Thursday, April 30, 2009
And two nights ago, he took to the mound again.
Which Adam Eaton showed up? The Eaton who’d been terrible in the first two starts or the Eaton who seemed to have everything working against the White Sox?
The answer? Neither.
Eaton clearly didn’t have the stuff he had against the White Sox when he faced the Angels. He allowed 5 ER, walked 4 batters, struck out only 2 (he’d had 19 K’s in his first 17 IP) and gave up 6 hits. Almost half of his 109 pitches were for balls.
But the most important thing was that he went 6 IP. He saved the bullpen that costly extra inning. And even though the Orioles lost 7-5, Eaton was able to give the Orioles what they needed from him the most – 6 innings while keeping the team in the game.
Eaton will not be in the rotation come September. But until he is replaced, the best we can hope for is that Eaton keeps the team in the game and eats innings. And in his last 2 starts, he has.
You can’t say the same for Mark Hendrickson.
In 4 starts, Hendrickson has only gone 18 IP, which averages out to a little less than 5 IP per start. Hendrickson has also allowed 7 home runs, which is the most in the majors.
And even when Hendrickson has pitched “well” and kept the Orioles in the game, he’s thrown a lot of pitches and seems to always be on the verge of disaster with men on base in seemingly every inning he pitches. His WHIP is an alarming 1.96.
Hendrickson was signed to be a reliever, a role in which he’s succeeded in the past, so the faster the O’s can move him into the bullpen, the better. Lurch faces Roy Halliday and the first place Blue Jays on Friday night.
The Bottom Line: Eaton will be mediocre to bad, but justifiable given the Orioles' circumstances. On the other hand, the tight-rope that Hendrickson has been tip-toeing across up until now is about to snap.
I’d lobbied for Chris Waters to take over for one of Eaton or Mark Hendrickson, but Waters looks to be struggling at Norfolk, with a 4.50 ERA and more walks (11) than K’s (9). David Pauley, however, seems like he could be a good replacement, with a 3.00 ERA, 8 K’s and 3 BB. But perhaps the best replacement of them all is David Hernandez. The flamethrower has an ERA of 3.07, and more importantly, 23 K’s to only 5 BB. Many view Hernandez as a potential reliever in the majors, but there is no reason why Hernandez can’t get a shot as a starter first.
The Orioles finished the month of April with a 3-2 loss to the California Angels (I’m still refusing to buy into the LA Angels of Anaheim or whatever they’re called these days) and are currently 9-13, which is good for 4th place and 5.5 games out of first place. They’ve lost 11 out of their last 14 games after starting 6-2.
Overall, this is about where we should have expected the Orioles to be record-wise at the end of April. Maybe they are even a little ahead of where we thought they’d be. But that still doesn’t make it OK, since their losses are usually the result of boneheaded baserunning mistakes and errors.
That said, it still doesn’t feel like the Orioles are playing with a full deck. Matt Wieters has yet to be called up. Nolan Reimold is currently tearing up AAA Norfolk and looks to be an improvement over the struggling Felix Pie. And Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson should at some point be replaced in the rotation by Chris Waters, David Pauley, David Hernandez or Troy Patton.
Looking on the bright side of things, Koji Uehara looks to be a great signing and a stabilizing force in a rotation held together by orange-colored duct tape. But other than Uehara, the rotation is a mess. Even the usual zen-like calming presence of Jeremy Guthrie has had trouble being effective (5.40 ERA, 16K, 11 BB).
In the bullpen, the positives are almost as slim as they are in the rotation. Jim Johnson (3.00 ERA), picked up where he left off from last year before getting hurt. Danys Baez, who was on the verge of being released before opening day, is the team’s most effective reliever with a 3.00 ERA, 11 K and 2 BB in 12 IP.
On offense, the top 3 are on fire. Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are hitting a combined .365 with 66 runs, 8 HR and all have an OBP of .420 or higher. The middle of the line-up has performed well with Melvin Mora healthy, but the bottom 3 (Greg Zaun .111, Pie .157, Caesar Izturis .242) have been absolutely dreadful. The Orioles can’t afford to wait for Wieters much longer and it’s becoming clearer that Reimold might be needed to replace Pie sooner than we thought.
