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August 22, 2011

Orioles news, notes and opinions: MacPhail's status, roster management, former Orioles, etc.

I’ll readily admit that I’m bringing no new information to the table here, but with each loss comes more speculation and questions about Andy MacPhail’s future, so I’ll address it briefly. I feel the same way I did months ago, that MacPhail won’t be back as the Orioles’ president of baseball operations. I feel slightly stronger about it now than I did back then, but nothing has really changed much in that regard. MacPhail said several times this year that things will become pretty self-evident by season’s end, and I believe they have. To me, the bigger question is what happens with Buck Showalter – Manager? General manager? Both? – and the rest of the front office.

The Orioles’ play right now is completely indefensible, but I’m not buying the theory that they’ve quit. The bottom line is they are running out too many pitchers and players that aren’t major league-caliber, and the ones who are have gotten completely beaten down by all the losing and worn down from trying to carry the club for 4 1/2 months. If you claim guys have quit, you certainly haven’t been watching center fielder Adam Jones, who ran the equivalent of a half marathon over the weekend tracking Angels line drives in the gap. You also probably didn’t see him get all the way to third base in the 12th inning Saturday after he hit the go-ahead single and Torii Hunter’s throw sailed to the backstop. You certainly haven’t been watching Nick Markakis, who was limping all around the field yesterday after his weekend home-plate collision with Hank Conger. Markakis has had another disappointing season production-wise, but he posts every day regardless of how hurt or sick he feels. And you certainly haven’t been watching J.J. Hardy, whose ankle still appears to be bothering him. That much is evident just watching him run to the dugout between innings. I understand this isn’t Little League and hustle alone doesn’t cut it, but let’s not confuse a wide talent gap with overall indifference.

The Orioles’ roster management can be particularly head-scratching at times. Consider the case of reliever Jason Berken: The right-hander has been dealing with elbow and forearm soreness. He got one out in Wednesday’s series finale in Oakland, but informed team officials the following day that the discomfort was still there. So the Orioles wisely decided to shut him down and have him see orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum Saturday. Meanwhile, Berken continued to stay on the big league roster all weekend while the Orioles played a man short. It probably wouldn’t have hurt to have an extra arm in the bullpen for Saturday’s 12-inning game or an extra position player for Sunday’s game so Showalter had more than a two-man bench at his disposal. Sure, you don’t jettison a guy to the disabled list as soon as he complains of discomfort somewhere, but Berken has been dealing with it for a little while. He’s pitching with a tear in his labrum, and he’s about six years from Tommy John surgery. You’re not going to take any chances with him. Why not put him on the disabled list and spend Thursday’s off day before the Angels series getting a roster replacement out to the West Coast? Instead, you get a situation where an already-overmatched Orioles team in terms of talent is playing a playoff contender short-handed. That’s obviously not why the Orioles got swept this weekend, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

Here are two statements I never thought I’d make three months ago: Assuming Jim Johnson goes to the rotation, and that’s certainly the tentative plan before year’s end, Michael Gonzalez is the Orioles’ best option at closer right now. I know what you’re going to say, but Gonzalez has not allowed a run in 14 of 15 appearances, and he’s clearly motivated to finish strong and earn a contract from somebody next season. And two, before having season-ending shoulder surgery, Luke Scott played better defense in left than what we’ve watched from Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold this season. The latter comment is more a reflection of Pie's and Reimold’s struggles defensively than Scott’s play, but at least Scott caught most of the balls he should have and got a decent read and break on some balls.

A couple of other random facts: Once they put Berken on the shelf today and activate Zach Britton, the Orioles will have six players on the major league disabled list. Two have season-ending injuries (Scott and Jake Arrieta), and three others (Brian Roberts, Berken, Chris Davis) could also be done for 2011. Cesar Izturis, meanwhile, starts baseball activities today. … Matt Wieters on Sunday became the eighth Oriole to start a game at first base this year. … The Orioles (47-77) are only three games better than last year’s team (44-80) was through 124 games.

