baltimoresun.com

« Fantasy bonanza | Main | Baysox, Shorebirds home openers tonight »

April 16, 2009

Orioles: Perspective check

There's a lot of pitching angst out there right now, which is probably understandable after the Orioles' staff gave up 19 runs last night. It was ugly, but let's keep it in its proper context. Did anybody think, coming into the season, that Mark Hendrickson and Brian Bass were going to be lights out? Did anyone imagine the Orioles would win their first three series against the Yankees, Rays and Rangers?

The tone of some of the posts makes me think some fans would be happier if the Orioles were 3-6 and they had lost by closer scores.

The starting rotation still has some huge holes, but everyone knew coming in that it was going to be a patchwork proposition. Nobody could have predicted Alfredo Simon would get hurt in his second start, but nobody seriously believed four weeks ago that he would even get two starts this year.

Keep in mind while you're picking the operation apart that most of the free agent pitchers fans were clamoring for the Orioles to sign in January are not pitching right now, including Pedro Martinez, who -- for some reason -- has been passed over by 29 other teams, too. MacPhail never lied about the club's intentions this year, but things are actually going pretty well right now and I'm guessing the time fast approaches when prospect Brad Bergesen begins the two-year parade of truly promising young pitchers coming up from the minor leagues.

It was always going to be a sketchy year, so you've got to enjoy the good times while you can. The glass is still half full right now. Might not be next week, so sip it slowly and savor it.

Now, back to last night's game.

Wow, what a beating!

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:02 PM | | Comments (72)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

I agree. Why blast the team when they continue to win 2 out of 3. When they start getting swept and losing 2 out of 3 then start complaining. Until then...enjoy the ride!

I agree completely. Let's face it, we're not gonna see the top pitching prospects until late in the summer. We can't burn through the current staff and minor league pitchers before the end of April. (That said, I did wince when I saw that Hayden Penn pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings last night and got the win.)

Well....................at least the Rangers didn't get 30 runs.

C'mon, Peter, I'm not preferring 3-6 to 6-3 but THIS 6-3 hasn't changed my prediction of 54 wins. No way can the bats keep outpacing this pathetic bunch of arms.

Not only did the Orioles not even make an attempt for AJ Burnett, they could have gotten some real value by going after some over-the-hill arms such as Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. While the latter two would have cost some extra money, they would have done at least a professional job of clogging the bottleneck that keeps the O's magical arms in the minors for seasoning and eligibility.

The real sad part is as much as we can chortle that Daniel Cabrera has given up 17 hits and walks in 11 innings, he STILL would be our third starter with those stats.

In some ways it is business as usual. The Orioles are totally mioptic with what they are doing. Yes, I commend them for FINALLY having a long term plan, but must it be at the expense of everything else?

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Well, everything you say is possible, but it presupposes that Hendrickson and Eaton will be in the rotation more than a few weeks. I doubt the pitching staff will look much like this in a few months. And you're continuing to perpetuate the myth that the Orioles could have signed the likes of Randy Johnson. He wasn't coming here. A.J. was way too expensive for his injury history. And 29 other teams don't want Pedro. Even if Pedro were here, it wouldn't change things all that much. I don't see where you get 54 wins, unless you're just going for shock value. If the Orioles lose 108 games, I'll buy you dinner. That's a ridiculous prediction. The worst-case scenario is about 64.

Soothing words from the voice of reason. Tell me when it's time to panic.

I am with you 100%. The O's have been so much fun to watch so far this year. I think our offense and our defense is going to keep us in a lot more games than expected. With some average pitching, I wouldn't be suprised if we finally finish over .500 this year. I know it's early, but I want it to happen, so I believe.

The only thing I don't want to see is us rushing pitchers up too early. I think Brad should be ready for a start next week, at least I hope.

Also, I know I'm looking a little bit down the line, but when Weiters does come up, and he's gotten a year or so of batting in the majors under his belt, where do you see him in the batting order? From what I've seen so far, I really like our 1-2-3 hitters in those positions. Does Weiters have clean-up power, or is he going to get stuck in the bottom half of the line up?

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I think he's a cleanup or No. 5 hitter if he is as good as advertised.

Thank you, Schmuck, for your perspective. This season has started our far better than many imagined it could, and you are right about the tone of many posts still being negative.

How crazy would it have sounded prior to the season to say our 1 and 2 starters would both be 2-0, and we would be 6-3 with 3 series wins at this point? The bullpen has been shaky at times, but they have hunkered down and pitched lights-out at times too... like the 7 2/3 scoreless innings 2 nights ago. Once Sherrill gets on track it will be even better.

I was fully in your corner about signing Pedro before the season, but Andy is going to do what he thinks is best for the team and obviously that doesn't involve Martinez.

I'm definitely savoring every victory, because its possible they will be in short supply this year. And looking forward to Brad Bergesen's MLB debut very soon! Who do you think would be the next candidate in line, once Eaton gets smacked around the ballpark a few more outings? I'm thinking it may be David Hernandez. And if Rich Hill isn't ready soon, how long do you think they'll let Hendrickson linger as a starter? I think he would be a much bigger asset out of the pen.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I think Hendrickson gets one or two more starts if they look like last night.

meet the new loss same as the old loss

On the bright side, Liz and Albers got some work after their callup from Norfolk, Bass got some work in an already lost cause instead of turning a manageable situation into one out of reach, and Baez, Johnson, Walker, and Sherrill all got some extra rest before heading to Boston. And the Orioles are still a game ahead of the Yankees and three ahead of the Sawx.