Manager Dave Trembley has also not helped matters much. His mismanagement of the bullpen is troubling at times. He’s forced Baez, Chris Ray and George Sherrill into 7th, 8th and 9th inning pitchers respectively, regardless of match-ups. Not to mention these roles could wear them out quickly. Trembley utilizes the hit and run with an offense built for doubles and home runs and it results in running the Orioles out of potential big innings. Before the season he also left me scratching my head by saying that Reimold needed to work on his bunting skills (he currently has 6 HR in Norfolk to go with an OPS of 1.212). Why the obsession with small ball? And his speeches about fundamentals and “playing the game the right way” don’t materialize on the field (the Orioles lead the AL in errors with 15).
To be fair, the Orioles did face a tough schedule in April even though most of their games were at home (NYY, TB, @TEX, @ BOS, CWS, TEX, LAA). It seemed like every team they faced had a stacked line-up that gave our pitchers fits. Maybe things will eventually even off at some point. But as April has come to an end its hard to put your finger on this team. There are a few things to like and a lot of things to hate. But overall this still feels like an incomplete team.
Right now the Orioles are like the student who hands in the first 2 pages of a 3-page essay. When the teacher asks him where the 3rd page is, the kid shrugs his shoulders and says, “it’ll get here soon. Chill out”.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Ravens only had 6 draft picks total in the NFL Draft this past weekend, but they did a lot with a little, despite not adding any flashy skill position players.
Scouting reports courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
Michael Oher, OT – Ole Miss – 23rd, 1st Round
The Good: The total package at tackle. Possesses a big, strong-looking frame with long arms and a well-built upper and lower body. Displays an explosive first step and can consistently get outside and reach speed rushers. Excellent lateral mobility and feet. Plays low with good leverage and exhibits a powerful punch on contact. The most upside of any tackle in the group.
The Bad: Has had some well-documented learning disabilities and may need his fair share of reps at the next level. Isn’t as consistent as you’d like to see; seems to have lapses in concentration vs. lower level competition.
Paul Kruger, DE – Utah – 25th, 2nd Round
The Good: A tough, hard-working defensive end with a long frame and impressive straight-line speed for his size. Has a good first step off the edge and uses his length and strong upper body to shed blocks and chase the ball from the backside. Has a nose for the quarterback and showcases impressive closing speed in pursuit of the ball.
The Bad: Gets a bit high at times off the edge, which causes him to struggle shedding blocks. Looks a bit lean and could stand to add some weight and power in his lower half.
Lardarius Webb, CB – Nicholls State – 24th, 3rd Round
The Good: A versatile athlete who has played quarterback for one game,as well as: wide receiver, kick return punt return, safety, and corner. A playmaking ballhawk with superior hands, ball skills and he loves to hit. His natural position is safety but can play nickel and corner because he can cover in man. Also a good punt blocker and gunner on the punt team. He has the range and everything else except the frame you'd like to see, he can be a reserve right away at any position in the secondary. In addition to 4.46 40 speed his 6.77, 3-Cone and 4.1 in the short shuttle all illustrate his quickness.
The Bad: Lean frame, I have seen him listed at 205, but I just don't see it. I think he's much less than that: 190-187 at most. He also needs to be as good at and solid in reading play action as he is is in other areas. Like most top CB/safety prospects at this level he is very nosy and can get out of position trying to do too much. He weighed in at 179 at the combine to be a FS he'll need at least 10-15 lbs.
Jason Phillips, LB – TCU – 1st, 5th Round
The Good: A tough, instinctive linebacker who plays with passion and physicality on every play. Showcases ideal straight-line speed toward the perimeter and works hard in pursuit. Has the athleticism to run sideline to sideline and make plays outside the tackles. Displays good awareness in zone coverage and does a good job reading his keys. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and is always flowing toward the ball.
