Friday, April 25, 2008

Die Hard

It's been 10 days since the Bad Oriole returned to the nest with a worm in its beak, so I've got a lot to cover in this blog post. Open wide!

First and foremost, the Orioles have to be commended for their "never say die" spirit. Last night, after being down 5-0 early to the Seattle Mariners, the Orioles battled back yet again, and won the game 8-7.

They're 7-1 in one run games and have 9 comeback wins so far.

Since my last post, the O's have split 2-game series' with the Blue Jays, the White Sox, and took 2 of 3 from both the Yankees and the Mariners.

They now sit at 13-9, 1 game back of the first place Boston Red Sox, as they enter into a 4-game series with the first place Chicago White Sox.

The starting pitching has improved. Daniel Cabrera threw one of the best games of his career on Wednesday night, going 8 IP, allowing 2 ER, striking out 5 and wait for it..... walking zero.

Don't look now, but Cabrera has strung together 3 great starts, in which he has gone at least 6 IP and allowed 2 ER or less. His walks are now decreasing and it finally looks like he could be coming into his own.

On the flip-side, Adam Loewen took the hill last night, and got hit hard, only lasting 2.2 IP before being taken out. The bad news, Loewen complained of pain in his arm, and is now on the 15-day DL. It appears likely that Loewen is headed for another long-term shutdown, one that could end his season, again.

The good news is that the bullpen kept the Orioles in a game that was seemingly out of hand, allowing them to mount a huge comeback for the win. And on top of that, there are at least 4 pitchers either on the Orioles or down on the farm who are very deserving of taking Adam Loewen's spot in the rotation.

Other positives: Randor Bierd has been an anchor in the bullpen, eating innings like they are cupcakes. He's pitched 12.1 innings so far and has yet to allow an ER.

George "the Sheriff" Sherrill is 8 for 8 in save opportunities, and got another one last night, making that 5 against his former team. Think Seattle misses him much?

The Mariners are sure to also be missing Adam Jones, who had 3 RBI last night, and has raised his average to .270. Not to mention, his defense in CF is improving by the day.

Nick Markakis is blistering hot, with a .995 OPS. He's not getting much to hit in the #3 hole with a slumping Kevin Millar behind him, and being pitched around has raised his OBP to a whopping .468, but he's crushing everything that's in the strike zone.

Luke Scott has cooled down after he kicked his way through the gate, guns blazing, but his .878 OPS is still 70 points higher than the next man. He's also making up for his lack of HR's with doubles. He leads the team with 9.

And even though the offense is starting to cool down overall, they are at least getting hits and scoring runs when they need to, as they did last night.

One thing that is frustrating, however, is the questionable roster moves the Orioles keep making.

When the O's sent Adam Loewen to the DL, they called up middle-infielder Eider Torres, creating the redundant trifecta of weak hitting middle-infielders currently made up of Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey.

Torres was hitting well so far this season in Norfolk (.338 AVG, .795 OPS), but Torres should prove to be no better than Hernandez or Fahey with his career .675 MiL OPS.

One would hope that if Torres can swing a bat well, it would result in sending one of Hernandez or Fahey back to Norfolk where they belong. Alex Cintron is also in the mix, and is currently getting into baseball shape in Norfolk as well, so the trifecta could become even more crowded.

Meanwhile, Luis Terrero is hitting well (.877 OPS) and could be used as a bat off the bench late in the game.

Another head scratcher is why Greg Aquino is still taking up space in Baltimore. He's only pitched 6 innings thus far and has looked terrible in each one. Manager Dave Trembley clearly doesn't trust Aquino in close games, and for good reason. If this is the case, the Orioles should release Aquino and call up one of the impressive relievers in Norfolk.

Lance Cormier (1.15 ERA), Alberto Castillo (2.70 ERA) or Bob McCory (1.93 ERA) would fit the bill.

All in all, the Orioles are fun to watch. When it looked like they would fall into a season-ending nose dive after getting swept in a double-header by the Rangers, the battled back to play well over the last week or so.

They've got a stiff challenge ahead of them in the White Sox, who seem to be doing everything really well. Splitting the series seems like a possibility, and would be a success in my opinion.

But with the way the O's are playing, a letdown seems inevitable.

We shall see.

Monday, April 14, 2008

That time of year again...

In what appears to have become an annual thing, there are rumors going around Orioles Hangout that the Orioles are considering putting Baltimore back on the road uniforms for 2009.

I don't know what there is to consider.

