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June 23, 2011

Orioles news, notes and opinions: minor league depth, Davis, Scott, set-up tandem, Russell, Lugo

The Orioles have their share of problems, but one of the most concerning things has to be the uneven production of their prospects in the upper level of the minor leagues. Third baseman Josh Bell has shown some signs, batting .261 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs against Triple-A pitching. But he has also struck out 75 times in 271 at-bats and has made 13 errors. Norfolk first baseman Brandon Snyder is also hitting .262 with eight homers and 32 RBIs, numbers hardly befitting of a first baseman in the American League East. Double-A Bowie first baseman Joe Mahoney, the organization’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year, has been dogged all season by injuries. His Baysox teammate, Xavier Avery, the organization’s top outfield prospect, has come on lately to raise his average to .265, but he’s striking out too much and his defense and baseball instincts are regularly questioned. Bowie’s LJ Hoes, who entered the season as the organization’s top second base prospect, recently went 5-for-5 to raise his average to .281. However, consistency has been an issue, and he has mostly been playing the outfield at Bowie. And, of course, there is the possibility that Dan Klein, perhaps the organization’s No. 1 pitching prospect, will miss the rest of the season with a SLAP tear in his labrum. Sure, people continue to rave about shortstop Manny Machado, who debuts at Frederick tonight, and Keys infielder Jonathan Schoop and there have been some nice surprises, like reliever Cole McCurry. But there remains a serious void at the upper levels of the minor leagues with players who can come up soon and help the Orioles win. How else can you explain two guys who weren’t even invited to big league spring training -- Chris Jakubauskas and Blake Davis -- occupying spots on the 25-man roster? There’s still plenty of time for this to change, but which guys in Bowie and Norfolk are making statements that they should be heavily considered for big league jobs next spring? I’m sure people are going to blame this guy or that guy, and that’s fine. But it has to be considered an organization-wide failure. Andy MacPhail heads the front office, so it’s certainly on him. It’s also on the player development and amateur scouting departments, both past and present.

The big question everybody has been asking since yesterday is why Davis, who made the decisive error in the series-finale loss to Pittsburgh, was starting at second base in his major league debut when he hadn’t started a game at that position all year at Norfolk and has started just 19 games there over his six-year minor league career. The simple answer is Robert Andino is not going to start every day and Davis is considered the utility infielder on this club. Orioles manager Buck Showalter clearly wants to give Andino most of the starts, so the club didn’t feel that it was prudent to have a prospect like Ryan Adams sitting on the bench rather than getting regular at-bats. No disrespect to Davis, but he is 27 and probably better suited for that role than Adams. It’s a fair question to ask why Davis and not a veteran like Nick Green or Brendan Harris, who have handled utility roles in the big leagues before. From what I can gather, the answer is that Davis was playing well at Norfolk, had done whatever he was asked, including moving to the outfield, and some felt that he should be rewarded with a promotion over guys like Green or Harris, who have both flirted with the Mendoza Line for much of the season. They also felt that Davis, who figures to play sparingly anyway, could handle the position in the few opportunities that he’d get. I can’t say that I don’t see the rationale. For years, Orioles minor leaguers have been getting promotions because of a desperate need at the big league level, not because they’ve necessarily earned a shot. That’s not a good situation either.

If you needed further proof that left fielder Luke Scott still hasn’t found his swing and rhythm at the plate, you got it in the fifth inning Wednesday, when Pirates starter Kevin Correia, whose stuff was mostly underwhelming on the afternoon, blew a letter-high, 3-2, 90 mph fastball by Scott. Last year, Scott went a couple of months without missing a pitch like that. I'm not sure whether it’s the shoulder or just another one of his slumps, but he has to get going. A .239 average, eight homers and 21 RBIs at this point of the season just isn’t getting it done.

Because I really should say something positive, one element that has really worked out so far for the Orioles is the set-up tandem of Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara. The two complement each other very well, with Johnson throwing that hard sinker and that mid-to-high-90s fastball in the sixth and seventh innings and Uehara coming in with his tricky arsenal of well-located split-fingered fastballs and off-speed pitches in the eighth. The two have combined to make 64 appearances and go 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA. In 77 combined innings, they’ve allowed just 59 hits and walked 12 while striking out 72. There are not too many other teams that have a pair of setup men with numbers like that.

I should have included this yesterday, but Orioles coach John Russell basically confirmed on a Pittsburgh Pirates pre-game show that he will be the bench coach for the rest of the season with Willie Randolph, who was hired to be the bench coach, coaching third base going forward. Showalter didn’t say it that strongly the other day, but he did acknowledge the team could continue with the way things were in Pittsburgh with Randolph at third and Russell on the bench, based on the team’s needs. Showalter is not going to throw Russell under the bus, nor should he. Regardless of what's being said, I’m sure there were a lot of things that factored in the decision, including a couple of Russell’s ill-advised sends during the first 2 1/2 months.