The Bad: Isn’t real powerful in his lower body and struggles exploding though his hips. Is a bit stiff in space and doesn’t redirect or get out of his breaks cleanly. Tends to over-pursue and struggles breaking down in space and making consist plays on the ball.
Devon Drew, TE – East Carolina – 12th, 5th Round
The Good: A good-looking athlete with wide shoulders and an explosive first step. Demonstrates good flexibility and burst out of his stance and seems to reach top speed quickly. Is very sudden in and out of his breaks and has the body control to separate down the field. Has the frame to add even more strength and can certainly develop as a blocker.
The Bad: Will have the occasion drop and lapse of concentration over the middle. Doesn’t line up as a down tight end and will need to work on his blocking techniques. Has a tendency to lose his balance too easily, and his block is shed too easily.
Cedric Peerman, RB – Virginia – 10th, 6th Round
The Good: A physical back who runs with good power and leg drive between the tackles. Showcases good vision and instincts at the line of scrimmage and does a nice job reading his blocks. Displays quick feet and flexibility when changing directions in space. Runs with a good pad level and can break tackles inside. Possesses a good first step attacking the hole.
The Bad: Plays at one speed, isn’t a home run threat and lacks a second gear once he gets into the secondary. Has a tendency to fumble inside, and concerns surround his small hands and short arms.
Although none of these moves were flashy, they improve the depth on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the secondary and at linebacker.
With the selection of Devon Drew, The TE position looks to get crowded with Todd Heap, L.J. Smith and Quinn Sypniewski already on the roster and RB Cedric Peerman looks to be a Special Teams player with Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and Ray Rice returning at RB.
However, the Ravens failed to upgrade the WR position, which they would still like to do, but not at the steep cost it would take to land Anquan Boldin. When Darius Heyward-Bey was surprisingly selected 8th overall by the Oakland Raiders, it killed any chance of the Ravens trading up to get him. Now the Ravens will have to wait to see who is released or try to hammer out a trade for a WR.
But at least it looks like Joe Flacco will have some more time to throw with the addition of Oher, which should help improve the passing game instantly.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I’ve been a very vocal detractor of Adam Eaton and his being on the Orioles. I feel like he’s no better than Chris Waters or David Pauley at this stage in his career. Eaton hasn’t had an ERA below 5 since 2005. And even though he’s only 31, it seems like his best years are behind him.
Then he went out last night and pitched a gem in a 6-2 win over the White Sox.
7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB and 9 K.
In his two previous starts, Eaton hadn’t gotten out of the 5th inning because of high pitch counts -- not to mention being shelled -- allowing a total of 10 ER in 8 IP. He had walked 4 batters and seemed to not know where his pitches were going.
That all changed last night.
And while Eaton’s fastball barely topped out at 90 MPH, he kept White Sox hitters off balance all night, including whiffing Jim Thome 3 times. If Eaton didn’t have much velocity on his pitches, he must have had a ton of movement on them to earn 9 K against a powerful and experienced White Sox line-up.
Going forward, I wouldn’t expect too many starts like this from Eaton. It seems like everything came together for him for one magical night. But... his strikeout totals (19 K in 15.1 IP) are a big positive. Even in 8 horrible innings before last night, he’d struck out 10 batters. So even when nothing else was working for him, he was still able to rack up some K’s. And Eaton is not a strikeout pitcher, so his ability to strike batters out at a 11 K/per 9 IP is very interesting -- and encouraging.
So, what does that tell us?
It tells us that Eaton may not be the human shield of a pitcher we all thought he was. Eaton is still the first or second pitcher to go once Troy Patton or Chris Tillman is ready to be called up. But if he can have just half the stuff he had last night going forward, he can be a useful stop-gap until the kids are ready while keeping the Orioles in most games in the meantime.
Ty Wigginton finally collected his first extra-base hit last night as well as an RBI... Felix Pie collected two hits, both singles, and even went to opposite field for one of them. He continues to look hot and cold at the plate.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Orioles desperately needed Brad Bergesen to step up in his MLB debut, throw strikes and keep the team in the game.
Thankfully, he did that and more.
