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July 11, 2011

Orioles news, notes and opinions on Day 1 of All-Star break

Before I go any further, I want to do a little promoting, which is something I normally avoid so I apologize in advance. Even though the Orioles won’t have a game for three days, Dan Connolly or I will probably have at least one Orioles-related story on the site each day during the All-Star break. Coming later today is a nice feature Dan has written on All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, along with my Mid-Season Report Card grades on the Oriole players. We’ll also obviously look at the key storylines heading into the second half and review the disappointing first half. Check that stuff out, and we’d obviously love to hear any feedback you have.

Lost in all the talk of the hit batters and the contentious nature of the series was the fact that the ejection of Red Sox rookie pitcher Kyle Weiland was probably the worst thing that could have happened to the Orioles yesterday. At the time, Oriole fans and players probably were just glad to see somebody in a Boston uniform get tossed after Red Sox pitchers had hit four guys in a nine-inning span. But the Orioles chances of scoring runs were much better with Weiland on the mound than with Alfredo Aceves, who came in after the ejection and stranded men on first and third with no outs. Aceves went on to retire all nine hitters that he faced, four of them on strikeouts. Against the Orioles this season, he’s surrendered just one run and two hits in eight innings. You know things are going bad when an ejection of an opposing player doesn’t work in your favor.

While we are on the topic of ejections, that umpiring crew this past weekend made a couple of questionable decisions. No, they didn’t cost the Orioles any of the four games – nowhere close. What cost the Orioles is that their starting pitching was awful, they didn’t get enough timely hits, and they simply don’t have anywhere near enough talent right now to compete with the Red Sox or any of the other heavyweights in the A.L. East. With that out of the way though, I could use a good explanation for why Jeff Nelson’s crew handled things the way they did. The first problem I had is why were both benches warned after John Lackey drilled Derrek Lee in the seventh inning Saturday? Lee was the second guy that Lackey had hit a night after the whole benches-clearing incident to the Orioles’ none. I’ll let other people debate Lackey’s intent, but by warning both benches the way he did, he basically made sure that the whole conflict extended into Sunday’s game as well. I’m not advocating hitting somebody, but don’t you have to wait until a Red Sox batter gets hit until you warn both clubs? It’s like giving one team a free shot. The Orioles bullpen was taxed as it was and obviously they couldn’t afford to have one of their available relievers thrown out of Saturday's game. And then Marty Foster warning both benches yesterday after Jeremy Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis with a changeup to load the bases for David Ortiz with one out in a tie game was even more curious? And that obviously led to the ejection of Weiland for hitting Vladimir Guerrero with a pitch that nobody felt was intentional. I understand umpires have pressure on them to control games because bench-clearing brawls are just ugly for the sport, but common sense should prevail.

I do find it a little ironic that the two Orioles being lauded for sticking up for their teammates and showing some fight after Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez, who are probably Public Enemy 1 and 2 among Oriole fans. I wonder if their actions over the weekend will change any opinions.

This is more me thinking aloud than anything, but I’d have to think the Orioles’ front office is active with clubs trying to acquire one or two veteran starting pitchers. I’m not talking about a top-flight starter. I’m talking about a guy capable of pitching five or six innings with some regularity every five days. You just can’t keep running guys out there, and watch them get knocked out of the game after one or two innings. That not only kills your chances to win a game, but it makes your relievers susceptible to overuse and then perhaps injury. Like every year, the Orioles’ second-half schedule is heavy on American League East foes, and things aren’t going to get any better against the New York Yankees and Red Sox with the cast of starters that they’ve been using. I know finding quality pitching, especially in the trade market, is a lot easier said than done and I’m not advocating trading top prospects to get a No.4 or 5 starter. But I would think there are a couple of teams out there looking to dump some salary who may have a middle-to-back end guy that they’d be willing to move.

Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair are going to have their hands full when the second half starts Thursday just coming up with available pitchers for the night. I say that because I’d expect both Gregg and Gonzalez will get suspensions later this week. They may appeal them, but at some point they are going to have to serve some sort of disciplinary action. Alfredo Simon is also leaving the team following his start Saturday to take care of legal matters. The Orioles also don’t currently have a fifth guy in the rotation unless you consider Chris Jakubauskas whose last start was skipped. That makes a lot of spots and roles to cover.

