baltimoresun.com

« Huff admits to baiting Joba | Main | Coming soon to a DC stadium near you »

May 11, 2009

Orioles: The morning after

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I know everything that everybody in an Orioles uniform could have done differently during Sunday's game to protect a slim lead and get the O's their second series victory over the hated Yankees.

You do too. It's pretty obvious right now that Dave Trembley should have left Koji Uehara on the mound until the cows came home, and a lot of people posting comments here think this is the latest example of him mismanaging a game. Never mind that Trembley had let Koji pitch into the seventh in each of his previous three starts and Uehara had gotten hit around. Never mind that Koji is starting more frequently than he did when he was in the Yomiuri Giants rotation and he's 34 years old. Suddenly, he's a "hot" pitcher who is being robbed of the chance to pile up complete games.

This isn't about Koji being pulled early. It's about the Orioles' bullpen giving it up again. It's about the offense going dormant after the first inning. It's about the Orioles not being a very good team, which I think we all knew coming in.

Somebody hammered me for "drinking the Kool-Aid" because I wouldn't pin this loss on Trembley. Think what you want. If you believe Trembley mismanaged the bullpen, then you believe this bullpen is so good that it really should never give up a run. The reason I knew -- and wrote before the four-run seventh inning -- that the O's were in big trouble was because I knew Koji was getting tired, and I knew it was foolhardy to assume the bullpen could hold the Yankees scoreless for three innings.

Trust me. Trembley knew that, too, but he wants to have a healthy Uehara in the rotation all season and it's the only bullpen he has. I wouldn't trade jobs with him, because he has to make those decisions in real time. Unlike you and I, he doesn't get to wait until after the fact to decide whether it was the right move or not.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:04 AM | | Comments (87)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

Peter, for pete's sake, stop making sense!!!!! Don't you know all the idiots who think Trembley is the O's problem don't want to hear sensible talk like that??? ;-)

It wasn't Trembley's fault that Adam Jones pretty much killed a rally by oversliding 2nd base and being tagged out after a walk gave him second base. Twice in this series, Jones was out a second, when he should have been safe. Both times it was on a poor slide (foot missing the bag, or oversliding the bag). In taht first game, I still think he was safe, but it wouldn't have even been close if his foot doesn't go over the bag). You can't do things like this against a team like the Yankees and get away with it. Hopefully this trend will not continue. Jones is a superb young ballplayer, with all the tools, but maybe a little practice in sliding is in order.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I asked Dave about that postgame yesterday. He said the overslide was a fluke because that area of the basepath was too slick. Adam is a smart kid and he knows what happened. He'll adjust. I don't have a single complaint about him. I'm just glad I'm not a Mariners fan right now looking at the way he's developing.

Pete

My issue is that Trembley wasted his best reliever, Danny Baez, the day before, in an 8-0 game, when he could have used any stiff; so Baez wasn't available yesterday to protect a lead which needed a good pitcher from our vaulted bullpen.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: That's a fair point, and something we discussed the day before. I didn't have a problem with Baez on Saturday because the O's have blown several big leads and they were teetering again. Now, to be realistic, if you don't have guys who can hold a six or seven-run lead, you need a new bullpen, but I thought losing that lead would be devastating and, let's be honest, whoever thought we'd be arguing about "wasting" Danys Baez.

Good article. Agree. There's a reason a team has one manager and 47,000 seats for fans.

Lets see. You've been covering baseball since Abner was a pup and Trembley has been in baseball so long he carried Doubleday's equipment bad .. so its hilarious when guys whose baseball experience consisted of warming little- league pine write in and, don't just question, but state flatly that you and Trembley are wrong.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Well, there are plenty of instances where we are wrong -- me in particular. I really thought this bullpen would be pretty good and maybe it will be at some point, but a lot has happened that I could not have foreseen. Another example is Felix Pie. I thought he would respond better to the confidence and coaching he would get here. I still think you play the thing out a bit longer, but it doesn't look like that experiment was worthwhile. Easy to say now, of course.

Peter, it is OK for your commentators to hack the English language, but you are a professional. "Unlike you and I" should be "unlike you and me." Maybe you were still asleep at 6:04 AM.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: No excuse. That Bachelors Degree in English usually serves me well, but I do throw a lot of words up over the course of a day and there are some holes in my game. Maybe not as many as Felix, but if you pay attention, you'll find them. Just an aside, but I've been extremely impressed over the 10 months I've done the blog at the writing ability of the people who take part in here. Maybe the public education system isn't so bad as everybody claims.

Perhaps more alarming is that he allowed ZAUN, PIE & ANDINO to bat in the bottom of the 9th against the best releiver of all time without going to his bench for a pinch hitter. I think we can all agree, that was poor management.

As far as the pitching situation I just wish Trembley would show more consistency on how he wants to use his guys. The week before he pulled Koji way too late,,,yesterday he pulls him too early? I just dont get it....

...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Unfortunately, this team isn't exactly stocked with bench players. In this case, the only real pinch hitting options were Izturis and Montanez. I'm guessing you don't switch in Montanez for the catcher there, because Zaun has heated up and can hit left-handed. You probably don't hit for Pie there, since he's also left-handed and was 2 for 3 in the game. I guess you could go with Izturis for Andino, but at that moment, Andino has the higher batting average and on-base percentage. I guess you could have gone with Montanez for Andino, but he's probably overmatched by Rivera, too.

Pete,still trying to digestyourreasoning thatsomehow not having Nolan up here may or may not be good for the team.Let's see for example,the Toronto Blue Jays,who have lost most of the Starting staff and have had to rush people up to pitch,ready or not,and ,oh yeah they lead the AL East.But wait you say,why rush Nolan up when we have DP Wigginton,who swung at the first pitch again and Cory Light,the hole named Pie here.We wouldn't want to waste such incredible talent as that by sacrificing their AB's so Nolan could play 4 or 5 games a week.The Pie experiment should have never happened,and it bothers me that our situational baseball moves,be it pitching,baserunning or hitting alwaysseem to be deficient,then it some point the manager needs to take some of the blame.Walker hasn't gotten lefties out in 2 years,and I don' see that improving any.He's lost 3 to 4 miles off of an already slow fast ball,and his control over his breaking ball has almost disappeared.You keep saying this is a bad ball club and I disagree.Poorly run,yes,poorly managed yes,Poor starting pitching after first 3 starters yes,Poor offense,no.You can't have the bottom third of your lineup batting under.200 collectively and win close games.Not going to happen.We've developed a mentality of losing and Trembley fits right into that.Just one man's opinion.It looks like Hill may be ready to start,I'm all for it,he can't do any worse then Eaton or Hendrickson have done.And lost in the shufle is the fact that Melvin Mora may not be hitting but he plays a very very good third base defensively,just an after thought.Melvin hasn't hit since he was moved to the clean up spot.Coincidence,I think not,we've tried that experiment before and it didn't work.


.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I don't think you can use the Blue Jays as an example just yet. They've had a good run, but they're going to finish fourth this year. You can make a case for Reimold, if he's going to play. I assume if he comes up, he'll be out there a lot. If so, I'd be fine with that.

I bashed DT last time when he didn't bring Walker in vs Minny with several left handed hitters coming up. He did it this time and I think that was the correct way to handle it.

