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January 27, 2009

Orioles: Jamie Walker needs solid spring

jamie2ap.jpgDon't assume that the Orioles will keep Jamie Walker on the 25-man Opening Day roster just because he's guaranteed $4.5 million in the final year of his contract. If the club could dump the remainder of the Jay Gibbons contract, you can bet Andy MacPhail will have no problem going younger if Walker (right) struggles through the exhibition season.

I don't think that's going to happen. Walker is a wily lefty who, at 37, is not particularly old for a left-handed situational guy, but his arm clearly wasn't sound last year and that was reflected in his horrible hits-to-innings ratio and his 6.87 ERA. He would be the first to admit that 2008 was the worst season of his major league career, but if he's healthy this spring, he'll get left-handed hitters out and make the team.

What if he doesn't? Then the Orioles have to find somebody to take his place on a roster that doesn't have a lot of options. Depending on the way Dave Trembley handles the closer role, George Sherrill could be called in for key lefty-lefty matchups, but I'm guessing he ends up being the predominant closer. It's also possible that Jim Johnson will be overpowering enough in a setup role that Trembley won't have to go left-left that often.

There is another name you might start to hear in late February. Minor league left-hander Wilfrido Perez has had more strikeouts than innings pitched in each of his four professional seasons and impressed the Orioles' player development types with the way he jumped up to Double-A Bowie last year and didn't miss a beat (2.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP).

Associated Press photo

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 1:55 PM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Just baseball


I think Jamie's awful 2008 was predictable as early as summer 2007, when we were riding him HARD down the stretch in the complete absence of other options. He deserves a clean slate for 2009.

That said, he's making $4.5 million this year regardless, so what do I care? If I was him, I'd rather just sit by the pool this year and rest up.

Please explain to me why, if Ray is healthy, Sherrill is the closer on this team? Yes I know that because of the every team gets one clause he was an All star last year but look at the numbers.

1.5 WHIP, 4.73 ERA 5.6 BB/9.

At 32 years of age those numbers will be unlikely to be trending up.

In 2006 Ray had a 1.09 WHIP and a 2.73 ERA with 3.7 BB/9. In 2007, despite pitching hurt, Ray had a 1.24 WHIP 4.43 ERA and 3.8 BB/9. Ray is also five years younger then Sherrill.

Now, if healthy, who is more likely to have success as a major league closer in 2009?

Who is more likely to be a part of the O's plans post 2009?

Peter's reply: Like you said, if he's healthy. I'm sure they'll take the most effective guy, but that's what spring training is for. I don't think they automatically would use Sherrill, but I also wouldn't throw up his cumulative numbers when he was hurt in August and September.

i would dump walker like a sack of dirt

2.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP? Me likey!

Pete, I saw you on Prime 9 Greatest SSs, (or was it Unbreakable Records?). What's with the no Aloha shirt, man?

Pete's reply: They filmed that at the Winter Meetings and I had no advance warning to change my shirt. Drat.

Pete, no such thing as a key lefty-lefty match up when your team likes to finish 20 games under .500 for 11 years in a row.

The situational lefty is good to have but is it really a necessity, especially if the guy in that role is mediocre? Many times last year we probably woiuld have had a better outcome if we stayed with the guy Walker replaced.
I'm sure his health was a factor but if he doesn't get his act together in the spring then keeping around is clearly counter-productive.
Boy when you look at the 40 mill or so spent back in '07 to overhaul the 'pen, we sure didn't make out too well did we? Bradford is gone.Baez & Walker injured and ineffective and both may be gone this spring. Let's hope MacPhail learns from this disaster!!

Let's hope Walker can return to form as he plays a pivotal role in the success of team and starters. If he is unable to perform this year Perez is waiting in the wings. Ideally our minor leagers earn all future promotions. Walker has to make the young folks earn his job this year.

Let's see - Weaver would not pull Johnson for a 'lefty-lefty' matchup hardly ever. Thus you see the inferiority of modern bullpen usage. You get a few good relievers who can just flippin' GO.

Bud can say the game has never been healthier and all that ownership jazz, but the game has never been more strategically stupid, to my knowledge.

That wily old lefty played hurt last year and was too stupid to let anyone know and the Oriole brass too ignorant to realize it. They both deserve each other.

Pete, What's the status of Flanagan ?

Pete's reply: Good question.

They need to sign another veteran reliever because beyond Sherrill and Johnson who can be counted on ? We hope Ray can come back to form but the others are a crap shoot. When those great starters wilt after 5 innings , we are gonna need some decent arms. For eleven years we have waited for a GM to sign a legit 1 or 2 starter and we're still waiting. When they sign a 1 or 2 , i will go see them play. The words Orioles and eleven straight losing seasons would at one time be laughed at. We're not laughing anymore.

Walker was god-awful last season. If there's any sign at all that he's gonna have the same kind of problems this year, he's gotta go.


I have felt that since the end of last season that Jamie Walker is on the bubble for 2009. I don't think it is coincidence that the Orioles have brought in a number of left-handed pitchers this off season and they are supposedly still interested in Will Ohman. If Ohman is signed, it will be for one thing only, and that would be to get lefties out.

Walker needs to show he is healthy. If he is and performs well, he'll be on the roster. If he falters at all, he could be released.

I've signed Steve Davis to be our situational lefty. Like me, he is a "very available individual"

And Peter, stop eating us out of all our ice cream in Lauderdale. My bean counters say we could have offered Teix 200 mil if it wasn't for your appetite.

Speaking of "older" relief pitchers, has it ever been announced who the PTBNL is/was for the Chad Bradford "trade?"

With the pitchers McFail has picked up this off season - Walker should have no problem getting a spot in the bp. That doesn't say a whole lot for Jamie Walker!

Lets hope Walker has a great first half and to help that along if he shows that he's back in form then don't over use him so that he can be moved in July for 1 or 2 prospects. Every contending team wants a wily coyote I mean lefty for the last half of the season. Even if the Os are not totally out of it he would need to be traded for the future. Pat Gillick would do it.

Why haven't the O's considered Jon Garland? He knows the American League hitters. He could be had for a reasonable amount of money and doesn't have the injury problems of Sheets and O Perez. We need another starter badly!

Pete's reply: I assume the Orioles have shown cursory interest, but I think he's about to sign elsewhere.

We didn't get anyone, we got cash for him.

The bullpen is the strength of the team and its one of the better ones in the majors when they aren't called upon to pitch 5 innings a game. Think before you speak. Or at least do your homework. And by the way, learn how to spell. You're not as clever as you think you are.


I'm a Jamie Walker fan. He's obviously a fighter, and the fans here have taken to him because he's the epitome of a good ol' boy. I would be very surprised if he bounces back from last year's performance. Those kinds of seasons have a tendancy to get "inside" pitchers' heads.
I hope I'm wrong, but I don't get a good vibe about Walker's coming season.

I think it's easy to forget how good Jamie Walker was for us in 2007, because of his horrible year in 2008, but every year there is a guy in the BP that has a terrible year, followed by a good year, so hopefully Jamie is going to have a good year and if not, he probably wont be on the team.

Pete, I know that MLB is coming off a record year in revenue, but is what we are seeing in free agency this year, a blip or perhaps a sign that the worst is yet to come? I'm not sure if you are shocked, but with spring training around the corner, I'm shocked that Dunn, Abreu, Hudson, O Cab, Ty Wigginton, Garrett Anderson, Sheets, Garland and Looper , are unsigned. Any other year, these guys would all have homes by now.

I wish the O's would grab Dunn, as he might be out for vengeance to show he should have received a big contract. A player with his power, shouldn't still be out there and he would seriously provide major pop in this years line up.

Funny thing about Walker is he has more success against right handed hitters the last several years. Go figure. But if he gets paid he has to be in an Oriole uniform and he may be the next Bradford. Give Perez more time and then see if you can get 10 cents on the dollar, better than what you would have received if you had Circuit City stock still as of last Monday!

"Speaking of "older" relief pitchers, has it ever been announced who the PTBNL is/was for the Chad Bradford "trade?"

Actually it was quite a few names that we are getting in return for Chad Bradford...

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ben Franklin.

and multiple clones of each.

