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July 25, 2010

Tatum demoted; Matusz reaction: "Everyone's going to feel this one"

The Orioles did the difficult and expected move Sunday morning, optioning backup catcher Craig Tatum to the Triple-A Norfolk to make room for starting catcher Matt Wieters from the disabled list.

In the transactions, it looks like a clean swap: One catcher for another. In reality, it was a little more complicated. Because the bullpen has been taxed, the club couldn’t afford to lose a reliever. And with a short bench they needed as much flexibility as possible.

So Jake Fox, who can catch and play other positions and would have had to clear waivers before being demoted, was kept. And Tatum, who batted .271 and filled in admirably for Wieters, was sent down since he had an option remaining.

“You carry 13 pitchers, so I am the guy that gets to take the fall,” a visibly disappointed Tatum said. “It sucks, but what can you do? I understand why I’ve got to go down, but at the same time, you don’t understand.”

Tatum likely will be back as soon as a roster spot opens, and that could be this week if the Orioles make a trade. But president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he couldn’t take that into consideration when making a move.

“You just can’t make promises, though, because you don’t know how these things are going to unfold,” MacPhail said. “But clearly, we made it clear to him that we really felt like he certainly played to the level that showed he was capable of handling the job that we asked him to handle.”

Unless there is an injury, Tatum must be down in Norfolk at least 10 days.

It certainly wasn’t a popular move in the clubhouse. The pitchers liked throwing to Tatum and his easygoing attitude quickly meshed with young players and veterans alike.

“He has done everything plus more. He has done everything expected to stay here and be here and that’s why it is tough,” said starter Brian Matusz. “I think everyone’s going to feel this one. It’s really unfortunate because he deserves to stay here.”

Said veteran Kevin Millwood: “It sucks. It sucks bad, because he made the team out of spring and I don’t think anyone expected him to make the team. And he has done nothing but overachieve since Day 1. He is probably the one guy on this team that has done more than what is expected of him. For him to be the guy to go down, it’s sad.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 12:33 PM | | Comments (26)


i'll tell you who "sucks bad": millwood

stay in some games and protect the 'pen instead of crying to the sun and your buddy stays up on the big club

Keeping 13 pitchers is a joke, just like Peter Angelos and this whole franchise has become a joke.

The Orioles have just quit. Q-W-I-T.

If Matusz doesn't wake up, he's gonna be in Norfolk with him. QUIT WHINING and play the game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Send down Matusz and Weiters, then we can all get super excited about the two can't miss prospects in the minors.

The Orioles placed themselves in this predicament. When you acquire guys like Millwood and Hendrickson and have to bring up others like Mickolio and Castillo because you have a lousy farm system or don't want to spend money on quality players, this is what happens. Just more front-office issues.

"Pitchers" is a misnomer regarding this team.

Given the absymal record and the major role horrible "pitching" has played it would be a better idea to refer to "The Dirty Baker's Dozen" as "throwers."

Well, I think most fans (the ones that are left) are not too concerned what the O's players think about a very average (but nice guy) being sent down ---- Matasz should have went with him.

Again, why did Wieters need to be brought up now? It's not like the O's are in any kind of race. Keep Wieters on the DL until he is FULLY healed and keep Tatum in the majors.

What kind of flexibility do the crappy Orioles really need to worry about? They stink and are going nowhere. Now we're taking productive players and telling them that it doesn't matter how well someone plays. Merit no longer has anything to do with roster decisions.

This sends a horrible message.

Maybe Millwood and Matusz instead of whining you should have tried to pitch better and they wouldn't have to have so many BP pitchers. You guys both suck.

Maybe Wieters could start living up to his hype (and salary) and make this a non-issue. STILL waiting on Wieters to start clicking this year and somehow build on last year. No surprise to anyone, this has been a year of noticeable regression for our prized catcher.

That's baseball. The human drama of althetic competition... It's designed to break your heart. Just ask Crash Davis.

As someone pointed out, everyone was angry when the Os kept Tatum over Moeller, now they're upset that they're keeping Fox over Tatum. (Maybe we could mold Fox and Moeller into one player "X Files" style and call him Fox Moeller.)

When Tatum goes to another club someday and becomes an All Star, can he look back at this and smile, and the Os will kick themselves... again.

Millwood needs to stay quiet on this. He's the big reason we're carrying so many pitchers. Same with Matusz. These guys don't get it, and Millwood is not helping these pitchers learn how to succeed.

I'm tired of this entire pitching staff and coach. Shut up and start pitching like big leaguers for a change.

I am not trying to defend anyone's performance. But I asked them the question. They gave the answers. It's not as if they came looking for us. They just answered a question that was asked. Can't fault them there.

Being sent down by McFailure is actually good, because everything he does is wrong. Being sent down by McFailure is like being promoted by any competent GM.

A not-so-subtle put down of Wieters who perhaps should be in Norfolk finding his groove. This club would not miss him at all.

