Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Orioles beat the Yankees last night, 5-4, in what could be the start to their first winning streak of the season. They beat the Red Sox to avoid a sweep in Fenway on Sunday, 7-6.
Two in a row! YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
The Orioles, however, looked shaky in both wins, coming close to blowing each one. Go back to their first win of the season in Tampa, and you'll remember that the Orioles could have easily blown that 5-4 win too.
If a handful of pitches go differently, this team could only have 1 win.
But a win is a win. I'll take it. And when they come against the Red Sox and Yankees in consecutive games, it's cause to celebrate.
Last night the O's rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the 6th inning, scoring 3 runs with 2 outs to take the lead. They also tacked on another run in the bottom of the 8th to increase the lead to 5-2, and they were lucky they did because that Katz insurance run was the difference.
Cesar Izturis was in the middle of the scoring, with 3 RBI on the night. Yes, you read that right.
The other unlikely hero was Alfredo Simon. Yes, you read that right too.
Having been called up earlier that day, Simon came in in the top of the 9th to close out the game. Simon, you might remember, was an Orioles starter to begin the 2009 season, but an elbow injury caused him to miss the rest of the season after only 2 starts. Last night he looked completely healthy, with his fastball touching 97 MPH with some great movement. He also struck out Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter while notching his first major league save of his career.
His save didn't come without some hiccups, though. After striking out Granderson to start the inning, Simon gave up a base hit to Nick Swisher and then walked Nick Johnson, who has the best batting eye in the game. Simon then fanned Derek Jeter before Cesar Izturis misplayed a Brett Gardner ground ball, which allowed a runner to score. A Mark Teixiera base hit plated another run, making the game 5-4 with Alex Rodriguez coming to the plate.
I'll be honest. At that point, I was ready to turn the game off and go to bed, sure the O's would blow another win. But with the first pitch, Simon got Rodriguez to ground out to Julio Lugo to end the game.
Thank freaking God.
When I saw Simon warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the 8th inning, I thought Dave Trembley had completely lost it. Here was Simon, making his 2010 debut as a closer against the Yankees. But Simon apparently asked Trembley for the ball when he arrived in Baltimore, and Trembley obliged.
So is Simon the Orioles' new closer? Not so fast, but apparently he as the mentality and the fastball to succeed in the role. And he was a former closer in the minors. So it's not something completely new to the 28-year-old.
Trembley has said he will go with who is pitching well in the bullpen -- no more roles -- which is probably for the best right now considering the bullpen's unreliable nature since the start of the season. Just let whoever is pitching keep pitching until they aren't getting batters out any more.
The Orioles may still be a dreadful 4-16, and Trembley may be on his way out, but at least he, and the Orioles, are going to go out swinging.
Kevin Millwood went 5.1 IP with 4 K and 3 BB. His ERA on the season is 3.38. LHP Alberto Castillo pitched 1.2 innings of shutout baseball, striking out 3. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Rhyne Hughes and Nolan Reimold each had an RBI.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I uttered those words last night when MASN was showing the 1997 Divisional Playoff win against the Seattle Mariners.
It was the game when Davey Johnson removed all left-handed hitters from the O's line-up and replaced them with the likes of Jerome Walton and Jeff Reboulet because Randy Johnson was pitching. And it paid off -- the Orioles' right-handed line up beat Johnson twice en route to winning the series.
And even in the afterglow of a rare Orioles win, just their third in nineteen games, I couldn't bear to watch a game from the good old days when Mike Mussina was our ace and our bullpen could actually protect a lead. And seeing Davey Johnson in the dugout...Man, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Watching that game was like looking at a picture of your wife from your wedding. She was so good looking back then. Nice hair, pretty face, big boobs and an ass shaped like an upside-down heart.
Now, she looks like someone from The People of Wal-Mart website. Going bald, busted grill, boobs down to her knees, and an ass the size of a Chevy Nova.
You'd think I would find comfort in the past during times like these, but I can't. It just hurts too much.
Every time I see Mussina in an Orioles uniform, I think of his ugly divorce from the O's and his second marriage. Every time I see Davey Johnson, I think of Johnson being to resign because Peter Angelos didn't like that Johnson donated the fine money paid by Roberto Alomar to one of Johnson's favorite charities. And every time I hear Jon Miller calling an O's game I can't help but remember how Angelos ran him out of town because he didn't bleed orange and black.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the Orioles -- Peter Angelos' warts and all.
But don't expect me to watch classic games when I had faith in the team to win every game, instead of expecting them to lose every single one, like I do now.
It was as unlikely as it was unfair of fans to hold the Orioles to those best-case-scenario expectations.
And while a dismal 3-16 start has all but erased even the most level-headed fans' hopes, there can still be something to be gained from the 2010 season in Baltimore.
Call it temporary optimism after an Orioles win. Call it whatever you want.
At the beginning of the season, I'd hoped that the Orioles would crack .500. And I literally meant "crack". I thought an 82 win season (.502) was not out of the question. But then 3-16 happened and I was forced to re-evaluate my prediction. After all, in order for the O's to win 82 games, they would have to go 79-64 for the remainder of the season. That's .556 baseball over a 143 game stretch, folks. It is simply not going to happen in Baltimore this year.
But, I still think the Orioles can improve upon last season. You know, the one where they won only 64 games and a 4-game winning streak to end the season allowed them to avoid the first 100-loss season since 1988.