Baltimore should have been put back on the road uniforms years ago, and it should be added now, especially since the Nationals are in Washington, DC.

The deadline is May 1st to submit uniform changes to the MLB.

This has become one of those much-debated issues concerning the Orioles. Some people dismiss it as meaningless fodder, and then there are others, like me, that think it is a big issue, and a problem that the Orioles have repeatedly failed to fix.

There has always been a disconnect between the Orioles and the city of Baltimore ever since the Orioles moved to Camden Yards. And that disconnect only got bigger once the Ravens came to Baltimore and won over the hearts and minds of its people.

It's a small thing, but adding Baltimore to the road uniforms would be an olive branch from the Orioles to the city and its people. And there is no better time than now, as the Orioles are turning over a new page in their history books, and are rebuilding for the future the right way.

Not only would it surely increase merchandise sales, it would reconnect the team and the city. It's much harder to bad-mouth a team that wears the name of your city on its uniform.

But apparently, the only people who don't understand this are the Orioles, who appear more interested in milking the last penny from the regional territory outside of Baltimore than listening to the fans who live inside of the 695 loop.

The Orioles play home games in Baltimore, and will be doing so well into the future. So they might as well go ahead and put the city's name back on the uniform.

It's about time.

Roster Blunder

The Orioles needed an extra arm in the bullpen after the double-header with Texas screwed up the starting pitching schedule, so they called up Jim Johnson from Norfolk and sent down utility-man Scott Moore, opting to keep Brandon Fahey in Baltimore.

And so starts the 2008 Campaign of Awful Roster Moves.

Last year, the Orioles mistakenly kept career minor-league sluggers Jon Knott and JR House down on the farm for most of the season while Jay Payton, Brandon Fahey, Freddie Bynum and Paul Bako collected a total of 740 AB's to the tune of a .580 OPS.

Scott Moore and Brandon Fahey fill the same role. They can both play multiple positions. The difference is Brandon Fahey makes Scott Moore look like Jim Gentile at the plate.

The Orioles probably kept Fahey because of his ability to play SS, but in doing this they lose Moore's bat off the bench. Now, the O's will be forced to send Luis Hernandez or Fahey to the plate late in close games instead of being able to pinch hit for them with Moore.

To everyone's surprise, Luis Hernandez isn't horrible at the plate so far this year, which makes Fahey that much more expendable.

But the O's got it wrong again.

Andy MacPhail has proven that he knows what he's doing when it comes to making trades and envisioning the future of the Orioles. But he still doesn't appear to know how to make roster moves in-season, as this move proves.

Keeping Fahey over Moore is just plain old stupid.

The Orioles said they wanted Moore to get more AB's in Norfolk, and they played him at SS in his first game, perhaps hoping that he could potentially play some SS in Baltimore. He was after all, drafted as a SS.

But if there is anyone in Baltimore who needs "more AB's", it's Fahey who has done little to prove himself deserving of a major league roster spot throughout his career.

The only positive that comes with adding one more arm to the bullpen is that Matt Albers gets a spot start today. Albers has been dominant out of the bullpen so far this year and deserves the chance to start.

But it still doesn't justify the move.

Let's just hope this isn't the first of many bad roster moves in 2008.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ours - Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy)

I discovered Ours while working long hours at BWI Airport. I was able to listen to WRNR, an independent radio station out of Annapolis, that luckily for me, played music not heard on commercially-owned radio stations.

I instantly fell in love with the acoustic version of "Sometimes" that they occasionally played, and after doing some searching on the web, I was able to find out the name of the band.

The next day, I bought the album, called Distorted Lullabies, off the strength of that one song, and after skipping through the rest of the CD, I was proud of myself for discovering a little-known band that kicked the living shit out of most bands played on commercial radio.

Jimmy Gnecco's voice was an instrument all it's own, and at the risk of sounding pretentious, it ripped through my soul and spoke to me in a way that few bands did. Maybe it was the connection I had with them, since I felt like I had discovered them, and I recommended them to friends whenever I had the chance.

But then again, maybe it was just because they were an excellent band, and Gnecco's lyrics were moody, depressing, and dark -- and that's usually the kind of music I like.

After relentlessly spinning the album for months, I grew tired of it, and hung it up to dry.

Then September 11th happened.

And it the midst of doing some serious soul-searching during the aftermath of that horrible day, I found myself listening to Lullabies again, and was amazed at how much the album spoke to the current times, despite being released almost a year before 9/11. Songs and lyrics took on different meanings, and it really opened up another window for me to discover this band and this album.