In case you didn’t notice Sunday, former Oriole Kevin Millwood got his first big league victory of the 2011 season for the Colorado Rockies, allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings to beat the Dodgers. Millwood is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts for Colorado. In case you missed it Saturday, former Orioles reliever Koji Uehara took the loss against the Chicago White Sox. He’s 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in nine appearances for the Texas Rangers since the trade, allowing four runs, seven hits, two home runs, striking out 10 and walking one over 8 1/3 innings. Uehara had allowed four earned runs over his previous 26 outings with the Orioles before the trade.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:30 AM | | Comments (43)
        

Comments

Andy MacPhail should assume a job within the Orioles organization where he figures to be a little more capable and competent. That job is making sure from now on that there is an equal amount of pepperoni on each pizza. An equal amount of pepperoni on each pizza. Now that Andy's situation has been resolved, I will move to Buck Showalter. It would be the worst move that the Orioles have made in this century if they let him takeover as GM. That's not good and I will leave it at that.
As for the Orioles not quitting, I agree they haven't quit. Do they stink, yeah. Quit, no. As for playing injured, that is shear folly. If the Oriole is really injured, that's not good. The other problem with the season was having Guthrie as the #1 pitcher. The true reason having Guthrie as the #1 pitcher was that it was a cost cutting move that backfired and I will leave it at that. Lastly, the Gregg "Situation". If Palmer and Dempsey truly "Bleed Orange" then they should start the petition for the removal of Kevin Gregg. I don't care if his removal is just for the rest of the season or his career in Baltimore. I just want him gone. Zambrano him! The other problem with this is that MacPhail and Showalter don't seem to want to do anything about it and quite frankly it is disturbing. It shows a lack of leadership on both parts.

At least the O's are making money. Did anyone see this from the NY Times ? This is MASN only & not the guaranteed profits MLB has promised. Peter has set himself up nicely, he's quite the success huh ? LOL

Satisfying the Orioles

Major League Baseball knew in 2004 that its plan to move the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C., was angering Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. A personal injury lawyer known for litigating asbestos cases, Angelos feared that he would lose business to the team, now the Nationals, if he shared the Baltimore market with them. It was clear to baseball that he would sue if he was not placated.

The solution, reached after six months of negotiations, was an unusual one that proved just how valuable regional networks had become. It featured the creation of a new network, solely to make Angelos happy. Or at least mollified.

“If we hadn’t reached a resolution with him, there is no doubt in my mind he would have sued,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s former president and chief operating officer. “He told my people he would sue and his professional background suggested that he was willing to sue.”

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, then, was formed to carry the Orioles and the Nationals. Angelos got 90 percent of the network, an interest that is being diminished a bit each year, and $75 million from baseball for a 10 percent stake that it gave to the Nationals. But Angelos’s stake will never go below two-thirds.

Marc Ganis, a sports consultant who advised Angelos, said that Angelos was astonished at how lucrative a regional network could be. He recalled showing Angelos a sheet of paper estimating the fees from subscribers that could be reaped from a regional network with two teams. “I went through the numbers and assumptions with him line by line, which he challenged until he was satisfied they were correct,” Ganis said.

SNL Kagan estimated that the network’s revenue should hit $158.7 million this year.

Sometimes even the threat to create one’s own network can constitute great leverage for a professional sports team.

For instance, when the San Francisco Giants floated the idea of creating a cable network, Comcast, the cable giant that was already broadcasting their games on its CSN Bay Area network, gave the club one-third ownership, as well as $100 million as an advance on a much-richer new local rights deal.

“No matter where you are on rights, you don’t know where things will be in 10 or 20 years,” said Laurence Baer, the Giants’ president. “If you own a piece of the network, you have a hedge.”

In another instance, the buyers of the Texas Rangers felt comfortable paying $593 million in bankruptcy court because they had a $3 billion extension with Fox Sports Southwest in hand that provided a $180 million upfront payment. Fox’s willingness to pay so much arose from its desire to keep the Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks from starting a network with Comcast.

Fox even floated a rumor that it wanted to buy the Rangers to make sure it held on to the TV rights.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/sports/regional-sports-networks-show-teams-the-money.html?_r=2&pagewanted=2&ref=richardsandomir

When the vacant house next door becomes a total eye sore and embarassment to all neighbors, the only recourse left is to torch it.

Jeff, Do you think Andy Mac would take another role with the team or step away completely? I think Buck would make a good GM, but I can't see him handling both roles simultaneously. Despite what Cal says about wanting to wait a little longer, it seems that the timing would be right for him to step in after the season if Andy Mac leaves. Not sure if Mac would be willing to stick around for a year or so in a mentoring role to Rip?

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Jeff Z's reply: Not sure about what Andy will do. I could see him stepping away completely. At least from what I know, he's not the ceremonial role type. Either way, whether it's Cal - which I don't see immediately - or Buck - and yes, I don't think it would be a good idea for him to do both - I think they are going to need to get a veteran exec in here to help the process along. Both Cal and Buck don't have the experience in hammering out player contracts with agents and talking extensively with other GMs on trade. You'd need to have somebody in the front office who does.

