dear life in the playoff hunt.

The Orioles had a chance to play spoiler – for the second time in as many weeks – against the Red Sox. Instead of trolling out a lineup full of Triple-A and Four-A guys, the Orioles pretty much had all their regulars in the lineup and defeated the Red Sox, 6-3.

They put the game away in the sixth inning as Robert Andino had a three-run inside the park homer that Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury dropped after an amazing, improbable over-the-back catch.

Andino’s inside-the-park was the first by an Oriole since 2010, and the first ever at Camden Yards. They jumped on Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett – who had been doing fairly well up to that point – and made him pay.

Could that moment serve as the epitaph of the Red Sox season? With the Tampa Bay victory tonight, all bets are off now as both teams are tied in the American League Wild Card hunt.

What a game by the Orioles. They have sure added a ton of drama in the final week in the sport of baseball. Boston had a golden chance – with the bases loaded in the eighth – to come within striking distance of Baltimore’s lead; however, reliever Pedro Strop got his team out of a jam.

Of course, the Orioles added some torture to finish off the game in the ninth inning. Jim Johnson – who came in to finish up the game – hit Ellsbury to start the game, committed a balk and allowed back-to-back hits to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Ellsbury scored in the frame; however, Johnson got Adrian Gonzalez to flyout and fanned Jed Lowrie to end the contest.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Red Sox Drama and The Final Series of the Year

In roughly half an hour or so, the Orioles will start their final homestand of the season as they face the Red Sox at Camden Yards.

If baseball needed some intrigue to end the season, they have a heck of a storyline here. Frankly, the sport was kind of boring head into September.

So far, Camden Yards isn’t that full (and more than likely won't be), I’m sure Sox fans are eagerly waiting to see what results from tonight and the next two days. It seems that their fanbase -- well accustomed to drama before 2004 -- have to wonder if their Red Sox will make it to October or perhaps suffer a devstating collapse (maybe one of the worst in sports history).

Amazing.

I thought this team was en route to 100 wins before September, but they have tanked – losing an astounding 18 games this month – thanks to guys breaking down, but mainly awful pitching.

I didn’t think I would care that much about this series (I assumed Boston was going to sail into the playoffs); however, I hope Baltimore spoils their dream.

The Sun had a piece on whether or not Orioles fans care about the last three games. Well, it seems they do.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Matusz Hit Hard ... Again

Once again, it was a tough Sunday out for Brian Matusz. Yesterday, the Orioles got spanked by the Detroit Tigers, 10-6, and once again, all eyes were on the young southpaw.

At that point, the Orioles had nothing to lose with only four games left in the season. So if you are Buck Showalter, why not put the young southpaw out there?

In the end, the results were not good. He lasted five innings and gave up six runs on Sunday. Well, perhaps it was not as bad as some of his other outings this summer; nevertheless, it was not good, either.

When it all comes down it, I don’t know what to say about the young man, but he has to figure it out on the mound.

I know some fans want him traded; however, he’s a key part of the future – still – with the Baltimore Orioles. It's obvious there is a problem with Matusz. He says that there's no injury issue; however, is there one?

There might be a mechanical problem -- or it might in his head; alas, he needs to be either shut down or placed in the bullpen. The kid needs to get himself together and gain some confidence. At this point, Matusz really needs to work hard to get himself in better shape and prepared for the rigors of a major league season.

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Another Win and Brian Roberts

The Orioles still are at this season, and they are not folding at all. They’ve continued their nice end-of-the season run as Matt Angle’s first homer in the majors and an RBI-bunt squeeze (in the ninth) led them to their ninth victory in twelve games.

As well, the Orioles jumped all over Justin Verlander, preventing him from winning his 25th game of the season. They got him for five runs over seven innings and had a 5-1 lead after three innings. The Tigers kept chipping away at the Oriole lead, costing Jeremy Guthrie a win; however, the bullpen managed to hold on and win, plus Kevin Gregg got his 22nd save.

It’s been fun again watching the Orioles in the past two weeks; however, I have no illusions of this nice run meaning much for 2012. While they have gotten a lot of help from call-ups, timely hitting and much better player from everyone, there’s a lot that this organization needs to improve from.

