Monday, February 28, 2011
This morning, I took a quick drive over to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and I was shocked by what I saw.
It’s amazing what can be done in a year and the Spring Training home of the Orioles looks absolutely beautiful.
I took a stroll around the perimeter of the revamped ballpark and snapped a lot of pictures. While the stadium has a Mediterranean, distinctly architectural Florida look, with use of pastel colors, there are a lot of reminders of Camden Yards splattered around the facility.
The photos will tell much of the story.
The first game at Ed Smith Stadium is on Tuesday and the finishing touches are still being put on the stadium based on the construction staff I saw; however, from what I was told today, the ballpark should be ready for action.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 5:46 PM
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Evening out there, readers.
Hope everyone had a nice and happy weekend, wherever you are in the United States and around the world. Right now, I am in Florida -- Sarasota, to be exact -- for Orioles Spring Training 2010.
I spent all day Sunday driving from Maryland into Florida - about fourteen hours in total - and I'm excited to catch some live baseball, finally.
Obviously, I'm optimistic with the new-look Orioles and can't wait to see them in person this week. I've never been to Spring Training this early -- I always have tended to go much closer to the end of it.
This year, I decided to change the trend.
I thought about flying this time around; however, since I won't be home ffor nearly two weeks and the vehicle I drive regularly - a Jeep Grand Cherokee - would cost me anywhere from $60 dollars and up for a rental, it was far more cost effective for me to suffer driving through the South.
Actually, the drive was not bad at all. It was pretty clear sailing all the way down I-95, onto I-4 and then I-75.
After leaving the relative chill of the Mid-Alantic, it was quite a surprise driving through South Carolina and into Georgia, plus Florida seeing the temperature gauge in my car read 84 degrees throughout the trip. I remember it being somewhat cool in Sarasota last year (it got into the low 60's at night); however, it is a comfortable 75 degrees here heading into the late night.
Hopefully that's a great sign for things to come.
I'll be on vacation for two weeks, but I will spending the next four or so days catching the Orioles and hopefully getting some great content for the blog.
The games-that-don't-count against other major league teams start on Monday, as the black and orange face the Pittsburgh Pirates just up the road in Bradenton and then have their Spring Training home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
I'll definitely catch the Orioles' first two games, and perhaps also Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater; in addition, probably their second home game against the Twins on Thursday before I head south to Miami-Fort Lauderdale and then onto Puerto Rico for some rest and relaxation.
Of course, I'll try to get as many pictures of the action as I possibly can, plus express my thoughts about how the team looks and other things as well.
I also am looking forward to seeing the revamped Ed Smith Stadium. Last year, the new Spring Training home for the Orioles was a well-needed upgrade over Fort Lauderdale and the situation down there.
That being said, I'm excited to see what was done with the place, plus the new additions and any other surprises I may run into.
Finally, if there are some readers out there who would like to guest blog here, let me know. Feel free to shoot an email...
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 9:31 PM
Brain Roberts' neck; Derrek Lee's thumb and Justin Duchscherer's hip. All three have flared up a bit recently and forced each player to take some time off.
Roberts' neck issue: not an issue.
Roberts missed three days of work outs when on February 25th he woke up with what he described as a "stiff neck". It was bad enough that he was sent to get x-rays. We then heard the faint scream of Orioles fans racing to their keyboards to over-react. And while these fans were collectively wetting the bed Brian Roberts' "fragility" was brought up. "Do you think he will play the whole year?" was a common question asked. The answer is a resounding yes guys, chill out a minute.
Here are the facts, including last year Roberts has failed to play at least 145 games only two other times. Two of those seasons were the direct result of Bubba Crosby almost ripping his arm off at the end of the 2005 season. (games played in 05 - 143; 06 - 132) and then last year's herniated disk. Before the hernia Roberts was averaging 152 games played over his career as a starter. He is not as catastrophically injury-prone as some people seem to think he is.
I will state right here that Brian Roberts will play in at least 145 games this year, I'll bring him in below his pre-hernia average because of age and everything, He will be fine.
Lee's thumb issue: Concerned
Frankly I am surprised there is such little concern over this. Derrek Lee had thumb surgery this offseason and everyone expected him to be on a slightly slower pace and have some soreness and tenderness in his thumb, but I am not going to sit here and pretend I'm not worried about it. Reimold's ankle surgery at the beginning of last year and how it hampered him throughout. Why am I concerned about this an not Roberts? Because Roberts had the entire offseason to recover and has a clean bill of health as of right now; Lee is still in recovery and until he gets on the same page with the rest of the team I think this is something that should be a bit of a concern.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 8:48 PM
Friday, February 25, 2011
In a little more than five weeks, baseball officially starts it's season and Buster Olney in his blog pondered about the early schedule of teams in the American League.