Thanks for your reports Jeff, it can't be easy watching this train wreck up close every day.
I don't think the O's players have quit, but it's hard to imagine that they have any real enthusiasm left. They're grinding out the season to the end as professionals, but nobody can really give their best effort when they know the season is long over.
I'd like to see Buck become the new GM. At this point the field manager really doesn't matter. What this organization needs is a top to bottom overhaul. Until they create a pipeline that sends a steady stream of ML ready players to the O's, no manager will win with this team.
When Andy first got here, he correctly identified the dysfunctional player development system as the main problem. 4 years later however, it is no better than it was when he arrived, and perhaps even worse.
I also have to wonder about the O's approach to conditioning. I know all teams face injuries, but the O's seem to put someone new on the DL every week, especially pitchers.
They also need to start stressing, at all the minor league levels on up to the big league team, the importance of working the count and situational hitting. How many times this season has an opposing pitcher finished an inning with less than 10 pitches, most often it seems, right after the O's pitcher has had to throw 30 or more to get out of his inning and could really use a rest.
Overall, this has been the most disheartening season in a very long time, mainly because the uplifting end to last year, and the new additions in the off season, gave us all real hope that the losing streak really might end this year.
Instead, after 4 years of Andy's "plan," we're sitting precisely where we were when he arrived, in last place and looking to stay there a while.

Buck Showalter as GM would probably be a real good move.
I think he's very over-rated as a field manager and the subtle disruption he caused by changing every one of the Orioles coaching staff members after he took over is unforgiveable.

He is, however, a good judge of talent, and that's what the Orioles need at GM.

I'd like to see Mike Bordick or B.J. Surhoff managing the team.

It is very difficult to put the blame on McPhail, although the Orioles GM has not put a winner on the field. Peter Angelos will not allow him to go out and attract the top free agents due to money restraints. Mark Teixera is an example, they low balled him.....and all they could attract was Mark Reynolds (low BA and high strikeouts) and a pair of over the hill former stars in in Derrick Lee and Vlid Guerrero. Once again, the O's have no hitters in their minor league system that are close to being ready, or may none at all. They continue to over rate their young pitching talent year after year....remember Hayden Penn and some of the other's....Hobgood is another....and then your have Billy Rowell....these are all #1 draft picks.
So there you have it, Angelos and McPhail at the top and the scouting department....this organization is in total shambles.....and they expect Buck Showalter to win with this mess.
There are only a few quality players, ie, Nick Markais, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Weiters on the club.
I did not include Brian Roberts because I think he is done.
Buck is a quality manager, but you have to give him the pieces to work with.


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Jeff Z's reply: Wouldn't argue with anything you said except I continue to be amazed that people dwell on the Teixeira stuff. The guy wasn't coming to Baltimore. He didn't want to. He and his agent Scott Boras made that quite clear to MacPhail. He went to the place where he wanted to go. And while that whole "I've always been a Yankees fan stuff" at his introductory press conference seemed disingenuous and nauseating, it's hard to blame him for the choice that he made. He got the money and he got a ring.

What GM's are out there to take on this huge challenge of re-building the team from top to bottom?


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Jeff Z's reply: MLB trade rumors has a list of burgeoning GM candidates on its web site. That would be a good place to start. Also, former Indians and Rangers GM and current MLB Network analyst John Hart is a name you hear often because of his relationship w/Buck. There have been some recent reports speculating that current Yankees GM Brian Cashman would be a candidate in Baltimore, but I don't see that happening.

American sports should follow what they do in European Soccer. Last place teams are demoted to an inferior league with first place teams of said inferior leagues moving up.

Very few positives I can find about everything is that Johnson, Gonzo, and bergy have pitched well out of the pen as of late.... Hopefully Johnson can make the change from reliever to starter....

After the season we just need a lot of change.

The names keep changing of GMs, managers, coaches, etc. And yet the Orioles never seem to come up with anybody who can judge talent. Supposedly there was a great pitching staff coming up when such great prospects (we were told) like Matusz, Brittain, Arrieta, Tillman, etc., etc. matured. Remember all the "great" prospects who came in return for Tejada, Bedard, etc? Except for Jones, none of the others have been worth having. "Great" free agent pickups such as Gonzalez, Atkins, Gregg, Guerrero, Lee, Ducherer, etc? Angelos can't seem to find anybody, anywhere, who can distinguish between a real baseball prospect and a dud. And before anybody starts wailing again that Ripken is The Answer, please list his qualifications. Why should we believe that 20 years at shortstop qualifies anyone to actually run a baseball organization?