This game was not on DT but on Roberts taking it easy because "the catcher" was running and JJ not being aggressive enough with Damon early in the count.

Koji being tired, who can say but Koji and DT?

O's are 18-50 over last 68..."win a few games" is what upper management/ownership told him if he wants to save his job I'm guessing.

Pete,

Agree with you 100%. If anyone blames Trembley for the team ERA over 5.50, they're morons. Torre or LaRussa couldn't coax a better effort out of this staff night in and night out in the AL East. Guthrie is a third starter at best on most "average" teams and he's our ace. The fans need to back of Trembley until we can put together a respectable staff. If he screws up with a B- rotation instead of the D- one he's got now, then fire him. For the meantime, lets give him credit for trying to make chicken salad out of chicken ****.

You guys in the peanut gallery who think you can do a better job than Trembley need to shut up and go manage little league so you can demonstrate your brilliant managing acumen. Trembley's a good manager and has done a good job with what he has to work with.

Fortunately the front office knows this team (including some important pieces in the minors) is building for next year and beyond and won't give up on a good manager because a bunch of impatient 'experts' who haven't played or managed a game other than X-box have over-inflated impressions of their own judgment.

My, oh my, Pete, the barrage was relentless! Have you recovered yet? Didn't know the Sun had a policy where it's sportswriters couldn't say a bad thing about 'The Hook'. Of course, with the recent deletions of your former colleagues, you were taking no chances, right? Hey, when you're wrong, you're wrong. Just mutter 'no mas, no mas' and get on to the next blog subject.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: You know, I was going to delete your email because it is about as bush league as it could be, but I put it up so everybody else can decide. What happened to my colleagues was very sad, just as what is happening to displaced workers all over the country is very sad. For you to use it to make a snide remark to support your opinion about one decision on a baseball field is, for lack of a better term, pathetic. Not to mention mean-spirited. Please post elsewhere from now on.

We know you have to stay in the good graces of the current manager and management, but we fans do not. Trembley is a poor tactician and poor motivator and poor leader- his handling of Pie is worse than his mishandling of the pitching staff. He said in spring training that Pie was going to get a full shot..that he was going to be the left fielder against all but tough left handers..and then he just pulls the plug after 50 ABs.
It is great that your job is so wonderful that you wouldn't trade jobs with Trembley.
I would...in a heartbeat...let's see, what does he make now....6 or 7 hundred thousand a year for going to the ballpark, making decisions about a baseball game, watching a baseball game, and then putting up with softball media questions....no, I don't have much sympathy for the hard life of Dave Trembley. Bring back Davey Johnson-2010!!

............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Not only do I not have to stay in the good graces of Orioles ownership and management, I'm not in their good graces. Defend your position. Don't come up with some imaginary reason why I don't agree with you. I don't demand anyone agree here. That's the fun of running this blog. If you all agreed with me, it would be boring as hell.

I agree completely with your comments, Pete. Under the circumstances, Walker and Johnson were the two most reliable choices to pitch the seventh. The real problem is that there just aren't many reliable choices in the bullpen.

Yes, the bullpen let the team down, though lax defense helped. I notice the Ginsberg article on Yahoo today said, "Much of the blame lies on the bullpen. The Orioles have outscored the opposition 79-59 in the first three innings this season but have been outscored 57-35 after the sixth inning."

Think about that though. The starters have given up 59 runs in the first 3 innings and the bullpen 57 runs in the last 3+ innnings - basically about the same. However, the offense went from 79 runs in the first 3 innings to only 35 runs the last 3+ innings.

So while the bullpen gets just criticism, if you're going to blame the O's for losing games late, maybe we we should look more at the lack of offense in the latter part of the game. That's where things seem to be more of a problem, don't you think?


...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Yes and no. The offense has been pretty good overall, though I agree that it doesn't seem to have that killer instinct. If the hitters get you five runs per game, you should win more than you lose. The Orioles are well under .500, so I think you have to look at the pitching overall.

The problem was wasting Baez in the blowout the night before.But you're right,yesterday's loss was a team effort of bad pitches baserunning blunders,lack of clutch hitting.It's pretty bad when Pie is the highlight player of the day.

I just wonder if Koji's bonuses are tied to wins, if so he should ask to be traded.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: It's against MLB rules to tie bonus money to qualitative stats, so he can't have bonuses tied to victories.

Anyone else blaming Roberts for taking a poor route to Cervilli's ground ball that would of been the third out? I know I am.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Yes, it has been a common refrain over the past 24 hours.

Pete,we often agree to disagree,however that doesn't mean I find your columns any less interesting or factual than most,probably the opposite would be true.As a matter of fact,being the type of person I am,opinionated to put it lightly,lol,I would prefer having a forum to air our opinions ,wheter we disagree or not,and discuss them ad nauseum.Nothing would make me happier than setting down,preferably after an O's win,because I'm a bear after they lose,and talk O's baseball with you 'til the wee hours of the morningover your favorite beverage of choice.At times I get the impresson that you think I'm questioning your knowledge,which isn't the case at all,however I have questioned your opinion.I truly don't think the Orioles are that far away,(please Lord,let it be so)and have high hopes for next year,but have to admit I expected this tam to finish around .500 or a couple of games below until the Freel,Pie,and Wigginton deals.I think holding back a player who has proven all he can prove at a certain level is way more damaging to his confidence than promoting him too soon.In any arena.Did you know that Nolan has an almost .500 OBP and has only struck out 3 more times than he has walked?And using your statement from earlier,what has Pie done to earn him continued playing time?Just wondering.But my real question is this,I know you're a big Cal State booster,alma mater perhaps,and I was really impressed with Blake Davis this spring.What is his current status,how old is he,and what do you project for him at this level?Is he currently hurt,because I can't find him listed actively on any of the current minor league teams.Secondly,Andino has impressed me both offensively and defensively so far in his limited appearances,does anything in his minor league stats indicate that he could be an adequate SS in the bigs?or 2B?And finally,why would the O's wait until tomorrow to get an MRI on Luke's shoulder,just curious?Thank you for putting up with my occasional rants.I can assure you they are born out of the frustration of 11 losing seasons,not anything you have ever personally said or done.I enjoy you and Roch the most out of all the print and electronic media in the Baltimore -Washington area.And am afraid print media as we know it will soon be a thing of the past,and that saddens me just a bit.Still have some old newspapers from many years gone by,boxed up to fondly peruse from time to time.Kind of hard to do that with this genre of journalism,just not the same.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Luke's MRI is today. Blake Davis broke his foot midway through spring training and should be back in June. The O's were impressed with him this spring and very disappointed he got hurt in a non-baseball incident.

You're wrong Pete, this is about Trembley managing scared. He was scared Saturday night that Brian Bass could not protect a 7-run lead, so he wasted Baez. He was scared Sunday that Koji might struggle in the seventh. If you don't have confidence in a major league pitcher to come in up 7 runs, why is he on the team? If you don't have confidence in a major league starter to work past the sixth inning, why is he a starter? Trembley talks tough ("We're gonna play the game the right way!") but doesn't deliver (numerous baserunning gaffes and lack of hustle - see Roberts).

............................................................................................
Pete's reply: If he wasn't scared about the middle guys holding a seven-run lead on Saturday, he hasn't been paying attention. If they had blown that lead, how many posts would I have answered this weekend asking what he was thinking letting the game get away with Baez sitting in the bullpen?

Johnson only made one bad pitch. Neither infeild singe was hit hard. With any luck at all he could have been out of the inning before Damon gets to the plate. He is still the best option we have out of the bullpen.

Did Zaun really call for that pitch to Damon to be in the same place as the previous pitch? After the home run JJ was using his change up to get the 3rd strike.

Also, why does Wiggs swing at every first pitch?
I hate losing to the yaks.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I think Wigginton is struggling with his confidence right now, which explains why he's being so aggressive. You're not the first person to ask about his penchant for letting pitchers get him out with one pitch.

I don't think it is unreasonable to ask a hot pitcher who has thrown less than 100 pitches to go one extra inning. I doubt that Uehara is as fragile as Peter Schmuck suggests. If so, why is he here?

At the end of the day, however, it was a ciollective team loss. The poor throw by Roberts in the seventh, the sloppy base running by Mora in the first, the inability of the O's to capitalize on a starting pitcher when he is the most vulnerable.

This team is not able to sustain nine innings of intensity. Ultinmately, it IS a leadership issue.

The O's have rarely been beaten this season by an honest opponent. Rather, they typically beat thenselves.

This is what being an Orioles fan is all about.

You turn on the TV to get the score after spending most of the afternoon with the family for Mother's Day. The game is in the 7th inning and the O's are up 3-2 against the Yankees. Two on, two out. Johnson against Damon. Count goes full. The pitch. Swing and a high fly ball. Three run homer Yankees. I saw ONE AT BAT IN THE WHOLE GAME and that is what happens. So typical it is not even funny.

I guess being a fan means coming back for more. You can see some reasons for optimism with this team, but this is just soooooo old.

Very well put Pete! Although I think Dave Trembley can be faulted on occasions for announcing his bullpen moves for the night publically in advance of the game which takes away any element of surprise and does the opposing managers work for him. I think Dave Trembley is a good baseball man who has yet to have enough good pitching talent to win. The starting pitching is weak and the bullpen although it has produced some very bright moments is still not pitching to the level it looked like it could/would on paper. Its going to be a tough year but no tougher than most of us expected.

Bad teams find ways to lose games. What makes it worse is that the inning was prolonged by a typical Derek Jeter bleeder. Jeter is the undisputed king of cheap hits. His specialty is a handle hit blooper just over the first baseman's head, but yeserday's chopper was another of his classics. With Jeter, the old saying that they all even up over the course of the season does not apply. He gets 50 hits a year like that.
I'm not sure what happened to Roberts on the groundball hit by the catcher just before Jeter's blast. He seemed to go to sleep a little. But that's what bad teams do, basically tee it up for the good teams to take advantage.

The Orioles need to find another lefty matchup speiclaist. Jamie walker is done and has been for two years.

I'm gonna pin the blame on this loss between trembley and adam eaton, both from the night before....if eaton had been able to go more than 5 innings with an 11-1 lead maybe our bullpen would've been a more well-rested, but at the same time why would trembley be using baez and jim johnson in a game that ended up being 12-5, i have a bigger issue with that than i do with him pulling koji yesterday.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Can't argue with that.

I have no problem with anything you say but that being said, I believe Trembley ruined the wekend by using up Baez on the night when we had a 7 run lead. If he had used others there, then Denys for two innings Sunday would have been possible in a closer game. I think Dave has tunnel vision and doesn't look at the big picture. Eh?

Pete, i am not going to get on you this morning about whether dave should have left koji in the game or not,. But what i have a real problem with is when one of my pitchers gives up a 3 run homer and then in the post game interview says THAT IS HOW IT GOES.That is what i see as being the problem on this team and the problem with Dave t These players regardless of what you say very often take a very non chalant attitude towards things and that is a direct result of Dave t being what is called a Players Manager. The only thing a player's manager means to me is that he is way to easy on all of them. Brian roberts on more then one occasion this year has played terrible defense because of that laid back attitude. Again yesterday. Low pinella would be kicking somebodies ass if this team continued to make the same mistakes game in and game out.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I agree that Dave doesn't show a lot of emotion postgame, but different managers do things different ways. When Lou Piniella was in Tampa, he yelled and screamed and then quit, because there's only so much you can do when you don't have the horses.

Enlighten me on the weaknesses of Nolan Reimold. He hasn't even had a cup of coffee in Balt unless I missed it. The guy will be 26 soon, so when is he going to be ready? If he has no future here, put him into a deal.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: He's coming. Be patient.

Hey Pete,

What's your take on the Roberts throw that Cervelli beat out? I love B-Rob to death, but I do worry that he nonchalants the throws to second too often, and this seemed to be a case of that. Plus, after he struck out early on in the game, he didn't even pretend to move to first base after the ball got a little bit away from the catcher. It seems like he's lost some of the hustle we've come to love him for, and I hope other players don't start to do the same. I don't know what Jones was thinking during his ill-fated stolen base attempt, and it's great to see the intensity from Huff, but I just worry that 30 games into the season the team has already lost any sense of a competitive fire.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I just think he didn't take a great route to the ball and the infield is very slow. Even the best fielders are going to make questionable plays. That one, in the rear view, really hurt.

people who blame trembley for these loses are reactionary monday morning QB's with very little analytical thought. They are the same people who always want the back up QB to start.

Koji had his best inning in the 6th Pete, how do you know he was tired?

Also, explain why your boy pitched our best reilever Baez in a blowout Friday, making him unavailable Saturday?

...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Just because I don't irrationally rip Trembley after a tough loss does not mean he's my boy. I think, in retrospect, it would have been better for him to take his chances with the other relievers with that big lead on Saturday. If they had given it up, you would have wanted him fired for not using his "best" reliever, Danys Baez.

Pete, what do you attribute the POOR base running to? This team, as a whole, lacks discipline on base paths. It is frustrating to see base running mistakes game-in and game-out.

You are correct. This is not a very good team. As such, our expectations should be kept in check. That being said, this mediocre team could be a good team if they exercised some discipline. They are better than their current record.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I'm conflicted on the Adam Jones slide. The guy is so athletic, I think he just ran right out of his shoes, and I don't want him holding back. He's got a chance to be a very special player, and that's part of the reason. In a more general sense, the Orioles have done a poor job of the little things that made a mediocre team more competitive. That's on Dave and the coaching staff. They need to tighten up or he'll pay the price.

Pink bats. Of course they lead to infield dribblers that cost us the game. You want to look like girls then expect the girl like dribblers. The whole thing made me almost sick. The pink thing had to stop. For Gods sake this is baseball not a runway. When will baseball just get back to playing just good ole baseball. I afraid never.

I'll reiterate what I posted in another thread. ML managers are way too beholden to illogical rules of thumb. Yanking top quality pitchers that are pitching well, in favor of a middle reliever with the opposition batting over 300 off of him from both sides, based on the circumspect round number of 100 pitches thrown, is just plain dumb. Koji's arm is NOT going to fall off from entering the 7th inning. If it happened to do that, he was likely doomed anyway. It simply plays in to the hands of the opposition, does them a favor, and fires them up.

The same idiocy surrounds the use of "closers". If you happen to possess one of the handful of truly dominant "closers", versus simply assigning the title to one of your scrub relievers, then there is no reason that you hold that guy for a ninth inning with the bases empty and possibly a weak lineup batting, when the lead was in jeopardy or blown in the sixth inning when the 3 and 4 hitters wee coming up with men in scoring position - and the brilliant manager brought in a scrub middle reliever to get jacked. THEN the "closer" tries to hang on to a tie or a one run lead in the ninth when they should have shut down the threat in the sixth, and let a scrub pitch for three outs with a four run lead and no one on base in the ninth.

And finally, I will take a good hitting average to below-average fielding infielder over a slick fielding, no-bat guy any day. The glove guy simply will not make up the total bases differential by spearing the occasional single in the hole, or maybe a rare double play, versus hitting 40 fewer doubles and homers than his counterpart. The average fielding MLer will catch enough balls to make due, while his bat piles up bases and runs. The other guy waits to make a highlight reel play once over 45 innings or so, and simply makes most of the same plays his average fielding counterpart would also make 90%+ of the time. But meanwhile the his lousy bat kills the offense.

Pete, I expect a full report by morning.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Disagree on the run differential thing. It's not just a matter of a guy producing more runs than a better fielder would save. Obviously, that would be the case most of the time. It's the impact that bad fielding has on the rest of the game, particularly the pitching staff.

What you are missing is that his mismanagement of the bullpen has nothing to do with taking Uehara out.

On Saturday with an 11-4 lead, he brings in the O’s best reliever, Baez. He then pitches him 2 1/3rd, erasing him from the series deciding game Sunday. He then uses Jim Johnson for a meaningless inning as well, their second best reliever.

Fast forward to yesterday’s game and clinging to a 3-1 lead.. he brings in… Walker? This is where Baez should be coming in. Walker sucks and has sucked for the past two years. Lefties are hitting over .400 against him. Cano was like 7 for 15 against him. If anything bring in Sherril THEN and pitch JJ the next two. That will actually show you are closing by committee instead of just feeding that BS to the beat writers, then never backing it up.

Did JJ get squeezed with the infield singles, and shouldn’t we count on him to pitch better? Of course, that’s not Trembley’s fault. But all of the above IS.


...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I think it's humorous that everybody wanted Baez run out of town on a rail six weeks ago and now he's the O's "best reliever." But it's a fair question and we've been discussing it for the past couple of days.

I'm much more concerned by the missed chances, not to mention poor defense when that was supposed to be a strong point. I don't care how good the 'pen is, 3 runs ain't gonna beat the yanks. Terrible baserunning by two "reliables", Mora & Jones, killed 2 promising rallies. And mow the damned lawn already! Letting the infield grass grow was supposed to help our pitchers but so far has done just the opposite, especially when we're supposed to have pretty good "D". Cervelli certainly should have been out in the seventh and possibly Jeter as well on two 2-out infield "hits". Get either one and Damon leads off the 8th with nobody on.

Meanwhile, we're getting exactly what Andy McPhail told us we'd get. "Stay the course", as somebody famous once said.

Pete,

I have no problems with Trembley pulling Koji. Koji has pitched very well for the most part, he has just been done in by the bull pen and a lack of offense.

What I want to see in more emotion from the guys in the lineup and the bull pen whey the waste "quality starts". The is no excuse for wasting the good pitching outing that Guthrie & Koji have given the ball club recently. If the bull pen can't focus enough to pitch well then they should be sent back down to to rookie ball and relearn how to pitch and work their way back to the majors.

As for the hitting maybe they should start staying after the game and practicing hitting in those situations against real pitching until they start producing runs with runners in scoring situation 98 out of 100 times.

Everyone on the team is a professional ball player, they are getting paid to play a game. It is time they remember that and start having the will to prepare to win along with the will to win. The new motto for the club should be "losing is NO longer ACCEPTABLE.

The best way to make Trembley an "acceptable" manager is to get him better talent. The constant complainers have called for Crowley's head for years, but now that the O's have some decent bats (not enough mind you) he's not a lightening rod for criticism. Kranitz has pretty much gotten a free pass, whereas Mazzone was always blasted for not being able to turn around an untalented staff (plus he told the truth about the organization). If the minor league pitching comes up and helps this club turn the corner, Kranitz will become an overnight sensation. Ditto for Trembley.

The problem is we have to wait out this season and the next to see if the talent pans out. If not, I guess Trembley will remain the bum he is now to all the armchair managers.

I like Huff's style. I'm a graduate of the University of Miami and live inSt. Pete, so I've always like Huff. I will be interested to see if he has the cojanes to do the same thing to Paplebon. My guess is no!

Pete,

You are right about hindsight and we all know the O's are terrible this year. Trembley has his job because the Orioles were to scared to make a real choice. He is a minor league manager and it was rediculous for him to have been given the job anyway. He lost favor with me back when he continued Tejada's consecutive games streak, in spite of having a broken wrist. With that said, maybe I can't give an unbiased post on him anymore.

By your logic, Koji is now destined to be a six inning pitcher because he gave up a few runs in the seventh inning of a few recent starts. I understand your need to suck up to the O's for access and all but this is a bit much. Dave T has been pulling starters after 100 pitches forever and the O's are using the same approach with their would-be future stars in the minors. I stand with Dempsey, Palmer and common sense on this issue. You stand with Dave T.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I understand your need to question my integrity and accuse me of sucking up to Orioles management. It means you're not confident in making a real argument.

This isn't Trembley's fault. In ST we were all told that the ony real pitching mystery was the rotation because the bullpen was set. So far the bullpen has been disappointing to say the least, and the offense, after continually missing scoring opportunities, once again peaked early. I was listening last night, and when Damon hit the homer in the 7th, I turned off the radio and did something else. I knew there wasn't a snowball's chance that the O's were going to come back and win it. Once again Koji pitched well, left with a lead, and the O's lost. It's getting to be a very familliar story.

This isn't Trembley's fault. In ST we were all told that the ony real pitching mystery was the rotation because the bullpen was set. So far the bullpen has been disappointing to say the least, and the offense, after continually missing scoring opportunities, once again peaked early. I was listening last night, and when Damon hit the homer in the 7th, I turned off the radio and did something else. I knew there wasn't a snowball's chance that the O's were going to come back and win it. Once again Koji pitched well, left with a lead, and the O's lost. It's getting to be a very familliar story.

Yesterday's loss was multi-tiered.

Why did Baez get wasted in Saturday's game? There was no need for the best reliever on the team to be squandered when the Orioles have a big lead. So Baez, and not Bass, pitched essentially worthless innings, and was therefore unavailable on Sunday.

Which means he couldn't come in to the 2-run lead situation, where he was really needed.

Wht did Walker pitch to Cano, who was 5-12 lifetime off of him with a HR? Well, guess what? Now he's 6-13 with two HRs.

I have to put this on Trembley's shoulders, who needs to think properly long-term about his pitching staff and could not.

If the hitters would stop choking after the first inning, that would be helpful too, however.

Once again you have nailed it Pete. I have read many posts in the Sun's baseball threads touting the ridiculously bad move Trembley made yesterday. However, it was simply lack of run production and a bullpen meltdown that were the true culprits. Trembley was not wrong in his decision. Koji had pitched 6 good innings and it was time for the bullpen to preserve the game. Jamie Walker had been pitching well of late and was a good choice to start the seventh. Then came JJ. How many times do you see JJ give up three runs in a game? He is usually reliable. No - It was not Trembley's fault that the bullpen collapsed and the Orioles lost. It was the execution that failed. Sometimes you can make all the right decisions and still lose the game.

I read the AP story after the game where Trembley was quoted as saying "Who would have thought that it would come down to a couple of infield hits at the end..."
Duh?

It seems to me that what it really came down to was a couple of HOME RUNS allowed by the "relief" pitchers that Trembley inserted in the seventh inning. If they don't give up those home runs, then the infield hits don't matter.
It's becoming painfully obvious why this guy had been stuck managing in the minors for 20 years.
Even though expectations have been set really low this year (again!), the O's should have won a few more games by this point.


I believe Brian Roberts lackadaisical approach to the ground ball allowing the runner to outhusle him led to ajohnson's demise. That's not like BROB.

It's funny he (Trembley) says I want the starters to go deeper into the game all the time. But he is the one who takes them out. He even removes a guy that hadn't thrown 100 pitches going into the 7th. If we all know the bullpen has been shaky why remove him. I am willing to bet that the Yankees got some new energy when they saw Koji out of the game. Koji had just had a very easy 1-2-3 inning and he had the yankees off balance. They hadn't scored since the first as well. The Yankees saw him come out and I will bet you if you ask them they would say they knew they would win once they got into the bullpen. The momentum changed with that single move. Then he left Walker in to face a guy who has very good numbers against him.

Exactly. Trembley may not be a Torre or LaRussa, but could they win with this team? No. Trembley's job is to develop players; that is how he should be judged, not wins and losses.

Another thing I don't like is the so called "bullpen assignments" he laid out not long ago for the 7th to the 9th. Why do that? How about you plan for your starter to go longer? It's almost like the bullpen has a rotation to it. And before somebody comes says well if they won you wouldn't be complaining. There is no reason to remove a guy that is dealing like he was. He has been screwed over by the pen a few times. Now you are going to say that well the bullpen should have gotten their hitters out..yeah maybe so BUT that is even more of a reason to leave the starter in. Unless he was gassed (which he wasn't) there is no reason to take him out or any starter that is being productive.

Well said.

Absolutely, 100% agree-I don't envy Dave Trembley one single bit-he's trying to make chicken salad out of chicken you know what, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Bottom line, if the bullpen does its job in Sunday's game, we win and take two of three from the Yankees. But until the team stabilizes around its true core (i.e., the rookies and quality veterans like Markakis, Jones and Roberts), it's a crapshoot every game, and sometimes a heartbreak waiting to happen. I've seen Dave Trembley in different circumstances, and he's a quality baseball guy, so people who are blaming him for the O's situation are just taking the easy way out.

The O's lost yesterday because Roberts doesn't play the grounder hit to him in the 7th inning aggressively and allows the Yanks catcher to leg out an infield hit. The flood gates opened after that; it should have been the third out of the inning.

Pete--Here's what you left out in your analysis:

. Bad baserunning--Roberts doesn't tag up on the line drive to right in the first (that didn't cost the team). Jones gets tagged out sliding into second on a walk to Markakis (that did prove costly when the inning ends with Mora grounding into a 1-6-3 dp).

. Bad fielding--Roberts misreads Cervelli speed and instead of getting out of the 7th inning ahead 3-2, the Yanks stay alive and go ahead.

.Stupid approach to Damon--All game long the Birds are trying to pound Damon down and in. Whose bright idea was that?

It seems now that Roberts may be playing banged up (knee and back). He looked like he was in a funk yesterday. Besides his beforementioned baserunning and fielding miscues, Roberts swung at ball 4 leading off the bottom of the 7th and grounded out to Jeter. Ending the game by hitting a comebacker to Rivera and then trotting to first was a lousy statement.

Going from Aubrey Huff's rousing fist pump to that trot was pretty depressing.

Dave Trembley's statement that with the ball flying out of Camden Yards who would have known that the game would come down to a couple of infield hits (Cervelli's and Jeter's) is silly. The game was decided on another stupid pitch down and in to Damon.

And--guess what?--that ball flew out of Camden Yards. With that approach to Damon, why not give him a tee, a driver, and a Titlelist?

It's like I told you yesterday at the game, Pete : if you're a major league pitcher, you can't get away with throwing 8 consecutive fastballs to anyone.

The irony of that situation is that he struck Teixeira out on the exact pitch he SHOULD have thrown Damon. He would have screwed himself into the ground trying to hit that changeup.

Miller, period. I hope we bring up Oscar , send him back down and he gets claimed by a team in our devision. Now that would make me
happy.

Look, Trembley seems like a nice guy and it would obviously be impossible for any manager to make this team truly competitive. That said, Pete, I think it is fair to critique his handling of the pitching staff. Watching the game with my family, everyone was screaming about him taking Koji out after 6, especially considering he got his first 1-2-3 inning on about 10 pitches in the 6th. Hindsight is 20-20, but anyone watching could have seen in real time that Koji was getting into a groove.

Now, I understand the point about his 7th inning struggles, but I also agree with others here that he is going to have to overcome that. If we keep having the (already bad) bullpen pitch 3 or 4 innings a game, they are going to be completely shot by July. Koji is the only thing that passes for consistency in the starting rotation, and it is essential that he give 7 innings every now and then. Yesterday would have been the time to do it.

The O's, as you say, are not a good team. But when you have a manager "guess wrong" repeatedly, maybe it's not a matter of him guessing, but rather just not knowing.

As for yesterday, I agree with you Pete that it is humorous that we now love Baez, the same guy who in previous incarnations blew up in numerous games we had a chance to win -- bottom line is this--if I were Dave T I would have made sure (as he did) we won on Saturday.....sad to say, but 11-4 isn't a safe lead vs the Yankees, and we had already blown a 7 run lead earlier on vs Boston...if you make sure you win the middle game of the series, you have a chance to get 2 of 3 ---- it didn't work out yesterday because the offense could not capitalize when the chances were there - no way were 3 runs going to be enough--- the Os are going to a be a good team, just not this year - - but with the salary going off the books, and good young pitching on the horizon, plus guys like Weiters and Reimold, we have a chance to be right in the mix---look at how Boston has done it---adding a good free agent or two in addition to developing young guys

So he gets hit in the 7th each time? No matter what pitch count? Come on, Pete. That's an un-thought-out answer.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Not really. You have to factor in his career and track record. He has never pitched on a four-day schedule and he clearly loses command right now at 100 pitches or around the sixth inning. Maybe he'll build stamina -- though he's 34 -- but DT is right to make sure he doesn't hurt him.

Here's an idea,
Don't pay millions for a starting pitcher that gets tired before reaching 100 pitches.

This team is not build to win, but we should at least put people in the role in which they can thrive. Move Koji to the pen and bring up another middle tier prospect.

Also, if DT were worth a darn as a manager, this team wouldn't be a fundamental mess. Our position players are good to great, but DT can't seem to bring that out in the field or on the base paths.
See ya Dave.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: It's not like they had the pick of the litter.

A little more data on Koji (I actually did research!)...
If DT continues to pull him after 6 innings because he blows up after that, this means that he is right around 90 pitches total, then he's done. A 90-pitch starter. Hmmm...long season ahead.
Have you asked DT about why he fizzles after 90? Conditioning? Strength? Pre-game prep? Did he do that in Japan?

