Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More fuel for the fire.

As if I needed more ammo for this blog, I was treated to a good deal of it recently.

First among them, Sam "Damn the torpedoes" Perlozzo again inserted struggling "set-up guy" Danys Beaz into a close game last Sunday against the Nationals, and Baez promptly blew it. The difference between Sam Perlozzo and a good manager is that good managers realize when a player is struggling and they allow said player to work through their struggles in games that are out of hand.

Yet Perlozzo continues to ignore the facts and keeps plugging along with Baez who has blown game after game for the O's, including the loss last Sunday.

So glad we have Baez through 2009!

To make matters even worse, Sam then contradicts his reasoning in a recent article saying that he believes in "competition"; that no one's job is safe. Then why do you keep sending Beaz to the slaughter, Sam? Do you even hear yourself? WHAT HAS FREDDIE BYNUM DONE TO DESERVE BEING ON THIS ROSTER SINCE OPENING DAY???

Next up is whiny baby Jay Gibbons.

The shame of it is this, as the Orioles were well on their way into sucking 7 years ago, I liked Gibbons. He was a power hitter that the Orioles got for nothing in the rule-5 draft. Good on them. Gibbons then knocked in 100 RBI's and I was ready to go buy a jersey with his name on the back.

But then the worst happened. Gibbons came back to earth and his OPS constantly fell to sub-mediocre levels. The injuries started to crop up and Gibbons went from O's future clean-up hitter to David Segui-lite.

At the end of the 2005 season Gibbons first placed his foot in his mouth when he said he was "counting down the hours until the season was over."

Yes, 2005 was a complete mind-fuck. But players on MLB baseball teams shouldn't ever utter a phrase like that. They should shut up and play to win every game whether they are 161-0 or 0-161.Maybe Gibbons should start hanging out with Herm Edwards.

You PLAY to WIN the GAME!!!

Gibbons then whined about his lack of playing time a few weeks ago even though he was carrying an OPS in the .600's. And finally, when asked why the Orioles don't take infield/outfield practice before games he said, "we've never done it in 7 years."

Would you expect anything less from a Baltimore Orioles player?

I mean, really.

Who in their right mind would want to go back and change anything about the way the Orioles have done things in the last 7 years? Those were some great years!

Hey remember when you guys went 67-95? That was awesome!

Remember when you guys came within 2 games of losing 100 games? That was dope!

Oh, and remember when you guys were in first place for 60+ days and then fell completely flat on your faces in the second half of the season? That was the shiznit!

It's a shame Gibbons' OPS is .690 because if it were a little higher I would trade his ass faster than you can say Jon Knott. But with an OPS south of .700, Gibbons couldn't even get a pair of fungo bats and BP balls in return. Gibbons is a whining scrub on a losing team. No place for that kind of player here, no matter how hot your wife is or no matter how long you grow your hair.

Siyanora! Have fun playing in Japan, Jay.

New coach Juan Samuel didn't take long to learn how things are done in Baltimore. When asked why the coaches don't make the players take infield/outfield, Samuel shrugged and said "It's up to the players."

YES, I know this ain't tee-ball, but coaches are still coaches. They still have to say and do things that players won't like from time to time. And if the coaches believe that the players should be taking infield/outfield practice before games, then they should be.

After all, what else is there for managers and coaches to do?

But this organization has allowed the chimps to run the show for no reason. I could understand if the Orioles were a good team. At least then the players have an excuse as to why they don't want to do things a certain way. But what have the Orioles players done except lose for 9 years straight?


Next up is Miguel Tejada who looks like he has cancer. Matter of fact he does have cancer, the most deadliest and contagious kind of cancer there is.

Orioles cancer.

Matter of fact, everyone on the entire team has Oriole cancer! They don't care, they don't play hard, they don't do the little things, and they lose.

It's a shame to watch Tejada waste the prime years of his career in an Orioles uniform. It really is.

The Orioles took Tejada, who was the MLB's Ambassador for the game, full of energy and excitement, and made him look like an extra from 28 Weeks Later. I expect him to impale a girl's eyeball with a shard of wood more than I expect him to hit an extra base hit or run out a routine ground ball.

You always hear about how sad it was to watch Willie Mays running in circles, trying to find a can of corn fly ball. Well, we have that here in Baltimore, and Tejada is only 31. Not 42 like Mays was when he was making himself dizzy in the outfield with the Mets.

The bottom line is that this organization is infected, from top to bottom with losing. I've said it a million times. I, and thousands of other fans like me, have also said what should be done to fix it a billion times. But as long as Peter Angelos is the owner, things will always be the same.

That is why I don't watch and that is why I don't care anymore.

It's why I write this blog.

And that's why I voted for Jordin Sparks last night.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Foot in Mouth Disease

I love it when the Orioles front office speaks. It gives me so much fodder for this blog, as if I needed any more.

Such was the case when Jim Duquette spoke with the Washington Post as the Orioles take on the Nationals this weekend.

