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August 19, 2010

Orioles resurrection: Still a work in progress

It's pretty obvious that the Orioles are a better team today than they were two months ago, but they still do things that make you want to tear out your hair. Like a strange little span in the fifth inning of last night's game when Luke Scott and Adam Jones combined to get nine consecutive pitches out of the strike zone from Mariners starter David Pauley and swung at five of them.

Sure, it's easy to second-guess an at-bat from a distance, which is why I don't usually do that, but I was sitting in the stands behind the Orioles dugout, so I was seeing the plate from the same angle as Buck Showalter. Here's the situation:

The Orioles were down by three runs with Brian Roberts at second base and Scott ahead on the count 3-0. Though a walk would have gotten the potential tying run to the plate, Scott swung over the next two pitches -- both below the knees -- before grudgingly accepting a walk on a check-swing. Jones followed him to the plate and swung at three straight pitches down and apparently off the plate, finally pounding the last one into the ground and bouncing it weakly to short to end the inning.

Maybe I'm nit-picking, but it was pretty obvious that Pauley was up on the scouting reports and knew he didn't have to throw the ball in the strike zone to either of the Orioles' most aggressive hitters. The results speak for themselves.

The Orioles are showing a lot more plate discipline than they did earlier in the season, but not enough to avoid getting stifled on consecutive nights by somebody named Luke French and a pitcher (Pauley) who passed through the Orioles organization last year without making much of an impression.

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Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:00 AM | | Comments (43)


The party's over. This is still a team with huge weaknesses. Now we've got regression to the Angelos mean. Thirteen years of the Angelos mean. Rearrange the letters of his name and you get

The team is playing much better but the little things at the plate do drive you nuts. Isn't this where a hitting coach is supposed to be helping? The Crow has to go....

I don't think any of us thought that bringing Buck in was going to remedy all of the O's woes. On the whole the O's seem to be showing a little more discipline at the plate, but there is obviously a long way to go yet. The biggest obstacle standing between Jones and truly impressive career would seem to be his inability to lay off the low outside pitch. Poor plate discipline has been a long standing problem with this team, and I didn't expect Buck to solve it instantly, but there does seem to be some small improvement in that area. Hopefully it will continue to improve as the season wears on instead of getting worse.
In the past whatever progress the team may have shown during the season, it all falls apart and they play continually worse down the stretch. I am watching anxiously to see if Showalter can reverse that trend and the O's can at least hold on to what progress they've made so far, and maybe even show some improvement during a period when they have traditionally folded like a house of cards. Time will tell.

I've said it before. Adam Jones will not be a long term major league baseball player until he learns the strike zone. Crowley or anyone else can emphasize discipline, but the player who swings like Jones does, when we are 3 runs down, has no idea what he is doing at the plate. giles, york, pa

Thirteen years of the Angelos mean. Rearrange the letters of his name and you get LOSE NAG REPE(a)T.

Jake, are you a yogi? Because that is one hell of a reach you have there.

Gotta wonder if it's as simple as saying that it's all Terry Crowley's fault. I mean, hasn't the guy worked wonders with Felix Pie, and isn't Josh Bell showing marked improvement as well? Maybe there's something else going on here, as well.

Jones is an aggressive hitter, and he swings at crap a good bit of the time. So does Vladimir Guerrero--and so have probably countless forgotten ballplayers who never hit above .200. So Jones is in the middle. He's also hitting for better power and average than any time in his career. Sounds like a player in development, not a reason to fire the hitting coach.

That said, is it time for Crowley to go? Maybe so. Buck will decide. It's time for there to be more consistency in terms of plate discipline among the batters at the major league level. But we should remember that everyone was calling for Crowley's head at the start of the season... and then over the last two weeks, for example (before French and Pauley), all was quiet on the anti-Crow front.

Wayne, still waiting for you to copy and paste those links to back up your Schmuck spin.

Here's that link again:

O's are more interesting and will continue to develop, but......... in the AL East you have to get around two of NY, Boston and Tampa Bay...... not a situation that instills hope.

Greetings Pete, Like you, I was at the Stadium last night as I have one of those 13 game plans. I agree with you on the frustration thing. And when you watch this team play, you recognize that we are still weak in talent (espically on offense) and are required to play a perfect baseball game every night to win, as there is no margin for error. How maddening is it to see Guthrie give back those 3 runs when the O's had attempted to get some momentum in the bottom of the first. And the 3 run homer was the same pitch, in the same location that Matt Tui... hit the night before. I mean come on, what was Guthrie thinking. Oh, wait that is the point... he wasn't. There are so many little moments in this game when the Orioles simply did not execute/ and had some bad luck. (amazing catch in left field off Weiters, which Matt Tui...will NEVER make another catch like that in his career). There is just no margin for error, even against a team that is as "weak" as the Mariners. They seem to have responded to Buck pretty well, but the lack of talent shows up too often. Last year about this time, I started calling for Trembley to be let go as he proved to anyone watching, he was NOT major league manager material. Now the dugout cleansing has to be completed. They said on the post game show how many times an "unhearlded" pitcher has given this team trouble over the last 7 years the first time we see him. Time to let Mr Crowley walk off into a much deserved retirement. The hitting coach should be helping these guys prepare a game plan against a never before seen pitcher. There are a number of talented hitters here, but who on this team is hitting over .290??? Mr Kranitz has also outlived his usefullness. We continue to see young pitchers go to Norfolk, get thier stuff together, come back to Baltimore, give one good outing followed by a series of head scratching-ly bad ones. All I am saying is sports is a results based enterprise and these guys are not generating the desired results. Nice guys all, I am sure. Bring out the big dugout broom!!!!

Only the most weird would think the Orioles would continue to win 10 out of 14 under Showalter. We all knew they would come back to earth, it's not a big deal. Even with the new manager and a new attitude, they are still an under 500 team, until they can unlearn bad old habits and learn good new ones. That being said, it's not like they were blown out the past week. They played a top contender pretty much even on the contender's home turf and then they played a more evenly matched team tooth and nail and lost the rubber game by a run. If Tuiasasopo doesn't make that catch, we're talking about another series win. Things happen.

Partly what makes Jones a potentially devastating hitter is also what makes him a maddeningly exasperating one. He's aggressive, but falls into ruts where he swings at everything. When he lays off the pitchers pitches, he's awesome. When he doesn't, well......
He's not unlike hundreds of big league hitters over the years. Only so many Ted Williamses, Wade Boggses, Don Mattinglys, or Mark Graces to go around, you know.

Right now, Buck is setting in place his expectations for the next three years. This is all evaluations and looksees, time to see what habits the players have fallen in to, and time to see if they can pull themselves out of it. I want to see how this team reacts after losing five of seven, do they work to fix things or keep falling further into bad habits? Those that keep falling into their old ways will soon see themselves falling to another club, that's what Buck wants to weed out.

Even the best teams lose 60 or 65 games over a year, this isn't football or basketball where you can win 80 percent of your games. So no one can expect any team to play at a high level every night. We just don't want them playing at the low level we've all grown accustomed to seeing.

Even Adam Jones has shown better discipline at the plate...and cut down on his strike outs, I think he was at 93 10 games ago. The guy's on a good career track...similar to Torii Hunter in his 1st three years. So the jury's still out.

NOBODY on the Os should have the green light 3-0...nobody's that disciplined.

The Os have huge weaknesses that Buck cant cover up. However, there are a lot of things they are doing better.

Jones before Buck: 91 K's, 15 BB's

Jones with Buck: 6 K's, 5 BB's

He's already got a third of his Before Buck season total walks in just 16 games, and the ratio is infinitely better.

Sure, Jonesy will have at bats like the one in question. He's agressive and there were men on base, so he went up hacking and went down hacking. Only experience and a better understanding of how to be effectively agressive will change what he does in those situations.

Jones - he IS getting better, but the SUPER STAR tag will not be his until he can control his irrisistable urge to swing at those worm burners. Like most addicts and he IS one for that pitch....he will from time to time FALL OFF THE WAGON and go back to swinging at them. Something in him just can NOT help itself! Now - did anyone else notice old LUGO half heartingly JOG to first on his bunt. The pitcher was choking on the throw and it could have been much closer and a little MORE choke and would have cost us an out and baserunner!! I gotta believe and PRAY that Buck SURE did notice and will correct THAT immediately!! Finally I like Ben McDonald but for 2 nights he called WiGGington...WiTTington. Surely he can see those big letters with the 2 GG's on the back of his uniform and wouldn't you think that his braodcast partners would mention it to him AFTER hearing him say his name wrong over a dozen times the night before??? WTF??

Pete -

Buck's been clear that he wanted this team to be the aggressor. He's given Luke the green light on 3-0 every time. So it's not surprising he swung at the two balls. I would place this AB under Buck being aggressive.

Jones still hasn't learned how to lay off the low outside pitchaes, mostly breaking balls. It's his biggest weakness at the plate. This is a Crowley and Jones issue.

Point taken, but maybe it is a bit nit-picky, especially considering these two are hitting the ball best on our team.

I think what's more concerning is that Pauley threw 101 pitches, 41 balls. How does Pauley get 4 innings of 3 up 3 down? Shouldn't OUR scouts know much much more about how to defeat Pauley than their scouts know how to pitch to us? Either the org dropped the ball on letting Pauley go (doubtful), or our scouts failed in properly preparing for this pitcher.

Shoreman, what about Vladimir Guerrero? I'm not saying that Jones is as good a hitter, but don't you think Vlad counts as a significant star? He swings at *terrible* pitches.

I'm not sure that 100% perfect plate discipline is a prerequisite for stardom. There's something to be said for aggressiveness, as proven by Jones' increasing power at the plate *and* his decent batting average... wouldn't you say so?

I'm also not sure that earning a "Super Star tag" should be his primary motive at the plate, either....

Two observations: first, later in the game, Jones and Pie were also swinging at pitches over their shoulders so the plate discipline in those at bats was worse than terrible. Jones could have walked when they needed runners.

Second and more important, all of the Os have apparently been told to always take the first pitch and they do so 90% of the time. It is obvious that the opponents know this because they continually throw fat pitches right down the middle, belt high and get ahead of the hitters probably 2/3 of the time. This is maddening to watch. Has anyone else noticed this but the opponents and I?

Folks - Remember what Buck said the last two months of the season were going to be?

A time for evaluation. So quit looking for a quick fix.

The ship's been turned in the right direction, but still needs to get a strong wind beneath its sails. Give it time.

'Still a work in progress'? And when did they stop?

Looks to me like they just lost 2 of 3 to the Mariners..... The Mariners......


Buck needs to see this. He needs to see how horrible this team really is. He got the spark a team sometimes gives a new manager..... Now though, he needs to see this bunch for what the are.... You know... The bunch that can't hit and can't pitch (look it up apologist).

2 of 3 to Seattle? lol

Come on Buck... don't let us down. Take over player personnel. THAT's our only chance.

AM Move Over - Buck's Starting Over

The O's are definitely a work in progress and Showalter will clearly see what needs to be addressed from here on in. None of us are fooled by that recent 'hot' streak. I fully expected us to struggle against the 2 journeymen the Mariners threw out there because that's what inconsistent/bad teams do.
These next 35 games or so will allow Buck to make some roster/player calls and hopefully, MacPhail will listen/give him some authority in this regard.
I can only hope that Buck will see that guys like Albers, Gaimbino, Hendrickson, Lugo don't fit into the 'plan' and they are sent packing.
He has likely already realized that the '11 O's must have a decent 1B, 3B and a power bat like a Dunn who can either DH.
We are also pretty thin in middle relief and need at least 1 or 2 more solid starters.
There is also room for the 'core'guys like Jones, Weiters etc to improve and I'm sure Showalter knows that he's going to have his work cut out for him when they keep making the same mistakes over and over.


From a different subject...I get the whole mentoring thing. I get that was the hope for Millwood. I'll contend however that even the mentoring has been a total bust.

You mention showing the young guys how to prepare for a game. Really?

Do you really want the developing players watching his preparation and pre-game routines?

How many times has this guy given up runs in the 1st inning? Often multiple runs. I believe you've even commented on such yourself.

In other words....... Accept for his last outing), I can only hope his mentoring consist ONLY of.....

Do As I Say - Not As I Do.

Thanks Kevin. Now take your 9 million from the O's and please go mentor somewhere else.

not brooks. Good post re: the lack of run support provided for the entire staff.
I think most of us expected the offense to be better and hopefully, with the latest series of ineptitude against journeymen starters, Buck will have the input/authority to convince MacPhail to get us some more bats!
As far as Millwood, he has pitched some good ones and some equally brutal ones. I kind of expected him to be 'more in between' but didn't expect the wild swings in performance.
He's no ace at this point and I'm sure he'll even agree. He definitely could have won a few more games and as to how much positive effect he had on the 'young starters',who knows? I suppose some are so focused on themselves that they could really care less and others may marvel at how he even gets through 6 innings with the borderline stuff he throws!
Overall, I'd give MacPhail a pass on this move as Millwood did muchof what was expected,except for that brutal stretch and he exceeded the performances of such past illiminaries as Cabrera, Olsen,Ortiz. He was paid major $$ but that's not his fault and he won't be around next year anyway.

After all these losing seasons yu can no longer call the Orioles a work in progress but rather a failiure.

words to remember.

"Hold,!" -- Buck

"Don't covet they neighbor." -- Buck

"A nugget here, a nugget there" -- Buck

"Don't over look a Orchid when looking for a Rose."

Seems a little dubious that Buck is going to be "re-creating" the 25 man substantially.

That writing is on the wall. This is the team.

Pete...I'm not disputing you, as Scott and Jones looked bad on a couple of those swings.

But as Thorne mentioned, the O's had done their scouting on Pauley as well and the 3-0 and 3-1 pitches Scott swung at were sure fastball counts...and Pauley came in both times with fantastic change ups.

I'm not trying to defend poor plate discipline and it's still an issue...but Pauley threw a couple unexpected off-speed pitches there and got them EXACTLY where he needed to. Kudos to him.

Resurrection at work- yes.. We got our manager of the future.. We got Baltimore back on the road jerseys.. Now let's bring back the cartoon bird on the hats for next year... Spring Training '11 is just around the corner...

i still think adam jones needs a ride back to norfolk for a reality check.he acts like he thinks he knows more than the coaches. so a ride down south just might be the ticket

Christopher-thanks for your comments. You have an understanding of the game.

Management/ownership/decision=makers have failed for years. The franchise needs adult leadership.

I agree completely. Pauley looked like a batting practice pitcher last night but he was good enough to beat the O's. I'm hoping that Showalter is smart enough to bring in a good hitting coach, someone like Eddie Murray. You know, someone who could actually HIT when he played the game.

paulie, do you realize how much you come across as a complete dork? Yeah, these guys are right on the verge of exploding. Man, you're so on top of things. What a loser

Some of these guys will be identified as as the missing links to a championship team, Keep evaluating them Mr. Showalter. The Birds are going to be revived and the guys who make the cut will reap the rewards!!!!


Seems like you have a problem with Buck...dunno how I have anything to do it.

Thanks for being mature.

Any statement or writing by the clueless "SCHMUCK" is, without any measure of judgement an ommission of knowledge and a major statement of unknown knowledge of REAL information. Keep of the stupid dribble SCHMUCK you should move your office to the old "BUCKET OF BLOOD".







Win or lose the O's are fun to watch. What a change a manager makes! What a concept huh?

Now I tune in just to watch Buck's press conferences. I used to flip the channel when Trembley got on. That guy was a clown.

Wiggy wanting to start a fight would have never happened under Trembley. This team didn't have a pulse under that clown.

Did Buck give Adam the stare when he slapped his butt?

How 'bout the kid pitching a great game? I know, I know, he's been terrible. Inconsistency is what you get with young pitchers. He's got the talent, no doubt. He silenced some very prolific bats tonight.

Great game! That actually looked like a professional baseball team.

Matusz sure looked good, too. It'll be a great day when he can string together some starts like that. For the time being, pitching 8 innings of shutout ball against one of the hottest offensive lineups in baseball will have to do.

Anyone up for some recent Matusz-bashing greatest hits? (Wayne, here's a decent example of copying and pasting, buddy!)

For your enjoyment:

[Matusz is] a Diva who's getting his ass handed to him. […]
But look - Matuzs and Tillman stink. Maybe they'll be good one day, but that's something you can say about dozens of young pitchers around the league. Young pitchers who we'd love to have instead of these over hyped batting practice hurlers.

Posted by: bf | August 15, 2010 10:46 AM

Hellickson is 23, and I already would take him over Matuzs 10 times out of 10.

Posted by: bf | August 15, 2010 5:08 PM

You can have your logic. Of the young pitchers, who can get it done and who can't/doesn't?
Draft positions, innings pitched...... All BS. Who can pitch? How about the eyeball test? You saw 2 pitchers today. One had a clue. One is major league ready. One just pitches.
The other is Matuzs
Posted by: bf | August 15, 2010 6:51 PM

Hey [Birdfan], No need to be Strasburg. But how about Hellickson? Or pick any number of so called 'kids' around baseball.
How come the 'kid' pitchers Andy brought in have sucked so far? Perspective? You clearly don't know the meaning of the word.
Posted by: They Are Who We Thought They Were | August 15, 2010 9:06 PM

[Matusz] should have been pitching in AAA this year. Hey Meso, for every kid that has learned how to pitch at the major league level, I'll show you dozens who have been swallowed by the experience. Matuzs and Tillman have been a joke.

Posted by: bf | August 16, 2010 12:21 PM

Amazing game by Mat tonight...... And that Buck allowed him to go 115 pitches this deep into the season? Fantastic.


It's certainly your right to copy and paste comments by bf. Only thing is though, if folks did the same for every apologist who has been wrong this year, I believe Pete's Blog would crash from overload.


Great post.....

AM Move Over - Buck's Starting Over



That felt great didn't it. Well done sir.

best comment by Buck.

when asked about pitch counts.

"...ugh, you know...pitch counts and and doing the addition gets complicated..."

I know what he means, and I like what he's saying, but that didn't come out well.

Until Buck gets his people in here which he will, he's really just in a monitoring phase, as well as a teaching phase. When he has his staff, it will be easier to see who is improving and who isn't.

I will say this, Buck's ST isn't going to be the hug-a-thon like Captain David T. Kirk's camp. Buck wants some big, strong, hairy men not guys who write essays on how their summer vacation went. I never thought the O's were prepared for the grind of a 162 game schedule under Dave. They will be under Buck or they wont be here.

We must not forget I had previously predicted the Orioles demise ever since PA took over this rotting carcass. Until we develop the best players and sign the best players and scout the best players.....

we wont be the best

Thanks for crapping in the punch bowl Wayne...


That wasn't me... Just another impostor... But, it's just a blog so it doesn't bother me

Buck has done very well so far, but, I won't be completely convinced until he gets Angelos to spend and its pretty safe to say all Orioles Fans feel this way. The Rangers are in a financial situation and there is a guy named Hamilton that would fit nicely into our lineup. Buck was in that Rangers situation and he may well know just what to do.

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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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