"g" is for greenbacks

Agree with sentiment of who cares. This team needs pitchers who can pitch more than an inning. Take those options away from Trembley. Give the youngsters innings and make them pitch out of jams. Sit still Dave. Sit. Lets develop 4 solid starters, a real closer and 5 solid pitchers who simply get people out. Dave is not getting paid to win this year and should not be held to a standard of impossibility. But he does need to develop and help these kids improve. Help them face adversity and retire the next guy up.

I agree with you, Pete, about Walker and Perez....As far as phils'post @ Weaver pulling Johnson in the 8th inning,......I don't get it ..Weaver would never use Palmer as an '8th inning guy' (did Weaver believe in that concept?). Johnson will end up on the IR if they use him as the '8th inning inning guy'....

Pete's reply: Well, you know more about the guy's arm than I do. I really don't know whether he'd be a better starter or reliever. I just know where he had his most recent success.

"I also wouldn't throw up his cumulative numbers when he was hurt in August and September."

You want splits? I got your splits.
Mar/apr: 4.63 ERA, 1.2 WHIP
May: 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
June: 4.15 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
July: 6.75 ERA, 2.38 WHIP
Aug: 6.35 ERA, 1.76 WHIP
Sept 9.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP

Before all star break: 4.08 ERA, 1.41 WHIP

After: 6.59 ERA, 1.76 WHIP

I am sorry but even if you look at the numbers before the break they are not what I would call impressive.

Sherrill got a lot of cheap saves early in the season and that gives him the illusion of being more then what he is.

That being said I think he will make a fine situation lefty that can set up and spot close.

"Speaking of "older" relief pitchers, has it ever been announced who the PTBNL is/was for the Chad Bradford "trade?" "

Some guy named "undisclosed amount of cash."


I was fortunate to meet Jaime Walker in a hotel lobby while the team was on the road, he is a great guy, drinks his beer from a can and will just chat up a storm with anyone! However, his pitching, it's over. In fact, this is the spot I saw Olson performing, because all of the other lefty's remained in the BIGS solely based on the fact they were left handed! Jaime looked horrible against Lefties! How he has two things keeping him on the roster, he's lefty and his huge salary! I truly wish him luck, but he and Mark Hendrickson may battle for the worst lefty in MLB!

Jamie Walker = sunk cost.

Jamie Walker had a horrible year last year and I hope he doesn't make the roster out of spring training. I think Dave Trembley made some terrible decisions deciding to stick with him even though he proved time and again that he was not up to the challenge of facing big-time left-handed hitters anymore. You don't always need a lefty pitcher to face a lefty hitter, I dislike the way that coaches never stray from that. I think Jim Johnson would be much better in those situations but he could pitch an inning or two as well as against that one hitter.

Jbear, the O's got 2 number 1 draft picks and 5 million bucks for the wily submariner. Plus the Rays have to forfeit any games in which Bradford appears against the O's. And a birthday cake in the post-game meal whether or not it's anyones birthday.

No problem Pete, I'll handle the Bradford trade questions from now on...

We need to dump Baez, he's always sucked. Throw Walker in as far as being released goes.

As long as the O's only use him as a left handed specialist I think Walker will be fine. He just got overused and got out of his rhythm last year.


Glad to see that Peter Angelos is now contributing to your blog. I wonder if Peter would be willing to join my friends and me in the upper deck this coming summer, just as I saw Gerold Hoffberger, the former owner of the Os do one summer night in the seventies back at old Memorial Stadium.

perlozzo spends all that time developing super-sub-all-around-utilty-guy fahey and the O's let him go for nuthin, and to a division rival at that...
Just another fine mess mr mcfail has gotten us into. Man, there just is no hope for this franchise.
i mean who is gonna replace roberts when they trade him to the rays for bradford?

Lefty specialist options besides Walker include Alberto Castillo, Mark Hendrickson, Troy Patton, and Wilfredo Perez.

I think Ray will close, and the R-L setup tandem will be Johnson and Sherrill.
I don't see Hendrickson as a starter and I don't think Trembley does either.
Castillo has that under-sidearm delivery and was quite effective last year.
Patton could emerge in the bullpen if Walker doesn't do well in the spring.
I look for Baez to surprise a lot of people with a solid spring bid to join the rotation.
Waters and Burres will both get better as starters.
I think Sarfate and Micholio are potentially devastating righthanded specialists.