Huge holes? Like giant Swiss cheese. But at least we all knew that going in. Unlike past years where we were counting on a combination of guys bouncing back, kids maturing, and a whole bunch of cosmic alignment going right causing us to think the team was going to be more competitive than it actually was.

Aloha Peter,
Does McPhail think that Bergeson is major league-ready at this point or would any promotion for him at this point be a little ahead of schedule? I have complete faith in McPhail's judgment. I just don't want to see any of these guys rushed, even if the alternative is 2 or 3 blowout losses each week for the next month.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I'm not sure how Andy views Bergesen, but I believe the coaching staff thinks he can help right away.

Please, please, give this monster offense a good dose of our young pitching? Oakland does it year in and year out, why can't the O's? If your minor league pitchers are better than the majors, why aren't they up here yet? If nothing else, bring up Waters and cut Eaton loose.

Pete,

Couldn't agree with you more about the O's situation and I'm not even there to witness it.

The schizophrenic nature of a lot of the posters here and on Sunspot discourage me from posting very much. Babe Ruth and World Champs today/worst player and team in 150 years of baseball history tomorrow. From the same posters.
It's a long season and there will be ups and downs. Probably mostly downs in 2009 but I don't know what people expect from MacPhail in what has been less than 2 years with what has been one of, if not the worst farm systems in baseball over the past decades. So, I think you are right when you say that some posters would rather be 3-6 in close games.

Re Pedro: I'd rather they offer Mussina the same amount of money, not that he'd do it, and tell him he only has to pitch in games played in Baltimore, Philly, DC, New York, and Boston, than sign PM.

Anyway, thanks for all your updates and hope you'll keep them coming.

The Orioles are good for one 20 run beat down per season from the beloved Rangers.

I dont see why Trembley didnt use a player to pitch the last two frames. It really couldnt have gotten any worse.

I say the Orioles dump Eaton and Bass NOW and call up Bergs and Waters or Wilfredo Perez. Drop Hendrickson into a middle relief role. I am glad we are 6-3 but this won't last as we will likely be swept by Boston. By the end of the month we should be 6 games under .500

............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Maybe. I wouldn't mind seeing Wilfrido up here, but he's a one-inning situational guy and they have enough of those.

well said peter.
but really can't expect proper perspective anymore. i believe.

6-3 = Good.
33 Runs allowed in 3 games = Bad.

I am a fan of offense. Just not when its the other team doing it. Unless I have a fantasy player doing well. And since Davis was on the bench the whole game I think I did not like it.

But my softball season starts tomorrow. I hope to have a 19-6 win myself.

When the young arms start coming up who besides adam eaton is in line to go to the chopping block at this point (assuming you'd agree that eaton is probably the first to go out of the guys up there now)?

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I think Bass and Liz could get sent down at any time.

I did not thing those guys would be lights out. I also did not think they'd be throwing batting practice either.

Totally agree Peter. I thought it would take all season to win series against all three of these teams.

Atleast it nineteen runs on the road and not thirty at home.

Appreciate your level-headed approach. I think we are all frustrated by years of losing so some times its hard to keep the perspective of McPhail and the front office in view. I think people see the potent offense and believe, rightly or wrongly, that a little pitching would go a long way. Unfortunately, we're seeing very little pitching out of 3,4,5. But someone once remarked that it is always darkest just before the dawn ...

19 runs scored. Thin bullpen. Who is our "Nick Swisher"?

Thanks for the level-headed analysis.
Sometimes, it seems like O's fans are either almost railing for this team fail, or blind to its faults.
Hopefully, the team can put all of this behind them and get to winning.

Thanks Pete-
I feel the same way. Last night NOTHING went right. People jump ship after one bad night. A pitcher with mediocre stuff alreday wasn;t on his "best" stuff and the defense had their first awful game . The team is overachieving but so many cynics and pessimists either want to be the first to say "I told you so" or that "Andy's plan is awful," with NO perspective on how much positive direction he has actually given this team. People need to get a grip and do exactly like you aid, ENJOY the wins and shake off the ugly losses.

There will be more of both- but the future is bright, THAT'S what's important.

Peter,

Honestly I look at it in the same way you do. The Orioles could not get the big name pitchers or position players that the Yankees, Redsox, Braves and a few others can because of who the Orioles are right now. It would have been great to see a Burnett's and/or Lowe on the team along with a fifth starter like a Redding. Pedro is not on a club because the other clubs, like us are not willing to pour money out on a "used to be", and Pedro can afford to wait it out until one of these contending teams lose a front line starter, who knows DiceK is already on the DL, who knows how long the other teams staff will hold up. But one thing is consistent is that all teams will have pitching issues this year and will need someone like Pedro. Just like Clemons did his last few years, Pedro can wait until the timing is right. You know teams talked to him, but I am sure he refused every low ball offer.

One fact that all of us have to face is the Orioles do not have an ace, someone dominating. I say there is only about a 20% chance of one of these minor league pitchers in the system will become one of those. We would be very fortunate to come up with two of these guys that could win 15 plus ball games and elated if one won 20 at the MLB level. As much as you root for these guys at Norfolk, Bowie and Frederick, only two will probably make the rotation, some will get spot work, some in relief, but really the transition from Minor's to Majors will tell a tale. So is the glass half full if you look at the whole team at position players yes the glass is half full, but with pitching, it is not. Hats off to the team for their great start. They have won both Guthrie's and Koji starts and that is what we as fans expected, after that we are 2-3 in other starts, which all of us fans felt would be a problem.

