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August 16, 2009

Lackey fits the bill

lackeyap.jpgMost Orioles fans would probably agree that pending free agent John Lackey would look pretty good at the front of the O's rotation next year, though I wouldn't get your hopes up. Can't imagine the Angels letting him get away, and if they do, there has been talk that he might like to go home to Texas if he doesn't stay in Southern California.

Still, you never know what might happen during the free agent period, and money generally does most of the talking. The Orioles need a solid veteran pitcher to help mold a real rotation out of all those promising young arms, and Lackey fits that description almost perfectly. He's a consistent right-hander whose ratios have held firm for the past five years. He won 19 games in 2007 and his ability to handle the responsibilities of a front-rotation guy was preordained way back in his rookie year, when he became only the second rookie starter in baseball history to win the seventh game of the World Series.

Would he come here for the right price? Who knows? But if you want to grasp at some straws, this comment last night proves that he has noticed the change in the outlook for the rebuilding Orioles.

"Honestly they put some pressure on me," Lackey said. "They had some traffic on the bases and guys got some hits. I was able to make some big pitches to get out of a couple of innings with no damage, and they've got a nice lineup. They've got some pieces there that are going to be pretty good in the future."

So, maybe...

Saturday silence: Sorry to duck out on Saturday after posting my column. I went to the Talbot Kennel Club dog show in Easton to scout the next member of the family. Lost our best friend of 16 years a couple of weeks ago (definitely don't want to do this summer over again) and are just starting to consider a new dog. Then I took everybody out for a big night afterward to thank them for waiting on my helpless self for the past month. Hope you all understand. I'm back at it today.

Associated Press photo

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:20 AM | | Comments (37)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete, you're the best! Sorry this summer has been crummy for you. Just remember that it's almost football season!

Sorry for your loss, Pete. Hope the rest of the year is better.

Pete's reply: Thanks for the kind words. Things are looking up now that I'm off the crutches, and we realize that we were lucky to have a great pet for much longer than her breed's average lifespan.

Pete - what kind of 'lil doggy did you have? What breed of dog are your types/favs?? If I wanted to send you a pciture via email how can I do it? Are you still on crutches or got one of those walking boots on or?? Did you dine here on the shore?? Is this too many questions?

Pete's reply: No problem. Our dog was a Dalmation, and we were lucky to have a very sweet, calm female who grew up with the kids. Don't know what breed we'll go with next. My wife and I will probably have to compromise since we're leaning in different directions. You can email me here at and attach a picture. I'm now in a walking boot for another five or six weeks. And I dined at Scossa in Easton last night.

I have no reason to believe that McPhail is being disingenuous when he says the Orioles will grow arms and buy bats. Do you not believe him, or is Lackey somehow an exception?

Pete's reply: I don't think that's chiseled in stone. I think it's his rule of thumb, but he has always said he'll react to conditions.

I think back to the ":Baby Birds" of the early 60's. Did they have a "Mentor" as a staff leader? The only older guy I could remember is Skinny Brown, not exactly a staff leader. Of course, like Guthrie, Pappas had a couple of years in when Babrer, Estrada etc hit town. I guess Wally Bunker was the Sr. staff member in '66, altho Barber had a great 1st half before going down with injuries. I think if two of the young guys step it up next yr and Guthrie has a year like last year the staff will have enough of a head start w/o paying way over market value to get a vet to "anchor" the staff.

Pete sorry for your loss, and no apologies necessary you've done an outstanding job with your blog all summer. Wow a whole post with no acronyms!

Sorry to hear about your dog Peter, I hope you find another.
I'd sure not mind seeing Lackey wearing the orange and black myself but like you I doubt it will happen. What's your take on the O's picking up a 1b prospect for Zaun? Do you think that means Huff is pretty much gone, or will they let them battle it out in ST to see who gets the job?

Pete's reply: I think they're preparing for Huff to leave, but he could accept arbitration. If so, the guys they have come up with can take their time getting here.


Sorry to hear about the loss of your pooch - it is such a hearbreaker when you lose that 4 legged friend...the heartbreak is a good thing in a way - it reminds you how fortunate you were for 16 years...all the best.