The article talks about both teams, shooting for the same thing, improvement, in different ways. The Nationals have made a committment to developing players from the farm system, which is bare since its move from Montreal to D.C., but the Nats have been open about it, telling fans, "Don't get your hopes up anytime soon. This could take a while." Needless to say the Nats won't be making waves in the free agent signing pool this offseason and the fans know what to expect, or not to.

The Orioles are trying to something similar, by focusing more attention on the farm system, mostly pitching, but they are still behind most of the league in terms of international scouting and money allocated to their minor league affiliates.

Though despite this, they tell the fans each season that "things will be different next year, we promise." Matter of fact, Angelos has spewed those words, how many times has it been now? 10? Anyhow, the front office will never come out and say what is what. Each year they enter the same dog and pony show, simply watching from the sides with their hands in their pockets. They talk a big game, but then fall silent when the money starts being thrown around. And each year, as free agents sign with other teams the fans go through the same set of emotions as the Orioles do little to improve last year's team.

The fans have been told there is "a plan." But everything we've seen them do pretty much contradicts "the plan."

The O's came out and said they wanted to develop young pitching, but then traded it away to get mediocre veterans in Kris Benson and Jared Wright, who are both out for the season.

The Orioles always say they want to get more power and speed but then sign slow, aging veterans that don't bring much in the way of either.

But the biggest difference between the O's and Nats is this, the O's have a $95 million payroll, and have only managed 3 more wins than the Nats, even with their payroll of $37 million.

Never has so much bought so little.

And when the front office tries to explain themselves, well, it gets even worse.

From the Washington Post interview...

"From our standpoint, it was always, realize there's a step-by-step process that you have to go through," Duquette said. "You can't consider yourself a contender until you get yourself to .500. And so, we've talked about .500. Once you get to .500, and you're in that range, that's good enough to be in any kind of playoff chase and allows you to do things -- make a trade or another signing of a free agent or two to get you to the next level."

So it's taking a $95 million payroll to get to .500, something that probably won't even be accomplished this year? And on top of that, what will a .500 record get you? Does that automatically mean that you will keep getting better?

The Nationals and Royals, each perennial losers, recently made .500 and above, respectively. Where did that get them? And how did the Detroit Tigers go from 71-91 to the World Series in one year?

As always, the Orioles are putting to many eggs into a basket that has a hole in the bottom. The Orioles shouldn't be shooting for a .500 record, they should adding the pieces that will get them a run at the Wild Card, and *shock* the division.

Instead of signing mediocre veterans, take a chance on a younger player with some upside, trade star players when they appear to be faltering, and most importantly, learn to live on the edge from time to time, instead of being the conservative putz at the auction who watches as the best deals get taken right out from under him.

Duquette appears to believe in this, when talking about trading any player...

"We're constantly trying to get better. [No] player is untouchable. You have to go in with that assumption. Every player is tradeable. But some you're less likely to trade than others. We consider any person, any trade that can improve the team. We're certainly not going to be reckless about it. But who knows? It may require trading one of those that's signed through '09, or two, maybe, for us to get younger. I wouldn't necessarily say we're locked in to every one of those players through 2009."

The front office may believe this, but Peter Angelos clearly doesn't. I also question whether the front office actually has the brains to be able to pull of such moves. And if the O's wanted to get younger they could do it today and not even have to make a trade. They could make room for Jon Knott and J.R. House on the 25 man roster in Baltimore and jettison a useless waste of space in Freddie Bynum and Paul Bako.

In the end, the O's can talk a good game, they have for years, but fans have realized that it's not what you say, it's what you do. And we're still waiting for the Orioles to do.

So as the O's take on the Nats tonight, the Battle of the Beltway commences and you get to watch two teams striving for the same thing, but in very different ways.

But something tells me the $58 million that separates the two team's payrolls won't translate into many more wins for the Orioles.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Random Tasks

I'm no fan of Peter Angelos, and I will be there to call him out even after he doesn't put the toilet seat down after using the bathroom, but Drew Forrester over at WNST, you know the station that the O's hope will be destroyed by a falling asteroid, has confirmed from 3 different sources associated with the Orioles that Baltimore will be back on the road jerseys in 2008.

Angelos has done more damage than putting Baltimore back on the road jersey will fix, but if this is indeed true, Angelos has done something he's never done before -- listen to the fans and give in to their demands.

And he deserves credit, however insignificant this move may be in the grand scheme of things.

Having Baltimore on the road jersey may not mean much to most people, but for those who live inside the Baltimore Beltway, it means the world. If rooting for the home team is based on civic pride, it's nice to see the city where the team plays represented on their uniforms.

Before the Nationals arrived in Washington, Angelos turned the Orioles into a regional team, even more so than previous owners had done after the Senators left Washington in the early 70's. He removed the "Baltimore" from the official team logo. Instead of BAL on the scoreboard at the Yard or on TV, it read O's.