As for Orioles -- according to Olney -- things are tough from the onset. Again.
Here's what he had to say briefly:
"The Orioles' first 12 games of the season are against contenders -- the Rays, the Tigers, the Rangers and the Yankees. Then, after a series against the Indians, Baltimore has a 10-game homestand against the Twins, Yankees and Red Sox. We'll know a lot about the Orioles early."
Last year, the Orioles got roughed up early thanks to bullpen implosions, a lack of offense and pitching that sputtered. The result: a 2-16 record that the team could not dig themselves and nearly led to a death march until Buck Showalter came aboard.
How do the Orioles avoid another herrendous start?
Simple. Do what they did from August on.
The starting pitching must keep the Orioles in the game and the young arms need to step up. Furthermore, with a retooled bullpen, hopefully they can keep leads; plus, a rebuilt offense has to deliver and the gaffes that killed the Orioles at the plate and on the field need to be curtailed.
If that is possible, then the first month for the Orioles will be interesting to watch.
Also, Frank Robinson spoke to the team yesterday in camp. I'm sure he spoke about the good old days and what it meant to be a player, plus probably spoke about how talented the Orioles are and how they can compete, etc.
Boy, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Robinson spoke yesterday. Then again, I would have probably been swatted away as well.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 7:29 AM
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Yesterday, it was revealed that Brian Roberts missed a day of camp due to a sore neck. He had some X-Rays done and no damage was revealed at all.
As a fan, I would say not to panic; however, Roberts has a had a history of back issues over the past few season. Then again, Roberts is just not some ordinary player on the Orioles -- he's the team's spark plug and leadoff hitter.
You remember how bad the Orioles were before Buck-Ball? Some of it could be atrributed to the lack of Roberts in the lineup.
As I see it right now, there's no one on the roster who may have the complete set of tools that Roberts has in his arsenal.
Roberts is *that* important to Baltimore. He's the table setter, a guy who can steal bases, rack up on doubles and shows an occasional bit of power.The team, perhaps knowing Roberts' health issues knew to sign some in bring some veteran infielder as insurance; however, we all don't need to look up statistics to know if that Roberts ends up on the shelf for a long period of time, the Orioles are a far different team.
I'm sure the latest issue with Roberts may be no big deal. Let's hope it isn't.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 7:28 AM
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner opened his mouth today complaining about the luxury taxes and revenue sharing fees his team must pay.
According to Steinbrenner, in an ESPN article, the Yankees will pay roughly $130 million due to their exorbitant payroll.
"We've got to do a little something about that, and I know Bud wants to correct it in some way,"..."At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor,"
Steinbrenner said. "Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."
Now, Steinbrenner, let me be the fist to say bite me. And I mean hard. They aren't targeting you because you are a "big market" team. They are targeting you because your father pretty much ruined the competitive balance of the season and made any team NOT in a big market another farm team for the monied elite.
What you aren't getting, you pompous windbag, is that teams existed in "smaller markets" before the phrase "small market" meant what it does today - because of your organization. The last team to spend more than the New York Yankee were the 1998 Baltimore Orioles, with a payroll just over $70 million. From then on out the Yankees have not only outspent everyone, they outspent everyone by a mile. It is not that the Yankees spend the most, no not at all. Let them spend the most, NYC is one of the richest cities in the world they should logically have the highest payroll but the problem is this: the gap between number 1 and number 2.
According to Cots the 2009 rankings went like this
The key here is the Yankees and their $206 million payroll was more than 67 million dollars more than the Mets. The difference between number 1 and number 2 was the same as the difference between numbers 2 and 21 !
In 2010 that gap has closed a bit because of the Red Sox insane offseason. But it does not change the point that due to your Caligula-esque opulence there are now three distinct classes of team in the AL; New York and Boston; Oakland and Tampa; Everyone else.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 11:10 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
About this time next week, barring any unforseen circumstances, I'll be in Florida next week doing a mini-baseball barnstorming tour and catch our beloved flighted ones get ready for a new season. The games-that-don't-count begin next week, but it only brings us that much closer to Opening Day.
As it is, most fans and the media are expecting the Orioles are expecting the team to win from 70 games to a few games over .500.
For most of us, anything over 81 wins would be glorious, considering the Orioles last had a wining season when Bill Clinton was President of the United States of America.
Of course, Buck Showalter thinks his team can do better.
His motivational device: a trip to the movies.
