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July 11, 2011

Orioles midseason report card

Midseason grades for the Orioles' players were posted as a photo gallery earlier today. If you're not inclined to browse the photos, here's a text-only version of the report card.

INFIELDERS

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Robert Andino, 59 starts, C, With Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis out for extended stretches, the Orioles have had to rely on Andino more than expected.

J.J. Hardy, 13 HRs, A-, Providing a jolt to the lineup and Gold Glove defense at short, Hardy has been the Orioles’ best offseason addition.

Derrek Lee, .127 with RISP, D, The first baseman has done exactly as the Orioles had hoped in terms of leadership and defense but hasn’t hit with any consistency.

Mark Reynolds, 20 errors, C+, The Orioles were prepared for his strikeouts, but his errors have diminished some of the good things the third baseman has done offensively.

Brian Roberts, 39 games, Inc., Concussion symptoms forced the second baseman to the sideline for much of the first half and left the team in a bind for the second straight year.

OUTFIELDERS

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Adam Jones, 49 RBIs, B, Still not a finished product, the center fielder has played hard and made steady improvements on offense and defense.

Nick Markakis, 11 doubles, C-, Lack of power remains a concern, though the right fielder at least started piling up hits to close an uneven first half.

Felix Pie, .223 avg., D, Pie hasn’t received many opportunities and certainly hasn’t done much with the ones he has had.

Nolan Reimold, 70 at-bats, C, He wasn’t tearing it up at Triple-A Norfolk but got a promotion anyway and has rewarded the club with a couple of big games.

Luke Scott, 22 RBIs, D, He has been hampered all season by a bad shoulder, and his availability for the second half is very much in doubt.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Vladimir Guerrero, 7 HRs, D, The potential Hall of Famer’s first half has done little to silence questions about how much he has left in the tank.

CATCHER

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Matt Wieters, 24 caught stealing, B, The All-Star has emerged as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and done enough offensively to keep critics at bay.

STARTERS

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Jake Arrieta, 9 wins, C, Walks have been the biggest issue for the righty, who leads the staff in wins and has made progress in his first full season.

Zach Britton, 18 starts, B-, Recent struggles and a demotion have done little to temper the organization’s enthusiasm about the rookie lefty’s potential.

Jeremy Guthrie, 12 losses, C, The hard-luck righty is at it again, eating innings and compiling a respectable ERA but finding ways to lose.

Chris Jakubauskas, 6 starts, D, The first couple of starts were serviceable, but the righty has been mostly overmatched during his trial run in the rotation.

Brian Matusz, 8.77 ERA, F, If the lefty isn’t injured — and he insists he’s not —his regression has to be the organization’s biggest concern in 2011.

Chris Tillman, 4.69 ERA, D, It has been more of the same for the righty, who falls short in velocity and command, and has failed to take the next step.

RELIEVERS

Player, Key stat, Grade, Skinny
Jeremy Accardo, 5.29 ERA, D, The free-agent acquisition lived a charmed life for a while before line drives starting finding gaps and the righty was designated for assignment.

Brad Bergesen, 5.65 ERA, D, It has been a battle to find consistency or rhythm, and it appears the sinkerballing righty will be in the bullpen going forward.

Jason Berken, 25 games, C-, The righty started the season in the bullpen, became a starter in Triple-A and now is back in the Orioles’ bullpen with mixed results.

Michael Gonzalez, 7 HRs allowed, F, The enigmatic lefty has pitched a little better lately, but the fact remains that the $6 million man has been used mostly in mop-up duty.

Kevin Gregg, 4 blown saves, C+, The closer has been pretty much what the Orioles expected, but three of the righty’s blown saves have started or extended losing streaks.

Jim Johnson, 52 1/3 innings, B+, After an injury-marred 2010, the righty’s return to being a reliable setup man has been one of the first half’s biggest positives.

Alfredo Simon, 4.85 ERA, C, The Orioles weren’t counting on the righty at all this year because of his legal troubles, but they’ve needed his versatility.

Koji Uehara, 2.03 ERA, A-, Other than being a little home run prone, the righty has exceeded all expectations with his effectiveness and durability.

NOTES: Grades are based on performance relative to each individual’s role on the Orioles’ roster. They are not intended to rate players in relation to one another or to other teams. Only players with 50 or more at-bats and pitchers with 20 or more innings were graded. Inc.—incomplete

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 8:16 PM | | Comments (15)
        

Comments

Jeff,

What grades would you give the coaching staff, Buck specifically, and Andy for their 1st half performances? Coaching staff has been odd with Russell and Randolph switching, and with Connor quitting. Andy has made no real moves so far, at least, none that have been meaningful and worked.

Thoughts/Grades?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I don't grade the coaching staff/front office individuals Petey because I just think it's too difficult.Take John Russell for example. Does he get an F because of some of his poor sends as third base coach or does he get an A because he works with the catchers and Matt Wieters has improved dramatically defensively? What about WIllie Randolph, who has done a real good job as 3B coach? Do you mark him down because he's the infield coach and Mark Reynolds has a league-leading 20 errors? And how would I assess the performance of first base coach Wayne Kirby? As I said above, just too difficult. In terms of MacPhail, he is in charge and the team is 16 games under .500 and in last place again. Don't think it's all his fault, but he is largely responsible for building this team so his grade at this time wouldn't be good.

Andy MacPhail is the Ed Wood of GM's.

If he ever became a movie producer, he'd be using tons of stock footage to fill in the main plots.

That's about the equvilent of how he has run this organization.

Britton is our highest graded starting pitcher (and deservedly so), which makes the Orioles' demotion of him more suspiciously like a money issue.

Is this the perception around the team, or at least with Zach? I am worried that this leaves a bad taste from management.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Britton made it clear that he wasn't pleased by the demotion, but I don't want to put words into his mouth. I think the move raised a couple of eyebrows among players but they also know that Britton was really scuffling.

Jeff,

How can u say he was struggling? He had a 3.47 ERA going into his last start. He has had 3 real bad outings in 18 ml starts. He was and is the best pitcher on the staff. For a rookie in his first go around in the AL beast he was doing pretty well.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Pretty easily Tom. He had almost a 7 ERA in his last 8 starts. He hadn't gone even six innings in six of his last 8 starts. Look at the numbers Tom provided in his post. The kid was scuffling a little. That's obvious. It's also obvious that there was several reasons the Orioles sent him down, and the whole service time issue and the fact that they want to keep his innings down played a part.

The argument made by Orsulakfan is silly, and made by someone clearly not watching, or even paying attention, to the games.

Let's just look at "our highest graded starting pitcher" (noting that Orsulakfan thinks that argument is deserving):

Last 4 starts: 17.1 innings/8.83 ERA; by the way, that's only 4.1 innings per start
Last 8 starts: 39.1 innings/6.86 ERA; under 5 innings per start

Also, he hasn't recorded an out in the 7th inning (or later) since May 18th.

What's so terrible about sending him down, letting him remember that he's got great stuff and getting a bit of confidence back?

And frankly, the idea of him saying that the demotion didn't please him has got to at least raise the eyebrows a bit. Unless he thinks he's been performing at a reasonable level for a MLB starting pitcher?

For this team, with all it's young starting pitching, I think defense is key. Lee's defense has been so good, he's up to C- for me. Reynolds' defense has hurt this team so much, I'd mark him down to D+. They can't afford to put up with such horrid 3rd base play - either he gets better immediately or they get someone better, but the status quo doesn't cut it.

For Vlad, I thought it made sense when they got him, but now it seems all the critics were right -- they'd have been better off with playing Reimold and Pie. Vlad gets an F.

I sure do wish the 2009 Brad Bergesen would make a comeback... he was good.

Jeff,

Troy Patton has pitched 42 innings at Norfolk with a ERA of 1.91. Is there any chance that he may now get an extended try with the MLB team? He's been up and down between Norfolk and Baltimore many times in the past year. I think he could help the team as a starter or reliever. The Os could put him in the rotation and then move him to the pen when Matusz and Britton are ready to return to the majors.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: With how unstable their pitching staff is right now, I wouldn't rule out anybody in Double-A and Triple-A getting an extended shot in the second half.

Anyone being sympathetic to Britton is naive. Of course he wants to be portrayed as the Aw Shucks just want to help the O's win guy but look at what he did in the offseason. Hired Boras and exactly how many of Boras' clients have ever given a hometown discount or not tried to shake every last cent out?

If I'm the O's I keep him in the minors all year for two reasons.

1. They have no chance of winning anything even with Bob Gibson.

2. Not only delays FA but also makes him Super Two which gives them an extra year before he hits arbitration.

What grade would give the team? While I agree it is hard to grade the position coaches it is not difficult to give a grade to Buck and Andy.

Buck - F for not moving Vlad out of the cleanup spot.

Andy - F for not being prepared for another injury to Roberts. To blame a bad season on Brian's injury one year shame on him, to try and blame two in row on an injury shame on Andy.

I appreciate the efforts you put into grading the team and I think you nailed it. Vladdy has to go. We need a first baseman who can hit and field. The pitching just fell apart despite how well it looked on paper coming into the season; it's enough to make a manager want to throw in the towel. The GM did a good job putting everything together and maybe the pitching will come around and Brian Roberts will be able to come back. Left field needs someone we don't have, no one is up to the task. Dump Scott. We have to stop putting the pressure on Markakis to be something he is not. He is a dependable hitter and an excellent fielder and any club in the majors would love to have him. He is not going to be a home run king so let's not press him to be one. Thanks.

Overall performance- F. This isn't a big league ballclub, it's an embarassment. It's time to trade any player that has even a shred of value. Guthrie, Johnson, Uehara, Markakis, Reimold, Pie, Reynolds, Hardy, Roberts, Lee, Vlad, trade 'em all.

Jeff-
A tough task, but overall pretty good grades. No one on this team deserves a good grade, and I love that you gave our only All star rep a B.

One thing though, I think you SHOULD compare against the average for their position or even more so for the average w/in the AL East. [Anyone else notice that ALL the AL home run derby contestants were from the AL East?]

How about throwing in WAR ratings? I think too often fans are so looking inward as to where the problem is. WAR would quickly tell you that the whole team is below average top to bottom - and where the real problem is rather than just sending down one player to work on mechanics.

Losses are penned to a team and their pitchers. Looking at the key stats and grades of the pitching staff says it all...rock bottom, last place. When you watch them your passion for their success says maybe not that far away. But then you look closer at an at-bat, a pitching sequence, an inning, and the mid-innings onward the cumulation says rock bottom. Still curious about the plan for pitcher development and transition from Connor to Adair. How far is the distance in depth, development, and talent is their between the Os staff and the likes of the staffs for the Braves, Giants, and Phils. Surely, first and last place. Can the Os management speed up the process is the huge question. When you look down the system, then you step back and say the distance will not close unless some prospect or two morphs overnight. Highly unlikely the way this system is currently set.

Jeff,

Is there a blog post coming with grades on front office and ownership?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply; No, those should be self explanatory. Look at the record.

Jeff,

I know you wrote 50 ABs but Jake Fox has 52 plate appearances this season. Could you give him a grade? His power is enjoyable to watch in Norfolk. Thanks! Great article!

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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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