After a 3-16 start, I am doubting whether the Orioles can even improve upon 64 wins. The bullpen is still a disaster (thanks in part to Dave Trembley's mis-management) and up until the last 2 games, the Orioles offense was non-existent. But at least now the offense is showing signs of life. And since the starting pitching has been solid, I don't think it is out of the question to still hope that the Orioles can actually improve upon last year.
So I am setting the bar at 10 games. I want the Orioles to win 10 more games in 2010 than they did in 2009. That would be a pretty big step in the right direction for an organization that has continually lost more games than it has the year before since 2004.
I don't care who the manager is. I don't care who the GM is. I don't care what players do well and what players do poorly. I just want to see the Orioles' record start heading in the right direction.
And to accomplish that "feat", I am not asking for too much. The Orioles would have to go 71-72 for the remainder of the season to win 74 games. That's .496 baseball. Nothing great by any means, but compared to the kind of play we've seen out of the Orioles for the last 100 games dating back to last year, it would feel like 1997 all over again if the Orioles were able to play .496 ball for the rest of the season.
So basically, if the O's were an thirteen year old student with bad grades, I would be asking him to improve upon his F to start the school year by getting a D+ for the rest of the year.
That's not too much to ask, is it?
Then why do I still feel like it is?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
With a 2-14 record and coming off yet another sweep, this time at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the Orioles finally get an off day after 16 consecutive games to start the season.
At least they won't be able to lose today, but I am sure they are trying hard to find a way.
But seriously, it's past the point of being funny any more.
So far the 2010 season has been a painful embarrassment for this organization, the city, and the fans.
I do feel very sorry for Dave Trembley to have to oversee this disaster as if he were the captain of the Titanic, but Trembley should be fired today, along with all the coaches on the staff.
The Orioles desperately need a shake up. Now.
At 2-14, the Orioles are projected to win 20 games this season. That would shatter every record for ineptitude for a major league team in the modern era.
Sure, it's unlikely to be that bad for an entire year, but didn't you think things would be better by now? When the O's were 1-5 or 1-7, didn't you think that they would have broken out of this funk by now?
They haven't -- and they don't show any signs of doing it any time soon. It might get better than it is now, but it won't be that much better under Trembley.
I doubt Trembley gets fired any time soon.
Andy MacPhail is a slow moving GM, the tortoise in the race. The only difference is, no one else in baseball is the sleeping hare. Every other team, especially in the AL East, seems able to move quickly and make the proper moves to save face, yet MacPhail seems content with the coaches and players he's assembled to start the season 2-14.
A changing of the guard is very unlikely to transform this team into a winner. But a change is needed. I hope that MacPhail is currently looking for Trembley's replacement, and if he's not going to fire Trembley today, I hope it is because he's holding out for the best replacement available, and not giving Trembley more time to right the ship.
It's hard to right a ship that has already sank.
Until something happens, and the Orioles show me that the start to this season is unacceptable, I am not going to watch any more games. I won't waste my time and drive my self crazy watching a team that has no desire to improve.
The Orioles are on life support. Scratch that, they don't have a pulse. And MacPhail is the only one that can try to bring them back to life.
Will he use the defibrillators to try and regain a pulse? Or will he watch the team die a slow and painful death?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
9/19 @ CIN
10/3 @ PIT
10/17 @ NE
11/11 @ ATL
11/21 @ CAR
12/13 @ HOU
12/26 @ CLE
A few notes on the Ravens schedule:
- A very tough start to the season. On the road for two before coming home, and the week 2 game will be a short week since the week 1 game at New York Jets is a Monday Night game. Four of the first six games are on the road.
- Since Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for 6 games today, the Ravens caught a break in playing at Pittsburgh in week 4.
- It will be interesting to see how the Ravens play in New England after blowing the Patriots out of Gillette Stadium in the first round of the playoffs last year.
- The bye comes at the perfect time: right at the mid-way point.
- All in all, it's a pretty tough schedule, but the Ravens got a couple of breaks that should help them on their way to a third playoff appearance in a row.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
On the surface, his offseason signings (Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada and Mike Gonzalez) were greeted as "OK" since they didn't block prospects like Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder and aside from Atkins, they were players capable of holding their own at the MLB level.
But when you got closer, and examined these moves with a magnifying glass, you could see the flaws pretty easily.
Since he joined the Orioles, MacPhail has preached the importance of pitching and defense. But then why did he sign 2 free agents to play positions that weren't their primary positions?
Signing Atkins was a decent low-risk signing, since he'd once been a good power hitter who'd experienced declining numbers over 4 seasons. And with Melvin Mora fizzling out in Baltimore, even Atkins was likely to be an upgrade at 3B. And there was always the chance he would rebound and become the 20 HR, 100 RBI he had been in Colorado.
But then came the shocker: MacPhail had signed Atkins to play a 1B. This was the real head-scratcher because Atkins' declining offense had the potential to be a disaster at 1B.
For 3B, MacPhail signed Tejada, a career SS. At Tejada's age, and limited range, it made sense for Tejada to move to 3B, but it was still a position he'd have to learn on the job.
So far, Tejada has played 3B about as well as you can expect from a virgin at the position, but Atkins has looked stiff and sloppy at 1B. And thus far, he has not justified his being at 1B at the plate.
And with the defense already mixed up to start the season, the O's have committed several crucial errors that have lead to big innings, and 2 major errors are part of the reason Brad Bergesen was sent down to Norfolk today.
As for Mike Gonzalez, MacPhail paid the reliever to be a closer even though Gonzalez had only filled in at closer for the Braves in 2009 when Rafael Soriano went down with an injury.
Gonzalez's odd wind-up and delivery makes for a wild pitcher, and his 4.2 BB/9 rate is dangerous for a closer, which no doubt lead to him blowing 7 saves in 17 save opportunities last year -- the same number of blown saves in as many chances as Jim Johnson in '09. There were also injury concerns with Gonzalez that were evident all spring and then likely played a part in his disastrous start to the season where he blew 2 saves in 3 chances and has an ERA of 18.00.
On the flip side, MacPhail did a good job of landing the O's an experienced SP, and thus far, Kevin Millwood has fit the bill perfectly: 2.89 ERA, 20 K, 1 BB. Millwood only cost the Orioles Chris Ray.
However, MacPhail did very little to upgrade an offense that was 12 in the AL last year. He banked on players like Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters to improve on their own, and so far, they haven't. Is it because they lack protection in the line-up?
And with Brian Roberts and Felix Pie likely to miss months of the season, and Miguel Tejada missing a couple games, the lack of depth is already exposed. The O's called up Justin Turner and Lou Montanez to replace Roberts and Pie. Both Turner and Montanez are better than the kinds of players the O's would have been forced to call up in the past (Brandon Fahey, Darnell McDonald), but they are still fringe prospects who are unlikely to make a difference in the majors.
MacPhail has done a good job deepening the pool of pitching talent throughout the organization, but it was done at the expense of positional talent, and it shows: The Orioles are dead last in the AL in offense this year.
Finally, MacPhail was probably wrong to bring back Dave Trembley and his coaching staff for another year. After the Orioles finished the 2008 season 5-20 and the 2009 season 20-40, no one would have blamed MacPhail for hiring a new manager. But MacPhail stuck with Trembley and the Orioles have continued playing the kind of baseball they finished the 2009 season playing, and in the last 74 games under Trembley the Orioles are 22-52 (.297).
To be fair, Trembley hasn't played with a full deck of talent since he was hired, whether it has been the roster or injuries, and that is largely the fault of MacPhail. But at some point a manager has to be judged on wins and losses and Trembley's record as manager is 174-256 (.404).
At 2-12, the time to use the excuse "it's still early" is running out quickly. And if the 2010 season ends with the Orioles failing to improve on a 64-98 record by at least 8-10 wins, then it's time to really wonder whether Andy MacPhail is the man who will lead the Orioles back to the promised land.
Definition: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
That sums up the 2010 Orioles season to date.
Just last night there were 3 more major setbacks that came to light.
1. Brian Roberts, who is on the 15-day DL, wasn't cleared by doctors to resume baseball related activities because of his back injury and looks to be out much longer than initially expected. I pontificated on Orioles Hangout that Roberts will probably miss the rest of the year and the injury may cut his career significantly short. It was a premature statement to make, but with the Orioles luck, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this being the case.
2. Felix Pie, on the DL with a shoulder and back injuries, looks to miss at least 3 months. Until he was injured, Pie was the O's best hitter, and was the starting LF in place of Nolan Reimold who's achilles is still hampering him.
3. Brad Bergesen was demoted to Norfolk after his disastrous start last night against the Mariners in the O's 8-2 loss. In 3 starts, Bergesen has a 12.19 ERA. He pitched well through the first 2 innings, but even then, he needed a double play in the first inning to get out of a jam. In the third inning, an error seemed to rattle Bergesen who was 4 ER in one inning. The Mariners scored 7 runs that inning, thanks in part to the error, but Bergesen has not looked good all season. Bergesen's 2010 season was cut short thanks to a Billy Butler line drive off his shin, and the injury seemed to linger all offseason. Then, as Bergesen was filming a commercial for MASN, he injured his shoulder, and didn't look comfortable all spring training. His sinker isn't sinking and his control isn't close to where it was in '09. Bergesen may still be dealing with discomfort in his shin and shoulder, and may have some trouble overcoming mental issues related to the injuries and the lack of solid defense behind him. In the home opener, Adam Jones dropped a fly ball that hit him right in the glove.
Just think, all of that was in a day's time.
Other things that have gone wrong so far...
- The offense has struggled mightily with runners in scoring position.
- Batters are routinely hacking at everything. The Orioles have the worst pitch per plate appearance in the majors.
- Jones, Nick Markakis, Reimold, and Matt Wieters are all struggling at the plate. Wieters is batting .286 and doesn't look as lost as Jones, Markakis and Reimold, but still isn't hitting the ball with much power as expected.
- Mike Gonzalez blew 2 saves in 3 chances and was then promptly added to the DL.
- Aside from Gonzalez, the bullpen (Matt Albers, Jim Johnson) has given up leads late in the game all season.
- Ken Rosenthal's anti-Angelos article stated that Cal Ripken was turned down for a job within the organization. Peter Angelos and Ripken have dismissed the article's claims, but in a response article, Rosenthal stood by his sources and continued to kick the Orioles while they were down.
So there you have it. At 2-12, the Orioles are on their way to a disastrous 2010 season filled with underperforming prospects, injuries and off-the-field problems.
Whoever Murphy is, his law must've been invented for the Orioles in 2010.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Cal Ripken responded to the Ken Rosenthal article that claimed Peter Angelos turned him down for a position within the organization saying that Angelos didn't want Ripken to get the credit when the Orioles return to glory.
First off, what should we call this whole thing? Kengate? Calgate?
Anyway, Ripken said:
“In my baseball experience, rumors and stories seem to break when things aren’t going well. Let me address recent media reports. “First I want to say that Mr. Angelos never said that he didn’t want me to get credit for any success that the club might have. That’s just not true.
“I have had a very good relationship with Peter for a long time. He has been an advisor to me, a great supporter of my foundation and it is because of him that we have an Orioles affiliate in Aberdeen.
“I have met with Andy and Peter on a number of occasions to discuss many subjects. Ultimately our discussions have turned to baseball, the Orioles and me. I have enjoyed those talks very much, and yes the subject has been broached about me potentially joining the organization. I look forward to those talks continuing.
“I have been consistent in my statements about a return to baseball since my retirement in 2001. With my son Ryan approaching the end of high school in a couple of years I have been thinking more seriously about a return to the big league game. I am more excited now to explore all opportunities and find the right situation that could lead me to the next phase of my life.”
So, Cal said that Angelos never told him he didn't want Ripken to get the credit. Cal didn't, however, respond to the Rosenthal claim that Angelos turned down Ripken for the instructor position. And that was always my biggest beef with Angelos in this whole thing. If Cal wants an open line of communication with Matt Wieters and Adam Jones as an instructor, he should have it.
But, it is relief to hear Cal call the "Ripken getting the credit" claim as "just not true". I do believe him when he says that. But this is still Peter Angelos we're talking about. So I do believe there is some truth in what Rosenthal originally reported. I just don't know what it is.
We should, however, find out soon: According to FOX Sports, Rosenthal will respond with another article later today. So whatever this whole situation is called, it's not going away any time soon.
But the O's finally got the monkey off their back, scoring a season-high 8 runs en route to an 8-3 win over the Oakland A's.
The Orioles still dropped the series, losing 3 of the 4 games against the A's, but yesterday's win was a big relief. Once the game was over, the players were visibly happy, slapping each other fives.
O's fans had a reason to happy too. Brian Matusz notched his second win of the season, going 6.1 IP, allowing 8 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB and 8 K. As of last night, Matusz leads the AL in strikeouts with 23. In just 3 starts, Matusz has proven himself to be the real deal, not some prospect full of potential who keeps fans waiting for a pay off (ahem, Chris Tillman, who lasted only 1 inning in his 3rd start for Norfolk. So far he is a lousy 0-3 with a 8.38 ERA, allowing 17 hits in just 9.2 IP).
Jim Johnson, who blew a save opportunity on Saturday with a disastrous appearance including 2 wild pitches, pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th inning, looking much improved in his second straight day of relief work. O's fans can breathe a sigh of relief for Johnson, who looked like he was on the Mike Gonzalez road to a mental breakdown after Saturday.
At the plate, the Orioles finally had the coming out party that many fans knew would come but grew impatient waiting to happen. And they did it against a talented young LHP in Brett Anderson. Ty Wigginton had 4 RBI, including the Orioles' first runs with runners in scoring position and 2 outs in 2010. He also hit a 2-run home run in the top of the 9th to pad the Orioles lead heading into the bottom of the 9th, making another meltdown all but impossible. He is without a doubt the O's hottest hitter right now and could even bat clean-up for the time being. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis each had two hits, as well as Cesar Izturis.
Even though the O's are 2-11 and lost 3 of 4 in this series, they can at least feel good about themselves heading into Seattle, where the Mariners are one of the league's worst offenses (12th in the AL). The O's starting pitching has been very good thus far, so let's hope that the pitching doesn't falter just as soon as the offense gets going, as it has so many times in the past 10 years.
If the Orioles can take at least 2 of 3 from the Mariners, they would have salvaged a disastrous west coast trip at 3-4. But if they can somehow string together another 3 wins, and sweep the Mariners, the O's will have had a 4-3 west coast trip and actually head into Boston with some -- dare I say it -- momentum.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably. No, actually I am. But the M's are pretty much a mirror image of the Orioles right now, except for their 6-7 record.
Hopefully Brad Bergesen can put his 2 poor 2010 starts behind him and give the O's a chance to win tonight so they can put the 1-11 behind them, and focus on their first winning streak of 2010.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Orioles found a way to lose yesterday, with Jim Johnson blowing a save in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Oakland A's. The Orioles had entered the bottom of the inning with a 3-2 lead, but Johnson had terrible control, including 2 wild pitches, that ultimately lead to another Orioles loss.
To make matters worse, Miguel Tejada, one of the only Orioles hitters doing well at the moment (.713 OPS is considered "well" at this point) left the game yesterday with a strained groin. He is listed as day-to-day. His absence weakens an already incredibly weakened offense.
Another sad fact: Jeremy Guthrie turned in an excellent performance yesterday. His line was 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. And Will Ohman, Matt Albers, Mark Hendrickson and Cla Meredith all held the lead until Johnson, the fill-in closer, was brought into the game.
Johnson did blow the game but Dave Trembley deserves some of the blame. He left Johnson in the entire inning, even when it was apparent that Johnson was having trouble with control. He uncorked 2 wild pitches and almost a third. Matt Wieters was like a soccer goalie behind the plate, diving to stop the ball from getting away from him.
It's come to the point where Johnson is the new Chris Ray. His confidence is blown and his control is breaking down. He can no longer be the closer. As a matter of fact, the Orioles don't need a closer right now. Trembley just needs to stick with the pitcher who is pitching well at the moment, and let him close out the game. Trying to crowbar Mike Gonzalez and Johnson into save situations has been disastrous.
The sad thing is is that the Orioles' losses on the field aren't the only turmoil the team is dealing with. The whole Ripken /Angelos story is very troubling, even if it's not as bad as Ken Rosenthal made it sound in his original report.
But what this story proves is that Angelos is still very involved in the decision making process -- something he has said he wasn't involved in since Andy MacPhail took over as GM -- and it looks like he has no desire to sell the team any time soon.
On and off the field, the Orioles have reached trainwreck status, and it's getting hard to look away. At least the Orioles have made the losing interesting so far.
I wonder what they'll do next to keep it going.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Peter Angelos responded to the Ken Rosenthal article today, calling the report that Angelos turned down Cal Ripken for a job with Orioles "absurd".
In a Baltimore Sun article, Angelos said the following:
“In response, simply what is being reported is inaccurate and grossly incorrect,” he said.So color me confused.
“I don’t know of any differences that exist between Cal Ripken and me. If there are any, I’d like to know them from Cal Ripken directly. He was a great player with the Orioles and a friend for many years since he retired. He and I have a lot of contact with each other. We have an excellent relationship in many ways.”
“Andy MacPhail is in charge of baseball operations for the club. There has never been any interest in my part or discussions where his authority in running the baseball operations would be shared with anyone.”
“Cal could make a contribution to any ballclub. I just don’t see Cal Ripken as being an assistant to anyone in a baseball context. If he expressed the wish to do that in some secondary position with the Orioles, which I think he’d never do, obviously that would be something that will be considered seriously. But Cal has many interests and is a very busy guy. I don’t think he’s ever considered himself available to play some secondary role with the ballclub and appropriately so.”
“What the story said is Cal proposed that to Andy, and I find that to be unbelievable, that Cal would somehow take a secondary or minor role in operation of the Orioles or any other ballclub. He certainly has the stature or the background where he could ask for or seek to be the top of the operations of any major league club.”
Angelos is responding to accusations that Rosenthal never made. Angelos is making it sound like Ripken was interested in a front office position -- or an assistant to Andy MacPhail. However, in the Rosenthal article, it was reported that Ripken was interested in serving as an instructor for young players, and was turned down.
Here's what I think: Angelos is skirting the issue. He never responded to the Rosenthal article directly, and switched gears mentioning MacPhail's job security, something that Rosenthal never touched on.
So until Ripken himself responds, or Rosenthal prints another article, we're only left to speculate.
And I don't know about you, but Angelos' word isn't really worth much to me based on his previous "promises" that the O's would be able to compete in the AL East.
Well, just a couple days after writing a blog entry about how the O's will always be my team, yadda, yadda, yadda...owner Peter Angelos goes and does something to make me seriously think about changing my mind.
According to former Baltimore Sun writer Ken Rosenthal, now working for FOX Sports, Angelos turned down Cal Ripken Jr.'s offer to re-join the Orioles as an instructor who would work with players such as Matt Wieters to help them "finish off" their last stage of development in the majors.
Angelos' reasons for turning him down? They are golden:
1. Angelos doesn't want Cal getting "all the credit" for the O's return to glory.
2. Angelos wants Andy MacPhail to maintain full control of the organization.
3. Angelos doesn't want to create a possible future where he is forced to fire Cal.
If I could respond to Angelos' reasons for turning down Cal personally, here is what I would say.
1. First off, Pete, the Orioles are never going to return to glory while you are owner. And this is a prime example why. You say you are out of the team's decision making but yet you're the one still passing the buck on important decisions. Thirteen years, Pete. 13. You are a failure as an owner. Sell the team. Now.
2. Pete, I am surprised a successful lawyer as yourself wouldn't recognize the irony of that statement. By turning down a decision that MacPhail was in favor of, you have proven that you are still in full control of the organization, not MacPhail. Congratulations. You've proven that you haven't changed one bit. You are still the egotistical maniac you've always been when it comes to the Orioles.
3. On the surface, Pete, this actually makes some kind of sense. If Cal was made manager or GM of the team, it would set up the possibility that Ripken could one day be fired, thus crippling his relationship with the team forever. But I don't see why Cal would be fired as a MLB instructor unless he was telling Wieters to bunt in every at-bat and teaching the rest of the team the importance of grounding into double plays.
In closing, Cal rejoining the team is a good thing, regardless what the role is. Fans are desperate for a reason to stick with this team after 12 losing seasons and a miserable 1-10 start in 2010, and all you did was just piss them off, Pete. Good job!
So. If you didn't think fan apathy hadn't reached full levels yet, they will now. Nobody messes with Cal. I expect to see more signs bashing Angelos at games and further vocalization from the fans that they want Angelos to sell the team. That sentiment seemed to go away once Angelos hired MacPhail and he made some decent moves to restock the organization with good young talent.
But after a 1-10 start and now this...it's going to be a mob mentality in Baltimore again. And they don't call Baltimore "Mob Town" for nothing.
After all, these are the Orioles. Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, they've found a new low. And this time, it's thanks to Peter Angelos, the most hated man in Baltimore.
Friday, April 16, 2010
We all know that in 1988 they went 0-21. So it's hard to fathom that had the Orioles lost that 5-4 game they won in TB, they still wouldn't be even half way through the 1988 losing streak yet.
Anyway, here is how the Orioles have started the season in their first ten games since 1988.
So...in the last 22 years, the Orioles have only started below .500 10 times and worse than 4-6 only 4 times.
Is there anything to take away from that?
In 1998, the O's got off to as good a start, 8-2, as they did in 1997, the year they went wire-to-wire in first place. But the 1998 season ended with a losing record.
But it is surprising to see that the Orioles typically start off the season rather well, regardless of how they finish.
Hopefully, this 1-9 start means that they get the bad baseball out of their system and turn things around for the rest of the season.
Somehow I don't think that will be the case.
The Orioles need to pray to Jobu, and fast.
At 1-9, they're off to their worst start since the record setting 0-21 start to the 1988 season.
One of the biggest reasons is because they haven't scored a run with runners in scoring position (RISP) with 2 outs all season. If they keep it up, they're going to get poor Dave Trembley fired. But then again, maybe he won't mind.
Things don't look to get any better tonight either. They face LHP Dallas Braden, who in his short career, has already exuded Roy Halladay-like dominance over the Orioles.
In 5 games, including 4 starts against the Birds, Braden is:
So maybe the Orioles should sacrifice a live chicken in the clubhouse or offer cigars and rum to Jobu to heal the sick bats that cannot hit curve ball.
The bats are afraid. Very afraid.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
And you know what I came up with?
They are still the Baltimore Orioles. MY team.
Like many Orioles fans, I've been cursing them to death during the last week and a half, and I've sworn off watching any more games this season. I probably won't watch as much baseball this year as I have in the past -- especially in April and May -- when the Orioles are actually decent, but I still can't shake the attachment I have to this team.
I grew up listening to Oriole games on my alarm clock radio as I fell asleep on hot summer nights, when I didn't have any air conditioning in my bedroom. I still remember the sounds of WBAL commercials and the order in which they would air. I remember the soothing voices of Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson. I remember the importance of a Cal Ripken at bat, and when Orioles games actually mattered in July, August and September. I remember watching the standings with a close eye and rooting for teams like the Yankees and Blue Jays to lose.
Being an Oriole fan was inherited. It was as natural as learning to read, or riding a bike. It was just something that happened without thought.
So what I've come away with in this 1-8 start is that this is my team, good or bad. And Lord knows they have been bad.
Take this for instance: I am 30 years old. The Orioles have been stuck in this losing pattern for almost half my lifetime. The thought makes me feel old and depressed at the same time. The last time the Orioles had a winning season, I was a senior in high school. Kids who are ages 16-21 probably don't even remember the last time the Orioles were any good.
It's a sobering reality of how long the Orioles have been a bad baseball team.
But at the end of the day, I'll always be an Oriole fan.
If the 2010 season really goes into the tank these next few weeks,and it looks like it will, that's OK. I just won't watch much more baseball this summer. The absence of the sights and sounds of baseball will sting, but I just can't bring myself to watch another losing season. And the last thing I would ever do is start to root for another team.
That will just never happen.
So whether they are 1-8, 2-16 or 4-32, they are the Baltimore Orioles...my team.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Might as well get that 1-8 record buffed and waxed for its debut.
You do have to wonder what is going to get the O's out of this funk.
And no, a trip to the West Coast is not what I am thinking, either.
The Orioles blew a game they really should have won last night.
Are you surprised?
It's becoming a common occurrence to turn the game on, see that the Orioles are winning by 2-3 runs in the 6th or 7th inning, and then change the channel knowing that they will find a way to lose.
And the Orioles did just that last night.
Brian Matusz pitched a brilliant game last night until the 8th inning, holding the Rays to zero runs in the first seven innings he pitched. He struck out 8 batters and walked only one. He'd allowed just 2 hits until the ill-fated 8th inning. After striking out the lead-off hitter, Matusz allowed four hits, and left the game with the bases loaded and a 3-1 lead.
Jim Johnson finally relieved Matusz, and got Ben "The Oriole Killer" Zobrist to pop out, but Johnson couldn't get Evan "The Oriole Murderer" Longoria to end the threat. Longoria doubled in 2 runs to tie the game at 3.
That's when I turned off the game, knowing the final outcome before it happened.
Unseen by me, the Rays got 2 more runs that inning, to go ahead 5-3. But Luke Scott tied the game in the bottom of the 8th on a pinch-hit 2-run home run that tied the game back up.
He was just delaying the inevitable.
The game went into extra innings, where Carlos "The Oriole Slaughterer" Pena hit a three run home run off Matt Albers in the top of the 10th to put the Rays up 8-5. The O's scored another run on a garbage Ty Wigginton home run in the bottom of the inning and lost 8-6.
It was a game that could have got the Orioles off a 4-game slide and given them a chance to come back this afternoon and win the series against the Rays.
Instead, the O's are hoping to avoid a winless home stand to open the season.
Trembley and Albers are the goats of this one. Trembley continues to flunk Pitching Management 101. After failing to remove an obviously fatigued Matusz in the 8th inning, the damage was done. Johnson was thrown to the wolves, having to face the heart of the Rays line-up with bases loaded and 1 out. And in the 10th, Trembley was forced to go to Albers, after Albers had pitched 2 days straight before last night, including an unnecessary outing on Monday night while down 4-1 to the Rays in the top of the 9th. And when Albers entered the game last night, he walked two and promptly allowed the 3-run bomb to Pena.
I'll be surprised if Albers is still an Oriole when the team makes the trip out west. He's just not good. But had he not pitched on Monday night in a game that was already lost, he might have been able to minimize the damage last night.
So there you have it. The Orioles are 1-7 and in the middle of a 5-game losing streak. They wrap up this miserable home stand this afternoon, before flying out west where they face the A's and Mariners before flying to Boston.
You almost have to feel sorry for Dave Trembley, who is now officially on the hot seat.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
This will be a short blog entry. Right now there isn't much to say about this team. They can't hit and they don't play defense very well. Their schedule is brutal. It's going to get worse before it gets any better.
If it weren't for the solid pitching, minus Mike Gonzalez, the Orioles would be getting blown out in every game they've played thus far. At 1-6 the O's are worse than every other team in the MLB aside from the Houston Astros, who haven't won a game yet.
Things will probably get better, but it might take a while for it to be noticeable. You'll basically have to remove April from the O's record like a cancerous tumor to see any positives from the 2010 season.
I am still predicting the O's to have 5 wins headed into May 1st.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The Orioles were just swept by the Blue Jays.
No disrespect to the Blue Jays, but when you think of AL East teams sweeping the Orioles at home, the Blue Jays are not the team that comes to mind.
The Orioles are 1-5 to start the 2010 season. The only thing worse would be 0-6, and with Mike Gonzalez's shaky save in the O's lone win this season, that could very well be a possibility. So I guess we should be thankful.
Somehow thankful isn't a word I think of when I think of the Orioles. As a matter of fact, aside from an 0-6 start, I can't think of things being any worse than they are now.
Their $12 million dollar closer is a disaster and has already been demoted. Now he's going on leave for personal reasons.
And the offense, a part of the team thought to be one of the strengths going into 2010, have scored more than 3 runs only twice in six games.
Look at the schedule for the rest of April and reality cannot be ignored.
3 vs TB
4 @ OAK
3 @ SEA
3 @ BOS
3 vs NYY
1 vs BOS
When I look at that schedule, I see a 5-22 record for the month of April. And if 5-22 is a possibility, then firing Dave Trembley should also be a possibility. Hitting coach Terry Crowley too. As a matter of fact the only person on the O's coaching staff who should consider themselves safe is pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Despite the Orioles 1-5 start, the O's team ERA is a respectable 4.57.
So there it is. 2010 was supposed to be full of hope and promise and so far it's been void of either.
Will the O's win more than 64 games in 2010 or will their 5 year win-loss slide continue???
If you would have asked me that question on April 5th, the day before opening day, I would have laughed at you and recited dreams of a winning season in 2010.
But right now, I honestly don't know if they will even improve on their 64-98 record from last year.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
If case you've missed the first 4 games of the 2010 season, you haven't missed much. The Orioles are 1-3. But it's how they've lost 2 of those games that makes things interesting.
Mike Gonzalez, the $12 million dollar closer Andy MacPhail signed over the offseason to a 2-year deal, has blown 2 saves in 3 chances. Even the 1 save he did convert was a high-wire act. He allowed a hit and 2 walks before getting the final out.
And yesterday, at the O's home opener, Gonzalez blew another save opportunity, after the Orioles battled back from a 2 deficits to have the lead in the top of the 9th. Gonzalez bounced pitches in front of home plate or grooved fastballs down the middle of the plate. The Blue Jay hitters didn't even have to try to take back the lead. Gonzalez did it for them.
I know it's just 4 games into the season but the O's are at a crossroads. What should they do with Mike Gonzalez?
The Orioles talked a lot about how the 2010 season is going to be judged on wins and losses. So when they have a player who is costing the team games -- and looking mechanically out of whack while doing it -- you have to think that they will make the appropriate changes. Gonzalez looks like he's having a breakdown out on the mound. He is not doing anything to help the O's win games right now.
So Dave Trembley needs to get him out of the closer role for the time being. Give Jason Johnson a chance to save games for a while, or Koji Uehara when he comes off the DL. Allow Gonzalez to work in non-save situations (the lower the leverage, the better) to fix his problems. Please don't let him pitch in any 9th inning situations any more, Trembley -- unless you want to be fired.
Yeah, MacPhail signed him, but Trembley says who plays and when. And right now, Gonzalez doesn't deserve to be the closer any more. Even after only 4 games.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
It felt like the 2009 season continued last night with the Orioles dropping a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the 9th inning.
New closer Mike Gonzalez came on to close out the 9th inning and got the first batter he faced, fanning Pat Burrell. But then he got into trouble quickly. Sean Rodriguez singled, and then Kelly Shoppach (pinch hitting for Dioner Navarro) doubled. With runners on second and third and one out, Gonzalez intentionally walked Jason Bartlett and then Carl Crawford ended it with a game-winning double.
The Orioles never trailed during the game until the very end.
It was frustrating to watch the Orioles open up 2010 with a loss that was so typical of the Orioles in recent seasons. The Orioles were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. They squandered several big innings with impatient approaches at the plate, including bad at bats from Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada.
In the top of the 9th, the Orioles had a golden opportunity to pad their 3-2 lead. Atkins led off the inning with a double that would have been a home run in most stadiums. Cesar Izturis moved him over to third with a bunt and reached first safely. Then the brain farts kicked in. Brian Roberts hit a hard grounder to Evan Longoria at third base, and threw out Atkins, who was running home, by a mile. Why Atkins was running on contact with no outs, I don't know. Adam Jones then grounded into a fielder's choice, moving Izturis to third base. There was still a chance to get that extra run in. But Tejada lined out to left field to end the inning.
And with a 3-2 lead heading into the 9th, you just had that old familiar feeling that the Orioles were going to blow it. And they did.
There were some positives, however. Jones, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott all homered. Unfortunately they were all solo shots, and the Orioles failed to score any runs that didn't come via the long ball. Jones went 3 for 5 with a double, the home run and a single. And Felix Pie came within a foot of a home run, doubling off the right field wall.
Kevin Millwood pitched a solid 5 IP, with 5 K and 1 BB. He allowed 9 hits, but was always able to make a pitch to avoid the big inning. Matt Albers, Will Ohman and Jason Johnson all looked sharp in relief. They combined for 3 IP of 1 hit baseball and struck out 3. The bullpen was coasting until Gonzalez entered the game and blew the save and earned himself the loss in his first appearance as an Oriole.
Welcome to Baltimore, Mike!
So as 2010 begins, and the Orioles look to turn a new page on 12 losing seasons in a row, they actually took a page from any of those seasons and blew a game they should have won.
If the Orioles are ever going to leave the past behind, they'll have to find ways to win games like last night, instead of finding ways to lose them.
Monday, April 5, 2010
So it's almost here. Opening Day. The hope. The optimism. Everyone is 0-0 in the standings. Anything can happen.
I think that's a good motto for the 2010 season: Anything can happen.
While it would surprise me to see the O's embark on a historic 2008 Rays thriller of a season and make the playoffs, I do think the talent on the roster is capable of playing above their heads and wowing Orioles fans as well as the rest of the MLB.
I still think, however, it's more likely that the Orioles show some limited improvement and finish 4th in the standings with a record around 78-82 wins.
The spring gave us a few surprises. David Hernandez made the team over blue chip prospect Chris Tillman. Back up catcher Craig Tatum made the roster over pitching whisperer Chad Moeller. And the Orioles traded for Julio Lugo to replace Robert Andino.
None of those moves are the difference maker to make the playoffs, but I do think it helps the depth of this team over the course of a 162 game season.
The starting rotation is not without question marks, but I think there is real potential for it to be one of the team's strengths. Brian Matusz should establish himself as one of the league's best young pitchers. Brad Bergesen should build off a fantastic rookie season. And David Hernandez hopes to become the strikeout pitcher he was in the minors after whiffing 20 batters in spring training, while only walking 3.
That of course leaves Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie. On paper, they are the veterans -- the workhorses. But Millwood has had ERA's above 5 in 2007 and 2008 before having himself a great 2009 season. Guthrie is pretty much the opposite. He was stellar in 2007 and 2008, but faltered in 2009. So which Millwood and Guthrie will show up in 2010?
The bullpen is largely determined by the success of the rotation. No bullpen can absorb the workload the 2009 bullpen had to deal with, and if the starters can go deeper in games, the bullpen will improve by default. It will also help to have Koji Uehara healthy. His success during the first and second time through the line-up last year translates well to the bullpen. And Mike Gonzalez, the O's new closer, is handling the full-time closer role for the first time in his career. Hopefully it will be as successful as George Sherrill's run as closer in Baltimore.
Offensively, there isn't much to be said. Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters should carry this offense with Garrett Atkins, Luke Scott, and Miguel Tejada as a solid supporting cast. It's not an offense that is going to scare opposing pitchers, but I think it could be a very silent but deadly line-up.
The bench is also pretty good: Felix Pie, Ty Wigginton, Julio Lugo and Craig Tatum. There is good flexibility there. Good pinch-hitters and late-inning defensive replacements.
As always, injuries will play a big part in 2010. The less of them the O's have, the better they will be. There is some depth to account for injuries, but overall, the Orioles will need to stay very healthy in order to crack .500 for the first time in 12 years.
I think they can do it. It's a day away from opening day....I'd be crazy to think they couldn't on a day like today.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Orioles traded a player to be named later for 34-year old Julio Lugo.
Lugo will likely replace Robert Andino as the back-up SS in 2010. He also serves as some insurance for Brian Roberts who has been battling a sore back all spring and has just recently started playing in games.
Lugo surprisingly has some pop in his bat, posting a .784 OPS in 51 games a year ago. He has a career .727 OPS. Nothing stellar, but an improvement over Andino and his .557 career OPS.
Andino apparently made a nice stab at a hardly hit ball yesterday, and then hot-dogged it before making an errant throw to 1B. This drew the ire of manager Dave Trembley and GM Andy MacPhail. It's unlikely that one incident forced the Orioles to sour on Andino, but Andino's defense this spring has been poor and his poor offense proceeds him.
So while it's a minor move, it is a move that could have some positive impact for the O's this year. Lugo brings a little more pop to the plate than Andino and their defense is a wash. And with the Red Sox paying a large majority of Lugo's salary, it's almost as if the O's will be getting his services for free.