Really, the Orioles are just playing through a really nice stretch beating contenders who may be simply running on fumes or banged up.

Finally, you’ve got see this piece from ESPN on Brian Roberts.ESPN on Brian Roberts.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orioles Win in Boston Again, Andino, Johnson and Gregg

It’s fairly evident that the Orioles are not packing it in with a week now to go in the regular season. Right now, they are making the lives of the Red Sox miserable and adding some intrigue to the wild card race. As it is, the Red Sox right now are not the same team that they were from May to August, and now injuries, guys breaking down and suspect pitching may do them in.

Baltimore emerged victorious over Boston, 7-5, thanks to Robert Andino’s three-run double in the eighth inning and Jim Johnson’s seventh save in the ninth. You’ve got to be impressed with the role Robert Andino has played this season, despite being pegged as a utility guy. However, with the injury to Brian Roberts, Andino has filled in quite nicely and has made most of his chance to play every day.

I’m not sure what his role on the team will be next year, but there has to be a spot for him on the roster.

They had to grind out their 64th win of the season by making Red Sox starter and former Oriole pitcher Erik Bedard work.

In addition, they did an excellent job at chipping away at Boston’s bullpen – most notably, fireballer Daniel Bard, who has been struggling in the 8th inning role. Meanwhile, the Orioles got themselves in a hole early as Rick VandenHurk struggled again, but Jo-Jo Reyes pitched three scoreless innings in a relief role, and the rest of the bullpen followed thereafter.

At this point, you have to wonder if Jim Johnson will be closing games from here on out in 2011. The obvious answer based on his use as of late -- is yes.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

About Sunday, Simon and the Tanking Red Sox

It was not a good day for the Orioles as they got smashed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 11-2.

The Orioles – who saw their 4-game win streak snapped – they could not do much against Jered Weaver who won his 18th game and the Angels’ offense, led by Erick Aybar (of all players). Aybar had two home runs and five runs scored in the rout of Baltimore.

The Orioles could not diminish the Angels’ playoff hopes any further as Alfredo Simon was again ineffective on Sunday, going five innings and giving up six runs.

Right now, I just see a pitcher on the mound who is woefully inconsistent. The Orioles would not have won anyway on Sunday; however, the most successful pitchers in the sport (even those less than gifted) are the ones who can go out and perform will each and every time out.

Simon has not done that yet. Granted, he has had a lot of personal stuff happen to him this year and is still facing some potential fallout with a criminal case in his home country. Then again, he has been pitching for most of the summer with the Baltimore, and it has just been a see-saw ride.

It is just frustrating to watch Simon at times, as he obviously has the tools, but can not put it all together in consecutive starts.

After his last start, where he was brilliant – he struggled. I mused last week that I’m not sure if Simon is a long guy at the moment, a starter, or a just another arm in the bullpen.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Orioles Get Win Over Angels With Some Drama Included...

The Orioles are quite on a roll, and for the second night in a row, they defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6-2.

Well, in light of the win, it was all kinds of a crazy at the Yard last night. Baltimore plated five runs in the opening inning, as J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds homered; however, Anaheim starter Ervin Santana – whether or not you thought he was hitting someone (that’s subject to interpretation) – hit Nolan Reimold in the back after Reynolds’ homer.

That being said, things calmed down for a bit – until the third inning. Santana once again would use the beanball, this time at Reynolds – who had homered in his previous at bat.

Reynolds would be hit in the head and luckily his helmet saved him. Obviously, he was not very happy about the situation and walked to first. However, he would be pulled out of the game in the fourth inning.

That leads me to think, why was Santana not thrown out – much more, even warned? I am not going to say that he intentionally wanted to hurt someone; however, his actions on the mound were nothing short of questionable. If Santana did intend to exact revenge with a beanball, it was awfully stupid to do and was unbecoming of a professional.

Seriously, if Santana wanted to get angry – he should have been pissed at himself for giving up those home runs in the opening inning to put his team behind.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Nice, Resounding Win...

It was good to see the Orioles get a resounding win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 8-3 on Friday night.

They mainly used the longball – home runs by Nolan Reimold and Mark Reynolds – to knock around pitcher Dan Haren and the Anaheim bullpen.

