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August 29, 2010

O's: August and everything after

Obviously, I'm on board with whatever is going on with the Orioles. Buck Showalter is 15-10 and the team is guaranteed it's first winning month since June of 2008. That's not a coincidence.

I'm still scratching my head, however, trying to figure out what's going on with these pitchers. I doubt anyone would contend that Buck's arrival had much effect on Kevin Millwood, who has been all over the map the past two months, but he sure pitched great last night. I can see where the environment Showalter creates could have a positive effect on the young pitchers, but we're still talking about what I like to call his "intangible leadership quality." You can feel the difference, but you can't really put your finger on it.

Of course, the real test is ahead. The Orioles have played quite well this month -- particularly in relation to the last few years -- but their margin over .500 under Buck is exactly equal to their 5-0 record against the reeling Angels. I'm not taking anything away from the O's in that regard, because they are a major reason the Angels have been reeling, but they won't find many soft spots in the September schedule.

I'll be interested to see how Showalter balances the need to look at some of the September roster additions and the desire to keep winning and head toward 2011 with some renewed confidence on the part of both the players and the fans.

What about you? Do you care more about the Orioles avoiding 100 losses or their manager getting the best possible feel for the team's overall depth going into a critical offseason?



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Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:46 AM | | Comments (51)
        

Comments

His intangible leadership quality has a lot to do with being chosen by MacPhail and having a mandate of authority, not simply being someone MacPhail inherited and partially kept because everyone was comfortable with him.

What's the difference? Well, for one, the talk about being held accountable is just lip service, unless the one talking has the real authority to get rid of the players they don't want. I don't think Trembley ever really had that kind of leverage to pick and choose which players needed to stay and which should go, because his own job security was always so tentative. And, on some level, I think the some players knew that, not necessarily that they'd take advantage, but enough for them to know that the bare minimum of professionalism was enough to garuantee being protected by the manager when they struggled. The only player Trembley had a hand in getting rid of was Mora, but by that time, Mora was already nearing his exit contractually, and declining in production anyways. Trembley was always placed in a position that encouraged timidity when it came to the better young promising players. I think Showalter has enough of a rebuilding track record (which includes the nucleus that they play often in the Yankees) that such Bonus Babies realize that they aren't more important than the longterm plan.

Pete,

You are right the August part of the 2010 Oriole schedule is soft - only 4 games against American League East teams. But the September part of the schedule is all against American League East opponents and the Detriot Tigers. If they can play .500 ball in September then the outlook for next year will have some promise.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I didn't really say that August was soft. When the month started, there were 20+ games against teams that were in first or second place.

between the "Orioles avoiding 100 losses or their manager getting the best possible feel [etc]" I have to go with the mix that Buck thinks is best. Avoiding 100 losses doesn't mean much, but winning is better than losing and the best possible preparation for winning next year is winning now. I can't pretend I wouldn't enjoy seeing a second consecutive winning month, but if it isn't in the cards, so be it.

I believe Buck will be able to balance winning in September and taking a look at who will be here next year and beyond.
I don't think he should shut any starting pitchers down, but I think he will spead the rotation out to see some of the called-up farm hands "on line and real time" against MLB American League East competition.
Ken

Not trying to undermine the Showalter affect, but August is the weakest month of the schedule plus the roster is almost 100% healthy with Roberts back. I don't care about the 100 loss mark, doesn't matter at this point. I just want to see the team and the young guys progress.

I think personnel evaluation during September is more critical than record.

I think the players having to play at a higher level of scrutiny with a new manager sets the tone for next year.

He's already seen enough of the existing 25 man roster to know what needs to be addressed with them.

I still feel Britton should be part of the roster expansion to give him exposure to the big leagues. He has adequately proven himselft this year at AA and AAA so let's see how he does at the next level. If he encounters some humility; maybe, that enables some off-season motivation.

Pete, there is no coincidence in the club doing better since Buck Showalter got here.

Goes to prove that a little B.S. can go a long way.

Pete,

I posted a question to yesterday's blog, "O's Dissecting Bergesen" whch did not appear.

My question to you is: do you believe the O's should attempt to sign a free agent starting pitcher this off-season?

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Yes, preferably Cliff Lee, though that's probably a fantasy. Don't know why your post didn't go up. I didn't do anything on this end to stop it.

August schedule "soft"?? Hey, we're the worst team in the league so it's all relative. I would prefer "least difficult".

In any case, a win today gives us a winning record for the season against the AL West and we're only 3.5 games behind the Mariners.

When do they start rotating teams among the divisions?

Intangibles aside, Buck is known for his detail orientation. Pretty handy characteristic when evaluating opponent shortcomings...Surely, this is a major contributor to why the team looks, and plays, much differently than previous years.

I think the O's need the keep the winning momentum going!

Play the regulars against the AL East, if just for the integrity of the game; and the players they want to look at against the Tigers.

At this point, I really don't care if they lose 100 games or more. It's not that I want to see the team tank, but at the same time, I don't want them to overperform and bring a sense of false promise.

The bottom line is there are too many issues the Orioles need to address going into the offseason. If AM tries to justify two months of decent baseball to keep the current course, it's going to be more of the same thing next year.

I'm on board with the current winning baseball too. But if anyone thinks the recent brief success is an indicator that the O's are on the right track, that is just being naive.

I don't care or expect them to have a winning september.. Just do not totally collapse like the last couple years.. Here goes my prediction for sept. callup.. Tillman, Patton, Reimold, Andino, Sarfate,and maybe Mahoney, and/or Hoey or Beato from AA. I suspect Guthrie, Tillman, or Arrietta, might be traded for a power hitter 1B or SS.. I would consider resigning wigginton if there are doubts about Bell being ready or resigning Izturis at SS for another year..

PETE, The chances are very slim but if the orioles could sign a top starter here or like YU Darvish of japan would you expect them to use a young starter like Tillman to get a power bat..I would choose Tillman over Britton or the others because he is a fly ball pitcher and that is not always good at camden yards.. Bergensen, Matusz, And Britton all pitch down with sinking action more..

Pete,

You are right the August part of the 2010 Oriole schedule is soft - only 4 games against American League East teams. But the September part of the schedule is all against American League East opponents and the Detriot Tigers. If they can play .500 ball in September then the outlook for next year will have some promise.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I didn't really say that August was soft. When the month started, there were 20+ games against teams that were in first or second place.

Posted by: Wbalfan99 | August 29, 2010 12:47 PM


Soft was a bad chioce of words. But what I meant is for the past couple of years, the American League East teams have been the toughest teams for the Orioles to beat.

I am content to leave that decision in Buck's hands. He's the one getting paid to make just such decisions and I trust his judgment, but it's pretty hard to argue that winning every single game is of vital importance now. Both Trembley and Samuel managed each game like it was Game 7 and look where that kind of thinking got us. Buck will give some of the youngsters a chance to show off what they can do and he'll expect them to perform as good as the man they're replacing. Considering that there really aren't any superstars on this team to replace, I think most of them will, so I really think it's a bit of a false choice. I will be satisfied if they continue to play good solid baseball down the stretch. I also happen to believe that if they do that they have a very good shot at avoiding 100 losses. We'll see won't we?

Pete,

BS (nice huh) needs to evaluate what he has going into the offseason, AM needs to listen and they both need to help PA find his checkbook. Using Aug 2010 as a barometer is not the answer, they need to target which, 3B, 1B, DH and SS will improve this club. Maybe they already have someone as good as they can get, but a real "Plan" needs to be put into place, and I would prefer it be BS plan than the AM Plan which has been pathetic at best.

The truth will set you free!

It is nice to see the team actually competing. Its amazing what happens when you actually try.

Still, the team needs a major bat in the lineup and a veteran in the rotation. Anything less dooms us to another 90+ loss season next year. Two solid veteran signings along with some progression (and not regression) of our young pitching will help tremendously.

AM
Move
Over

Buck's
Taking
Over

Another beauty by Guthrie, this is starting to be fun again!

back to back shutouts on the road in late August?!?!?

We finish w/ a winning record vs the west?!?!?

(ok 11-37 vs the east )

I was wondering how long it would take our trolls to rebound after being silenced by Millwood's brilliant performance last night...

Stunning starting pitching these days. Guthrie... brilliant. Wow. And for the O's to win against Jered Weaver, the strikeout machine... just wonderful. Does September really have to start? Can't we extend August a few more weeks?

Winning is always important. Sure, 100 losses or 97 losses or 103 losses are all signs of a bad season, but the young guys need to feel what it's like to win, the potential free agents need to see that the team is moving in the positive direction, and the fan base needs to be given a sense of hope springing eternal for 2011.

BTW, does anybody know the last time the Oriole pitching staff threw 26 consecutive scoreless innings, at home or on the road? (and think, the only run the Angels scored in three games was on a balk, a phantom balk at that. Wow!

Jeremy Guthrie!!!

I love that they didn't back in with a 2-3 finish to clinch a winning month...

btw- I called the last two outs. It was pretty eerie. I said strike out to Abreu and pop up on the first pitch to Hunter.

For my next trick, I will balance this '86 Buick Regale on my chin. Music please!

I think the unwritten story is about the coaching staff stepping up and coaching 'em up to their potential.

The end of speculating who was going to be the manager refocused them on their jobs and doing what it takes to keep those jobs. Dave was much too lenient of his lieutenants and it showed every time a fundamental mistake was committed repeatedly.

Buck has everybody executing their functions crisply and we are seeing things like more team at bats in a week than we did the entire season under Trembley.

do we have any hope of not breaking the record for worst intra-divisional winning % since 1994? The tigers were 24-52 vs the central in '03. that may not be the worst since 94 but it's gotta be close. oh wait, we were 22-50 vs the east in '08

A winning record for the month of August and the pitching has improved.
Personally I like to see the team avoid 100 losses they need to end the season on a positive note if at all possible.

I do find it interesting that some of those that had posted act as if this month has been a mirage by pointing out the return of Roberts and Pie as a advantage the other managers didn't have. Fair enough, but the last time I checked they don't take the mound and that to me has been the biggest area of improvement since the arrival of Buck.

Granted their is still alot of room for improvement with this team, but at least this is a step forward one I think that alot of folks though was going to happen at the beginning of the season, but took till August and a third manager this year to finally start to manifest itself.

I don't think there are that many players we need to see. Britton and Reimold are the guys that need to be seen. Neither has to be full-time or even regular. 2 starts for Britton and 15 ABs for Reimold would be great.

The O's need to win. I am more and more convinced that we need to sign 2 starters in the off-season. The last several years we start with maybe 5 major league starters. Between injuries and unexpected in-effectiveness that is never enough. I think we need 6 starters for next year...

I'd like to see them keep winning. Winning breeds winning and, of course, losing breeds losing. Besides, if they put up a winning September, those players are probably the "nuggets" Buck will want to keep.

Off the subject, just wondering if someone else has noticed this. I know it isn't about the O's, but I'm curious as a baseball fan about this. Torii Hunter has made some terrible base running mistakes against us. He tried to steal third in the ninth inning of one of the OPACY games. Wieters threw him out easily. Then, in that game Saturday night, he tried to tag up and advance to third on a fly to medium left. Again, he's thrown out easily. And then, in the ninth, he got doubled off first on a routine fly to right.

How does an All Star like Hunter make such terrible decisions? Just wonderin'.

Reimold with 2 hits today gets his avg up to 250 after just a dreadful run in a season he'd rather forget

and don't look now, but former 2nd round pick 20 yr old Xavier Avery is having himself a real nice year between high A ball and now Bowie.Excellent speed, good D, 280 avg, and he's starting to develop some power.Let's keep that kid on the right track.
Be nice to have a home grown version of Carl Crawford in an Os uniform...