They should have released Michael Gonzalez.
Tatum has been stalwart since he arrived here.
It's really not fair at all.

This is the worst possible thing to have done. I am a baseball nerd, I admit. Probably an apologist as well, but this move is idiotic.

I spent time doing some research over the All Star break, and the O's had a winning record in games that Tatum had started, this no longer is the case I will add. He handles the staff 100% better than Weiters. I also believe Weiters needs to invest in a first basemans mitt soon. Every young pitcher we have pitches a lot better to Tatum than Weiters, it is very evident if you actually suffer through watching the games like I do. Hence the comment from Matusz. Not good news. It would also probably benefit Weiters to be able to spend more time working on his hitting if he were not behind the plate. We shall see I guess.

Let's see: The team with the worst record in baseball sends down one of the few players that has produced when he is called upon. Priceless!
Once upon a long time ago it was customary for major league teams to carry 10 pitchers and to have as many as three catchers on the roster.

Whether the Orioles carry 12 or 13 pitchers is not going to make a difference in wins and losses now. I believe it is important that young players know that if they produce they will stay in the big leagues, but ths is the Orioles organization, isn't it.

Everyone feels badly about Tatum's demotion. But if Matusz, Millwood, Arietta and company did a better job, we would not have to keep a staff of 13 pitchers.
This script is getting tiresome. O's pitcher gets bombed and is out of the game by the 5th inning; Hendrickson comes in as the sacrificial lamb and gives up a few more runs, and the game is well out of hand because we scratch for 1 or 2 runs and the other team get hits home runs to score. Today's game was pretty much a carbon copy and last Sunday's game and so many others. What was amazing today was Arietta probably had better stuff than Slowey (Twins pitcher) and yet Slowey pitches into the 7th inning giving up one run, while Arietta is all over the place, walks three, hits a batter and then gives up a grand slam.
Everyone says show patience, but the O's young pitchers give you very little hope that they will develop into competent major leaguers. It was a very poor idea to have so many young pitchers trying to learn at the major league level without competent veterans to cushion some of the blows. All of the O's young starting pitchers should be in the minor's until they learn how to pitch.

Nothing changes till ownership changes oh well thank goodness for football season.....

The O's are such a mess that you really do not know where to start to fix this team. Andy McPhail may have had success or luck in turning around the Twins and Cubs, but I have serious doubts that he will be able to do the same here - no matter how much time he is given. It makes you wonder if he was given credit for the work of his staff when he was with the Twins and Cubs because nothing he has done for the O's has worked, and the team is actually worst on the field than when he took over.
How about a new plans that strives to put the best possible team on the field. Bring in some good players that are not past the prime. How about going back to pitching and defense? How about making a decision on a manager? The more one looks at McPhail’s body of work with the O’s, the more concerned for the future you get. This team reminds me of so many losing franchises across sports such as Wizards, Raiders, Lions, Royals, etc. No matter what they do or who they bring in, they continue to lose. They get the No. 1 draft choice; he is a bust or gets hurt. You bring in good players, they do not perform. Losers find ways to lose and winners find a way to win (e.g. Ravens). The O’s are losers and cannot use traditional methods to turn the franchise around. We need new, smart leadership that make calculated, high percentage moves, whether it be buying free agents or making trades to improve the product on the field. (And improving the team on the field does not have to come at the expense of the farm system. Good teams do both.) The O’s leaders are not capable of making the bold moves necessary to turn this team around. We can't even hire a manager who is foolish enough to want to take the job. Yes - It looks like we are stuck with bad baseball for the foreseeable future. What a shame.

Dan: Does Tatum still collect his Major League salary while at AAA? If not, don't you think the classy thing to do would of been to put him on the DL so that he could at least continue to collect his higher pay. I mean he did take a pretty good whack to his throwing hand last night. And as far as him being a "catch & throw guy", I've seen him catch, but when is he gonna start throwing? I mean what's he like 2 of 23? That's pathetic.

Jeff Z's reply: No, he doesn't make his big league salary while he's in the minor leagues.

Well, I too disagree with this move, but in retrospect, the O's SP again failed to make much of an impression, and taxed the bullpen. I guess ya gotta do what ya gotta do. If I owned the club the 1st thing I would do is take $100,000 and pay $10,000 bonuses to each of the best 10 minor league player evaluators and scouts that I could find. Are the O's "EVER" gonna have a player live up to their billing? I'm seriously beginning to believe that these guys know absolutely nothing about player personnel. C'mon Birds, someone "has" to know how to play this game, right?

Go O's!

Yep it sucks.....but it's also called mismanagement by the bunch of utter boneheads running this train wreck of a team.

Tell you what, guys: Start pitching better, and you can have an opinion on the backup catcher. Until then: spare me.

He's a backup catcher on the worst team in the major leagues. I think we can continue to be the worst team in the major leagues without him.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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