Having my Bullet Proof Vest in I still want Andy!!!

Your points are near target. The issue at hand is really the foundation by which the O's can move forward. Who is goig to steer the ship?????
I am suprised at how far we have moved forward. Yes you have to look beyond the bookcover to find the meaningful movement. Another way to describe this is to realte to a house. You see the firlls and colors but the real value lies behind the walls in construction and is lasting quality.Remember where we were bofore Andy.

1. We now have a young pitching staff trying to find its way. I was there when we first saw the Kiddie Corp in the 60's with Hank Bauer and their struggles. I saw when Palmer came up and went down in his effort to find himslef. Time and patience are required for young pitchers to get on track.

2. The Training facility in Sarasota-Can you see this happening with the other GM's we had. Consolidation of efforts and consisitency of training.

3. The Expanding Scouting. Yes it needs to expand further (eg International and Latin). But serious talent is in the minors. Just not in volumes to have people notice. Remember we had at best "C" levle players in the munors before Andy. You don't go from zero to having mountains of talent stockpiled in the minors. I expect a toal of maybe 10-12 years to have this occur. This woud go back to the days when we developed our own in the Glory Days.

4. Relationship with Peter. Who has had his confidence on this level before Andy.

5. A real manager for the future.

My guess
Yes this is more the primary and opening question.

To get Andy to stay will require the Presidents role. He will need to be "THE MAN" in all areas with total power, authority and responsiblity. He has mostly been on the feild (monors and major talent) issues. I think Andy wants to be more the delegator and more the manager at the top level. So Be It! It is time to Morph to a real business envornment. Will Buck then be the GM??? Who will be manager?


The next or Second major decison to be part of the Plan needs to be Attitude- Execellence not Adequate Quality players and front office staffing. No longer do we find fill-ins. We accept some weakness while looking for the excellence. This seems to follow Buck's "Nuggets" Approach. You need to be major level talent if not you do not stay here.

The O's (Buck) seem to have Tunnell Vision whith Andino. Andino can play the left side of the feild better than the right side. Just and observation on my part. So 3b untill we find a 3b or Reynolds can go back next yeat. Therefore Adams and Davis should be give real opportunities at 2b. Davis could be used in left feild as well. You are right the trial for Pie should be over. Reimold and Davis in left field the rest of the way.

We need to eat some money. Wake up to the fact some others are not going to be part of the plan next year- Gregg (Plainly stated Not Dependable), BRob ( not just for the sake of the team to be able to move ahead but for his own health - Buyout contract and make him a part of the front office), ....

The off Season- Free Agency is very poor this year.A bunch of has beens, never were's, over-the-hill and ..... Note too the pitchers from free agency of serious quality do not want to come to Baltimore. So we need to do this with trades. Nothing comes very good without some pain. Giving up some of our young pitching is going to have to happen. Please let's get off the subject of Prince. He will not come. We cannot put all our money in one basket yet. Frank Robinson came after we had a boat load of Nuggets already here. Even in offense and defense I am not seeing much I would want in free agency.

Final major elelment. The organization, Peter Angelos and Baltimore City need to help with a change in OPACY. The fences need to go back 10-15 feet. No level of quality pitching is going to survive in the feild. The winds blow perfectly for Homers. They do not need the help of short fences. Add seats elsewhere to make up the loss. It will cost money. But the investment will show up in the win column. Look at some of the lowest ERA pitching staffs and compare the feild designs. Yes this needs to be done with and Archetect because you do not wnat to lose the ambience that exists in our stadium. It is great. The investment too will show up with fans in the seats as wins happen.


Not one of the points will in itself cause winning. But fit the jig-saw puzzle together and each contribute to the Winning that wil come. I think this is your points in you many artciles

If Andy is Done with the O's I would be in favor of checking out Boston Red Sox orgainzation. Something I have been reading about that is helping determine value for draft and trades etc is Saber metrics. Bill James have brought this to them It woul dmean a GM and Prsident that would be on board with thinks trend.

It takes years to get into this mess and it will take time to straighten it out. With changes in mgt., that may accelerate change if a big splash is made. We desperately need some bona-fide stars on the roster to know that the brass care about the fans. Despite the myriad of excuses that re-building has failed, the fans want to watch quality baseball NOW, not just years down the road after the next re-building project takes off.

