Monday, June 28, 2010

Don't look now

Alfredo Simon celebrates a save in yesterday's 4-3 win, which completed a sweep of the Nationals.

The Orioles have won 4 in a row, their longest winning streak all season, and just swept the Washington Nationals.

It was nice to see the Nationals get a slice of humble pie this weekend, since the DC media has been in a honeymoon period since pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg was called up earlier this season. Strasburg has been the real deal, but since his call up, the Nationals are 6-12. The DC media has also taken this opportunity to kick the O's while they are down.

But after the sweep by the hands of the Orioles, the Nationals are in last place and 10 games below .500 at 33-43.

So, what do you have to say now, DC?

The sweep consisted of 3 1-run wins, and the Orioles came back from deficits of 3 or more in each game, including coming back from a 6-0 deficit in the first game. It was an exciting weekend of baseball in Baltimore for some fans that were in desperate need of something to smile about.

But perhaps the best news of the whole weekend was not the sweep, but the DFA of the Bad Oriole's most hated player in 2010 -- Garrett Atkins.

Atkins has previously said that a release from the Orioles would be a "welcome opportunity". Well, now he's got it. Let's see if another team is dumb enough to pick up a player with a .562 OPS and 4 straight years of steeply declining numbers.

I doubt it.

It was nice knowing you, Atkins.

Maybe I am being too tough on ol' Garrett. After all, it was Andy MacPhail who signed him. It's not Atkins' fault that he agreed to get paid $4.5 million to suck. Anyone would have done the same.

Anyway, getting back to the current Orioles, the O's are 23-52. Still good for the worst record in baseball. But the new motto for the 2010 season should be: "cherish every win" because chances are it won't last.

The Oakland A's come to town next, and the Orioles are historically terrible against them, including a 2-5 record against the A's this year. But if the O's have turned over a new page, they should be able to win this series against the A's, who aren't that good a team themselves (37-40).

Time will tell if the O's can take this streak past the 4-game mark.

I'm still not getting my hopes up.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ravens sign Bulger

Chin up, Marc, you're not on the Rams any more.

The Ravens surprised their fans by signing former Rams QB Marc Bulger to a 1-year deal earlier this week.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Ravens signed themselves abother QB, since it was pretty certain that Troy Smith would not enter the 2010 season a Raven after demanding trades last season, leaving John Beck as the only other QB on the roster aside from Joe Flacco. But it was kind of shocking to see the Ravens pick up Bulger.

Many fans in the NFL may envision Marc Bulger having a big fork stuck in his back. And many of those fans may be Raven fans.

But that is unfair.

Bulger, who was the Rams QB from 2002-2009, was at one time a very good QB, having thrown for more than 20 TD's and 3,800 yards three times in his career. But then sometime around 2007 the Rams became one of the worst teams in the NFL and Bulger's career, and health, suffered for it.

Bulger missed 7 games last year, and hasn't put up decent numbers since 2006. That's to be expected. The Rams were awful. If they were a Major League Baseball team, they'd be, well, the Orioles. And when the Rams selected Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, it was the end of Bulger's career in St. Louis.

It was pretty obvious that Bulger wouldn't be signed as a starting QB this offseason. Despite the Rams struggles on offense these last few years, Bulger turned the ball over too much and couldn't stay healthy. But at 33 years old, I still think Bulger has something left in the tank.

And the Raves, who are legit Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2010 season, need a back-up QB better than John Beck. No disrespect to Beck, I think he'd be a fine back-up and maybe even a decent starting QB in the NFL, but the Ravens need a more experienced QB on the team in case something happens to Joe Flacco (God forbid).

With Flacco injured and Beck the starting QB, the chances of making the playoffs would be decimated. But with Bulger, who will once again be playing behind a great OL and actually have some good WR's to throw to, the Ravens would still be considered playoff contenders.

And that's what it all comes down to: insurance. Joe Flacco is the franchise QB and after improving during his second season in the NFL in 2009, he is poised to break out and become a top 10, or even top 5 QB in 2010.

But it is nice to know that Marc Bulger, and not John Beck, will be the one coming into the game if tragedy strikes Baltimore and Flacco is injured.

Happy 20th, Orioles!

