Orioles news, notes and opinions: Hendrickson, Adams, Hunter, Jones, GM candidate?
Veteran left-hander Mark Hendrickson is one of the main candidates to temporarily replace Troy Patton and join the club for tomorrow's doubleheader against the New York Yankees. It’s certainly not a done deal though as weather-related travel problems could factor in, along with the Orioles needing to get Hendrickson’s consent to be optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk when Patton returns. Patton was scheduled to fly back to Houston this morning in preparation for a Monday hearing related to his January charge of driving while intoxicated. Patton will likely be placed on the restricted list, meaning that the Orioles could fill his roster spot until he returns, which could be on Monday or Tuesday. Hendrickson is 2-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 24 appearances for the Tides this season. He made seven relief appearances for the Orioles earlier this season, going 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings of work.
I don’t like to judge guys on small sample sizes, but I have to say that I like what I’ve seen so far from rookie second baseman Ryan Adams. His defense remains a work-in-progress, but he’s obviously made strides there. He also can clearly hit and has some pop for a little guy. But I think what has impressed me most is Adams has some swagger and toughness about him. He doesn’t appear at all intimidated by the moment or the opposition. I like that, almost as much as the line drives coming off his bat.
Something we probably ought to remember about right-hander Tommy Hunter. He is actually four months younger than Jake Arrieta, and 10 months younger than Brad Bergesen. He’s just seven months older than Brian Matusz and 17 months older than Zach Britton. It’s almost like since the trade, we’ve treated Hunter like a seasoned veteran, and I’ve been as guilty as that as anybody. But this guy is still a relatively young pitcher who is pretty much a lock to be penciled in the Orioles’ rotation next season.
One effect of today’s rainouts is that Orioles center fielder Adam Jones gets a third straight full off day. I don’t know if that will be enough to get Jones back in Sunday’s lineups as it is clear that the outfielder is still being bothered by chest soreness. He said that it still hurts him when he swings and we all know that Jones doesn’t get cheated.
This is clearly a Captain Obvious special here, but it isn’t amazing how much better the Orioles play when they’re not down by three or four runs before every guy in their lineup has had a chance to hit? During the Orioles’ five-game winning streak, their starters have given up four total runs in innings one through four, one each in the four-game sweep over Minnesota, and none last night. In the Orioles’ five previous games – all losses by the way – their pitching had given up a total of 24 runs over the first four innings. Obviously, if you are not behind early, your chances of winning increase dramatically, but that’s not really my point. My point is that these starters going out and giving up early runs just crushes the morale of the whole team, bringing that “Here we go again” feeling. The bullpen has to get cranking early, the defense goes back on its heels and the hitters completely get out of their game plan trying to do too much to make up for sizable early deficit.
Here’s a name that you could hear for the Orioles potential GM vacancy: Texas Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine. I haven’t heard his name mentioned by any of the Orioles’ top decision makers, so this is clear speculation on my part. But it does make some sense. Levine, who turns 40 is November, has been a big part of the Jon Daniels’ led Rangers front office since October 2005. He’s considered one of the top up-and-coming GM candidates. He also grew up in Alexandria, Va., as a huge Orioles fan and still has family in the area. (Another potential GM candidate, Josh Byrnes, also grew up as a big Orioles fan by the way). Orioles manager Buck Showalter knows him from their days together in Texas. Again total speculation, but Levine is probably a guy worth monitoring if there is a front office shakeup in Baltimore.
I rarely do this but kudos to the Orioles for their handling of the Mike Flanagan tragedy and for the players in honoring Flanny in the best possible way: putting together five consecutive strong games backed by quality starting pitching performances.
Also while we’re offering congratulations here, allow me to extend them to Orioles Director of Baseball Operations Matt Klentak, and his wife, Lauren, who gave birth to the couple’s first child, Valerie Ava Klentak, Thursday morning. According to the Orioles game notes last night, she throws left and bats both.