Over-paying to get some real talent here will be the necessary step, as painful to the brass as it may be. After the stars arrive, the re-building can unfold.

Please stop the Luke Scott in LF babble. He's a bum (and nut)! Just plan to give Reimold the job the rest of this year and out of the box next year. Hopefully he'll get his confidence back or we could let him go elsewhere and become the next Jayson Werth.

Jeff The play you mention at the plate involving Markakis was not a collision ! Please watch a replay of the Allstar game involving Pete Rose and Ray Fosse. That way a collision ! And the way that baseball was meant to be played ! I saw the play develop just like you and I felt the only true course of action was for Nick to drive Hank Conger all the way back to the minor leagues. ( And not by bus ) That was a lame attemp to score and just goes to show how sissified baseball has become ! I just cannot invision Frank Robinson letting some snot nosed rookie catcher block that much of the plate and not paying for it ! But again that was then, this is now. I say come out of spring training next year fighting. Sharpen them cleats and bring the fight to em. Believe me I understand the " Money " aspect to it all but still Nick Markakis is no Frank Robinson or Pete Rose ! I say play a "Real mans version " of baseball.


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Jeff Z's reply: Sorry Rick, I should have said, "Markakis ran into Conger."

Since you profess to be the SMARTEST(?) reporter on the SUN staff, when will you quit the secure safe job of no fear and take a real position on the Oriole management staff? You have plenty of dribble and NO REA ACTION or responsibility. The king of local "NO GUTS".

Jeff,

Do you really think a new GM will change anything? We've had how many GM's over the past 14 years and the same results. With the light of the NYT article on the MASN money not being spent do you really think it matters who comes here or will it be the same dog and pony show all over again?

PS. I do appreciate you covering this team even though there's never any positive news.

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Jeff Z's reply: I think that's a fair point. There is going to have to be many more changes than just the GM.

Jeff,

I have no doubt that Angelos would rather see his team win than lose. I also have no doubt that, as CB pointed out, when it comes to winning or making money, he would rather do the latter atthe present time. Angelos is no dummy, and I'm sure he is aware that it would take an initial capital investment of several hundred million dollars to do the things that need to be done to even start to pick this franchise off of the mat. Every one who blogs here knows what those things are so I won't be redundant.

Which brings me to a hunch, or maybe an assumptive guess. Maybe 5 years ago Angelos could have been convinced to make that type of investment. But as time has gone on, and he has aged and put millions in the bank from MASN, he has decided to let the next owner make that investment. It is too late for him to do it in his mind. However, he knows it needs to be done, and he is a Baltimore native.

Therefore, I believe that Angelos is prepared to sell the team within the next year or two. This year's 100 to 105 losses could be the embarrassing catalyst to get him to make the move. In the end I think he will do the right thing. This is really an expansion franchise at this point..... a startup that someone could come in as an owner and be a hero in three or four years.

Jeff, what do you think of my theory?

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Jeff Z's reply: Somebody asked me about him selling the team earlier today and I said that it would surprise me, but not shock me. This team is nowhere near winning and I'd bet that's been communicated to Peter. i don't know how long he wants to hang in with it. I could tell you this, I constantly hear rumors that he is ready and willing to sell, but nothing ever comes out of any of them.

Andy MacPhail's plan would "gag a maggot"!

Jeff,

I was at the game Saturday and met a guy with a pretty good inside connection. He said that recently Markakis blew up to Macphail and Showalter in Buck's office about how Roberts is going to miss the whole season. Supposedly there is a huge rift growing between the two, have you heard any of this?


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Jeff Z's reply: Markakis is a guy who gets on everybody who is not in the lineup or is on the shelf with an injury. Sometimes it's playful, sometimes he's sending a message. He would get on Roberts a little bit in spring training with the back and the neck stuff. As for a rift, I'm sure there is some frustration from Markakis and other Orioles that Roberts hasn't been able to stay in the lineup because he's so important to the team. And Brian has said several times that nobody is more frustrated about that than he is. Either way, I don't know that Nick has a rift with anybody. That's not his way.

O's must bring in the brightest and aggressive GM to make sweeping changes to improve the development of the prospects. As well as someone who will oversee an aggressive draft and international strategy to bring in a lot more talent than is currently being done. That is the only thing that will change this organization. The only thing.