What putting Baltimore back on the road jerseys signifies is that the Orioles are no longer the Mid-Atlantic region's sad sack of losers, they are Baltimore's sad sack of losers. And when there is no winning on the horizon, small changes like this are huge.

No, it's not going to translate into wins, or even increased attendance at the yard. After all, Baltimore will be on the road jerseys. (But don't put it past Angelos to have the O's wearing their away jerseys at home if it makes him money!) But it does restore some of the severed bond that had been created when the O's became the Mid-Altantic region's team as opposed to Baltimore's team.

And in the end, this will make Angelos money. Those Baltimore road jerseys are going to sell like hot cakes when they are first released. I will be buying one of them as soon as I can get my hands on one. But if Angelos is going to be doing something to make money, at least he'll be making fans happy while doing it.

Now, back to the depressing stuff.

Go figure. The Blue Jays, who had lost 10 out of their last 12, just swept the Orioles. And to think that I once thought that the Orioles would sweep them, or at least take the series from them during a 9 game stretch against the Jays and Nats, 2 teams worse than the Orioles. But that's not so true anymore.

Next up are the Nationals, who many die-hard O's fans look to beat up on this weekend. But think again. The Nats have won 5 out of their last 6 games while the O's are in the middle of a 5 game losing streak and still reeling from the now infamous Mother's Day Massacre. Many players and fans are wondering when Perlozzo will be fired as well. So there's a good chance that the team is not just thinking about the game this weekend, always a good thing.

Back to Perlozzo.

He needs to go. There is no doubting that. And with today being an off day, now is as good a time as any. As replacements go, I hear Bob Barker is free.

It really doesn't matter who the Orioles replace Perlozzo with, as long as he is replaced. They can name an interim manager in Trebblehorn or Juan Samuel, but in the offseason, Aneglos needs to parlay the Baltimore-on-the-road-jersey thing into another good move and totally overhaul the front office and management staff and replace them with new, young blood that has no previous connection to the organization.

It's time to purge the losing culture that has infected this team from top to bottom. And if a fish rots from the head, meaning Angelos, the least he can do is try and do all he can to make things better. I know he doesn't have the motivation to do anything, shit, I'll be surprised if Perlozzo is ever dismissed in the middle of the season, but Angelos is a good business man, and even he should be able to see that this company, I mean team... or organization, needs a shake up.

And while you're at it, get a bunch of new players too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Deck chairs on the Titanic need re-arranging

As the Orioles are in the midst of a 4-game losing streak, rumors swirl about Perlozzo being on a "short leash" and that he could be fired if the Orioles don't play better in what could have been the easiest 9 consecutive games they'd play all season.

So far in that stretch of games, they're 0-2.

It's clear that Perlozzo has lost the clubhouse and deserves to be fired. Hell, he never should have been made the full-time manager after filling in for Lee Mazzilli after he was dismissed in the middle of the disasterous 2005 season. His bad decisions confuse even the most pedestrian of fans, and bewilder hard-core baseball fans who analyze every pitch.

But Perlozzo was a "yes man" and that's what Angelos wanted. Now he's getting what he deserves. And while I doubt that Angelos would fire one of his hand selected guys, the results are becoming harder and harder to ignore.

The problem is this though. Even though Perlozzo does need to be fired, it will accomplish little, if nothing at all. There are too many problems with this organization that firing one guy will fix. Sure, a better manager might be able to milk more out of this roster, but let's face it, this team was never built to contend, and that falls back on the front office.

For years, the front office has been stalling. "Wait until next year," they say. Reports come out about the team being in the mix for the best free agents the following offseason, but then that offseason arrives and the Orioles sit on their hands while the best free agents sign with other teams while Angelos pockets the leftover money and then raises ticket prices.

No, firing Perlozzo is only going to be another step in what seems like an endless cycle of incompetence that will always go back to Peter Angelos while he is the owner.

It's no coincidence that while Angelos has owned the team, the O's have only had 4 winning seasons in 15 years, and have suffered the greatest decline in the history of the organization. Angelos took a franchise that was coming off the glory days of the early 1980's and 1970's and crashed them into the ground with the force of a 747 jumbo jet.

You could say that the farm system was in shambles when Angelos took over, but it's been 15 years later and the farm system is still nowhere near where it needs to be to support Orioles with players capable of helping the O's win games.

The O's were also late to scout players in the Caribbean and are virtually non-existent in Japan. Angelos had the resources to fix the farm system and the scouting department, but he instead chose to ignore them by hiring poor decision makers at the minor league level and sunk what money he did spend into the Orioles, with poor results.

And after years of being near the top in payroll, Angelos pulled back the reigns to prove to the MLB that he couldn't survive with the Nationals in Washington. Ironically, with the Nats in Washington, the O's are back in the top half of payroll, but you wouldn't know it looking at the roster or the standings.

The managers have come and gone, the front office personnel have come and gone, the players have come and gone, and the fans have come and gone.

The only constant is Angelos.

