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September 16, 2009

Orioles: All's well that ends well

There was some talk in the press box during the rain delay that Jim Johnson had thrown quite a bit in the bullpen in anticipation of pitching the ninth inning, but he warmed up again and entered the game in the top of the ninth to give up a game-tying home run to Ben Zobrist.

No big deal. The blown save turned into his fourth victory of the year when Matt Wieters slammed a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, and everybody who has been concerned about Wieters soft home run total can stand down.

When young players get to the major leagues, power generally is the last thing to blossom. Nolan Reimold is an exception (as was Evan Longoria last year), but Reimold spent a lot more time in the minor leagues developing his power stroke. Wieters will hit his share of home runs. Don't worry about that.

What I'm really impressed with right now is the way Wieters is throwing the ball. He gunned down Carl Crawford twice tonight -- something that has only happened one other time in Crawford's career. Obviously, Wieters was rushing early in the season and his mechanics were out of whack. Now, he looks very relaxed and he's putting the ball in the right place with a lot on it.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:40 PM | | Comments (45)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete, Johnson isn't making a very good case to be our closer of the future. He was so good in the setup role that we might need to see how some of our young pitchers (possible hernandez if he can learn to keep his fastball down) fair next spring. Kam should get a shot too.

Pete--What happened to your rain delay entry that at last look had 13 responses? Has it disappeared into another dimension or simply taken a nap under the tarp?

A very impressive couple of games for Wieters. Outstanding throws tonight to catch Crawford twice.

I didn't see the first one, but the second one was unbelievable. At full speed I honestly thought he was safe, especially considering the slow curve that he chose to run on. A catcher simply can't make a better throw than that, and that super slow-mo masn replay clearly shows the tag coming down in time. Amazing play.

For the record everyone, I only hit the Post button once there and shrunk the window.

Carl Crawford was understandably upset that he had just been caught stealing for the second time in as many tries. Do you think his reaction was because he thought he was safe, or utter disbelief that Wieters just hit the loop of his shoelace from 120 ft away?

I think it was pretty clear to read Crawford's reaction: it was, jeffChill, as you posited one of "utter disbelief that Wieters just hit the loop of his shoelace from 120 ft away?"


What a night for Wieters.

Nolan Reimold, should be shut down. Everyone is saying that it's minor and I am sure if it was something serious, he would be shut down, but why chance that the recovery takes longer and he isn't ready for spring training? Seems silly to me.

JJ, has been anything but impressive since becoming the closer. Imagine if the O's were in the race? The pressure only gets stronger I still hate the Sherrill trade because you had a guy who liked being in Baltimore, was a competitor and was better in his 2nd year as a closer than his first. Guys like Kam and Chris Ray, are injury prone and can't be penciled in with any certainty so the only way I see this working is for Koji to become the closer and put JJ in his normal role of set up man.

Matt Wieters, seemed to come into his own when Zaun was traded. He's been better at throwing out runners, he's hitting better and he looks more comfortable out there. Pete, do you think it's a coincidence or do you think that once Zaun was traded that Matt, knew this is his team, right now?

Isn't it obvious to even DT that Johnson won't be a closer? Why not let Chris Ray try again these last couple of weeks to see if he could return to his pre-=arm operation form. Then we might know if we have to seek out a closer for 2010. I hope all you Weiters worriers are relaxing a bit. He will be an exceptional player.

The O's should fill their closer role by going after the Jays' Jeremey Acardo. For some reason, he's in their bad books and has been in the minors for most of the year. This guy can pitch and was effective as a closer so he can probably be picked up cheap.

I guess we won't be seeing a lot of "Wieters is a bust" posts today. Amazing night last night. The Red Sox, O's and Yankees all had come from behind 9th inning wins.
Is this finally what we were all hoping to see just after the break? The O's have been hanging tough and playing hard recently. Could it have been the prospect of losing 100 games that got them motivated?
Whatever caused it I'll take it.

Pete, I don't completely agree with the title of this blog. It is great that Weiters is showing the fans he is the complete package. However, it is a shame that Johnson blew another save and it cost Tillman a much deserved victory. And then to top it off Johnson gets credit for the win. In this case stats do lie.

Based upon their history, I do not feel comfortable with Johnson or Ray as the closer next season.

This isn't a knock on Johnson. He was a fine setup guy and he was comfortable in that role. But he doesn't seem to have that rare--part Sgt. Rock, part Buddha--personality of a good closer. Sherrill had it; now it's gone. Andy M has done a great job rebuilding the
team, but the Sherrill trade was a step backwards. They need a true closer so Johnson can do what he does well--the 8th inning.

The Orioles could use a closer. Although they have so much talent in the minors that it's possible they could grow a player. Plus, Lebron has shown some promise also.

If I were the Orioles, I'd look into getting Billy Wagner for a one year deal. The Sox aren't going to pick up his option and probably won't offer him arbitration(they know he'll be unhappy if they do either).

He really wants a chance to get saves and the Orioles are one of the few teams in the majors that don't have a closer.

I am thrilled for Weiters, but he can't do that every game. They need a substantial bullpen fix, and they need it before April 2010.

I was struck by how well Wieters threw the ball to second last night. I was also struck by how much Ty Wigginton looks like Don Zimmer in the Sun photo of the home plate celebration. Or did Curly from The Three Stooges sneak into uniform?

If you've said any of the following this year you have ridden the "over-reaction express"

"Weiters is a a bust"

"Matuzs and Tillman are definitely not ready to be up here"

"Roberts is dogging it"

"Macphail plan has failed and we'll lose for another ten years"

"Schmuck is on the payroll of the O's"

did I say "Weiters is a bust?"

"Trembley's the worst manager since Elmer Fudd"

"Macphail should NEVER have brought up these young arms and put them into the rotation"

"Hobgood is a bust and a stupid first round pick"

"Sherrill should never have been traded"
*actually you all can keep saying that until Bell comes up and hits 25 homers and plays decent third base base and Johnson comes up and does well.

"bill frederick is an idiot"
well, you may have something there.....

Don't look now but the O's just won two series against contending AL East teams...In September no less. I know we will still probably loose 95+ but I belive we have TURNED the corner. Bring on Spring training 2010!!

I do not think it makes sense to move Ray to that role this year. He is not the same as he was four years ago. One day he goes out and looks good, two more days he suffers. Just keep Johnson there for now.

I really hope something great comes out of the Sherrill deal. I think he was eligible to have arbitration next season. He is not eligible for free agency until 2012, I believe.

Sherrill's Dodgers ERA is down to 0.42, as he's allowed just one run in 21 1/3 innings. He's collected 10 holds for his new team, including a perfect 8th last night against the Pirates.His season ERA is a crisp 1.72. How does that factor? no one scores on the Dodgers in the 8th and 9th inning. How does that translate for the Orioles, the next best ERA for the Oriole bullpen with more than 20 innings is more than double that.. So anyone that does not think that Sherrill is badly missed is mistaken.

Going after a top notch lefty is going to cost three to four times what George was going to make. I am really hoping that Bell can learn to play defense in the next two years in the minors, and Steve Johnson one day be a good pitcher for the Orioles, but I believe this trade will end up costing the team either in money or performance. Why didn't the Orioles trade Hendrickson, Bass and Baez instead.

Okay, I am done with it, last time I will harp on this. Well then again if I turn on the World Series in a month and Sherrill is lights out and the Dodgers win, I do not know if I could hold back.


Roberts is having a wonderful season - but to say he was not dogging it for a period there in mid-season is ridiculous. He was dogging it and was being rightly called on it.

Bill Frederick,

Nicely done, I agree with you..

Yep, as has been pointed out, the "Wieters is a bust" folks are nowhere to be found today.

On the other hand, I'll step forward and say I was a "JJ will do fine as closer" guy. Looks like I got that one wrong, unless there's an injury or some reason explaining his poor recent form.

Ray is obviously not ready to go back in the closer's role, and other than maybe Koji there's no one else on the roster who is ready for it either.


He was sick, remember? He had a bad chest infection. All I know is the guy does his job, went out there when he was ill and did his best.. Really not much else you can ask out of him.

Roberts was never dogging it. Get over yourselves. I'd love to know how everyone can tell how hard a player is trying just by watching... I mean, I'm guilty of it at times too, but I best I can only say "it looks like..."

As Schmuck has explained, Roberts had a few lingering injuries. But even if that doesn't satisfy you, bad numbers certainly shouldn't. Numbers hardly mean a thing when it comes how 'hard' someone is trying. You can try your ass off and fail. You can not try and get lucky.

Roberts had a couple of bad weeks at the plate... but in terms of his career, he's having his best season ever - especially when you consider that he hasn't fallen off at season's end (actually, post ASB) the way he usually does. (statistically)

For the record. No one ever "looses" a game. Teams "lose" games they do not "loose" them. These words have two entirely different meanings. Use a dictionary.

Other gramattical gripes: Athletes are not laxadaisical. They can be lax, or lackadaisical. There is no such word as "laxadaisical".

Since basketball season is coming up. Will people please stop saying that players score balls.? They DO NOT score BALLS. Players can score points, baskets, buckets, or whatever other slang word is used to refer to the basket. They do not score balls, unless they are sitting and cutting little grooves into the basketball. The same goes for rebounds. Technically if a player rebounds the ball, they have just missed a shot. Rebounds can be caught, collected, gathered, snatched, or whatever way one cares to refer to catching a ball that has just rebounded off of the hoop, or backboard.

Sometimes listening to sports, or reading about sports drives me to distraction with the way the language is routinely butchered. This point will probably be lost on many, but it will not be loosed.

"JJ's going through a rough stretch but has closers stuff," come on. statistics just don't bear that out. Consider than between July 12th and August 11th he made 20 appearances and couldn't record a 1, 2, 3, inning in any of them, and most of the appearances were only one inning stints. Since then, he has thrown 12 innings, allowed 15 hits and 12 runs while blowing at least 3 saves, and people want him to be a starter or the #1 closer, no way. Its not like the Orioles didn't give him a chance. The guy has consistently demonstrated that he can't get people out when he needs to. Look elsewhere for a 2010 closer

The O's runaway MVP for 2009 and beyond, is none other then Eric Bedard. Let us count the ways (or players)Tillman, Jones, Kim M, Sherrill= Bell & Johnson

Closers are made, not born. Nobody thought Sherrill was a closer before MacPhail gave him the job.

Maybe Jim Johnson can't handle the job. Fine, they'll give it to somebody else. It's not the end of the world.

But please, don't sign Billy Wagner. That didn't work out for the Mets when he was four years younger. Why would it work now?

Speaking of grammar, who's the O's announcer who keeps saying "2 rbi homer"?

That annoys the heck out of me...


You forgot about the words 'accept' and 'except', 'there', 'their' and 'they're' and any sentence that ends with the word 'at'. Of course, this means all of our future posts must be in the correct form and structure and spelling must be perfect or we will be subject to having our chops thoroughly busted, and rightly so. For the record, any errors in future posts will be intentional, as I intend to test everyone from time to time.

Psst, Wayne, 'Since basketball season is coming up.' is not a complete sentence.

Glad to see Wieters showing his talents. There's legitimate hope on that front.

Having followed baseball for more than 40 years, I've never seen a third baseman with Mora's paltry production be allowed to stay in the lineup gane after game -- batting 5th nonetheless. 3 more LOBs last night.

Don't we have any "prospects" to slot in at third for the remainder of the season? I thought Mora was to be phased out more than 6 weeks ago? Was the manager overruled? Mora would not be playing everday for any other MLB team.

Mel must have friends in very high places. This cannot be Trembley's call.

"But please, don't sign Billy Wagner. That didn't work out for the Mets when he was four years younger. Why would it work now?"

Are we thinking of the same pitcher? The guy I'm thinking of made the all-star team in 2007 and 2008. In his worst year with the Mets, he has an ERA of 2.63 and in the other two it was below 2.5. He has a 1.08 ERA this year and has struck out 16 of 32 batters he's faced.

I suspect a pitcher that can pitch that well would at least be a suitable stopgap.

I think the "Wagner not working out for the Mets" comment was referring to the injury and subsequent Tommy John Surgery...

I'd be all about signing Billy Wagner if he would come in on a one year contract with a team option for 2011.

We all hail Mariano Rivera as the best closer of all time, but check out Wagner's numbers in comparison...

Rivera: 1083 innings, 2.25 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 3.91 K/BB

Wagner: 826 innings, 2.39 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, 3.98 K/BB

Anyone who wouldn't want Billy Wagner in Baltimore (with the right deal, of course) has gone totally insane.

"Why didn't the Orioles trade Hendrickson, Bass and Baez instead"

Um... my guess would be because nobody wanted them.

Well, that's not entirely true. Colorado wanted Hendrickson, but didn't want to give up anything for him. They just wanted to claim him and his $1.5m salary off waivers.

Sherrill had value and got us a good return, these guys had zero value.

"Having followed baseball for more than 40 years, I've never seen a third baseman with Mora's paltry production be allowed to stay in the lineup gane after game -- batting 5th nonetheless. 3 more LOBs last night."

Mora went 2 for 4 last night. And yet you're complaining.

Beltre, Atkins,Hall/Hannahan, and Bonifacio are all having worse offensive years this year then Mora and have started most of their teams games. LaRoche and Feliz aren't doing much better then Mora either.

As someone who cringes every time someone orders a "martini" when they want a vodka drink, thinks e.e.cummings is ridicuulous and yet also got banned from Oriole Hangout for not capitalizing fragments like "nope", I am as sensitive to abuse of the english language as Mr Hicks, but some folks just dont care how ignorant they appear. How many times have we all tried to correct Jack on his obsession with pre madonnas?

Matt -

You're a little off there, boss...

Adrian Beltre is having an off year because of injuries, but he's still playing most of the time because he's probably the best defensive third baseman in the American League.

Here's a look at the rest of the guys and their games started at third:

Mora: 109
Garrett Atkins: 70
Bill Hall: 51
Jack Hannahan: 65
Emilio Bonifacio: 82

Melvin Mora has basically been the Orioles full time starting third baseman, and he's started 27+ more games at third base than any of the inferior guys you mentioned. In all honesty, the Orioles haven't given any other player a lick of a chance to prove that he can play third base and put up better numbers than Mora.

And seriously, does it make you feel better that Mora is marginally better than five of the worst hitters in the game?

The fact is, Mora should have been gone after his outburst a few months ago. Sure, I have respect for his career. He was a career minor leaguer at 27 and he worked his butt off to become a solid everyday player for a six seasons. But he hit a wall this year and hasn't performed. And, in professional sports, if you can't perform, you're gone (or at least you should be).

"Adrian Beltre is having an off year because of injuries, but he's still playing most of the time because he's probably the best defensive third baseman in the American League."

True, that's why I stated offense. Mora's defense isn't the problem, it's his offense. He's still a good fielder.

"In all honesty, the Orioles haven't given any other player a lick of a chance to prove that he can play third base and put up better numbers than Mora."

Wiggy got a chance to play third. But Wiggy hasn't been able to hit this year(a bit better then Mora) and Mora is a much better fielder. The only other options were Bell(not ready for the majors) and Turner(a AAA second baseman) neither of which were on the forty-man roster until September.

"And seriously, does it make you feel better that Mora is marginally better than five of the worst hitters in the game?"

I was more trying to state that even though he's bad, he's probably not the worst offensive 3b this year let alone in forty years.

Look, it's probably the end for Mora. But he's still the best third baseman we have(even if he's terrible).


I disagree, the Orioles did not get good return, that is yet to be judged. What they got was a third baseman, that is not much of a fielder, that never played above double A and a pitcher that has never played above double A. I do love the fact that Dave Johnson's son is in the Orioles system, and I am rooting for hm to one day make it up to the Orioles. But you are taking a guy that was an all star last year, and most people in the NL say that Sherrill may be the best setup guy in the league now. Fact is he is a lefty that gets guys out from both sides of the plate,is way below the leagues average salary and is healthy.
Bell may never be a 3rd baseman in the majors, who knows how good he can be. Do you really want a third baseman playing for you that has a fielding percentage under 900.

I know plenty of guys that hit better than Bell in the minors that could not transition up because of fielding, hitting major league breaking pitches or simply could not keep up with the speed of the game at the MLB level.
With Sherrill at least you know he had success, plus he is only 32. You only have six or seven that are relief pitchers on a MLB roster, taking one away without a viable replacement translates either into another trade or going after a free agent, both will cost more.

Yes the guys I mentioned have zero value, it comes down to this, proven major league talent that throws from the left side and receiving potential in return. If Sherrill was 36 to 38, I would agree, but the fact is he would be under contract until 2012, with the worse thing happening he goes to Arbitration and gets a little more than the previous year.

"Having followed baseball for more than 40 years, I've never seen a third baseman with Mora's paltry production be allowed to stay in the lineup gane after game -- batting 5th nonetheless. 3 more LOBs last night"

How about the third baseman on the last team the Orioles won the world series with?.

Bell was nominated the best defensive 3rd baseman by Baseball America in the Southern League by midseason this year. Yes the defensive #s are poor, but errors are a terrible way to judge how good a defender a player is. The kid is raw, but to say his AA season is an indication of how he'll be as a 3rd baseman is a little premature. I think it's encouraging however he's shown the ability to work on areas he's considered weak and improve.


I know and it is amazing that he won anything on defense, but he did play a little better before coming to the Baysox. Also you do not know who they are comparing him to. He had a horrible time with the glove with the Baysox still struggles against lefties, have you seen his numbers or have you seen him in person? I hope it works out for him, but he is not MLB material yet. Maybe in two years, if everything aligns right.

Yes you kind of do judge by fielding percentage. How many balls you get to and get charged with an error. Sure there are guys that you can judge by range, but if you cannot stop the opposing team by making routine plays, you are a DH. Two years is a long time to wait, when you have a guy that needs to be replaced soon. So Bell is not the answer for 2010 and probably not 2011. So who will play third, who will play first, that is the question. ABBOTT!!!!

Anonymous -

Don't mess with Todd Cruz! A .199 average and a .552 OPS in 437 at bats is amazing(ly horrible...)!

Bobby -

I honestly didn't believe you about Bell's defense. I had to look it up. Here's the think in case anyone wants it:


You were only a few games off when you wrote the column in the begining of the season, that the Orioles end their season with Wieters hitting a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth (wait till next year is the cry from Oriole fans). Maybe you should take a trip to Vegas.

Sorry B, That was me, I forgot to type my info in. Todd Cruz was one of them, the others were not much better either, but good gloves..

His sample size with the Baysox is not large enough to make any kind of judgement. I know he's not going to be ready to help us soon (he's still only 22), that's what I was trying to get at, but that does not mean the Orioles shouldn't have traded Sherrill. That move wasn't about replacing Mora immediately, I think it was more about having some depth in the organization with respect to position players. It may turn out that ultimately Waring is the guy who replaces Mora, but at least the Orioles have options past any stop gap they may get during the offseason. Most analysts agree that if you have a chance to get young prospects for a 30-something reliever you make that move.

Melvin may be done, but everyone that is trying to run him out of town is really going to miss watching him get to every ball and make every play at 3rd base. Anybody watch Wiggington play over there? Yes I know he had one good game last week - he said "his muscles were loose" - are those muscles hanging over his belt?

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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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