In case you missed it, former Oriole Julio Lugo was promoted to the big leagues by the Atlanta Braves and went 1-for-3 in their 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. Lugo signed a minor league deal with the Braves late last month and played 13 games at Triple-A before he was summoned back to the major leagues.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:30 AM | | Comments (57)
Categories: Minors
        

Comments

The thing about the top level minor league system is the O's have promoted so many people over the last 3-4 years it is tough to maintain a farm system. If they can sign Hardy, the only major need positions for 2012 are 1B and DH assuming Reimold can handle LF everyday which I think he can. Plus, if they can trade Scott, Vlad, Guthrie, Lee and maybe Hardy if he doesn't sign they can replenish the upper levels fairly quickly.

To me, the Rangers and O's look like a natural trade match. JJ or Koji to Texas for Chris Davis who is a solid MLB ready young 1B who is being forced to sit by Moreland. Rangers need bullpen help badly.

Jeff, when do you think the Orioles will start selling some of their veteran players?

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Jeff Z's reply: I'm a little skeptical of how many of their veteran players and expected trade chips have any value at this point, but I don't think you'll see much movement on that front until mid July at the earliest.

I think the poor play and lousy results are getting to me more this season than anytime in the last dozen years. I didn't expect the FA pickups we got this season to put the O's into contention, but I really did think this was going to be a demonstrably better team this season, and following the uplifting finish to last year, was truly looking forward to finally seeing a team that was good enough to make the other teams in the division at least have to take them seriously.
Instead, here we are closing in on the half way point in the season and nothing has changed.
The O's still leave armies of base runners, still make costly errors regularly, still have spotty, inconsistent pitching, and still have nobody in the minors who can come up and make an impact.
More than a decade's worth of high draft picks, and the minor leagues have nobody. 4 years of "rebuilding" to put a team on the field that is 6 games under .500 with more than half the season to play.
Year after year, nothing changes except the faces and names.

...maybe Russell was thinking that ou offese has been sranding too many runners, and what the heck....good move by Buck

Ahhh gone are the days when I went to Hagerstown Suns games and actually saw future Oriole talent on the field. I've seen a few Baysox and Tides games and they are so underwhelming to say the least. Is this just the front office not being able to recognize talent or a scouting problem.
How are our coaches down on the farm these days? It doesn't seem that hardly any guys coming up these days from the minors really have a grasp on what seems to be the fundamentals of the game and that is just embarrassing as a franchise. I love the O's and will continue to do so but it's so sad to see the club continue to fall further and further away from the rest of the pack. I would say that our record is not terrible as far as our records have been in the past but it just feels like we are missing something. There are a few positives for me this season though:
Adam Jones, Zach Britton, JJ, and Koji like Jeff just said. Other than that Reynolds HRS just don't offset that terrible defense. He has been playing better as of late at the plate but we need much, much more. Lee has been great in the field, poor at the plate, probably a good influence on the younger guys, but not the hitter we hoped he could be.
Vladdy is now strictly a singles hitter and Markakis, well there has been enough of that talk and clearly NO ONE knows what his deal is. Anyway needed a moment to vent. Go O's!!

Regarding LJ Hoes:

Why is the organizations' top 2nd base prospect playing mostly in LF at Bowie?

At Bowie this year he has played 1 game at 2b, 17 in LF and 6 in RF...and yet he is the top 2nd base prospect?

I think you may be wrong in your reasoning. It doesn't appear to me the Orioles view him as a 2B prospect.


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Jeff Z's reply: Real good point. Should have read their top 2B prospect coming into the season.

p.s. you don't have to post the previous entry (orthis one), I should have put that in the entry.

I just wanted to give you a little reader backup.

Do the Orioles make the case that MLB simply has too many teams for available talent? I wonder. The team cannot attract top free agents. And for a decade the club has been unable to draft well enough to develop its own talent - even with top picks due to poor finishes.

So what is it? Is Orioles management just especially awful to produce (apparently) 14 years without serious talent. Or would contracting baseball by 4 teams or so and dispersing the talent create better MLB baseball.


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Jeff Z's reply: There's enough talent out there. You just have to explore different means of finding it if you're not going to attract the top free agents.

Jeff, the reason the Orioles have had so many consecutive losing seasons is because of one reason, and although Peter Angelos is partly to blame (for not firing these morons), it's actually the entire Orioles scouting department. How can a team with so many consecutive top-ten picks in the draft, continue to perform so poorly? Calvin Pickering, Ryan Minor, Adam Loewen, Radhames Liz, Hayden Penn, the list of "top prospects" (as told to the fans) can go on and on, but not one of these guys panned out.