Rock on, Pete.
You could (like me) be a Red Sox fan and wonder why your leadoff hitter, reigning AL MVP and DH are all hitting less than .200. You could be watching your #2 pitcher go winless, your #3 go on the DL and your ace threatened with suspension because Bob Watson has a bee in his bonnet. (At least Wake was superb last night.)
Instead, as an Orioles fan, your 1-2-3 guys are hitting over .340, your #1 and #2 pitchers are undefeated, and you're 3 games ahead of the team you're playing this weekend.
Want to trade places?

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Make us that offer in late September.

These are two huge "ifs" but if Rich Hill comes back and gives them decent innings and Bergesen is decent, that's a HUGE rotation upgrade. They may not be that bad off with that rotation, along with Hendrickson or Eaton as the 5th starter.

Excellent point Peter. Let the O's win 3 straight series and some fans will be disappointed that World Series tickets aren't on sale yet. I think we've already gotten more out of our pitching (starters 2 - 5) than was expected. Koji was a relative unknown as far as pitching in the MLB was concerned. Eaton and Hendrickson are supposed to be innings eating bridges, not lights out starters that keep us in 5-4 and 7-6 ballgames. We should be expecting sub-5.00 ERAs from them. And who the heck is Alfredo Simon anyway? These guys are warm bodies with decent stuff that are supposed to absorb a season of (hopefully) .500 ball while Jeremy Guthrie wins 12-15 games and the team takes their lumps until the kids arrive and give us a Tampa Bay-type boost next year and beyond.

Put it in perspective people. This isn't our year unless the Red Sea parts right down the middle of Eutaw Street. Enjoy the offense and defense and endure the pitching.

Pete,

The 2009 Orioles could be pretty good, could even finally crack the .500 mark, if they get some help in their rotation.

If you look at the starters, it's not all gloomy. Jeremy Guthrie looks like he could be taking his game to a new level, so there could be a plus. If he keeps getting run support, he could be headed to the All-Star Game.

I think Koji Uehara's first start is more indicative of what we can expect from him than the one this week in Arlington, where he faced a very tough lineup without his best stuff (or best command) and also was saddled with the majors' worst ball-and-strikes umpire. He'll still need to make adjustments pitching in the U.S., but with his intelligence and command I think he'll be fine once the weather warms up and he can grip the baseball better.

There were high hopes for Alfredo Simon stabilizing the middle of the rotation before his injury. Of course there were questions as to if he could carry over his spring training success into the regular season, but now the only question is if he'll ever don the orange and black again.

Mark Hendrickson looked bad last night after a solid first start. He wasn't helped out by the miscues, but his going deep into counts could have contributed to that. As Chad Moeller said after the game, fielders start falling back on their heels. This is what I feared about Hendrickson, given his past performance, but it is still possible that Rick Kranitz can get through to him. Time will tell.

It's still too early to draw any conclusions about Adam Eaton, since he's only pitched one game. He didn't look good, but part of that could have been due to his extended layoff. Another question mark.

What about other rotation options within the organization? Brian Bass? Nope, he has pretty much pitched himself out of contention for a spot, reversing the good impression he made in spring training. He's hanging onto a bullpen role only by an eyelash and could be released if he blows up again the next time he takes the mound.

Danys Baez? A possibility, but I think Dave Trembley would prefer to keep in in a relief role.

Matt Albers? No, Trembley doesn't want to tax his arm when he's coming back from an injury.

Radhames Liz? Kidding, right? D-Cab Jr. still doesn't look like he should be on the staff and his promotion from Norfolk cries of desperation. Logic dictates that the guy should be with the Tide, where he can work on his atrocious mechanics and out of control delivery. The fact that he is allowed to throw like that is an indictment on the pitching coaches in the system, including Kranitz, whose past record in this regard is to my mind a big red flag, for he did very little to get Dontrelle Willis and Daniel Cabrera to throw properly. Willis may never make it back to the majors and D-Cab is only still there because the pitching-challenged Nationals were willing to give him a shot. And that's my big gripe with Kranitz, that he doesn't lay down the law with his pitcher, but has this laissez faire approach allowing pitchers too much slack.

Willis was only successful early in his career because hitters didn't know what to make of his loosey-goosey delivery, but it soon became clear that it was not repeatable on a consistent basis and neither was his command of the strike zone.

Kranitz never got him to adopt a more conservative, more repeatable delievery. There's not much to add regarding Daniel, as we know that sad tale all to well. But, again, getting back to Liz, not just Kranitz, but no one in the minors either, seem at all concerned his delivery, which is going to continue his failure unless someone gets serious about fixing it. They should learn from stunted careers of D-Cab and Willis, for those who ignore the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Brad Bergesen? We'll learn if he's ready for prime time very soon. He has promise and is probably already better than some of the pitchers on the roster.

Chris Tillman? Of those hurlers close to being ready, he has the best stuff. Andy MacPhail has made it clear he doesn't want to rush his prospects, so Tillman has been projected as not a likely call-up until after the All-Star break, if then. (Remember, the kid just turned 21 yesterday.)

David Hernandez? Another name mentioned, but is he ready?

David Pauley? He doesn't seem to have what it takes to pitch successfully above Triple-A, but he might get another shot.