Until Peter Angelos is gone for good, this organization will always be caught in a state of limbo where mediocrity is the goal. Angelos wants to "make it affordable for families to come to the games", winning be damned.

The problem is, if watching baseball, free of any importance of the outcome, is what families are doing, then those families will have a much cheaper and more fun time at minor league games. And by the look of it, these families are starting to learn.

So go ahead Pete, fire Perlozzo. Fire Crowley. Hell, fire Flanagan and Duquette too. But the outcome is always going to be the same because of you. You are the problem. And if firing one person is going to fix all the problems with this organization, then the person that needs to be fired is you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

$42 million... for what?

We're seeing firsthand why it's not a good idea to spend $42 million on the bullpen.

Last night, with the game tied at 3, Danys Baez allowed a 2-run HR to Troy Glaus which sealed the deal.

And the O's lose their 3rd game in a row, which, coincidentally, were all lost by the bullpen.

That $42 million would have been much better spent on the offense, which desperately needs a power bat in the middle of the line-up, since Tejada has "lost" his power (.397 SLG) and Aubrey Huff (.691 OPS) is still trying to find his groove. And even at their best, Tejada is a #3 hitter and Huff a #5 or #6.

The $42 million would have also been better spent on the starting pitching, which is doing OK, even with starters Kris Benson, Jared Wright and Adam Loewen out for most or all of the season, but could be lasting longer in games.

Yes, the bullpen did need a lot of help after last year, but it wasn't a problem that was going to be fixed by throwing money at it. Even when the Orioles signed the veterans they did to fill out their bullpen, people were scratching their heads. All that money for Danys Baez and Jamie Walker? All those years?

Small trades can always bring back value for the bullpen, but the Orioles traded away their second best arm in the bullpen in Chris Britton during the offseason to get Jared Wright, who was a severe injury risk and has thrown only 10 innings so far this season and will be lucky to make it to 11.

The tricky thing about bullpens is this. Bullpen pitchers have no rhythm. They pitch one night, then have the next night off, then throw two nights in a row, and then could have a week off before they throw again. So even the best bullpen pitchers are going to be thrown off by the inconsistent workload.

It also hurts when the manager doesn't know how to use a bullpen. Sam Perlozzo has assigned roles to pitchers, torpedoes be damned. Just another reason why he needs to be gone yesterday.

Even though the Orioles may have compiled this bullpen the wrong way, at least they tried, which is more than you can say about the organization in the last few years. They saw a huge need and worked fast to fill it. It would be nice to see them do that with the offense and starting pitching occasionally.

But they were careless with money and now they're paying for it as the bullpen continues to lose games left and right.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Throw us a frickin' bone!

Had Steinbrenner's Yankees suffered a meltdown like the Orioles did yesterday, you can bet that heads would be rolling by this time today.

Sam Perlozzo would be standing on Pratt Street, thumbing for a ride out of town and Chris Ray would be pitching in some bush league freakshow baseball league where players sing and dance Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals in-between innings.

Instead, it's business as usual for the Orioles. Just another tragic loss in a season quickly becoming crowded with them. You can't get too upset about these kinds of losses when you're so used to them, and that's the message the Orioles are sending to the fans by doing nothing.

And if Steinbrenner represents everything wrong with baseball, at least he's destroyed the game to improve his team. He's like the mad scientist who has destroyed the world to save his sick daughter. Yeah, you destroyed the world, but at least your intentions were good.

Meanwhile, Angelos can't even destroy his image to show fans that he even cares by doing something following yesterday's catastrophic loss.

Hell, does he even know the Orioles lost yesterday? If so, does he even know how they lost?

The fans are the ones who suffer through these kinds of losses the worst. After all, the players who were involved in yesterday's disgrace are still getting paid handsomely for their ineptitude. So the fans need to see something from the front office to show them that the FO is awake, and are still doing their jobs.

Here are the moves that should be made following yesterday's loss...

Sam Perlozzo needs to be fired. Yes, the loss can't be blamed solely on him. But yet again, he failed to put his team in the best position to win, like he has countless times this season with his head-scratching decisions. It's a wonder how the Orioles are only 2 games under .500 losses with Perlozzo at the helm.

Chris Ray needs to be demoted. Ray is a good young pitcher, but he's not mentally suited to be a closer. Never has a closer look so over-matched so regularly. Closers aren't supposed to get scared, but you could smell the fear coming off Chris Ray all the way from Boston. He needs to be made the set-up man while Danys Baez steps into the closer role. The shame of it is, Baez will probably fare no better, but it's time to find out. It's a shame that John Parrish has forgotten how to throw strikes because if he was still pitching the way he was early in the season, he would be the perfect candidate to step into the closer role.

Hernandez and Millar need to be reprimanded. Their mistakes were small but important parts to yesterday's debacle. Hernandez dropped a routine pop-up that lead to the string of events resulting in the loss, and Millar fielded a grounder that Roberts could have easily gotten to. Avoiding the always tricky bang-bang play of the 1B flinging the ball to the pitcher, covering 1B and then tagging the bag with his foot is always a good thing.