The Sun had a slideshow of the Orioles 1st round picks over the past 10 or so years and I wanted to vomit as I clicked through it. For as terrible as this team has been, we should have a farm system deeper than the hole the Orioles seem to dig for themselves every game. I can't stand watching band-aid teams that are attempting to cover the wounds inflicted by our inept scouting department. Yes, we may have picked some winners in Matusz, Wieters, Britton and Machado, but Sarah Palin could've selected those picks with as much buzz as they got leading up to the draft.

I don't know why this issue hasn't been made into a bigger deal than it is. When the team's best minor leaguer-turned major leaguer (Adam Jones, in my opinion) came from another team's farm system, that says a lot. Jeff, as a lifelong Orioles fan, I ask that you bring this issue to light as often as possible, or this team will never get turned around.

Jeff,
If things continue as they are, who do you envision as trade candidates at the deadline ? THANKS

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Jeff Z's reply: I think their two biggest trade chips right now are Hardy and Guthrie, and I'm not sure they'll trade either one unless they are overwhelmed. They obviously want to explore extending Hardy first. Koji is a name that will attract some interest, but durability concerns obviously won't help. I think there will be some interest in Guerrero, though with his salary and down power numbers, I'm not sure you'd get too much in return. Don't see markets right now really for Derrek Lee and Luke Scott.

I asked whether the Orioles are particularly awful at finding and developing talent. And Jeff's reply is that there is enough talent.

So why do we think the Orioles will get better at finding and developing talent?


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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, that's what I wrote because other organizations are obviously doing a good job of finding talent out there. KC Royals, despite their losing ways, don't appear to be having a hard time adding talent, mostly through good drafting. Your question is "why do we think the Orioles will get better at finding and developing talent?" I'm not sure what you are asking. But as has been written many times, the Orioles need to draft better players and do a better job of developing those players. They need to make trades in which they get young players, who may be blocked or underappreciated in other organizations, and let them develop here. They need a far bigger presence internationally, and not just sign international free agents, but sign good ones. It's about quality not quantity. It all kind of falls under the umbrella of better scouting, coaching, development, decision making, etc.

Jeff,

How much do you think developing the talent plays a role in their success? Not simply picking the right players, but knowing what to do with them, what position to play them, when to promote, etc. I don't think it's a coincidence that most all of our prospects become duds, we can't be picking the wrong players that often. A lot of it has to be what we do with them once we get them. I was watching the White Sox game yesterday and their closer Santos looked great. Announcers said he was a converted infielder who couldn't hit but had a great arm. The only player I recall switching positions for us after failure was Loewen and we know why and how that worked out..

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Jeff Z's reply: That's huge, too. The Scouting and Player Development go hand-in-hand.

Jeff,

How is Cesar Izturis coming along? I would trust him more as a Mendoza line hitting 2b than any of the other names you mention.


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Jeff Z's reply: Izturis is actually progressing faster than anybody expected, and Showalter said the other day, there is a chance that he returns right around the All-Star break.

Jeff,

I agree mostly with your comments on the state of the farm system. I'm not trying to bash anyone's job performance or anything like that. The stated goal of the GM when he took the job was to repair the farm system as that was the way to compete on a "level playing field". Some good work has been done I think with the renovation of Ed Smith stadium in Sarasota and the reorganization of the minor league managing/development hierarchy. But aside from that, the results on the field just aren't there. You outlined the shortcomings of the system so I won't get into that. Sure, it produced one semi-solid wave, but that wave hasn't helped the team get above 500 yet.

What doesn't make sense to me is: why is this team getting ready to dump 20-25% of its yearly salary into one player when he probably won't bring the team closer to playoff relevancy and when the front office has yet to fully fix the struggling farm system?

Yeah it would be nice to watch Prince launch moon shots onto Eutaw, but how many games above 500 are they really going to be with him? 4-5? That isn't going to get us the wild card. The other thing about Prince is that he wants a contract that will keep him here until he's 35. DLee is 35 this year and we've seen how hard its been for him to stay on the field. Yet another thing is: with the upcoming labor talks and possible realignment - is there even going to be a DH position to move him to once his mobility inevitably declines. Just saying.

Wouldn't it be more prudent (to borrow an expression) to take that 20 mil/yr and actually put it to use in the draft? I mean actually making a run at more than 2-3 "impact"/"signability"/whatever you want to call them. Get 6-7 overslot players and give them good money to get them to drop their scholarships, etc. Over the course of that 160 mil big money contract for Prince or Reyes, that would be around 50-60 quality kids in the system over 8 years to start to get it where it should be.