Tommy Hunter, who started for Baltimore last night on the mound, perhaps put together his best start as a member of the Orioles by going seven shutout innings for his fourth win of the season.

Naturally, reliever Kevin Gregg made things interesting as he gave up three runs in the ninth inning; however, overall, it’s a good thing to see the Orioles finishing strong, winning their third in a row.

Then again, it was amazing to see Gregg just not have it on Friday night. It was a painful frame to witness as he could not get an Angels’ lineup full of farmhands out and the Baltimore faithful let him have it for sure.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wieters and Simon

The Tampa Bay Rays have been on a run, to say in the least. Over the past month or so, they’ve put a big scare into Red Sox Nation and suddenly made the pennant chase in the American League East interesting.

However, the Orioles made life difficult for the Rays last night as Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer – that was an absolute bomb – in the eighth inning to help them defeat the Rays, 4-2.

That being said, does everyone think Matt Wieters is still a bust -- or not?

Yes, he's not become the savior for the Orioles and has not seen his minor league numbers translate to the big leagues. Then again, can anyone not discount that he's becoming a complete player? Wieters has been able to hit with some power, play amazing defense and become a leader on the Orioles.

So, Wieters is not going to become the next Johnny Bench at the plate, but he may cross the 20+ homer plateau at some point and has been healthy. Really, I would venture to say that he's one of the top ten catchers in the game today....

Moving on...

David Price pitched fairly well for the Rays, going into the seventh inning; however, Alfredo Simon for the Orioles – who had gotten beat up in his last several starts – had a strong outing on the mound, striking out nine.

He didn’t get the win, but against the Rays, he looked like a top of the rotation guy. Yes, he gave up a long homer to Evan Longoria – no shame in that – but, he was amazingly effective.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget - 9/11

Today is 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks - of a day none of us will ever forget.

The images of that day are ones that we will never, ever forget.

This Sunday, whatever you're doing, let's remember those who perished, survived and those that have put their lives on the line to keep us all safe.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gregg Does It Again...

After a solid week where the Orioles defeated the Yankees twice and opened up their series with the Blue Jays with a win, things once again got crazy on Saturday.

Kevin Gregg – the Oriole closer who has been a source of consternation among fans this season – blew yet another game as the Jays won, 5-4. The closer was not good – again – and yet another team took advantage.

Once again, he was brought on to close out the game in the ninth inning, and he could not. Baltimore held a 4-3 lead going into the final frame, but Gregg allowed two runs to score. That would snap the Orioles’ three-game win streak.

Rick VandenHurk only lasted 2 1/3 innings, but the Orioles fought through thanks to Kyle Hudson, Chris Davis and Vladimir Guerrero – who has been a lot better at the plate.

Despite the loss, it’s good to see the Orioles not folding and playing a tad better as of late. Jeremy Guthrie looked good on Friday despite having perhaps the worst record of any pitcher in all of baseball, and the games on Wednesday and Thursday showed the grit of the Orioles.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Matusz Shelled at the Bronx Zoo

Yesterday in the Bronx, Brian Matusz got shelled real bad as the New York Yankees defeated the Orioles in an ugly slugfest, 11-10.

Of course, the story of the game was Brian Matusz and his complete inability to get guys out at the plate. The Orioles hit several longballs and kept things interesting, but you could not avert your eyes from the hurlers who stepped on the mound yesterday. The Yankees torched Oriole pitching (save for Willie Eyre and Troy Patton) -- especially rookie Jesus Montero, who hit his first two major league homers off reliever/soon-to-be-starter Jim Johnson.

But all eyes were on Brian Matusz in Birdland.

He had done fairly well in the Bronx in the past; sadly, Matusz was serving up batting practice and just could not get anyone out. Watching it on TV is one thing; however, seeing him live as I did -- in enemy territory -- made for a crazy day.

I don’t know what to say about the young man, but he has to figure it out on the mound. He’s a key part of the future – still – with the Baltimore Orioles. However, at this point, he should not be starting -- that is, unless Buck Showalter wants to be a masochist.

It's obvious there is a problem with Matusz. He says that there's no injury issue; however, is there one?

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