I'll admit, some of these moves are not practical, but they need to be made. You can't just sit on your hands after a loss like that. It shows the fans that the organization is complacent, that it accepts losing games that way. And players always need to be held accountable for their actions on and off the field.

Unfortunately, we have a manager who has no accountability either. Having Perlozzo reprimand the players for yesterday's loss is like a father who still smokes pot discipling his child for underage drinking.

So make these moves, bring in a manager who makes smart decisions and go from there. At 18-20, the season is far from over, but losses like the one yesterday can end them prematurely, especially if no actions are taken to make it known that these kinds of losses can't, and won't be tolerated in the future.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Massacre

It's never a good idea to compare sports losses to tragic events where people lost their lives. But if ever there was a good excuse to do it, today's 6-5 loss to the Red Sox would probably be as good a time as any.

The Orioles got what was their best performance of the season by a starting pitcher as Jeremy Guthrie (yeah, that guy) scattered 3 hits over 8.1 innings against one of the leagues best offenses. However, it all went for naught when Sam Perlozzo took Guthrie out after Ramon Hernandez dropped a routine pop-up. Thinking that Guthrie may have been shaken by such an error, Perlozzo turned to his overworked bullpen, the same bullpen who had been the main culprit of numerous heartbreaking losses this season, to get the final 2 outs.

What occured afterward was the sports equivalent ofthe Titanic sinking, the Pearl Harbor attacks, and 9/11 all rolled into one event for the few Oriole fans left in Baltimore and around the country, that still watch this team play on a regular basis.

Here's how it happened.

After Guthrie was prematurely removed from the game, Danys Baez came in and promptly allowed 2 hits. Sam, getting very nervous now, brought in Chris Ray, who is looking more and more like a mental midget as the season rolls along. He is quickly becoming the white version of Jorge Julio. Most of his save appearances contain more emotional roller coaster rides than a relationship with a bi-polar nymphomaniac. Case in point, they are never easy to watch. Today's example was no different.

Ray walked 3 batters, although one was intentional, but the other was a walk with the bases loaded. To Eric Hinske no less. Then, after Roberts threw out Kevin Youkilis, who represented the tying run, at the plate, Chris Ray dropped the final out to win the game at 1B when fielding the throw from Kevin Millar, which allowed 2 runners to score for the loss.

Thank you Jeremy Guthrie, but no thanks.

And so it goes with the Orioles this season. They keep finding more and more ways to lose games. At least they are coming up with some new and creative ways to lose them.

Here's what could have been had Guthrie been left in to get the final 2 outs -- a series win in Boston, against a team that has downright owned the Orioles over the last 2 years. And it would have given the O's a much needed emotional boost heading into 9 games against 2 of the worst teams in MLB, in the Blue Jays and the Nationals.

Oh yeah, they would have been back at .500 at 19-19 too.

But after a loss like today's, all bets are off.

There was no reason to think that the Orioles couldn't have gone 7-2 over the next 9 games putting them at 26-21 headed into a tough series with Oakland. But after today's loss, who knows how the Orioles will respond, if at all.

This is the kind of loss that can destroy a season.

Will the team continue to respect Sam Perlozzo, who's decisions have time and time again cost them wins? I wonder if Sam is as lost at the clubhouse buffet table as he is in the dugout. I've never seen a manager be so clueless in all aspects of the game.

When you take a step back and look at tough losses like this one, there is no one person that you can pin the blame on. Hernandez dropped the pop-up which would have made it 2 outs with the bases empty. Sam Perlozzo jumped the gun and took Guthrie out. Danys Baez gave up consecutive hits. Kevin Millar had no business fielding a ball that Brian Roberts could have easily gotten to. And Chris Ray, who looks like a boy amongst men on the mound and did the most damage.

But still, it was a team effort. Losing always is.

The blame is evenly spread around, and in a society focused on placing blame on one person, these losses are even harder to take because they often leave fans at a loss for words and no place for them to focus their frustration, except by throwing the remote control at the TV. Losing is a team effort and the Orioles are extremely good at it. They excel at it. It's almost as if they put on losing rally caps and think up new ways to impress themselves with losing a game.

If Red Sox and Yankee fans always have faith that their teams will always find a way to win a close game, Orioles fans always believe that the Orioles will find a way to lose a close game.

The funny thing is this though. Today's game wasn't close. The O's had the Red Sox dead to rights at 5-0 with 1 out in the 9th inning. Even worse teams than the Orioles win today's game. Hell, worse teams keep the shutout.

But if the O's can't even close the door on a 5-0 lead with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, how are they going to do anything?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Don't get your hopes up

The Orioles have won 4 out of their last 6 games after losing 9 out of 10 games and have a chance to sweep the Devil Rays with a win at home tonight.

