Archive for October, 2009

Three More Outrighted

October 30, 2009

The Orioles have outrighted RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Bob McCrory, and LHP Rich Hill to AAA Norfolk after they passed through waivers, removing them from the 40 man roster.

Grade: C

The Orioles are just clearing out the dead weight so they can protect some minor league players from the rule 5 draft. I don’t see Simon or McCrory being with the Orioles next year. Hill could elect to become a free agent or he could stay in our minors. He still has some interesting potential, but hes running out of time to prove himself. The Orioles are getting ready for the offseason. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do.

11/04 Update: LHP Rich Hill, OF Jeff Fiorentino, and C Guillermo Rodriguez have refused their demotions and elected to become free agents. They could still sign with the Orioles. RHP Alfredo Simon accepted his demotion to AAA Norfolk. Also, 3B Scott Moore was re-signed to a minor league contract.

O’s Lose Henn On Waivers; Other Roster Moves

October 29, 2009

The Toronto Blue Jays claimed LHP Sean Henn off waivers. In other news, the Orioles declined 3B Melvin Mora and C Chad Moeller’s team options for 2010 and outrighted OF Jeff Fiorentino, RHP Chris Lambert, RHP Jim Miller, and C Guillermo Rodriguez to AAA Norfolk, removing them from the 40 man roster. The Orioles also named Jeff Datz as their bench coach.

Grade: C

The loss of Henn is no big deal, he was going to end up in AAA if he passed through waivers anyway. Declining Mora’s option was a no brainer, he won’t be back. Theres still a chance that Moeller could end up back here, but it would be a minor league deal. Fiorentino, Lambert, Miller, and Rodriguez passed through waivers and should stay in our minors to start the year. They could elect to become free agents if they feel their chances of making the majors is better somewhere else. Datz coached for the Cleveland Indians over the last 8 seasons, rotating between bench coach, first base coach, and third base coach. He was a catcher in the pros for 9 years and will spend 2010 as Matt Wieters’ catching instructor.

2009 In Review: Right Field

October 27, 2009

Nick Markakis – .293/.347/.453, 94 R, 45 doubles, 2 triples, 18 HR, 101 RBI, 6 SB, 711 PA

Markakis had a very up and down year after signing a six year contract extension in the offseason. He had an outstanding April (1.020 OPS), slumped in May (.719 OPS), bounced back slightly in June (.756 OPS), even more in July (.818 OPS), and more still in August (.882 OPS) before having one of the worst months of his career in September (.522 OPS). It was a disappointing season and a decline in production after he had gradually gotten better since his rookie year (.799, .848, .897). Part of the reason could have been that he was trying to do too much with Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora not hitting. When Huff was traded, Markakis was moved to the cleanup spot and that didn’t seem to help any. His walk total dropped from 99 in 2008 to 56, he was hitting too many groundballs, and popping out too much. I really think the root of his problems was he was chasing too many bad pitches. He struggled a little defensively as well. He didn’t seem to get to alot of balls that he had in the past, but he still had that cannon arm with 13 assists.

2010 Prognosis: The Orioles are going to be looking for a power hitter to put in the 4th spot in the lineup and that should help Markakis. He should be batting 2nd ideally. I think he’s going to bounce back in 2010 and put up numbers more in line with 2008 than 2009. He’ll be only 26 all of next season and his best years are still ahead of him. I think the extension we signed him to will turn out to be a great deal. I predict a line of .303/.381/.495, 46 doubles, 22 HR, and 108 RBI for Markakis in 2010.

Jeff Fiorentino – .281/.351/.297, 8 R, 1 double, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 75 PA

Fiorentino’s case is interesting. The Orioles drafted him in 2004 and he was moving up the prospect ladder before we called him up to the majors straight from high A Frederick. That seemed to really mess up his development as he disappointed greatly after that point. He was let go by the Orioles and bounced around the league a little bit with Cincinnati and Oakland before signing a minor league deal with us this year. He put up some really good numbers at AAA Norfolk, a pitchers park – .312/.387/.510, 26 doubles, 5 triples, 12 HR, 67 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. He got a cup of coffee with the big league club in September and hit well, just without any power. He has a good batting eye and can play all three outfield positions adequately.

2010 Prognosis: I can see Fiorentino being the 4th/5th outfielder for the Orioles next year if Luke Scott is traded over the offseason. He could fill in at any outfield position when someone needs a day off and would be a solid pinch hitter for late in games. If we keep Scott or we don’t have room for him on the roster, he’ll most likely head back to AAA Norfolk and be called upon if we have any injuries or the like.

2009 In Review: Center Field

October 25, 2009

Adam Jones – .277/.335/.457, 83 R, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 10 SB, 519 PA

Jones came out of the gate on fire and looked like he had transformed himself into a superstar over the offseason. He hit .359/.433/.628 in April and .333/.369/.590 in May. He was hitting for average, power, and seemed to have improved his plate discipline, but as the season went along he seemed to fall back into old habits which really hurt him. He really slumped in June (.609 OPS), bounced back a little in July (.764 OPS), but fell right back down in August (.620 OPS). Defensively he took a step back. As he bulked up a little bit in the offseason it seemed to lower his range a bit from 2008. He still played a solid centerfield and is especially apt at robbing homeruns over the fence, but if he continues his growth he may have to eventually move to left field. Jones played through minor hamstring injuries for much of the year, which may have had something to do with his decline as the season wore on, and he was shut down at the start of the September with a high ankle sprain.

2010 Prognosis: Jones will be our center fielder again next season. I expect him to continue his progression as a hitter. Hes a hard worker and wants to be the best player in the league. Hopefully he can stay healthy in 2010 as hes missed chunks of time the past two years due to injury. I don’t think he’ll be as good as his first two months of 2009, but I highly doubt he’ll be as bad as his last three months either. I’m thinking an OPS in the .800 – .850 range, and that is very valuable coming from a center fielder. Its easy to forget that Jones will only be 24 years old on opening day, he still has plenty of room to grow.

Felix Pie – .266/.326/.437, 38 R, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB, 281 PA

Pie’s season was almost the exact opposite of Adam Jones. He started off the year as the everyday left fielder after the Orioles traded LHP Garrett Olson to the Chicago Cubs to acquire him. Adjusting to a new team, a new league, and a new position he struggled mightily at the plate and in the field. He batted .157/.246/.216 (.462 OPS) in April and by that point was in the managers doghouse, as well as the fans’. But as he got comfortable and kept working with hitting coach Terry Crowly, he started to put his tools together and show signs of becoming the player he was always touted to be as a top prospect. In limited at bats over the next three months of the season he put up a .752 OPS in May, 1.167 OPS in June, and a .616 OPS in July. When he finally got some chances to play in August he really put it together, hitting .333/394/.651 (1.045 OPS) over 70 plate appearances. Unfortunately he had a couple minor injuries in September and missed the last seven games of the season, but he had a .685 OPS over 68 at bats. He also improved tremendously on defense and showed that he can play a great center field. The time might come that Pie could be our everyday center fielder with Jones moving to left.

2010 Prognosis: I think Pie should be our everyday left fielder against right handed pitchers with Nolan Reimold moving from DH to left against lefties. Pie struggled against lefties and has never hit them good in the minors, so until he proves he can handle them he should sit more times than not against them. With Pie, Jones, and Nick Markakis in the outfield our defense should be great out there. As long as Pie continues to improve, I think he could be a very valuable member of our team going forward. I think he will provide us with a .750 to .850 OPS and stellar defense.

2009 In Review: Left Field

October 23, 2009

Luke Scott – .258/.340/.488, 60 R, 26 doubles, 1 triple, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 506 PA

Scott had a pretty good year if you look at his total numbers, but I’d say it was a pretty big disappointment after how he finished it. One of the streakiest hitters I’ve ever seen, Scott was hitting .307/.382/.597 with 18 homeruns and 50 RBI at the all-star break and was on pace to have a tremendous season, but he collapsed in the second half – hitting .208/.292/.375 with only 7 homeruns and 26 RBI. He hit much better at home (.929 OPS) than on the road (.727 OPS). After watching Scott play for two years, thats just who he is. You have to go into the season knowing that hes going to have stretches of dominance (1.479 OPS in May) and stretches of futility (.716 OPS in July and August). He has a good batting eye though and will always take a walk no matter how hes hitting the ball. He played mostly DH in 2009 but also got some time in left field and first base.

2010 Prognosis: I think the Orioles are going to try and trade Scott in the offseason. Hes one of our most valuable veterans and we’re pretty crowded with talented outfielders. With Nolan Reimold coming off foot surgery we could use him at DH and play Felix Pie in left, which would leave Scott without a place to play. That is unless the Orioles think Scott can handle first base full time. But even then, I think we’d be better off signing a guy to play first base on a cheap one or two year deal and trading Scott to get some other pieces of the puzzle. Hes a guy that will give you a solid OBP and 20-30 homeruns, so he should have some good value – not to mention hes under control for two more years.

Nolan Reimold – .279/.365/.466, 49 R, 18 doubles, 2 triples, 15 HR, 45 RBI, 8 SB, 411 PA

The Orioles had been taking Reimold’s development slowly over the past few years, but he burst onto the scene this year. He started off at AAA Norfolk and raked International League pitching to the tune of .394/.485/.743 with 11 doubles and 9 homeruns over 31 games. When Luke Scott went on the disabled list in the middle of May, Reimold got his chance and never looked back. He took over the left field job (Scott and Felix Pie had been playing there) until he was shut down in September with a foot injury. At 26, hes not a young prospect but hes a guy that hits for alot of power and is also patient at the plate. He also has good speed and hustles on every single play. Reimold is guy you have to love, a sure fan favorite. Defensively hes got some issues, but hes athletic enough that he should be able to become around a league average fielder. He has a hard time tracking some fly balls and if he can’t improve in that area, his future may lie as a DH.

2010 Prognosis: The foot surgery apparently went well and Reimold should be ready to go in time for Spring Training. The Orioles will most likely take it easy on him next year, at least towards the beginning of the season. With Felix Pie having improved so much, plus hes much better than Reimold in the field, Nolan should see alot of time at DH in 2010 while playing left against left handed pitchers since Pie struggles against them. I think the injury sapped him of some power towards the latter part of the season, so hopefully he can get back to being the player he was before it popped up. I’d look for an OPS around .850 from Reimold in 2010 with 20 – 30 homeruns.

Lou Montanez – .183/.244/.280, 5 R, 5 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 91 PA

Montanez got some playing time in left field when Felix Pie was struggling in the beginning of the year until he broke him thumb making a diving catch. He wasn’t doing much with the bat. He had an OPS around .600 in 50 at bats. He came back in late September after injuries to Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Pie left us desperate for an outfielder and did even worse. It was a rough season for Montanez, but I see him as a AAAA type of player that won’t make it in the big leagues.

2010 Prognosis: I think Montanez will be a casualty on the 40 man roster over the offseason. We’re just too loaded in the outfield to waste a roster spot on him, plus Jeff Fiorentino has passed him on the depth chart as well. Unless he accepts a minor league deal from the Orioles, I think Montanez will be with a different organization in 2010.

2009 In Review: Shortstop

October 21, 2009

Cesar Izturis – .256/.294/.328, 33 R, 14 doubles, 4 triples, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 12 SB, 412 PA

Izturis was signed over the offseason to a two year contract to be our starting shortstop. The Orioles signed him expecting a light hitting, great defensive shortstop and thats exactly what he gave us. His defense was the best we’ve seen since Mike Bordick left. Even though he doesn’t hit for anything other than a decent average, hes still a step up from the Freddie Bynum/Brandan Fahey, Luis Hernandez group from 2008. Izturis also showed off some speed, stealing 12 bases and hes a good baserunner. He was on the DL for about a month in June, but aside from that it looks like a good signing. Obviously hes not the long term answer at short but you could certainly do worse, as the Orioles have proven.

2010 Prognosis: Unless the Orioles trade for a young shortstop that could stick with the team for the long haul (which I hope we’re able to do), I see Izturis staying put as the starter. You know what hes going to give you – above average defense and an average between .250 – .260 with no power and not much patience. He’ll be 30 all of next season so I wouldn’t expect much drop off. If we do trade for another shortstop, Izturis would be an excellent back up shortstop that could fill in defensively at third and second if needed.

Robert Andino – .222/.274/.288, 31 R, 7 doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB, 215 PA

The Orioles traded for Andino right before opening day, dealing Hayden Penn to the Florida Marlins for him. In limited duty hes proven that he can’t hit a lick and hes still improving defensively. At the start of the year he was a little shaky out there at shortstop, but he got better as the year went along. The one thing I will say is that he filled in admirably for Cesar Izturis when he was on the disabled list. Getting regular at bats for about a month he had an OPS around .600, as opposed to .562 overall. That still doesn’t cut it, but it shows some potential if he was to get regular at bats.

2010 Prognosis: Unfortunately for Andino, the Orioles can’t afford to give him regular at bats. With Izturis on the roster and the way we’re trying to become competitive in the AL East, I don’t think he’ll ever have a big part on this team. Even if we don’t acquire a shortstop in the offseason, I think we could do good to upgrade the back up for the position. I think the best Andino can do for the Orioles in 2010 would be in the same role he filled in 2009. If not with us, he could probably find a job in the same capacity with some other team.

2009 In Review: Third Base

October 21, 2009

Melvin Mora – .260/.321/.358, 44 R, 20 doubles, 8 HR, 48 RBI, 3 SB, 496 PA

Mora’s production collapsed in 2009. After having a great second half of 2008 he was looked at to provide a solid power bat with good defense, but it looks like it was just his last hurrah. We got solid defense from him but his power was notably absent. He was injured for most of April with a hamstring injury and just couldn’t get anything going when he came back. Eventually he lost playing time to Ty Wigginton and wasn’t very happy about it. I felt like Trembley waited too long to bench Mora and he didn’t stick to his guns because he let Mora back into the lineup consistently. Mora also batted higher in the lineup than he should have almost all year, yet he felt the need to complain when something was done about his lack of production.

2010 Prognosis: Mora has a $10 million team option for 2010 that the Orioles will no doubt decline. His time in Baltimore is over. Some team will sign him to a cheap deal and give him a chance, but I think his years of being a productive major league baseball player are over.

Ty Wigginton – .273/.314/.400, 44 R, 19 doubles, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB, 436 PA

Wigginton was brought in on a two year deal in the offseason to be a power bat off the bench and a presence in the lineup against left handed pitchers. Instead, he hit better against right handers and had only two of his 11 homeruns against lefties. I’d like to think it was just an off year, but he had his worst OPS since 2003. He got off to a slow start and did get better as the year went along, but he still wasn’t hitting for the power he has over the last three years (24, 22, 23). Defensively he was solid to the ball he could get to, but he has very limited range. He played mainly first and third base, but got a couple of games at shortstop and left field as well.

2010 Prognosis: I see Wigginton in a similar role next year as long as the Orioles can get the third and first basemen that they want. If not, he could be a stop gap at either position until one of Brandon Snyder or Josh Bell are ready. Hopefully he gets back to hitting lefties the way he has throughout his career and his power returns to form. Its also possible hes just in a decline phase of his career. We’ll see.

Justin Turner – .167/.318/.167, 2 R, 3 RBI, 22 PA

Turner was a part of the Ramon Hernandez trade to the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason. In fact, he was probably our main target in the deal. He might’ve had a chance to break spring training as a utility guy but he had a minor injury and the Orioles traded for Robert Andino. In AAA Norfolk Turner hit .300/.362/.388 with 28 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 9 stolen bases. He didn’t get much of a look when he came up in September but he had a pretty successful year. His main position is second base, but obviously the Orioles have that position covered so they’ve been working him at third base also.

2010 Prognosis: Turner has a chance to make the team next year as a bench player depending on what the Orioles do over the winter. He doesn’t have much power, but hes a good contact hitter with a good walk to strikeout ratio. He’ll be 25 next season so there could be a chance for him to develop a little more power. Turner would be a decent prospect for second base if Roberts wasn’t already there. Maybe if the Orioles feel he can handle it defensively he could become the back up shortstop, he”d be an improvement over Andino offensively. Or maybe hes used as a piece in a trade to get a player in more of a position of need.

2009 In Review: Second Base

October 19, 2009

Brian Roberts – .283/.357/.451, 110 R, 56 doubles, 1 triple, 16 HR, 79 RBI, 30 SB, 716 PA

Roberts had a great year, putting up the 3rd highest OPS of his career. It was nice to see this kind of performance after he signed a four year contract extension in the offseason. That contract starts in 2010, but if he keeps up his pace it looks like it will turn out to be a good signing. He set the MLB record for doubles by a switch hitter (56) and was only four away from the overall record. He set career records with 110 runs and 79 RBI. The only signs of trouble are a steady decline in walks (89, 82, 74) and stolen bases (50, 40, 30), plus a steady increase in strikeouts (66, 99, 104, 112). Those are trends that will most likely continue, but he should still be a productive player for at least two or three more seasons. Speed is an important part of Roberts’ game, but its not like he bunts for base hits or has alot of infield hits. The Orioles won’t have to worry about second base for a while and hopefully Roberts gets a chance to be a part of the next winning baseball team in Baltimore.

2010 Prognosis: I would look for a similar production from Roberts next season, but with a lower slugging percentage and higher on base percentage. Its nice to have the lead off spot in the lineup taken care of. A few more players to drive him in would be nice though.

Ryan Freel – .133/.350/.133, 2 R, 1 RBI, 20 PA

Freel came along with Brandon Waring and Justin Turner when we traded Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds. He was thought of to be a utility guy when we got him, but when the season started we had added Felix Pie, Ty Wiggington, and Robert Andino so he became useless. We traded him to the Chicago Cubs after he complained about playing time and sending him to the DL with a concussion for Joey Gathright, who we later traded to the Red Sox. Freel ended up being traded/released by three organizations in 2009 and was out of the majors by early August.

2010 Prognosis: More of the same I would assume. He’ll hope to get a minor league contract with a spring training invite and try to stick as the last man on someones roster.

2009 In Review: First Base

October 18, 2009

Michael Aubrey – .289/.326/.500, 12 R, 7 doubles, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 95 PA

Aubrey started off the year in the Cleveland Indians organization. The Orioles traded for him in June and he hit .287/.324/.421 with 13 doubles and 3 homeruns for AAA Norfolk before getting called up when Aubrey Huff was traded. He did a good job in the small sample size he was given, showing more power than he did in the minors. Hes a good fielding first baseman and was a definite improvement over Huff in that area. Injuries have limited Aubreys ascent in the minor leagues after being a highly touted first round pick so he might have some improvement still left in him, but at 27 I think we pretty much know what kind of player he is.

2010 Prognosis – Aubrey will get a chance to make the team in spring training. The Orioles are expected to sign or trade for a big bat at first base, so if that happens he would only be competing for a back up role. If the Orioles fail to acquire that bat, Aubrey will compete against Rhyne Hughes and Brandon Snyder for the starting job. I wouldn’t be comfortable with Aubrey as our starting first baseman next season. He gives you a decent average and a good glove, but not enough power. We need a slugger and Aubrey isn’t that guy. Rhyne Hughes would be a better fit in that scenerio because he has 20+ homerun power.

Aubrey Huff – .253/.321/.405, 51 R, 24 doubles, 1 triple, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 480 PA

Huff was terrible in 2009 after having a career year in 2008. He was looked at to be our cleanup hitter and just failed miserably to all expectations. He was a hole in our lineup and we finally traded him to the Detroit Tigers for a relief pitching prospect. He did even worse with Detroit after the trade, hitting .189/.265/.302 with 6 doubles and 2 homeruns over 106 at bats.

2010 Prognosis: Well he certainly won’t be with the Orioles in 2010. Theres a chance he won’t be with any team after the abysmal season he had in his early 30’s. I’m sure he’ll get a very cheap one year contract or minor league deal from some non-contending team.

Oscar Salazar – .419/.455/.613, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 33 PA

Salazar was a very solid piece to our bench in late June and early July, before we traded him to the San Diego Padres for Cla Meredith. Salazar proved that he can hit this year, but he can’t play defense at all. Hes a butcher no matter where you put him. Thats why he’ll never be an everyday player and it was a good deal for the Orioles. Salazar continued to play the pinch hitter/spot starter role in San Diego, hitting .269/.339/.463 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 homeruns over 108 at bats.

2010 Prognosis: Salazar should stay with the Padres and continue to be a solid bench player. Hes a good player to have for an NL team where he can pinch hit for the pitcher on most days. As long as the Padres want him, he should be under their control for the foreseeable future.

2009 In Review: Catchers

October 16, 2009

Matt Wieters – .288/.340/.412, 35 R, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 385 PA

Wieters came into the season heralded as the top prospect in baseball. He started in AAA Norfolk and struggled a bit earlier on, hitting .260/.367/.360 in April, but got back to being Matt Wieters in May (.330/.398/.582). He had a similar progression when he was promoted to the big club in late May. Wieters had a .637 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage)  in his three games in May, .691 in June, and .767 in July. He slumped a bit in August slipping back to a .652 OPS, but really broke out in September hitting to a .936 OPS. Defensively he also got better as the year went along. He struggled throwing runners out at first, but by the end of the year he was very impressive. He even threw out speedy baserunner Carl Crawford out at second base twice in the same game. Overall it was an important and successful season for Wieters. He gained much needed experience hitting major league pitching and, maybe more importantly, catching and handling a major league staff.

2010 Prognosis: I expect Wieters to become one of the best hitters in baseball as soon as next year. I think the way he hit in September is along the lines of what we should expect over the whole year. Its the kind of hitter he was at every step of the way in his career. He’ll be 23 years old on opening day and is under the Orioles control for at least six more years. He should be our number three hitter in the lineup next season depending on who we acquire in the offseason. I think .290 – .310, 25 – 35 homeruns, and 80 – 100 RBI is in the realm of possibility.

Chad Moeller – .258/.313/.438, 6 R, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 100 PA

Moeller started the season as the back up catcher to Gregg Zaun until Matt Wieters was promoted. Ironically, he resumed his back up role after Zaun was traded in August. He hit surprisingly well during his second stint with the big league club, especially since he hit .203/.242/.254 over 118 at bats in AAA Norfolk between his time in the majors. Apparently he had a good rapport with alot of pitchers so theres not much to complain about.

2010 Prognosis: Its not hard to imagine Moeller being brought back for the back up catcher role in 2010, but at the same time I don’t think we’re rushing to do so. It will probably be one of the last decisions made in the offseason. If he signs elsewhere, the Orioles will just find someone else that fits the same description. They’re a dime a dozen. I wouldn’t complain if he was re-signed either.

Gregg Zaun – .244/.355/.375, 22 R, 10 doubles, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 197 PA

Zaun was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on August 7th, but did a good job as back up catcher to Matt Wieters before then. He was terrible for the first two months of the season when he was the primary backstop for the Orioles, hitting .209/.316/.304 in that time span. But once Wieters came up it was like a different player came up with him to be his back up. As the back up Zaun hit .321/.446/.528, which is phenomenal. He was successful with the Rays as well after the trade, hitting .287/.323/.489.

2010 Prognosis: I wouldn’t mind seeing Zaun brought back next season as the back up to Wieters again, but most likely he’ll re-sign with Tampa Bay or go somewhere else. He performed well enough to play a little more than a game or two a week in 2010. Maybe theres a platoon situation for him out there somewhere.

Guillermo Rodriguez – .000/.286/.000, 1 R, 1 RBI, 7 PA

Rodriguez was just a third catcher for September when rosters expanded. He had no hits and a walk in seven plate appearances, so he really didn’t have an effect on the team.

2010 Prognosis: I would suspect Rodriguez will be a casualty on the 40 man roster in the offseason. Maybe we sign him to a minor league contract or he goes elsewhere.