At most they got 3 true impact kids through the draft the past couple of years. And they are perenially reluctant to trade away their best chips come July so the talent influx doesn't come from that avenue either.

I realize the plan has moved on from Phase 1, but I don't see the evidence that enough work was done during that period that will sustain us for years to come which was the stated goal of that Phase.

I like AM and the O's are unarguably a better organization since he's been here, but in my opinion there is a LOT more work to be done before they are in a position to devote so much $$ resources in one player. Hopefully realignment happens and Hope returns to Baltimore summers.

I think those of us who pay attention to the farm realized that a significant dip in the pipeline was coming. Though it's easy to lose perspective. Many teams might just get a single quality prospect get an opportunity in a season. The rest is going to be mostly depth moves. The last 3 or so years we've seen Wieters, Matusz, Arrieta, Bergy, Britton, Reimold, DHernandez, etc all get shots. That's actually a pretty good group to reach.

That said, the last two top picks were highschoolers, and the rest of the best picks have been pitching.We weren't going to see a big prospect come up this year, after Britton. Next year is probably the real "dip" year though.

Hi Jeff,

Great summary, as usual. No sugarcoat. bob, if you are out there, there is a journalist in this town who says the Emperor has no clothes. The Orioles clearly failed at player developmant and scouting for many years prior to Andy Macphail, and have continued to do so on his watch. Baseball experts such as yourself, Keith Law, and Ken Rosenthal have continually pointed out that the Orioles have not made a serious investment in International Scouting, particularly in Latin America, which is being strip mined by many MLB organizations.

I guess when all is said and done it just comes down to money. The organization thinks there is a way to get it done without spending it. Angelos just does not want to make the financial committment to either marquee FA talent, nor scouting and player development. And the front office is not smart enough to figure out how to do it on a short leash.

Am I missing something here Jeff? How can a team become competitive in the AL East by trying a one track plan...trading veterens for prospects and then signing retreads as warm bodies?

Jeff, I really don't know who the stooges are in the front office that arrived with Peter Angelos, but until they are purged, the status quo will not change.

The paucity of talent and the lack of the ability to execute the fundamentals of the game bespeak a disrespect of the game and the fans by the front office.

I can live with the errors and losses, but the inability to manage the game, to run the bases and advance runners really drives me crazy.

In addition to a mounting history of poor scouting, there is virtually no Latin American or Asian presence. The Oriole Way has a much different meaning than it had in the now ancient glory days. When quality free agents look at this (dis)organization, there is no way they would come here to lose if the money is equal anywhere else. It seems that a change of ownership (not the Angelos sons) is the only thing that could inspire this lowly embarrassing franchise. McPhail is one in a long line of helpless stooges.

Great post. At some point we have to be realistic about what this team, and its management, have done well and what they have struggled with. Ultimately it all rolls up to MacPhail, and given that almost everyone associated with the Os right now, at all levels, seems to be hitting .260 or less, there is no way to view this other than as a systemic problem with the Orioles' entire system. Whether in scouting or in player development, or more likely a combination of the both, the Orioles are failing to build a high-caliber talent pipeline. This, despite picking high in every draft and trading away players like Tejada, Bedard, Huff and Sherrill to inject even more talent into the system.

I know that MacPhail is regarded as some kind of baseball savant, but given that we are now 4 years and counting into his "three year plan" and remain a doormat both in the AL East and in MLB generally I think it's past time to question whether he is really the right guy for the job (we just lost series to the Nats and Pirates, so that "if only we weren't in the AL East!" mindset won't fly).

MacPhail seems to think he is the smartest guy in the room, repeatedly making high risk bets on flawed players avoided by other teams, and refusing to seriously pursue any prime free agent whatsoever, despite his promise to "buy the bats" and repeated statements that he would "open the pocketbook" after 1-2 rough years at the beginning of his tenure. At the end of the day, self-promotion only goes so far any you actually have to live with the results, and as a whole MacPhail's "smartest guy in the room" approach to MLB franchise management has been a failure.

If MacPhail doesn't show us something over the remainder of this year I say we throw him overboard and find someone who can. If nothing else, I'm sure we could find a GM who will deliver doormat teams year-in and year-out for a lot less money...

Why aren't the Orioles more active with top prospects in the international market? Teams like Colorado and the Yankees stock their systems with these players; the Orioles rarely have an international player of significance. Schoop appears to be one, but the track record, overall, is very poor.

