« Falling down | Main | Bring on the Nats »

June 26, 2009

Orioles: Ray rocked

The runs didn't matter and the grand slam by Hanley Ramirez was just window dressing. It's one bad pitch whether it drives in one run or four, but the struggles of reliever Chris Ray in the Orioles' 11-3 loss to the Florida Marlins matter a great deal. The O's need Ray to re-establish himself as a late-inning reliever, but his psyche had to take a pretty big hit over the 1 2/3 innings he was pitching batting practice at Land Shark Stadium.

Ray gave up seven hits and five runs, including Ramirez's second grand slam of the series. He shouldn't have been out there that long, but the Orioles bullpen was wrung out during the Marlins' three-game sweep.

Here's my only problem with the Ray situation. Dave Trembley justified sending him down to Norfolk by pointing out that he is a late relief guy and he wasn't getting late-relief appearances at the major league level because of his mechanical issues. Now, he comes back supposedly all fixed and he gets his head handed to him in a mop-up appearance. Maybe there wasn't any other option, but it's still a head-scratcher.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:47 AM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete, While a bad pitch is a bad pitch, I think psychologically a grand slam does make a difference. It's the worst case scenario coming true.

As for what you say regarding Trembley waiting until late in the game to bring in Ray, I agree. It would have made more sense to flip-flop Hendrickson and Ray, though the results may not have changed much.

One thing that no one can blame Trembley for is Ray's bad pitching. I'm going to be brutally honest here and tell you that grand slam ran through my head as Ramirez stode towards the plate. While I hoped for the best, I had an uneasy feeling that something really bad was about to occur. Unfortunately, my misgivings proved correct.


He's got a weekend series to worry about and I think he needed Ray to take some lumps for the team - it is about team before it's about Ray? I do feel bad for the guy, but this year is kind of a mulligan for him as it usually takes a year to get consistent strength back in the delivery...I think he'll be ok---he used Hendrickson twice already - and once in a very tight game, so things are not exactly good in the bullpen - I do think DT is going to be happy to put "DH" on his scorecard tomorrow night! I think the biggest disappointment was having to use Bass for 1/3 of an inning in a blowout - that's got to keep him up nights.

I just saw Raven Terrell Suggs on ESPN. Does his boyfriend know he wears a Yankees hat

I like Chris Ray, but I was a little surprised he was recalled so soon after being sent down. I thought they would pitch him in different situations in the minors and what not. He had major surgery so perhaps a little more time in the minors would have been beneficial, but if you are going to use him and you say he is a late inning guy, use him that way.

Reading all the posts under "falling down," I feel there was some really good points such as talent doesn't win it alone, as you really need the right blend of guys who will take the blame or who will call a meeting and say this type of play is totally unacceptable. I hope Andy is not just evaluating who he should trade, but also what type of players he needs to get, going forward. Tonight was a game that looked like the O's couldn't care less if they won or lost. Pretty pathetic.

Pete, I know you don't need anyone to defend you, but I don't know how you do it? I get this is a forum and people can say what they feel, but seems lately that every other post is about how Pete is soft on the O's and makes excuses for them. I don't see that, what I see is Pete trying to express his opinion, but when that doesn't fit with someone else's opinion, they ask about his credentials. Anyone who knows Pete's work, knows he doesn't sugarcoat anything, as he is the anti-Jim Hunter. Personal attacks and suggestions that he is sucking up to the O's is as lame as Dave calling out Felix Pie, but letting Brian, Huff, Wiggy, Zaun and Koji, off the hook. Do you guys think he needs free tickets or wants to play a round of golf with Dave? This is a cool blog to express oneself and commiserate with O's fans, people don't need to pin the scarlet letter on Pete.

"off the soap box"

I understand the thinking of a guys a short or long reliever or closer. One's a middle innings another is a late innings pitcher but for me and yes I guess I'm old school, if a guys a pitcher then he should be able to freakin PITCH, I don't care if it's the 1st, 5th or 9th. Pitchers throw their pitches the same way no matter when. If you get bombed in the 1st it wouldnt matter if it was the 9th, you screwed up and didn't make your pitches.