We all know that O's don't outbid anybody when it comes to big name free agents. And we all know that top-of-the-line free agents don't consider this place seriously either. But they'd be wise to consider Bedard. Yes, there is some risk because of his medical history. But his list of injuries are relatively minor. Besides he would come cheap as teams would shy away from him. It could be a a low-risk-high-reward situation. Maybe, the O's can then parley him into another five prospects.

Pete, last night Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer were discussing Lackey and said he was looking for "CC like numbers" from the Angels.

If that is the case, can you really see him in an Oriole uniform?

Pete's reply: No, but somebody has to offer that before it becomes the baseline.

Loss of a pet - that always gets me. Condolensces, Pete. It's not an easy thing.

And yes, I've really liked the blog for the most part. I appreciate your courage in that latest article calling out the vets and stating it as you saw it. It was a very balanced post.

Opinion time: Little to gain from Matusz being up here right now. Whatever was to be gained, imo, HAS been gained - he needs further work and can see the level of competition he will face. Let him back to the minors - AAA - and let him progress. Please do not pull a Daniel Cabrera on him - we have some guys up already. Let's not get rushed about things.

Pete's reply: I don't know how they will handle it, but there isn't much minor league ball left this year. I doubt they'll let him get beat up here. Wouldn't surprise me if he was shut down in September.

As it was leaked out last night in Roch's blog the front line pitcher wants to come here because they think our division is way to tough. That was verified by andy himself. I told you it's bad enough that the yankee's and boston can spend 250,000,00 a year on free agents but when free agents don't want anythin g to do with the other clubs in the division it's pretty bad. Nobody really realizes just how handicapped the orioles are by playing in this divison. Not only can't they beat the yankee's or boston they can't sign any players regardless of the money that they offer. We will still be able to sign tier 2 and 3 type guys that have turned out to be busts in the past.You will never be able to win just with home grown talent no matter what anybody tells you it just can't and won't happen no matter how hard you want to believe.

Lackey sure would look good on our staff, Pete, but I cannot see McPhail doing it even if Lackey was willing to come. He would command big bucks and a multi-year contract that would take him to the age of 35-37 years old based on a 4 to 6 year contract. The Yankees and Boston could afford to have say 12 million a year go on the DL for a couple of years. I do not think we can.

Kind of off the subject, but bear with me this once. Cool trivia I recalled after Pie's cycle: Early in 2004, two payers hit for the cycle a month and a day apart. And, the father of one and the grandfather of the other had hit for the cycle in MLB. Need another hint? Four letters in the last names of both families.
Answer coming . . .

Daryle Ward and David Bell. And Gus Bell (1951) and Gary Ward (1980). Neat, huh?

Don't forget, oriole52, that the ageless Hoyt Wilhelm was here. He was a fulltime starter in 1959, in fact, led the AL with his 2.19 ERA, which included a one-hitter against the Yankees. His no-hitter was the year before, after he was selected off waivers from the Indians.

The next year, he started less, relieved more and by 1961, was bringing his knuckleball almost exclusively out of the bull pen. So he would have been a pretty good leader.

Hal Brown was a veteran starter who won in double figures three straight years, 59-61, then in 1962, the Orioles signed a future HoFer, free-agent Robin Roberts. He led youngins Barber, Walker, Estrada, and of course, Milt Pappas. By the time Roberts got here, those guys were all in their third or fourth years.

Roberts won 42 games for the O's by the time he was released and signed with Houston midway thru the 65 season. By that time, some crazy kid named Jim Palmer was on the scene, along with young veterans Dave McNally and Wally Bunker. Indeed, the O's had enough young pitching that they felt they could sacrifice Milt Pappas in one of the greatest trades in ML histiory.

So I guess you could say today's script could very easily follow the script from almost 50 years ago. Good young pitching and some judicious trading and signings, and voila, the Orioles were in the think of things from 1964 until 1983.