Interesting point about Tori Hunter "Stretch" I wonder if this all started with his move to right field. I ave read that he was not happy about that.

Who knows??

I would like to see the Orioles grab a starter to take the place of Millwood, and dare we ask for a 1'st baseman who can hit for power.

Good to see Reimhold hitting again , but I can't help but wonder what his long term future will be with the team or if his recent improvement makes him off season trade bait.

Way to weave in a Counting Crows reference in an article about the Birds. Is it "Raining in Baltimore"?

I think that Buck's main virtue is not in any intangible leadership aura, but rather in the fact that he has been given because of circumstances unquestioned authority over the team. It's something that Trembley never enjoyed, especially after the 2-16 start. That, and the return of several injured players, is the only real key.

O, and I think the Orioles should stress player evaluation this September. If they get their brains beaten in while doing this, that shows how good (or not good) their players are. It's not really an either/or situation.

Like Pete said, I don't get it.... When Showalter comes on the scene all of a sudden all our pitchers are able to go 2 or 3 innings further than they ever went before. Pre Showalter? We were lucky if a starter got to the 6th inning. Now? It seems like they always get to the 7th or 8th. What's changed?

I know one thing.... I've now got a budding sense of hope....

Here's my theory on why the team is playing so much better under Buck.

Trembley was a life-long minor league coach and manager. He did that job well, otherwise he wouldn't have lasted that long, but it's all he knew. So despite the fact that he said he was going to change up here (e.g. over the last off-season), he never did. Old habits die hard. He was presented with a team of young players and never could break out of the development mindset.

Buck Showalter on the other hand is a major league manager. He treats the players as professional major league ballplayers, not prospects. They're not here solely to learn, they're here to win. Pitchers don't get removed just because the go-ahead run comes to the plate and the manager doesn't want them to possibly take the loss. Bullpen matchups aren't played to death just because someone hasn't pitched in a while. The lineup isn't completely different every single day.

It's amazing the difference between, "You're here to develop and learn," and, "You're here to beat the team in the other dugout today."

As Herman Edwards would remind us, "You PLAY to WIN the GAME!"

Pete - For me it's playing to win, playing like they're still in the playoff picture, and I think that's how Buck's going to approach it.

Sure there will be some opportunities for the September callups, but I think he'll wait until spring for a fuller evaluation of those not on the 25-man roster.

There may be a few exceptions, such as Nolan Reimold and Chris Tillman, who started with the team in April, but overall I think it's more important to Buck to get this team to where it develops some confidence going head-to-head with the Beasts of the East going into next year and September is the perfect opportunity to start ditching the losers' mentality.

Nice post jeffChill,


AM Move Over - Buck's Taking Over..

Good post jeffChill.

I do seem to recall though that Earl Weaver never mananged on the major league level before he took over the Orioles. So unlike Trembley he was able to adapt.
In addition though I suspect as an earlier post suggested that Buck has a greater level of authority and akin to Earl Weaver has so to speak put the fear of God in the team and they now realize that with poor play there not only will be a response during the game and in the course of the season but after the season as well.

A manager doesn't make a difference right? Nobody can win with these players, right? Tony Larussa cannot win this team, right? Well, maybe, but Buck "Da Man" Showalter can.

They have a T-Shirt night for Buck for Pete's sake. Has that ever happened before? Anywhere in Baseball?


How many times this year did we hear excuses like: It's tough to compete when some of your best players, e.g Brob and Jones are hurt? Well Brob and Jones were out, and they still beat a good baseball team in their own home. Humiliated them. Swept the pants out of them. Just manhandled them! I don't care how the Angels are "struggling". Buck has a swept a Mike Scioscia managed team TWICE. That's no small accomplishment. And doing it with nobodies.

Buck for President!

I agree tired of hearing how Buck is winning because he has B Roberts back. Okay as I have and others have posted look at the pitching the startes are going late into the game for the most part. How in the devil does the return of Brian Roberts affect that. Felix Pie and Adam Jones defense has improved and by the Pie was back a few weeks before Buck came on and the team was still limping along .
Gosh that must means Brian Roberts is the elixier for all the Orioles problems that existed prior to August.
Without doubt Brians' return has helped to some degree but having a manager that demands results from his players I suspect in the end has been more of the reason than the return of one player.

I see our old Left Handed Specialist
AKA Will Ohman blew another game for the Marlins.... hehehehehe

Helped the Marlins Implode by blowing a 5 run lead. Yes Sir!

Left Handed Specialist.......whatever!

Pete:

There is a different attitude with the team that wasn't there before. In addition, the younger staff members are experiencing what it takes to win...if you score 2, you can only give up one.

Showalter is no nonsense and frankly those before him allowed too much of that. He's also showing all of them how much preparation it takes to win and I doubt many of them have seen that before either.

I'd like to see them, as my son says 'play well' the rest of the year meaning I can live with losses if they don't beat themselves...we'll draft higher next June that way.

I also suspect Buck will have a real good feel about who has what it takes to win and who doesn't by the end of the year...if I were Adam Jones and the bulk of the guys in the bullpen, I'd be concerned.

Let's face it...no one could have possibly predicted that big an August turn-around regardless of who they were playing...besides, you play .500 ball against contenders and feast on the also-rans to make the playoffs.

This is also, BY FAR, the most I have watched them play this time of year for a long time.

Hey Eddie in NYC, McFail did not choose Buck, he chose Eric Wedge, and was overruled, thank GHOD!

Welcome back smittaroo...

AMMO - BISO

@ Bernard in SC

I totally agree with you on the BRob theory that Buck is winning because Brian is back (no pun). Brian has been rusty as expected and wasn't a part of the sweep this weekend. People are just looking to make excuses. The truth is there is a reason why teams like the Twins and Rays keep winning against the big boys and it's because they both have very good managers who doesn't take any crap. There was zero accountability when Dave was here and Juan was pulling SP's out of the game in the 4th inning so now it's pretty much the players are on the line.

Jeremy was great! Best game he's pitched this year and maybe ever. I love Koji as the closer and he looks like he is psyched to be the closer so I know Andy took a lot of sh*t for tats signing, but the guy is very good when healthy and maybe he has found his true role?

Anyone else love the jabs between Brady and Palmer? I was waiting for Jim to say something when Brady talked about how he was so prepared the year he smashed 50 HR's, but couldn't figure out why he couldn't replicate it. Palmer didn't bite. I enjoyed the banter, but hands down Boddicker is the best of any of the announcers the O's have used this season. Great voice, great insight and a good sense of humor. IMHO, Hunter actually has a good give and take with him so that's saying a lot about Mike.

I know it's not necessarily the same posters (and radio callers), but I am almost to my grey matter scratching my head on this -- complaints on Markakis (who is having a down year compared to Markakis of yore) and the Orioles winning because of the return of a .260 hitter (Roberts).

Carl Yastrzemski batted .255 in 1969 and .254 in 1971 when he was 29 and 31, respectively even though he batted .285 lifetime through 1983 (age 43). Yaz only had one more year of more than 25 HRs (28 in '77) after hitting at least 40 three times between 1967 and 1970. And he was a HR hitter, something Markakis (only 26) hasn't really been yet.

Roberts batted .250 for Trembley/Samuel and both had better win-loss records this year without him than with him. Roberts' batting average for 2010 was .246 after his 20th game under Showalter (12-8 at the time). His batting average only rose to .260 in the next four games, and the Orioles were 2-2 in that stretch. [Stats through Aug. 27]

Showalter has shown confidence in his starters without showing fear of using his bullpen. His use of the bullpen also makes greater sense than his push-button predecessors. His line-ups also make more sense.

In a word, Showalter has instilled accountability.

When Brian Billick came to Baltimore, he impressed on the entire organization that already had some pro-bowlers on the roster that no matter how good you are at what you do -- front office included -- you are only as good as the team. That meant even the secretaries were 6-10 when he arrived.

One can only hope that message is sinking in from Showalter as well. Even Roberts who is getting way too much credit has been more useful even if the raw numbers remain ho-hum. After no RBIs under Trembley/Samuel in 11 games, he had 10 through 24 games under Showalter. Roberts' walk-strike out ratio went from 2-7 to 14-11.

The biggest difference with Showalter is his handling of the pitchers. The Orioles were 14-10 under Showalter through August 27. Fifteen (7-8) of those games happened with the Orioles scoring four runs or less.

No doubt, the pitchers are pitching much better. The stats don't even include the last two games including Guthrie's masterpiece yesterday. At the same time, does anyone in their right mind believe Trembley would have handled yesterday's game the same way?

The roster is still plenty short in different areas of talent. It is nice to see players put in a position to succeed, however. They don't always do it. But they are given the chance -- and the responsibility -- to do it.

As for avoiding 100 losses, I would like to see the Orioles avoid their 84th loss. Of course, it is not realistic. Until an 84 is actually in the loss column, that's how I feel. Thank goodness, the team finally seems to have the same mindset. That's a start.

Re: Meso's 10:24PM post.

You're right, that sweep in LA has nothing to do with a struggling Angels team--it's entirely about Buck Showalter. We shouldn't need to pick up any new ballplayers this offseason since magical Buck can win with "nobodies". Maybe we should even release Adam Jones and Brian Roberts since Buck can win without them. We should also keep Millwood, because Buck has made him so incredible ever since he showed up. Hmmm...

Look, I'm thrilled that the O's play better under Showalter. I'm thrilled they swept the Angels in the season series. But for goodness sake, could folks like you and wayne be consistent with your criticism (minus the accusations of harboring racism, please, wayne)?

When the 1970 Orioles Championship team visited back in late-June there was an interview with Earl, Palmer, Frank, Brooks, Davey, & Blair which is sooooo important. This interview made a lot of folks stand up and take notice because all the real truth about what has been going on with this franchise over more than a decade was brought out into the open. What Paul Blair said was most appropriate "No Leadership, No Structure, and the Orioles wiil continue to lose unless there is a change. Well, change has finnally arrived with Buck Showalter, we now have Leadership and Structure and with it a long term plan. Success just don't happen by coincidence, "Success is Planned". This team plays with confidence just like the Hank Bauer, Earl Weaver, & Joe Altobelli teams did. They now have direction thats "for real". Respectability is returning to this franchise, "The Buck Stops Here", "Believe".

BB,

How can you not put your finger on one guy, Buck Showalter? This is the same team that Trembley had for 3 years that sucked monkey you know what(s). Buck has a winning month. When was the last time that happened? These are the same "talentless" players that could not win with "a good manager" like Dave Trembley.

So yeah, this team was losing because Dave Trembley sucked monkey you know what(s). We've said it all along, for years now. You and others who wanted to keep Trembley have been proven wrong once again, and still hate to admit it. Oh and yeah: I TOLD YOU SO!

Cute, Meso. Real cute.

Again, I'm thrilled that we have Showalter rather than Trembley. At what point did I mention otherwise? I would have been thrilled to get Showalter three years ago after Trembley's first official interim gig. Geez, an experienced MLB manager over our second in-house-coach-turned-manager in a row? Umm, yes please.

But look what you've done: "So yeah, this team was losing because Dave Trembley sucked [...]." Fascinating. That's the reason the team was losing. Nothing about lack of power in the lineup, or lack of experience in the starting rotation, or lack of effective offseason trades. Nothing about injuries or eccentricities... nope. Now, it's all Trembley vs. Showalter.

So, just wondering... what happens if the O's don't have a winning record in September? Will Buck have to go because we didn't have a winning month?

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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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