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August 29, 2011

Simon treating the rest of 2011 like an audition

Freddy Garcia and the New York Yankees got the better of Alfredo Simon tonight, but the big right-hander has started to pitch his way into the conversation about which five Orioles should be in the 2012 Opening Day rotation.

Facing one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball, Simon pitched seven strong innings to keep the Orioles within striking distance against the Yankees. He surrendered three earned runs on four hits while striking out six Yankees hitters, but an Orioles rally came up a run short in New York's 3-2 victory.

“I know I was going to pitch to the Yankees, and I put in my mind that I was going to [give] everything that I got to just win the game,” Simon said in the clubhouse after the game, sweat running down his cheek. “I didn’t get a lot of support, two base hits, but that happens in the game, and you just try to do better next time.”

Simon’s only major mistake -- at least that the Yankees took advantage of -- was a curveball he left over the plate for Nick Swisher in the fourth inning that Swisher hammered to right field for a two-run homer.

“He was really good. I loved the way he was engaged the whole night. Loved the way he came back after the two-run homer,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Simon. “They pitched just a tad better than we did. … I thought Simon actually pitched a little better than he did in Minnesota, considering the competition. I was really pleased with Alfredo tonight. He competed and got after it and made a lot of quality pitchers."

Showalter was referring to the eight innings of one-run ball Simon tossed against the Twins in his last start. The 30-year-old allowed three hits and followed it up tonight with another quality start, this time against the Yankees, who are jostling with the Boston Red Sox in the race for the American League East title.

After the game, Showalter was hesitant to speak about how Simon fits into the team's plans for the 2012 season, saying he was proud of the way Simon pitched tonight and that “he’s presenting himself” as a starting option. “He’s doing some things tonight and last time out and at times to help his cause."

Simon said he is finally feeling comfortable after enduring a turbulent offseason and spending part of the season in the bullpen. He is treating the rest of 2011 as an audition for a spot in the 2012 rotation.

“I’d like to be a starter, and they know, too,” Simon said. “I try to do the best I can so I can show [Showalter] I can be a starter here. So that’s then up to them [to decide] what they’re going to do with me. … I know they’re going to be happy because I put everything that I’ve got to win the game every time I go out.”

Posted by Matt Vensel at 11:00 PM | | Comments (8)


Why oh why does Vlad continue to bat in the cleanup spot?He has 122 hits coming into tonight and 92 of them are singles.He has little to no power,and his slugging and on base percentages are abysmal.Yet Buck keeps trotting him out there game after game after game.And then too say that he doesn't know about Simon after he battled all night,but they'll leave Matusz in there to get shelled all year makes me wonder about AM and BS even more.A few bright spots,but the next two years look abysmal as well.

Come September, I would expect Guerrero to get fewer at bats (assuming he's still in Baltimore) if he's not shipped out to a contender in the next couple of days. The emphasis of the last month for the Orioles has to be the future and Guerrero does not fit that. There must be a contending team who could use a right-handed hitting PH. He'd not a bad guy to have on your bench. And who doesn't need a player to be named later?

We started talking about 2012 in June this year, and started talking about this year in June of last year. We will be talking about 2013 around Memorial day next year. If Angelos won't sell the team he should move it so Baltimore could start off with an expansion team. This organization is worse than an expansion team. There have got to be better baseball men out there than Andy and his sorry support group. There are smarter execs running the York revolution up here in the Atlantic League.

Burt and Don make great points. Why not just release Guerrero already ? Free up some playing time.
This is even more absurd than playing Jay Payton everyday the last two months of the season 3 yrs back; he was out of baseball after that, just like Guerrero will be next year.
To me, Simon and Guthrie are the two most reliable starters. Add Jim Johnson's great arm and you can build a rotation around that. Not sure why this organization would rather force feed young finesse guys than go with power armed innings eaters.

Sorry but I don't see anyone picking of Vlad's $1.5 price tag in September for a few lousy singles and a half dozen RBIs

Sorry but I don't see anyone picking of Vlad's $1.5m price tag in September for a few lousy singles and a half dozen RBIs

Gil, Gil, Gil, I understand your points but moving the team so we can get an expansion team?

First of all, MLB talked more recently of contracting rather than expanding. If baseball could get its way without enormous litigation, they would still want to contract to get 14 teams in each league again.

But even MLB wanted to expand in order to get 16 teams in each league, where would they go? Or more importantly, where would Angelos go?

Remember the Expos? Remember their choices? Dulles, Virginia? That wouldn't make sense with a team in DC. Getting the majors to expand to Baltimore would be tough enough with a team in DC -- it took Washington over 30 years with a team in Baltimore while there were several expansions -- but having a team at Dulles, too, would make it impossible.

Norfolk, Virginia? The irony here would be unmistakable but it sort of would be similar to Dulles.

Portland, Oregon? Geographically, this makes sense for baseball since the AL West has only four teams. Geographically for Angelos is something totally different. Plus, their stadium proposal was somewhat paltry compared to Camden Yards even that many years later ... and we haven't even begun to talk about MASN.

Las Vegas, Nevada? See above for the geography explanation. Plus, their stadium proposal was privately financed. That's great for everyone but Angelos because it's easier to twist politicians' arms when it's not their money. Vegas hasn't fared so well in recent years either.

Monterrey, Mexico? San Juan, Puerto Rico? I'm laughing too hard to type but let's just say Athens, Greece might as well be on the list, too.

Speaking of contraction, and I'm pretty sure I was at one point, remember the National League Orioles? Okay, maybe 1899 was a little before your time, but those Orioles were contracted out of the senior circuit. Baltimore did get an expansion American League team in 1901 but it only lasted through 1901.

Then, Baltimore got the expansion Terrapins of 1914-15. Then, nothing until 39 years later (unless one wants to count the Black Sox or the different incarnations of the Elite Giants).

Even if Angelos got a whiff of a deal that would send the Orioles to Anywhere, USA, it would be more likely a team moving to Baltimore than expansion. And that doesn't happen with NBA/NHL/NFL regularity. The last team to move was from Montreal to Washington. Before than was Washington to Texas.

The A's would be the most likely candidate although leaving SF's shadow to get into DC's shadow would seem as odd as Baltimore playing in the West.

The sad truth is the most likely scenario for Baltimore to get good again isn't with Angelos moving the team or selling the team. Neither is going to happen. Period. As unlikely as it seems given the facts of recent history, the most likely chance for the Orioles to be good again is in some sort of scenario with Peter Angelos as owner.

I know what you're thinking. Given Angelos's age, ... well, you can stop right there. The team would then be handed down. Maybe, just maybe, the team might be sold at some point after that but how likely would that be? Or how likely is it John Angelos turns out to be another Jimmy Irsay? In my lifetime? My confidence doesn't run that high.

Now, I'm really sad.


As usual your pragmatism reveals the most likely scenarios. I have just a small hunch, more of a hope, that Angelos is considering selling the team in the near future. He knows that it would take hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investments to allow the team to be competitive in the American League East...... including a startup scouting operation in the Caribbean with boots on the ground and an academy. He might have considered doing some of these things 5 years ago, but I think that he has quietly decided to leave the heavy lifting to the next owner.

Reminds me of a song from Elvis's 1968 comeback special: "If I can Dream."

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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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