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August 6, 2009

Same old, same old

The Orioles have become very predictable, and I'm not just talking about the fact that they're falling faster than me at a Pamela Anderson book-signing. When they drop behind early, they generally struggle to put runners on base through the middle innings and then suddenly turn into a more disciplined team when it almost too late.

Look at today's game, for instance. The O's had baserunners all over the place in the late innings and were -- at a couple of junctures -- one big swing away from making a game of it. But, also predictably, there are too often a couple of inexplicable at-bats (see previous post) that prevent them from putting the hammer down and keeping the pressure on the opposing bullpen.

It's frustrating to watch, but the encouraging thing is that the most disciplined hitters appear to be the young guys who will be here when some of the free-swinging vets have headed down the highway.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:05 PM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Just baseball


The O's are really saying...WE DON'T CARE!! Winning is not a priority. How do you let Pie and Andino, the two worst hitters in the lineup bat after Wieters leads off the 9th with a double....while your two TOP HR HITTERS are on the bench???? Trembley doesn't really care to win...and he will be gone soon.

Sorry Michael, to quote Pete, the manager situation isn't relevant. LOL

BTW Pete - isn't part of the manager's job to motivate his players? The youngsters have built in motivation (for now) but what about the rest of them? These idiotic selfish mistakes at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field shouldn't be tolerated.

Pete's reply: Bob, if you want to get revenge on Trembley, that's your business, but if you want the team to progress, then changing managers right now and creating an interim situation might be the wrong thing to do. Generally, teams only do that if they think the interim has a chance to be the permanent manager. I don't think that would be the case here, so an interim just muddies the waters.

Nice to see Roberts not even drop the bat on the last out. I'm suprised he didn't take his at bat with his street clothes on...

The Nationals are winning and are playing much better baseball then the O's. Why you ask? Well, they have a new manager. That's exactly what the O's need. A new manager and a new hitting coach that wants to win and will knock some sense into the team. Maybe then will the O's play better.

michael -

Here's how:

Luke Scott is a very streaky hitter. Over the past two weeks, he's hitting .147 in 34 at bats with 0 homers and 5 rbi. Scott's also a much better hitter against lefties (.295 avg, .625 slg) than he is against righties (.263, .465). Combine those two and I think it would be pretty tough for him to come up with a hit against Brandon Lyon, who hasn't allowed a home run since May 26th or even a stinking run since July 4th.

Adam Jones is on a pretty good roll himself, hitting .320 with 2 homers in his last 25 at bats. Jones is also mashes righties to the tune of a .323 avg in 257 at bats with 15 homers and 49 rbi. But I guess management felt like Jones needed a full day off. The guy has played in 99 of the team's 105 games.

Anyways, it's not like the O's were that close in the game. They had one runner on in the 9th inning and they were down four runs. Even if Scott or Jones hit a pinch ht bomb, they still would have been down by two with the bases empty.

So stop nitpicking. If you want to complain about something in this game, jump on Huff for not capitalizing on a young pitcher's wildness in the 6th with no outs or jump on Hernandez for not getting it done.

How many days until the football season starts?

Huff has played himself out of a big payday next season. With the baseball economy in the tank, he'll be lucky to score half his salary next year in a one year part time player deal.

Also, I used to call Roberts one of my favorite O's. He got a pass after lying about steriods because he's such a good guy. If these guys, Roberts included, can't seem to care about hustling, why should we care about spending our hard earned money to see a half ass team go through the motions?

I concur with michael.

If anything Trembley has proven he is not the man to turn the Orioles around. It's not that so many of his moves backfire, it's that the fundamentals of the team do not improve.

Rich--I saw Melvin Mora do the same thing last night. He popped out to second and carried his bat with him all the way down the line.

An 83-year old friend of mine (one amazing athlete) sometimes does this when he moves down the line in Sunday slow-pitch games.

Wow! How impressive to see the Birds tipping their caps to octogenarian slow-pitch softball.

Perhaps Dave T needs a couple games from the stands or press level to see these remarkable things. As Dave T put it so well a few weeks ago when he was suspended, "The game is a lot slower" when viewed away from the bench.

In all but two of their 11 wins since the All Star break, Nats pitchers have given up four runs or fewer.

I'm going to go ahead and say the Nats are winning some games these days not because they have a new manager (Jim Riggleman, who has a 532-663 record in his managerial career), but because some of their young pitchers have stepped it up a bit.

And keep in mind that in their four game winning streak last month, two wins came against the Padres and in their current five game streak, two wins came against the Pirates. And sure, they beat Josh Johnson in the recently concluded Marlins series, but the other two wins came against Rick VandenHurk and Chris Volstad.

You cannot blame Trembley nor Crowley.
The talent to win even at a .500 pace just isn't there.
Yes Trembley will be fired after the season. What manager could win with this crew?
4 rookies in the starting rotation. Just not going to happen.

I think some of the things some of you complain about is pretty much the same around the league. The difference is most the other teams have better and more experienced talent than the Orioles have. The Nationals win five in a row and all the sudden you think it is turned around? They are playing well, and that is good, but really the Orioles still have a better team to build on. I am glad most of the blog guys are not the boss of the team. there would have been 10 different managers this year, and craziness everywhere. Sure I would like to see them win more, but I am enjoying the team's young guys come up and play ball.

Jay - Trembley isn't being judged here by the win/loss record. It's the soundness of his decision making, the fundamentals by VETERANS under his watch and the ability to motivate his players that I question. What will it hurt to fire him now? Everyone here is preaching that wins & losses don't matter during rebuilding (which is fine) but if there is a quality veteran manager out there (Valentine, Johnson,etc.) that is willing to come back, kick some @ss and teach the young guys, they should jump at it.

Well its on to Toronto for some more bullsh--.

Bob -

The manager situation isn't relevant. Do you really think this team would be more than three or four wins better if even Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre was manager?

It's like the Leo Mazzone era. Leo was great when he had great pitchers to work with. But then he came to a team with subpar pitchers and he was exposed as a guy who benefited from being lucky enough to work with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Where is Leo now?

And if you want to talk about managers, look at Mike Hargrove. Hargrove was great when he was managing a great Indians team. Then he came to Baltimore and he was mediocre because the team was mediocre.

Show me a good team and I'll show you a guy who's viewed as a good manager. Show me a bad team and I'll show you a guy who's viewed as a bad manager. It's as simple as that.

Blow up the teams managers and start over. These guys suck like Sasha Grey...

Pete's reply: Nice. You want to start over? Brilliant!!!!

Thanks Pete :)

So winning isn't a goal anymore? Is that why when you are losing in the 9th inning and have a .220 hitter (and not a regular) being allowed to bat instead of someone on the bench, hmmm...even an all-star player named Jones?

Or since it was Jones' day off DT didn't want to bother him? Especially with the top of the order coming up?

Come on Pete, DT has lost the fans, the team and the FO. As you said it may not help to replace him now but he is essentially "dead man walking" and I think most people, especially the veterans know it.

The fans are entitled to vent simply because of the consistency of losing and the complete lack of hustle by the guys earning the most money. If we are going to quit, why play or keep Huff and Mora?

Pete's reply: Everyone is entitled to vent. It's very frustrating because it has been so long since this team was presentable. But the day-to-day angst is illogical since you know what you're dealing with.

The manager is more than relevant. As others have said this isn't about the win-loss record, and I will freely admit that a world-class manager would not have this team in contention. However, a better manager would:
a) manage his way to perhaps a few more character- and confidence-building wins, and a few less demoralizing losses, which would have impact beyond this year.
b) instill in the young players an understanding of playing "the right way" (e.g., 100% effort, smart baseball, preparation, team-first attitude, competitive instinct) and a focus on fundamentals, which, again, would have impact beyond this year.
c) be able to contribute to talent/organizational decisions and management to a more meaningful degree, which, AGAIN, will have impact beyond this year.
d) assist in improving the Orioles' brand in the eyes of fans and around the league (including potential free agents), which, AGAIN, will have impact beyond this year.

I could go on, but I'm hoping you get the point. These are all facts, inarguable, and show why the manager situation is clearly relevant, even on a team with no hope of contending this year. This is not a situation of Hargrove looking smarter riding a winner- this is a situation where two days in a row the manager has failed to make obvious position substitutions and pinch-hitting decisions. Trembley has had the benefit of low expectations this year- his own decisions are the only thing making him look dumb.

This is all to say that the school of thought that we shouldn't care if they are doing all "the little things" right on a day-to-day basis and instead take heart in the general progress of the team is BS.

Yes, we should just let Trembley run out his contract with the hope that picking up a top-notch manager will be among the organization's priorities for the off-season. But if by some stroke of luck we had the opportunity to get someone better now- why not? Every day with better leadership will only improve the team's prospects down the road...

Pete, I don't know what to make of this post. So many (or so it seems, based on their obnoxiousness) posters say you particularly and the Sun in general are just apologists for the Angelos Regime. But I read this post of yours and it seems instead to offer coherent specific criticism of the team's performance, one that links what happened in today's game with what has happened all too often throughout the season. Hmmm... is that what they call "being objective"? Or is the fact that you offer one faint ray of hope in the last sentence to be taken as proof that you have moved into Jimmyville?

Personally, I don't understand how the local media bashing the team is supposed to help anyway. Keep on doing what you are doing, my good man.

Pete's reply: Thanks for the support. Bob respectfully disagrees.

~~So winning isn't a goal anymore?~~

Pretty sure you are missing the point. Winning 5 or 8 more games this season is NOT deemed as important as having a shot of winning the AL East in the near future. Thus development of the kids is a higher priority today than winning a few more games this season. Either way it is about winning, question is how much and when.

~~Is that why when you are losing in the 9th inning and have a .220 hitter (and not a regular) being allowed to bat instead of someone on the bench, hmmm...even an all-star player named Jones?~~

No idea, but Pie is one of the team's hottest hitters in July/August and Luke is one of coldest so not sure I accept your point completely and certainly not the spin you are putting on it. Certainly no argument that Andino is best hitter available at that point.

~~Or since it was Jones' day off DT didn't want to bother him? Especially with the top of the order coming up?~~

Without the spin you word this with, maybe so. If Jones has a sore wrist, ankle, hammy etc, maybe he DIDNT want to "bother" him.

~~Come on Pete, DT has lost the fans,~~

a sure sign he is doing something right!

~~the team~~

speculation on your part

~~and the FO.~~

More speculation on your part and only verifiable if they can him. . . which they have the power to do immediately so if you are right, they are just waiting for the end of the season because they obviously think it is best for the team.

~~As you said it may not help to replace him now but he is essentially "dead man walking" and I think most people, especially the veterans know it.~~

The same vets who you say have been dogging it and are likely as "gone" as Tremblay?

~~The fans are entitled to vent simply because of the consistency of losing and the complete lack of hustle by the guys earning the most money.~~

No reasons needed. Fans have the right to boo. They have the right to vent. Thay have the right to whine and piss and moan and see negatives in the face of positives. You dont need to argue your rights. I would argue that there is a corresponding responsibility to be realistic and not as myopic as some . . . but we only whine about our rights in this country, rarely acknowledging our resonsibilities.

~~If we are going to quit, why play or keep Huff and Mora?~~

Because we need to pay them, we cant trade Mora, no one wants either and we dont have anyone better to replace them on the roster. Pretty sure major league rules insist that we play someone at 1B and 3B. Wiggy cant play both at the same time. Snyder isnt ready as he just finally seems found his stroke again after his promotion. Usually makes sense to have another head ready before you shout "off with his head".

Well golly gee Pete, why are you so negative all the time? Remember AM's very ambitious goal is to finish the season better than 4 wins and 32 losses for the last 36 games. What a dynamic leader we have. Try to stay positive Pete and don't complain so much. The PLAN is to win at least 5 of the last 36 so we'll know the PLAN is succeeding.

Let's review DT's quote,"You've got to understand who we are, what we have, the direction we are going" Who we are-you're a bad team, what we have-you have bad players(see team record) where we are going- 29 out of 35 games with teams above .500- you're going to get worse. You cant blame it on youth when the tigers have a TWENTY yr old rookie shutting you out for five.Blaming it on youth is unacceptable. It's easy to say we'll win in a few years. I think there's a youth rec team that could benefit from Trembley's low expectations. He should call the local rec council and see when sign-ups are I have a feeling he's gonna have some free time on his hands next season.

Completely agree with Andrew.

Trembley has dropped the ball in several areas that have far reaching implications past this season. I (one who frequents the "whine" cellar Pete) am not whining because we need to win 5-10 more games this year. It's because Trembley (who must be the mutant offspring of William Shatner and Ernest Bourgnine) is setting a terrible example for this city, this organization, and his players especially the young ones. He's a loser, complete with the loser's attitude to go with it. He's not good at his job. He doesn't have the smarts to make the proper decisions in games. He let's vets do whatever they want and playcates them rather than discipline them. The Mora situation is the perfect example of something people have been talking about all season long. In short he has no business being a major-league manager.

If you are going to continue to defend Trembley, Peter, at some point you have to come up with a better response than "Sorry you're plans for the world series got screwed up this year." That's childish and it's not what anyone is implying, certainly not myself. Tell me one or two things you think he does well, but please not the development of the rookies (unless you can elaborate on it) because I just can't see that either.

Maybe I'm coming from the perspective that thought the O's were only going to get 58 wins when the season started, but I don't honestly see the point in arguing game decisions by Trembley. The same should be true about handling players. Sure, Mora could have used better judgement but the poor guy has been a team player for ten productive years on a team that has never won. He deserves to be an Oriole HOFer more than Chris Hoiles.

At this point, it should be all about individual performances. Unless the O's would think about trading Markakis or Jones, it is unlikely they are going to get too many more trades involving multiple players in return.

So, who are the keepers? Who should the Orioles target for promotions? Who can be signed that might genuinely aid to winning rather than just filling a need?

If the Orioles muddle in the off-season, it won't matter a bit who is managing. If the Orioles are REALLY, TRULY, I MEAN IT THIS TIME serious about becoming a winner, THEN Trembley can walk the plank at the Inner Harbor. Otherwise, it doesn't matter who wears the clown suit.

In the 70's I watched the Big Red Machine. Now I watch The Big Losing Machine.

One of the really encouraging signs this year: BB's given up. After way leading the league in walks last year, our pitchers are throwing strikes this time and are actually 5th in the AL in fewest BB's. Since even the few pitcher who were here last yer are doing better, I'm giving most of the credit to Kranitz. But whatever, it's great progress in a stat which personally twists my tuners.

The other side: Our batters are 4th from the bottom in the AL in drawing walks, which is just what Mr. Schmuck and a lot of the commenters have been righteously bemoaning. The three teams below us are Oakland, Seattle, and KC, three of our fellow struggling stragglers. (The other sad-sack team, Cleveland, is actually pretty good in this stat, but their pitching is dead last in the AL, so getting on base doesn't really work for them.) If I credit Kranitz for the pitchers throwing toward the plate this year, maybe I should blame Crowley for the hitters swinging like an outhouse door in a hurricane.


I agree, and I dare say most other posters agree, that we are moving in the right direction (at least a better direction). However, there are still plenty of problems with the team that is the 2009 Orioles.

Our prospects are getting some on-the-job training, so we expect to see some growing pains. However, if they are trying to learn from our veterans and our veterans are phoning it in, then that's a problem.

It's great that we got rid of some dead wood last year in Ramon Hernandez and Jay Payton, but it's distressing to see more dead wood this year in Huff, Mora, et al.

We should not have so many veterans turning into "dead wood" each year. I put this on the coaching staff in part.

Al East I certianly agree that it's distressing to watch veterans play like they're showing up for a paycheck. In an ideal world, Dannyz, Melvin, Aubrey, and sad to say Luke would have been moved for something in return. In a less ideal world, Melvin wouldn't have whined his way back into the lineup and wiggington, (who's younger and a marginally better hitter), would be playing every day. In a hopefully future scenario, we will have a manager that can inspire some passion in the core to shake off the stigma of the past 12 years.

As Schmuck noted in the orginial post, however, it appears that the vets laziness hasn't affected Jones, Markakis, etc. As for the pitchers, the only "vets" currently on the team are Guthrie, Henderson, Baez, and Rich Hill (last 2 not for much longer). I guess I'm just not concerned with the continued flaws of the 2009 orioles, because I never expected anything out of this team to begin with. If the young guys continue to play fundamental baseball, the lazy vets are moved at the end of the season, and more help comes this offseason, then we're still moving towards the ultimate goal of contention.

If the team is no better or worse in 2010, then absolutely sound the alarm. A few more meaningless wins in a meaningless season are nice but not essential if still moving in the right direction

There is no real outside pressure on the Orioles to win, they are all but mathmatically eliminated from the playoffs. Yeah I'm stating the obvious right?

I suppose it can be difficult for some of the vets to get motivated to win when your team is basically buried at the bottom of it's division. It also drawls me to the conclusion that I still like watching the new young players like Bergensen, Matusz, Wieters, Reimold, etc, or even some of the young vets like Jones and Markakis, I'm just wating for football season.

Anyway even though these losses may seem meaningless, for the sake of the young players I would hope that the Orioles can rattle off some more consistent wins against the playoff contenders, and not just one game that avoids the sweep.

I think that it would be a bonus benefit to the young players even though they might play with the right fundamentals anyway to experience going into Yankees Stadium, Fenway Park, and get a feel for what it's like to win in a playoff like atmosphere, and to be able to say that they have proof that they can hang head-to-head against the teams that should similar-playoff calibur in a couple of years as to what they are now, by the time the Orioles are once again projecting to compete.

Kind of like how the Orioles went in and swept the Phillies with game 2 being a come-from-behind win with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, when I'm pretty sure most people would have had the Phillies favored to win that series, if not sweep instead of getting swept.

Ultimately while I pretty much consider this season much like the last several ones as a wash, I'd rather see the club rack up wins as reflection of the young players being the big factors even if the club is moving in the right direction, I don't think there is a better experience for winning then winning itself for the sake of future development. As long as winning is a psychological pep for the young players like it was for Matusz in his debut, then that puts me in a bit of a respectful disagreement with what Justin has to say about winning being "nice"

To answer b, yes I think they'd be more than 4 wins better if Torre or LaRussa were managing.

While Trembley does make mistakes his major problem is he doesn't let the players know he EXPECTS them to play well, hustle and win. Torre and LaRussa would not make excuses for these guys and would be hard at work teaching the young guys HOW to win and holding them accountable for doing so.

The last 50 games of this year is not at all about winning-it's about building capability to win. This team has much, much more talent than their record indicates, but the vets are being allowed to drift by DT and the rookies, believe me are watching and realize that it's ok to lose! That has to stop- now! Frankly, I would release Huff and Mora, and eat their salaries because their failure to hustle are costing the team more becuase of their influence on the youngsters. I would also have a heart-to-heart with BRob about my expectations that he hustle all the time, every play of every game to show the youngsters how to win. I would put Wigginton on third, bring up Aubrey, Snyder or both to play 1b and see how they do. If they use this time as a chance to learn and develop then that's great. My starting 5 for the rest of the year would be Guthrie,Bergensen,Matuez, Tillman, and Hernandaz and I'd make it very clear to them that they better use this time to show they belong or there are guys in the minors who may take their places- and I include Guthrie in that warning.
I'm not sure who I'd bring in as the manger but it would be someone who would understand my expectations are he would teach this team how to win and hold them accountable for doing so. Then, if he decided to bench a vet for sloppy or lazy play, I'd publicly and privately support him. The entire organization, including AM HAS to STOP making excuses for this team losing. The fans deserve no less!

no respectful disagreement necessary, I 100% agree that "some" wins, especially in the absoltuely brutal month of September against the AL powerhouses, would be absolutely essential for the young core's growth. My inital response was more a response to the calls for firing everyone and starting over just because this team does not have any more wins than previous, crappier, more expensive versions.

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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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