Andy's father, Lee, who took over from Paul Richards as GM in November, 1958 (Paul stayed on as manager until leaving for Houston in 1962, when they became an expansion team.) is credited with bring the Orioles into prominence. Seems the younger MacPhail might have learned a thing or two from dear old Dad.

I'm sorry about your Dalmation. My dog is a mountain feist and is about 10 years old, but so far has shown no signs of slowing down (although she doesn't run quite as fast as she used to - the way her ears pin back, she looks like a tiny deer when she runs!), but she definitely has fewer years ahead of her than she does behind...

I would love to have Lackey at the front of the rotation next year. He gets a lot of strikeouts, doesn't walk many batters, and has plenty of big game experience.

To respond to oriole1952's comment about the "Baby Birds" rotation, they did have Robin Roberts from '62-'65 to anchor the staff - can't beat having a hall of famer at the end of his career to show the kids the ropes!


Sorry about your pup

AM has famously stated that he would "grow the arms and buy the bats"

He was unsuccessful in acquiring an impact bat in the offseason (Tex and Dunn~~especailly Dunn) Since those failures, he has brought in Mike Aubrey and John Hughes via trades

Pete, In your opinion do acquisitions like Aubrey and Hughes constitute "buying the bats"

Please dont answer by telling me that they are "low risk" moves. I know that..I want to know if this Is what andy meant when he said "buy the bats" ?

Pete's reply: I would say no, that would not constitute buying the bats. I believe he's talking about impact free agent hitters -- but only if the team is in position for that impact to push them into wild card territory.

can someone explain to me why trembly refuses to at least dh wieters during day games? i just don't get it. he should be getting as many at bats as he can.

John Lackey would never come to Baltimore

Sorry to hear about your dog- it has been a tough summer for you! Well at least you're back on your feet in time for football season. I'm also in the process of looking for a dog and involved in a similarly tricky negotiation- good luck with that one! In our case it looks like a Chesapeake Bay Retriever is going to be the winner.

Good post and the Orioles would definitely benefit from having a proven, front-of-the-rotation starter. In addition to providing some stability and leadership for the young rotation, when I look to how the Orioles are projecting for the next few years it seems that the other areas of our roster are beginning to fill in nicely. Outfield spots are covered, as are second base and catcher. We have more options at the corner infield positions than we had just a few weeks ago.

When I think about the impact that signing a top free agent pitcher would have on the team, it seems like one of the highest return investments we could make. In addition to gaining someone who will give our hitters a chance to win every five games, signing a proven arm will take the pressure off the younger pitchers and ideally serve as a role model and mentor for them (thus increasing the return we get on the investments already made in them). It will also have clear signal value internally to the team and externally around the league that we are here to win, not just be an also-ran in the AL East, and improve the competitive attitude that has been sorely lacking among our veterans. I think these benefits would be worth overpaying for.

While I see what others have said about our division scaring off pitchers, I have to think that the type of person we would be after will relish the thought of playing the best and constantly being in the spotlight. If they're scared to make 7-8 starts against the Yankees and Red Sox they aren't really worth "CC-type" money" anyway. Hopefully, MacPhail and Co. can get them to see the promising pieces we're lining up, and sell them on the prospect of being a savior to Baltimore (rather than just another mercenary in NY or LA). If a top-line pitcher came here and excelled, helping to lead the team back to glory- they would be a local hero for many years to come...

Other teams must salivate at the sight of Guthrie coming to the mound. It is time for him go go. I keep on hoping he will come around, but it's not going to happen. He is toast for this season. Shut him down.

Still wondering how we scored so many the other night, because I am sure today and tomorrow against Angel starters that have Guthrie-like ERA's, we will go down meekly.

When the Hall of Fame asked for Pie's cleats, did Mike Scioscia scowl at the Hall for 15 minutes and consider plugging the HoF's director, Jeff Idelson, for excessive celebration?

What a baby.

Sorry for your loss.
I love your weekly column on "news item, my take".
Have you thought of visiting BARCS for your next pet?

Pete's reply: Yes, a rescue would be one of the possibilities.

Oriole comeback victory? Not as long as Guthrie is in there, he is incapable of keeping momentum on the side of the O's. Can't count on him to get a key out to end an inning.


I hope you find a great addition to your family. I lost my Bassett Hound and have yet to replace him and there is a huge void in the house.

Lackey would be great, BUT being real that will NEVER happen, he will want to pitch for a winner and we won't pony up the cash!

I kinda like Figgons myself, with a poor 1B and 3B free agent pool, I believe Figgons is possible!

Rumor has it he was looking for CC Sabathia kinda money last year from the Angels!

I agree "grow the arms" is not chiseled in stone. But I believe that preference is based on the amount of money and length of contract required to sign a premium pitcher along with their fragility. Recent examples being B. J. Ryan and Bedard. Sure glad we weren't on the wrong end of those deals.

Just lost my female dalmation as well Pete so my condolences. Dalmations get a bad wrap, mine was also extremely well trained and friendly. As for Lackey, I've been touting him to the O's for months but MacPhail admitted in his Q and A that pitchers like him will not sign with us.

Pete's reply: I know it's a longshot, but you don't know what other teams' finances will be at that point, so I think you have to stay in play just in case. Sorry to hear about your pup. I think Dalmations do get a bad rap, but I'm prejudiced.

Sorry about your dog Pete.

The list of good FA pitchers is pretty small this year. Lackey is probably the best one.

But, as they say, pitchers don't want to come to the worst team in the AL East. I think Rich Harden would be the O's best chance. He's probably the only guy MacPhail could convince to come over here.

I don't know anything about his abilities to be a mentor to a young pitching staff though. Your thoughts on Harden?

Pete's reply: I don't think the O's can go there. He's made 30 starts once in his career and, for some reason, with all that talent, he doesn't win.


Love to have Lackey- but even if no one offers him CC money, some contender will likely offer as much or more than the Orioles. I can't imagine we could get him.


Love to have Lackey- but even if no one offers him CC money, some contender will likely offer as much or more than the Orioles. I can't imagine we could get him.


Love to have Lackey- but even if no one offers him CC money, some contender will likely offer as much or more than the Orioles. I can't imagine we could get him.

I would think Lackey would be a perfect fit. Big guy that has excellent control, still young, has playoff and big game experience. I do not think the Texas connection will matter to him. Who knows what it will take to land him. If you compare him to AJ Burnett and the stats pretty much match except the fact that Lackey is 2 years younger, he should get the same kind of contract. So would the Orioles step it up?

Anyway sorry about the dog, and good luck on the next. Next time you come down, check out ARF before you get to Talbot County,

very sorry for your family's loss. hope the rest of 09 makes up for it.

While a proven veteran starter would be very nice to sign, we've had enough trouble getting middle-of-the-road not-quite-proven guys here. As evidenced by our opening day rotation this year, full of never-proven starters.

An experienced veteran anywhere on the staff would be a good start, which is why I say if John Smoltz is released (he has cleared waivers), I think we should try to sign him for the rest of the year to pitch out of the pen. He hasn't been bad during the first 2-3 innings of his starts this year, so 1-2 innings at a time should be OK. I would be surprised if he would want to pitch here, but it's worth a shot.

Plus you can never discount the intangible advantages of having someone like that around the clubhouse, as many people on here have pointed out. Here's a quote from a story recently on from Joe Maddon on Troy Percival:

Maddon added that a lot of people forget how much Percival did for the Rays in 2008, and how much he had to do with changing the team's culture. Included in his role was helping to mentor the some of the young relievers in the Rays' bullpen like J.P. Howell, who is now the team's closer.

If anyone is interested in the whole story:

Pete,why not adopt your next dog from one of the local Animal Shelters? We have adopted our last 2 best friends from Ho. Co. Shelter.Because of the tough times experienced in the shelter,it's possible you may have to put up with a few weeks of issues.But once they get used to their new surroundings,these pets are ever grateful and loyal.My two cents.

Sorry to hear about your dog, Pete. I know how bad that is. Have you thought about rescuing a dog who needs a home ?

Pete's reply: Yes, that's one of hte options.

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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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