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July 16, 2009

Midterm grades (Part Deux)

When I did the midterm grade report on the individual Orioles, I did not assign any grades to the team's overall performance in key areas. This was brought to my attention by an anonymous poster, but it was a fair point so I'll do it now:


Pitching: C- -- The closer, setup guy and Danys Baez have been real good overall and the young pitchers have -- in total -- exceeded expectations. The veteran starters, overall, have been a definite disappointment, even considering that a couple of them came with no expectations. Hard to ignore the fact that the O's rank 28th in the league with their 4.94 team ERA, but the staff has been a lot better than that recently. To keep the ERA in perspective, consider that the team that's ranked 27th is the first-place Angels and the team that ranks 25th is the defending world champion Philles, who also are currently in first place. And, yes, I'm an easy grader.

Hitting: B -- Last place team that ranks in the upper half of offensive ratings in most categories. Can't call that average. Certainly would benefit from more discipline at the plate, but only two teams struck out fewer times in the first half.

Defense: C+ -- I think people only remember the errors and stupid plays. Overall, this is a decent defensive team.

Baserunning: D- -- I'm guessing it improves in the second half, but a real trouble spot.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:05 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

I have to agree. This is much better than doing it individually.

How about a "Part Trois" with grades for manager and Andy MacPhail (whatever his official title is)?

I think your low baserunning grade and lowish defensive grade don't speak well for Trembley, as these have been as much problems for veterans as they have been for the less-experienced players.

I agree with your assessment of the pitching on the whole. I'm glad that we've gotten rid of all the Trachel-esque "innings eaters" (or was that payroll eaters?) from our starting staff and are finally getting some of the younger guys in, for better or worse. I'd rather watch them struggle (even Hill and Berken) than over-the-hill roster fillers.

I for one am (foolishly) optimistic about the second half, but I think the bar has to be set higher by Trembley and Co. for these guys to play better fundamental baseball. There've been too many inexcusable lapses in the field and on the bases, and these highly-paid professional players should know that bush-league errors will not be tolerated.

Agreed but ..... would give the defense a C based on our preseason expectations and the baserunning an F.

Coaching? Also a C- but improving lately. With a late season push, can move up to a C+/ B

Sportwriter named Schmuck? On average, " B"..... was rolling till that foot injury.....

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Pete's reply: I'll take that "B," since it's a lot better than most of my grades were in school.

Pete, do you know why Luke was not even mentioned as a potential all star after his great first half? If you look at his stats, they better than Jones in almost every category and rank near the top ten in league. I know he had a few less at bats, but he still had 230, which has to be close to the qualifying range.

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Pete's reply: He was mentioned. But remember, his seven RBI game was pretty much after the teams were picked, and it was a non-DH year, which probably hurt him.

Baserunning D- ?? Wish my Art History teacher had been so generous. What would failing be? Refusing to even jog down the line? I agree w/the rest of your grades, although I might go C+ on pitching since some of the clowns are now in the rear view mirror and it's easier to forget them now.
Good luck in your rehab.

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Pete's reply: Thanks. I think the baserunning has been really bad, but remember that you only pay attention when there's a mistake. There are plenty of players on the team who are pretty good at it.

Pete, do you know why Luke was not even mentioned as a potential all star after his great first half? If you look at his stats, they are better than Jones in almost every category and rank near the top ten in the league. I know he had a few less at bats, but he still had 230, which has to be close to the qualifying range.

Pete, do you know why Luke was not even mentioned as a potential all star after his great first half? If you look at his stats, they are better than Jones in almost every category and rank near the top ten in the league. I know he had a few less at bats, but he still had 230, which has to be close to the qualifying range.

Your report cards are a good example of the work that gives you an A and makes you a first-rate professional blogger. Check out this report about your imitators. Here is the intro:

According to a survey of more than 210 bloggers conducted by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, 75 percent said they do not see themselves as rivals of professional journalists.

In fact, just 40 percent have ever applied for a credential to a sporting event and only 30 percent have ever included any "original reporting," such as attending games and news conferences or interviewing athletes or coaches, in their blogs.