As a man well into this 30's, I thought the idea of showing a movie to a bunch of grown professional athletes -- especially ones who are mutli-millionaires many times over may be a tad silly.
In fact, I would think professional athletes would need little to no motivation to prepare themselves to ready for a 162 game season.
Well, I am glad a trip to the movies got members of the Orioles inspired for the upcoming season. There's no point thnking you can't compete and thinking failure is around the corner.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 11:17 AM
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I'm back. If you noticed I was gone. Life got in the way.
My family experienced a rather stressful, harrowing and very scary medical emergency over the last month. My time has been devoted to that. My mind has been on things other than baseball. Things finally seem to be looking better and the lives of the people I love look to be getting back to something resembling normal so I return to the Post with this modest missive.
You can never hold back Spring. You simply can't.
Right now the Orioles are in their gorgeous new Spring Training facility in Sarasota. The weather is warm and the Orioles are waiting for the final three players to report for their pre-season workouts. Right now it is sunny and 70 degrees on the Gulf Coast of Florida and another day of workouts is beginning. Bringing with it the unbridled optimism of Spring.Yes I said optimism; and yes I said unbridled.
In an age of advanced metrics and a decade of losing we have all become very jaded. In the cold bleakness of Winter divorced from the sun, warmth and baseball it is easy to lean only on the cold realities of stats and probability to pile on the long wayward Orioles.
But you can never hold back Spring.
Early reports of Mark Reynolds launching balls into the low ionosphere; Justin Duchscherer loving life and healthy; Adam Jones and his always joyful twitter feed; Luke Scott and his crazy lumberjack beard; Matt Wieters looking leaner and stronger. All of the sudden, as out of nowhere as yesterday's 74 degree day here in Charm City, a new wave of optimism is rolling in. Vladimir Guerrero was officially announced yesterday and the team seems very excited by this move even if some of the of the blogger community are not.
I have never really weighed in much on the Vlad signing, so here we go. On the face of it, I like it. I hated the idea of Vlad when the theory first circulated through the internet, but then I did some research and some searching and I came around to the deal. Basically it came down to the fact that Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie did nothing last year to guarantee spots on this team. Felix most likely would have ended up at best a platoon option in LF and Nolan basically needs to prove to the Orioles that he deserves to be on the major league roster. Now I like both of these players and I think Reimold could have a Jason Werth-type late-blooming career but the 2011 season is important.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 9:14 PM
Friday, February 18, 2011
Sorry about the lack of posts this week, it's been a long week dealing with work, travel and spending time with a loved one during hard times.
Anyhow, it looks things are almost in full swing at camp. Vladmir Guerrero has shown up and so far looks good; however, I am wondering if he'll keep his goatee or not. I would imagine not with the grooming policy - which I find a tad arcane -- but whatever.
So far, everyone down in Florida seems to be upbeat and ready for the new season. In a little less than two weeks, the-games-that-don't count will begin and we'll see how the new-look Orioles shape up.
In a little less two weeks, I'll be headed to Sarasota and will go on a four-day vacation to Puerto Rico thereafter. I'm just excited at this point to head somewhere very warm, kick back at the beach and watch some Spring Training baseball. Plus, I'll try to do other things down there and take pretty little pictures for you all.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 9:12 PM
Monday, February 14, 2011
This morning, the official start of Spring Training kicks off as pitchers and catches report to camp today in Sarasota, Florida.
It’s been a cold, miserable winter up north here, but this time of year reminds me that the weather is going to change soon and there are brighter days to come. The snow outside is going to melt, the winter jacket will be going back into the closet, and it will be nice to simply enjoy a nice day out at the ballpark.
However, this is a time of optimism, drawing out lineups and the pitching staff, plus pondering what can be with the team after a very busy off-season.
There will be debate on how many wins the Orioles will have this season, if the moves made will pan out and who is healthy – or not.
The grass is green on the baseball fields; plus, players for the most part right now are laid back and ready to get to the business at hand.
We’ll see the same old faces, some new ones and those wanting to make a lasting impression in camp despite already knowing their fate.
For most fans, much as myself, the next few weeks there’s pretty much very little of importance on a news front – at least for me.
We should be thankful for the press and bloggers that are down in camp relaying the latest news, tidbits, insight and of course players quoting that, “they are in the best shape of their lives”.
At this point, thank goodness for the internet and smart phones. I’m 33 years old and I’m thinking how much the world has changed in 15 or so years. The information we get from Spring Training – much more, all of sports – is almost instant now and this wasn’t possible in let’s say in the early 90’s.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 7:23 AM
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Really, really sad news out of the area this morning concerning a long time member of the organization...
From the Baltimore Sun: Ernie Tyler, the longtime Orioles umpires attendant known for his tireless work ethic and sly sense of humor, died late last night, a team official confirmed. Tyler was 86. A local legend, Tyler once worked 3,819 consecutive home games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, from Opening Day 1960 to July 27, 2007. His streak, which included 3,769 consecutive regular-season games, 40 post-season games and nine exhibitions, ended when he accepted an invitation from Cal Ripken Jr. to attend Ripken's Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Although Ernie Tyler never suited up in a Oriole uniform, for a lot of fans - including myself - he was as much part of the organization as anyone could be. I spoke to Mr. Tyler to several times over the years, saying "hello, how's it going?" or "bye", so I didn't know him at all; however, it will be very surreal not seeing him at Camden Yards anymore.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 4:20 PM
Friday, February 11, 2011
You’ve got to read the interview that Keith Law did with MASN’s Steve Melewski. I agree with a lot of what Law has to say – that is, unless the pitching and the young guys step forward and have solid seasons, they will just be a good fourth-or-fifth place team.
I’m going to be more optimistic and hope for the best as a fan this year. It’s crazy to point at the .500 benchmark as a barometer for a successful season; sadly, after 13 years of losing, you’ve got to start somewhere.
I like some of the names on the team and potential lineup. However, while things may be improved with the Orioles from 2010, a commenter last week brought up this point.
The Orioles may have too many guys on one-year deals and may be headed back to the drawing board again next off-season. It’s rather frustrating to think about and while it’s nice to put more wins on the board, you have to focus on the big picture.
As it is, the team needs to keep drafting, building from within, look on the international front and hope some of the players on short-term deals in 2011 can be flipped for prospects.
To add to what was said above, Andy MacPhail spoke today at the University of Baltimore as part of sports discussion panel. He spoke about the business, building a team and what not.
After reading it, improving the Orioles will be easier said than done.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 6:07 AM
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Over the weekend, I was chatting with a few bloggers on Twitter during a lull in my evening, and of course topic A was all about Vladmir Guerrero.
After the acquisition of Guerrero was announced, it seemed most fans and mainstream media loved the move. However, online – especially with some bloggers and the sabermetrics crowd – the love was not there.
I’ve heard and read a divergence of opinion over the past few days, and my thought is this.
Whether or not the Vladmir Guerrero deal will be viable for the Orioles in 2011, this fact remains. The Orioles will not improve, or much less reach .500 without the younger pitchers stepping it up.
If Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen and Brian Matusz can replicate the same numbers they had once Buck Showalter showed up last season, plus if the bullpen and defense can remain solid, Baltimore will improve.
That’s simple enough.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 10:39 AM
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The Green Bay Packers have won Super Bowl 45, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25 in a very entertaining contest. What a way to end the football season. So my prediction didn't go as expected. Oh well. I had no vested interest in either team winning.
Congratulation to all Packer Nation and the cheeseheads out there. They fought hard to get to the game and the victory was well deserved.
As for Steeler fans, a good effort put forth by your team. On the other hand, there a lot a of lot Ravens fans who are happy with the outcome of Sunday's event.
The commercials -- some good, some bad and others completely stupid -- made for a fun night of TV viewing. I do feel bad for Christina Aguilera though.
That being said, so long football -- here comes baseball...Pitchers and catchers are due to camp for the Orioles next Monday on Valentine's Day.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 10:38 PM
Saturday, February 5, 2011
On the first Sunday in February, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers play for it all in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Millions of sports fans, young and old, will watch a contest that is now undoubtedly the most prominent sporting event in the United States of America.
The big game features two of most storied franchises in football – if not, all of sports – and fervent fan bases in the nation.
Pittsburgh will be playing in their second Super Bowl win in three years (and their seventh overall), while Green Bay (winners of three) will be looking for their first victory in the game since 1997.
The Steelers (12-4) emerged from the trials and tribulations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, rallied as team led by head coach Mike Tomlin and overcame it all to find themselves in this situation.
Meanwhile, the Packers (10-6) led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike MCarthy, have been tested throughout the playoffs as they have had to win three straight road games to make to the Super Bowl. Furthermore, to just make the playoffs, they had to win their final two games of the regular season, defeating the New York Giants and Chicago Bears in succession.As we look at both teams, each one has their issues going into the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is known for their tough defense and gritty style of play on the turf; however, the offensive line has had a lot of work piled on them and the injury to Maurkice Pouncey – their center – may be a big story line.
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Posted by Anthony Amobi at 4:47 PM
Poking around Twitter last night, it seems many love the move for the slugger – meanwhile, some fans, especially fellow bloggers were indifferent and didn’t care for the Guerrero deal. A few flat out hated it all together.
As a fan, I’d really like Guerrero on the Orioles. I do think he could still hit a ton and he’d be a fearsome force in Baltimore’s lineup. Assuming Vladmir has not fallen off a cliff or has not lost his bat, it’s a plus for the Orioles (for now).
While I think the Orioles paid well above sticker price for him, they finally got a key bat they wanted.
Although Guerrero faded in the second half of last season, if he had the same numbers with the Orioles than he did in Texas, the slugger is easily the best bat in the lineup.
Until I see otherwise, we should assume that Guerrero is still a feared presence and it’s a good thing – for now – that he’s part of the black and orange.
One could also say that Baltimore perhaps has one of the better lineups in baseball – that is, if everyone stays healthy and Lee, Reynolds, Hardy and Guerrero can somehow come close to their peaks at the plate again.
The addition of Guerrero may be certainly good from a fan’s standpoint and in theory; however, in reality – maybe not.
Even with the newest additions, the Orioles aren’t close to contending, but perhaps a very good fourth or last place team. They may have an outside chance at third place, but a lot of things would really have to go right.
Now would it be worth putting Luke Scott in left field on a regular basis, or taking bats away from two younger players – Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie?
Right now, you can’t lose Luke’s bat, so he’s the left fielder; meanwhile, Pie would have to be the fourth outfielder and Remiold may stay on the team, or get time in the minors. Furthermore, the money that was used on the Guerrero contract could have perhaps been put to better use.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 6:42 AM
Friday, February 4, 2011
According to ESPN...
The agreement includes incentives and is pending a physical, the source said.
A nine-time All-Star, Guerrero is the latest addition by the Orioles, who have also signed free agents Derrek Lee and Kevin Gregg this offseason, re-signed shortstop Cesar Izturis and acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds.
Guerrero, 35, hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs last season with the Texas Rangers. He has a .320 career batting average with 436 home runs and 1,433 RBIs and received the 2004 AL MVP Award.
I'm not sure how I feel right now. As a fanboy, I'm happy; as a blogger, not so much. Plus, for $8 million? I hope he's got some gas left in the tank...
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 8:44 PM
With about 10 or so days to go before the first workout for the Orioles, they've invited a few more guys to camp. Veteran outfielder Randy Winn, 34-year-old right-hander Ryan Drese and righty prospect Wynn Pelzer were invited to Spring Training as non-roster invitees.
And yes, we are still waiting on a decision from Vladmir Guerrero. Although I'd like to see what he could as a fan in the Orioles lineup -- I'd really prefer the Orioles to focus on the future and see what Pie/Reimold can do in the outfield.
Obviously, baseball general managers have a lot of trepidation with signing a-wrong-side-of-30-DH with bad knees, plus an inability to play a position.
Some of the other Oriole bloggers at FanFest really wanted him, others didn't. As it is, he's stil a free agent and if someone really wanted him by now, he would have a team.
As someone from Camden Chat told me on the Twitter the other day, "Vlad just really, really doesn't want to play in Baltimore. It's pretty obvious."
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 1:58 PM
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I was going to spend some time this morning and work on entry for yesterday's Fan Fest; however, James more than covered the event’s writeup yesterday. According to the Orioles and various media reports, well over 10,000 fans attended this year's edition of FanFest.
I'll say the venue this year was extremely crowded and there seemed to be a very upbeat mood throughout the day. In fact, at the start of the 'State of the Orioles' for season ticket holders, manager Buck Showalter was given a standing ovation by fans.
Fans were happy to see current and former Orioles on Saturday. I was anxious to hear the welcome that Luke Scott was going to receive and people didn't hold anything against him for his Obama remarks during the Winter Meetings, especially in such a politically liberal state like Maryland. I guess as long as athletes hit homers and entertain us, we'll cut them some slack.
The forums seemed to be very well attended and you could not find a seat at all for anything -- well, at least until the very end.
Of course, the big subject on everyone's mind was the potential of seeing Vladmir Guerrero in a Baltimore uniform. For some reason, I do see the Orioles getting him to bolster their lineup and perhaps increase buzz. Although our fellow bloggers and split down the middle of acquiring him, it seems that most fans do want him as an Oriole.
While I had some reservations about the new autograph policy - as many did - once I thought about it and saw the lines, the whole process was efficient and very well run. It's far better to have things controlled and have everyone who paid for autograph get it than a free-for-fall where kids and fans compete with dealers in a long arse line.
Posted by Anthony Amobi at 5:55 PM