Hill; looks like a 2 pitch pitcher, which won't get it done in themajors. Does he have a 3rd or 4th pitch so that they don't just lay on the fastball or curve in obvious count situations?
And it kooks like it may come down to Pie or Salazar when Izturis is ready. Time to trade Pie if he is so popular that he won't get though waivers. He's even making Corey Patterson look like right now with his mental errors.

how many things does Trembley do whih are head scratchers. this is a guy who supposedly stressed fundamentals yet we have as many base running errors as ever. his use of the bullpen is questionable. his in-game decisions are often laughable. Time for Andy to find a real manager at when this season ends. Someone who knows how to make good in-game decisions and doesn't bristle like a porcupine everytime a reporter asks him why he did something that most people would consider questionable.

Why did Trembley let him throw 42 pitches? There's "taking one for the team," and then there's poor managing. Maybe next year? Bring in a new manager to go with the new arms?

I have to wonder about Ray; maybe they should have left him in the minors longer. I can see Trembley's thinking by bringing him in on mop-up duty-to bring his confidence back. I guess that may have the 'reverse' effect now-who knows?
He's just another question mark now which is why we really shouldn't trade Sherill. We seem to have a bona-fide closer and given tha fact that we don't have anyone else capable of filling that role, why create another hole? And really, what would be get for Sherrill? I doubt that teams would surrender an everyday player-ie 3B/1B so pass on the 'prospects' offers. Sherrill can be our closer for 3-5 years...

I agree on Ray. I thought he should stay down in the minors for a longer time to get used to just one inning at a time, in a situation that does not have demands on how much you pitch and wins. Really he should be limited to one inning at a time, but it is a long season and I am hopeful that he can get back to where he was. Tough coming back from arm surgery.

Chris Ray is greatly overrated . He is batting practice now that the league has his number. He should be in the minor leagues working on a change/up.

Ray has had mechanics issues for some time. Before the operation his violent delivery was an accident waiting to happen. He rightly has been trying to adjust to a more safe set of mechanics. BUT this does not happen over night. Everyone should have figured at least one whole season to develop the mechanics and consistency.

Ray needs to be sent to the minors for the balance of the season. It is best for him and the club. Time to do the hard thing that is realy part of the plan for pitchers. "They must force the organization to bring them up!"

There is talk fo Hernadez being brought up. He has control issues with the strike zone. Leave him in the minors until he gets it together too. Wait for the talent to develop.

Rushing will only delay the future.

Pete, I agree with the sentiments of just about everyone who's commented here: Why was Ray rushed back to the majors? A little success at Triple-A was no guarantee he was all the way back, and now this.

While sending him back down may sound appealing, do the Orioles even have any options left with him? It may be that from here on out it's going to be sink or swim, without the luxury of another minor league stint. That is, of course, unless, an injury--or "injury"--is discovered to put him on the DL and give him a rehab assignment (btw, on rehabs is there a time limit imposed by MLB or would the team have the ability to keep him at Norfolk all season--come to think about it, Norfolk probably is where he should have been pitching all along this year).

The Orioles are horribly mismanaged from the top down. A couple of days ago the O's would have won but Trembley leaves Baez in to ALLOW 5 runs in 1/3rd of an inning. Who else in all of baseball does that? When he gives up two or three hits tops it's the showers baby. And exactly what in the living hell is Ray doing back in the show? You see what happended. He's only a .500 pitcher in little league for crying out loud. For the last time....rid the roster of deadwood once and for all and use those roster spots for promising kids. They took 3 straight from the world champs only to go back to normal through complete mismanagement. Why drive a Yugo when you can try out a new Caddy?

Pete's reply: So, who would you like to see manage the club...and be realistic?

I guess he lost his arm slot again.For every postive step they take they take 2 steps backwards. They must have all been partying at SOUTH BEACH. That was a pitful performance. All Star team What all star team. Adam jones couldn't hit a slow pitch softball right now. I have never seen more inconstent players then what we have.

Daydreamer, You might be right about Hill. If he's facing inferior lineups, two pitches will usually suffice if it's two quality pitches and there is command to go with it, but decent hitting teams will quickly make the needed adjustments.

The Marlins aren't an offensive juggernaut (even with their 17-hit attack last night, the team batting average only rose to .257), but they had Hill's number. While he only had one walk, which is headline news when it comes to Hill, he had a high pitch count. Normally, you'd think that would mean he was behind in the count too much, but he actually had decent command: 60 of his 89 pitches were for strikes.