I don't get why you are jumping on the bullpen for this game. THEY GOT THE OUTS, it was Roberts old man act that cost us yesterdays game, him acting like he was 60 when fielding an easy grounder gave the Yankees 4 outs that inning and giving them the extra out gave them the 3 run homer.
If you want to blame the bullpen for one play (the homerun) then you need to 1st blame Roberts for the one play that allowed the Yankees to get to that point.

I've been an ardent Trembley supporter since he was hired but this year I do question how the team is being coached, whether it be Dave or his supporting staff. There has been very sloopy play both in the field and on the bases. One could make the argument that it just isn't a very good team, but alot of the poor fundamentals have come from the anchors of the franchise, Markakis, Roberts & Jones, not to mentioned veteran players such as Zaun. What is up with the baserunning in general? Is it just trying to "make something happen" and force things? And what of Roberts & Markakis having several miscommunications in right field? It just seems that the team lacks intensity and focus and also doesn't seem to really have a clubhouse leader to provide any additional motivation that the manager/coaches aren't. Pete, don't you think a team can still play fundamentally sound baseball while at the same time continually lose as a result of the horrid pitching staff. (starters and more surprisingly releievers)? Or is one a factor of the other?

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: It's a fair question. I don't think they are playing great fundamental baseball, which is on Trembley, but it's been a four-week thing. If it continues, I think you've got a legitimate issue.

Most of the talk so far is about the pitching, which is fair enough. But let's summarize the finer points of the game:
Mora gets caught on basepath, AGAIN.
Roberts is late on a routine grounder.
Jones overslides second base.
Jones misplays the double before hitting the wall and falling down.
Another near collision in shallow right field before Jones finally calls everyone off to make the catch.

It's cliche'd, but yes it's the little things that matter. Good teams execute on the little things all of the time. Bad teams execute some of the time.

Then there's the pitching...

Pete- Good points in your article. After Rich HIll's start yesterday with the Tides, you think bringing him up and sliding Hendrickson into the pen will help stabilize that shaky pen? I'm thinking that's the best path at the moment, although he may have to do middle relief instead of long relief...

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I don't know if Hendrickson will help the pen, but an effective Rich Hill would certainly help the rotation.

This was never the year the O's we're going to break through. After each loss I remind myself that we are still lucky to have the best stadium in the big leagues, the best 2/3 of an outfielding corps, and a AAA team that is growing future stars for us.

Relax, fans. The plan is in motion, these are growing pains. If you want to buy a new all-star team every year, well, then start rooting the Yanks.

why didn't trembley bring in sheriill to
pitch to johnny damon. lefty on lefty
why is b. roberts becoming so laid back. why is jamie walker still around
too big of a contract to release. felix pie is from the national league doesn't
it take a while to adjust to american
league pitching. Dave trembley must go he cannot manage a major league
team.

I stopped reading the blog after your reply to BobbyWoontz. Granted, his comment was in poor taste. But, are you now going to be in the mode of censoring comments just because you don't like them? We all have the freedom to express our views as we see fit, and for a journalist -- of all people -- to deny Mr Woontz the opportunity to post on your blog in the future strikes at the heart of this basic freedom. In this great nation, objectionable views have the same status as your views or my views -- they deserve to be heard. Please reconsider your decision to ban Mr Woontz from the blog so that we the readers can evaluate his remarks and decide for ourselves whether or not they have merit.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I didn't censor him at all and I didn't ban him. I told him to go post elsewhere if he's going to attack people (not me) who should not be attacked in this venue. I have gotten 23,000 posts since I started this, and I have dropped may 10 -- almost all of them for particularly foul language. Even in the case of expletives, I sometimes just edit them out, but I don't have time to do that in every case. The blog is a relatively open forum, but I can't allow actionable libel and I can't allow profanity. If you don't like me, fine, that's fair, but I think kicking my co-workers after they were fired was out of line and I said so. If he comes back with more of that, I'll have a decision to make, but I let people rip me all they want and always have.

I don't fault DT for his conduct of games. I do fault him for the shocking deterioration of the whole team in fundamentals. High relays from the outfield. Slow reactions to first by pitchers. Hesitation before throwing, or throwing to the wrong guy. Base runners seeming like they don't know the outs. These men played better fundamental baseball in the minors, or they wouldn't have been promoted through the system. The final straw for me was last week when DT said he hopes the team starts doing better defensively. Hopes? For goodness's sake, these are not the very worst players in MLB, but they have the very worst defense. It's okay for me to say I don't know how to re-instruct players mid-season, but it's another thing for the manager to say it.

Pete, using your logic Koji would never pitch into the 7th inning again in his entire career. Each game is different, yes, Koji got hit a couple of times in the 7th inning in previous games. So how long do you keep him on 7th inning probation? A manager has to have a feel for how that pitcher is going on that day. Do you look at past perfermances? Certainly, but that is not all you take into consideration. You are half right when you state that this is not about Koji being pulled too early but is about the pulpen giving it up again. Koji was pulled too early and this is about that, but not only that. Yes, the bullpen gave it up again and that is a problem as are base running mistakes and out inablilty to get runners home with men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. This is about all of that and we need a manager who is cabable and handling "all of that." Trembley is not the man. Who is you ask? My vote goes to Rick Dempsey. Based on what you ask? His career, his workman like manner, his World Series MVP and his skill as a catcher and his knowledge of how to handle pitchers.

Trembley is a walking contradiction. He played Payton and Millar over Montanez last year when his job was to develop players. He announced slots for the relief corps and then decides its a "bullpen by committee". Granted i don't think Sherrill is a closer, but he had closed 4 of 5 at that point and the tipping point is a one run lead given up by a dinger? Trembley commits to Pie out of spring training, a very unpopular decision, and then gives up after only 60 plate appearances? The nature of the wonderful sport of baseball is that its impossible to be right all the time, but easy enough to be consistent. I love Melvin, but he's got terrible base running instincts. I recall a couple years back he tried to tag up on a pop up in the ninth inning DOWN TWO RUNS. He should not be allowed to try his delayed steal anymore, ever, but especially in the first inning with an ace pitcher on the ropes. And Roberts needs to run out balls - he never runs hard to first on grounders to second base. I thought it was Tejada's negative influence but he's continued his casual approach to this day. Thankfully none of the other players copy him. But the nonchalant Brob cost the Orioles that game, and it is the manager's responsibility to correct him. But he won't.
Bonus rant: Don't bury Pie. Allow him to play against most right handers, and bat him second, moving Jones to a more traditional run producing spot, especially with Mora scuffling. Move Mora down a bit. And without Luke Scott for a while, it may be time to bring up Weiters to have a more balanced left/ right punch in bottom of order. something like this against righties.
Rob, Pie, Mark, Jones, Huff, Mora, Weiters, Wigginton OR Montanez, Izturis

I refuse to 2nd guess Dave Trembley. The man knows his players and baseball and sees more than just the one game on the proverbial "plate" before him. He knows that he's going to need his starters healthy and he knows what they are capable of.

This year has been talked about as a "developmental year" and why should that change? We're not going to contend and I hope we can finish over .500 if we're fortunate. Let's look at the big picture and just enjoy the game. Does that mean that we shouldn't get frustrated when we lose games that we should have won because we don't take advantage of an opportunity? Yes, we should.
But keep in mind this is 2009. If this happens next year or in 2011, then it's time to start complaining.

(I guess you can't include me in on your well-written posts - looks like my dog did the typing on that last one)

I really don't want to see Trembley go as I think he has great character, a rational demeanor and the sound baseball judgement necessary to be a long term successful manager. Even Earl & Billy Martin made stupid decisions at times. My comment regarding fundamentals was really directed more at the coaching staff. The lack of concentration in the field and on the base paths can and should be directly attributed to the coaches responsible for overseeing those duties. Even some of the pitching screwups were probably more the pitching coach's call than Trembley's. Granted he has the last word on such decisions but he has to show confidence in his coaches to make the right calls and he has done that. (even though a lot of those decisions have backfired)

It seems to me that there may need to be a shakeup at 1st & 3rd base coach as T-Bone & Juan don't seem to be getting it done.

I do thing a lot of the bonehead plays in the field and poor clutch hitting at the plate can be attributed to the bad pitching. (ie the fear that a big lead will vanish once we go to the bullpen)

Does anyine else think that maybe some of Dave's staff are at the root of the problems at the end of last year and so far this year?

Peter,

As Nolan Ryan said, the hitters tell you when a pitcher has lost it/doesn't have it. There should have been a lefty and a righty in the bullpen because of Koji's history, but Koji, coming off a strong 1-2-3 inning, should have pitched until a runner reached base. This was my feeling after the sixth yesterday.

That being said, this team will be a loser as long as it keeps playing like a loser. Baserunning brain cramps (some thanks to Juan Samuel), letting struggling pitchers off the hook by swinging at balls (a la Melvin in third inning), making so many errors and botching so many plays that aren't charged as errors, and basically doing whatever it takes to lose. Winning teams do what it takes to win. No team wins all the time, but the teams that play the game right win more often, and expect to win more often.

I don't have a problem going to the bullpen but why does he seem to have a nack for calling in a pitcher who gives up the long ball?

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Good question.

Pete. What irritates me about the Koji being tired argument is that Trembley did not site that as a reason for removing him. He even dismissed it.

And WOW! Tempers are flaring in The Land of Pleasant Living! The natives are beyond restless and smelling blood.

And if you ever need a hug, look me up! Just don't spill any orange Kool Aid on me.

Sorry.

Pete - I agree with you that they lost because the bullpen didn't do its job. However, I thought Trembley should've let Koji start the 7th and taken him out if/when he'd given up a baserunner. I guess he didn't want to go to the bullpen with men on base.

Just a thought, if Roberts plays that ground ball a little more aggressively, they are out of the inning!

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: A lot of people think so.

Why is their no talk about the lazy grounder BRob failed to field that would have had them out of the inning before Damon's HR ??

Oh, I forgot that BRob is everyone's little sweetheart

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: No talk about it? There are about 50 comments about it all over the blog.

Of all the moves so far this young season and those looming in the near future for the Orioles, it's no suprise that the Trembley debate seems to be sparking the most debate. (okay, it's right up there with the Pie experiment!).
I look at it like I do politics. Anyone with a small sample of background information and the proper motivation can make a pretty convincing arguement either way.
Of course you can say that Trembley really doesn't "have the horses", or that by some mysterious curse he seems to be "damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't", and make an arguement.
In my opinion you should roll all the luck, bad breaks, and circumstance up at the end of the day and throw it out the window. Trembley himself talked on a local radio show earlier in the week about how baseball games are ever rarely decided by one play or managerial move in a given game. There has to be a cumulative effect on how you judge him.
Therefore, however you want to spin it, the total for Dave has been pretty lousy. He can't seem to do anything right. Of course he should be given more time to see if the baseball gods will even things out for him, but he's on probation right now, and everyone is watching very closely as to what will happen next.
I agree with Gil Jr. I think in addition to everything that's happened, that Dave doesn't bring enough fire and winning attitude to the club. He's is perpetuating a 11 year losing attitude and it's easy to see that even most of our star players, have been infected by it, or they aren't motivated enough to really care on way or the other. It's a sad situation. Especially when you look around the league and see some of the sucess that other teams are having, or have had (08' Ray's anyone) with a cast of young talented players.

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: You can make that general calculation, but you have to compare it to what people thought the team was capable of doing. I heard people predict at the outset the O's would lose 100 games this year. If they don't, then those people would have to say Dave is a good manager.

Peter

You hit the nail right on the head with this one. One suggestion for DT - he may try using a dartboard to select his pitchers out of the BP. He may have better luck!

Hey Pete,

I'm really glad you are finally sticking up for yourself. A lot of these people make rude comments all the time and I have just been waiting for you to go off on them.

Most of these people don't know a thing about the game and shouldn't be commenting anyway, so way to put them in their place. That Woontz guy made a major low blow.

Also, thanks for responding to so many comments. You respond more than any other blogger I've ever seen and I really appreciate your insight.

Keep it up!

Everyone knew this was going to be a bad team. My question is more with McPhail and upper management not letting some of the kids get their lumps. Look at Jones and what Detroit and the Marlins did a few years ago bringing their youngsters up. We should be seeing Reimold and Wieters and Tillman soon. That being said, the book is out on Trembley until he has a better team to manage or mismanage. It's too hard to tell yet. He's done some seemingly questionable things, like ever under any circumstances putting Walker in in a situation where you might actually win, and using Baez in a meaningless game, but he has to be given some credit for bringing along guys like Markakis and Jones. Obviously Roberts and Markakis stayed, they must like something he's doing and most players seem to like him. We must wait and see. Now give me a beer please and let us watch some ball.

Pete, I wanted to hold off on Trembley lifting Koji until I could assimilate as much information from as many different angles as possible.

Since he's taken over at the Orioles' helm, I've been critical of his skills as a tactician on numerous occasions, while acknowledging many positives he brings to his role. Yesterday didn't change my views much, save to begin wondering about how well the players are really being drilled on the fundamentals (more on that in a moment).

After the bullpen meltdown yesterday my first inclination was to go for the obvious comparison: Trembley's pulling of a strong Koji only to have relievers lose the game bears a striking resemblance to Sam Perlozzo and the Mother's Day Massacre in Boston--where the 'pen blew Guthrie's 5-0 lead in the ninth--nearly two years ago to the day.

But then I got to thinking about it a little more and realized that the two situations weren't all that analogous, save for the similarity of a manager pulling a starter after a strong outing.

Then I read two sentences in your analysis: "This isn't about Koji being pulled early. It's about the Orioles' bullpen giving it up again," and I'm thinking, "Wait a second, Pete, the two are interrelated."

You try to exonerate Trembley by saying that he was between a rock and a hard place in deciding whether to stick with Koji, who, you write, was tired and had "gotten hit around" after the sixth inning in his past three starts) or else turn to an inconsistent 'pen. Also, stating the obvious, you say that the O's aren't a very good team.

Let me point out that I don't think Trembley's going to his relievers was the only factor in the loss. Rarely does one move win a game or lose one. The O's didn't capitalize on all their scoring opportunities. Adam Jones gave away an out by over-sliding second again. B-Rob didn't charge a ball that should have been a routine ground out. And so on.

And we'll never know what Koji would have done had he stayed in the game. However, I think we need to speculate briefly on what might have happened.

First of all, the matter of him being tired. Well, it turns out that he said after the game that he was tired, but that's a relative term that can mean anything from slightly fatigued to utterly spent. So, while a pitcher being tired can definitely affect his efficiency in some instances, it isn't always (or, necessarily, usually) the case.

The real litmus test for "tired" is how is a hurler is performing on the mound. And to be quite frank, Koji was dealing late in the game. In the fifth inning he faced three hitters on 12 pitches, getting Jeter to strike out and Damon to ground into a double play. The sixth inning, if anything, was even easier for him, despite facing the heart of the Yankees' lineup, getting Tex, A-Rod and Godzilla to go 1-2-3 on eight pitches. So "tired" wasn't a real issue, especially with the bottom of the order due up for New York in the seventh.

As for the notion that he's been roughed up after the sixth in his last three starts, I think we need to define terms again. Now I should point out that Rick Kranitz has suggested that opposing teams were "making adjustments" late in those games against him (so? Koji and Zaun are seasoned veterans who can make their own adjustments just as well), but to say he's gotten "hit around" is a bit of an overstatement.

In the three games (against three potent lineups: the Angels, Rays and Rangers) Koji's worked a total of 19.1 innings and gave up eight earned runs for a 3.73 ERA (better than his season's mark of 4.01). Now please note that those totals (3, 3 and 2 runs) were for the entire games worked, not just what came after the sixth inning.

In other words, every game was a quality start. The only time he really got pounded in the seventh was against the Angels on April 29, which ended with him yielding two homers and the vicious line drive off his sternum that literally knocked him out of the game (though he was being hit hard enough to get yanked anyway).

But even considering those "bad" games (in reality, he's had one truly stinker of a game and that was the first one against Texas, where he yielded seven runs), every game is different and both Koji and Zaun know more than a little about how to get guys out.

Trembley needs to trust that experience instead of going into the panic mode. And in yesterday's game that meant to let him go out to start the seventh. If Koji can get through it okay, fine, he's rested the bullpen; if not, yank him at the first sign of danger. But in any case, trust his experience.

While I agree that no one should talk about him being "robbed" of complete game chances, I think a time will come (and sooner than later) where Trembley is going to need to start trusting Koji to finish what he starts.

After all, we're talking about a pitcher who for his career in Japan amassed a Halliday-like total of 56 complete games; thrice leading the league in that category with 12, 11 and 8. If Trembley ignores that, it's nothing short of criminal.

I grant you that there has been a period of adjustment for Koji coming over to the States (different ball, mound, strike zone, more starts, etc.), but his next start will be his eighth and he's adjusting quite well, thank you very much. His age isn't that much of a factor. We're not talking Jamie Moyer here, Pete, but a 34-year-old who looks to be in excellent shape. He is a "'hot' pitcher," by the way, the Orioles' best and most consistent starter (Jeremy Guthrie is rounding into shape--though his ERA is still nearly a run worse than Koji's).

Okay, we're not talking Zach Greinke hot, but hot enough that if he had decent support, Koji's record could easily be 4-2.

Getting back to Trembley, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko, Koji was pulled without regard to his freshness. "I don't know about tired," the manager is quoted as saying, "I just thought he was done." This gets to the bottom line: Should a game be managed on hunches?

"I just thought he was done" does not inspire me with confidence regarding Trembley's in-game decision making. Look, we're not talking about an emergency call-up from Bowie, but a someone who has pitched at a very high level and one accolades for a decade.

So, how does Trembley totally disregard Koji, saying "he's done" without even bothering to ask him how he feels. In this he's exactly like Perlozzo, save that in Sam's case Guthrie had nowhere near the track record of Koji. It's called making snap decisions, rather than taking in every bit of valuable data before acting. Trembley's fond of saying how much he's learned from one day Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa, but I guarantee LaRussa never told him to go with his gut over his brain.

Having Jamie Walker pitch to Cano is really puzzling, for, despite the obvious lefty-lefty match-up, the Yankee second baseman had feasted on his offerings, going 4-9 against him prior to yesterday's dinger.

As for the lapses in fundamentals, which is supposed to be Trembley's strong suit, I saw a number that troubled me. Jones over-sliding the bag at second twice in a three game series for one, obviously. I couldn't believe what I was hearing when Trembley attributed it to a slick bathpath, because Jeter and Cesar Izturis both stole second without any problem.

In general, base running still seems to be something of a problem for the O's. They definitely need to work on that more in practice.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is Jones playing so shallow in center. Yes, he's a great athlete and can cover a lot of ground in a hurry, but when he's a step too late, as in an automatic double yesterday, the team suffers. If he were coached to take even just two or three steps back from where he usually sets up could make a big difference. Better to let B-Rob and Izturis track down a few more near the infield, than to allow extra base hits.

Any what's the problem with Ty Wigginton? He's struggling mightily at the plate right now and is going after first pitches like there's no tomorrow and usually with disastrous results.If there's ever a time a guy needs to be patient and not press, it's right now with Wigginton.

Yet yesterday he comes up sporting a shabby .202 BA and goes hacking at the first offering. Why? More importantly, why are the Orioles allowing him to do it? Doesn't the third base coach have a take sign? Honestly, if your name's Albert Pujols, you should be given the green light to swing at anything that suits your fancy, but no when you're struggling to hit your weight.

Whether Wigginton is being given the green light every at bat to take a hack at the first pitch or is being allowed to swing at whatever he chooses, this is bad coaching, there's simply no other way to put it. It clearly isn't working for him and hasn't been now a month-and-a-half into the season. He needs to be relaxed and patient up at the plate, so he's not pressing so much. What doesn't Trembley and his coaches not understand about that?

Pete,

Baez wasn't wasted, you have to win one game at a time! Who is Dave supposed to count on with his bullpen? My issue isn't about second guessing Dave, my issue is Dave pulling guys that are going well! Having a preplanned arrangement of Ray, Johnson and Sherrill is fine if their all lights out - NOT! The hot hand stays in until he waivers. Koji went 1-2-3 in his last inning on like 9 pitches! What more can you expect? He deserved to lose the game on his own and start the 7th and pitch until the tying run reached the batters box! Who in the pen is any better? Until someone steps up with some consistency, the hot hand prevails!

I with you Schmuck. Let's not wear out the one guy it appears we can count on this year. We are suppose to have one of the best bullpens in the game this year. They need to step up to the mound and pitch like they are suppose to pitch. Trembley is a good manager. i still say we need to bring up the guns from the minor league and let them do the job as our starters. Look what Toronto has done as an example. Stop coddling them, they are paid as pros, pitching as pros. stop babying them with the psychie stuff. wish we had kept john maine, he turned out to be pretty good.

I with you Schmuck. Let's not wear out the one guy it appears we can count on this year. We are suppose to have one of the best bullpens in the game this year. They need to step up to the mound and pitch like they are suppose to pitch. Trembley is a good manager. i still say we need to bring up the guns from the minor league and let them do the job as our starters. Look what Toronto has done as an example. Stop coddling them, they are paid as pros, pitching as pros. stop babying them with the psychie stuff. wish we had kept john maine, he turned out to be pretty good.

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "u" 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