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March 17, 2009

Day off for Orioles

The Fort Lauderdale spring training complex will be shuttered for much of today. The Orioles are taking St. Patrick's Day as one of their offdays during this WBC-extended spring training. The only baseball activity going on at camp today is a short workout by pitcher Rich Hill, who will throw a bullpen session and test his breaking pitches.

That makes this a great day to fill out bracket sheets and get my silk shirt collection dry cleaned. I'll also be putting together a column on the Orioles pitching issues for Wednesday's print and Web editions, but I'll pop in a couple of times to take a look at the news of the day.

There will be one Oriole active today. Brian Roberts will play for Team USA tonight in an elimination game against Puerto Rico at 7 p.m. in Miami. If all does not go well, he and Jeremy Guthrie could be back in camp tomorrow. If all goes well, Guthrie will make his second WBC appearance tomorrow night.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 7:56 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete-Should be two Orioles working today then, need someone to catch his bullpen, or are you catching him? I hope he does well and feels great. Do need something positive about the staff candidates.

Hope Roberts/Guthrie are back asap. Not at all a fan of the WBC. Also hope Izturis is back soon. Be nice to work on the new double play combo before the season starts. I thought that was part of what spring training was for. Have Roberts and Izturis even met yet?

Pete's reply: Of course, they were here together earlier in camp.

Pete's day off - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I hope Guthrie has had enough pitching to get ready for the O's. I do not blame him for a second, taking the chance to play for the USA. Not sure he a played as much as he was expecting. Not a big fan of the WBC. Still kind of an allstar event. Not true teams. USA would need to start practice sooner for the players involved. The NBA players proved they needed practice time to win back the Gold. Why would baseball be any different.

Dear Peter,
Let’s face it: Palmer, Cuellar and McNally are not showing up this year. We don’t have a starting rotation by any stretch of the imagination. So why think in the old terms? Why not accept what we have and go with it? What do we have? A bunch of guys who can go through the batting order maybe once- a few maybe twice. So let’s build on that with a completely new concept: we carry 13 pitchers & PLAN to use 4 pitchers a game.
Here’s how “SpitNScratch" would set it up:
Think of a staff of 13 that can be divided into three categories: starters who are expected to pitch only 4-6 innings, middle-relievers who pitch 2-3 innings, and relievers who pitch one inning. Of course, everything has to be pretty flexible to allow for blowouts, injuries, special situations. But that’s how it always has to be even with a Palmer or Cuellar.
In the first category would be Guthrie, Uehara and Hill (L) if recovered, and two more from a group including Baez, Pauley, Penn, Liz, and perhaps Bergesen, with only Guthrie slated to finish six innings. (Baez, Penn, and Liz, who would ordinarily be suspect as starters on the grounds that they're unlikely to make it through 6 innings, in this approach would qualify; and if limited to an expected five innings, Uehara, who has been a reliever in Japan for the past two years, and Hill, who has had control problems and injuries, would not overtax themselves.)
In the second category, pitchers who go 2-3 innings, would be Bass, Hendrickson (L), Albers, and Safarte; and in the one-inning category, Johnson, Ray, Walker (L), and Sherrill (L).
The rotation would then be of sets of pitchers rather than just of starters. For instance, Game 1 would feature Guthrie (6 innings), Albers or Safarte (2 innings), and Sherrill or Ray (closing). In Game 2, Uehara would pitch only 5 innings, followed by Hendrickson for 2 innings, then Johnson and Ray or Sherrill for one apiece. In Game 3, Hill would pitch the opening 5 innings, followed by Safarte or Albers, then Walker and Sherrill or Ray for one each. In Game 4, Baez (who has not started for half a dozen years) would be limited to 4 innings, Bass would follow with 3, then Johnson for 1, and the closer for 1. Finally, in Game 5, Pauley or Penn or Liz could start and go only 4 innings, so not more than twice through the batting order, followed by Albers and Safarte (or Hendrickson) for 2 innings each, and again Ray or Sherrill. Johnson and Walker, also Bass and Hendrickson, would be generally available for special situations.
Thus starters would not be extended past their actual abilities: even if successful in their assignments for the full 32 starts, starters would pitch only between 130 and 190 innings, middle relievers would appear only every other game, and our two closers, Sherrill and Ray, could alternate, with four others able to fill in when useful. In this way, our lack of legitimate starters and our plentitude of relievers could be turned to our advantage.
If you think about it, pitching has been evolving from starters who went 9 innings every time out (some would go all the way in extra inning games or pitch both ends of a double-header) to “quality” starters who go 6 igs, a middle reliever who goes 2 igs & a closer for 1 ig. Why? Fewer times the opposition sees the delivery, easier to bear down on the fewer hitters you face. This is the direction of the game so why not use it now when we basically have no other choice?
Best wishes,
Lee Rosner & Howard Waskow

All of these pitchers and still no resolution to the three open rotation spots, w/ the possible exception of Baez. Go on Andy, pick up Martinez for a year and give him an incentive laden contract.

Is Chris Waters in the mix at all for a spot in the rotation? He pitched 3 scoreless innings the other day against Boston and showed some flashes the end of last season. He's not going to be a long term solution, but I'm surprised his name isn't mentioned more as an innings eater for this year.

Pete's reply: Chris is doing fine and is in the mix to some degree, though he does tend to fade into the woodwork.

You Dry clean those things?!??!!

How about an update on the O's spring traing outlook for next year. It seems never to be discussed when all interest is on spring training. Every year I come down here for the month of March and I'm from the Phila area and don't get many updates on this subject. Joe G

Pete's reply: If I knew any more than you do, I would be happy to oblige. Right now, there are four possibilities and none of them are probabilities.

peter i think andy mac ought to take a few steps back and reconsider. the orioles could use pedro. i have read what he wants in a contract. i think pedro could show these young pitchers how to pitch. yea the orioles might lose a draft pick too if they were to sign pedro. it would seem to me that push has come to shove.

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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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