And he had his breaking ball working pretty well at times. He had six strikeouts--all swinging--and for five of them he used his curve.

So what was the problem? Well, besides the two pitch answer, here are some other possibilities (I didn't see the beginning of the game, so this is all conjecture):

* Hill said he made "mistakes in pitch selection," including a two strike changeup that stayed up and was hit out by Ross for a two run shot. (Of course this could go back to your point--maybe his changeup needs work.)

* He could have become too predictable in pitch selection.

* His command left something to be desired; though not wild as in walks, he may have been wild in the strike zone too much. (If this is the case, it could actually be a positive of sorts, meaning he's finally getting over the worst of the wildness that plagued him last season and at times this year.)

* If he started hanging his curves, then there's a problem.

* Perhaps there's something in Hill's delivery that is telegraphing his pitches. Ordinarily, the speed on his fastball contrasts well enough with that of his curve, that a hitter can look foolish if he guesses wrong, but if the Marlins spotted a difference in his delivery, then he'd become much more hittable.

Looks like the same Chris Ray....maybe worse....after he "straightened" it all out in AAA. Another effort like that and Norfolk will be his new home.

Jim Palmer went through his entire career without giving up a grand slam HR. It says something about the psyche of a pitcher -- Palmer wouldn't leave a pitch up there for someone to bang out with the bases loaded. It's not just one pitch, it's an attitude.

This organization will have a hard time changing the attitude created by so many losing seasons. Once again I say their are no members of this team, either players or manager and coaches, that have been with a winning organization long enough to to have the attitude and confidence to win consistently. For the past several years, they have simply mailed in their effort after June. This includes the so called all star candidates on the team. The talent is much better, but the effort, or lack of effort, has not changed and will not change until the players decide to give a true effort and the manager stops making excused for his players. Every pitcher they face is not Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale. Most are not even the number 1 guy on the other team. Address the terrible defense and bonehead baserunning and lack of effort. Pie is far from the only problem. It's time for Trembly to stop babysitting and start managing. If you don't place responsibility where it belongs, next year will be the same thing with a few new names. Stop settling for average or below and expect improved effort from everyone. Make them accountable. Enough excuses.

Bill Lively i couldn't have said it any better. You are 100% right on.

I've seen enough of Chris Ray's performances. I don't want to hear any more talk about how good he feels and how his natural arm angle is back. I want to see PERFORMANCE!

There are several very good pitchers at Norfolk & Bowie who are surely effective enough to beat Ray's 10+ E.R.A.

Send Ray back down and let him pitch for a couple months in the minors. Bring up one of the kids and give him an opportunity to show he can perform to an E.R.A. under 5.

As the O's bring up more & more youngsters, it may very well be time to bring in some "old school" ex-players (and WINNERS) like Frank Robinson or Dusty Baker or Don Baylor. We don't need a Billy Martin or an Ozzie Guillen, but we need a good, tough, no-nonsense straight-shooting manager whose own record proves he knows how to play winning baseball and that the kids know won't put up with lackadaisical play.

I don't understand teh fascination with Ray. Even when he was healthy, pre-surgery, he was a below average closer, at best. Now... he stinks. He's our worst reliever. I'd be very surprised if he is on the team next year.

If giving up the Grand Slam is just one bad pitch, well what about the 3 runners he put on base prior to that one bad pitch? Were they just one bad pitch? Come on Pete, you're waffling. Those one bad pitches start to add up. After one good year he's turned into just another in a long list of Oriole pitching failures.

Below average closer!?!?

----- |ERA |Whip | K/9 | K:BB| Appearances
2005| 2.66 | 1.28 | 9.52 | 2.38 | 41
2006| 2.73 | 1.08 | 6.95 | 1.89 | 61
2007| 4.43 | 1.24 | 9.28 | 2.44 | 43

And 2007 was the season that he went down injured. The thing about tendinitis is that it takes time for it to develop, and players have a tendency to play through it for a few games, weeks, sometimes months (I would know, I've fought it on and off for a few years), so I'd consider those numbers a fluke (although his WHIP isn't too bad. It just seems that more runs were scored that season).