Bringing up a non-2B prospect to play 2B is NO stranger than opening the season with 2 DH's, 3 SS's & NO backup Catcher. The decision making by O's is suspect. We give up 2 minor league arms for 1 year rental like Millwood, a high 2nd round draft pick for Gonzalez, 2 power arms for Reynolds & his 200+ K's, a top 5 pick for projected 2nd round pick in Hobgood, G. Atkins on a 3 yr downward spiral etc etc. Why does anything the O's do NOT surprise us?? Why worry about mid-season trades as we've netted zilch over the past 10 yrs from these mid-season trades (actually salary dumps) while TB & Toronto keep their vets, eat some salary & net compensatory picks. I see no hope in O's passing TB & Toronto much less NY & Boston. TB has more young talent @major league level, much more talent at minor league level (ranked 2nd by Baseball America vs 21st for O's) & just got 10 of top 60 players in draft while we got ONE. Does anyone seriously see any hope for this sorry excuse for an organization???

Todd Schaefer, you really expect The Sun to actually be critical of the Orioles?

With newspapers declining readership and revenue, The Sun knows where its bread and butter is and it isn't by slamming Peter Angelos and the Orioles and pointing out their incompetence.

Sure they'll give some "fluff" pieces about how bad they are, but they won't be downright critical.

Luke is hurt or not a major league hitter. His footwork is terrible, and he looks like a fool up there.

Yeah, the minor league situation is depressing. I think the Orioles have not been aggressive enough in trading away guys at the peak of their value in order to build their system with prospects. I said that we should trade Bergesen after that unexpected good year 2 years ago, and Scott in this past off-season. McPhail settles for small victories like Bergesen way too often, as he did in Minnesota, and I am not sure he has the chutzpah to make the risky moves that we are going to have to make to compete in this division.

This risk-adverse attitude is also is what is driving the Orioles' confounding and frustrating refusal to involve themselves adequately in Latin America. We're getting killed down there. Sure there are some hustles and nonsense, but those just have to be part of the cost of doing business, as it is for most of the other teams in this game.

Can't wait to see Adam Loewen hit a HR next year at the Yard. [Toronto] Also look for Vandy 3rd baseman to come out of his mini slump, 2nd round pick, this Friday.

Kansas City has talent. .419 vs. O's .458? In the AL Central. Next year or two, maybe. Or, maybe not. We shall see.

McFail needs to be gone. When the team's AA and AAA players are all twenty five years old or older that is indicative of a loose nut at the top. McFail wasted a lot of money on his free agent signings the last two years. He has traded away a lot of good, young talent for washed up, overpaid players. He needs to be far away from Baltimore.

Amen to the poor scouting dept. ,draft dept., & player development, & the entire dysfunctional org.To repeat, we've drafted high for 14 yrs., where the #@^$ is the improvement?
Bty the time we get better organized, another 14 yrs. will go by, unless we make significant changes NOW!! & do we really think the few good players will stay here? Why would they?
The posts on here today should be presented to the Owner, GM,scouts, coaches & Mgrs.
Enough sugar coating, give the next generation something to watch, START NOW!!

Hey Jeff,

Just wondering if there is any talk among you guys about the Orioles refusal to play small ball. It isn't as obvious in the AL games, but when you get double digit hits night after night without winning against NL teams?...

Is anyone else concerned about Buck's decision making of late? If he hasn't figured out by now that this team can't sit around and wait to score runs, then he shouldn't be managing. Twice in the past week Andino came up with 2 on and none out and grounded into a double play. He should be an automatic bunt in those situations.

Baffled in Bethesda


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Jeff Z's reply: Not really. Andino, several times this season, has failed to execute on bunt plays. The Orioles have so few guys who are really fit to play small ball. They don't have much speed and they don't have too many good bunters on the team either.

Certainly our scouting is suspect, but it seems to me that player development is more the issue. Lots of teams miss on early round draft picks, it's a volatile business. But the good teams make up for that by developing the mid-round players into potential major league starters. I rarely see the O's do that. We seem to develop really good AAA players.

In looking at the team over the last few years, have any of our quality starters spent any appreciable time in our minor league system? Either we get them in trades or via free agency (Hardy, Jones, etc) or they rise through the system so quickly that you can't say for sure they were truly "developed" at all (Markakis, Matusz, Arrieta, Britton).

It seems that almost anyone we spend any real time developing turns out to be average at best, and almost always never "complete" players.

Jeff, your thoughts? (And as always, great job on the beat.)

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Jeff Z's reply: I think that's fair point. It's so hard for anybody to determine who is at fault. Was the player that they drafted just not good? Or did the player development dept. ruin him? Or was his career derailed by injures? Just real hard determinations to make. I could tell you that most draft pundits have praised a lot of Jordan's drafts at the time, but I don't know if that means anything. The bottom line, I guess, is that the Orioles simply haven't produced enough home grown talent and that's the responsibility of everyone.