Nick Markakis has taken it upon himself to become an outspoken leader.

Each time the O's win, I am like Alan from The Hangover when he is giving his speech on the roof of the hotel. "Wait a minute...could it be?" I am renewed with the hope that a well-placed win could somehow spark this team into going on a decent run that makes us temporarily forget that they are the worst team in baseball.

And while watching most of last night's 11-6 win against the Florida Marlins (the O's 20th win of the season), I had those some pesky feelings again.

For one, it looks like the bats are finally starting to heat up. The Orioles have scored 4 or more runs in their last 5 games. Nothing to write home about, but when this team has regularly scratched and clawed its way to score just one run, the O's scoring 4 runs should be viewed as an offensive explosion.

Speaking of offensive explosions, the Orioles finally had one last night. In the third inning, while trailing 3-0, the Orioles did the unthinkable: they rattled off 6 hits in a row and scored 5 runs in one inning.

And they weren't finished! Usually, when the O's explode for a few runs in an inning, they go back on autopilot, and fail to score any more during the game. But last night they scored a run in each of the final 4 innings, and stopped any hopes of a Marlins comeback.

Miguel Tejada ended his epic streak of at-bats without a HR, hitting a 3-run dinger last night. he went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI. And Adam Jones, who has been on fire of late, went 3 for 5 last night with a solo HR.

Add to that, Felix Pie, who had been the O's best hitter when he went on the DL in April, should be rejoining the team shortly along with Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara. So at least the O's will be getting some reinforcements, and it will hopefully be sending useless players such as Garrett Atkins, Lou Montanez and Frank Mata on their way out.

The pitching could use those reinforcements, too. The O's team ERA has risen above 5. Earlier in the year, as the O's offense flailed away at the plate, the pitching was at least respectable. But that is no longer the case. In the last two weeks, the O's team ERA is a stomach-turning 6.30.

So, if the O's are ever going to turn the corner on these dismal first 72 games, they are going to need drastic improvements from BOTH the offense and the pitching.

It's not just the offense that's the problem any more.


Perhaps the most encouraging thing from yesterday was that Nick Markakis met with Peter Angelos to discuss the current state of the team. You might remember Markakis being critical of his teammates last week when he spoke to the Sun about different players having poor approaches at the plate.

And at first look, you might think that Angelos called the meeting with Markakis to give him the "what for". But it turns out that it was Markakis who called the meeting with Angelos. And that to me, is great news.

Markakis is by far the team's best player and until recently, has been a reserved player who expresses little or no emotion on the field. But in the last week, Nick has proven that he is the leader of the Orioles, and I commend him for wanting to speak to Angelos. Markakis will be an Oriole for the next 5 years and it's got to be killing him to see this team get worse and worse year after year.

Hopefully, Markakis was able to talk some sense into Angelos. It may be the only hope we, as Orioles fans, have left.

And finally, it was announced today that Buck Showalter is the leading candidate for the Orioles managerial job. That is also good news. However, Eric Wedge will get a second interview, so it may still be wide open at this point.

I would like to see Showalter become the O's next manager. He has helped built three different organizations (Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers) into winners and hopefully he would be able to do the same here.

Wedge wouldn't be a disaster, but he oversaw a young and talented Indians team fail to live up to their hype. And unlike Showalter, he lacks the seasoned experience that Andy MacPhail is looking for in a manager for the Orioles.

So. Are things getting better? Not exactly. Apparently there is still a lot of turmoil behind the scenes at the warehouse and Tony Pente of Orioles Hangout is currently working on what could be an epic expose of the Orioles organization.

But until then, I'd like to think that the Orioles are slowly taking some steps to bury the 2010 season before it's even at the halfway mark.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The higher the expectations, the harder they fall

I'll be the first to admit, I expect the ravens to have a great 2010 season and go deep in the playoffs. The words "super" and "bowl" shouldn't sound strange to Ravens fans using them in the same sentence.

But I am not ready to buy tickets to Dallas just yet. And here's why.

In the past, the Ravens have done very poorly with heightened expectations. Most of the time, they were Brian Billick coached teams, and that might say something about Billick's coaching style. He was always better rallying troops who were viewed as the underdog. His coaching in the 2000 season and throughout the playoffs was completely brilliant. But unlike Bill Belichick, Billick wasn't very good at keeping the Ravens focused and motivated when the world viewed them as a legitimate threat.