Pete, do you think Patton starts at AA and they move him along slowly? Andy has basically said he was the centerpiece to the trade, so unless he posts at 0.50 era in FL, do you think no matter how well he does, he stays in the minors all year?

Pete's reply: I think the plan is for him to spend much of the year in the minors, but necessity might dictate otherwise if he performs.

Steve D., I think Jamie W. himself would laugh about your mention of his sitting by the pool. He'd probably say,
"I'll be sittin' by my trailer, and lovin' it."

I hope Walker's abysmal 2008 was due to health. He's always been a solid citizen and a good influence but if he can't rebound I'd rather see the O's lose with youth than with Walker.

With a 13 man pitching staff, a team could carry a one-batter relief specialist. I don't believe the O's are in a position to carry 13 pitchers, eight position players and 4 bench, one of whom must be a catcher and one must be utility. Especially when realistically the O's are going to win 62-75 games. Better with 12.

All said and done, I think it's best for O's to move on from the Jamie Walker/Chad Bradford one-batter specialists and go forward with developing the young arms, who need to pitch and will be needed to eat up innings and pitch to more than a batter or two.

Walker's a great guy - wish him the best!

For TeeryP: Bradford, Walker and Baez were Flannigan-McPhail wasn't in Baltimore then.

Regarding Flanagan... can he get LH's out? Give him a spring training invite. It will resolve his role with the team while offering an alternative to Walker as the designated veteran "situational lefty". Someone somewhere else coined the term LOOGY (lefty one out guy), but Walker has always been a one-inning guy, not an Orosco one-batter type.

To Tom. I realize that McPhail wasn't involved in the Bradford/Walker/Baez signings but I can see that the way I wrote my post that I implied that he was...
My point is that I hope McPhail learns that it makes little sense to invest heavily in a bullpen, especially set-up men. These guys come and go and look great one year and like a bum the next. So far, McPhail hasn't made this type of blunder with overpaying for 'pen arms. There seems to be enough options internally and if things go as planned, we should actually have a decent 'pen-without the 'bad investments'.
Sorry for the confusing post...

To Tom. I realize that McPhail wasn't involved in the Bradford/Walker/Baez signings but I can see that the way I wrote my post that I implied that he was...
My point is that I hope McPhail learns that it makes little sense to invest heavily in a bullpen, especially set-up men. These guys come and go and look great one year and like a bum the next. So far, McPhail hasn't made this type of blunder with overpaying for 'pen arms. There seems to be enough options internally and if things go as planned, we should actually have a decent 'pen-without the 'bad investments'.
Sorry for the confusing post...

Walker is done, has been done, his stats prove that, if somehow the guy pitches decent for a while I hope they unload him. Of him and Bradford I always liked Bradford better, probably because he was/is, at least statistically.

Pete, where exactly are Baez and Ray in the recovery? Are they ready to go or...? If so, I would not even put Walker on the MLB roster, he simply become too much of a liability.

Pete's reply: From what I've been told, both Baez and Ray are healthy enough to get started on the first day of pitcher and catcher workouts.

Terry P, you are right to a degree but look no further than Mariano Rivera to see why there is a tier system with every position, even bullpen guys.

Pete, thanks for the update. With Burress and Albers (and I guess Hendrickson) at long relief, Sarfate, Jim Johnson, Chris Ray, Sherill, and pick two of Baez, Macklio, Jim Miller and that is a nice bullpen.

I think that Albers is a super dominant long relief guy, not a closer, not a starter. This is why we need Ben Sheets, that would enable Trembley too keep Albers where Albers can be Albers. Or at least until the calvary arrives from Norfolk close to September. (Insert David Price memory of '08 ALCS)

Hi TerryP,

I kind of have to disagree with the statement of investing in good setup guys. Lets say your average starter goes 6 innings that leaves about 320-420 innings that you need good setup guys. Your closer is going to pitch only 60 to 70 innings if he is managed right. So you need four to five really good pitchers to eat up those innings plus lefty specialist. So investing in a bullpen is not a bad thing, especially when you are trying to bring young starters into the mix.

A look at available free agent relief pitchers and one name stands out amongst the unsigned. Juan Cruz. A good wind might blow him off the mound but boy can he throw.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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