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September 23, 2011

Strop me, Strop me

The move couldn’t have been more under the radar, a late-August trade of a minor league reliever for a veteran reliever.

In fact, it technically wasn’t even a trade. The Orioles dealt lefty Michael Gonzalez to the Rangers, received money from the Rangers to make a waiver claim on hard-throwing reliever Pedro Strop.

Now, Strop is starting to settle in as the Orioles’ eighth-inning guy, pitching another scoreless eighth Thursday in the club’s 6-5 win against the Detroit Tigers.

The 26-year-old, a converted shortstop, has pitched in nine games for the Orioles spanning 8 2/3 innings. He hasn’t given up a run.

“I feel comfortable because they are giving me the confidence,” Strop said. “They are trusting me, and so that’s why I feel comfortable. If they are trusting in me, I have to trust in myself.”

Strop was at Triple-A most of this year, converting 11 of 13 save opportunities. But he wasn’t put in close, late-game situations once he was in the majors for the Rangers. The Orioles are letting him do it. And he has responded.

“I really haven’t [gotten] an opportunity to be pitching in those kind of situations, tie games in the major leagues. In the minor leagues, that’s usually what I do, pitch in the eighth, ninth innings,” Strop said. “So I know what I can do. I feel good about it, but I’m not impressed, because I know what I can do. I just haven’t [gotten] the opportunity, and I’m getting it right now and I’m doing my thing.”

I asked Strop whether he looked at this September as an audition for 2012, and this is what he said: “I don’t like to lose. I like to win. And I’m going to do my best. Next year is next year. You’ve got to be impressive, and you’ve got to think now. When the season is over, then you start thinking about what you are going to do whatever next season. For now, I’m just focused on now.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 12:39 AM | | Comments (14)


Where are all the haters who complained about the O's getting another useless low-level reliever back in that trade?

I guess we were finally due to get some kind of diamond in the rough. Our previous talent dumps netted close to zero while other teams got useful parts. Let's hope he doesn't decay over the winter.

No one could have predicted Strop or Phillips would be this good. (But of course we will have to see how they fare next season). Even Chris Davis seems to be a pretty good acquisition and a possibility for 3rd base next year. I am still not sure about Hunter as he seems to give up at least 4 runs and lots of hits in most of his starts, but he is young and can get better. All-and-all give McPhail credit for going against the grain and trading some of our most effective pitchers with an eye toward filling holes this season and improving the team for the future.

Texas must be loaded to give up four guys who'll make the O's opening day roster for Greene, Koji and Gonzalez.

Davis will hit, Hunter will start, Strop and Phillips will both be decent bullpen options. They may all not be centerpieces but each can do their job better then what was there before them. Buck's Texas connection is working for the O's.

Stropical Storm Pedro!

I don't think the Orioles have done badly in any of their trades. Reynolds has done well enough to justify sending David Hernandez to Arizona. Hardy hasn't done badly at short (note the irony). Both Hunter and Davis show promise. Strop has impressed the crabbiest poster to this site. It's not like the league is full of ex-Orioles who have gone on to stardom elsewhere (except Werth... remember him?). It's the free agent signings (Guerrero, Lee, dare I mention Gregg, Gonzalez -- praise Strop! -- and Atkins?) that have not worked well, that may have kept players (Reimold, Patton) in the minors too long, and might have allowed the team to keep Beato on the 40-man roster. If the Orioles had not signed Lee and Guerrero, Scott might not have been injured and Reimold would have been with the team all season. But the respond-o-sphere would have gone ballistic!

I agree with DonM on all points.
Too many posters want the Orioles to have a huge payroll with old FA's.
Then they howl about Tampa's low pay roll success. The Orioles have had enough high $ under performing FA's.
Let's play Adams, Angle, Davis and definitely Reimold.

Texas is collecting pitchers for another World Series run. The Orioles are collecting players for our future. In fact the Gonzo swap reclaimed the 2010 2nd round pick that went to Atlanta.

Typical orioles. I am sure we will pencil this guy in as our prime set up man next year, only to be amazed when he reverts back to form and struggles.

I am also in agreement with Don and West but with one exception. Lets make an occasional splash on a Markee player. Not old FA like to one's we've signed. Release Scott, Make Reynolds a part-time DH-1B and throw sick money at Fielder to buy a building block. No current Oriole can hold the identitiy of this team. We need a monster hitter.

On another note we stink and developing pitchers too!

MacPhail's saving grace, if he has one, has been his trades. However, that is only one aspect of building a team, and this organization's recent track record on scouting, player development, and failing to sign grade-A free agents by low-balling them and then overpaying for the remaining grade-B and grade-C free agents is nothing to be proud of.

Please, people...let's not get too high on Strop. He's had a few weeks of good outings. Remember Todd Cruz? Jim Traber? They started out well too. Just like it was stupid to call Wieters a bust after 1.5 years like many fans did, it's stupid to anoint Strop as the 8th-inning savior for the future. I've been an O's fan for too long to get excited about short bursts of success.

Strop's career numbers showed a pitcher who gave up far too many walk. Since arriving here, he hasn't had that problem (unlike Gregg, whose WHIP had increased three straight seasons and did not give any indication that trend would change - and it didn't. His nibbling approach leads to hitter's counts and walks.) Strop is a young guy who may never have gotten a real opportunity, but he needs to be watched in case the control problems re-appear.

Maka...going against the grain???

He traded middle relievers, which are a useless luxury on a last place team. He did what he should have done.

A few points I'd like to rebuff:

1. I never read any poster here or heard any fan call Weiters a bust.
That premature and illogical assessment was made last spring by a PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL WRITER, of all things.

2. Anyone with any baseball knowledge at all can watch Pedro Strope and realize he's a cut above most pitchers who have passed through the Orioles revolving door in the past. This guy has natural talent, and is gifted with multiple pitches. With the proper guidance, he's gonna do well for us for a long time.

3. Please stop pushing the idea of signing Fielder. The guy is a fat slob disgrace to a baseball uniform.
Our most critical needs do not include more offense, so spending ridiculous money on a one-dimensional offensive player such as this would be very, very unwise. The money would be much better spent on an established STARTING PITCHER or two to complement Guthrie, Britton, and Arrieta.

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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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