Here's a look at some of the more hyped Ravens teams that ultimately disappointed.

Year: 2001
The Hype: The Ravens had just come off a Super Bowl win, had seemingly upgraded at QB (Elvis Grbac > Trent Dilfer) and had landed themselves a preseason reality show (Hard Knocks) that would make even third string special team players household names. Many fans and local sports personalities predicted the Ravens to repeat.
What Went Wrong: Second year RB Jamal Lewis and OL Leon Searcy were injured early in training camp and missed the entire season with injuries. Without a running game, the Ravens became one-dimensional offense and Elvis Grbac cried on the sidelines.
What Happened: 10-6, clinched a playoff berth the final week of the season, beat Miami 21-3, lost to Pittsburgh 27-10.
Disappointment Level: 8. The Ravens were legitimate candidates to repeat before Lewis and Searcy were lost for the season.

Year: 2004
The Hype: The Ravens had won the AFC North in '03 and Jamal Lewis had rushed for over 2,000 yards. Kyle Boller, who was injured mid-way through the 2003 season, was back and expected to improve drastically in his second year. Deion Sanders made a comeback had joined the team late in training camp.
What Went Wrong: Boller never really improved and the Ravens' offense routinely went three and out. Jamal Lewis was suspended for 4 games. Despite the Raven's horrid offense, the defense routinely won the team games, but couldn't hold a lead at home against the Bengals late in the season, ultimately costing the Ravens a trip to the playoffs. John Feinstein's book, Next Man Up, explores this troubled season with great precision.
What Happened: 9-7, missed the playoffs.
Disappointment Level: 6. Outside of Jamal Lewis, the '03 Ravens were one-dimensional on offense. 2004 wasn't very surprising in retrospect.

Year: 2005
The Hype: The Ravens on defense were still a threat and had missed the playoffs by only one game. Many expected that Boller would finally "get it" in 2005 and the Ravens would go to the playoffs.
What Went Wrong: Boller was injured in week 1 and missed the next eight games. Anthony Wright, who'd filled in well for Boller in '03, was a disaster. Ray Lewis missed 11 games and the wheels fell off the wagon.
What Happened: 6-10, missed the playoffs.
Disappointment Level: 5. Many people thought Boller getting injured was a blessing in disguise, which should tell you where people's hopes were headed into the season.

Year: 2007
The Hype: In 2006, the Ravens had gone 13-3 under newly acquired QB Steve McNair and clinched a first round bye before losing to the Colts at home in the second round of the playoffs. In '07, the Ravens were expected to at least make a repeat playoff appearance with newly acquired RB Willis McGahee.
What Went Wrong: Steve McNair looked like a geriatric and was shelved with arm and groin injuries in week 6. Boller never fared any better and injuries to Todd Heap, Samari Rolle and Chris McAllister devastated the team even further.
What Happened: 5-11, missed the playoffs.
Disappointment Level: 9. Many fans expected a repeat of 2006.

Year: 2009
The Hype: The '08 Ravens were a pleasant surprise. Rookie head coach John Harbaugh and rookie QB Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to a 11-5 record and a trip to the AFC Championship where they lost to the Steelers. IN '09, Flacco was supposed to improve mightily and the Ravens were supposed to waltz into the playoffs.
What Went Wrong: It started off so well. But the kicking game was inconsistent, the defense couldn't stop opposing offenses and Flacco was injured in week 6 despite playing the entire season.
What Happened: 9-7, made the playoffs, beating the New England Patriots 33-14 before losing to the Colts, 20-3.
Disappointment Level: 7. The Ravens cost themselves several games on turnovers, missed field goals and poor coaching. Despite all that, they made the playoffs, annihilated the Patriots, who they hadn't beaten since the Browns moved to Baltimore, before rolling over again for the millionth time against the Colts. Still, it could have been much, much sweeter.

So there you have it. Every time the Ravens are picked as favorites, they falter. And with the high expectations in 2010, here's to hoping that history doesn't repeat itself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

O's trade for Jake Fox

Andy MacPhail continues to pick-up ex-Cubs players. Who's next, Jody Davis?