Luckily for me, I didn't have to wait long for their follow-up to Distorted Lullabies, as the band released their sophomore album, Precious, in the fall of 2002.

At that time, I had just gotten married, and was beginning a life on my own, free of my parents house and their authority. Precious was there for me at another important time in my life, and it will always be special to me because of that, even though it was a lacking album in many ways.

In listening to Precious, you could tell the band was being pushed in directions they didn't really want to go. Still, Gnecco's influence was able to shine through on certain songs, and his voice and lyrics were as strong and haunting as ever.

But when I listened to their flat cover of "Femme Fatal" by Velvet Underground, I had a feeling that Gnecco had compromised himself in a way that would change him and the way he dealt with his music in the future.

Boy was I right.

It is now 2008, a full five and a half years since Ours has released an album. It has been delayed numerous times, survived a record label dispute and label change, and even more delays.

Luckily, Ours toured frequently in-between albums, and kept promising his small but extremely loyal fan-base that a new album was forthcoming. Their live shows featured the newly written songs that Gnecco hoped to get recorded, and they were great songs, which made the wait that much more frustrating.

I saw the band for the first time in August of 2004 at Fletcher's in Fells Point, Baltimore. It's a small upstairs venue and the crowd was sparse but energetic. The band had sound problems and the show started an hour later than scheduled.

To make up for the delay, Gnecco played a 2+ hour long set, and when the band took breaks, he remained on stage, playing acoustic versions of previously recorded songs, as well as new ones.

After the electric set was finished, my wife and I headed for the exit, but when I heard Gnecco come on stage again, I immediately raced back into the club and listened as Gnecco played another acoustic set which lasted another half an hour and pushed his strained voice to the breaking point.

Gnecco is known for his fan appreciation and has been known to play short acoustic sets in the parking lot after shows for the few remaining fans. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for me.

Over the years, without a new album to look forward to, Ours disappeared from my radar. I discovered new bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and The Walkmen. But I always looked forward to a new Ours album, and hoped that someday it would find a release date.

And finally, on April, 15th, Ours will release their third album entitled, Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy), and one thing is for sure despite the long break in-between album releases -- this is the album Gnecco wanted to make.

He teamed up with super-producer Rick Rubin, who signed the band to his American label, a sub-genre offshoot of Columbia. It's the same label Johnny Cash was on late in his career. But whereas Precious producer Ethan Johns suffocated the band in forced trendiness, Rick Rubin guided Gnecco, giving him advice when needed, and allowed Gnecco to do what he wanted to do.

At first listen, Mercy is very much an Ours album. The soaring vocals of Gnecco are still there, but it's much more focused than Precious, and hearkens back to the epic moodiness of Distorted Lullabies. The glimmers of U2, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley are all still there and in full effect.

I'm still in the beginning stages of listening to this album, and I've barely touched the second half, but I can say this, Mercy is Gnecco's album and it's the one he wanted to make. So far, so good.

It was well worth the wait.

ALBUM SCORE: *** (out of ****)
BEST SONG: I Ran Away To Tell The World
SEE THEM LIVE: Yes! Expect to be there at least 2 hours.

Twin Billing Killing

After beating the Rangers in the first game of a 3-game series to extend their winning streak to 6, the Orioles dropped the final two games of the series, being swept in a double-header yesterday.

First the good news.

The Orioles were in both games, losing 3-1 and 5-4, so at least there were no 30-3 debacles to be had in double-headers so far this year.

Steve Trachsel kept his tightrope act going, at least for another start, allowing only 2 ER in 6.1 IP with 4 BB and 2 K. Again, the bullpen was good, although Chad Bradford allowed a run in the 8th inning of the second game when the score was tied 4-4. He was saddled with the loss.

In the second game, the offense woke up a bit, as the O's battled back from a 4-1 deficit with a 2-run HR from Jay Payton and then tied the game up in the 8th before Bradford gave it away in the bottom of the inning.

Now the bad news.

The offense fell silent against Kevin Millwood in the first game, racking up only 3 hits and 1 run. In the second game, Adam Loewen imploded in the 3rd inning, walking 3 batters which lead to 3 runs. Loewen's final line wasn't horrible, as he settled down after the 3rd, but the 4 BB in 5 IP are par for the course for Loewen. In the 3rd, it appeared as if he was having a Rick Ankiel-like meltdown, not coming close to finding the plate during his 3 BB.