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Pete's reply: Actually, I'm surprised that the numbers are that high, considering how many non-affiliated blogs there are. To be fair to the non-journalists, having your own blog and being unaffiliated, it's really hard to get media credentials. Roch and I have a lifetime credential to all the major league ballparks, which gives us quite an advantage.
But I appreciate the kind words nonetheless.

You forgot one other important category and that is team speed and overall quickness. The fact is this team's roster is filled with guys who are just slow. And this effects everything from having to play deeper in the outfield to having to cheat a couple of steps in the infield and these things open more holes for the other team than otherwise there should be. This really shows up when the Orioles go on the road and have to play in much bigger ball parks. They just don't cover the ground needed to compete defensively and help out the pitching staff. On offense the effect is this is a station to station offense which means the Orioles almost can never steal a run or a win with their legs and this also leads to a multitude of hit and run gambles which 90% of the time do not pay off. This is the story behind the story Pete.

The baserunning, both technique and strategy, is killing the team. The Orioles are worst in the American League with 43 steals. The only leading AL team with as pathetic basestealing is the Tigers and they have pitching and power the Orioles do not. Markakis has just 3 stolen base attempts this season. Last season he had 17. Management does not want to run and it would be interesting to know why.

Oddly, had the base running not been so bad it probably would not have been a category you graded. In any event the grades are fair. Agree with Al East regarding Trembley raising the bar. As Jim Palmer alluded to, teams have to both know how to win and to expect to win. Brian Billick realized this during the Ravens super bowl year when he challenged the team to act and play like the best team in the NFL and let the team know what they had the talent to achieve. Setting challenging but achievable team goals (like getting to the .500 win mark) often gives a team that extra focus and determination that makes a difference.

Oddly, had the base running not been so bad it probably would not have been a category you graded. In any event the grades are fair. Agree with Al East regarding Trembley raising the bar. As Jim Palmer alluded to, teams have to both know how to win and to expect to win. Brian Billick realized this during the Ravens super bowl year when he challenged the team to act and play like the best team in the NFL and let the team know what they had the talent to achieve. Setting challenging but achievable team goals (like getting to the .500 win mark) often gives a team that extra focus and determination that makes a difference.

Mark,

You're right on. Winning just does not happen by coincidence. You have to have it in you. You have to believe it. You have to be hungry for it. You have to have the drive and the competitive nature to succeed.

When you look at the Orioles body language it spells LOOSERS. And it is a shame, because they are loaded with talent. They just need someone who will bring their killer instinct out. When that happens, they will turn heads.

Baserunning is hard to measure, but the folks at baseball prospectus try to quantify everything...anyway, they have the Orioles baserunning so far costing them 17 runs vs. the expected case, by far the worst score in the majors. The next-worst is the Cubs at -9.5. -17 would be a typical total for the worst team in the majors for a full season (like last year's Orioles, -16.5), so the Orioles really appear to be not just awful, but historically awful so far. (In an admittedly obscure metric.)

So, I applaud the D-. I'd give them an F, but you're giving the same message - they stink on the bases (so far).


Baserunning is hard to measure, but the folks at baseball prospectus try to quantify everything...anyway, they have the Orioles baserunning so far costing them 17 runs vs. the expected case, by far the worst score in the majors. The next-worst is the Cubs at -9.5. -17 would be a typical total for the worst team in the majors for a full season (like last year's Orioles, -16.5), so the Orioles really appear to be not just awful, but historically awful so far. (In an admittedly obscure metric.)

So, I applaud the D-. I'd give them an F, but you're giving the same message - they stink on the bases (so far).


Pete; I agree with most of the grades you give the Orioles, but I am not sure how you justify a B for hitting.

Respectfully, I think the mistake you are making here is comparing the Os to all MLB teams, but that just is not a fair comparison with the AL having the DH and the NL not.

The effect of the DH is pretty obvious. AL teams have averaged 424 runs scored this year while NL teams are at 390. Not hard to imagine if you get to run Luke Scott out to the plate instead of your pitchers.

More fairly comparing the Os to other AL teams, the Os are 6th out of 14th in batting average, 9th in OB%, 11th in SL%, and quite predictably, 10th out of 14th in scoring runs.

I do not mean to say that the Os offence is incapable of it by the end of the year, but they have not earned a B as a mid term grade.

Donald; I am not sure I agree with your take on the Os team speed. Jones, Roberts, Izturis and Markakis can all run. Reimold certainly is not slow.
True, there is not a speedster among Weiters, Huff, Mora and Scott, but they are all at positions where you do not normally find much speed. I would say that the Os are far closer to average than to poor as far as speed is concerned.

Not going to argue with your grades, they're all within range of what I'd give them. I'm curious on the manager front. You have said, and I agree, that Trembley has to have his team performing better down the stretch to keep his job. The question is just what can he do? He's not going to change his personality overnight and turn into Earl Weaver. Does he start holding more team meetings, add more drills, what? It seems the team has been told starting in Spring Training, that this year was going to be a wasted year while the rookies got prepared, and they've been playing like it. How do you now suddenly convince them, at 14 games out, to put it in gear and start playing like it matters? Has the tone set at the begining become too much of a hurdle, or do you think the players are committed to the program and to Trembley enough to show us a fresh attitude in the second half?


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Pete's reply: The short answer is, yes, I believe these players want to make a run in the second half. Whether they want to do it for Dave, I really don't know. Whatever their motivation, Dave's future depends on it. But it would have depended on that even if they had run the bases perfectly in the first half and looked intense every minute of every game.

last place club in tough division. grade for team is......d plus. can't be higher, they're in last place. only some kind of a schmuck would give them a higher grade. grade for p schmuck. i'd give you an "A". you have real good knowledge and a good sense of humor and you have to read all this stuff. continuing with the mel brooks non profit i worked in "schmuck" 3 times. long live schmuck. 4 times


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Pete's reply: I would concur with the D+ for the entire team in the first half. I give the rebuilding plan a B+, however.

Pete, you may or may not agree with this, but I think Nick is capable of 20-25 stolen bases a year. Why is he not running as much? Last year, we saw all those amazing double steals with Brian and Nick, but this year, I don't remember any of them.

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Pete's reply: Just my opinion, but they were hitting so well at the top of the order in April, they didn't want to risk the out. Since then, they went through that stage where they were getting picked off and running into outs, which may have chilled their running game. I don't see any reason he can't steal more bases.

Pete,
I concur with the gist of your grades, but I would go lower on the offense, if only for the 12-game stetch just after the Weiters call-up when they completely stopped hitting.

Remember, they beat the Tigers 7-2 behind the Luke grand slam the night of the Weiters call-up for their fifth straight win and seventh win in eight games. Then in the next 12 games they scored a total of 22 runs and went 2-10.

That offensive brownout took us from perhaps the period of most excitement surrounding the club in many years, to a period of negativity so bad that good guys like Trembley, Crowley, Guthrie, Roberts, Mora and Markakis have been made into scapegoats for another miserable year.

If not for that bad stretch, we might be over .500, celebrating an overachieveing first half, and praising Trembley for a job well done. So for that, I lower the offense a letter grade from a B to a C.

Hey, "Slugger," I suppose a winning team like the RSox or Yankees have a body language that spells "TIGHTER"? Ah, well, since when did spelling count in the big leagues? I recall the story of Yogi Berra in an early AB in his career, holding the bat with the trademark facing the wrong way; when the catcher said something about that, Yogi (allegedly) said, "I'm uphere to hit. I ain't up here to read."

Pete, I pretty much agree with you except for offense, where I think you're being overly generous. I think the talent is certainly there, but on the whole it's been less than the sum total of its parts.

Some of the problem stems from early on in the season, where the top of the lineup was carrying the load, while at the same time there were players who for whatever reason weren't getting the job done at the time: Mora, Pie, Wigginton, Izturis, and Zaun/Moeller.

Later, there was the inevitable cooling off from the top three in the lineup, and while Scott and Reimold picked up some of the slack, for a time they were the only ones hitting the ball out of the park.

Then Wieters came up and took a little while to settle in playing in the big leagues, while Reimold fell into a slump. Mora's power outage has also contributed to the lackluster performance.

All in all, there's been very little consistency with the offense, but it still could turn it around in the second half, because as I mentioned, there is talent on this team.

Off topic, but what's up with the change in your fan polls? Now we can't even see results. What's the point of polling, then?

And then there are some questionable topics, like wanting to know who is the best defensive center field in club history. Sorry, but that's no more a multiple choice question than if it was about the best third baseman.

There's only one correct answer, and that's Paul Blair with his eight Gold Gloves. No one else is even close.
(Sorry Adam Jones fans, but he won't be in the discussion until he starts racking up the post season honors. He may one day pass Blair, but he has a lot to learn and a long way to go before he gets there.)

I'd give a lower grade for offense considering that Luke Scott and possibly Nolan Reimold are the only players exceeding expectations. Potentially this team has the makeup of a very good offense. Trembley has become a distraction at best though. How can Luke Scott only play one of the three games last series, while hitting .333 with 8 home runs against lefthanders? Markakis should sit before Luke does.
I've actually hoped that the baserunning gaffes lead to Trembley's demise, even though i don't feel he's much to blame there. But perhaps now he has issued an edict to be cautious at all costs; how else do you explain Brian Roberts not getting a triple on the ball he hit up the right center gap on Sunday? There was one out at the time and he could have made third standing up.

Onceawarrior, Adam Jones also exceeded expectations. Ask anyone in the front office or dugout and they'll tell you that his improvement as a player is a little ahead of schedule. Not that anyone's complaining, mind you, but few expected him to be in his first All-Star Game this quickly.

very true. my gaffe

Wasn't Drungo Hazewood an outfield prospect for the Orioles in the late 70's or so? right handed?

Scott should have been our annual token All-Star, not Jones. Jones is already showing signs that he might not be as good as he thinks he is. I hope he gets some pop back in his bat and shows more plate discipline in the 2nd half and doesn't turn into another Alex Rios. I can't remember the last time Jone hit a homerun-anyone know?

Wieters can't be higher than a C. The grades appear to based on performance, not expectations, his defense so far is average as is his hitting (9BB - 25K).

Pete,

What would it take to get Davey Lopes back here? He did wonders for O's baserunning in the 90s. If the O's promised that he would be Trembly's successor, I think he would bolt the Phillies.

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Pete's reply: I'm a big Lopes fan, but he's probably happy where he is.

TerryP, Jones has one homer since Memorial Day (June 13).

I think Jones will be fine, but you're right that we don't want a Rios. I know that guy drives Jays fans insane.

i agree with your grade of b+ for the rebuilding plan. only a schmuck (1) with disagree. i might even put it a A-. bergesen appears to be a keeper and i think hernandez could be really good. berken with his fastball and breaking ball to me might have the stuff to be a potential closer or set up man. control and command is need with his game but he's only had a few starts. wieters ishtting better in july than june and past on his past performance in the minors i would think his power numbers will go up. andino could be the enxt starting s.s. reimold has power, decent defensivlely and should get better. the outfield could be the ebst in the a.l. by sometime next year. plus arrieta, tillman, matusz and patton are still in the minors. if 2 or 3 of those guys comes up and produces to expectations the sky is the limit. the lack of position players in the minors remains to be a concern by macphail has one a great job considering what he had to work with when he first arrived. only a schmuck (2) could be critical of his job or the optimism orioles fans' can now have for the near future. though sadly thee are plenty of schmucks (3) out there.

Grades are all subjective and I cant quibble with most. A big problem with the O's that cant quantified is the intangibles where they are painfully lacking. They need a winning streak and then build on it.

Hitting - B
Pitching - C-
Defense - C
Baserunning - D
Hustle - B-
Life - C- and going down
Holding baserunners - D
Fundamentals - C-
Managing - D
TV Announcers - D-
Radio Announcers - A
Schmuck's Blog - A+
General Manager - B


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Pete's reply: Keith, you're right on the money with at least one of those.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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