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April 20, 2009

Days of whines and neuroses

Before you start talking about the "Sunday jinx," you better look at the Orioles' overall record in day games so far. They did win on Opening Day, but that game started at 4:20 p.m. after a brief rain delay. In games that start in the early afternoon (or, in today's case, the late morning), the Orioles are now 0-4.

Of course, before you start rooting for perpetual twilight, you might want to consider that only one of those four games (yesterday's) was pitched by either of the team's top two starters. So, really, it's not a jinx. It's not even a coincidence.

Sorry symmetry dept: The O's and Red Sox passed each other stepping through the looking glass over the past four games. The O's were 6-3 when the series started and the Red Sox were 3-6. Now the Orioles are 6-7 and the Red Sox are 7-6.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 1:54 PM | | Comments (24)



The Oriole season is done!

NFL Draft is 5 days away.

Stop giving O's fans false hope. Talk about the Ravens daily. Win or lose, they make sports in this town interesting.

Yes, we all knew this was a rebuilding year. Yes, we all feared the worst when the Orioles headed North with the most unsettled pitching situation many of us have ever seen. Yes, we all had lowered expectations this year.

Yes, we all feared that the poor pitching would begin to affect the morale of the position players and the defense. We all hoped that Macphail saw something in Felix Pie that the Cubs did not. After all, Pie has had 291 Major League AB's and is hitting .216 with 82 strikeouts. All that speed, all of that athletic ability, but you can't steal first base.

The good news is that we are only 13 games intio the season. That may also be the bad news.

As my good friend Homer Simpson said, "We're the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked!"....except the Nats!

This series was flat-out embarassing....luckily, the Yanks allowed so many runs this weekend, that no one really noticed anything else...not that the Orioles get noticed by anyone regardless of the reason.

I know that no one expected the wins to keep coming, but I don't know if anyone expected the wheels to come off this quickly, or this powerfully.

They need to make some changes QUICKLY...bring some fresh blood onto the team, deal Pie as soon as possible, and get someone, ANYONE who can record outs into an Orioles uniform. If I see Radhames Liz on the pitcher's mound one more time, I am seriously going to question the sanity of the management...Olson is gone, now Liz goes too...Too many second chances, too much passiveness...They need guys who are hungry to win, and who want to prove they are big leaguers...not 4A scrubs

Why go to our bullpen in the 6th again? Wasn't like Hendrickson was getting smacked around - 3 runs through 5 innings for our 5th starter warrants at least another inning. When does Trembley take the leash off these guys? We just can't keep up this pace by relying on the bullpen for 4/5 innings a game.

Pete's reply: It's tough when these guys need 100-plus pitches to go four or five innings.

We now return you to your original [program] team. Back To Reality...

I know, my cup of orange Kool-Aid is half full… But this year – though I ALWAYS hope for victories – I am not bothered by Oriole losses, lopsided losses, loss streaks, etc. The importance of this season will not be measured in the standings. This year, we will develop/assess/acclimate young talent in the minors and majors. Of course, its great fun when we win – and every win must help the morale of the handful of current O’s that will still be on board in a few years. But each loss does nothing significant except improve our 2010 amateur draft position. After each loss, I am comforted by that thought. This is a great defense mechanism to have – especially since my family has a Sunday ticket plan… The cavalry is coming – MUCH better days ahead…

I've said it before and I will say it again: The Braves never worried about getting an extra year before a player reached free agency, how many options a guy had left or any of the other excuses the O's front office gives us. If a guy could pitch or play at the Major League level, he was on their roster throughout the 90's. Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, Merker, Chipper Jones, Ron Gant, David Justice and on and on and on were very young when they were put on the Major League roster. And I don't want to hear garbage about them being a Championship team. All those pitchers I mentioned got called up at the end of the 80's when the Braves were losing 90 + games a year and took their lumps. If a young guy is going to lose confidence in his abilities because he gets knocked around a bit early in his career, then maybe he is too fragile to be a professional ballplayer and needs to look into driving trucks for UPS. I believe the Orioles have enough talent in Norfolk that should be in Baltimore NOW! The Nationals just sent half their bullpen to the minors and called up 4 new guys after this past weekend. I think after 2 weeks we now know that certain starters, relievers and position players have no place on a Major League roster. It is time to find out who can play and who can not.

Pete's reply: The years you are refering back to, the Braves didn't have to worry about one year being worth $20 million.

Liz has got to be one of the most ineffective pitchers I've ever seen. I've never liked or been impressed by him and I don't see why he's even in consideration for a roster spot every year.

Don't need to talk about the Sunday jinx ! Its about the players you put on the field day in and day out.

I know it's not the best way to judge a team, but the O's now have the worst run differential (-29) of any team in baseball. The only other teams with a run differential worse than -20 are the Nats and D-Backs.

Oh, the horror!

And what is going on with Liz? One-third of an inning, 3 hits, 1 BB, 2 HBPs, and 6 earned runs raise his ERA to 67.5. Another great performance.

If it's even possible, this guy may be a worse prospect than Pie!

How does Radhames Liz's ERA compare with Chien-Ming Wang's?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Boston isn't going to be behind us too often this year.
The fact that fans are reacting even after 13 games just shows that we care about the state of this once-proud franchise. It's one thing to lose but to get trounced so bad so often so early is discouraging. I'm talking about the numerous losses where we surrended double digit runs. Liz is clearly lost so why keep sending him out there to embarrass himself and the team?
Yes, fans are hard on Pie because it seems the majority saw this coming the minute we got him in that trade with the Cubs. He's done nothing to warrant a steady job yet the reply is that the O's have no choice because he's 'out of options'...I'm guessing many teams won't trip over themselves to claim him so let's end this now. Even though it's early and we are in our 12th rebuild, ,it's time to send out the message that if you don't produce your'e going to be replaced. Pie can't even lay down a bunt, so go down to the minors for half a season and learn how to play the game.

Jim Palmer was recently commenting on poor pitching mechanics, and it being a general problem in the minors. The clip used to be on MASN with Dempsey asking why a number of pitchers always fall off the mound towards 1B (assuming the pitcher is a righty). Liz is a poster child for horrible mechanics. Palmer indicated that they weren't taught any differently from single A on up, and the O's have probably done the young pitchers a disservice. I'm not saying all would be fine with Liz if he had better mechanics. I'm just wondering what, if anything, has really been fixed in the minor leagues so that all the hype we hear about Matusz, Tillman, etc. actually comes to fruition. I realize guys like Matusz, Tillman, and Arrieta are better than what the O's have previously had, but I am wondering what MacPahil means by not "rushing the young pitchers". Does that include a new emphasis on sound mechanics that was missing before? The last thing the O's need is another batch of arm problems, bad mechanics, and busted promises. Heck, it's only April and we're all sick and tired of the current horrible pitching.

It would be an interesting article, but I could also see it being a touchy subject. If we are supposed to believe things will change, hearing that an obvious problem is being aggressively fixed would help alleviate the well earned suspicion the fans have for this franchise.

Oriole pitching is an oxymoron! When is the front office going to wake up and get some front line pitching. If not, why not fire the pitching coach (he has nothing to work with) and save the salary. Our hitting is normally getting enough runs to win with decent pitching but it's all a waste. I can't imagine that quality free-agent pitchers can't see that we have the hitting to be winners and be willing to come here. Maybe the name Angelos is the problem!

Is it September already? It looks like the team is mailing it in April like they usually do in Augusta and September. This is gonna be a long one, but I gotta rant here…So I here that Liz was optioned to Norfolk after the game in order to make room for Bergeson. What a waste bringing him up was, and worse, we all new it before he even arrived. What are they paying the O’s administration for anyway? Our pitching absolutely s%^&s! Liz needs to walk right through the dugout, go to Logan and get on a plane to El Seybo, DR, not Norfolk. Or, he belongs in the independent league with all the other guys that don’t belong in the big leagues. Talk about the second coming of DCab!

Since I live no where near Baltimore anymore, I sit in front of the computer nearly every night watching them get destroyed on by the opposing team because of our ineptness nearly all the way around the field. It is getting real bad when I start logging on to the Tides’ and Bay Sox games in April, but that is what I have been doing. Thank God for the first two weeks of the year this year with B-Rob, Nick, Adam, Huff and Mora hitting like they were/are. But I cannot take it anymore. My wife and two sons just laugh at me because they were not around during the late 60’s 70’s and early 80’s when we were all proud to refer to ourselves as O’s fans. Man I long for those days! Our offense really misses Mora and Jones’ bats. Toda’s lineup reminded me of coaching a little league team. Do I put all of the bats together and hope to score 2 or 3 runs when the good hitters come up and then get shut out for the next two innings or do I put other guys in between and hope one of them gets walked or beaned so that one of my real hitters can knock them in? Freel (hope he is not injured too badly) and Pie need to get on the plane with Liz and parachute to their hometowns as the plane travels to the DR. Freel has a right to complain about Pie getting playing time over him, but there is nobody else he should be playing in front of. Bring on Montanez and Reimold, Get rid of Eaton and bring in Patton. Get rid of Bass and bring in Pauley or Hernandez. I am tired of this belief that we might hurt a kid’s psyche crap! Oakland does it every year and most of their young arms manage to do well after some initial growing pains.

I was not expecting to win the pennant, but I guess I will just pay more attention to the guys on the farm in order to remain sane!


This is like watching last year all over again, only the injuries are starting earlier.

The bullpen is full of non-relief pitchers and take and the woeful excuse for a starting staff were bound to eventually catch up once the offense faltered...which it now has.

In this economy, I don't think the O's can afford to just toss this season away, so they have got to do something to put a better club on the field. I'm starting to lose interest already and April isn't even over yet.

Mora has been hurt too much since he signed his big contract and Jones looks like he might be fragile too. God help them if Weiters or any more of the their pitching prospects have the same affliction...people might only read The Sun during Ravens Mini-camps.

Pete's reply: We can't have that.

Coming into this season, I thought Hendrickson would get rocked, but he been decent, and if he was the 5th starter, I think most O's fans would be OK with that, but when he is your # 3 SP, you are in trouble.

People were calling for Nick to be benched and Adam to be benched or sent down, and look what happened with a little patience. Pie needs time, but if he fails than the O's will never have to look back and say "if only we gave him some more time." The sad thing is the people who keep posting Penn's stats and calling for D Cab to come back (why?), will be the first ones to cry for Pie when he is gone. Team isn't losing because of Felix.

Pete, what's wrong with Liz? I thought he could be a very good reliever, but is this a case of being a 4A pitcher or not enough time in the reliever role since he has mostly been a SP for the organization?

Pete's reply: I don't have an answer, but I'm guessing his confidence is shot.

Is it time to panic yet?Five straight losses and counting,with Bergeson,who I think will pitch well tomorrow night starting aginst the Sox,the white ones.Sorry series in every aspect.Sorry defense,sorry pitching,with the exception of Koji,sorry relief,sorry roster moves,sorry injuries,and even sorrier managing.Glad it's over.Sorry scoring too,Izturis should have got an error on that play.

I agree that Pie hasn't looked all that great as of yet. But everyone needs to take a step back from the computer and chill out. The season is less than 15 games old!

Adam Jones and Markakis didn't start off so great. In 1982, Ripken went 3 for 5 on opening day, and then plunged into a 4-for-55 slump. If this was 1982, there would be an online "End the Ripken, Jr. Experiment." I'm not saying Pie is any Cal, but it is the right call to give him a full season in left field. There is a reason why Andy and other PROFESSIONAL baseball people are playing him above Reimold and Montanez. He has a different level of raw talent. Quit beating up on Pie. Geez, it seems like Lou Montanez's whole family is posting here sometimes. For the record, I like Lou and hope he gets called up if Freel goes on the DL.

Funny having Cal and Felix Pie in the same sentence I am sure Cal is thrilled about that. Please remember that Cal had no MLB time when that happened and was 21. Pie has MLB time in, over 300 at bats and has showed nothing. Really it comes down to this, if the playing field was even, and options were not part of the equation, Pie would not have made this team. That is the bottom line. It is not about talent, it is potential with limitations. If you had no minor league talent behind him, it would not be that big of an issue, but three other outfielders that were sent to the minors during spring training were having better springs. The one thing that Pie has that the others do not is more experience in center, and that is something that the Orioles like. So the experiment will continue. If you watch Pie as I have, he stays well off the plate, the catcher is consistently setting up outside and high or low. Maybe he needs to adjust and see if that helps, but he has the Crow, which makes me in comparison a tee ball coach when it comes to hitting instruction so who knows. It would be an awesome thing to see this kid turn it around, unfortunate for him and the team, he has to do it at the MLB level instead of the minors. It does not help that Izturis and Zaun are not hitting right now also. Really is Pie the reason the Orioles are having issues now? Last time I checked he does not pitch, so the problem is much deeper than him, that is one thing we cannot pin on Pie.

No need to panic.

We've played the NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox, the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays and a serious hitting team in Texas. That's a brutal foursome to play. Aside from the Angels, the O's should be competive with the rest of the American League (and probably the entire National League). The last thing to do is panic and start blowing up the team whilst losing confidence. Our position players and line-up does provide a glimpse of hope regardless. Hopefully pitching is on the way.

I would say "oh the pain", but as we say at the Passover Seder "Why is this night different from all other nights?". It's been the story for too long. The only way it's going to change is if we start the season with some really good prospects in the lineup from day #1. And that, my dear Peter, isn't going to happen until next year or the one after, assuming the prospects pan out and stay healthy.
Roberts, Jones and Markakis are 2 solid players around whom you can build a team, but build it this year and let's start out with it next year.
Bergeson is hopefully a step in that direction and with Wieters, Arrieta, etc. in the wings, but wait...remember last year's "wunderkind" Chris Waters and his incredible "flash in the pan" 4 hit shutout debut? No one expected that and it wasn't repeated.
For those of us who are truly loyal to the Birds and who enjoy the whole Oriole Park at Camden Yards experience, we'll just have to be patient and hope that what we have is sufficient enough to avoid being crushed as we were yesterday (or remember the 30-3 debacle of 2007?) and competent enough to take advantage of the situations that arise during a game. We will likely face opponents who are better than us and if we're sharp, we should be able to produce some wins this season. Otherwise, I'll just keep smiling and humming "take me out to the ballgame"- "Orioles Magic" isn't happening and reality dictates that this is going to get worse before ultimately getting better. I was going to say something about the Nationals, but I was at the game at Nationals Park last year where we blew the lead in the bottom of the 9th, nuff said. For now, everybody hum together..
"Take me out to the hmmmm hmmmmmm...."

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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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