I wrote about this in the Orioles’ notebook in today’s paper, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t get buried because it says a lot about Mark Hendrickson and why the Orioles feel he is such a valuable guy to have in the organization. On the same day in which he learned that he was going back to the big leagues – a moment that he called the most meaningful of his career – Hendrickson spent some time with struggling teammate Brian Matusz. The two found a local YMCA in Durham, N.C., where Triple-A Norfolk was playing, and shot hoops for about 45 minutes. They then went out to lunch and Hendrickson dispensed some advice to Matusz, advising the young lefty to concentrate on getting his work in and just focus on getting better. Hendrickson also had lunch with Zach Britton during spring training after the young lefty was demoted to minor league camp. You can say what you want about Hendrickson as a pitcher, but there aren’t too many guys like him in this organization. He’s a class act and a total pro.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 7:01 AM | | Comments (45)
        

Comments

I'm starting to worry that the front office just doesn't get it. If this season doesn't show you that the team is not one or two or three or four players away nothing will. What the heck are they doing signing Hardy? Why is every player not named Wieters or Britton available and being offered aggressively in a trade?

At this point, you might as well take your medicine, get a top 2-3 draft pick and save payroll for when it might actually come in handy in 3 years.

As far as the pitching, make a roster move or two every day if you have to. Bring up Vandenhurk, Bascom, Steve Johnson etc. for a start and if they can't get people out bring up somebody else. This team cannot be fixed by adding a deck or remodeling a bathroom, it requires a full scale renovation and years to complete.

Your statement about not many people in the organization like MH is very revealing. This second half could be really ugly with this pitching staff. They get paid handsomely to perform this way.

Hey Jeff....what is Jamie Moyer doing these days? Maybe we can get him to help show and teach our guys how to pitch with your head. We have a lot of throwers on this team but 95mph fastballs only won't cut it at the major league level.

It's a sad thing to here that there are "not many guys in this organization" who are a "class act and a total pro," though that may be more an indictment against our uber-entitled, me-me-it's-all-about-me society than about baseball or the Orioles. Would like to be a fly on the wall at the meetings I at least HOPE are taking place in the warehouse to talk about just where the heck this organization is or isn't going and what can be done to right the ship. There seems to be issues all across the board, not just in one area, and that has to fall on the shoulders of ownership and the general manager. It would seem that after nearly four years, little has changed. But it's not all doom and gloom. We do have some great players on the major league roster. We do have some prospects, but they're at the A-level (and that's one of the problems...13 years of sub-500 play and we don't have anything more than what we currently have at AA and AAA??). And I think once Cal's kids are all of to college, Mr. Ripken will begin to play a role here. What, how, don't know, but just the idea of having Cal involved I think would make alot of fans feel a bit better. I was at the gym the other day and heard two guys talking about what sports were on TV as they did their cardio. One guy said, "Where's the Orioles?" (the Nats game was on TV). The other guy seemed to spit his breath in disgust and said "Who cares?" That pretty much summed up what's happening here. Fans are beyond fed up, they are DONE. Don't want to here propaganda from the warehouse anymore about how things aren't that bad. They are that bad. Pitchers we expected to step up, stepped back. Hitters we signed to hit home runs hit mostly singles and double play grounders. The spark plug second baseman we expected to ignite the team is battling concussions which might very well keep him out of the lineup all year. And we still don't have an Eddie Murray in the lineup and unless we offer Prince Fielder a Billion Dollars he's not coming here. What this means is, we're at least another five years away from respectability. And fans don't want to wait another five years. They don't want to wait another five GAMES. 14 years is enough time to wait. So that means O's fans will become Nats fans, people who might have become O's fans just won't and you'll be left with a little seed of die hard, will never stop supporting the O's fans who will wait to come into bloom gosh knows how many years from now. The Orioles aren't even a joke anymore, they're just sad. And Baltimore is officially a football town. And that's really sad. I'm one of those eternal diehards, I've been a fan since 1979 when Doug DeCinces hit a sudden death home run off Tigers reliever Dave Tobik to begin what was called "Orioles Magic," and I will always support them. But if there's been a darker time in O's land, I can't think of it. Go O's!

Hi Jeff,

Well, I think we can mark another Oriole season ostensibly over at the All Star break. It's a shame, but until a lot of things in the organization change, we might as well look forward to more of the same in years to come. As you have pointed out, it takes talent to win, and our major and minor league rosters are pretty berift of it. I think we know who's fault it is, but we have beaten that one to death lately.

Jeff, do you have any insight as to what, if any financial constraints Andy is operating under as far as investing in International Scouting? As you, Keith Law and Ken Rosenthal have pointed out, the Orioles have little prescence in Latin America, a cradle of baseball talent. Is it because Andy doesn't have the money, or is it just that he doesn't think scouting it is worth the expense?

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, there are budgetary and scouting limitations in Latin America. MacPhail is not going to throw his owner under the bus but that has something to do with it. But as I've written several times, MacPhail just doesn't think it's the best way to spend the money the team does have. He thinks it's too risky and he's clearly not a fan of the process it often takes to get these kids to sign w/the buscones and all that.

Jeff,

And to think I laughed, laughed mind you, when the Ynakees signed Colon and Garcia. Who's laughing now?

I would just assume bring back Tillman and put Bergy back into the rotation than giving up anything for a journeyman who will be here for half a season. I just don't think we will get anything of value that we can utilize now.

Is Patton hurt? If not, give him a look see in the bullpen and maybe Castillo too.


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Jeff Z's reply: Yeah, Patton is healthy. Castillo exercised his opt-out clause and is currently pitching for the D'backs.


Baltimore Reporters(?) grading ANYTHING is absolutely hilarious. None of them could pick a atheletic pencil much less prove that they have ANY level of education training and grading. HO HO HO

I have to comment on the incidents this weekend, particularly on Friday, and the response by some that Kevin Gregg's actions helped to show some life or light a spark for the team. Personally, I find any reaction to be childish by the Orioles that the Red Sox players were dogging it or rubbing it in at the end of the game. I think when a team gets up 8-0 in the first inning, it is human nature to hit cruise control for the rest of the game. That's not something to take personally. The whole series of the events that started Friday just served as another embarrassment to the Orioles franchise. Similarly, I happened to be listinging to WFAN New York on the night when Josh Rupe hit a Yankee batter for retaliation and the NY commentator used the adjectives "emabarrassment" and "laughing stock" to describe the Orioles. This was no different.

Jeff-
I look forward to your article discussing the key storylines for the second half. I was going to ask you about that actually. As I consider whether to pay for another month of MLB.TV to watch games on the internet, I want to know if there are any on field stories working watching. If the only remaining strategy is playing out the string and running guys like Mitch Atkins or anyone with a pulse to pitch, then I'd just be inclined to check out and tune back in next March.

Lastly, about the story that appeared about Dylan Bundy's signability. Do you think that his considerations are solely the amount of the contract or could there be any reservations on his part to join an organization that has a poor track record of developing players? It seems to me that the thought has to cross Bundy's mind that he'd be better off in a different farm system.

Thank goodness for a few days off from Orioles baseball.

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Jeff Z's reply: Nah, I think if he wants to play in the big leagues sooner or rather than later, he'll sign. There's another school of thought where a kid like that would want to get drafted by a team like the Orioles because they obviously need pitching help and have given opportunities to young pitchers quicker than perhaps other organizations because of need. Something tells me that Dylan is talented and confident enough not to worry about such things.

The fans in Boston are doing what they should be doing today. . . . Laughing at Baltimore.

Laughing because not only did their team beat up on what is a poor AAA team, but laughing that they beat up the teamin general.

A complete men against the boys scenario.

Laughing that some fans in Baltimore consider this a rivalry.

Playing the orioles prior to the all star break is akin to getting a the weekend off. Or a weekend to pad their stats and w/l record.

Fans in Boston are laughing that the orioles now have the second worst recold in the AL.


Yes, Boston fans are laughing that fans in Baltimore stil believe they in the idea that the orioles are a major league club.

jeff interesting article. one thing that i have to ask is about the mental status of the oriole pitchers. their not being able to get past the 1st or the 5th 6th innings. i do n't read or hear where pitchers from other teams havng the problems like the oriole pitchers.hind site is always 2020,but jake aretts should have had his elbow fixed after the 2010 season. to get the type of pitcher you mentoned in this article seems to me that the orioles would be widning up with over the hill washed up people other teams want to unload not just because of salary. i do have to agree the officiating has been quite atrosious at times in recent years.

Thanks for the reporting all season Jeff, I'll be looking for the articles through the break from you and Dan.
I mentioned this on Peter's blog, but is there any chance that we might see a report from you guys on the O's development system from top to bottom? After all these years of watching young prospects fizzle at the big league level, I'd love to see how the O's scouting and minor league system stacks up, point by point, with a team that is doing it well, like Boston for example which seems to keep adding new talented rookies every year that step in and make an impact right away.
Obviously we all know that there are serious problems with player development in the O's organization, but it would be nice to have some specifics about where the worst problems lie and hopefully some suggestions for improving things. They need to do more international scouting, but what worries me most is that so many of our promising young players just seem to wilt when they hit the majors. Is it because they're being rushed, because they haven't been getting adequate instruction in the minors, or because they just weren't all that talented to begin with?
Without a supply of young fresh players coming up from the minors this team will never compete, yet with over a decade of high draft picks the cupboard is always empty, and impact players have been very very few and very far in between.

Jeff:

Question for you ... and a way to distract us all from this hot mess we call a team here in Charm City ...

Kyle Weiland was ejected from the game yesterday in what was his major league debut. Any record of that happening to another player? Seems difficult to imagine it happening. I will be looking it up as well if I have the time.

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, it happened six other times, according to David Vincent/SABR. THe most recent was Atlanta's Francisco Bueno getting the hook in his debut on Aug.13, 2008. The Nats' John Lannan also was ejected in his debut in 2007 against the Phils.

First off, thanks Jeff for the reporting.
This is a tough team to watch right now,
as they just don't have the manpower to put up a good fight with anyone who has a winning percentage at or around 500.
This is about as sad a season as there's been. others have been bad, this one is flat out sad.

I just cannot understand why and how Andy MacPhail, in year 4 of his tenure, has to go shopping for pitchers, when his stated philosophy was meant to prevent this very thing.There is no better statement or action that this philosophy has been a falt out failure than that.

Here's my giant beef with the guy. When he came in here, he supposedly assessed the situation, and identified
player development as the biggest weakness in the organization. And he set out to put the team on the path to building from within by fixing that glaring shortcoming, to put it mildly. I don't think anyone can argue with that plan as the building block of the organization. Well you can, but I like to think that idea in itself is not a bad way to begin to straighten things out.

So what does he do? He retains the guys in the scouting and player development departments, As if they had no control over what has gone on in the organization for the last 10 years. As if they were blameless.

What would anyone else have done? Anyone else would have thrown the entire scouting and player development departments the hell out of the building.
And if you threw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak, who or why would you really care? The body of work over a decade for that colective group had been the worst for any organization in baseball. He identified it, he in no uncertain terms said it, and he did in effect absolutely nothing about it.

And you wonder why the team in Norfolk is 20 games under 500? Why a major league scout looked at Bowie, and said, hmmm, no reason to stick around here any longer.

And last but not least, this whole issue of culture change. I give Buck credit for trying. But he's at the bottom. You want to change a culture and make this change all pervasive through an organization? Start it at the top!! You want to do things different? Start it at the top. Usually a business wants to affect change, the guys at the top are the example. They set the course. It's not the guys at the bottom trying to convince the guys up the chain that this is the way we need to do business. It does not work that way for any sustainable period of time. Everyone needs to be on the same page here, and that is one of the most important jobs of the GM or the CIO.

Anything short of that, and look at what you get- this dysfunctional mess. A situation where the GM bemoans the lack of organizational depth, as an example, and then looks around like that was someone else's job. Well if it was, who? And why are things as bad as they are?

I cannot even imagine how and when things are going to change for this team.

