« Back in the saddle | Main | So, you wanted a .500 team... »

March 8, 2011

Berken's tough start

Jason Berken's comeback from a labrum tear is going well, from a rehab standpoint, but he has struggled a bit on the mound. He has pitched three times and given up three runs on three hits and three walks over three innings.

"It's a process,'' he said. "Obviously, you don't want to give up runs and hits, but healthwise, I feel really good. Do I need to be better? Do I expect to be better? No question."

Berken figures that a little rust should be expected after seven months on the shelf. He just started throwing pain-free about a month ago.

"To an extent, spring training is a time to work on stuff and get things right,'' he said. "You want to go out and pitch well, but I don't think it's time to over-analyze things. I just have to find things I can improve on."

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:44 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Just baseball


Gil since pete has decided never to respond any more to the bloggers on this site, i will ask you about this.Everybody from fans to people in the organization keep hoping and praying that matt weiters will be the ball player that everybody had projected him to be. I have watched him from day one with high hope that he would be the impact player that this organization long has waited for, but his batting stance is way to straight up and down and his swing is way to long. Many scouts have said the same thing from the get go, he never can get around on a good fastball. If you watched him last night he looked absolutely lost. Gil do hitting coaches take the approach that because a guy was a super star in college and in the minor's that they don't need to tinker with a guy because they just think it will be a matter of time before he breaks out. No doubt his defense has improved and he handles the pitching staff better but you can bet that wasn't the reason the orioles and everybody else who was on his bandwaggon drafted him.

Posted by: blancione

'do I need to do better? No question'.....

Here's a guy coming off a major injury, someone who one would expect to simply be going out to make sure his arm doesn't fall off. He would have an excuse to say the results don't matter.

But you can tell results DO matter to him.

Now go back and read Tillman's quotes... someone who is fighting for the # 5 SP spot... someone who had a 5.9 era last season, which was worst than his 5.4 in '09.

One guy has been nothing but hype since landing in the O's organization. The other is just a baseball player who gets it.....


I think Weiters will never be the next Joe Mauer as the O's hyped him to be. His bat is not quick enough, though he probably has Mauer power (that rhymes).

That said, those who call him a bust are doing so prematurely. He will be a better than average player when it's all said and done. he is a shy kid by nature, so it may take him a while to season. The hype the O's put on him has a lot to do with his lack of progress with the bat. Also playing for a team that couldn't hit doesn't help either. Add young pitching to the equation, and this kid is doomed to fail. But given the circumstances he has done OK.

I expect Weiters to improve each and every season, and become a very good player. I don't think he will be an All-Star every year like Joe Mauer, but he will be a servicable player.

All -

The hype was insane for Matt Wieters. And it was nationwide hype. We all got a bit too excited when we expected the guy to hit in the majors like he did in the minors.

At this point, I'm expecting Wieters to level out as a .280 hitter with 20ish home run power. He's not going to be a beast in any offensive category, but he'll do well across the board. And his defense and game calling will continue to improve.

When all is said and done, I think he'll have a very good, but not great, career.

wayne -

What Tillman quotes you're talking about?

"Wayne and his hoard of infidel's" are just waiting to storm the Warehouse over the news that Berken is struggling.

Berken could be a canidiate for extended spring training and a rehab assignment out of spring training. But there are enough other pitchers throwing well to fill the void right now. Berken needs to get himself right to be effective like he was the first 1/2 of last year. Bright spot is, there are enough other pitchers throwing well to fill out the BP. McPhail did a nice job of filling out depth with some unheralded signings.

How about last night's pitching efforts against the Yankees. I've been saying it since last year, the O's could well have the best pair of young lefthanded starters in the majors. Britton has done nothing but impress this spring.

I'd imagine that he doesn't break camp in the rotation for longterm contract reasons. But we very well could see the kid force his way into the rotation by June. I'm still thinking Drese is the surprise guy to make the roster out of ST.
And Rapada could end up being a LH specialist out of the pen. That means there could be a couple of surprises left off of the staff.

