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September 29, 2009

In a class by themselves

The Orioles now own the longest losing streak in the major leagues after their 12th straight defeat tonight, though I don't know if congratulations are in order. This is starting to look a lot like that 4-32 collapse during the Mike Hargrove era.

You know it's really bad when you're headed into Week 4 of the NFL season and the Ravens have won more games than the Orioles since their September 13 opener, but I guess you knew it was really bad long before that. Now, it's just a matter of figuring out who is going to be around for 2010.

Which brings us to an advance plug. Look for dueling columns by Kevin Cowherd and me tomorrow morning on the subject of Dave Trembley's future. Kevin and I also debated the issue in a video that will be posted in the same Web package. You can also check that out below to find out which side of the argument I took, but I'll give you a hint. It wasn't an easy case to make.

Where's Waldo dept. For those of you who were following my infrequent posts from Israel, I'll be headed in the opposite direction tomorrow. I have to go out to California for a couple of days before joining our football staff in Foxborough, Mass., for the Ravens/Patriots game on Sunday. I'll try to find some exotic animal to sit on and post the photo on the blog.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:02 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Just baseball


Reconnect with our winning past ! BRING BACK DAVEY JOHNSON !

I look forward to it. I am guessing you defended DT. Really I do not know what to think. I do not think that pointing fingers at a manager that went through as much this year as Trembley has is the right approach. Pointing fingers and placing blame on one or two people is not the way to go. The executives have to decide what direction they are going to take. Remember Altobelli was the winning manager of the 1983 world series and was fired two years later when his team started 29-26.

Those were the days, and Baltimore needs that kind of mindset and pride in winning.

Not much to read about the O's online when you dont write a column, Pete. The Sun's Bullpen (Jeff, Dan, Kevin?) covering you when you get taken out has missed a lot of opportunities....!

I think they will bring Dave back due to the personel situation he has had to deal with during the season. Plus, who else is available besides Dusty?

It's not a matter of blaming Trembley for the 100 losses. Perhaps he is responsible for 10 of the losses and the personnel for the other 90. But 10 losses due to poor managerial strategy is 10 too many. One example tonight: TB brought in a lefty to face Aubrey and struck him out. Then DT batted Montanez so Fiorentino wouldn't face the same lefty. Naturally, TB countered with a righty, who then struck out Montanez. If you're going to try to counter the lefty-righty matchup, then when the lefty comes in to face Aubrey, that's when you use Montanez so that the lefty has to stay in to face him. This gaffe didn't decide the game, but it's one more indication that DT doesn't understand the finer points of strategy.

Pete--I'm having difficulty envisioning you astride the Dogface Buttterfly or clinging to the gills of the Golden Trout.

My guess is that you will find a California Grizzly Bear who likes Hawaiian shirts and a man who cares for turtles stranded in the middle of the road.

If so, why not ride him bear back?

Can't wait until we can all say the Orioles are loaded for bear.

Sorry you gave the plug for tomorrow"s package. I don't think I can bear to watch it.

Fire Angelos{The whole family},then work down the organizational chart and start over.

The Orioles need somebody in the clubhouse or the dugout that is a winner and knows how to win. We signed 2 guys in Markakis and Roberts that are ok players but don't know how to win.

As for managers, don't know if Davey Johnson is the answer or if he is even interested in managing any more. Also Bobby Valentine would be an intersting addition. Trembley is not a winner. We can have Matt Wieters hit .400, but until we instill a winning attitude, it's just not going to happen. I went to 1 game this year and I don't really miss it, but it does make me sort of sad.

The three guys I keep thinking about as the next manager of Baltimore--Davey Johnson, Buck Showalter, and Tom Kelly.

The Orioles payroll will be approximately $51M (after Mora and Baez are gone and the new contracts for Roberts and Markakis).

Lets consider the Orioles will generate an estimated $150M (a reduction of $25M from last year). And of course, we know that they have a guarantee from MLB af at least $130M.

That means that even after debt payments (something that is not that important now that there is a guaranteed sale price), the team has significant amount to spend. I am talking in the $30M range after other expenses.

I realize that there are probably not players out there that are difference makers, and the Orioles have the misguided approach that we can build from within. However, do you really believe Angelos has a buring desire to truly compete and make-up the expenses he would need to take on with the risk of not winning and not making up the expenses with the revenue generated from attendance gains, etc?