But at least the O's managed to prove again that they are going to be in most games because of their bullpen and the never-say-die attitude of the offense. But the fact remains that the O's were not as good as their 6-1 start and now sit at a more realistic 6-3 record, heading into Tampa with what is sure to be a tough 3-game series with the new and improved Rays.

The Orioles could be fun to watch this year, but they will occasionally let you down like they did yesterday.

As long as we keep that in mind, we should be fine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Road Warriors?

The Orioles did it again.... they mounted another come-from-behind victory yesterday and won their fifth straight to sweep the Mariners in four games.

They are off to their best start at 5-1 since 2000.

No comes the real test: Playing on the road.

In the past, the Orioles have been absolutely dreadful when it came to playing away from the friendly confines of Camden Yards. In 2007 they were 34-47 on the road. In 2006, 30-51.

Now that they are playing well, and given fans reason for hope, playing on the road will offer us a good look at whether this hot start is just another flash in the pan.

Not that Camden Yards is exactly a safe haven, with dwindling attendance and mediocre records at home he last two seasons, but the road has always been a different story for the Orioles.

Today they begin a 3-game series against the Rangers, who are playing their home opener today at 2 p.m. EST. Then the birds travel to Tampa to take on the Rays for three more before returning home to host the Blue Jays (2), White Sox (2) and Yankees (3).

The Rangers and Rays are slated to be two of the lesser teams in the AL, albeit somewhat improved, but if the O's are as good as their 5-1 record, they should be able to pad their record against these teams before returning home to face some better competition.

So, the question remains. Even though the O's are rebuilding, and expectations have been lowered, they've played well and could be better than we thought.

They'll have their chance to prove us wrong yet again, on the road.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Enjoy it while it lasts...

The Orioles have won 4 in a row and haven't lost since Opening Day. All 4 wins have been of the come from behind variety.

The offense has been huge in the clutch. The bullpen has been lights out. The players are happy. And Luis Hernandez is a hero.

It's safe to say that the Orioles Magic that has been covering the city of Baltimore like a warm blanket isn't going to last. The offense will fall silent, the bullpen will blow leads and Luis Hernandez is still Luis Hernandez.

Such things happen over the course of a long, 162 game season.

But that doesn't mean we still can't be happy today. I was at the game yesterday and it will go down as one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had at the Yard.

But like Roderick Thorpe once wrote, nothing lasts forever.

Like it or not, this team is in rebuilding mode. That doesn't translate into a lot of wins. Sure, the Orioles are doing all the little things right now, but what will it be like in the dog days of the summer? How will they play in September?

I believe the Orioles will surprise some people, the way the Marlins did in 2006 and the Nationals in 2007. Both those teams were picked to be among the worst in the majors and they both surprisingly played decent baseball for long stretches of time.

The managers of those teams (Joe Girardi and Manny Acta) are credited for their team's performance in those years, and I think that Dave Trembley could share their company at season's end. Just listen to the man speak, he'll make you all warm and fuzzy inside.

But the O's simply cannot play at this level for long.

And I don't mean to rain on parades. I'm having a blast. I've watched more baseball in one week than I did all last season. But I must be prepared. Because a 6 game losing streak could break out any time, as we've seen time and time again.

Whereas teams like the Yankees and Red Sox seem to live for September and October, the Orioles live for April.

So enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Power Surge

Is the Orioles fax machine on the fritz again? Maybe they haven't gotten the fax that tells them they are supposed to be a 100-loss rebuilding-mode team yet.

Yeah, it's only 3 games into the season. And I'm not foolish enough to think that a 2-game winning streak is going to change this team's outlook this year.

But I will take the wins where I can get them, and tonight's game was another unexpected gem as the Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners 7-4 for their second win of the season.

Steve Trachsel (yeah, that guy) got the first win of the year from the starting rotation, going 5.2 IP with 2 ER. As usual, he walked 2 and struck out only 1. If he's going to walk this tightrope again, get the man a friggin' net. Maybe the O's signed him for a reason after all.

Offensively, the Orioles broke out the bats for the second game in a row, collecting 10 hits and crossing the plate 7 times. But, the surprise of the night was the power display, which saw Kevin Millar, Ramon Hernandez and Melvin Mora each collect their first home runs of the year.

Is it too early to start talking trades?

Apparently Luis Hernandez didn't get a "you must suck" fax either, driving in 2 runs with 2 sacrifice flies. Hernandez did, however, go hitless in the game. But we were reminded why he is here (if you can say that with a straight face), as he flashed the leather pretty well this game, along with Melvin Mora.

And again, the bullpen was impressive. Man it's weird saying that.

Fireballer Dennis Sarfate made Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre look foolish, striking him out to end the 6th. Sarfate went on to pitch in the 7th inning, but looked a little shaky, walking Brad Wilkerson before benefiting from a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. Why the Mariners were sending sloth-like Wilkerson, I don't know. It's like giving Kevin Millar the green-light to steal a base.

Bradford and Walker were their usual reliable selves, going a combined 1.1 IP with no hits or runs allowed.

Manager Dave Trembley wisely brought in Greg Aquino to close out the game in the top of the 9th, as Aquino was the only member of the bullpen not to have seen action thus far. The game was also seemingly out of hand at 7-2. But Aquino struggled, going only 0.1 IP with 3 hits, including giving up a 2 run shot from Rob Deer, I mean Richie Sexson, which closed the gap to 7-4.

After Aquino gave up another hit, Trembley acted swiftly, bringing in flat-brimmed George Sherrill to close out the game, and that he did, earning his second save in as many games.

Aside from Aquino's struggles, there was nothing to complain about. Markakis had a rare bad night, going 0-5 with 2 K's. But it happens to the best of them.

Aubrey Huff missed another home run by mere feet, collecting a double instead. He could easily have 3-4 home runs by now.

The positivity even made it's way out to my neck of the woods, as Orioles star prospect Matt Wieters homered twice for the Frederick Keys. If that is any indication of the kind of year he's going to have, he'll be in Baltimore by season's end.

I know it's early. And I'm not going to get ahead of myself. Not this year. I was fooled by the Orioles' decent April play for the last, oh... 6 years. So it's not going to happen again.

But I will admit, it is nice to see the O's winning games. It doesn't happen all that often.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

O's get first win...

If the Orioles win a game, and no one is there to see it, does it still count?

The Orioles came from behind to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 to earn their first win of the 2008 season in front of approximately 10,000 fans. To say there were half that number in the stands is a gross exaggeration.

But that's beside the point. Attendance is bound to scrape all-time lows this year, at least until some drastic roster changes are made to make the team younger and more exciting.

But the current roster managed to be pretty damn exciting last night. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Daniel Cabrera, making his first start of the year, struggled as usual, with a line of 4 IP, 6 ER, 5 BB, and 2 K. He displayed poor mechanics and struggled with runners on base. Just par for the course for Daniel. If he keeps this up he won't be in the rotation for long with talented prospects in Liz, Penn and Olson down on the farm.

But the offense bailed Cabrera out after being down 3-0 and 6-3 and mounted a rare 8th inning comeback for the win.

Aubrey Huff quieted the boo's from the crowd (he made a disparaging passing remark about Baltimore on a radio show during the offseason) going 2-4 with a triple, a HR and 4 RBI.

Nick Markakis had 2 hits and an RBI and new-comer Adam Jones pitched in, getting his first hit, RBI and stolen base as an Oriole.

After Cabrera was taken out of the game with the bases loaded in the 5th inning, Rule 5 draft pick Randor Bierd came in and looked great, getting out of the inning allowing only one run to score, which was on a double play. He pitched a scoreless 6th inning too. Chad Bradford pitched a scoreless 7th and Jamie Walker earned the win when he pitched a scoreless 8th.

Flat-brimmed closer, George Sherrill, pitched a nerve-wracking 9th inning, walking two batters, but he was able to close the game without any damage. He looks like a cross between Randy Myers and B.J. Ryan.

After 2 games, the bullpen looks much-improved from last season.

And one has to enjoy each win as much as they can, because they are sure to be rare this season.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Which Cabrera shows up tonight?

Tonight, the Orioles try to bounce back from their Opening Day loss against the new-look Tampa Bay Rays when Daniel Cabrera takes the mound opposite Matt Garza.

Cabrera has been the subject of much debate and hand-wringing in O's nation ever since Cabrera came up in 2004.

The 6 foot, 7 inch right-hander throws the ball hard, but seems to not know where it's going most of the time. He's infamous for his pitching line which usually includes a high rate of walks to go along with his high rate of strikeouts.

He's even been called Daniel CaBBrera in some parts. And deservedly so.

One of the most interesting questions of 2008 is how Cabrera will perform. His 2007 campaign was the worst of his career (5.55 ERA), although he did manage to collect a career-high 204 IP. But even more worrisome, Daniel struck out less and was hit harder than ever before.