The new left side of the infield looked solid defensively, Reynolds and Hardy both looked very smooth and effortless defensively.

There was a lot of discussion about why the O's were moving Bell to 1st base now on this blog. After having seen Reynolds in ST my quess is the O's are thinking he's solid defensively at third. Bell could be blocked for the next 2 to 3 years by Reynolds at 3rd.

As I've seen repeated here several Bazillion times Lee is only signed for one year. Makes sense to work Bell at 1b to increase his chances of making the big club next spring. I think Lee will be there in time to start the year, Buck is focused on getting guys healthy at the end of ST, not on how many wins he can stack up in Florida...

There was a nice interview between Peter Gammons, yes Peter Gammons! and Buck Showalter last night on MLB tonight. The interview included discussion of Matt Wieters and highlights of the 2010 season. Most of the highlights were from the defensive perspective, but there were some sprinkles of hope with regards to offense. Matt Wieters is much too young to write off as a servicable player. My suggestion would be to go out and sign Bengie Molina. He could help Matt from a hitting standpoint and help develop the pitching staff. I wholeheartedly agree with Mitch Williams on this matter, he stated that Bengie would be a great help to us. Plus, we could trade him at a later date if all the catchers in the league keep on getting hurt. If it were up to me though I would keep him for the whole season, however he would be a nice bargaining chip to have, it would also end this silliness of Tatum and Fox to be sure

Gentleman, for once in a lifetime i want to draft a guy who is projected to be a star and have him produce like a star. Somebody that you can just write in the lineup everyday and get production. I might sound greedy but i want more out of somebody hype so high then for the term serviceable to be acceptable. Sorry guy's just my opinion but you will never get 280 and 20hr's out of him for his careerh his bat is way to long and slow. I think he hit all his hr's to the opposite field last year except one.

That would be way "too" up and down, not to!


That Ken Rosenthal is so negative....

He's such a 'hater'....

He must be a troll....

And, he must live in his mom's basement....

He must be a Red Sox fan....

Most of all, he's such a bore....

Pete's reply: Just thought I'd pop in and educate Wayne for a minute. In an earlier post, he accused me of only writing when the O's win. I realize that the easiest thing to do on the internet is make stuff up, but the fact is that I have a writing schedule that was determined months ago and those are the days I write. If the O's win on three of those days, then they do and I'll react accordingly. If they lose or somebody gets hurt, I will write what's appropriate for that day (in my estimation). It's amazing to read someone constantly harping about his obsession with "the truth," who clearly doesn't care a bit about that and only is looking for anything that reaffirms his jaundiced world view. I hope this clears that up. BTW, I wrote a negative column today, so be sure and tell everyone that you goaded me into it. Whatever works in your world.

First off, Wieters hit .288 in 350 at bats in his rookie season. Proof that he can hit .280.

Second, last I checked, an opposite field home run still counts as a home run.

Remember that Rosenthal has an axe to grind with the O's and takes every opportunity to do so. By the way, he is a Red Sox fan, you should hear him when he interviews here in Boton.

not brooks i am not going to go around and around with you on this or anything else to do with the orioles. People say that he isn't going to be like joe mauer, but indeed he was drafted to be like joe mauer or better . That is what the problem with this organization has been the last 13 years. Outside of brian roberts and nick m who are good ball players but not stars tell me who has lived up to there potential. when you draft a kid number 5 and give him a 6,500,000 signing bonus and contract then you expect him to be joe mauer or even better for that matter.Now we all realize that all teams draft players high and are disappointed but we never hit what i like to call that homerun.That is all i am going to say on this subject time will tell, just open your eyes when you watch games and see how slow and long his swing is.

As you said, any and every prospect can disappoint.

You say that we were supposed to expect Wieters to be the next Joe Mauer because Wieters was drafted fifth overall and he got a $6.5MM signing bonus. Well, Joe Mauer was drafted first overall and got a $5.15MM signing bonus six years earlier. So why should the expectations for Wieters be the same, or higher, as they were for Mauer? How does that make any sense?