So, the O's have only two members of their rotation who seem probably when it comes to providing quality starts on a regular basis. Some would reduce that to one, saying Koji hasn't proven himself in the majors yet; true, but I think it's reasonable to expect he'll have some success based on his career in Japan and looking at how other Japanese starters have done when coming to the States.

Now, the O's have begun the season by winning three series against teams that realistically have a shot at the playoffs (okay, Texas is going to need some more pitching, but what else is new with the Rangers?--LOL). The first nine games of the year have shown us that the Birds definitely can hold their own hitting and in the field with just about anyone, have a little starting pitching and a decent bullpen.

So I get back to how I began this post and say that since the O's are playing well, MacPhail owes it to the team and fans to find some starting pitching. Yes, he has his timetable for rebuilding and that's fine, but with as little as one or two more decent starters the team could make real strides this year. I'm not talking playoffs, only respectability, and it that's attainable by getting a couple good arms, he absolutely needs to get it done.

I think I can safely speak I speak for the vast majority of Oriole fans when I say I'm sick of seeing season after season crash and burn because poor starting pitching overtaxes the bullpen. This has to stop, if the O's are going to even take a few baby steps toward respectability. That's supposed a stage in the rebuilding process, isn't it?

Now, Bergesen may be part of the answer. I know I eagerly await his debut. But taking Simon's spot in the rotation probably won't be enough. Either Eaton or Hendrickson (maybe both) likely will not be an Oriole in a month. (Yes, Hendrickson is owed around $1M, but so what? Steve Trachsel made more than that last year and they got rid of him. This is, after all, supposed to about doing whatever it takes to put a winning team on the field.) So, somewhere MacPhail's going to need to find an arm.

None of the options within the organization cited above is likely to be the answer (best possibility, perhaps, is Hernandez). Nevertheless, this probably is going to be the first place the O's turn to seek a solution. Should that fail, what about outside the organization?

Well, we know MacPhail is loathe to go after expensive free agent arms, which is why we haven't seen Pedro Martinez. So, unless he's willing to rethink his position, which is unlikely, it leaves three options: 1. Sign yet another cheap, ineffective free agent; 2. Watch the waiver wires; or 3. Trade for pitching.

The first two options are clearly recipes for continued failure, so the question is whether or not MacPhail would be willing to make a trade to improve the team. The way the O's pitching was embarassed in the three
losses at the tune of nearly 14 runs a game is a symptom of a serious problem that has been obscured by the otherwise good start.

Unless steps are taken pretty quick, the O's usual late season swoon could start much sooner, say by early to mid-May. What Andy MacPhail does in the weeks ahead will be crucial in deciding whether the O's take the steps toward being a good team and perhaps even has its first winning season in more than a decade or needlessly become one that threatens to top 100 losses.

Let's hope that MacPhail realizes that it is possible to do what it takes to put a winning team on field in 2009 without jeopardizing the rebuilding process. This isn't a question of either/or, but both/and.

(Sorry for the overlong post, but as this is an off-day for the team, I figured that it would also be a light day for postings, too.)

We have to wait to see some of the minor leaguers come up, but we can certainly enjoy watching some wins. One guy we can watch right now is Adam Jones. He's turning into an All-Star right before our eyes!

Hey Pete,

Great work as always. You and Roch are fabulous at what you do and us loyal fans and readers truly appreciate the work.

To the Orioles:

I think the fans, me being one of them, see such promise in this team that its hard to see our pitching staff falter outside of Guthrie. I'll keep the jury out on Eaton, and Koji since each has only had 1 start, koji obviously has two but I'm not counting that one as anything. It just seems like with our offense, if we had just decent pitching meaning only giving up 3-5 runs a game we could do some serious damage and possibly be that team who may or may not be in the playoff hunt. I know that acquiring those vet pitchers has never truly worked for us, but it would have been nice to been able to get a couple guys who could literally hold down the fort at least for a year or two instead of seeing people who are deemed below average by most of baseball.

Hopefully, when Hill steps into the rotation he can stabilize that number 2 or 3 slot and give us 3 starters who provide quality outings on a nightly basis. Its definitely hard for us fans to have to sit there and see the success our young guns are having in the minors then look at the majors staff and just ask what in the world?

on another note, Hayden got his first win as a fish yesturday, great for him. I think I might be one of the only people who absolutely hates how the orioles treated him in Spring Training. It seemed like he never had a true shot at anything this year with the birds. Its good to see him succeed, albeit in an inning and a third, but success is success and he deserves it

Peter,

Do you know if the O's or Andy have inquired about obtaining the #1 pick of this years draft from the Nationals?


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: If you're serious, MLB rules do not allow draft choices to be traded.

You couldn't be more right. Everyone needs to keep in mind the true goals of this season...player development. As long as Adam Jones and Nick Markakis play well, and the minor leaguers continue to develop, who cares how poorly Hendrickson and Eaton pitch?

This season is not about getting wins.

I'm with you Pete. If anyone had told me the O's would win their first three series of the season, I'd have been waiting for the offer to buy the Brooklyn bridge next.
The starting pitchers have been as scary as we all expected, but they are still winning. The offense has been just relentless, heck, even in last night's beat down they scored 6 runs, that's usually considered decent production.
I was prepared for an absolutely horrible first few weeks, and have no illusions that the O's staff will suddenly become Cy Youngs overnight, but a win is a win is a win, and right now, however they have managed, it even if it be with smoke and mirrors, 6-3 ain't that bad.
It won't last folks, so enjoy it while it does.