Bergesen almost single-handedly erased the stale taste of a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox by pitching a very solid 5.2 innings last night in a huge 10-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.
He scattered 4 hits, gave up 1 ER, struck out 4 and walked 2. He worked fast and kept the ball down in the zone. And during a night with rain delays, Bergesen was a ray of sunshine.
For once, an O’s prospect came to the show and used what got him there. Garret Olson and Radhames Liz, both former O’s prospects, were strike throwers in the minors, yet when they came to the majors they looked completely lost on the mound. (Olson was traded during the last offseason and Liz was optioned back to Norfolk with very little promise left.)
Not Bergesen. He was always in command. With men on, he pitched smoothly from the stretch and even after Ty Wigginton made an error to keep an inning going with runners on, Bergesen buckled down and got the next batter to end the threat.
Bergesen proved that drafting pitchers, not throwers, pays off more times than not. And Bergesen seems to have a stone-cold mentality. Chicago’s stacked middle of the order didn’t seem to phase him.
Bergesen may not be a phenom, but he can be a very solid backend starter for the O’s, now and for the future.
After scoring only 2 runs in the last 24 innings, the O’s bats returned to form yesterday, collecting 12 hits and scoring 10 runs... Aubrey Huff had a monster game with 2 HR and 4 RBI. His first home run came within a few feet of hitting the warehouse... Nick Markakis continued his tear to start the season with 4 hits and 2 RBI bring his total to a major leage leading 18... Luis Montanez, called up from Norfolk to replace Ryan Freel who was placed on the DL, got into the action with an RBI double... Ty Wigginton had a bad night, committing an error at 3B and going 0-5. He has yet to collect an extra base hit... Felix Pie went 0-3 with a BB and is currently batting .135... The Orioles' bullpen allowed only 2 bare runners in 3.1 IP... James Johnson struck out the side in the 8th inning... Brian Bass pitched a scoreless 9th and hasn't allowed a run in his last 3 IP after allowing 12 ER in his last 7.1 IP.
Monday, April 20, 2009
One of the beauties of baseball is that the game does not discriminate. Beating the stuffing out of a club like the Baltimore Orioles means every bit as much as a win over the Tampa Bay Rays, or New York Yankees, or Los Angeles Angels.
At least during the regular season.
Owners of a 3-6 record and seemingly inept offense just four days ago, the Red Sox completed a weekend block party with a 12-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles today at Fenway Park. For the four games -- which included Baltimore starter Koji Uehara’s nifty performance on Sunday -- the Sox batted .328 and slugged an absurd .547. They scored more runs against the uh-O’s (30) than they did against everyone else during the first eight games of the season (29).
Good thing, too. If the Sox couldn’t hammer this pitching staff, we’d have some serious worrying to do.
"That’s why you don’t panic the first two weeks of the season," Sox manager Terry Francona said when asked specifically about the performance of Nos. 1 and 2 hitters, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, who went a combined 7 for 12 with six runs scored today. "You look up, at one point Jacoby’s hitting .275, then Pedey the same thing. We say it every year but it happens. Everything gets blown out of proportion and you just try to play good baseball because, at some point in the season when you start logging enough at-bats and innings, you get into the grind. And if you’re good, it shows.’’
And if you’re bad, it shows even more.
Case in point: the Orioles, who were 6-3 when they arrived at Fenway and subsequently pitched as if playing pin-the-tail-on-donkey. Minus Uehara’s game on Sunday, Baltimore pitchers walked 17 batters in 24 innings, an average of 6.4 walks per nine. Kevin Youkilis alone reached base 10 times in the series and walked three times in the finale, when the Orioles clearly decided they would not provide him a platform for Triple Crown candidacy.
Capisce? The Orioles pitching is not bad. It is positively wretched. Baltimore’s ace -- and we use that term very loosely -- is Jeremy Guthrie, who might have difficulty beating out Brad Penny for the fifth spot in the Boston rotation. As a result, Baltimore’s best chance at a victory may have come Friday night, when the Orioles staked him to a 7-0 lead in the second inning.