I write this bypassing the Twins and thinking about the horror show next weekend with 5 games against the Yankees and 3 with the Jays. I also read with much interest how much $$$ Angelos is getting from the MASN network. The Yard might be packed with more Yankee fans than ever with the way they've been playing and empty by Wednesday. I don't think they've quit, the thought never did enter my mind, but the Angels series didn't show anything but the over evaluation of Bell. I'm starting to think more and more that the on field talent of the major leagurers isn't the problem and its the organizations lack of judging talent that hurts the most. Fans clamored for action last season and we got Vlad and Lee...c'mon did anybody really think they were the answer? I thought Lee would be better but Vlad is clearly done...10 whole homers...but the organizatioin just wanted to satisfy the fans. No real players want to come here...its a hitters park so no pitchers...hitters want to win...so 14 years of losing quells that...and we fail to develop pitchers who keep the ball on the ground...you don't want fly ball pitchers at the Yard. Whether that comes from Angelos or not I don't know. I can't believe that he wants to lose but I think he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does about winning and thats a problem too. Making money he knows baseball he doesn't. Jeff...correct me if I'm wrong...didn't the Dodgers offer Kemp and Kershaw for Bedard once upon a time?


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Jeff Z's reply: Could be wrong Joe, but I don't remember either of those names being in play for Bedard. If I recall correctly, both of those guys were off limits though that's a long time ago so I could be wrong. I do remember the Orioles targeting Jay Bruce from the Reds in a Bedard deal and that conversation not lasting very long.

Jeff,

How about John Hart as President of Baseball Operations and Cal as VP/GM? I think that Buck and John could support Cal in the new role while he "ramps up" in a FO position and this gives Cal a title that he deserves.

All three men know "The Oriole Way" and have enough juice between them to re-establish it here.

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Jeff Z's reply: I've mentioned Hart a few times. I think he'll be a name discussed.

Earl:
While the European Soccer structure is definitely interesting, it doesn't necessarily work here due to the infrastructure- could you imagine a team like Norfolk, whose stadium holds roughly 12000 people, taking on even a mid-market team? The disparity would be too much.

At some point players need to be held accountable. Josh Bell for instance, I watched some of the LLWS and these 12-year olds have a better idea of what they are doing at the plate then he does. And they hit the ball harder and further for the most part then he does. Another one and I know he has hit a bunch of homers this year but some one please explain to Mark Reynolds that when the pitcher moves you don't have to swing every time, and if that gets through to him then explain the strike zone to him. Just because it gets to home plate doesn't mean you swing at it. Michael Gonzalez closer . . . Ok so after two days of continuous laughter I am back to finish this post. I am not even sure he can close the bullpen door, or the club house blinds or a window without blowing the lead. He should have been released last year after that debacle in the first three games against Tampa. I feel better if we trotted out Hoyt Wilhelm, and I am pretty sure he is dead, but still a better option then Michael Gonzalez. Every pitcher on the staff has not only not improved, but actually seem to be regressing. All the other teams seem to have these pitches throwing 98, 99 while the Orioles pitchers all seem to be throwing to Robinson Cano in the home run derby. Words of advice if you can't throw it by them don't throw belt high down the middle of the plate. Which brings me to the scouting: Has Helen Keller taken over scouting? How come we have no one who can throw the ball faster then I can drive on the 95? Can we find one pitcher that might scare someone with a fastball? Matusz came to the Oriole supposedly drafted throwing the low to mid 90's, now two years later my mom can throw it harder then him and with more control. It is a sad day when I hope Jamie Moyer is ready to pitch next season. He might be the hardest thrower on the team, if some how we could get him to come to Camden Yards where ball players go to die. Oh and my last comment before I go and watch another spectacular loss. Talking about people quitting on the team made me think of Brian Roberts. Really ? Really Brian? Hit yourself on the head and out for the remainder of the season. Frankly, that's the hardest hit he had all season. So maybe it is a concussion guess no one will ever know for sure, but when the team is off to another uneven(I am trying to be polite here) start and your only batting .221 . . . well I think we can all see who might have quit on this team.

Jeff...when Andy was brought in, I think his plan was good to start with. He focused on getting younger and stocking up the farm system. Some of his trades (eg: Bedard and Tejada) seemed to bring in good hauls of solid prospects, but just didn't work out. I don't blame Andy for that.

However, it seems he has been too timid to complete the rebuild. He doesn't spend money (except in baffling cases, like Gregg) and talks like he's defeated before he even makes an offer. Most guys, it's like "Sure, we'll make him an offer, but he's not gonna take it.". Why would any FA want to come here with that attitude from the GM?