Print the playoff tickets! The Orioles traded for Jake Fox!

You might be asking yourself, "Who?".


Jake Fox is just another meaningless roster move in a meaningless season.

Actually, I like the move taken at face value. Fox, 27, was a stud in the minor leagues (.885 career MiL OPS) for the Cubs (now there's a shocker!) and had a decent 2009 season with 11 HR and a .779 OPS.

But so far in 2010, he has been Garrett Atkins, the sequel: .591 OPS, 2 HR. Here's to hoping he is able to find the success he had in the minors for the Orioles.

Anyway, getting Fox should signal the beginning of the end for Atkins. And that is enough to make me like the move. The Orioles DFA'ed Cla Meredith to make room on the 40-man roster for Fox, but Atkins shouldn't be too far behind Meredith. At least he shouldn't be. When Brad Bergesen is recalled from Norfolk later this week, hopefully it's Atkins who is finally shown the door. The last thing we need are 2 Garrett Atkinses on the same team.

Fox will take over 1B from Wigginton, who will move back to 2B. At least until Fox is DFA'ed himself or Wigginton is traded.

Oh, and the Orioles still haven't had a HR from their 1B in 2010. Maybe Fox will remedy that.

Or maybe not.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

O's implosion in full gear

The past week has been interesting for O's fans as long as you're not actually watching the team play games.

First off, Bobby Valentine interviewed with the Orioles, and then talked about the interviews a bit on a radio show. Based on what he said about the Orioles, I don't think we can pencil Valentine in as the next O's skipper. I don't blame him.

In the last few days, some pretty substantial rumors have been flying around the Orioles Hangout about distension in the warehouse, including Angelos not being happy with the moves Andy MacPhail made last offseason, as well as a possible civil war between the O's draft team and player development.

Then, if it couldn't get crazier, Mr. Code of Silence himself, Nick Markakis, spoke pretty harshly about his teammates in a Sun article. He didn't name names, but you can figure out who he was talking about pretty easily (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Garrett Atkins, Julio Lugo, et al).

It's nice to see an Orioles player -- and one as reserved as Markakis -- finally say what's on everyone's minds about the Orioles' approach at the plate, but will anything change?

I doubt it.

Markakis also stood up for Terry Crowley in the article, saying what's happening with the offense is none of Crowley's fault. Well, the same thing could be said of Dave Trembley, but that didn't stop him from getting fired, did it? So I am not exactly backing off my stance on firing Crowley just yet.

I still stand firm on my belief that the Orioles need -- and should be headed for -- some drastic changes this offseason. But will the notoriously slow Andy MacPhail be able to handled all of it over the course of one offseason?

I think the bigger question is: will he still be here this offseason?

Things are getting interesting in Birdland, all right. And you don't even have to watch the games.

Monday, June 14, 2010

O's back to losing

Please, make it stop!

The Orioles didn't wait long to get back to their losing ways after Jake Arrieta beat the Yankees in his major league debut last Thursday night. They were just swept over the weekend by the New York Mets.

The Orioles have lost 22 out of their last 27 games since having that "respectable" stretch of baseball that lasted from April 25 to May 14th.

It's safe to say that any good vibes this team gets after a good win disappears like smoke the next day.

Each time the Orioles win a game I think "maybe this can get them started". I need to stop thinking that way. It doesn't exist.

The Orioles are 17-46, a whopping 29 games under .500, and it's only June 14th. It's unhealthy to think about how bad this team is. Seriously. Think about it too long and it gives you headaches. It makes you dizzy. It raises your blood pressure. The same thing happens when I think about black holes or the beginning of the universe for too long. The human mind is not advanced enough to embrace such complex thoughts.

The 1962 New York mets lost 120 games in a 161 game season. The Orioles have the same record after 63 games. Amazing.

So what now?

You got me. I thought the O's would be in store for some drastic changes this season once they got off to that horrid start, but so far only Dave Trembley has been let go. Terry Crowley is still the hitting coach. Garrett Atkins is still a Baltimore Oriole.

And Andy MacPhail is still asleep at the wheel.

He did interview managerial candidates last week, including Eric Wedge and Bobby Valentine, as well as a third mystery candidate according to The Baltimore Sun. But The Sun also said that the search for a manager could last until the offseason, so don't expect a massive coaching exodus to happen any time soon.

The current Oriole team is likely to remain the same well into the future. And as long as that happens, the Orioles have a chance to set the record for losing.

And if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that the Orioles had a chance to make history, I would have never guessed that it would be potentially setting the record for most losses in a 162 game season. I would have thought they were closer to setting the record for wins in a 162 game season.

But the Orioles suck. And even those harsh words are unable to express how bad this Orioles season really is.

Great. Now I've got a headache.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Arrieta impressive in win

Arrieta gets some props from Adam Jones after a solid 6 IP, 3 ER major league debut performance against the Yankees.

Jake Arrieta beat the defending World Series champion Yankees in his major league debut.

Talk about impressive.

Arrieta went 6 innings, allowed 3 runs on 4 hits, walked 4 and struck out 6. He exuded confidence and swagger on the mound, pumping his fist as he struck out Marcus Thames with the bases loaded to end the 6th inning, and his night.

It was the first time I'd seen Arrieta pitch since Frederick in 2008. His delivery is sound, and repeatable. He looks a lot like Mike Mussina, physically and in the way he pitches. His fastball had some great late movement and his change-up fooled Derek Jeter. His curveball was off all night, but what more could you ask for? He pitches his way out of a few jams and never lost his poise.

Outside of Arrieta, the bullpen did its job, as Frank Mata, Will Ohman and David Hernandez combined for 3 innings of work, allowing 1 hit and no runs. David Hernandez made his first appearance as closer and looked good in the role, walking a batter, but otherwise getting out of the inning easily. After the game, Juan Samuel said that Alfredo Simon will be the closer when he comes back from the DL, but I have to wonder how long that will last. Hernandez is clearly the best pitcher in the bullpen and that pitcher should always be the closer. Simon would make a good set-up guy, however. And Samuel may not last long enough as Orioles manager to make that decision. Andy MacPhail interviews former Mets manager Bobby Valentine today.

Offensively, the Orioles continued their recent "surge", especially in the clutch. Scott Moore hit a solo home run and Luke Scott could have had an inside-the-park HR had he not slammed down his bat coming out of the box and jogged to first before seeing Swisher missing the ball as he slammed into the scoreboard. Scott ended up with a triple, but it was disturbing to see him jog to first just a few days after he did the same thing. Thankfully, Samuel greeted him after he scored, and the two men had a discussion that was shown on MASN. Samuel appeared to be taking a light approach to reprimanding Scott, but Scott seemed to be offering up some BS excuses that broadcaster Gary Thorne took issue with. I agreed with Thorne. But whatever. At least Scott knows that he's being watched. And I wonder if that is something that Dave Trembley would have done under the same circumstances.

Adam Jones had a decent night at the plate, and looks a lot better than he did earlier in the season, despite the fact that he still can't hit a curve ball to save his life. But still, a 2 for 4 night with 2 RBI is solid for Jones who was a major disappointment to start the season. In his last 22 plate appearances, Jones has a .935 OPS including 3 -- count 'em -- 3 walks. He has 8 on the year. Maybe he is finally getting hot.

So it was a good all-around win. And it was against the Yankees, who the Orioles are 2-10 against on the year. Savor this moment. Arrieta got his first win and looked really impressive. Will the team carry this momentum into the future?

Is this the start of some *gasp* good baseball? We shall see.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Arrieta makes his debut tonight

Jake Arrieta, 24, makes his major league debut tonight against the New York Yankees.

For all the fans out there who have completely tuned out the Orioles, and I don't blame you, you will at least have a reason to watch tonight.

Jake Arrieta, the final piece of the "Big 3" (other members include Brian Matusz & Chris Tillman) makes his debut tonight against the New York Yankees.

The Yankees? Tough draw.

The other night, Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasberg made his debut against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, went 7 innings, allowed 2 ER and struck out a whopping 14 batters.

Arrieta won't have that kind of success against the Yankees. Probably not even close.