It just hurts a little more when the clobbering is at the hands of a guy we let go ... and for whom we gave up John Maine.

What a way to kill the excitement of this young season. We have pitchers that give up 5-6 runs an outing. All of the young could do better than that. By allowing these pitchers to pitch for a team that has great offense , it will tear down the confidence of the entire team.

Pete,

Not at all! Were ecstatic, but at this blogger has been noting since Dec, we scored more runs last year than two AL playoff teams and 2009 brings us Adam Jones second year and hopefully Matt Wieters so offense shouldn't be an issue and I'm certain Andy Mcphail figured that out as well. As our bounty of young pitchers should hit their prime until 2011 are we writing off 2009 and 2010? Because thats what it appears! As you say hoping Hendrickson, Bass and Simon were going to be lights out would be more than wishful thinking. In fact Koji hasn't stretched out beyond 5 innings and he's still unknown. So......................... where's Pedro, where were we when Mike Hampton and a list of about 7 other proven 500 MLB starters could be had for $1-$1.5 for 1 year? That's the real question? I don't want to see our young guys rushed, but we have two seasons and 324 games to play before 2011, Andy needed to acquire some better bridges than Bass, Simon and Hendrickson! Maybe Beau and his boys are available!


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: If Pedro and Mike Hampton could have been had for $1 million to $1.5 million, they'd be here already. Pedro wants $9 million (including incentives) and Hampton wouldn't have come here if the O's send a limo for him.

Every time I turned the game back on #42 was still pitching. That guy sucks. Why didn't Trembley change pitchers?
Seriously, they did a great job keeping it together Tuesday and at least we knew it was a blow out early on so I could watch the episode of ...I had on my DVR.

When we lose we don't mess around. I think Earl Weaver believed it was better to get blown out than to lose a close one. I, for one, am enjoying the current streak and see a bright future ahead.

The Orioles began last yer with almost the same record. Caution was sent to the winds by Peter Schmuck, and the other scribes to say that there is a glimmer of hope, but not last year, nor this yer. The glimmer rightnow is the upcoming future, when the Orioles are going to get real good real quickly. Maybe notthis yer, potentially next, but 2011 looks quite promising. That is the caution right now. Savor the wins, savor the series wins. Whent he O's drop below .500, theat can be more realistic.

All very well said/written, Peter. I think the Simon injury worries me little. Certainly I didn't view him as a savior for the club (if he turned out to be remotely effective I'd be very pleased), and his brief historical inability to keep the long-ball at bay kept my expectations in check. My simple attitude, however crude, upon hearing of his injury was simply "next!".

O's record with Greg Zaun behind the plate: 6-0; record with Chad Moeller 0-3. Maybe just an early season fluke but the ERA discrepancy is huge Zaun = 4.60; Moeller = 13.66 and it looks like Moeller just can't handle a pitching staff. Essentially I'll be extra happy when Weiters is on his way up to the bigs.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Moeller is a pretty good defensive catcher, but he drew Simon, Eaton and Hendrickson his first three starts. Zaun got Guthrie twice, Uehara twice, Simon once and Hendrickson once. Simon pitched better for Moeller. Hendrickson pitched better for Zaun. I can't see any cause-and-effect correlation in any of that.

Thanks for the perspective, Peter. I think that, as an orioles fan living in NYC, I can agree with anyone who is tired of waiting for the "rebuilding" to be complete. But at this point I think we are all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the brief moments when the Orioles look like a winning team is teasing us all! But Peter, you're right. We are not SUPPOSED to be contending with this thrown together rotation. So we need to be patient, enjoy the glimmers of hope, and get ready for a much brighter future for the O's! At least I have the pleasure of watching it happen to the Yankees, losing 10-2 today. In the seventh they are chanting for Swisher to come in as a reliever again! Only in New York...

Good perspective Schmuck. I am happy as a pig in mud that they are 6-3. I did think the bullpen would be better from the start, but maybe we'll get luck and they'll start pitching better as Bergesen starts your parade. I still have a hard time believing if its July or mid-August and we are in this while simultaneously Tillman and some of the others are ripping up AAA that they can keep standing by the "wait and grow" approach. Last time I checked AAA is the next level down and our lineup here may be something to reckon with all year, especially with the addition of Wieters.

You don't want to miss an opportunity, even if its unexpected.

I agree Pete. Let's keep our eye on the positives. Jones has been better than our wildest dreams, helping to give us a top of the batting order as good as anyone. Add Matt Weiters to the mix and they might be scary good. We've got some good young players like Reimold in the minors as well as some great pitching prospects.

It took a long time to get as bad as we were. It will take some to get better. It's coming. Patience.