My question: Is that PA's fault, or has he opened up the chequebook and Andy just isn't interested in spending the money? The Jason Werth contract hasn't worked out great for Washington, but you can't argue it brought shock and excitement when it happened and helped bring some more optimism to that franchise and their fans.

I'd love Hart, or even Cashman here...those guys aren't afraid to pay for big name players.


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Jeff Z's reply: I don't know everything that goes on behind the scenes, but I've always felt that at least in player acquisitions, Andy is more reluctant to spend money than Peter is. Maybe I'm wrong. As for some of the infrastructure stuff and spending money on scouts and internationally, I think that's more on Peter than Andy. Either way, Andy has said Peter has done everything that he's asked of him. Obviously, he's not going to throw his owner under the bus, but I do believe that to be mostly true.

Angelos will bring in Ripken one way or another next year so he will help ticket sales,,,,,,,in no way will he put any real money in the team , why would he , he is making a killing doing what he is doing now....................

He is a business man first and ding very well at it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

His family is very proud of him when they go to the bank , he has done them well,,,,,,screw the fans of Baltimore , it is a business,,,,,get over it people...................

Ed So Pa Fan for "Andy MacPhail Appreciation Day"! I think you and Peter Angelos would be the only attendees there!

Speaking of roster management, what is happening with Joe Mahoney, the Brooks Robinson receipient from last year? He seems to fill the bill in two important needs with this team First and left field?

Also did I hear correctly that Troy Patton has never played in a major league game where his team won? Maybe some rookie on the 1988 team had that record for 21 games, but at 15 and counting TP probably holds the MLB record now.

God bless America! Petes' Greek boy from Highlandtown does good story" is a great article for "forbes" magazine.
Truly sad however for LOYAL O's fans that have followed the team from inception, through / to the present debacle!

In a way it could almost be compared to the state of the global economy / national political situation.......H E L P!!!

Avg .291 HR 13 RBI 58 Runs 57 SB 9

I don't think those numbers for Nick are that bad. What EVERYONE needs to understand is, he is a #2 batter! Not 3rd, not 4th, but in the second hole. It's managements fault of putting a roster together where Nick is forced to bat 3rd or 4th. That production out of the 2 hole is fine with me. Get a leadoff guy and a 3 and 4th guy, then worry about NIck.

I really have no idea where this "Buck Showalter for GM" stuff comes from. Why does anyone think he is qualified? Just because the team played well for 2 months last year? That gives him a carte blanche? I wonder what Adrian Gonzalez thinks of his GMing skills...

I don't think it really matters who the new GM is. MUCH more about the team needs to be changed. At this point I'm not even sure it's possible for the O's to win again. The Rays and Tigers seem to have been able to do it, but here? O's just seem snake-bitten. There really is a "culture of losing" going on here, and numerous GM, coaching, and player changes over the years have brought us to where they are today---worst team in the AL, and on course for 100+ losses....Go O's.

Regarding Showalter as GM:

He's very intelligent on the field, is well respected throughout MLB, and could influence a few good players to sign with this team. Please, keep him away from the front office. I wouldn't mind seeing him in some sort of advisory role, but when/if MacPhail is gone, hire a GM with a successfull background and a sense of foresight.

Regarding Cal Ripken as GM or owner:

The last thing his reputation needs is to be tarnished by by this franchise. Odds are, the fans/media at a national scale will expect him ride in on a white horse and perform miracles. Not gonna happen. This best thing Cal could do is stay away and continue to work with the kids.

Regarding Luke Scott's fielding:

I'm glad someone (Jeff Z) finally came out and said Luke Scott wasn't as bad in the field as we thought he was. I've heard a lot of words used to discribe his fielding: horrible, the worst in MLB, ect. I've been saying all along, he's boarderline average in LF. And from what we've been watching in LF for the past 2 1/2 months, not too many people can argue now.

Regarding MacPhail's job security:

He ain't going nowhere. He'll remain President of Baseball Operations. What I do see happening is hiring a GM to handle player decisions. But it seems to me Angelos is satisfied with MacPhail's "plan", otherwise he would've been fired by now. The real question is; which respectable GM is going to want work under MacPhail? Bill Bavasi? I'm scared to think of the possibilities.

Ruin the Arms, Buy the Bums.