As it turned out, Guthrie and the Orioles blew the kind of lead that it is virtually impossible for any major league team to blow.
Along the way -- especially today -- the Orioles showed that they cannot play defense very well, either, which is a combustible formula for a team with a bad pitching staff.
"You’ve got to have all three elements to give yourself a chance to win. You’ve got to pitch well, you’ve got to play good defense, you’ve got to have timely hitting,’’ said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "Some of the balls today found some holes. Some others were a little unfortunate. I think it’s just part of the game and you go from there, but we’re all very much aware of the importance of the fundamentals.’’
Executing them, however, is another matter entirely. (At times like this, Trembley may want to remember the legendary words of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay. Asked about his team’s execution following an unsightly loss, McKay replied: "I’m in favor of it.’’)
For the Red Sox, there is good news on several fronts from all of this, not the least of which is a restoration of the club’s offensive swagger. Entering the eighth inning of Tim Wakefield’s masterpiece at Oakland last week -- and that game is looking bigger by the moment -- the Sox were batting a mere .234 on the season with 32 runs scored in their first 81 innings. Since that time, the Sox have batted .338 with 36 runs in 34 innings, the last 32 of which came against the Orioles.
Further, the Sox still have 14 games left with Baltimore this season, including 11 in what amounts to the latter half of the schedule. Assuming the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees beat up on one another as much as we all expect this season, victories over clubs like Baltimore will be of particular importance. The fact that the Sox took all four games of the series certainly bodes well for their ability to beat up on the Orioles when they need to. Giving away games to teams like Baltimore could prove costly in the end, particularly when one considers where the Orioles rate in the much bigger picture.
Baltimore, after all, may not be merely the worst team in the American League East this season. The O’s might be the worst team in the entire American League.
Unfortunately for them, others -- like the Sox -- will find great satisfaction in kicking them when they’re down.
Other than saying Jeremy Guthrie would have trouble beating out Brad Penny for a spot on the Red Sox rotation, there is nothing you can really disagree with here.
And what's with Dave Trembley's blahzay response to the errors the O's made all weekend? For someone who has "preached" fundamentals and playing the game the right way, no one is holding players accountable for their mistakes.
All I can say is thank God this series is over.
Brad Bergesen is making his MLB debut tomorrow against the White Sox in Camden Yards.
In 480 innings in the minors, Bergesen has compiled a 3.75 ERA, 307 K's (5.79 K/9) to 87 BB's (1.6 BB/9). Bottom line he's a control pitcher who doesn't strike a lot of batters out. So to have success, he'll have to keep the ball low in the zone and stay ahead of hitters in the count.
We saw what happened with Garret Olson last year, a guy who like Bergesen, didn't have overwhelming stuff. Olson nibbled a lot, fell behind in a lot of counts and was forced to throw a hitter's pitch. More times than not, the hitters made him pay for it.
Hopefully Bergesen has a more aggressive mentality and trusts his stuff.
One thing that will have to improve for Bergesen to have success: the defense. The O's have made some costly errors recently and with a pitch-to-contact guy in Bergesen, they'll need to stay on their toes. Bergesen isn't the kind of guy who can come back from an error with a strikeout to end an inning.
It'll be interesting to see how Bergesen does tomorrow, that's for sure. Hopefully he looks good enough to become a fixture in the O's rotation as it transforms into what we hope is a rotation that will allow the O's to contend for the playoffs.
It’s pouring in Baltimore while the O’s are about to be swept in 4 games by the Red Sox in Boston.
It’s hard to believe this team was at one time 6-2, isn’t it?
Anyway, the injuries are starting to mount. That’s always good. Adam Jones left the game on Sunday due to tightness in his hamstring. It’s the same thing that will delay Matt Wieters’ promotion to the big leagues for at least another week. Thankfully for both Jones and Wieters, it’s only supposed to be a day-to-day injury but who knows.
Then Ryan Freel was plunked in the head during a pick-off attempt, and was motionless on the ground for some time. He had to be walked off the field. If he’s suffered a concussion, he’ll be headed to the DL as well.
