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September 3, 2011

Orioles news, notes and opinions: Hardy, Gregg, Schoop, Britton, etc.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who once again bailed out the Orioles, both with his glove and bat last night, has at least put himself in the conversation of joining elite company. Robin Yount (1982), Cal Ripken Jr. (1991) Alex Rodriguez (2002-2003) and Derek Jeter (2006, 2009) are the only American League shortstops to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award in the same season. I’d be shocked if Hardy pulls off that feat, but he at least has a case. Among AL shortstops, Hardy is seventh in batting average (.270), first in home runs (26), third in RBIs (67) and first in slugging percentage (.505). Defensively, he leads qualifying AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.990) and has the fewest errors (five). I think it's more likely that Hardy gets shut out of both awards, especially with all the well-deserved attention on Asdrubal Cabrera’s breakout season, but it is interesting nonetheless to see where his numbers stack up.

About a month and a half ago, I was resolute in saying that as shaky as Kevin Gregg was at times, I didn’t see his standing as the team’s closer as one of the main issues confronting the Orioles. That was based on the idea that the most unnecessary commodity for a last-place team is a high-priced and dominant closer. I still believe that, but I also now believe this has become a major issue for the Orioles and the closer spot is something whoever will be the team’s GM will have to address again this offseason. Gregg is 20-for-26 in save opportunities, and I can think of three more just off the top of my head that he would have blown if not for superb defensive plays (Nick Markakis on Ben Zobrist, Adam Jones on Denard Span and J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds on Brandon Guyer last night). He has also allowed 87 base runners (including 36 walks) in 52 innings. Oriole fans used to cringe during George Sherrill’s high-wire act in the ninth inning, but watching Sherrill was a walk in the park compared with some of Gregg’s outings. Nobody wants to hear this, but Gregg has been absolutely terrific in the clubhouse and in the bullpen. He has spent a ton of time with the young pitchers, and Zach Britton is effusive in his praise of Gregg. His ongoing dialogue in the bullpen has really helped Jim Johnson. And Gregg, on a couple of occasions, has had things to say to a fellow pitcher if he feels he is not preparing well. However, on the field, it has been a huge struggle. It takes so much for the Orioles to put themselves in position to win a game that when a lead is squandered in the ninth inning, it really is demoralizing. I don’t think it’s coincidental that a couple of Gregg’s blown saves have started extended losing streaks.

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but the Orioles' player development department named Single-A Frederick infielder Jonathan Schoop Player of the Month for August and Keys left-hander Jacob Pettit Pitcher of the Month. Pettit went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five starts for the Keys during that period, while Schoop batted .336 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 21 RBI in 28 August games. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here in suggesting that this may not be the last piece of hardware Schoop picks up from the Orioles this year. The 19-year-old has emerged as one of the favorites to capture the Brooks Robinson Award as the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Cases could probably also be made for Manny Machado, L.J. Hoes and maybe even Joe “Big Irish” Mahoney, but my vote goes to Schoop, who has batted .290 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs in 125 combined games for Single-A Delmarva and Frederick. When the next Baseball America prospect rankings are released, I suspect Schoop will be third with the Orioles, behind only Machado and Dylan Bundy.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could have a good discussion on which Orioles minor leaguer has been most disappointing this year. The three that jump out to me are Matt Hobgood, Josh Bell and Chris Tillman.

At this point, I don’t think anything could salvage this season for the Orioles, but Zach Britton’s turnaround lately has been a good sign. It hasn't always been pretty for the rookie lefty, but I think he’s learned a ton this year, and that was obvious last night in the way he rebounded from a tough first inning. It’s also clear that he’s learning how to pitch more, rather than just relying on his sinker, which isn't always going to be there for him. My colleague, Dan Connolly, said even before spring training that by year’s end, Britton would establish himself as the Orioles' best young pitcher. I think it’s clear that he has. Ten or more wins and an ERA in the low 4.00s for a last place team in the AL East isn’t a bad rookie season by any means.