For a team that had such a good run for 20+ yrs to be a utter disgrace and embarrassment. They have easily been the worst team in baseball the last dozen years, not counting Pittsburgh (who haven't tried in a long time or spent any money) and KC (ditto).

That is why there are so many posts here and elsewhere tearing apart the organization. They have collected a lot of money from the fans but produced zero, zip, nothing but embarrassment, 4-32, and this year 12 losses and possibly more to end the season.

And, NO, D. Johnson is not an answer. He shouldn't have been fired when he was, but he has warned out his welcome elsewhere and living in the past isn't a solution.

McPhail can do DT a favor and just fire him now since it is obvious he has zero chance of coming back, if for no other reason then a PR move.

i believe the previous poster is disgusted: I hope they told us how they feel. Forfeit the rest of the season?

Not a bad idea: at least we won't have to wonder what the final score will be.

I am still in the belief that the best way to rebuild the bullpen is going to be to use the starting pitchers that are in the minors who have shown talent as the bullpen crew and allow them to grow into starting pitchers. If they are that good use them on the big team until they can handle the starting roles. That eliminates the need for searching out big league pitchers from other teams. The only thing that would be needed at that point is a starting pitcher that is legitimate. Then concentrate on a 1b and 3b. Although the 1b could be solved if you put Reimold there. With the surgery he may not be the same running in the outfield: So use him to fill a hole. Then Pie fits much easier into the mold...Use Luke Scott in trade. I just don't see him as consistent player. Montanez could be a utility player. Then since you are not expecting a WS next year, allow Josh Bell to play unless you are able to sign a solid FA.

Maybe this is the wrong way, but it seems to make sense to me.


Any chance you are heading to Westwood?

Wow Peter is allowing profanity on here for once?!


That's the way they used to do it, bring up the hot starter prospects and put them in the bullpen for a year or two. MacGregor, Flanagan, Martinez, Dave Ford, even Jim Palmer's first ML year as a 19 year old in 1965, was spent in the pen, making six starts out of 27 appearances before moving to the rotation full time in 1966. So did Dave McNally, who split time between the pen and the rotation for a few years before starting 33 games in '66. Steve Barber, Milt Pappas, Chuck Estrada, Phoebus, all spent significant time in the bullpen before moving to the rotation.

It would have been nice to see Tillman, Matusz et al do the same thing but the situation was different, there weren't veteran starters already here holding those spots.

Seems Tillman, Matusz, Bergeson, Guthrie and maybe Arrieta will comprise the rotation for next year, though many of us wouldn't mind seeing them sign a solid veteran(no Eatons, Trachsels or Victor Zambranos, please) to hold down a spot. If they do, what a perfect time for Arrieta to begin his ML career in the pen, and move Hernandez, Berkin, Uehara there also. Then you can pick and choose out of the rest. I still think Albers, Sarfate, Baez, Bass, Meredith, Johnson and Ray can be effective if used right, and I'm sorry, under this manager, I'm not sure they were. Then there's Hendrickson and Castillo; they seem like keepers in the proper roles. There is definite potential, with people like Spoon, Erbe, Jacobson, Patton, Britton and maybe even Hobgood in the mix. And don't forget Mickolio.

I've heard it mentioned on Chicago boards that Rich Harden, no stranger to the AL, might be better suited to being a short reliever, he might make an excellent back of the bullpen guy, he''s still young and has outstanding stuff. There's reason to believe he won't re-sign with the Cubs.

As for the lineup, it might not be such a bad thing that there's no impact bats available at first or third. I love Bay, even if it's just to get him away from Boston, but rather, let's see Snyder here, and maybe mid season, we'll see if Bell and Waring can play up here, though it's likely to soon for those guys.

I hear all this talk that the Orioles need a big time middle-of-the-order bat, but we probably already have that guy on the roster. Reimold seems capable of hitting 30, he hit 15 on a bad ankle this year in half a season, Wieters will almost certainly turn in to a 30+ guy, and Bell, Waring and Snyder have power. I would imagine the next draft will see the Orioles take the best available power hitter with number one, and maybe even two or three. Jones and Markakis will hold down the number two and three spots, and with protection, why can't Markakis get up to 25?

No doubt this season has been a train wreck, but come on people, do you really think this will be the team that opens spring training next March? This will be a very interesting and exciting off season, Angelos has said many times he will do what it takes to put a winner out there(the guy hates losing, remember that) and MacPhail has done a commendable job so far, let's see if he can finish the project.

Keep the faith, my brothers.

What happened to the Luke Scott experiment at first base? Only 8 starts? If the month is going to be a complete disaster from a win/loss standpoint, the O's should at least have tried to solve one of their position questions for next year with Scott and Wigginton at the corner positions. It looks like organized chaos.

I thought at the beginning of the year, that in 2010, the Orioles could at least make a run at .500. No chance. Some nice young outfielders and starting pitchers, but too many holes to patch. Management will fail the fanbase next year just like the last 12.

Wow, Pete. Can't you get someone to delete the foul post on this site?
I can't understand why Trembley has continued to play guys that you just know are not going to be here next year. Heck, if you are going to lose, at least do it with some fresh faces.
I say that Trembley will be gone within a couple of weeks.

Pete's reply: I deleted it. There's no way to monitor the blog every single minute. Sorry for that.

Three more consecutive losses and the Orioles will not only achieve a 100-loss season, but also the second-longest losing streak in team history. Fittingly, this would take place at home Friday night in front of a crowd of countless dozens.

Just wondering: Winning teams celebrate with champagne. How should the O's celebrate hitting the century mark? A few bottles of chilled Jim Jones Flavor-Aid, vintage 1978, might be appropriate.

You know you this blog is not monitored any longer. Even though I was a huge Carlin fan, and that was one of my favorite skits he ever performed, it will cause for the monitor to go back on. The purpose is to debate not use foul post.

What happened to the Scott experiment? Jones, Pie and Reimold were injured. Montanez is not ready to play everyday, he was doing Salsa last week, and no baseball activity after September 1.

Pete's reply: Just got off a flight in Chicago and deleted it. You do know that I can't monitor the blog 24 hours per day? Just isn't possible.

I completely disagree with your article in the Sun today Pete. Dave Trembly was a bullpen coach that has never won at any level he coached at. He has no idea how to win! Sure our pitching sucked this year, but we were in way too many close games that were lost by Trembley's poor management decisions.
For you to say that if we fire a losing manager we are not a solid organization isn't totally accurate. Trembley has had his 2 and a half years and stunk up all 2 and a half of them. Stop making excuses for him!
Like A.M. just said the other day, Cleveland and Toronto aren't much different then we are and they kicked our butts.
I keep hearing that a La Russa or Torre wouldn’t have made us contenders, but I guarantee that we wouldn’t be losing any where near 100 games this year. They handle bullpens better and make better overall decisions. In short… Bye, Bye Trembley!!!!

Pete, I read your column looking for something that suggests that Trembley is a good manager, and I didn't find it. Absolutely I agree that the team's record doesn't summarize Dave's skills as a manager. But there's also nothing to suggest that he's any good at the job of managing ballgames, either.

"Too doctrinaire," ha! You said a mouthful there, Pete. His bullpen choices have just been terrible all year.

Of course Trembley will be fired. It's the expedient thing to do when a team that is losing 100 games needs a starting staff, which takes years to develop.

Trembley may need to go, but what about coaches? Unfortunately I'm not optimistic about the future. There are some nice young players here, but too many holes along with some over expectations.
Mora is now a hole because of his age and by the time things may gel, Roberts will be 35. Right now I'm not sold on Adam Jones. Great fielder, but his hitting did not progress this year. He started like a jet, but ended no better than last year. Bullpen must get better to rank as bad. Is that a place where coaching needs to be improved? I'm afraid that our good youngsters will move on to winning organizations just about the time we start to get it together. We've just lost a dozen in a row and have looked terrible doing it while we make all pitchers look like Cy Young candidates. Next year has to push the .500 mark or we will continue in the wilderness.

I will just wait until a decison is made before i reply to your opinion to bring back dave t. I was hoping with you being out of town that i wouldn't have to post again until the end of the season but when i read your article this morning i was tempeted to jump back in. I could have figured what direction in regards to dave t you were headed. I guess your opinion was based on those 4000 games you have watched over the years. Pete tell me when is it fair to fire a manager.

Hey Bob, I thought you posted a few times this week and while Pete was out. That is the smart thing to do, not think about it until it is done.

I am no Trembley fan and I disagree that Earl Weaver couldn't have won 70 games with this bunch. I think he could have, but he couldn't have won 81. The point is the manager does make a difference. I think Trembley has cost this team maybe 10 games this year. Hardly enough to be the difference between being a contender and not being one, but still important.
Replacing Trembley is not as important as getting a big bat or a first rate starter, but it's still a step in the right direction and I think the young players need to grow into their positions with the best manager and coaching staff that can be found.
Your argument with Kevin seems to boil down to arguing that a manager really doesn't make a difference if you don't have a great team to begin with and I disagree. Sure, the O's have had a long series of managerial changes that haven't brought a winning team, but that doesn't imply that the manager is an unimportant part of the team. The problem is believing that changing the manager alone is all that needs to be done. If all AM does this winter is replace Trembley and not pick up the needed pieces somewhere, then sure the O's will again be losers. But if we fall 5 or 6 games short of a winning season next year and there are 10-12 games where Dave's mishandling of the pitchers cost us a win, then the losing streak stretches into another year and the fan base continues to dwindle. I don't think this franchise can stand another losing season. Of course it won't matter much in the standings whether the O's win 75 or 85 games next year, but it will mean an awful lot to this long time fan if we can just put an end to this humiliating losing streak, and I don't think I'm alone. Trembley is a nice guy, he's a loyal Oriole, he works his ass off, but he's a crappy manager. If they can find a better one, then they should get him.

there's something wrong with Cowherd's mic, you can hear Schmuck much better

Great Face blasted Kevin with common sense! I agree that Dave Trembley would just be a fall guy. One option not discussed is tell Dave we need a fresh voice in the hitting...bullpen...and basepaths coaches. So in other words you and Kranny can stay...but the Crow , Alan Dunn and Juan Samuel and T Bone must leave. Baserunning has been terrible......bullpen is terrible, and clutch hitting is and has been terrible for years.

birdsteelers...Couldn't agree more. Throw Kranitz in too. While he may be a good teacher he sure doesn't know how to coach once the game starts.

Nothing personal, but he hasn't shown he can get the job done -- granted, you gotta play the hand you're dealt, and some personnel moves and injuries hurt a lot, and any manager can only do so much with a triple-A bullpen, but note the following:
Fundamentals -- aren't players supposed to know how to bunt by the time they make it to the majors? Maybe have a clue about baserunning? If not, the manager has to do something about it. Conditioning -- why is that every year, the O's limp to the finish line, looking exhausted? Not to mention lack of motivation and hustle? The manager needs to call out offenders, and if it hurts their delicate feeling, and they don't like their daddy-manager anymore, too frickin bad.
To contrast, look back to 1989 (why not?) -- Surely they overachieved, but they played their hearts out to the bitter end, did the necessary things to win, and actually hustled.
Sorry DT, looks like this team quit on you.


What is your sense of what the players think of Trembley. It seems to me that it could be the deciding factor in whether he stays or goes.

Trembley didn't lose 100 games this year. As Brian Roberts said in different words, the players did that. I'd like to see Markakis stand up with Roberts and make sure everyone in the clubhouse understands that.

It would be the emergence of the leadership this team so sorely needs. A message from a couple of the senior foundational players on this team that there are no scape goats, no sacrificial lambs for what the players fail to accomplish. If a sense of accountability can be instilled, a 100 loss season will have had a purpose.

Pete's reply: I think most of the players -- with some exceptions -- want to play for Dave, but you're right that there is a leadership gap that needs to be filled.

Pete, you killed Cowherd at every turn. ... Manny Acta?

Please tell me Cowherd was just playing a role and doesn't actually believe the words that were coming out of his mouth.

Pete's reply: I really can't speak for him on this. MIght have just been the heat of the moment. That was a one-take video.

The most important decision a manager makes is when he fills out the lineup card. Earl Weaver said that. Next, perhaps, is how he handles his pitching staff. Then there's player selection after spring training. And the day-to-day managing decisions. What has DT done right? He apologizes for his players, even after they make lousy baserunning decisions and fail to lay down a bunt (DT, see Weaver on the bunt). A manager with a proven record of being able to develop young talent, especially pitching, is needed. How much could LaRussa-Duncan cost anyway?


I hope you do not think I was referring that you were not taking care of monitoring, I was pointing at the person that posted the foul language. Simply stating it was wrong.

Pete's reply: No problem. I was just pointing out that it takes some time to catch some of that stuff.

Pete Been on Flights like that I like the Re-Hiring of DAVE Trembly..Like you said this week..asking him to Win with this GROUP, was like going into a KNIFE Fight with the Swizzle Stick.
You will Miss the final 3 Oriole games as they Sweep the JAYs. Prediction, Ravens 24 Pats 19.
Football Terrapins are just like the ORIOLES.
Hope your flight back to Crabtown is boring as heck.
Harry O' Sykesville,md

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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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