Hey Jeff .. Seems like rebuilding the infield should be our #1 offseason priority. Do you see us going after Reyes who might be a more realistic acquistion rather than Fielder...


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Jeff Z's reply: Nope, don't see Reyes coming here, nor do I see the Orioles shelling out the kind of money that it would take to get him.

Hey Jeff,

Thanks for the updates!

Just wondering if Nolan Reimold will ever get a shot to play left field consistently? Not a game here and there but a few weeks?

In his limited time, his .261 average and .375 OBP is clearly better then anyone else. Pie has shown nothing and his defense is overrated.

Is Reimold not in the good boy club or is just being blackballed for something?

Thanks Jeff, love reading your column.

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Jeff Z's reply: I don't see it happening right now, not with Luke Scott back in left and felix Pie also on the roster. But a lot could happen over the next month or so. Luke Scott could get shut down with the bad shoulder. Scott could get traded. Pie could get traded. Vlad could get traded, moving Scott into the DH role. I agree with you at some point: The Orioles need to know what they have in left field going forward.

OK ... blaming a rookie [Davis] for the loss has go to stop. How pathetic can we get?! Last week we were blaming a fan for not interfering with a home run. C'mon!

Last I checked the error happened in the 5th. Our anemic offense had 4 innings left to score one run to tie the game. This team is not losing because of one play or one hit. They are losing because they are a terrible organization up and down.

Jeff...this is almost a rhetorical question after all the times it's been brought up, but do you see something within the organization itself that maybe us fans are missing?

Over the past 14 years, we've had countless managers, a handful of GMs, constant roster turnover, etc. and yet the same problems plague the team every single season. Angelos has been the only constant, but I find it hard to believe he's responsible for all the things gone wrong.

Any hunches, or are the O's just "cursed"?


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Jeff Z's reply: Wow Christoper, that's more a topic for a book than a response to a blog post. I'm not being evasive here at all, but there are obviously fundamental problems throughout the organization. I also think the whole losing culture is ingrained in the organization and that permeates through everything.

Jeff:great update as always.
I think many of us have been saying for quite some time there are very serious flaws in both the scouting department regarding draft picks & player development within this organization.
After all our years in the basement, & with all our wonderful draft picks, we should be fighting for first place every year & this should have been happening for at least the last 5 years.
We have nobody to blame but these guys & our wonderful leader Mr. McFail.
Stop this madness...they all need to be fired as they have done absolutely nothing to improve this team.
Our minor leagues are a barren wasteland, our supposed prized pitchers all have arm issues and there has not been one thing Jordan or McFail have done over the past 4 years that give me even minor hope that anything will change for the better.
McFail & Jordan must be held accountable for this joke of a team we run out every day & our inability to have young guns busting out in the minors just waiting for their chance.
We have no projected shortstop right now (Machado is at least 1-2 years away), no 2nd. basemen, no 3rd. basemen, no firstbasemen (1st. pick Snyder will never be a steady pro corner infielder), no outfielders a phone call away & a pitching crew top to bottom with more negitives than positives.
Kansas City has passed us, Cleveland has regrouped, Tampa is lightyears beyond us, Totonto has a minor league system well ahead of us & then there is New York & Boston who, with years of late draft numbers have continually chosen far better & smarter than we have.
Bottom line...they have smart, young, well informed GM's & player development & we don't.
The sad reality is not one thing will change untill we lure some of the bright, energetic & young staff away from the Tampa's & Boston's of the world & rid ourselves of these archaic old same old, same old clowns that have been running us into the worst team in Major League Baseball.
Basically shut out by the Pirates over 2 games...what more needs to be said?

How could Luke Scott be attractive as trade bait? In good times, he is streaky at best, has very limited defensive skills, and is playing with a torn labrum that will, he says, heal by a miracle. What kind of prospect would you get in return for that?

Pretty much the same story for Vlad and Lee. No pop to attract suitors. The only legitimate trade chip is Guthrie, whose value will be diminished by his league-lead in losses.

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Jeff Z's reply: I thought I said that I don't consider Luke Scott trade bait. He's one year away from free agency and he's going to make lot of money in arb. He has a torn labrum. He's not hitting and he's notoriously streaky to begin with. And most teams consider him exclusively a DH. Not much value there. Hardy would have value if they opted to trade him.

Jeff

I think I echo the sentiments of you and many posters already in saying that the scouting/development aspect of the organization is mediocre at BEST. I think over the last couple years they have improved at drafting players. How has this been done? By investing lots of money into players who scare other teams off because of contract demands. That's good! The Orioles have the money to do this and should continue to take advantage of this situation.

What I don't understand, is the almost non-existent presence the Orioles have in the international market! It really is unacceptable...