OK, so the Orioles are going to be better than the Devil Rays for a little while longer. However, the Orioles face LHP Casey Fossum tonight, who has pitched well against the Orioles in the past. So a sweep is not going to be easy. But nothing with the Orioles ever is.

Plus, sweeping the Rays would put the Orioles at only a game under .500.

And with the O's headed to Boston for 3 and facing Beckett and Schilling again, this may be the closest they get to .500 for a while.

Luckily, after the Boston series, the O's face the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Blue Jays again before facing a tough team in the A's again. So if the O's can just steal a game from that Boston series, they could set themselves up well to eclipse the .500 point during that string of games against struggling teams.

But even if they do get their heads above water during that stretch of games, how long will it be until they go under again? That is the main problem with the team. There is no consistency. They're hot and cold.

Last season, it looked like they could avoid long stretches of bad play, as the Orioles didn't have many losing streaks past 4 games. Unfortunately, they didn't have many win streaks past 3, either, which resulted in a 70-92 record. But whatever they learned in 2006, they forgot in 2007.

And the fact that we are counting down the games until they get back to .500 like we're counting down the games until they're in first place is depressing. At this point, we're only hoping for the O's to get back to mediocrity.

But at least they are playing better now. And at least they're not worse than the Devil Rays. Yet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Important series... LOL

Tonight, the O's start a 3 game series against the Devil Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It's an "important series", if a team headed nowhere can have such a thing.

Anyway, this series could show us a lot about the 2007 Baltimore Orioles. Can we write them off on May 8th, earlier than any recent losing season? Or will they surprise us with some sparse quality play every now and then?

They're facing some tough TB pitchers that have given them trouble in the past, in James Shields (3-0, 3.74 ERA) and LHP Corey Fossum (2-2, 7.34 ERA), who needs to thank the Orioles for keeping him the league a few years longer than he should be. And after losing 11 out of their last 14 games, it would be a prime opportunity for the O's to shut down and allow the Rays to take the series or sweep them.

But if they show some signs of life against pitchers that routinely give them fits, then there could be some salvaging this season.

After all, if Jeremy Guthrie or Brian Burres pitch well while Jared Wright and Adam Loewen are injured, then at least the O's have found a bargain for basically free. It would be nice to add another decent starter to the list of hopefuls that already includes Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn and Garret Olson. After all, you can't have enough good young(er) pitching, because let's face it, Erik Bedard (age 28) ain't getting any younger.

The offense is bound to bounce back from their recent horrid slump, but don't expect too much from them over the course of a season. They simply aren't very good. And while the O's are taking their sweet-ass time in calling Jon Knott or J.R. House up to the big leagues, they must do it at some point. Right?

But what makes this series even more interesting, is to see if the Orioles can continue their streak of being worse than pretty much every team in the AL, except the Devil Rays.

Since joining the MLB in 1998, the Devil Rays haven't won more than 70 games. Even the Orioles have managed to stay ahead of them.

But the Devil Rays are clearly headed in a different direction than the Orioles. Even with all their pitching "talent", the Orioles still can't seem to get out of their own way. And while the Devil Rays still have poor pitching and a history of nothing but losing, they are finally reaping the benefits of a young and talented team. And if their pitching can reach mediocrity, they will make a surprising run that will open people's eyes for the first time in their 10 year history of ineptitude.

So as the O's take the field tonight, it could be one of the last times we do it as a better team than the Devil Rays.

Monday, May 7, 2007

I want the O's to lose. There, I said it.

Can you be a fan of a team and want them to lose? Because that's what I'm doing with the Orioles right now.

I want them to lose. Yeah, I said it. And here's why...

Winning a few games here and there isn't going to do the O's a damn bit of good in the grand scheme of things. It's really just going to hurt their chances at what could be their first 100 loss season since 1988. After all, I'm sick of the 90 loss seasons. If we're going to suck ass, at least do it with some gusto.

Any sorry team can go out and post a 70-92 record like the Birds did last year. But when I look back and see 70-92 or some variation of that record, I think to myself, "Damn, they sucked that year." This time, I want to look back on the 2007 season and say, "Holy shit, I forgot about how absolutely dreadful they were!"

If anything, let's make year #10 a year to remember.

The tragedy, however, is that they shouldn't be this bad. When the season started, even the most pessimistic fan believed they had a legit shot to crack the .500 barrier. They had a roster perfect for platoons and a young pitching staff with tons of potential.

But then Perlozzo and the front office totally butchered the roster management (Knott still only has 4 AB's in an O's uni) and platoons are about as likely as a Dodo bird landing on your front lawn. Then the pitchers started dropping like flies.

But let's face it, these are the Orioles we're talking about.

The 2007 team was constructed to be a .500 team, as they have been for years. How else can you justify Deivi Cruz and Omar Daal as your marquee signings? If that is the goal, the worst case scenario is going to be a 100 loss season, like it could very well be this season.

But if the O's set their sights higher, and actually did some intriguing things once in a while, like go out and get as much young high-OBP talent as possible, instead of filling out your roster with cuddly fan favorite players like Mora, Roberts and Gibbons, then you might actually be able to set your sights on the playoffs and beyond. That way, when the injuries crop up, the worst case scenario is .500.

We've said it a million times, and each time it's said the cement it's written in just gets a little drier. Angelos has no incentive to win. He's making money one way or another. Even if attendance continues to drop he will still be laughing all the way to the bank while O's fans pay the price.

The only thing O's fans can do as the losses mount is stay away and hope that empty stadiums embarrass Angelos into actually doing something different for once. Stop signing mediocre players, for one. Allow the front office, as incompetent as they may be, to make moves on their own, without every little detail of a trade being analyzed and ultimately vetoed.

Going 81-81 is probably the worst thing imaginable for this team right now. It will lull the front office and Angelos into thinking they're on to something, and then they'll just keep doing more of the same.

So that's why I root for the losses to continue. Wins won't come as often as they need to to make a run at the playoffs, so why win at all? Football fans root for losses all the time to get a better draft pick. Why can't I do the same? Only, other than the better draft pick, I'll get to watch as Angelos has to defend his decisions, and hopefully, change the way he does things.

So let's make this a season to remember and see how Angelos reacts when the O's drop a 3-digit number in the loss column for 2007.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The tunnel is only getting darker

For years, optimistic O's fans have said that they see "light at the end of the tunnel."

Players like Larry Bigbie, Luis Matos, Matt Riley, Brian Roberts, Adam Loewen, Erik Bedard, Nick Markakis and Daniel Cabrera were going to change the course of the Orioles' losing ways.

And as you can see from that list, half of those players are not with the team anymore, some are out of baseball, some are with the team, and some are actually doing pretty well.

But the outcome hasn't changed one bit. The Orioles are still losing.

Those same optimistic O's fans will say it's only May 3rd, but all one needs to do is take a look back throughout the 9 years of losing to see that the Orioles have struggled to make it back to .500 after falling below it. And when they do reach it, like they did on August 23rd, 2002, a massive losing streak usually follows (4-32) to erase any good they did in getting back to even.

And with the recent rash of injuries and poor hitting, to be combined with the failure to manage their roster properly, the Orioles are heading nowhere again in 2007.

Normally, fans in the middle of a losing season at least have the minor league system to give them hope for the future.

But not with the O's.

As usual, the O's AAA system is filled with minor league veterans. Some do deserve a shot to play in Baltimore (Jon Knott, J.R. House, Jason DuBois) but even they are only former can't-miss prospects who, well... missed. But in a season going nowhere, this is the time to give these guys one more look to see if they can fill any needs the team currently has.

But even the Orioles are incapable of doing this. As the Orioles were headed for a 90-loss season last year, they failed to give Luis Tererro, a Jon Knott-like career minor leaguer, a decent look in the OF. Instead, the O’s opted for a 120 lbs. soaking wet Brandon Fahey and his equally lightweight .614 OPS. So for those hoping that House and Knott will be called up to the Orioles and receive decent playing time in a season going nowhere, don't get your hopes up.

Then there are the injuries. Jared Wright and Hayden Penn both can't be counted on to start games for the Orioles this season. Adam Loewen looks like he could possibly be out for an extended period of time. And while Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burress both deserve shots to start in their absence, both are just pitching versions of Jon Knott and J.R. House, one time can't miss prospects who, well... missed.

In the minor leagues, only Garret Olson deserves a shot to crack the rotation if Guthrie and Burress falter in Loewen and Wright’s absence, but he currently has an ERA above 5.00 in AAA Norfolk. Any other talent the O's have at the minor league level is currently stuck in high-A level Frederick, a good 1-3 years away from Baltimore. And as we have seen time and time again, anything can happen in those 1-3 years. Injuries, poor play, meteors falling out of the sky and crushing prospects, you name it. Some of these guys might as well be in tee-ball they feel so far away from contributing to the Orioles.

Then there is the management. There is nothing that hasn't already been said about Peter Angelos, so there is really nothing new to add there. One can only hope that he sees the errors of his ways this season and trades away all the valuable talent on the team for prospects and gives rebuilding a legitimate shot for the first time in his 15-year reign as owner of the team. But for an owner who loves “names,” rebuilding seems unattractive, and in his eyes, could only further hurt attendance that has already been at a flatline for years.

And if Angelos did approve a firesale and subsequent rebuilding process, do you actually trust the O's current front office of Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette to oversee such a complicated thing? There are already too many examples to list that prove the front office doesn't understand the day to day operations of running a team (funny, didn't Angelos say that about the fans after WNST's protest last season?) so what would they do in a rebuilding process, that will determine the outcome of the team for years to come? Done poorly, a rebuilding process can ruin a team for 3-5 years and set this organization back even further.

The bottom line is this, the Orioles are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. There is no simple answer for them. They’ve been wandering around in that tunnel for years, and when they thought they saw the light at the end, it was only their minds playing tricks on them.

There is no light. There never was.

But even after all that is said, the Orioles need to do something. Because whatever they've been doing for the last 9 years, it's obviously not working. Not even close.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Nothing to get excited about...

The Orioles haven't come close to rebuilding in the 9 years since they've started losing even though their record looks a lot like it year after year.

Teams with 90 losses should at least be on their way up, right? One would think. But not when it comes to the O's. And that is why it's so hard to follow this team right now. There is nothing to get excited about.

Teams that rebuild, and do it the right way, by trading most or all of their valuable players for prospects and inexperienced players with upside, are fun to watch. You watch the team and over time a star emerges right before your eyes. And a year or two later, those players are usually the centerpiece of a team fighting to make the playoffs.

Cleveland did it with Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner. Detroit did it with Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander. The Florida Marlins are doing it right now for the second time in 10 years after winning a World Series with Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.

Yet the Orioles stand pat each trading deadline when they should be unloading their valuable talent to rebuild. Instead of trading players like Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons, the Orioles have signed them to extensions that will likely come back to haunt them.

In the last few years, there was always a reason to at least follow the Orioles from a distance, even when they were out of contention in July. You might skip 3 games and then watch the games that Bedard or Cabrera pitched, or check the box score the morning after a night game to see how Markakis did.

Now those reasons to watch are getting smaller and smaller.

The Orioles are past the point of player development being a selling point. What good is it if the development never translates into a winning record? Sure, players like Markakis, Cabrera, and Loewen are exciting to watch, as they represent the Orioles future (albeit uncertain), but what good is it when they pitch well in a loss, or help the team win a game with a HR, only to be followed up by a long losing streak?

If we felt like all of this development was headed somewhere, we might be inclined to care when Cabrera pitches well or Markakis hits a HR. At least we would have the hope that those players would be a key part of the Orioles when they are battling for the division or the Wild Card in a year or two. But that is not the case.

Not at all.

With each Markakis HR or solid Cabrera start, one can't help but go from hopeful to hopeless. After a while, all these positives become are reminders of how tragic the Orioles are. Under the proper management, the bright spots on the Orioles would be surrounded with players capable of helping them get to the postseason. On the Orioles, they are surrounded with journeymen and aging veterans.

Of all the things wrong with the Orioles, this is perhaps the most depressing. Even after 10 years, there is still no end in sight.

Finally! Things are getting interesting...

If the Orioles are going to lose 7 out of 8 games, they should at least do it in style. And since they slept through most of those losses, last night's 8-4 loss at least provided some action, even if it didn't exactly translate into runs.

Last night, the Orioles and Tigers traded beanballs and nearly came to fisticuffs after the tigers plunked Tejada and then the O's drilled Gary Sheffield. Daniel Cabrera had to be held back from Sheffield, and that's probably a good thing since Sheffield and his steroid-sculpted frame would have probably throttled Cabrera, who is a towering force on the mound, but just a tall drink of water when it comes to throwing down. And with Jared Wright having had his second cup of coffee in Baltimore before being sent back to the DL, the O's could ill-afford losing another starting pitcher.

If anything good can come from a near melee, it's that the O's at least showed some fire and energy. Well, most of them anyway. You'd think that the team's manager would be spitting fire in such a situation, but when words were exchanged between teams, and Jim Leyland was practically shouting directly into the Orioles' dugout, Sam Perlozzo looked like the puny kid who hides inside a locker when a fight is brewing.

You won't find many people who think Sam Perlozzo is a good manager, just when it comes to making general baseball moves, but now there is even less to say good about him. After Mazzilli lost the clubhouse, the players turned to Perlozzo as their leader. Shortly afterward, Mazzilli was fired and Perlozzo was made manager. Sadly it looks like it's come full circle for Perlozzo.

If a manager doesn't have his team's back when the other team's manager is shouting directly at them, what are the players going to think? If Perlozzo hasn't lost the clubhouse yet, last night could be the start of the chain reaction we look back to in July when the Orioles are 20 games out of first place and people are calling for Perlozzo's head. And if the players were truly for Perlozzo, last night had to at least put some doubt into their heads.

Then you've got Kevin Millar complaining to the media about his lack of playing time, and essentially being platooned with Jay Gibbons. That's more like it, Kevin! Remind the team of why they brought you here, for good chemistry! Nothing brings a team together like an aging veteran complaining about his playing time!

To be fair, Millar was one of the better players on the team until he lost his playing time when Payton came back. Despite slumping during his inconsistent playing time since then, he still leads the team in walks and is second to Tejada in OBP. Meanwhile, Payton hasn't gotten a extra basehit since coming back from the DL, and Gibbons looks completely lost at the plate.

If anyone deserves to be playing out of these 3 players, it's Millar. And hey, he did that cool Ray Lewis dance on opening day!

So color me happy. There is nothing worse than the O's sleepwalking through a losing streak. But when you've got players complaining, managers failing to back up their team, and fights nearly breaking out, things get interesting.

And hey, it's only May 1st!