One thing that did concern me was Ray's velocity on his pitches. Rather, not how hard he throws his pitches, but the pitches he throws. Thank goodness I didn't witness last night's massacre, but the outing before that, when he looked okay, most of his pitches were in the mid 80's. If you're Jamie Moyer, that's alright, but shouldn't a pitcher with explosive stuff and an unorthodox delivery like Chris Ray be working off of his fastball? Establish some heat and THEN come off-speed? I was surprised to see that more than half of his pitches were breaking balls or changeups. Could it be that the pitch selection is something that's affecting his performance?

This move wasn't a head scratcher, if he's the only fresh arm you have, you have to go with him.

The bullpen is built with a bunch of arms that can't go back to back days. You have one or two nights where a starter does not get you at least 5-6 innings, and you burn through your pen for a couple of days in one night. That blame should go on MacPhail's shoulders, not Trembley's. We need more durable arms for the pen.

Who can't go back to back right now:

Albers, Baez, Ray, (Walker when he was here, Sarfate when he was here) and they were taking it slow with Jim Johnson earlier on too because he was hurt last year.

MacPhail should have known that the patchwork rotation would end up with the bullpen having to eat up a lot of innings, yet where are all the extra bullpen arms?

Okay..the stats don't lie...I guess I don't remember him as anything special is all I'm saying.
And more importantly - he can't pitch in a close game now, no matter what the inning, unless Trembley is inviting a loss. Let him finish the season in AAA I say...let's see if he can light it up down there for more than 1 week.

Jim Palmer did give up a Grand Salami in the minors (to Johnny Bench), but he learned from it and never let it happen again. That's what a HOF career is all about. Chris Ray and Jim Palmer were not separated at birth. Maybe next year for Ray; go back to Norfolk, get well. After the All-star break I would like to see Hernandez, Tillman, and Patton in Balto, working out of the bullpen, if that's what's needed. Thanks Hendrickson, 'preciate it.

If I am to believe what I read in the sports pages as being fact I was surprised Ray was recalled so quickly.

The loss of mechanics takes a while to cure -- and by cure, I mean it is resolved to the point of being second nature again.

The loss of confidence takes a while to cure, too -- and a few good minor league outings won't do it.

Ray supposedly had both. I wasn't expecting him to come back until the Tides' season ended.

I haven't given up on Ray. It would be foolish to expect much this year, but it may come back for him in increments. That's fine, too. Are we really going to fret about finishing 4th instead of 5th in '09?

Yes. Another head scratcher in a long line of head scratchers. Trembley doesn't have a clue. Just look at the body language while his sits frozen on the bench. He has no idea what to do during a game. This is the time for someone fearless. He manages by trying not to lose which just leads to more losing. Put the best players in the best spots and let them play. When the results don't warrant more playing time then the players should sit. DT has more talent available to him both major and minor then any O's manager has had in a long time


THis is very alarming. Chris has a great arm and while coming back from his arm surgery, his velocity is pretty good but his pitches are straight, no end movement what so ever. Another thing, all his pitches are in the same speed zone, I think he needs to really try and differentiate the speeds of his pitches. He's become far too predictable and at a constant speed and no movement, he's getting pummeled!

Pete's reply: Yeah, he doesn't look great, but it's still a little early. Let's see whether Kranitz can get something straightened out for him.

Two serious issues here...first, Ray should have never just been sent to Norfolk to pitch. This kid is a mechanical mess & with his arm issues, what he needs is time in Florida just re-learning how to pitch again. After that, then the O's can work him through the organization putting into practice what he's been working on.
Issue # 2...Trembley is a jackass for sending a kid with his arm issues into a mopup situation when it was pretty evident he had nothing to give.
Trembley may yet learn how to use a bull pen...just hope it's not at the expense of a kid with a once very bright future. One more take one for the team move like Trembley just pulled & Ray will be back in Williamsburg working on his Masters & out of baseball for good.

Pete's reply: Well, maybe, but Ray had pitched before that game and looked like he was much better. Remember, the Orioles played a 12-inning game two nights before, so there are times when you just use who is available.

1 2/3 innings is way to long to leave Ray in the game. At this point in his rehab season, an inning or 25 pitches at the most is all he should be doing as he attempts to come back from his injury. Lets not ruin Ray's carreer just because the pen is spent......maybe Mora can pitch some in this type of situation?!!

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "f" 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

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 sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected