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October 2, 2011

All quiet so far (and Pie note)

I've been told that there will be nothing coming out of the warehouse today in regards to the Orioles GM/manager situations.

Now, as Andy MacPhail often says, that could change with a phone call.

But it is my sense that we won't hear anything today; Monday is still a real possibility.

If you need Orioles news, though, apparently last week was the time when many Triple-A players who were eligible declared free agency. According to the International League transactions site, (and brought to my attention by one of those players was outfielder Felix Pie.

Not a surprise. When the Orioles took Pie off their 40-man roster in August and did not recall him from Norfolk in September, it was obvious his time here was done. Although, they could always re-sign him for Norfolk.

Good luck to Felix, who I enjoyed covering the past few years. Someone will give him a chance, perhaps at AAA, in hopes that the vast potential can be realized.

By the way, Jay Gibbons, also one of my favorites to cover, declared Triple-A free agency from the Dodgers organization.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 1:06 PM | | Comments (13)


Hi Dan; I wish Felix Pie all the good luck . I don't want to be mean , but I don't think Felix has baseball instinks . Sometimes he looks lost of what to do . I never got very good to make the high monors . However I knew how to play the game very well . I knew what and when to do it .
Felix doesn't.
Thank you
Curt S.S. Md
Please reply !!!

You know, the whole baseball instincts thing with Pie is highly over rated. One of the reports on him from when he was a Cubs' phenom was that he was a five tool type with solid baseball acumen.

But he got to the big club and Lou Pineilla took an immediate dislike to him. Felix is a chatter box, high energy, always talking. That type of player annoyed Sweet Lou immensely, and he played Pie sparingly, if at all. Pineilla, through out his history, was notoriously tough on rookies, and Pie was no exception.

So Felix got sent here, got on the bad side of his teammates, for much the same reason, and it took Cesar Izturis and everyone's favorite outspoken outdoors man, Luke Scott, to set him straight. Felix put together a nice first year here, which ended only when he tore a hammy beating out an infield hit. I still remember Felix lying on his back at first base, pounding his fist in frustration because he knew his season was over.

He got hurt before last season, with a torn muscle in his back, but then came on strong, again with good numbers. He was learning to be more aggressive and except with the odd strange throw or baserunning try, he played solid, both offense and defense. And to be fair, there are very few players who make the perfect decision every time. To single out Pie was flat out wrong. I've had scouts tell me, in my job in college baseball, I see scouts a fair amount of time, that Pie had better instincts than what he was given credit for. Pie was poised to take that step forward and build on his first two years here.

But then, for one of the few times in his career, Andy MacPhail caved into pressure and signed Vlad Guerrero. If this was Vlad, circa 2003, yeah, I'd be all for it. But this was Vlad, circa end of the first decade, and all the signing did was send Reimold to Norfolk and turn Pie from a possible key contributor to a fourth OF and defensive replacement, and those are roles for which Pie is totally unsuited, by temperament and experience. I was as excited as everyone else by Guerrero, but I also thought that if they went into 2011 with Scott DHing, and Reimold and Pie sharing LF, the Orioles would have been just fine. That could have been a nice platoon out there.

But instead, it took Reimold three quarters of the season to get untracked and Pie never got untracked.

So, we lose Pie, a guy with great talent who needs to play. I hope he gets with a team that will give him that opportunity and I hope Pie proves everyone here wrong.

You're way too polite, Curt. While I don't harbor any ill will toward Felix Pie, I'd rather call it like it is. Pie has no baseball instincts. None. That's a damn shame because he was fast and would have been able to cause headaches for pitchers and their defenses if he could have learned how to put the ball on the ground and leg it out. I'll take it one step further -- he could not field his position. How he was considered a "defensive replacement" for Nolan Reimold this season still escapes me. Pie missed cut-off men, did not take proper routes to fly balls, and misplayed hits down the line where he should have received errors but did not. What I don't understand is how a professional athlete could play organized ball for ten years and still not show signs of really understanding the game. Pie did not.

ken, As usual, your comments are just simply ridiculous. It's as if you watch a completely different team.

It wasn't just the instincts, he has eyes and ears doesn't he? I think he just wanted to be cool, with wristbands and exaggerated gestures....overly flamboyant I would say and that got him in trouble, especially the day he hit for the cycle and Scioscia got upset with him. Maybe Scott wasn't the right guy to give him advice. He had his chance, more than one and he dropped the ball....sometimes literally. He had his moments and now is gone, rightly so. He would not have been an asset. McPhail brought him here probably thinking he would finally mature and the gamble didn;t pay the full dividend. I wish him good luck. I was at the game when he hit for that cycle, it was fun to watch and now that and Felix are a memory. Thats baseball.

I tried hard to root for Pie, but he persisted in playing not just bad baseball (defense) but "dumb" baseball as well (throws, baserunning). It is not unfair to assert that he lacked baseball instincts. If you don't understand what "baseball instincts" means, watch Nick Markakis, who is never in the wrong place, never throws to the wrong base, almost never makes a baserunning blunder (I remember one this past season).

The difference in taking the right route to catch a ball is simply practice, practice, practice untill you get it right. It doesn't take long - at most a half season IF you're working at it regularly. The difference in baserunning and throwing to the right base or cutoff man is THINKING. It's too late to think about it after the ball is hit. You need to have made up your mind before the pitch is made what you're going to do if this happens, or if that happens. Then you simply react, and do the right thing almost automatically. So it's just practice and mental preparation. And ANYBODY with some coordination can master those two things if they care enough to do it. Hitting is a different thing - it takes TALENT to do that, but the rest can be mastered just by practice.

Sorry, Enuf, but you're wrong on this one. In fairness, you're wrong on a lot of things, but especially on Pie.

You have to know what you had with Pie, of what he was capable, and the best way to get his best. Consigning him to fourth OF and defensive replacement was not the best way to utilize Pie. But the Vlad signing made properly using Pie impossible. So what you had was an easily excitable player whose every mistake was magnified. And in his ever ongoing attempt to prove he belonged, he no doubt did more than a few head-scratching things. But he also did quite a lot of good things. But those good things were completely overlooked, and everyone chose to emphasize that he didn't throw to the right base often enough.

And you want to know something else? We really don't know the circumstances of some of those mistakes. Did his infielders tell him where to throw the ball? Did his coaches tell him to hold up or go to the next base? I remember a time in his first year when he tried to score from first on a double and was thrown out. Everyone blamed Pie, but in reality, the third base coach waved him home. Pie was just following orders. So, really, who's fault was it?

But you go ahead, enuf, and beleive what you want to beleive, your lack of baseball instincts is well documented, anyway.

Pie, the fastest man on the team got thrown out by mile attempting to steal second on a Wakefield knuckle ball.

Like most of the others, I like Pie personally and hope he proves us all wrong someday. Indeed, it's difficult not to like someone with such a childlike enthusiasm for the game.

And nobody should complain about the Pie experiment. He has far too much talent to let pass without checking him out thoroughly. The Front Office was right to bring him on board. Sometimes you do the right thing but it simply does not work out regardless.

But Buck and Andy have been fair - more than fair, to be honest - with giving him the time necessary to prove himself, and there is simply no escaping the sad reality that Felix is a five-tool player with zero-tool instincts. It's a damn shame, but there you have it.

Ken, how much time do you give to a guy who had already logged 800 ABs before this season? I understand Pie was a work in progress, but he had the tag of highly-rated prospect for three seasons before leaving the Cubs and joining the O's. After his first season with us in 2009, his numbers actually improved with less time in the lineup and on the diamond. It wasn't a stretch for Buck to make the determination coming out of Spring Training that Pie was, at best, his 4th outfielder. Pie has played parts of five seasons in the Majors and his plate discipline got worse the more ABs he got with the big club. After his 2010 performance where he struck out 4 times as many times as he walked, it seemed pretty clear to me Pie is always going to be a prospect that never reaches his physical potential. Neither his fielding instincts nor his baserunning skills have improved since coming to Baltimore. At what point do you cut bait and move on from the Felix Pie Project?

"Like most of the others, I like Pie personally and hope he proves us all wrong someday. Indeed, it's difficult not to like someone with such a childlike enthusiasm for the game." - Fanger

Sums it up for me.

But let's face it, he got 764 plate appearances with the Orioles. And produced 14 HR's. Oops. One tool down. He stole nine bases in three years, and was caught stealing sven times. Two tools down. He only walked 47 times, so he didn't even steal first enough (.303 OBP). Three tools down. He plays OF, so why even argue about any more tools.

Only the Orioles could give him a three-year experiment. And they did. And they got their results. He was the po' in potential.

As for Orioles and their latest venture in Limbo, don't hold your breath. The offseason has only begun. Maybe Angelos should call Aerotek for an interim front office type or two.

I have decided to believe Palmeiro.

I like Felix Pie and wish him the best. However, the guy has shown the least amount of baseball instincts since Daniel Cabrera The guy has played in the majors for at least part of the past 5 seasons. Five years is plenty of time to practice and learn how to play the game. I hope, for his sake, that there will be someone on his next team from whom he can learn and retain some baseball knowledge.


I have coached baseball from the college level on down, and still coach the local 14 to 19 American Legion team and work with the High School team up here in York county. Basic skills such as fielding and base running are learned at an early age. Pie is not a kid any more. He is a scary outfielder and is not a good base runner. You don't have to fast to be a good base runner as you know from your high level of umpiring experience, but it helps. Acceleration, decision making and awareness of game situations are critical. I just don't think Pie gets it. Raw athletic ability doesn't translate into baseball acumen. I hear what you are saying about Felix and you may eventually be proven right, but I just don't think Pie has what it takes.

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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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