From the Rosenthal interview:

"Is [Wieters] going to be the next Joe Mauer? Well, that’s probably in doubt now. But at the same, can he be an above-average major-league catcher, a switch-hitter with power? Yes, I still see him as that."

I'll take Ken Rosenthal's opinion over yours.

That is all I'm going to say on this subject.

not brooks matt weiters would have been the first overall selection that year, teams backed off because they didn't think he was signable.Nothing makes any sense to you not brooks except what your opinion is.Draft a kid that high with all those expectations he should be more then just a serviceable ball player.

Nothing makes any sense to you not brooks except what your opinion is.

Posted by: blancione | March 8, 2011 2:06 PM

This is possibly the funniest post I've ever read on here.

The irony is flying much to high for good ol' blancione.

Arrrgh. "TOO high." "Much TOO high."

I'm my own Grammar Nazi.

Actually, bob, I think the model is...

Draft a kid that high, put all of those ridiculous expectations on his shoulders, and then call him a bust when he's not an All Star by the time he's 24.

At least, that's usually how it works around here.

There are very few catchers in MLB history who have a career batting average over .280 and 20 home runs per season. If Matt is able to give us that type of production throughout his career, he will be a star and a tremendous homegrown success.

If you name all of the other catchers with those kinds of stats, you will mostly have a list of catchers whose defense, game calling, and "runners caught stealing" stats are worse than Matt's. He was a stud in the minors and will be a good-to-great all-around catcher in the bigs.

This guy is too young to write off. As for the comparisons to Mauer, well time will tell about that. Joe Mauers don't grow on trees.

Since this place is so focused on the negative, I hate to be the one to bring some good news, but Duch sure had a good outing. Sorry to ruin some peoples day. Don't mind me, continue the whine fest.


I agree partly with Meso and NB on Wieters. I think he will be an excellent defensive catcher and a mediocre hitter. We all bought into the superstar hype but I think at this point what we see is what we are going to get. He does have a long swing from both sides of the plate and gets jammed a lot as a result.

Before pitchers and catchers reported I predicted that Zach Britton would pitch lights out this spring and force his way into the rotation when the team goes north. I was fortunate to see him pitch a half dozen times and he is the real deal, and light years ahead of Tillman in command, location and movement on his pitches. The way some of the other starters are pitching he could even move up to the fourth starter. He doesn't need additional "seasoning", Tillman does. Tillman will pitch in the big leagues but he needs to learn to cut his fastball so that it gains some movement, develop a reliable changeup and throw his curveball for strikes in any count.


Kudos for recognizing what a good defensive catcher Weiters is. I don't think a lot of people are aware of that. The game that stands out in my mind from last year was when Matt caught Upton stealing twice. The second time was with a laser beam throw right on the laces.

Also agree with you about Britton. He showed me something last night. On Tillman, as I said in a post a couple of days ago, all I see is a guy throwing fastballs and curves. You have to have more than that at the major league level. As well, every time I've seen him, which admittedly hasn't been much, he seems throw up a lot. If you have serious heat, then fair enough, but all I've ever seen on the gun is 90-92. You're going to give up a lot of HRs doing that and he does.

dan qz

What really got my attention was the three times I saw Britton pitch in AAA. There were two games in Norfolk where the scoreboard radar had him consistently in the low to mid 90's. Now, maybe some of the radars are exxagerated, but the kid throws hard. You can see the downward movement on all of his pitches from the stands. He is not afraid to pitch inside and is so consistently around the plate that the umpires seem to give him close pitches. Unlike Tillman, you rarely see Britton throw a 55 foot curve ball, or mis badly with his pitches. The AL east is not AAA by any means but this kid is ready, and in my opinion it would serve no purpose to send him down and call him up later in the season. The Orioles need him now. I know the one reason the Orioles could send him down when they go North is the option thing like they did with wieters. But I say that is silly. They need this kid in the rotation to help get off to a good start. This could come down to a situation where Macphail wants to send him back strictly as a business decsion and Showalter wants to keep him now for the rotation.

Get rid of Berken and Rosario (waste of roster space). Britton is our legitimate future #1 ace.


It sure is a nice problem to have. The way I see it, if healthy Duch makes it as well as Guthrie and Matusz. If Britton makes it, then either Bergesen or Arrieta goes down. That means we've got a reasonable 6th guy at AAA who can step up if someone goes down with an injury. I can't remember that last time we've been it that situation.


Rosario is a rule 5 guy who didn't have much chance of sticking, but I wouldn't call Berken a waste of roster space. He pitched very well for us last year with an Era of 3.03

spy wants to know why Ozzie is getting a free pass for the many losing seasons of the Orioles...

All the speculation on who Weiters will be as a player is kind of pointless. It's the same as saying that Matusz will be a number 2 starter for the rest of his career because that's where he seems headed now.
Weiters looks like a good defensive poor offensive catcher now, but his focus (and rightly so) was on defense when he came to the big leagues. Now that his defense has improved a great deal and he feels comfortable behind the plate in the majors, its time for him to focus on being comfortable at the plate.
I would say that we should wait another year before we start making these kinds of predictions.

There are two things I try to follow in spring training -- injuries and command.

Injuries sort of speak for themselves when things are obvious. If a player is coming back from an injury or perhaps being held out, one needs to check the quotes and compare them with the reality of what's going on.

In a way, command is the same as injuries. One would hope to be able to actually watch or listen to actual game action, too. Unfortunately, MASN seems to have "stuff" like infomercials and John Riggins rather than some live or delayed Oriole action. And the club still employs Fred Manfra who babbles constantly even when it's not his turn at the mic.

I was going to derisively say "hip-hip hooray" for Duchscherer's painfree and effective two innings but I found the quote comparison between Berken and Tillman on the mark. Conversely, I have concerns over Lee despite some folks valiant efforts to reassure me.

Otherwise, I have little to say about Berken but since the chatter here is about Wieters and comparisons to Mauer, I find it interesting no one has mentioned Mauer's beef with his manager Gardenhire from two weeks ago.

Gardenhire in an interview with reporters said Mauer would be held out of some catching duties after receiving a lubricant injection in his surgically repaired left knee, adding he wanted to “make sure those things take effect” before upping Mauer’s workload.

Mauer was none too pleased, uderstandably enough, and the Twins' manager seemingly made a blatant HIPAA privacy violation. But now that the cat is out of the bag, Mauer's situation is one worthy of study and scrutiny.

First off, the only knee lubricant I am aware of is SynVisc. I am not a doctor and I haven't been involved in athletics as a profession for almost 17 years. SynVisc is sort of a Plan B in waiting for me so I don't have to hang a picture of a wheelchair where some people hang paper pine trees and fuzzy dice.

On the other hand, I won't be celebrating my 28th birthday in a few weeks with someone on the hook to pay me $23 million per year for the next eight years. Twenty-eight is awfully young to get that type of injection (or series of injections depending which route Mauer is taking). While his batting average would still translate nicely in the line-up regardless what glove he wears or even if he plays defensively, one would have to think the Twins were hoping for at least four years behind the plate.

None of this really contributes to the Wieters projections many are weighing in on. Mauer was limited with an injury during his rookie year and limited to just 109 games in 2007. Otherwise, he has been available in sufficient quantity as a catcher for some gaudy numbers.

If he's chasing down his Plan B already, I have to wonder if his days of squatting are already numbered.

Did anyone really project Wieters to be batting .293 (Mauer's worst year)? I know there were (and still are) high hopes for him, but did anyone from the Orioles or from some professional baseball outlet really make such a comparison? If so, I would like to be pointed in that direction because I never saw it except on Oriole blogs.

Haha-Wayne didn't respond to Pete's reply. Awesome.


Of course I responded to Pete. It's just on another subject my man....Keep up my brother......

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "x" in the field below:
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.

Schmuck column archive

Upload a photo of yourself or a friend wearing the new Peter Schmuck T-shirt, which is on sale at

Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected