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July 1, 2011

Orioles roster remains in flux

As my colleague, Dan Connolly, wrote last night, the plan is for Double-A left-hander Pedro Viola to join the club today and take the roster spot of Brian Matusz, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after last night's start.

That's certainly not a done deal, however, and Viola has been summoned to the club and not been officially recalled before. There is some thought being given to adding another bench player at least until interleague play ends Sunday. If that happens, it wouldn't be difficult to get a player here on short notice.

There are plenty of flights from Norfolk to Atlanta so a definitive decision won't have to made until mid-afternoon.

Still, Viola is the best bet. The lefty is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Baysox. In 28 innings, he's allowed seven earned runs on 21 hits and while striking out 25. The opposition is hitting .219 against him.

Viola has made one appearance for the Orioles this season, retiring all five Seattle Mariners that he faced.

If his recall becomes official, the Orioles' next decision will be on who starts Tuesday's game in Texas. Jason Berken, Brad Bergesen and Alfredo Simon are the internal candidates, but it's not completely out of the question that the Orioles could reach back down to the minors and give a guy like Mitch Atkins a shot. Again, perhaps not likely but not impossible.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 11:41 AM | | Comments (23)


Jeff the title of your blog should read this organization remains in total flux.Jeff they can change managers, change uniforms, change concession stands all they want until the orioles find a way to develop and MAINTAIN the progress of there prospects that were drafted high this organization will continue to flounder.You can't continue to either miss all together on number 1 picks or have them come to the majors and not produce. This brian M issue is a major blow to this organization whether they want to admit it or not. The standings might say that we are a better team then the previous ones, but we are not and the blame has to fall squarely on the shoulders of Andy M.Jeff do you realize that the cardinals are without adam wainright a 18 game winner ace of there staff and albert P maybe the best player in the game and they didn't miss a beat against the orioles.We can continue to defend Andy and believe that he is doing a good job but the continued failure to develop prospects and sign free agents has to fall on andy. While he might not dirctly be at fault for everything like scouting player selection,he is the ultimate decison maker on all deals. How do the good teams continue to make great off season acuisitions of [players that looked like they were headed down hill or finished and the orioles continue to make this same acquisitions and fail. Cardinals Lance Berkman, yankee's garcia colon,etc etc.Jeff this is just a horrible situation that just continues to get worse.


The All-Star break is almost here. Half way through the season, there should be some hard questions asked. Are you thinking about, or working on any kind of assessment and true-up of the MacPhail era? Want to pick your brain about evaluating MacPhail this season and his 4 year tenure. Would also love your insight as to where to the Orioles go from here. Do they resign MacPhail? Is it too early to gut the team and get Cal Ripken Jr. involved?

Jeff Z's reply: We'll have regular stories on the team during All-Star break. I'm sure it will include some stay of the team/franchise stuff. I'd like to do something much larger on the MacPhail era at some point this season as well. As for MacPhail, I've been saying this for a while now but I'd be slightly surprised if he comes back next year in his current capacity.

Why not Troy Pattan. Is he still in the doghouse for his DUI arrest?
Triple A stats 3-1 record, 2.36 ERA,34 IP, 19 K's 10BB

Jeff Z's reply: They obviously don't think Patton has big league stuff.

Based on your comment to meso does that mean you feel that andy's time with this organization has been a over all failure.

Jeff Z"s reply: I've answered this question on a weekly basis on this blog for last couple of months. I'm not going to go too much into it again, but what I've said before is, I think MacPhail inherited a near impossible situation. I think he's done some good things and some bad. But the bottom line is - and MacPhail has said this several times - you are what your record says you are. And the Orioles simply haven't made enough progress in their win/loss record during MacPhail's tenure. He has even said that.


You make Chicken Little look like an eternal optimist. With respect to "good teams continuing to make great off-season acquisitions," are you including the signings of Mike Cameron with the Red Sox (year before last), Adam LaRoche with the Nationals or Adam Dunn with the White Sox??? Stop being so myopic. It seems to me that JJ Hardy and Mark Reynolds were pretty decent acquisitions, as well as Derrek Lee whose glove has been phenomenal and his bat is now beginning to warm up (he's always been a 2nd-half hitter). As for Matusz, what exactly is the "issue" and why is it such a "major blow"? He's a young pitcher who's been hurt, never been able to completely catch-up from his lost Spring and is experiencing a struggle for the first time in his career. Let him go to AAA and work everything out. If he's healthy, like he says he is, then we'll see him back fairly soon. If not, then we'll know something soon enough.

By the way, it appears that you've recently backed off of your Markakis bashing. Does that have something to do with the fact that he's now batting .284?

When a player gets traded at the trade deadline, do they tend not to want to re-sign with that club b/c of hard feelings or are they happy to escape.
Just thinking it would be better to trade our biggest chip now is -JJ Hardy
Then attempt to resign him next year.
We are NOT improving. Going side ways?

What does this say to Mark Hendrickson, that the O's would reach down to Bowie instead of promoting him from Norfolk? Hendrickson has a 3.16 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, plus a lot of big league experience. He seems like the obvious choice and he must be pretty disappointed to be skipped over.

Jeff Z's reply: I'll be honest, I thought Hendrickson was a lock to be promoted once I heard Matusz was going down and O's were going to get a reliever. They have 40-man space so that doesn't factor, he's having a good season, he is versatile, young pitchers look up to him, etc. Hendrickson has had only one outing since coming off DL so maybe they want him to pitch a couple of times before coming up. I'm not sure but he would've made sense.

idon't thnk itwill matter who comes up from the minors norfolk,bowie. none of these player seem ready for prime time. here is the 64 thousand dollar question.when up to bat,why won't the hitter exersise patinece at the plate. they all know they aren't getting the job done. it would seem that exersising patience at the plate would go a long way to solving the offense problems. would they rather go out and party after the games,so thy swing at pitches out of the strike zone and hit into double plays to get the game over as quick as possible. the pitchers can't go more than 5 or 6 innings. do their mental computers completely shut down at that juncture of a game just begging for the manager to take them out of the game. if i were a betting man, i would bet that andy MacPhail will not be back for the 2012 seasn. i guess the only way the orioles can or will be a winning contendor is for the angelos ownership sell the team. somehow i don't really see that happening anytime soon.

I see Bob is still up to him old tricks. We get it, you think the problem is entirely the fault of Mcphail. No blame at all on Thrift, who let the minor leagues wither so badly that Rochester was happy to not be an affiliate anymore. Four years may seem like forever, but it really isn't anywhere near enough time to rebuild an entire organization from the ground up.The fact that Matusz is struggling is hardly his fault, and his trades has pretty much worked out to or benefit.

Terp in texas i have backed off the NICK M bashing for 1 reason and 1 reason only i can't win no matter how hard i try.If you are satisfied with that 284 average then you have just proven my point. In order to get to that average he has now begun to choke up on the bat and sacrificed any chance of hitting for power. He is a shell of the player the orioles envisioned him to be when they signed him to that contract extension. As bad and pathetic as vlad has been he still is tied with nick in hr's has 2 less rbi's and a better slugging % and is batting higher then nick. You can't possibly be satisfied with those numbers and the player that he has become and if you are END OF STORY.

Jeff -
Precious little help from Roberts, Markakis and Wieters for 2-to-3 months cannot be Andy's fault. Meanwhile, in the offseason he secured the best 3b/ss combo the O's have had in a very long time (no, it's not Hall of Fame .... but it is Major League).
The team's present woes relate to a seriously underachieving group of starters. I think this was everyone'e main concern in March .... and those worries are really playing out now.
Meanwhile, Pedro Viola is Clay Rapada with different initials. Forget him and bring up one of our lefty innings guys ....Hendrickson or Patton.

We should NOT dump McPhail and start all over AGAIN! How can everyone not see the problem with this franchise the last decade has been a complete lack of consistency? McPhail had to start over and rebuild an organization practically from scratch. The right thing to do was to give the ball to our young pitchers and let them learn, acknowledging there would be growing pains. The team and organization are in SO much better shape than when McPhail first got here. Whether it's the last half of this year, or the next, it's gonna click. With a catcher like Wieters, outfielders coming into their own, a manager who commands respect and accountability, and a young but talented rotation, I really think they are on the verge of becoming something great. This team reminds me a lot of the Braves back in '90 - a lot of young talent on the verge of putting it all together. We CAN'T turn the ship in a different direction yet again, trading away prospects for the quick fix YET AGAIN.



We're entering the all-star break, 8 games under .500, and we're debating about Pedro Viola, Mark Hendrickson, or Mitch Atkins.

If MacPhail's the least bit concerned about his job, wouldn't it make sense for him to really shake things up? Present a complete overhaul to Angelos, trading away anyone over 30, and restocking whateve young talent he can get in return? I know certain players have little to no value, but if I'm him, I'm trying to justify my worth for the next few years. And genuinely rebuilding makes the most sense at this point, except Iit probably goes against what he's sold PA previously - that with a few FAs, we could contend,.

I haven't been a Markakis basher but lets be honest here. You are NOT paying him an avg of $11M a year to hit .284 and play good defense.

He is being paid to be a prime contributor to the offense. At his current pace he will have in 600 ABs, 17 doubles, 0 triples and 10 HRs with a .370 slugging %. You don't pay $11M for a #2 hitter.

Hopefully the power will return now that he is hitting but last season lack of HRs (although he did hit a bunch of doubles) coupled with this seasons lack of power is a huge disappointment.

There is no way the Orioles would have given him that contract if they saw these numbers coming.

You need power from the outfielders or a high on base % + capability to steal. Markakis hasn't done either lately.

I haven't been a Markakis basher but lets be honest here. You are NOT paying him an avg of $11M a year to hit .284 and play good defense.

He is being paid to be a prime contributor to the offense. At his current pace he will have in 600 ABs, 17 doubles, 0 triples and 10 HRs with a .370 slugging %. You don't pay $11M for a #2 hitter.

Hopefully the power will return now that he is hitting but last season lack of HRs (although he did hit a bunch of doubles) coupled with this seasons lack of power is a huge disappointment.

There is no way the Orioles would have given him that contract if they saw these numbers coming.

You need power from the outfielders or a high on base % + capability to steal. Markakis hasn't done either lately.

Hi Jeff,

The last 9 game road trip in effect pretty much sealed another last place finish in the Division in my opinion. The Orioles had to win 6 of those games against the the Blue Jays, The Nats and the Pirates. They went 3 and 6, and then came home to go 2 and 4 against the Reds and Cardinals. Now it's into the fire with a 10 game road trip to Atlanta, Texas and Boston.

Then they come home for 7 gainst the Indians and the Red Sox. The soft part of the schedule is behind them now. Realistically, the way the team has played so far, I can't see the Orioles winning more than 4 or 5 of the next 17 games. That should get them within shouting distance of being 20 games out on August 1. It is a depressing scenario, but a familiar one.

Jeff, in your opinion, what does this organization need to do to stop the losing? You have heard our opinions, what is yours?

Jeff Z's reply: I';d have to write a book on that Gil, not something that really could be encapsulated by a response to blog post. But biggest think certainly would be to focus on scouting and player development, and figure out better ways to acquire and develop talent. Taking more chances internationally would obviously be part of that, as would evavluating own talent better and trading certainl players while they still have decent value.

We might have young pitching with potential but to see Connor/Adair mess it up is very frustrating. Please bring up Griffin and bring some sanity to this situation.

What a terrible team we have in Baltimore. No pitching, no hitting, no fielding. It's so bad that Reynolds looks like a decent player on this team. No matter that his bat has a huge hole in it or that he may be the worst fielding third baseball in baseball (which obviously allows more ru s than his home runs contribute).

And hasnt each new gm on this team inherited an impossible situation? Wasn't Andy suppose to be the guy to help us to forget about the previous? I just don't understand why he's not more of the same.

How sad


You drop the 4 years argument like 4 years is 4 months.

Things that have been accomplished in 4 years:

1. Michelangelo built the Sistine chapel

2. A war torn Germany was rebuilt in 4 years under the Marshall Plan after WWII

3. The IBM Watson supercomputer

4. The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Nobody expected MacPhail to deliver a WS title in 4 years, although that's been done before, e.g Marlins; however some steady improvement and a clear road to success should have been paved.

This team is no better than it was when MacPhail got here. The way I see it, last place is last place.

When will it be about wins and losses? When will it be about not being in last place every year? Can you put a timetable on it? 5-8-10 years?

Can you elaborate on how this team will have improved with your chosen timetable? Who are the players in the minors that I can look forward to being the future of this franchise?

David in Baghdad,

In response to 'consistency', if you can see that the builder is laying a bad foundation, do you continue to let him build? Or do you hire someone who can build things correctly?

At this point, I'm for a new GM who can build something where we can actually see some progress.

Isnt it time allow the young players to flourish together and let them play. You have a good decent solid core in CF, RF, SS, C. 3B is questionable, 1B and 2B time to let the young guys have a shot and let them grow into it, DH is really someone that is a leader and some one that can be consistant. Do you really need to have a powerbat, or individual players that consistantly hit for average. Those people can drive runs and keep the innings going. (Pay for average not for power). Young pitchers are going to struggle, but a coach needs to work with them and teach them to be confident in what they can do right. Are they really getting that ? Moving Bergerson in and out of the rotation is crazy. Leave the guy in and let him pitch his way through it. Let Jak--- pitch past the 5th. Teach these pitchers to work through their struggles. Agressive baseball wins !!!

The Orioles is a team that is yet to put a
winning series together because of poor
starting picthing and a define bull pen to
keep them in the game when they are ahead. I ready don't know what happen
but it has something to do with bad draft
picks and scouting. Iam spoil because
I remeber the great teams of the late 60's
70's, 80's and 90's. It will get better just
just give them time to jell as a team.

David from Baghdad has it right. You can't build the walls and ceiling until you have a solid foundation. For far too long, the Orioles on the field and in the front office have been floundering. Too often we're told the organization just can't compete for big money free agents, but truth be told the real obstacle isn't money, it's offering these players an opportunity to win. But free agency aside, this is an organization that seems to have an inability to assess talent, leaving the minor leagues thin on talent. Other organizations seem to find young talent that actually makes it to the major leagues earlier, and with greater impact. Once upon a time, as the fairy tale goes, the Orioles did the same. Names like Ripkin and Powell, Palmer and Robinson. Through the minors, or through shrewd trades, this organization was a pleasure to watch. That's what made me an Orioles fan. There really was something to the Oriole Way. I think there are players on this team with talent, but I think the organization has become so adept at losing that it's become the culture. Just as a culture of winning breeds success, so does a culture of losing breed failure. Something dramatic needs to happen to change that. A leader somewhere. From among the players, the manager, coaches, or front office. Ths is the challenge.

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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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