Still lamenting the nontendering of Matt Albers? In his past 12 outings for the Red Sox spanning 12 2/3 innings, the burly right-hander has allowed 19 earned runs, 21 hits, four home runs and eight walks. If it sounds familiar, it should.

Quick observations: I don’t know whether it is because he is eyeing a 30-homer and 100-RBI season or he’s trying to make up for the time he missed with the chest injury, but Adam Jones is clearly pressing at the plate right now. … Nobody should be surprised any time you hear or read about another Orioles front office member being let go or leaving on his own over the next five weeks. I’ve been saying this for a couple of months, but I would be shocked if there wasn’t a front office overhaul. … As maddening as it is to watch Mark Reynolds strike out three times a night – he now has 15 K’s in his past 24 plate appearances – his defense at first is stunning to me. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m not sure he’s not playing the position at a higher level than Derrek Lee was earlier this year. I always thought Reynolds’ problems at third were a result of poor focus, not poor fundamentals. Perhaps being involved in nearly every play and learning a new position on a regular basis has negated some of those focus issues. … I’ve covered Brian Roberts since 2005, and I’ve never seen him more emotional than what I saw yesterday. And for him to admit how hard it was to even get in the car, drive 45 minutes and meet up with his teammates, I think that says a lot about where he is at this point.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 9:36 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Minors
        

Comments

Great article jeff as usual covering just about everything concerning the orioles at every level.You even touch on how adam jones is struggling or pressing which one doesn't matter. However being as busy as you are you probably just over looked the part about NICK M. See nick batting average is now down to 279 on a 4 for 45 and doesn't have a RBI during that time. His slugging % is know under 400 , i believe it's reads something like 394 and he is the lowest among the team regulars with the exception of adino, and remiold. But i know somehow it just slipped your mind to to inform the fans of this.

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Jeff Z's reply: Nah, not overlooked. I figure that you cover that well enough with your daily posts on the topic. Not to mention, I've written probably 20 times on here that he's not progressed as a hitter at all, and he's not played like a $12 million per year player, and he's indeed one of the season's bigger disappointments. I just don't see the need for the daily progress reports, and the continued obsession on the matter. But your welcome to do whatever you feel is necessary.

Thanks for the work you and the staff of Orioles Insider do Jeff.

The thing with Gregg is that he is already under contract for next season and he has a vesting option for 2013 if he simply finishes 50 games this season, or 100 games combined in 2011 and 2012. I think the Orioles HAVE to move him out of the closer's role simply for that reason. He's not worth closer money, and he shouldn't be used as a closer or set up man because he just walks too many guys.

Reynolds looked bad at 3B because I think he reacts too quickly. H's got very good reflexes, but not exactly soft hands. Perhaps moving to 1B allows him that extra fraction of time he needs to settle down and make the play. He's got pretty quick feet for a guy his size. I think if left at 3B, he would have gotten a lot better. I think he was pressing and trying to convince everyone he was trying hard. After the break at 3B before he moved to 1B, he was playing some pretty good 3B. I think he made no errors, or maybe just 1 after the break.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Joe Jordan's contract runs out as well. This could be the start of a complete overhaul of the Orioles front office dynamic and I personally think it needs to happen. I hope Angelos can finally swallow his ego a bit and step away from his meddling. I know publicly MacPhail has said he has all the control, but that isn't true because he has contradicted himself when he said these following things:

1) That essentially whenever a move that will be made involves a significant player and amount of payroll, it is his "obligation" to "inform Peter" of this.

2) He said that he always converses with Angelos about major moves and that Peter is a great source of information. "Peter has stopped me from making some deals, and in hindsight perhaps those deals probably wouldn't have been very good."

Angelos needs to step away and let his baseball people get this ship righted.

As for Roberts, I know he is an emotional guy. I remember seeing him during one late season stretch where the team was tanking and the look on his face as he described how draining it was year after year spoke more volumes than his words. I didn't think he'd be back this year at all, and now I am wondering about next season as well. The horrible thing about it is that there is nothing out there in FA to replace him with. Our internal options don't look all that wonderful either. As a person I hope he gets well, and that is the main thing. As an Orioles fan I hope he can come back, the team is MUCH better with him.

Any thoughts on who might be real candidates for the new GM and Scouting Director jobs?


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Jeff Z's reply: Good post, Ed. Yes, Jordan is up, too. As is Lee MacPhail. I don't have any more names for you really other than the ones that have been speculated. I have talked to quite a few people around baseball, and what the Orioles will do is a source of great debate. Showalter also is a huge dimension to it because of his perceived interest eventually in the job and the fact that he'll have a say in it one way or the other.

Hey Jeff,
Why is Guerrero still getting regular at bats? Give a young player those at bats who has a chance of being here next year. The Giants just released Tejada. Why don't the Zero's do this?

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Jeff Z's reply: I think it is a respect thing, kind of out of deference for the career that he's had. Also, who is this young player you speak of? The Orioles bench last night included Jake Fox, Craig Tatum, Matt Angle and Kyle Hudson. The first two are not young players. The last two are but project more as 4th or 5th outfielders in the big leagues. It would be nice to get a look at them, but I don't really see it as that big of a deal that Vlad is in the lineup over them. Now, where I will see a problem is if Chris Davis comes back, and he goes to third, Andino moves back to second and Ryan Adams goes to the bench. That would be problemmatic to me.

Hey Jeff .. Please tell me John Hart won't be coming here. Need a young, high energy guy with the option to clean house from top to bottom and that includes Showalter. Just my two cents. Thanks and enjoy my favorite place on earth: Tampa!!


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Jeff Z's reply: I've ran Hart's name up the line, and I'd be surprised if the Orioles hired him. That being said, I think that's more likely than Cashman.

JJ Hardy's OBP is .310, which is absolutely pathetic. Adam Jones' OBP is .323, which is very bad. Nick Markakis' OBP is .339, which is slightly above average. Gurrero's OBP is .311, which is absolutely pathetic. Wieter's OBP is .332, which is mediocre. Mark Reynold's OBP is .323, which is very bad. Andino's OBO is .327, which is bad. It's hard to score many runs when the players can't get on base at a respectable rate.

Jeff: Respectfully disagree with you on the closer thing. Your initial idea was right: the O's should use whoever's available in the 9th inning rather than expend resources on a closer specialist.

One subtle point: you can't and shouldn't tell competitive professionals not to try their hardest. And the games are hard to watch. BUT in the big picture, losing is better than winning for the O's right now. They're not going anywhere anyway and could use a higher draft pick. So if Gregg blows a save or two, it really isn't a problem.

Jeff you have told me many many times that you can't and won't speak for your co workers. I just would like a explanantion if you have written over 20 times about his under performance how comes nobody else see's it. That is all i want to know.You keep calling it obsession, i don't see that way and i am even more convinced that my stance is correct now that national writers have chimed in.

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Jeff Z's reply: I've also answered that plenty of times. While it is not my job to speak for other people, I've told you that I would think they tend to fixate on the biggest problems the organization has, like the continued struggles to scout and develop players, the complete regression of pretty much every young pitcher, and the continued instability in the front office. And because Jerry Crasnick, who I like and admire, wrote two paragraphs that Markakis hasn't developed like most people expected him to and his issues have been mystifying, the national writers are all over this topic? That's nonsense. I've written that same thing 10 times. It's not a revelation.

Jeff, is there any way you can limit blancione's posts here? I know you have the power. Not saying censor anyone unless they're way out of line, but come on, how many times a freakin' day do we have to be exposed to his psychotic rants about Nick and his insistence that nobody else has written or noticed that Nick isn't living up to his contract? Everyone knows it, but only lancione finds it necessary to vent about it 20 times a day. The guy is INSANE!!! Please do something about him before he drags down this blog like the Brummies and Waynes have tried to do. Please. No need to give his lunatic a platform, unless you're pushing him off it.