At least Mark Hendrickson pitched decently. And by decent I mean it took him 102 pitches to get 15 outs, and allowed 3 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks.
At that point it was 3-1 Boston. And in the top of the 6th, the Orioles had runners on first and second with 1 out. And what does Ty Wigginton promptly do? You guessed it, ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 6th the defense promptly choked and Boston did what Boston always does when the other team makes mistakes – they took advantage of it and are now leading the O’s 11-1 in the... scratch that... 12-1 in the bottom of the 7th.
By the way, remember that awesome offense we were supposed to have? The O's have scored 2 runs in the last 22 innings.
The bullpen is a mess. Dennis Sarfate 3 ER... Radhames Liz 6 ER and a trip back to Norfolk. Maybe Liz will pass Brad Bergesen on his way. Bergesen will make his MLB deubt tomorrow against the White Sox at Camden Yards.
At this point, it’s hard to care.
It’s only 3 weeks into the season and the Orioles look like they are in mid-August form.
Bergesen... Wieters... Reimold... are they enough reason to watch?
I really don’t know anymore.
And to make matters worse -- it's still only Monday.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Word is the Ravens are considering trading for Cardinals disgruntled wide-receiver Anquan Boldin.
Right now the Cardinals are asking for a first and third round pick for Boldin. If these picks are taken from the 2009 draft, it would leave the Ravens with only 4 picks on draft day.
Boldin is the #1 WR the Ravens have needed for years, but he doesn’t come without risks. In six seasons he’s played 16 games only twice, and he’s missed 4 games in each of the last 2 seasons.
Then there are the attitude problems. Boldin was seen complaining to coaches and throwing towels on the sidelines during the 2008 playoffs. Will that emotional baggage come with him? Or does he leave it in Arizona?
Joe Flacco could desperately use a huge target like Boldin in 2009 to go along with Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. But it’s unlikely the Ravens part with the draft picks it would take to land him. Since the Ravens moved to Baltimore, they have put more stock in the draft than probably any other organization in the NFL.
However, if the Ravens are ever to have a bona fide #1 WR, they’re probably not going to be drafting him. The Ravens have never drafted a WR that has had 1,000 yards receiving in a season and until they drafted Flacco, QB and WR were the positions the Ravens still seem to have trouble evaluating in the draft.
If the Ravens are in deed looking to upgrade at the WR position, and they should be, a smarter route would be to pursue the Bengals’ Chad Johnson. Johnson is coming off a bad season, largely due to the fact that Carson Palmer missed most of the season and the Bengals blackballed him after Johnson’s public outbursts.
The Bengals had their chance to unload Johnson last year, but turned down the Redskins’ offer of 2 first rounders for Chad. Cincinnati is reportedly still asking for a first round pick for Johnson, but there’s no chance the Bengals will get that kind of return. Johnson is still a good receiver, but is getting older (he’s 31), and despite the legit excuses for his down year in 2008, it’s unlikely that he has another 1,400 yard receiving season.
But Johnson will rebound with a chance of scenery, and I think Baltimore is about the best change of scenery Chad could ask for.
Well, today is officially the day the Orioles can call up Matt Wieters without starting his 2009 service clock, meaning they’ll buy themselves another year of having Wieters under their control.
In case it sounds like a shady way to do business, the Tampa Bay Rays did it with Evan Longoria last year. Oh and Scott Boras is Wieters’ agent, so all's fair in love and war.
But the question remains: when will the Orioles call up Matt Wieters?
It doesn’t look to be any time this weekend, even though the Orioles could use his bat in a 4-game series in Boston.
The earliest call-up could be this Tuesday, when the Orioles come home to play the White Sox. The O’s will probably want to take advantage of the PR that comes with Wieters beginning his career before Oriole fans. Waiting until Tuesday may also help ease Wieters into the major leagues instead of throwing him into the Fenway fire.
One thing is for sure, however, and that is Wieters is ready to play the majors. He’ll improve the line-up instantly and by the end of the season, should become the middle-of-the-order power bat that the Orioles have lacked for years.
It’s just a matter of whether or not Andy MacPhail wants to continue his ultra-conservative approach of not rushing players, or whether MacPhail believes Wieters is ready for the big show.
But he’ll be here soon, it’s just a matter of when.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sun 9/13 Kansas City 1:00 pm
Sun 9/20 at San Diego 4:15 pm
Sun 9/27 Cleveland 1:00 pm
Sun 10/4 at New England 1:00 pm
Sun 10/11 Cincinnati 1:00 pm
Sun 10/18 at Minnesota 1:00 pm
Sun 11/1 Denver 1:00 pm
Sun 11/8 at Cincinnati 1:00 pm
Mon 11/16 at Cleveland 8:30 pm
Sun 11/22 Indianapolis 1:00 pm
Sun 11/29 Pittsburgh 8:20 pm
Mon 12/7 at Green Bay 8:30 pm
Sun 12/13 Detroit 1:00 pm
Sun 12/20 Chicago 1:00 pm
Sun 12/27 at Pittsburgh 1:00 pm
Sun 1/3 at Oakland 4:15 pm
• A very winnable home opener against a non-divisional team in Kansas City. Although the Chiefs traded for Matt Cassell and were pretty decent on offense in 2008, against the Ravens they are still extremely overmatched on both sides of the ball.
• The first three home games are pretty easy (KC, CLE, CIN), but they are matched by the challenge of three first road games (@SD, @NE, @MIN).
• The Ravens will get their first shot at home against the Steelers in a primetime game since 2003. Maybe looking like wusses by asking the NFL to avoid scheduling a BAL @ PIT primetime game paid off after all.
• I don’t like closing out the season with 2 games on the road, including a trip to the west coast. I don’t know how many other teams close out the season with 2 road games, but I bet it’s not many.
• Three primetime games in 4 weeks. America might get as sick of the Ravens as they are the Steelers, Cowboys and Patriots.
• A very early pre-draft prediction: 11-5.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Well, the O’s are doing it again.
They’re teasing us with their typical decent play to start the season. Who needs September and October when you’ve got April in Baltimore? What’s the name of that Who song? We won’t be fooled again? Well, here I am, a smile on my face, writing another blog entry and looking forward to watching no-name starting pitcher Alfredo Simon and the 5-2 Orioles take on the Rangers tonight at 8 p.m.
So I’ll be fooled again and like it.
But I’m not blind. I know that the Orioles have a team ERA of 6.10. I know that the wins will not last.
But, at least there is something to look forward to each night – the offense.
So far, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff have been deadly at the top of the line-up. Felix Pie is also fun to watch, and collected 3 hits last night including his first home run as an Oriole.
The patented weak bench of Oriole past is finally gone now that decent players like Ty Wigginton, Luke Scott and Ryan Freel are available on most nights.
Oh and in case you forgot, that doesn’t even factor in ultra-prospect Matt Wieters, who the O’s can call up on Friday, and avoid starting his service clock in 2009.
So while the O’s pitching has been pretty bad thus far, their hitting has been just as good, and looks to get better. And there is pitching help on the way.
Just a week in, there are already roster moves begging to be made.
Relief pitcher Brian Bass has just 5.1 IP, and has already allowed 10 ER. He’s as good as gone. The O’s made a mistake by sending down Matt Albers instead of DFAing Bass when they needed to activate Adam Eaton, but that mistake can be erased be recalling Albers in a week and releasing Bass, who will almost certainly pass through waivers and be optioned to Norfolk.
Utility man Ryan Freel is a decent guy to have around. He can play anywhere, gets on base and then steals them pretty well. However, with Wigginton and Roberto Andino on the roster, Freel is redundant. The O’s could trade or release Freel tomorrow and it wouldn’t impact the team at all. Meanwhile, OF Nolan Reimold is off to a hot start in Norfolk and could share AB’s with Pie if he is promoted to Baltimore to take the place of Freel.
So here we are again. The first week of the season is over and the O’s are battling for first place. Would you have April any other way?