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January 14, 2009

O's: Close encounter

Orioles closer George Sherrill already is throwing regularly and apparently experiencing no significant discomfort in the sore left shoulder that hampered him at the end of the 2008 season. He told Jeff Zrebiec yesterday that he's itching to get to Fort Lauderdale and get started.

"It’s been pretty positive," Sherrill said. "[This Monday] was my fifth day of playing catch [from about 120 feet], and it’s feeling pretty good. It doesn’t feel like I’m pressing or trying to force it to get it there. It feels pretty good, pretty strong. I’m looking forward to getting to spring training and getting some bullpens going. I’m a reliever. I don’t need too much time to get ready."

If both Sherrill and Chris Ray (reconstructive elbow surgery) are ready to go on Opening Day, manager Dave Trembley would have a decision to make, but Sherrill doesn't seem too worried about it either way.

"It’s going to depend on how I look, how he looks, that type of stuff," said Sherrill, who saved 31 games last year before being slowed by the shoulder soreness. "He’s coming off a whole year off, but before that, he was a hell of a closer. Whether I’m closing or whether I’m setting up Chris, it doesn’t matter to me. I’d obviously love to close, but I just want to win. I know he can do it. They have two pretty good options whatever way they go. I just think they need to name one. If it is me, and I’m not doing the job, then go with him."

The Orioles and Ray, by the way, avoided arbitration yesterday when Ray agreed to a one-year contract.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:07 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Just baseball


So, if Ray is healthy and Sherrill is not traded, why wouldn't they try JJ in the rotation where there is a definite need? Don't understand their reluctance to giving it a shot and "stretch him out" in the spring. They can always convert him back if it doesn't look like it is working. Where is the downside?

Pete's reply: Getting him hurt jacking him around, I guess.

kind of decision I would like to make. At least the Orioles have some promise this season. I think the pen should be pretty good if they don't pitch 200 innings a piece.

I think you give it to George and trade him at the they should have done last year when his value probably peaked.

For the Orioles, a close encounter is when they "almost" sign Vlad Guerrero, or Ivan Rodriguez, or Paul Konerko, or A.J. Burnett, or Mark Teixeira--but then get left with Brandon Fahey, Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Millar, Radhames Liz, and Chris Gomez.

And forget about the Orioles keeping their own homegrown talent once they become eligible for free agency: Mussina, Ryan, Roberts, and Markakis would not sign an extension, because they don't like losing two games out of three every year any more than the fans do. While they're at the Yawn, the Yankees and Red Sox fans can scout Roberts, Markakis, and Weiters for their upcoming free agent deals.


MLB should contract the Orioles already. I'd much rather watch the World Baseball Classic, the Little League World Series, and local colleges and high schools play at Camden Yards than watch Peter's Angelosers.

The O's need to start Sherrill off as closer while Ray regains his form. This year, they cant hesitate and trade Sherrill at the deadline for prospects. He was at his peak value last season before his arm injury. So hopefully, he can regain that value with a good first half.

The Orioles should designate one as primary closer but also use the other from time to time.They've run several closers into the ground in recent years, continually sending them out there 3 nites in a row and sometimes 5 out of 6.

The injuries to Sherrill, Ray and BJ Ryan aren''t a coincidence.There's no reason why the second guy can't get a quarter of the save opportunities; it will save their arms.We're lucky to have two good ones and also J. Johnson.

Trade one of them.

I, for one, have never really understood the modern notion of having a "closer." (Shows you how old I am.) I really liked that Eddie Watt/Dick Hall/Stu Miller kind of bullpen, where you could comfortably stick anybody you've got warm in a tight game. I guess today's version would be Chris Ray/George Sherill/Jim Johnson.

I like Sherrill's attitude; he's willing to fill any role and appears to like being an Oriole. This guy has a real upside so I can't understand the rationale for trading him. Yes, he's in his early 30's but many relievers remain effective into their late 30's and even 40's.
Yes, we have a lot of veterans but to compete you need a mixture of young and old. I'd keep Huff, Roberts, Sherrill and maybe even Scott. We have too many holes to fill already so the popular notion of trading everyone over 30 in a rebuild does not make much sense as it just makes the rebuild take longer.
By all means shed the roster of the deadweights like Ramon, Walker and don't keep current vets like Mora, Hendrickson, Freel, Gomez any longer than necessary.
We have a decent young core with Jones, Weiters, Markakis, and presuming Roberts is kept and Huff stays solid, we have the makings of a decent offense for the next 3-5 years.

'Closer' , are you kidding me 'closer' , did you say 'closer' , I mean we are talking about 'closer' on this team , 'closer' , why is this team going to need a closer ?


Pete , I forgot to reply to your comment on my participation on this site.............First , let me say , you must have forgotten you are my personal hero..........Second , I enjoy your thoughts and readers comments..........Third , I keep waiting for my personal hero to fix the O's , I'm trying to be patient,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,GO Ravens..............

Pete's reply: Understood. I know people are very frustrated and have a right to be, but if they stop caring, I'll be out of a job, and we can't have that, can we?

Hi Pete - Good article of Grevais. I sorta agreed with his complaints but he does need to carry himself a little bit better considering a lot of tuition went towards the court he plays on.

Does anyone really think Sherrill, Huff and Roberts will be around by mid season?

Besides Wieters, are the O's planning on bringing up another prospect to either pitch every 5th day or play in the field and make a decent impact? Seems likely that our team could look dramatically different by July.

it seems that sherrill is assuming that there will be only one closer next year. i don't think that that will be the case. i think that trembley sees an opportunity to match up his pitchers with the opposition's line-up in any given inning. if left-handers are due up in the ninth, he will close. if left-handers are due up in the eighth, he will set-up.
i hope that egos do not get in the way because i'm sure that trembley will play it like that.

Sherrill's a class act. We have to feel pretty good about our late inning options right now.

Now that Uehara's on board, who are the likeliest and best remaining options for a free agent to fill the 3 and 4 slots? I'm assuming Hendrickson is 5 if he makes the rotation... And is Burres still around for long relief?

Pete's reply: I think the Orioles are waiting to see who is the last, best, cheapest option in the free agent market, and yes, Burres is still around.

Bullpen should be fine especially with Ray and Sherrill at the back end. Hopefully Biaz can start so Sarfate can keep his space in the pen.

Starting pitching is where the problem is with only two of the 5 spots filled (one of them being a guy who doesnt have any ML experience). It would be a shame if the bullpen was overworked.

While I read and enjoy your blog, I wanted to write in to say that I felt like you didn't make the proper points in your article on the Vazquez booing. If an article was going to be written about that--and one should have been--the thrust should have been that the fans were in the wrong. Buying a ticket to something does not entitle a person to asinine behavior, despite the fact that such behavior is a regular occurrence at sporting events in general, and Terps games in particular. You do mention that Williams has never seen a player get booed at home in a lifetime of coaching, and no one deserves it less than Vazquez. The guy plays hard, and the fact that such a potentially erratic person has made over 30 free throws shows all of us how hard he's working on his game. That he said things to the crowd during the game is an issue--ideally he would have temporarily risen above it--but his comments afterward were perfectly appropriate. They need people who are going to support the team, and if they're not, they should get out. He made a point of thanking the people who were supporting them, so he even covered his bases. Vazquez is right, the crowd was wrong, and he should have laid into them afterward. Thanks for giving me an avenue to express my displeasure with both your article and the fans who would do such a thing.

...............................................................................................Peter's reply: Thanks for the note. Obviously, I disagree with some of what you're saying. This is a public university that gives free tuition to kids to play basketball and spends lavishly on their facilities. There was nothing appropriate in what Vasquez said afterward. He could have called out the students for booing without telling them to "Get the hell out." I realize he's an emotional kid and so I didn't criticize him that heavily, but he needed to be called on that.

2009 marks my 30th year as an Oriole fan and observer of the game and what I've found in cases of pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery is that they typically need a full season to completely regain their lost strength. To think Chris Ray will be ready to go 100% for the incredibly taxing job of full time closer is somewhat wishful thinking--not impossible, cuz as they say, ya nevah know, but not odds I want to gamble with. Does that mean Sherrill is the number one closer? Not necessarily as another thing I've learned in my 30 years is that coming back from injury is always a dicey thing. He may be 100 percent, he may not. And JJ"s coming back from injury as my guess is, even O's mgt doesn't know who the closer is going to be, that's what spring training is for. In the meantime, you keep checking the waiver wires and see what insurance you can pick up. Hopefully we'll see another starter signing soon, and another bat because yet ANOTHER thing I"ve learned in 30 years of O's watching is that guys who come off shockingly greast seasons (hello, Aubrey!) rarely repeat it anywhere near to the degree they enjoyed the past season the following year. Aubrey had a career year last year and to figure he'll do just as well is again, wishful thinking. As for those who think the market has gone dry for Brian Roberts, relax. Somebody always goes down with injury in spring training, some top team will have problems with a second baseman and suddenly interest in Brian goes through the roof. We'll have to wait and see, that's the the "fun" of the Hot Stove League.

The pessimism is thick here, isn't it. I'm not pessimistic about the Orioles in the long term. I support them. I'm enjoying them. I believe Andy MacPhail is doing a bang-up job.

Bring on spring training...

Obviously, you trade Sherrill if somebody makes a great offer, but I wouldn't be in any hurry to deal him. After all
1. He's left-handed
2. He's effective

The fact that non-effective lefties (such as Walker and Burres) manage to hang around is evidence that effective lefties are hard to find.

Pete's reply: I think the Orioles are waiting to see who is the last, best, cheapest option in the free agent market...

And this summarizes the Orioles...cheapest option.

Pete's reply: And that might be the best option for this team. Guess we'll have to wait and see who it is.

Ray needs to regain his form before he can prove he's better at closing things out than Sherrill. Closing was Ray's job to lose before he, well, lost it to Sherrill. Sherrill is made of steel - I liked his demeanor closing games last year. If they could form an 8th-to-9th inning tandem - Ray in the 8th and George in the 9th - it might be a bit difficult for other teams to mount late-inning rallies in 2009. Our starting 5 (or is it starting 2 at this point?) needs to hold leads before we can dream of having games to save...

Wow, I sure hope they get this closer thing worked out! I wouldn't want us to miss out on winning the division by 1 or 2 games because our closer couldn't do the job (giggle)!!!!


Do you have any idea what Randy Wolf's agent is asking for? If the Mets sign Oliver Perez (taking them out of the market), Wolf would be a good 1-2 year guy, if he's in our kind of price range.


Pete's reply: I do not know how much he wants. The free agent pitching situation is still muddled, and I wouldn't be surprised if the O's stepped in late and got somebody.

posted the following on roch's site...
roch -
thought you might be amused by some of chris rays contract incentive clauses (as reported on

Ray's contract also includes the following incentives: $50,000 for making the American League All-Star team; $100,000 for winning the Cy Young Award and $50,000 for placing second or third in the Cy Young voting; $50,000 for a Gold Glove; $50,000 for League Championship Series Most Valuable Player; $50,000 for World Series MVP; $100,000 for Comeback Player of the Year; and $150,000 for Team Leader in Rolaids Relief Man Award voting.

seeing the LCS and World Series MVP incentives, he must be thinking he's going to be traded. . .

Pete's reply: You know, I've always wondered why every team doesn't give every player a $1 milliion MVP bonus clause. That's a bet the team would like to lose.

King Arthur: "Old woman"
Subject " I'm not a woman"

Most who are leaving comments seems to think the team as it appears to be shaping up will be much like last years team, if not worse. I think all the negative talk about the various players is good because it might be a great incentive for these perceived losers to prove the majority opinions givers wrong by picking it up a notch over their past performances. Let's hope so because that looks like our best chance for improvement.

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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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