Here's how I look at it. The last couple years the Orioles have been cutting payroll, unloading their big contracts and saving money. Why don't they drop I dunno, 30 million dollars and invest in scouts or facilities in countries like Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Japan, or even Mexico, so that they can actually get into a market where they have no presence.

When I read about top shelf international talent like Sano, Chapman, Darvish and others who are looking to play in the USA I rarely see the Orioles mentioned in teams who are interested... Why???

Jeff:

Feels good to be right for once (re: Russell), although I'm glad Buck took the high road - the Pittsburgh series was the perfect time to make the switch.

Regarding your post: Ugh. It's painful when you read the truth and the facts. I remain a hopeful optimist and like to look at promising numbers. But the farm system is a nagging reminder that things really haven't improved much under Andy's management. I honestly don't understand how Joe Jordan has kept his job.

That being said - I STILL like this team moving forward. We all know it boils down to pitching, pitching and more pitching - and one must feel good about the likes of Britton, Arrieta, Matusz, et al (and the Bundys) anchoring the staff. The ONE thing that concerns me - and I don't worry about nonsense like Lee, Vlad, etc. - is the declining velocity of Arrieta (recent), and Matusz (since his return), Tillman (over 2 years already). Jeff, you and I have discussed this and you bring it up often, but it's the only thing that really concerns me. Otherwise, I'd feel confident about this organization's chances in the next number of years.

@Matt - The reason this team needs to spend 20-25% of it's team salary on one player like Prince Fielder is that it would immediately raise the credibility of the ballclub. We need a marguee, franchise player like Fielder NOW, not 10 years from now when nobody wants him yet we still have to overpay to get him. I honestly think adding Fielder would have a huge impact on not only the team's win/loss total, but also the ability to sign additional big name free agents.

@Kyle - My post wasn't meant to be a slight at The Sun, I actually meant that I'm surprised there hasn't been more fan outrage at the lack of farm system development. The focus seems to have been on failed free agent signings. Without the ability to do either, the team has been mired in 13 straight losing seasons. The free agents we do sign our done so with poor judgement, see Mike Gonzales. Yes, he may have been a good NL East reliever, but does that translate to pitching in the AL East? No. I'd be curious as to whether the front office even looked at his splits against the AL East during interleague play.

Jeff; As I`ve said time and time again this is a woeful organization from the top on down. The name of the game in pro sports is to win,period! One function,one goal. There are no moral victories. This team is light years away from even competing--never mind winning. The O`s have nothing in the minors, no significant trade bait and not nearly enough talent at the big league level. We need an owner that is passionate,dedicated ,and is willing to spend to bring in big league talent -- not the Garrett Atkins` of the world.Until that day we are all in for a lot more losing

Jeff,
Please do what ever you can to have MacFail not trade Hardy, he is the only good thing we have gotten from the offseason! He should be offered a 4- 5 year deal, let him play SS until Machado is ready and then slide him over to 2B. We dont have a solid 2B option in the minor and Roberts is cooked maybe one year left in the tank(meaning 50 games). so why not approach him with that scenario? whats your take?


...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Just one man's opinion, but I wouldn't touch four or five years with Hardy's injury history. I would talk 2 or 3 though.

How nice would it be to have Justin Turner right now?So glad the front office kept Pedro Florimon on the 40 man roster!

Jeff; As I`ve said time and time again this is a woeful organization from the top on down. The name of the game in pro sports is to win,period! One function,one goal. There are no moral victories. This team is light years away from even competing--never mind winning. The O`s have nothing in the minors, no significant trade bait and not nearly enough talent at the big league level. We need an owner that is passionate,dedicated ,and is willing to spend to bring in big league talent -- not the Garrett Atkins` of the world.Until that day we are all in for a lot more losing

Well any chances of Chris Tillman being called up anytime soon went out the window today. Six runs in less than 5 innings of work, plus the fact he threw too many pitches again. Ugh! In an effort to be positive here’s what Andy Mac should do:
When You Stumble, Make It Part Of The Dance! However, I think he’s fallen and can’t get up. He does however seem to have a free pass due to Angelos. As for observations about the Orioles as of late: Felix Pie has stunk! Brian Roberts’s contract really has the O’s hamstrung here. Since Pat Gillick left as GM, have the Orioles gotten a long term contract correct? My answer is no! Maybe someone can advise me? I read Izzy might be coming back sooner than later. Oh joy, can’t wait for that. We have zero flexibility with payroll because the Oriole fan base is disenfranchised. It will be interesting to see what the average attendance will be for the next six home games.

Jeff - to quote a portion of your response above " It's about quality not quantity"

I could not have said it better. Lets start with quality today by not being excitied about minor"quantity" draft signings when the two "quality" draftees(Bundy and Delmonico" are still unsigned.

The Orioles cannot fail to sign Bundy and Delmonico if they want to start becoming competitive with the rest of the Al East.

..............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Who said anything about getting excited? It's a secondary blog item on the afternoon of an offday.

Thank you for this article. The Orioles minor league system is usually spoken of about as much as a redheaded step child. It's unfortunate
that one injury can crumble a season for a major league team with a full blown minor league system. Out side of a few young pitchers and Wieters you would think the minors were populated by a number of PHAT HEAD cardboard cut outs.

Any rumblings out there on potential/available GM replacements yet? If the owner is serious, I think the rumors should start soon.


...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: John Hart is the name mentioned the most. He obviously worked w Buck in Texas.

with a day off today, i don't think Buck should have played Davis out of position yesterday in Pittsburgh.
We needed that series win.

I'm glad you mentioned Hardy and Guthrie as the only trade able guys with real value. Unfortunately the fans, and some media, are jumping on Hardy's bandwagon and want to sign him long term.

I don't have anything against Hardy but this team cannot improve significantly if they continue to buy high and sell low.

They don't move veterans at their peak (such as Scott last year). As a GM you have to make hard decisions and either move guys at their peaks or assume they will be a long term solution.

Guthrie is a solid guy but isn't signed long term and sure isn't a #1 starter. IF he has very good trade value he should be traded. Same for Hardy.

It is hard to judge this team with all of the injuries but not having Guthrie isn't going to hurt long term if you get something of value in return (1B? middle infielder?).

Roberts contract is going to serious hurt the Orioles since you just can't count on him anymore and he is signed through 2013.

Sadly the Orioles still have a lot of problems (1B, DH, LF and pitching) with few solutions in the minors. The also are looking up at Washington and Pittsburgh which few would have counted on at the beginning of the season.

Throw in a road heavy 2nd half with some tough teams and .500 is virtually impossible. I like what Buck has brought to the table (I think with previous managers this team would have collapsed already) but the Orioles have many, many problems.

(Just saw that Jim Riggleman has resigned. The Nats are somewhat dysfunctional and yet still better than the Orioles. Argh.)

JEFF good arcticle.. It is a shame mahoney and klein were hurt.. McCurry and Viola have been very good.. Even at frederick 1B townsend and of mummey are hurt too.. I wish they could talk to AZ. about their AA 1B from wilmington, DE. Still I have to include Rapada in the pleasent surprises as long as all you ask is the lefty matchup. STILL I believe the minors lower levels show some better prospects position players although still a little short on pitching.. Mummey, Townsend, Schutz, Schoop, Machado, do give some reason to hope but not before next summer.. IF THEY sign him their top two pitching prospects might become BUNDY and BUNDY next year...

The organization has failed at its plan to build a team for the future. We can now see Jonathan Schoop being pushed through the minor league system because a blind man can see that Brian Roberts' career is coming to a close. Only problem is, unless Schoop's light turns on and he displays a major improvement over the next 2 years, he doesn't look to be major league material.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: David, please tell me, how many times have you ever seen Schoop play?

Trade Markakis while you can. Franchise player? He's as over-rated and over-paid as they get.

The Orioles are a stinking mess? I'm shocked, totally shocked.

They better not trade Hardy! He's the only player on the Orioles that knows how to play baseball. The fans would be stunned! Is that what the O's want-----stunned fans in an already empty ballpark? Can't be good if that happens.

Jeff you make a lot of great points. It is frustrating to see where the Orioles are at compared to teams like the Royals. They have no shortage of talent, and at almost every position. The scouting and development for the O's is awful. Making selections like Hobgood push the longterm success of the club back years.

As many have pointed out, there should be several major league ready prospects in the minors with all of their recent top 10 picks. A truly scary thought, if some of the young talent on the club don't pan out there is no one witin the organization to replace them. The only pick in the last 10 years that looks like a perenial All Star is Wieters. And the only stud prospect we have received in a trade is Adam Jones.

I like McPhail's philosophy - and I think he has proven that he can swing some good trades, but he has to take some responsibility for the last few draft classes. If only we could bring back Pat Gilick.

Jeff, are there any Scouting Directors in retirement or options the Orioles could look to in the future?

Jeff,

Scouting and Player Development can be a chicken & egg thing, but i sense among some scouting types that they didn't want the O's to draft Bubba Starling because they feared that the O's couldn't develop him (or HS positional talent). As a side note, i wanted Bundy anyway.

Did you get any sense of that about drafting Starling from outside of the organization ?

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Jeff Z''s reply: No, I got impression they liked Starling. They just liked other players better.

Why no mention of Tyler Townsend, I think he is the best hitter in the minor organization?

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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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