I'm writing as a Boston fan, and I'm not at all laughing at the Orioles. I understand that it has been a disappointing season so far, and the first half ended especially badly. But baseball is a strange game, series can go either way, and teams can turn around quickly. A couple players suddenly mature, the team starts getting a couple of breaks and before you know it you are in contention again. Ignorant people laughed at Tampa Bay a few years ago; your time will come.

Jeff - thanks for calling out Mark Hendrickson's actions. He is truly a class act. He reminds me of BJ Surhoff in this respect. As he winds down his career, the organization would be wise to find a way to keep him engaged with the players and the community in some capacity.

Jeff,

Thanks for your response about the Orioles lack of investment in Latin America and why. It's all starting to make sense to me. You have dropped a lot of hints over time about the numerous problems all through the organization, from ownership on down. You know a lot but due to your sources you just can't spell it out, and I can appreciate that.

It is clear that the main issue is that the organization is dyfunctional. Different strategies, viewpoints and goals at many levels. There is no cynergy. Those deficiencies are the trademarks of a failed business enterprise. I have seen how these issues can affect banks and financial institutions for over 45 years.

As structured and facilitated, this organization is never likely to succeed, but will continue to fumble forward, bumping into itself.

Am I getting warm?

Great note on Hendrickson Jeff. I'll take any reason to smile about baseball right now.

I have a request. I think I speak for the majority of us who care enough to read and post when I say that I'd love to see a piece on the people involved in scouting and player development over the last decade or so. Has there been much turnover? Is the same group responsible for the fact that the farm system doesn't have a legit pitcher or position prospect within 2 or 3 years of making the big leagues? I'm just so confused as to how a team can pick so highly for so many years and somehow have a barren system. I think we can harp all we want on Angelos for not spending money, but if he hasn't made some changes on the scouting and development level at this point, I'd consider that his biggest disservice to the franchise.

Obviously, you guys are crazy busy, but I do think it'd be an interesting topic for the majority of us readers at some point... at least to provide a distraction from these games haha.

sad realization: this team has become UN-followable, but I continue to follow them...

The Orioles should be removed by MLB from the Major Leagues. They are an embarrassment to baseball. When was the last time they were even remotely in contention for the post season? And forget about post-season contention, this team is a disgrace year after year just from a standpoint of competing. The players.....and their big time manager should be ashamed of themselves and offer apologies to anyone that enjoys baseball. And another thing...when its 80 degrees out, Buck needs to take the jacket off.

Hey Jeff ... Any idea who the Orioles might be looking at for that fourth/fifth pitcher???


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Jeff Z's reply: I know you love this trade speculating stuff Steve, but do you really think I would know and not write it? I'm not keeping any secrets here.

Nice to hear that about Hendrickson, Jeff. This organization needs more class acts rather than potentially raw talented players with a lack of baseball sense. I'm still predicting Millwood pitching for us too.

Jeff,
Guthrie complained about the umpires. That is the pot calling the kettle black. Last year he was almost the league leader in hitting batters. In fact he has hit 15 Yankees in 15 career starts thru last year against them. That doesn't include the 3 in spring training. This is sour grapes.

Just like the sour grapes the Orioles use by complaing about the Yankees and the Red Sox. Gregg's comments about the $180M payroll. Showalter said the Orioles need to worry about themselves when he came on board, and stressed that many times since. Yet, there are always inferences in his comments and the players about this and it is becoming petty.

The Orioles are consumed with competing with Boston and NY, but can't compete with Toronto or Tampa, both with much lower payrolls. They are a last place team and have been and complain abouy competing for first.

At least Tampa and Toronto have approached their situation with great scouting and player development, not whinning about what division they are in.

Jeff,


How much more time does Joe Jordan get as scouting director? I suggest we take the $20 million or whatever it will take to sign Prince and call the Tampa Bay scouting department and offer them 100% apy raises. We need to get rid of this lot that is responsible for what's not in the minor leagues. And figure out why our developmental methods in the minor don't bear any fruit.

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Jeff Z's reply: His contract is up after this year.

"...teams out there looking to dump some salary who may have a middle-to-back end guy that they’d be willing to move."

Sounds suspiciously like a Brett Myers, Kyle Davies, or Doug Davis. Hmm, tasty treats.

Most of the teams that would want to dump salary don't have that many poor performing high-salaried pitchers.

Can't understand why Showalter is getting a pass in the horrible antics of a team that he is handling like a bunch of little leaguers or still in spring training. His lineups
are always suspect and handling of relief pitching using the old playbooks of yesteryear. He should get new Ouija Board.

Since the topic of pitchers throwing at batters persists, let's look at the official rules of baseball:

Rule 8.02 to 8.04

(d) Intentionally Pitch at the Batter.

If, in the umpire’s judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to:
1. Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or
2. may warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch
will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and
the manager.

If, in the umpire’s judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially “warned” prior to the game or at any time during the game.
************************************

So, there you have it. The time to warn is before the game, not after an act contrary to the rules of baseball has been committed.
'

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Jeff Z's reply: That's exactly what Buck was saying, and he asked umpiring crew why they didn't, and Jeff Nelson told him that his crew doesn't do that. They may want to rethink their philosophy on that.

Jeff: I hear the announcers talking about bad location with the O's pitchers being a big problem as balls fly out of the park. My question is whether you think that is the biggest problem. I have watched low inside pitches on the corner get belted out, and have seen fastballs ten inches high get belted out. The problem I see, more than anything else, is that the pitchers can't throw any off speed pitches for strikes. While I watch the O's constantly guessing about what pitch is going to be thrown, the Rangers and Red Sox always knew when the fastball was coming, and they smoked it regardless of where it was located. Location obviously is important, but varying speeds with quality pitches is what is sorely lacking with this group. Oh, and where Gonzo is concerned, he is just throwing it as hard as he can and hoping.

Jeff,

It is more than coincidence, I think, that the starting pitching has been so poor, since Connor parted ways with the team. Is Adair on the hot seat, as he should be? Are there any rumors coming from the warehouse in that regard? I'm starting to question Buck's ability to surround himself with people who can help this team get better.

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Jeff Z's reply: Obviously, the heat is increasing a little on Adair, but I don't think anything is imminent on that regard. I think they look at the circumstances too. Arrieta isn't as healthy as he was in the beginning of the year. Britton hit a wall a little. Matusz, too. Obviously, the schedule has been much tougher.

For the 1st place Redsox to pick a fight with last place losers like the Orioles, this is very low class on the part of the Redsox. Come on Boston, you've had better fights with the Yankees. Then again, it is too bad Ortiz didn't break Gregg's pitching arm. Gregg sucks anyway and he wouldn't be missed on the DL.

Hey wow, I could actually read the Captcha words today.

This whole fiasco would not have occurred if the plate umpire had done his job and eject baby ortiz when he charged the mound to begin with.
Next point: The Red Sox are coming to Baltimore next week, I beleive. Be like the Texans, remember Fenway, take out the middle of their order, keep Ortiz brushing off the seat of his pants.

sarasotafan-
Thanks for digging that up.

It also sheds light on something else - that BOTH benches have to be warned regardless of who is doing the plunking. So that speaks to what Jeff Z was speaking about as well. Even though the O's got plunked more, the ump has to warn both sides. Game situation does not come in at all.

Jeff,

Red Sox pitchers pitch inside - that's obvious from their league leading 52 hit batters. All those hit batters are bad, but pitching inside is not - it makes hitters move their feet. Orioles pitchers don't pitch inside enough. Up and in, then down and away was a common theme for O's pitchers in the past (along with "Work fast, change speeds, throw strikes.) Why has this changed? Hitters are way too comfortable facing our pitchers.

Also, what is the training regimen for O's pitchers, from A ball through the big league team? How much running do the pitchers do? Leg strength is vital. Perhaps the velocity loss of Tillman and Matusz is due to not enough focus on leg strengthening?


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Jeff Z's reply: Totally agree. Orioles pitchers don't pitch inside nearly enough. I think they are last in the league in hit batters.

Looks like another "re-building program" will be sold to us fans by the F.O. How many have we seen over the past 15 years? Other teams like Cleveland, TB, Detroit, Pitts., and DC will run rings around the O's in developing young talent. The toublesome trait of the O's F.O. is that it NEITHER will develop young talent NOR write the big check to get a known commodity. That leaves us fans with watching a mixture of washed up old players plus AAA players, most of whom will never break out. Such is the life of an Oriole fan. When you are conditioned to seeing nothing but FAILED programs, why would anyone expect anything different?

Below is a link to a nice articel in the WSJ about the Christian Lopez/Derek Jeter baseball thing. The reason I post it here is because, in the middle of the article, is a random shot at the O's. We are now a national laughingstock.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303678704576438062429408344.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_lifestyle

Matt,

The umpire is also free to eject the pitcher and manager without warning and THEN warn both clubs. In doing so the umpire would surely be taking into account the game situation.

Jeff, Nelson was showing his ignorance of the rule book to Showalter. I'm not surprised by this and don't think he belongs in the major leagues.

Also, the promotion of Hendrickson was sorely needed. When you are talking about professionalism in the club house I think he is the go to guy. It doesn't hurt that he is a southpaw coming out of the 'pen either.

Jeff>>>I enjoy your views and comments
however, after 13 losing seasons...and
well on our way to a 14th..I think it is time
for The Sunpapers to step up and use
it's power of the press to lead an effort
to get rid of Peter Angelos...and the rest
of the gang that can't shoot stright.
The fans need a leader...at present your
the only game in town that can organize
a campaign to get us better ownership
and a better product on the field...it is
time to take the gloves off .

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Jeff Z's reply: Unfortunately Berne, I'm the beat guy and while I voice my opinion here and there on this blog, I'm not allowed to write a column in the newspaper. Schmuck is your guy for that.

Jeff,
Please tell me why they keep sticking with Vlad at cleanup? I know thise team has major pitching issues , as usual, But they need to move reynolds there permanently and hit vlad 6 or 7. As much as i don't like reynolds at least he has the chance of clearing the bases. Our 3 best players are batting 1 2 3, its a shame to see them get on base consistantly and just have VLad hit into a inning killing DP. Vlad can barely get the ball out the infield.. he looks like the whammer in the natural up there!


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Jeff Z's reply: I asked Showalter that on Sunday and his answer basically was that he's not sure that Orioles have a better option. Still wouldn't surprise me if that is switched around a little soon.

I know this season is over for the most part but I will try and be positive. While everything thing is a huge disappointment for the most part besides a few bright spots.
The pitching is so far a huge disappointment but they are young. Matusz (24), Britton (23), Arrieta (25), and I am going to throw Bergy (25) in there because i feel that he is a competitor will start performing (Tillman-23). They are a young bunch of pitchers they will have growing pains of course. If you really thought they only needed one year in the big leagues to start performing no wonder you are so pissed off at the O’s. It is going to happen they are going to take their lumps and have to learn from it. Also, I am tired of hearing this excuse too trust me. But it is true they are young still not that experienced yet and need time to mature. Matusz needs to get some weight back on and some strength and get mentally right that will get better with MATURITY. Britton it’s his first year in the bigs DUH he is not going to be perfect. Arrieta needs to get that bone spur taken care of and he will be just fine. Bergy I believe just needs some confidence he has shown some good stuff out of the pen expect the Rangers game of course. He can pitch with the best of them when he is confident with his sinker and not just nibbling the whole time (needs to be back in the rotation). Tillman needs more seasoning and I think a big part with him is that he has no confidence. He needs some guidance I think he has just been mentally taxed from getting hit hard and moving to AAA and MLB. With maturity he will start taking this better.

The moral of my story is that they are young and will start getting better with MATURITY.

Now for the field, I am with the majority that Nolan needs to be playing in Left field. He hustles out everything and will give 100% every day and that is all you can ask for. I am okay with Luke Scott when his is on fire I think everyone is. I want him healthy and want Lee out of here (Scott=1b). With Machado waiting in the wings I feel like keeping hardy will be good. Having Hardy when Machado is ready will be a good problem one can move over to 3rd hopefully. Then Mark Reynolds can be our DH and I like his power also his OBP is the HIGHEST for the everyday player not much to say on this team but still. Also, would have Adams and Davis battling for 2nd they are both pretty good ball players with good swings. That is if Roberts never comes back but I am still pulling for Roberts to come back. Of course Matt Wieters will be doing the catching.

LF= Nolan, CF= Jones, RF= Nick, 3B= Hardy/Machado/Bell(while Machado in minorts, SS= Hardy/Machado, 2nd = Adams/Davis/Roberts, 1st=Scott/Synder/Mahonney, C=Wieters

First, thanks for the kudos for Hendrickson and for pointing out how the ejection of Weiland helped the Sox although Francona may have come for him anyway.
Like BA Ray, I wasinterested to see the Wall Street Journal take a cheap shot by saying that Lopez should have asked the Yankees to be allowed to pitch an inning against the O's before returning Jeter's home run ball. That should be posted in the locker room
I never could understand dumpng Kranitz and the Crow. I know they left but it was clear that Showalyter wanted his buddies. Is there any chance that presley will retire for health reasons and that Kranny and the crow will return? Crow was always talking to players especially Markakis and telling them to cut down the swing and hit the ball up the middle when they were in a slump
Showalter got a lot of praise last year and he should take some responsibility for this year's shoddy play and the over-deference to Lee and Guerrero, the refusal to bunt and play small ball when they were in close games with a runner on third aand less than tw outs. Your thoughts?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Kranitz is with Miwaukee now so that ship has sailed. Presley doesn't have any health problems that I'm aware of.

No one could be more disappointed than myself in the way this team has performed in the first half, I'm really not expecting too much of a turn around in the second half either. We just watch and wonder when watching the O's perform. Well, we've seen updates on the health of several of the ailing , but it's been a while since we've heard anything regarding a return date for B Rob. Jeff, do you have any information on him?


...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Roberts is seeing his concussion specialist in Pittsburgh Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

Jeff--

Rumor has it the Nats are looking to move Jordan Zimmerman, Livan Hernandez and/or Jason Marquis to make room for young starters stacking up in the Nats' system (not to mention Strasberg.)

Is there any change the Os would bring in one of these Nats starters? Do the Os have anything the Nats would want in return?

--
Dan's Reply: Doubt they would want to give up what it would take to get Zimmerman. The other two are probably more attractive to contenders that need to stabilize their rotations. But you never know.

I think a lot of the problems are a lack of fundamentals and not playing small ball. Guerrero gets hits, take the extra base, steal on occasion, put pressure on the opposite pitcher. But no, all we get his push, push, push and hit home runs.

Where has the strong play of Hardy and Reynolds, top HR hitters, done? Zip.

From The L.A. Times today - 7/11/11

Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers' All-Star first baseman who figures to be among the most coveted free agents, said he would evaluate teams first and foremost on their ability to win.

"That's the obvious part, especially for you to be somewhere in the long term," Fielder said. "Hopefully, they'll be a winning team."

Jeff,
If Nelson says that his crew doesn't do that (i.e. Issue warnings before games) as a matter of personal policy, that his crew doesn't operate that way, even if it's part of the rules, isn't that akin to selectively picking which rules you want to follow and which you don't? I realize there's some discretion allowed fir umps here, but what he *wants* to do shouldn't have any bearing on it. That's like us picking which stop signs to listen to, and which to ignore, just because we don't agree with their placements.

We have become a small market team regardless of the historic past. No free agent is going to pass up an opportunity to play in bos or ny and spend his prime years in a city who's last playoff appearance was when he was just starting to like girls. Our problem is ( ha! as if it's just one) is that we never have enough big league talent to not expose our minors. What I mean is that the cream of the crop can trade a few prospects to get A. Gonzalez just on what they did in the minors. All of our "prospects" have had to make that huge jump to the majors and have been exposed. We are all to familiar with the guy who dominates in the minors. I'm looking at you Tillman. If we had the lure of a big city we could keep these youngsters down, trade them off to get MLB talent, sign them longterm, without even knowing if the prospects have what it takes for the bigs. Hopefully keep the good ones
As much as I hate to say it.. Do what the Yankees do, build around a few HOFers with money and talent. Sounds easy doesn't it?

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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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