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Jeff Z's reply: I don't like when one topic is hijacking the blog all the time. But as long as somebody is not using profanity or making insulting personal attacks, I usually let the comments stand. Try to ignore it as best as you can. I've certainly said my piece on the matter and am not going to continue to go back and forth. I can slam my head against the wall repeteadly in my hotel room here in Tampa. I don't need to do it on this blog.

Jeff with all due respect how can you say that the other writers don't tend to fixate on the smaller matters. That is just the point that i have been trying to make. The 2 core players that the orioles designated as players to carry this team have not produced at all up to the standards, that are getting paid ,one due to injury and the other to just a complete underperformance. how is that not considered a major problem

Of course Gregg spends time talking to young pitchers...those who can't do, teach. That being said, Gregg talking to young pitchers worries me. If he was a guy with poor stuff who knew the game well, I'd be all for it. But Gregg is pretty good stuff, he just doesn't know how to pitch.

As for Reynolds...I've said all along that his issues at third were his lack of patience/balance on his throws from third. He tried to rush too many plays and sailed throws. His glove was not bad over there, and he's showing that at 1B. I'd be very happy to have him there next season and have the team explore 3B options.

Ok problem solved, replace Adair with Gregg...done deal.

Brian Roberts needs to reset his priorities. Getting back on the field should be the least of his concerns. He is not even in his prime years and he needs to unapolegetically focus solely on his health.

Being in the clubhouse on any day does not earn anybody anything.

Brian needs to find a concussion recovery group as an outlet and if he can't find one he ought to put one together. I am sure there are plenty of athletes in the area who would be interested.

Jeff, another great post. I would like to respond to a couple of the comment posts, if I may.

I agree that one of Mark Reynolds' problems at 3B was focus, but not in the way the poster might have meant. Lack of focus means pretty much what it says, like a lack of concentration, but I didn't see that with Reynolds. What I saw was a guy who when he made an error, then another, and another after that, got his head screwed up. He rushed things, didn't relax, and made more errors. When they finally got him to "try easier", to use Jim Palmer's words, Reynolds was able to relax and do what he is capable of at 3B. He was very good for the past 30 or so games there, only two errors, a pace of ten for the season.

To say he doesn't have soft hands is wrong. His hands are very soft and very quick. His play at 1B proves it. You don't make those kind of scoops with stone hands, just ask Adam Dunn or Ty Wigginton. I have no doubt that if events made Reynolds move back across the diamond, the Orioles would have themselves a very solid defender, though one who is prone to lapses. At the very least, they have some flexibility moving forward.

When the Colts were finishing their long stay in Baltimore, more than a few fans and writers suggested they drop a game or two at the end of the season. A noted Sun columnist with the initials B.T. even criticized them for winning a late-in-a-meaningless-season game that hurt their draft position. Like Jeff said, you can't get professionals to stop trying, and if they do stop trying, there are always, even with the Orioles, young guys who want to come up and make their mark. And we all know the trials and tribulations of prospects, I'd rather get a good look at some current young guys and take the wins and losses as they come.

Jeff, I understand what you are saying about the team showing Vlad the due respect for his career. But here's the thing. Yeah, Vlad has had a great career and by all accounts has been a good teammate, but those accomplishments were not here. Baltimore fans gave a pass to such stalwarts as Unitas, Brooks, Ripken, Singleton, and others because of their contributions to Baltimore sports. But, as much as I like and respect Vlad, I'm not sure he deserves the same consideration. He just hasn't been here long enough and his spurning of a good offer to play here several years ago doesn't help.