MLB Rumors says that Heath Bell has been placed on waivers (for the purpose of trading him, I guess). The Orioles should put in a claim. If the Padres are so inclined, the Orioles could get him at the waiver price (with $1.5 million in contract to pay) but collect two draft choices -- he's a Type A -- when he signs with another team in the off-season. Unless the Padres then withdrew him... $1.5 million is not a bad price for two draft picks. I know, I know... this is an Alex Anthopolous (however you spell it) ploy. In fact, if the Orioles don't put in a claim, the Blue Jays might...

jeff you say the orioles have not quit. well i tend to somewhat disagree with you. yea thy do not have good talent. that does make me have to ask about the people who have been drafting and scouting for the orioles in recent years.they have passed on players they had the chance to draft and look how they are doing for the teams that did draft the ones they passed up. i wouldn't get to excited about john heart comming back to baltiomore. the yankees certainly won't let go of brian cashman until he decides to retire. as for speculaitng where andy will wind up. my money is on him being the next commissioner of baseball.

Jeff,

Nick Markakis has had a disappointing season? What Orioles are you watching? After 14 losing seasons, be grateful you have this guy. I'm sure the Yankees would make room for Nick.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Don't get me wrong Trevor, he's still a very solid player and I think every team in the big leagues would take him, but when you consider how much money he is making and what most scouts and team officials projected him to be four years ago - .292 with 13 homers and 59 RBIs isn't exactly what I expected. And I think the biggest concern this year has to be the fact that he has 22 doubles after having 40-plus four straight years is a concern. But I'll say this, he seems to have finally gotten comfortable with a stance and the ball is coming off the bat with much more authority over the last 10 days or so.

Fred Talbot
or another way to say I will be there without your bashing. Andy McPhail has done nothing but give his best to the organization. Anyone can say they have another way. But to have his resume and to put a plan of action together that has such long term implications take a pretty good business mind.
Congrats Fred Talbot on your decision to not show up and Thanks.

Jeff,

Do you think there is any chance Matt Klentak could be elevated to GM if Andy doesn't return? I know he wouldn't be a sexy choice, but he's young and smart with DI baseball experience and an Ivy league education. Seems to fall in line with some of the other young, success GMs out there running other teams. I've also noticed that he seems to be getting more and more responsibility within the organization, for example taking charge of negotiations with the draft picks and with Hardy's new deal.

I'd be a big supporter of him getting an opportunity. We don't need another never-was recycled GM like Beattie and Duquette, no big name guy who may be available like DePodesta is likely to want this job, and, despite his many decades in the game, I think the argument can be made Klentak knows more about the Operations side than Buck.


...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I wouldn't completely rule that out, Pat. Klentak has certainly had his hands in a lot of different aspects of the front office. But Andy brought him in here so it will be interesting if it's almost like a package deal - if andy goes, the execs that he brought in here go as well.

"...become pretty self-evident by season’s end, and I believe they have." In spades

Let's face it...to fix this mess in short order is going to take a lot of cash. Spent everywhere. Silly to think otherwise. What, gonna sit around for the next wave of can't-miss prospects to come of age and save the day?. The only real hope is that when the next batch is ready, they arrive in Baltimore with their game intact, to a team which is doing more than treading water, unlike the last few batches, which have had to learn more than just the major-league game in a terrible losing situation. It's a young man's game and all, but not that young,untrained and inexperienced...

One of my sign-in words tonight was sporture, which might be a great word to define what Os fans are going thru,,,

Go out and hire the Detroit Tigers F. O.Or the Nats. Or the Indians. Why do we have to watch teams cycle up and down and up, while we're stuck in reverse?

" Markakis has had another disappointing season production-wise"-Jeff Zrebiec

No matter who is the Gm next year one of the top priorities should be to TRADE MARKAKIS!!

He is currently on pace to have numbers comparable to his rookie season. He is batting .291 with 13 hrs, 21 doubles 58 Rbi's and 36 walks going into tonights game.

Here is what he will make the remainder of his contract:
2011-10.6mil
2012-12mil
2013-15mil
2014-15mil
2015-17.5 Mutual Option

Markakis' contract is quickly becoming one of the worst in baseball. You can easily find guys that bat 290, hit 12 hrs and drive in 60 rbi's while playing average to above average defense while paying him alot less.

I get he is a fan favorite but the Orioles need to start over (again) and trading him will dump a ton of salary and bring back upper level prospects we need to rebuild.

Jeff, what are your thoughts?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I'd have no problem with the idea of trading him Brett, but I just wonder what the Orioles would get back. When you consider how much money Markakis has left on his contract with his production the last few years, I just don't know that they could get back enough to warrant doing it. However, it's certainly worth exploring.

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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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