Former pitching coach Leo Mazzone may have played a part in Cabrera's struggles, as Mazzone was a "pitch my way" kind of guy. New pitching coach Rick Kranitz wants pitchers to pitch to their strengths, and Cabrera seems to work better under this tutelage as he worked well with Ray Miller, who was cut from the same cloth as Kranitz.

Everyone says that Cabrera needs to gain more control, but what he really needs to do is miss more bats. He's always going to walk batters, we need to accept that. But Cabrera can be successful as long as he learns to pitch with runners on base. If he can do that, he might finally become the dominant pitcher we all hope he can be.

Tonight is just one game, but if Cabrera comes out and pitches well, he could set the tone for his coming out season. And with former ace Erik Bedard now pitching in Seattle, the O's are going to need Cabrera to step up in a big way.

And in a season that is sure to be lacking in just about everything except losses, watching which Daniel Cabrera shows up in 2008 will at least be interesting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

O's sign Cintron

You couldn't expect the Orioles to go with Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey at SS for the entire season, much less the entire month of April. So it should come as no surprise that the Orioles inked former Arizona and Chicago (AL) switch-hitting shortstop Alex Cintron to a MiL deal.

He'll start the season in Norfolk (AAA) but he's almost guaranteed to be Hernandez's replacement within a few weeks.

Cintron is nothing special, having posted a .605 OPS last year in 185 AB's. But even those horrid numbers should be a slight improvement over Luis Hernandez.

On the bright side, Cintron posted a .702 OPS in 2006 and has a career .716 OPS, so if he bounces back from his down year in 2007, Cintron could look like Miguel Tejada out there, compared to the likes of Hernandez and Fahey.

But the fact remains, the Orioles are as strong at SS as Glass Joe in Mike Tyson's Punch Out.

Opening Slay

The 2008 campaign kicked off yesterday with a 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the cold rain. The entire day should be a sign of things to come.

We're in for a long season.

The Orioles started off excitedly, scoring 2 runs in the first inning off Rays starter James Shields, but then reverted back to form, being shut out for the remainder of the game, collecting 6 hits total.

Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles' ace-in-name-only, looked completely different than his 2007 self, allowing 9 hits in 5.1 IP to go with his 5 ER. He walked 1 and struck out 2.

Anyone miss Bedard yet?

Just kidding.

The Orioles are going to be bad this year. Really bad. Especially as long as Luis Hernandez (0-2, 1 K) is in the everyday line-up. The sooner they purge themselves of scrubs like Hernandez and Fahey, and veterans in Huff, Millar and Payton, they'll be a better, younger team.

It'll happen soon.

For now, just grin and bear it. Good things come to those who wait.

The good news is that the bullpen pitched extremely well. Matt Albers retired all 8 batters he faced and Burres pitched a scoreless 9th. Also, Roberts collected 2 hits, stole third base but was thrown out trying to steal second. The Cubs have to still be watching, and Roberts is bound to put on a good show until the day he is traded.

So while most of the yesterday was forgettable, it reminds us that we shouldn't be watching for wins and losses. We should be watching individual performance, and hoping that one day it will all come together, resulting in plenty of wins.

But it would still be nice to have Baltimore on those away jerseys at times like this.


The Orioles proved once again that they are determined to get better and build for the future when they released Jay Gibbons on the last day of spring training. Gibbons is still owed $12 million over the next 2 years.

In the past, the Orioles would have kept a player like Gibbons and crowbarred him into the line-up, no matter who he'd be taking AB's from, to justify paying him.

But O's fans can rest assured, perhaps more than ever, because Andy MacPhail is making the right moves, no matter how much it is costing owner Peter Angelos, in releasing players like Gibbons.

This move allows utility player Scott Moore to be on the roster, and to see whether or not he has a role on this team now and in the future. (Moore had a career .793 MiL OPS)

Gibbons, had no role. His OF defense was average at best, meaning he was stuck as a back-up DH who couldn't hit. Moore, can play 3B, 2B, some OF and had a great spring offensively.

I do wish Gibbons the best. He seemed like a decent guy who played hard. Perhaps a little too hard, as he was named in the Mitchell Report for dabbling with steroids. He was also very injury-prone. Maybe another team picks him up at the minimum and tries him off the bench or at DH. I wouldn't be surprised to see him bounce back from his miserable 2007 campaign. But then again I wouldn't be surprised to see him out of baseball in a few months.

But no matter how good he is, now or in the future, Jay Gibbons had no role on the 2008 Baltimore Orioles. So Andy MacPhail ate the money and made the move that needed to be made.

And it's nice to finally see the Orioles start doing that.