I've said it before and I will say it again, if you want to show Vlad the proper respect while at the same time getting some PT to younger guys, sit him down and ask him where he would want to go. Then try to work out a deal with that team, even if it's for a bag of hotdog rolls. Vlad gets to finish the year with a contender, and the Orioles can bring up Snyder, Bell, or Mahoney. Those farm hands might not be the answer, but they're all we have and it wouldn't be a bad idea to see them for a little while.

All I can say about Brian Roberts is, I wish him well. A concussion is no picnic, and having met Roberts, I can tell you that he is very dedicated to his craft and having to watch his team under perform without being able to help must be killing him. It looks like he's given up any pretense about making a return this year, let's hope he spends the winter getting well and can regain some semblance of his old self.

Nick Markakis. I know that Nick became a focal point of the team's troubles when he signed that contract. At the time, the deals for Markakis and Roberts were very well received and even with the Robert's injuries and Markakis' troubles, I still hold that opinion. I'm not sure Markakis has fully recovered from what happened to him last year, when every pitcher worth his salt curved him down and away, down and away just about every time. He lost some of his pull power and saw his totals drop from 18 HRs to 12 and RBI go from 101 to 60. But he increased his walks by 17 and still hit 297. Even with his recent slump, he's hitting 279 and his OPS+ is above league average, even if just barely. And you know he will get hot again, and he'll get those numbers up.

Look, Markakis is a solid hitter who is never going to hit 30 HRs, but he should hit 280-300, hit you 15-20, drive in 85-100 and provide stellar defense. And until his recent slump, he was going to reach most of those totals. I remember that graphic they ran during a game that showed Nick compared very favorably, to this point in his career, with Hall of Famer Carl Yaztremski. And you don't think Yaz had a slump or two? And that comparison is especially notable because Yaz usually had better personal around him. I also compare Nick with one of my all time favorites, the mighty Mark Grace. Remember, all Gracie did was lead the NL in hits in the 1990s. Markakis is in the top ten in hits since he started, is consistently in the top five or ten every year. Is he worth 11 million? I don't know, but in this day and age of bloated contracts, you can do a lot worse.

I know certain posters seem to have an obsession with Nick Markakis, but regardless of what that person thinks, the Orioles have any more problems than Nick Markakis.

Thanks, Jeff.

Is blancione a parrot that only knows one line, "Markakis is underperforming." Never once has he contributed new insight to the matter or offered an intelligent solution, he just complains that a deal that was highly praised when it was inked has not worked out as planned. He rarely contributes to other topics, other than throwing Roberts under the bus as well. His arguements are tired, old, pointless, and they largely miss the big point. Markakis underperformance is a multipled by the fact that every player in the system, basically across the board, has either regressed or is underperforming (aside from a handful of guys). As for Roberts, his health problems could not have been foreseen, and the bigger problem is that our drafting and player developement has been so weak that when a player does go down with injury, we rarely have a capable replacement in the minor leagues. We either bring up a prospect who isn't a real prospect, or we rush someone who isn't ready, and usually hamper their development.

Blancione should be forced to offer something new to the conversation before he is allowed to post again. Everyone gets it: Markakis does not have the power that was expected and Roberts concussion is a problem.

Personally, I just hope Roberts recovers, because he is one of the very players that have been on this team since Cal left that is actually worth rooting for and that has not only met, but exceeded expectations. From a baseball standpoint, there is no replacement for him out there, so we can only hope he returns, and if not, I think Adams is the best option to replace him, both internally and externally, which is why I was so frustrated he was not called up much earlier in the year.

Jeff, Roberts comments make it sound like it is a career threatening situation. What does your gut tell you about Roberts calling it a career due the PCS?

Also, could you see AM staying on as Pres. or consultant and act as the buffer between PA and the new GM?


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Jeff Z's reply: I'll be honest with you, when reporters were told yesterday that Brian Roberts would meet the media in manager Buck Showalter's office alongside Showalter, my first thought was that he could announce his retirement. So sure, I don't dismiss that as a legit possibility. But right now, I'm going to get Roberts' word for it, and he says he expects to be back at full strength. I think to have doubts on that is extremely fair. Look at what Morneau is going through in Minnesota. But as of now, I think all anybody can do is take Brian at his word, though the Orioles certainly have to bring in or groom a 2B. As for MacPhail, sure, he has a good relationship with Angelos, and I know Angelos would love to still have him around. But my guy feeling is if Andy walks away from the Orioles, he's going to do it completely, not take some ceremonial role. I could see him staying a while and aiding in new GM's transition.

"i believe it's reads something like 394 and he is the lowest among the team regulars with the exception of adino, and remiold"

Actually Riemold has a little better slugging percentage at .402.

While I enjoy your blog is there any way you can break up the text into more paragraphs? Trying to scan paragraphs contain 10-12 lines is difficult on the eyes.

Thanks.

I have to admit I believe Markakis should be taking more criticism than he has been getting. Too many people glance at the avg and defense and give him a free pass. For $12M you need production and power which he hasn't provided in a few years.

"Jeff: Respectfully disagree with you on the closer thing. Your initial idea was right: the O's should use whoever's available in the 9th inning rather than expend resources on a closer specialist."

You can disagree all you like, but you will not find a single relief pitcher that is in love with the closer by committee option. Relievers are very peculiar, and to a one they will tell you that they prefer well defined roles so that they know exactly how to prepare for their work.

No, you don't have to go out and spend tons of money on a closer. A lot of teams promote from within, find guys off the waiver wire, or sometimes some middle inning guy gets a chance and comes out of nowhere, kind of like Heath Bell or our own George Sherrill. But yes, you do need to have a specifically named closer. You'll just tear your bullpen apart otherwise.


Jeff, great job as always. Us out of towner fans really appreciate your work.

Went to the game last night and it was well worth the price. Britton struggled early, but great defense saved him a couple of times. Andino was absolutely fantastic at 3B on two plays and Reynolds at 1B.

There is much to be excited about with this year: Weiters and Jones continue to improve all-around; the Hardy surprise/gift; J.J. lights out; Andino (good OBP); Britton and improvement of Arrietta. Because Hardy produces power at a traditionally non-power position I think the O's could afford to play Andino at 3B, particularly with his good OBP. Put Reynolds at 1B. Now, assuming Roberts returns in 2012, we are only concerned with LF and DH for next year.

Personlly, I believe the O's biggest problem for next year is SP. I believe Simon and Hunter could be in the rotation, but I would trade Guthrie. I like Guthrie as a person, but he loses so much, not just because the team doesn't score runs, but because he doesn't know how to pitch to win. Maybe that would change with a change in scenery. Assuming he is gone and Britton and Arrietta are in the rotation, the staff needs a stud at the top. Is there anyone on the market that fits the bill? If so (no one year wonders please) then pay the money. This would improve the O's by 15-20 games next year and make them competitive.

So make Gregg the pitching/bullpen coach...hopefully words are better than deeds...as for his "tastes", drop the c from closer and trade this guy over the winter....Mcphail now has gotten two bargain basement closers in two years while lesser pitchers have done well after we signed Gonzalez and Gregg. Poor choices. After reading what "others" are saying about the O's, the biggest word I saw was "disappointing" and personally thats the biggest area that bothers me. Even "failure" as in Lee and Vlad and "hope" as in Roberts and Matusz don't read as loud as disappointing. every year I count the games in the loss column from us and the team above us hoping we can climb out of the cellar, this year my abacus is broken. I went from eternal optimist at the Fanfest to switching between other games and the O's on MLB when I used to stay glued to the O's. In "only" 12-13 years I've never been more disappointed. We definitely need that front office overhaul and scouting as well. I'm just wondering when I'll feel hopeful again. Then again, O's are my team, what's a mother to do???

"Take my Relief Pitcher—please"

Buck Showalter just got back from a pleasure trip: He took his "Relief Pitcher" to the airport.

If Kevin Gregg had his life to live over again, do it overseas. Prefable in Japan, at least they don't boo over there.

Buck Showalter takes his relief pitcher everywhere, but he keeps finding his way back.

The final one is for Cesar Izturius:
While playing baseball today he hit two good balls. He stepped on a rake. It will be the only time he ever hits two again.
“ba dum tsh”

Can we get a little bit more about Nick Markakis here? How's he performing relative to his contract?


:)

Jeff,

The Nationals could use a centerfielder and I think the Os could match up with them with Adam Jones. I think Jones has only 2 yrs. left under our control, if we don't think we can re-sign him maybe a trade would work out. Bryce Harper for Adam Jones, or some of their young pitching?? Do you see the Os moving him this offseason if we cant' re-sign him long term?'


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Jeff Z's reply: Well, the Nats aren't trading Bryce Harper, but I'm sure they'd like to add Jones. I don't see the Orioles trading Jones this offseason. I guess it wouldn't shock me, but I don't really see it happening. Either way, I think this is a huge offeseason for determining Jones' future in Baltimore. The closer Jones gets to free agency, the less likely he signs an extension. This offseason might be the Orioles last chance to get a deal done.

Just wanted to to mention I am really liking Reynolds at first base. I'm thinking he should be starting there next year. Andino should be given a shot to start at third too. He also has impressed me with his defense as of late. If we could shore up second the infield should be one of our stregnths next year. If they could just shore up the pitching next year might not be so bad.

Sounds like Kevin Gregg may have a great future as a pitching coach. Let's get him there as quick as possible. He might be worth his contract in that role.

The Orioles pitcher development has been ratty. This may be the blind hog in the oak forest that we have been looking for.

A nutty solution for 2012 and beyond

Hey Jeff,

I am not an everday poster, however, I do have a few bright ideas every so often.

I wanted to comment on the poster concerning AJ and the Nats. I have thought this was a good match as well. I know the Nats were looking at Span for Storen. What, hypothetically, would you think a trade of AJones to the Nats would look like...hypothetically?

Thanks, Jeff

A front office hypothetical about Roberts's condition and future:(too much time on my hands on a dreary afternoon)

He still can't play next year after trying and failing in spring training but doesn't retire. Do the O's have any recourse? An "unable to perform" list to avoid paying him? Insurance pays about 70% of his salary, I believe, but there is the balance to deal with. Plus the uncertainty of his return which keeps 2nd base in limbo.

While I doubt he would do this, I am sure the MLBPA would get involved and it would get nasty.

Thanks for the good work all season Jeff.
I'm liking the idea of leaving Reynolds at 1st. It seemed to me that most of his errors at 3rd involved throwing the ball or transferring it to make a throw, which he seldom needs to do at 1st.

Gregg needs to go, he is a disastrous closer.

What killed the O's this season was pitching plain and simple. They did improve the offense, perhaps not as much as we'd hoped given what Vlad and Lee did, but still better. If the pitching had remained as good as it was at the end of last season they'd have been a team to be reckoned with.

I don't mind Vlad being in the lineup, but the number of at bats he was getting at cleanup was really irritating.

I don't expect to ever see the Brian Roberts we once knew, again, I wish him the best in his recovery, but we need to find a new 2b.

I take full credit for Matt Albers' decline. He was pitching lights out for the Red Sox, with an ERA well under 3 until I mentioned it in one of my posts a while back. That very night he got shelled for something like 5 runs in a third of an inning, and hasn't been effective since.

This was a good read. Great comments.

I am blown away by Reynolds at first. He's got flair on the scoop and is nimble - the other day when he landed on that guy it was because he didn't want to spike him so he came down with his leg rather than his foot.

I think Reynolds needs to look right center though. He's pulling off the ball more than he did earlier, hence the increase in strikeouts. He's probably thinking he's got a shot at 40.

Jones is doing the same thing. Just missing on some violent swings at fastballs, and vulnerable to the breaking ball again.

The two best looking hitters to me right now are Ryan Adams and Wieters from the right side. They are both real quiet and let the ball travel .

I'd rather see Fox than Vlad.

Well, at 1B Reynolds can play at a slower pace than at 3B, his poor arm doesn't matter so much at 1B (has he even tried to make a throw to third??), and he rarely has to catch and move to tag out someone. On my old team most anyone played a good 1B, but only one guy could play a solid 3B. Reynolds is simply a lousy 3B and always has been, always will he. He simply can't do what a good 3B man does. At 1B he can restrict what he does a lot more. Plus, he desperately wants to avoid playing DH! He wants people to overlook his 480+ pointless PA's a year, and being a decent 1B sure helps.

First base has been a problem ever since the last decent yr for Huff. Why not leave Reynolds there? Many on the boards were crying for the O's to sign Dunn this past Winter. Forget his awful performance this year, but in the past he has hit lot of HRs with a lot of SOs and below avg fielding at 1st. Reynolds bests his fielding (from his play so far) and his hitting doesn't far far below where Dunn was the last 3 years. On the plus side, he makes a TON less $$$. Makes sense to me and we would still be looking for a good FT 3rd baseman instead of that elusive, high priced 1st baseman

Cashman spoke at a sponsor outing Tuesday and in response to a question was extremely negative about Showalter, saying his extreme stubbornness led to unimaginative approaches like we see regarding Guerrero and Gregg. So.....I think your instinct about him coming here is correct.

Longtimesufferer: Whoa, that's interesting. Does somebody have video, or a transcript? Brian Cashman rips Buck Showalter: tawdry, but more entertaining than the actual games.

Jeff,

Well it took you until September, but I'm glad you've seen the light on Gregg. He may be back next year, because who would take that contract, but hopefully he'll be a 6th inning or mop up guy.

Now on thus Nick thing, he'll end up at .285 after a horrible start, 15 +/- homers and 75 RBI. No not a $12 million season, but "one of the biggest disappointments of the season" - seriously? Should I type the list of more disappointing things or should I leave that to you?

Nick is what a .297 lifetime hitter? He's plays his butt off every night and is one of the best RF in the game. Yes we'd like to see more power, but he's a two hitter and if BRob or a true leadoff guy is playing everyday Nick ends up with 85 or 90 RBI.

On another front, why does Buck leave a guy, like Simon tonight, out on he mound until the game I out of reach, when he clearly had no command. He has about 10 fresh arms in the pen now.

Doubtful, given the nature of the event. The answer was in response to question about people he most liked and disliked.

It is ridiculous to call Markakis "one of the best RF in the game." The following RF are currently better than Markakis:
Michael Cuddyer, Jose Bautista, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Lance Berkman, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Carlos Beltran, Mike Stanton, Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Andre Ethier.

Does Markakis lift weights? I ask this as a serious question because the guy just looks so puny up at the plate... doesn't look like he has much muscle at all on his frame.

Had this been 5 or 6 years ago, he'd be a prime example of a guy who could add another 6 to 10 homeruns by using PEDs, but since that is obviously no longer an option, he needs to find other ways to add some more pop.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Yes, he works out hard, but he has a lot of problems maintaining weight during season. He losses it real quickly.

Your articles are the best in the paper re O's coverage, A closer is important ,even for the O's , since wins are a precious commodity. Gregg walks far too many .He may be a good club house presence but we need execution more than lectures. The club is going to lose 100 games and Gregg has six blown saves already. He could be the difference in a 100 loss high water mark. Obviously, losing 98 as opposed to 100 would be a difference without a distinction .

Mike,
Either you didn't understand that I was referring to Nick being one of the best defensive RF's in the game or you have never watched a baseball game. Not one guy on your list is close to Nick defensively and a few are among the worst in the league. In any case, there is no disputing Nick's reputation defensively, so I'll just assumed you referring to offensive numbers.

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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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