I agree with much of your article with a couple of exceptions. I think the first most glaring item is a change in the strike zone. The low strikes are not being called and that is resulting in a lot of high scoring games this year. 21 HR's allowed by this pitching staff over the first 9 games is however unacceptable. As far as fan expectations go AJ Burnett was a doable free agent and while alot of attention was paid to Texeria the need was for AJ who seemed to be ignored. I do not know the particulars but it seems we had the money and need to go after an established pitcher especially since he was from this area. A solid veteran influence would have helped take the pressure off of Gurthie and Koji and made the last two spots more competative. Eaton, Pauley, Hill,and Henderickson were much higher risks but the hopes of finding 3 quality starters out of this lot instead of 1 servicable starter was not a good plan. As it stands we have one quality starter in the minors that might be ready by mid year to come up (Bergeson). We all recognize we are 2 to 3 years away for the other young quality arms but in the meantime the hitters are ready and a surplus of bats waitning in the wings with no where to go, Pitching clearly needs to catch up with the hitting..and one quality starter like AJ could have gotten this team to 500 this year. The expectation is not to win em all just get to 500 or close to it. McPhail has done a lot in a short time which has raised expectations. His one mistake was not getting an established pitcher like Burnett and that boat has sailed. Pedro is not the answer nor was Sheets. As of now their are too many expectations on the young pitchers. Realistically of all the prospects some will break down and some will never get to major league level. Eaton, Pauley and Hill were highly touted prospects as well and we see where they are. Even if the prospects comed through then you would always have viable trade bait and an organization that will attract free agents. We are left with Guthrie a 3 in most rotations, 5 inning Koji who hasn't been a starter for over two years or a 4 or 5 in most rotations and possibly one serviceable starter Henderickson another 4 or 5. Entertaining is one thing but allowing 2.3 homers a game is painful and doesn't make for a promising or entertaining year. Maybe we should have kept Kris Benson.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: A.J. would have been a great addition, but MacPhail could not bring himself to spend $80 million on a guy with his injury history. Can't say I blame him, but a healthy AJ would have made a difference here.

As I said in an earlier post, the Orioles should have kept Penn and let him start three games since the Orioles had no alternative, see Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson. My feeling was we were going to lose those games anyway, so why not see if Penn could get untracked with a few starts in the majors. Why would you give up on a 23 year old pitcher who everyobne seems to think has major league stuff. Getting Andino for him is like getting nothing in return. Oh well, as I also said in my earlier post, for Andy Macphail's sake, I hope Penn is the second coming of Matt Riley rather than John Maine.

Regards!

Bob Norton


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I hope Penn pitches great. He's a nice kid and I wish him well, even if it makes the O's regret dealing him. I wouldn't have minded if the O's had given him the three starts they are giving Eaton, but they just didn't see him stepping up.

Haven't we ruined enough good arms by bringing them up before they learned that high school and college is far different from professional baseball?

Take our time, let it work.

Peter:

Thanks for the much needed dose of sanity.

Related question: Any word on Rich Hill's status?

For the record, I was at the game last night in Arlington and was pleasantly surprised by the large number of Os fans in attendance.

Thankfully, my four-year old son, Will, fell asleep after only 4 1/2 innings (almost 2 hours). We were already on our way back to the hotel when things got REALLY ugly.

Steve Severn
Amarillo, TA


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Hill had a good side session in Texas and will throw a couple of times this weekend in Florida. He probably will soon go on an injury rehab assignment, perhaps in Bowie, to stretch out. If he really wants to, he could be in the rotation early next month.

When Mussina came up after a few very tough years (remember '88?) it was fun watching the new guy have success. Or, how about '77-'79 when McGregor, Flanagan and Martinez arrived? We are all anxious for that again. The stars are aligned and we all want Bergesen, Tillman, Hernandez, Arrieta, Patton, Berken, Erbe, Matusz and Brittan to all get chances to define themselves. Winning in the MLB is a fleeting thing and our hitting is triangulating well. Now get on with the other part!

Counts the same in the loss column as a 2-1 nail biter.


I said in earlier posts during spring training that watch out this was gonna be battin' practice out there.

I'm all for putting things in perspective; after all 6-3 is pretty good(even if we easily could be 3-6). WIns are wins but I don't think we are going to see many 2-1/3-2 games, other than the ones Guthrie starts.
I hate to see the push to sign Pedro Martinez because he's basically another 5 inning pitcher with rust and arm troubles to boot. If he's such a hot commodity, how come no other team has gobbled him up?
I say continue to patch up with the likes of Waters and hope that Guthrie and Koji can at least be consistent. No sense bringing up our young 'gems' too soon. I'm still surprised that someone like Simon can nab a starting job with 10 innings of spring hurling but he's likely out of the mix anyway. Maybe one idea is to eventually give Baez a few starts if Hendrickson becomes-well Hendrickson...
I can live with the inevitable blowouts/long losing streaks as long as the future starters 'down on the farm' show progress and guys like Jones/Weiters continue to improve and Itzuris shows why he's a gold glover.
Peter... I've been in tune with most of McPhail's moves recently but any idea why Freel was picked up? we seem to have a glut of LF's and the IF utility jobs are filled by Wiggington and Andino. I guess we were so anxious to get rid of Ramon that we were ready to taek anybody but in retrospect, maybe we should have held out for a couple of live/and or lukewarm arms..

Even with the blow-outs, I'm having a lot of fun following this young team. If we can get a few kinks out, no telling what might happen. Great DEE and timely hitting....keep it up and add the pitching! Go O's!!

Here's another perspective check:
5-6 record, 5.61 ERA, 5.5 IP per start, 1.57 WHIP, 19 HR allowed in 109 IP for a GOOD team.

That would be Pedro Martinez' stats last year (4.74 ERA for the last three years). He's also 37 years old. I'll take my chances on Bergeson, Hernandez, or (holding my nose) Eaton over that. Believe me, I'm no Adam Eaton fan, but he is six years younger than Pedro, costs us less, and buys a little time for the younger guys to develop.

Andy's not perfect, but I think he has this one right.