But it's OK. This is the AL East. Arrieta might as well get baptized by fire. He also has a bulldog mentality and would probably tell you he wanted it to work out this way.

Arrieta, 24, was drafted in 2007 after turning down offers to sign with both the Reds and Brewers in the 2005 and 2006 drafts to play baseball at Texas Christian University. He started off in Frederick in 2008 and struck out 120 batters in 113 innings while posting a 2.89 ERA. Toward the end of 2008 he joined Team USA in the Beijing Olympics where he allowed only 1 ER in 35 innings. The following year he stopped in Bowie for 11 starts before moving up to Norfolk where he made 17 starts. He ended the year with a combined 3.40 ERA and 148 K's in 150 innings.

And so far in Norfolk this year, Jake has an astounding 1.85 ERA. The problem is his strikeouts are down to 8 per 9 innings and his walks are up to 4.3. He previously averaged 3 walks per 9 innings, so the increase is quite alarming. But, Arrieta has made it work.

Will it work in the majors? Probably. But expect him to struggle like Matusz and Tillman have before him. The walks will be frustrating to watch, that's for sure.

But aside from any potential growing pains, it is refreshing to finally see Matusz, Tillman and now Arrieta all in the Orioles rotation. It may not translate to a better record right off the bat, but those three pitchers are the foundation for any future success and they are all in Baltimore to stay.

So, are you going to watch tonight? Is the major league debut of another highly-ranked prospect enough to make you tune in these days, as the Orioles are 16-43, good for the worst record in baseball?

For just one night, it should be.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Trembley fired, Samuel made manager

Dave Trembley is OUTTA HERE!!!

Well, it's about time the Orioles did something.

After their dreadful start to the season -- the second worst in franchise history -- the Orioles finally made a drastic move in response to the lost season and fired manager Dave Trembley.

I'd been calling for a drastic move since the 2-16 start to the season, and it included firing Trembley, among others. But now that it's happened, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

First off, Trembley is a good guy, and I appreciated his honesty and bluntness in interviews. It was refreshing to hear an Orioles manager openly speak his mind, even when things were at their worst. But at the same time, it was painful to watch him continue to manage the club. He looked beaten at times in the dugout and when he argued with umpires he didn't even have the energy to get thrown out of the game and rally his players.

I am not happy that Trembley has been fired but I am glad that the Orioles finally made a change to address the horrible season. They just couldn't avoid it any longer.

But firing only Trembley is not going to change a damn thing. I think Terry Crowley, the hitting coach, should also be given his release. Crowley has been the hitting coach for the Orioles since 1999, and over that time, the Orioles have been at the bottom of the league in hitting. I don't blame Crowley for the poor offense -- just look at the rosters he's had to work with over that time -- but, like Trembley, I just don't see how the Orioles can allow someone to continue holding down a position when they are getting zero results.

Young potential stars like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have looked awful at the plate in 2010 and I do hold Crowley responsible for their regression. These were both great hitting prospects in the minors and since Crowley got a hold of them, they have drastically regressed. The same can be said of Nolan Reimold.

It's time for a new perspective when it comes to hitting. We can't allow Jones and Wieters to falter any longer. Crowley must go too. But it looks like he is still safe.

Moving on, third base coach Juan Samuel takes over for Trembley as the O's manager. And while I wish Samuel the best of luck, excuse me if I am not exactly thrilled by the news. For one, the Orioles desperately need a manager from outside the organization. Maybe Andy MacPhail couldn't get the guy he wanted mid-season, and that is fine, but I expect -- and demand -- a full house-cleaning this offseason. It's time to fill out the coaching staff with guys who have no experience in the Orioles system. It's time for a new perspective in pretty much every aspect of this organization.

As for Samuel, he looks like he could be a firey manager -- and a welcome change from the docile managers of the past: Trembley, Sam Perlozzo, Lee Mazzilli and Mike Hargrove. Samuel has been openly critical of the team in the past and it will be refreshing to have a manager who won't take sloppy play from his team without saying something about it.

And the most important thing: Samuel was a player in the major leagues. While I have always thought that mention of Trembley having never played professional baseball was an unfair slight against him, I do believe that Samuel's established career will garner respect from the players. So at least there's that.

But, in the end, it's the same old story. The Orioles made a change because they had to, and failed to do enough to make an impact to what has been a disaster of a season. There are still some people in the organization and on the roster who have no business being here.

Until that happens, color me unimpressed.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time travel

It's starting to look a lot like 1988 in Baltimore.

After 53 games, the 2010 Orioles and the 1988 Orioles are pretty much identical twins.

In 1988, the Orioles were 12-41.

In 2010, the Orioles are 15-38.

Here is some more amazingness.

The Orioles are on pace to score 542 runs.

That is....

- 200 runs
less than they scored last year.
- 240 runs
less than they scored in 2008.
- 400 runs
less than they scored in 1996.
- 8 runs
less than they scored in 1988.

They are on pace to allow 811 runs.

That would be...

- an improvement over 9 of the last 11 years.
- 31
more than they allowed in 1988.
- 240
more than they allowed in 1997.

But wait. Just when you think that the O's have made some improvements in the pitching department, they are still 10th in the AL in ERA, and offense is down all across baseball.

Take, for example, the perfect game that never was last night. An umpire's blown call ended Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga's perfect game. If he would have gotten the perfect game, it would have already been the third perfect game this season. So offense is definitely down across the league, which may explain some of the Orioles' offensive woes.

Or maybe not.

This is just a terrible baseball team, especially on offense, and until MacPhail does something, it's only going to stay the same -- or get worse.

Until then, we'll at least be able to enjoy the 1988 season all over again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nothing has changed

I haven't posted since Friday, May 21st and since then, the Orioles are 2-7. And they were just swept by the Blue Jays this past weekend in a series where they scored only 3 runs.

They are 15-36 on the season and yet no major moves have been made.

Dave Trembley is still the manager despite owning the worst record in baseball and has never won more than 68 games since taking over as manager of the Orioles mid-way though 2007.

Terry Crowley is still the hitting coach despite the Orioles being dead last in runs scored, 10th in batting average, 13th in on base percentage and 11th in slugging and overseeing an offense that has routinely finished near the bottom of the league over the last 10 years.

And Garrett Atkins and his .555 OPS is still on the major league roster. And it's not like Atkins' .555 OPS is a fluke. The writing was on the wall for 3 years that Atkins was finished. But MacPhail took a $4.5 million dollar chance on him anyway.

It's inexcusable. It's maddening. And it's not fair to fans.

Andy MacPhail shouldn't have to atone for the decade of losing that took place before he arrived in Baltimore, but in 3 years as GM of the Orioles, he's beginning to create his own legacy in Baltimore. And it's one of indecisiveness and disregard for the fan. So where is the urgency to save his legacy? Does he even have one?

I am not saying that Dave Trembley should have his heart ripped out at home plate so fans can feel better. But I would like to see him held accountable for the embarrassment that occurs each time the Orioles take the field. Despite the injuries and slumps this team has had to deal with, they are a lifeless and spineless group of players. And while the manager can't bat or pitch, he can have an impact on a player's mentality and attitude, and right now, Dave Trembley is not getting results.

Terry Crowley is way past his expiration date in Baltimore. And the proof that so many hitters are struggling is in the pudding. This wasn't going to be the 1931 Yankees offense by any means, but it was supposed to be better than average thanks to some promising young hitters like Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold. And Crowley has to take some of the blame when NONE of those hitters has improved.

Garrett Atkins is a complete waste of a roster spot on a major league baseball team. He should join Eric Byrnes on his slow-pitch softball team...and I even wonder if Atkins would be any good there.

What I basically want to see, is a GM who holds his employees responsible, like any other business would. Yet, in Baltimore, you can be a mime in the dugout (Trembley), fail to help any hitter under the age of 26 improve (Crowley) or produce a .555 OPS (Atkins) and your job is completely safe.

Most businesses that allow for this kind of mismanagement fail quickly. Imagine a restaurant where the results in the kitchen or on the floor were similar to what is going on with the Orioles. Its tables would be empty in no time.

And it's no mistake that the seats are empty in Camden Yards. The fans are onto the Orioles. They aren't buying this steaming pile of shit they pass off as major league baseball any more.

At least not until we see people judged by the results they've put forth on the playing field.