I think the O's hurt their young pitchers by running them back and forth between Baltimore and Norfolk. I watched the Tampa Rays bring up their young pitchers and then stick with them for two seasons. The truth is few pitchers hit the ground running in the majors. They need to know that you believe in them and are sticking with them. For this reason, I thought that they should have started the season with Waters who did pretty good last season. And if they need another starter, then bring him up and keep sending him out there every 5th day.

Totally agree with you Peter. I am definitely enjoying the winnining while it lasts ,hopefully enough for the cavalry to show up. Going to try to catch Weiters this weekend against the Gwinnett Braves. Keep up the good work.

What a succinct and accurate statement. Again we need to stay the course.
And WOW what a beating.
Softball anyone?

Your comments today basically echo mine in your blog yesterday. We're .667,against the best of the east and hard hitting Texas. That's good enough to win over the long hall almost every season. Who cares if we got blasted on 3 of the 9. I bet there's no one out there who had any idea we'd be 6-3 today, a few weeks ago. I still think we'll be close to .500 this season because we're getting a good start and will have better pitching as the year goes on from the minors and will also have Weiters. Also, Liz and Albers have an excuse of sorts for their bad showing last night. They were in Norfolk the night before and had to fly to Texas and get oriented and were thrown to the wolves to face a team of hot bats.

Everyone seems to have forgotten about Patton. Wasnt he slated to be the O's fifth starter last year before he got hurt. I think Bergesen is ready and along with Patton and Hill If all works well seems to be a pretty good rotation. What do you think? I would also seriously think about giving Chris Ray his old job back.Liz is another could have been but is just not good enough for the bigs.

Guthrie
Koji
Bergesen
Hill
Patton

Sarfate
Walker
Johnson
Baez
Hendrickson
Sherrill
Albers

Closer :

Ray

I don't care about the blowout (a loss is just a loss) and I know what kind of expectations to have. What concerns me is that I've seen this movie before--the one where the bullpen has to routinely cover for 4-6 innings just to keep us in games and they get so worn out by the ASB that no amount of runs is enough. The bullpen ought to go in the asset column, but the Os are going to burn it out. This means that by the time they get the rotation functional, there will be a whole new hole to worry about, as they will be unable to keep a lead.

McPhail should drop Eaton, sign Pedro and bring up Bergesen and keep Hendrickson in there. Simon is not cutting it and Eaton is garbage!!! I say lets give it a shot and try to win now!!! I'm gettin sick of waiting for the future!! The future is now!!!!!!

............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Ladies and gentlemen, Daniel Snyder has joined the blog. Big round of applause.

I was one of the "over the top" posters from yesterday, and you're right Pete. I'm having fun in the office with my Yankee/BoSox co-workers....we're 6-3 and they're not. I've enjoyed watching our start....I just know what's on the farm and can't stand watching our "tomato cans" on the mound. Guthrie, Koji....pray for Snowji? Lame....sorry. By the way, I'm hoping they wait to call up Brad B. Got tix for the Tides series next weekend...he should pitch here Friday the 24th if he's not called up. Keep up the great work, Pete!


.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Don't be so hard on your self. "Guthrie and Koji and pray for snowji" is one of my favorites so far.

Pete,

Any truth to the rumor that Mr. Adam Eaton was involved in a situation at a Boston restaurant last night because he didn't like how his dinner was prepared?

The O's were fun to watch last year for 85 games. They were 44-41. If they can match that this year with their hitting and defense and about that time, bring up Tillman, D. Hernandez, Wieters... who knows?

Want all to know what a class act we have in this kid Wieters...I was at game wed afternoon in charlotte where i live. Wieters didn't play a pitch which was disappoining because thats really why i wanted to go to the game, to see this kid....After game in which he didn't play, Matt comes out to end of dug out and signed any and everything, took pictures and stayed until everyone was taken care of(20-30 people) He could have just went to clubhouse after not playing but is a class act in my book to take the time with O's fans that came to see him. I root hard for guys like this because he put the fans interests first. Thanks Matt, the hat you signed goes off the head and into the archives! GO O"S!!!


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Kenny. Everybody has been impressed with Matt and you're anecdote doesn't surprise me a bit. Thanks.

Results could have been dramatically different if Izturis doesn't boot a dribbler and Roberts makes both plays he muffed. Plus its texas, man, the best top of the order i can ever remember, period. The real bummer is losing Melvin to WBCitis

Pete's reply: Well, everything you say is possible, but it presupposes that Hendrickson and Eaton will be in the rotation more than a few weeks. I doubt the pitching staff will look much like this in a few months. And you're continuing to perpetuate the myth that the Orioles could have signed the likes of Randy Johnson. He wasn't coming here. A.J. was way too expensive for his injury history. And 29 other teams don't want Pedro. Even if Pedro were here, it wouldn't change things all that much. I don't see where you get 54 wins, unless you're just going for shock value. If the Orioles lose 108 games, I'll buy you dinner. That's a ridiculous prediction. The worst-case scenario is about 64.

Okay, the Orioles may not have gotten Randy Johnson anyway. He signed for $8M. He would have been worth $9M to help keep the really good arms (I have only seen Matusz, and I'll take everyone else's word on the others) at AAA. If he still wouldn't have signed, so be it, but the Orioles didn't even try.

If the Orioles are going to bring up the studs mid-season, then fine. We'll throw out the bobble-arms and hope for as many wins as possible 'til they come.

But that wasn't the stated purpose. There is no way the Bird bats can keep up this pace. Heaven forbid any injuries as the minor league position players are scattershot and in Bowie.

And if the revolving door just includes bobble-arms with different names, the bullpen will be on life support earlier than last year, a record high ERA is very possible, and you will be buying me dinner. (By the way, I said 54 wins not 108 losses but whatever.)

Again, I truly think the Orioles are doing the right thing. I think a one-prong approach is too limiting.

And since you are giddy about the 6-3 start to have upped your prediction to 70 wins or more (yes, I listen to you as well as read you), I will buy you dinner if the O's reach that 70. Your choice although I suggest G&M's crab cakes.

You have my email address. (I would love to be wrong by the way.)


.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: If it's G&M, you'll have to take me to the movies at Hoyts, too.

are the orioles going to the world series this year? no, we all know that. but we watch the games anyway. why? because the O's are one of the most exciting teams in baseball. as far as I'm concerned, the O's would be in the WS if it was based on entertainment value as opposed to wins.

so sit back. relax. and keep your heart medicine close by while the O's win (or lose) a 10-9 game in the ninth.

First of all 29 teams passing on players like Barry Bonds and Pedro is plain and simple collusion. It is not smart management it is not great scouting it is black balling players and hopefully ends soon. Secondly, the Orioles have a line up now that can comepete with texas and the Yankees why not give the pitching some help or ease an up in coming starter into the bigs with some middle inning and spot start work? Is management saving a year of arbitration? Young star players don't look kindly on that last year of arbitration unless you the team wins a world series (Ryan Howard accepted, Hanley Ramirez, Nick Markakis got contract extensions before their last years). Its not all pitching either but Hendrickson is useless and Pie is a defensive liablity and a offensive Liability and while Pie has talent and upside freel does not especially after trading Penn for Andino . You can be risk averse but not at the point of tanking for tanking sake. My two cents


...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: You can't possibly put Pedro and Bonds in the same conversation. Bonds is old, beat up and facing prison. It's not collusion if 30 teams decide individually they don't want to deal with that. I can't think of one team that can make a real case for that being good for the team on the field or off. Pedro is simply a case of him asking for way more than he's worth. You can't give the guy $9 million (including makeable incentives). You just can't.

Hey waspman, 54+108=162.
So predicting 54 wins IS predicting 108 losses (unless there are any cancelled games).
No to Pedro at any price!

All,

Let's hear it for the Daniel Snyder mentality! Lets see the Redskins have been in the playoffs 2 of the last 4 years, are relatively competitive each year and the Owner isn't afraid to spend some money! Versus what looks like 13 years of futility! You make the call, I like the idea that my teams have a CHANCE versus what weve seen the last 11 years! But hey what do I know, those teams called the Yankees and Red Sox have done pretty well with high salaries if recent memory serves me correctly!

............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Yes, Keith, Daniel Snyder has been a great owner.

I'm sorry, I just can't be an apologist for what has happened and what is happening! If "THE PLAN" consisted of Bass, Simon, Hendrickson, Baez and Walker, it was a horrible plan! Why waste 2009 & 2010, at least make people want to take their valuable time to watch/listen or be interested! Particularly in difficult financial times, making your product relatively competitive helps sell your product (ie... puts seats in the stands) and can at least give you an excuse to pay astronomical prices to take your family, but knowing that 3 out of 5 days your staff will get destroyed doesn't do much for the moral of the 8 guys swinging the bats!
But at least Daniel Snyder is in the discussion, that's more than I can say about the Orioles!

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Keith, stop it. You know the plan was always to fill holes with whatever until the top prospects are ready. They were never trying to win in 2009, so harping about how they aren't now is kind of old news. And, even if they had signed AJ Burnett (for $90 million to come here, which would have been nuts), they would still be no better than a fourth-place team. The "plan" is about broad growth, not a couple of quick, expensive fixes that allow you to win an extra 10 games so the fans can see phony progress.

Stop it? Isn't this a blog? Isn't this America? Isn't free speech a right? If your only looking for bobbing head Jaime Walker dogs please let me know, I'll stop! I can't say that I'm a lone voice! In fact if I didn't care how a once great organization that I have rooted for since childhood some 44 years was relevent I wouldn't spend my time on this blog. But I'm sorry, were a professional organization, many decisions were made to accomodate options left (or none left), huge mistake contracts and a failure to get major league quality starting pitchers (either inside or outside) the organization.

The plan is to let our young arms mature, that is a great plan, totally supported int this corner as well. And while you continually bring up the worse case scenerio regarding signing free agents pitchers, I reiterate, 8 pitchers with a greater than 500% winning percentage signed for $1-1.5 Million, NOT $90! So a reasonable man would say why not spend $4.5 on three starting pitchers, again that $4.5 and NOT $90 for one! Hello! Keep the plan in place, play respectfully for the next two years and be a representative Major league baseball team. I just don't think that is unreasonable considering how much money we have in Baez and Walker which I believe combined is more than $4.5?? Stop it, I think accepting where we are needs to be stopped!


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Don't get your panties in a bunch. That was a figure of speech. Sort of like saying, "Give me a break." I don't think any constitutional liberties have been violated, since you are easily the most frequent poster here and I have never censored one of them.

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "z" in the field below:
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.

Schmuck column archive

Upload a photo of yourself or a friend wearing the new Peter Schmuck T-shirt, which is on sale at gotschmuck.com
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected