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ST: The Good and the Bad

March 31, 2011

With the season starting tomorrow night, its time to look back at spring training and see who impressed and who we might need to be concerned about.

The good:

Jake Fox: .297/.325/.797, 7 doubles, 10 HR, 15 RBI, 74 AB – Fox came into camp and won a spot on the bench. He absolutely crushed the ball all spring long.
Vladimir Guerrero: .364/.366/.621, 2 doubles, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 66 AB – Guerrero didn’t look like hes over the hill but its still early. We’ll have to see how he holds up over the course of the season.
Adam Jones: .304/.314/.580, 4 doubles, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 69 AB – Jones is a breakout candidate this year. We’re going to need him if we’re going to do anything significant.
JJ Hardy: .351/.397/.509, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 57 AB – I didn’t know shortstops could hit…
Nick Markakis: .375/.435/.607, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 56 AB – Markakis is trying to rebound from what was a down year for him. Off to a good start.
Nolan Reimold: .315/.448/.537, 3 doubles, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 54 AB – Reimold was sent down to AAA Norfolk but he looked like he was back in 2009 form. If he continues that he’ll be back before long.
Brian Roberts: .359/.435/.538, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 39 AB – Roberts gave everyone a scare early on with more back trouble but went on to have a great spring, staying healthy in the second half.
Zach Britton: 3-0, 1.35 ERA, 13 K, 5 BB, 20 IP – Britton had the best spring of any pitcher but was sent down to AAA because of service time. He’ll be back before the end of the month most likely.
Josh Rupe: 1-1, 1.23 ERA, 4 K, 4 BB, 14.2 IP – Rupe earned his way onto the pitching staff as the long man in the bullpen. I don’t think he’ll last long though. Other relievers with good springs: Jason Berken (3.21 ERA), Jim Johnson (1.00), and Jeremy Accardo (2.08). All three made the team.

The bad:

Mark Reynolds: .232/.293/.348, 5 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 69 AB – Reynolds was messing around with new hitting mechanics but scrapped them after the results weren’t good. I think he’ll be fine.
Luke Scott: .210/.234/.452, 3 doubles, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 62 AB – Scott started off ice cold before going into one of his red hot tears in the last week. Hopefully he carries that over into the season.
Cesar Izturis: .105/.190/.105, 1 RBI, 38 AB – I know Izturis can’t hit but my god.. could he be getting even worse? Defense be damned, I’m not sure why hes on this team.
Jake Arrieta: 3-0, 5.79 ERA, 14 K, 7 BB, 18.2 IP – This was a trend with all the starting pitchers minus Britton. I think they were all working on different things. We’re going to need them, hopefully the light comes on when the season starts.
Brad Bergesen: 1-1, 5.82 ERA, 7 K, 6 BB, 17 IP – Bergesen was also hit in the forearm with a line drive. His bad spring means he’ll start the season in the bullpen before taking over the 5th starters spot.
Jeremy Guthrie: 1-2, 6.43 ERA, 7 K, 2 BB, 14 IP – I’m not worried about Guthrie. Hes a veteran, he should know how to get ready for a season. Plus he only walked two batters.
Brian Matusz: 0-2, 5.93 ERA, 13 K, 7 BB, 13.2 IP – Matusz was also hit in the arm with a line drive. Hes going to make his start but I’m a little worried he hasn’t built up enough innings for the start of the season.
Kevin Gregg: 1-0, 9.82 ERA, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.1 IP – Gregg is supposed to be our closer but he didn’t perform like one. He was working on something mechanical but I still would prefer Koji as our closer.


2010 Off Season Preview

November 6, 2010

With free agency officially getting under way at midnight tonight I figured now was as good a time as any to try and guess what the Orioles will be doing over the off season. The Orioles improved alot after Buck Showalter took over for the last two months of the season, but that was mostly due to the starting pitching. The offense still needs alot of work and could stand to be upgraded at first base, third base, shortstop, and maybe even left field.

First and third are the most pressing needs. Last year we signed Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins to one year deals as stopgaps, hoping that Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder would be ready to take over for good by the end of the season. Unfortunately Tejada and Atkins disappointed in a big way and were both gone by August. Meanwhile, Bell and Snyder each had disappointing seasons and gave the Orioles reason to believe that they aren’t the answers at their respective positions. There are plenty of free agent options for first base. Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Adam LaRoche, Derrek Lee, Victor Martinez, and Carlos Pena are all guys that I could see the Orioles going after. Any one of them would be a significant upgrade. Berkman, Pena, and LaRoche are type B free agents that won’t cost the O’s a draft pick if they’re signed so that gives them a leg up over the other guys. I’m sure Andy MacPhail would be willing to give up a second round draft pick to get the right guy but it is interesting to note. Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are the big names that could be available via trade but I don’t see us giving up what it would take to get one of them. On top of that we’d still have to sign whoever we got to an expensive extension.

Third base isn’t as easy to upgrade through free agency as the only enticing names on the market are Adrian Beltre and perhaps Jorge Cantu. If we can’t sign Beltre I’d like to see MacPhail get creative and trade for someone. Mark Reynolds for the Diamondbacks is available and so might David Wright for the Mets and Alex Gordon of the Royals. Reynolds would be the guy I’d target since he would be the easiest to acquire. Hes coming off a down year but he has serious power and I think he’ll bounce back. Jeremy Guthrie and Luke Scott are players that can be dangled in a trade but I think they’d only go in the right deal.

The Orioles seem content to bring back Cesar Izturis as the starting shortstop but I’m hoping they’ll explore all avenues to upgrade the position. Izturis was historically bad offensively last year and while hes good with the glove, its not enough to make up for the hole in the lineup he gives us. Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria from the world champion Giants will be free agents and JJ Hardy and Ryan Theriot could be non-tendered. Theres also the trade route for a guy like Jason Bartlett or a minor leaguer whos on the cusp. Derek Jeter is a free agent but you can forget about that. Theres no way he ends up anywhere other than the Yankees.

As far as other moves are concerned I could see us targeting guys like Colby Rasmus and Carlos Quinten if they can be had reasonably. The bench could also be addressed. Will Ty Wiggington return in a support role? Or do we bring in another versatile guy like Jerry Hairston? The rotation and bullpen are pretty set but I think we’ll bring in another starter and maybe a reliever or two for depth and the flexibility to make some trades. A guy with some room to grow like Jorge De La Rosa could be attractive to the team or we could go the veteran route with a Jon Garland or Hiroki Kuroda. I think we’ll being in a lefty reliever and maybe another guy depending on how things play out. Koji Uehara also should be re-signed but the O’s might choose to go in a different direction due to his inability to stay healthy.

Heres how I see things playing out as of right now:

– Sign Adam LaRoche to a two year, $18 million deal.
– Sign Juan Uribe to a two year, $11 million deal.
– Sign Hisanori Takahashi to a one year, $4 million deal.
– Sign Jorge De La Rosa to a three year, $27 million deal.
– Re-sign Koji Uehara to a one year, $5.5 million deal with a $6.5 million team option for 2012.
– Trade Josh Bell and Kam Mickolio to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Mark Reynolds.


2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Felix Pie
SS Juan Uribe


C Craig Tatum
SS Robert Andino
OF Nolan Reimold
1B Brandon Snyder


Jeremy Guthrie
Brian Matusz
Jorge De La Rosa
Brad Bergesen
Jake Arrieta


Koji Uehara
Mike Gonzalez
Jim Johnson
David Hernandez
Hisanori Takahashi
Matt Albers
Rick VandenHurk

That lineup will put up runs and be competitive with that pitching staff. In this scenerio I have Jason Berken starting out at AAA Norfolk until he proves hes full strength. If so he replaces Albers or VandenHurk if either one is really struggling. Chris Tillman and Zach Britton each start out at AAA Norfolk also and can be called upon if theres a trade or an injury, or if Bergesen or Arrieta are struggling bad enough. I’d enjoy watching that team and if things broke the right way with our core talent progressing like we feel they should it might put us in contention. I’m sure things will end up much differently by February as we head into spring training but this is just one way the Orioles could wind up with a successful off season, at least by my standards.

Stay tuned for The Oriole Report’s top 25 prospect list heading into the 2011 season.

2010 In Review: RH Relief Pitchers

November 5, 2010

David Hernandez – 8-8, 4.31 ERA, 2 SV, 79.1 IP, 72 K, 42 BB, 1.42 WHIP, 8.17 K/9

Hernandez started the season as the Orioles fifth starter but was converted to the bullpen after going 1-5 with a 5.31 ERA over 8 starts. He had a strikeout to walk ratio of 27/28 during that time over 42.1 innings. His fastball worked much better coming out of the bullpen where he could crank it up to as fast as 99 mph and he didn’t have to worry about mixing in his breaking pitches as often. He was 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA over 37 innings with 45 strikeouts and 14 walks after becoming a reliever. He even had a short stint as the closer before Alfredo Simon took over the role. He missed some time with a lower leg injury in August after trying to cover home plate on a wild pitch. Scouts always said he would wind up as a back end of the bullpen pitcher and it looks like they were right.

2011 Prognosis: Hernandez will be an important pitcher in the Orioles bullpen next year, most likely as a 6th/7th inning guy. Shorter stints work better for him and I expect that to continue. If he puts up a 3.16 ERA over a full season he would be a pretty good middle reliever. He also has more room to grow and the potential to be a set up man or even the closer by the end of the season. On paper the O’s bullpen should be one of their strengths heading into 2011 and Hernandez should be a big part of that.

Matt Albers – 5-3, 4.52 ERA, 75.2 IP, 49 K, 34 BB, 1.48 WHIP, 5.83 K/9

The good thing about Albers’ season was that he stayed healthy and amassed alot of innings without hurting himself. The problem was that he was just as inconsistent as he was in 2009. When hes good, hes really good but there are too many times when he loses his mechanics and the ball is too hittable. He was great in May (2.70 ERA) and July (1.93) but bad in the other four months of the season (6.75, 6.94, 5.40, 4.73). He gets alot of groundballs with his sinker so he has value as a guy that can induce a double play but theres no telling which version is going to show up on any given night. He could stand to lose some weight and maybe that plays a factor in him struggling to maintain his form on the mound.

2011 Prognosis: Albers will still be under contract for the Orioles in 2011 and will most likely make the team as the 6th or 7th guy in the bullpen but I would think he’ll be on thin ice and will need to show more consistency if he wants to stay with the team all year. There is alot of pitching coming up through the minors so he will have more and more competition for the job as time goes on. If he can pitch like he did in May and July more often or at least limit his slumps to shorter lengths he can give us good value. A good spring training would be good for his job security.

Jason Berken – 3-3, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 45 K, 19 BB, 1.33 WHIP, 6.50 K/9

Berken was in the same boat as David Hernandez except that he made the transition to the bullpen sooner, in spring training. He started off as the long man and mop up guy and excelled in that role. As pitchers got hurt and underperformed he moved up the ladder and eventually became a set up guy. At the all-star break he had a 1.95 ERA over 50.2 innings with 37 strikeouts and 14 walks. Unfortunately he didn’t fare as well in the second half, putting up a 7.71 ERA over 11.2 innings before being shut down with a tear in his labrum (shoulder). I’m sure the injury was a big reason for his decline in performance and its a tough injury to recover from.

2011 Prognosis: Berken opted against surgery and will reportedly be ready to go for spring training. With this injury the Orioles can’t expect him to come back pitching the way he was in the first half of 2010. Matt Albers went through a similar injury in 2008 and has been inconsistent ever since. If Berken struggles in spring training I would start him out in AAA Norfolk’s bullpen until he got his feet under him. If he looks alright he should start out pitching in lower leverage situations until we have a more definitive idea of how hes recovered. I wouldn’t expect anything lower than a 3.75 ERA.

Alfredo Simon – 4-2, 4.93 ERA, 17 SV, 49.1 IP, 36 K, 22 BB, 1.54 WHIP, 6.57 K/9

Simon underwent Tommy John surgery in the beginning of the 2009 season and recovered fast enough to be ready for spring training of 2010. Thats a success in and of itself. He started the year in AAA Norfolk’s rotation and after three starts (four appearances) to the tune of a 1.59 ERA over 17 innings with 14 strikeouts and 5 walks he was called up to Baltimore. Surprisingly, he immediately got a shot at being the Orioles closer and actually started out doing very well with a 3.24 ERA and 13 saves over 25 innings before the all-star break. Unfortunately things unwound for him in the second half and he wasn’t very effective at all, going 2-1 with a 6.66 ERA over 24.1 innings. Maybe his arm began to fatigue in the second half after the year layoff but he wasn’t exactly dominant even when he was going good.

2011 Prognosis: Simon will try to win a spot in the bullpen in spring training but I expect him to start out back in AAA Norfolk as the closer. He can work on things there and the Orioles can try to decide if his first half of 2010 was a fluke or if he just tired out in the second half. I don’t expect much from him next year but he can be solid insurance in case of injuries in the big league bullpen. He needs to limit his homeruns allowed to be effective at Camden Yards.

Koji Uehara – 1-2, 2.86 ERA, 13 SV, 44 IP, 55 K, 5 BB, 0.95 WHIP, 11.25 K/9

Koji is a guy that is frustrating to watch. When hes healthy, hes great, but he is hurt alot. He was a starter for the Orioles in 2009 but the team decided the bullpen would suit his fragile body better so he was converted into a reliever. He started the year on the disabled list but came back in May where he was effective over seven appearances before getting hurt again. He came back in July and managed to stay healthy from there on out and eventually became the closer in August. He was great in the second half with a 2.57 ERA and all 13 of his saves over 35 innings with 45 strikeouts and only one walk. Thats right, he had a 45-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He was the rare closer that you knew was going to come in and throw strikes. He blew two saves on homeruns but I’ll take that over a guy that walks two every time out and could unravel at any time.

2011 Prognosis: Uehara will be a free agent and I’m really hoping the Orioles make a run at re-signing him. Any pitcher with a strikeout and walk rate like his in 2010 is a very valuable asset to a major league bullpen. We could plug him in at closer and know what we’re going to get every time out, as long as he stays healthy. And thats the big question that I’m sure the Orioles are trying to answer. If they don’t think he can stay healthy than he won’t do us any good sitting on the disabled list. Either way Koji is going to get plenty of attention on the free agent market with his performance in the second half. If he doesn’t find anything to his liking he can always return to Japan.

Jim Johnson – 1-1, 3.42 ERA, 1 SV, 26.1 IP, 22 K, 5 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 7.52 K/9

Johnson was supposed to be a sure thing coming into the season as the set up man to Mike Gonzalez. By the end of April neither one was on the active roster. Johnson struggled mightily to start the year (6.52 ERA over 9.2 innings in April) and was demoted to AAA Norfolk in a surprising move before discovering he had an injury that was bothering him. He went on the disabled list for about three months before rehabbing his way back to the Orioles. When he returned in late August he looked more like his old self, pitching to a 1.62 ERA over 16.2 innings with 13 strikeouts and one walk from then to the end of the season. When he came back he looked like a different pitcher, getting tremendous movement on a faster fastball and getting lots of ground balls.

2011 Prognosis: Johnson looked as good as he did when he broke out in 2008 at the end of the season and it would be huge if he could continue in that form. Something in the low threes as far as ERA goes would be a nice bounce back season to re-establish himself moving forward. He’ll only be 27 on opening day so theres plenty of time for him to get his career back on track. He’ll enter the 2011 season scribbled in as the right handed set up man. I don’t expect him to get another crack at closing any time soon.

Frank Mata – 0-0, 7.79 ERA, 17.1 IP, 9 K, 8 BB, 1.85 WHIP, 4.67 K/9

Mata was called up in late May after pitching well as AAA Norfolk’s closer. He didn’t fare as well when he got to Baltimore and was sent back down in July. He walked too many batters and his stuff was way too hittable. In AAA he did much better with a 3.16 ERA over 42.2 innings, striking out 30 batters and walking 20. In 10.1 innings during winter league he has a 2.61 ERA with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks.

2011 Prognosis: Mata was just taken off the 40 man roster to make room for Jason Berken, who came off the 60 day disabled list, and will become a minor league free agent. He might still come back to the Orioles on a minor league deal but I expect him to sign somewhere else. Hes a AAAA relief pitcher and a dime a dozen.

Rick VandenHurk – 0-1, 4.96 ERA, 16.1 IP, 17 K, 7 BB, 1.22 WHIP, 9.37 K/9

VandenHurk was acquired from the Florida Marlins in the Will Ohman trade. He showed some potential in his brief time with the Orioles at the end of the season but has to work on his command. Hes got good stuff, especially his slider, and could be a good long reliever. He was brought up as a starter but is better suited for the bullpen. With Florida’s AAA team he was 8-4 with a 4.68 ERA over 98 innings with 87 strikeouts and 40 walks but got better as the season went along. In three starts for AAA Norfolk he was 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA, 7 strikeouts, and 4 walks over 20.2 innings.

2011 Prognosis: VandenHurk will be out of options next year so he has to make the team after spring training or be passed through waivers. I think theres a good chance he makes the team, at least to start the year, as the long reliever. His versatility could help the team as long as he pitches well. He can work in one inning stints or pitch multiple innings if needed. He can also start in a pinch if theres a minor injury to one of the starters.

Cla Meredith – 0-2, 5.40 ERA, 1 SV, 15 IP, 7 K, 4 BB, 1.47 WHIP, 4.20 K/9

Meredith had a great spring training and came into the season as the “right handed specialist”. He pitched fairly well in April with a 3.60 ERA but only over 5 innings. He was only being used to face one or two batters at a time, which always seemed like a waste of a roster spot to me. In May he struggled to the tune of a 5.91 ERA over 10.2 innings and was sent down to AAA Norfolk at the end of the month. He continued his struggles there and never made it back to Baltimore. Over 27 innings with the Tide he had a 6.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts and 12 walks. He got alot of ground balls but they must have been hit hard because batters hit .292 against him.

2011 Prognosis: Meredith became a free agent after the season ended and I don’t think he’ll be coming back to Baltimore. He’ll probably get a minor league contract from some team but hes got progressively worse every season since breaking out with the Padres a few years ago.

Armando Gabino – 0-0, 13.49 ERA, 4.2 IP, 2 K, 3 BB, 2.57 WHIP, 3.85 K/9

Gabino had a good year at AAA Norfolk working as both a starter and a reliever. He was 7-0 with a 2.37 ERA over 83.2 innings with 75 strikeouts and 23 walks. He was rewarded with a September call up but struggled in limited action. Hes had plenty of success in the minor leagues but has yet to break out at the major league level.

2011 Prognosis: Gabino will try to make the team out of spring training but it’ll be a long shot. Most likely he’ll be back in AAA Norfolk’s bullpen unless he becomes a roster casualty over the off season. Hes another guy that can be used as insurance in case of an injury or under performance.

Kam Mickolio – 0-0, 7.36 ERA, 3.2 IP, 4 K, 3 BB, 2.18 WHIP, 9.81 K/9

Coming into spring training Mickolio was a favorite to make the bullpen but he performed bad enough to get demoted to AAA Norfolk to start the year. He got a brief call up in April hit around in three appearances and was quickly sent back down. He struggled with Norfolk as well, putting up a 6.37 ERA over 35.1 innings with 48 strikeouts and 17 walks. He was a legitimate prospect at one point but is pitching himself out of that distinction. Hes got good stuff but his mechanics are too inconsistent. His six foot nine height probably has something to do with that. Hes performed well in the Arizona Fall League so far with a 1.29 ERA over 7 innings with 10 strikeouts and 2 walks.

2011 Prognosis: If Mickolio can get it together he can still be a valuable asset to the Orioles bullpen. His performance in the AFL is promising and if he can keep it up he’ll give himself a good start toward spring training where he’ll battle for a spot on the team. Most likely he ends up back at AAA Norfolk where he’ll need to earn his next shot in Baltimore. Another year like this one and the Orioles might write him off.

2010 In Review: LH Relief Pitchers

October 29, 2010

Mark Hendrickson – 1-6, 5.26 ERA, 75.1 IP, 55 K, 20 BB, 1.55 WHIP, 6.57 K/9

The only thing Hendrickson brought to the team in 2010 was that he was able to stay healthy and log a decent amount of innings. The problem was that he wasn’t very effective in those innings and was only used in mop up duty or when a game was out of hand one way or the other. He started one game but was mostly used in two inning stints. Even when the Orioles were in need of a left handed specialist after trading Will Ohman they didn’t use him in that role. Its almost like they were scared to use him and hid him in the bullpen. I didn’t have a problem with bringing him back for another year but he just wasn’t the same pitcher that he was in 2009. At least there was a veteran in the bullpen to help with team chemistry.

2011 Prognosis: The Orioles will buy out the team option on Hendrickson’s contract for $200,000 and let him become a free agent. The only way I could see him return was if he accepted a minor league contract and battled for a bullpen spot in spring training, which isn’t likely. He’ll latch on to some teams bullpen on a one year deal around $1 million. The Orioles can use the younger Troy Patton in his role next year if they want a similar pitcher, but one with more upside.

Will Ohman – 0-0, 3.30 ERA, 30 IP, 28 K, 18 BB, 1.60 WHIP, 8.40 K/9

Ohman was signed to a minor league contract heading into spring training and it turned out to be a great move. He wasn’t anything particularly special but he did a fine job as the left handed specialist for the league minimum. He also allowed the Orioles to acquire RHP Rick VandenHurk when he was traded to the Marlins. He continued to pitch for Florida with about the same results, striking out 14 batters and walking 5 over 12 innings for a 3.00 ERA as the left handed specialist. It was a solid bounce back year for Ohman coming off of a 5.84 ERA and an arm injury in 2009.

2011 Prognosis: Ohman will be a free agent again but this time he should be able to get a guaranteed contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up back on the Orioles but I personally don’t think its smart to waste a roster spot on somebody that only faces a batter or two at a time. A contending team in need of left handed relief help would be a good fit, maybe even the Yankees.

Mike Gonzalez – 1-3, 4.01 ERA, 1 SV, 24.2 IP, 31 K, 14 BB, 1.30 WHIP, 11.31 K/9

Gonzalez was the Orioles biggest free agent signing last offseason and if it wasn’t for the historically bad Garrett Atkins he might’ve been the biggest bust. Signed to a two year, 12 million dollar contract with the O’s losing their second round pick in the 2010 draft he came into spring training as damaged goods. Something clearly wasn’t right since he couldn’t break 90 mph on the radar gun and after blowing two of three save chances at the start of the season he was put on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. He missed the next three and a half months and when he came back looked like a different pitcher. He lost the closers role but really thrived in the left handed set up role down the stretch, pitching to a 2.78 ERA from July 22nd to the end of the season. Hes control is still the biggest issue with him but he strikes out alot of batters with his deceptive delivery.

2011 Prognosis: Gonzalez can still make his contract worth the Orioles while if he can continue to pitch the way he did after returning from the DL next year. If Koji Uehara doesn’t return I would say hes the favorite to be the closer. If Koji does come back he can continue in his set up role unless/until Uehara gets hurt. The O’s could decide to shop Gonzalez around in the offseason but I think his value would be better in a mid-season trade before the deadline after he has more time to rebuild his reputation.

Alberto Castillo – 1-0, 10.12 ERA, 10.2 IP, 11 K, 6 BB, 2.06 WHIP, 9.28 K/9

Castillo is a guy that seems to get a chance with the Orioles at some point every season but never does anything with the opportunity. He got called up in May with our bullpen struggling through injuries to Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara, and Jim Johnson but was back in AAA Norfolk by the beginning of June. He wasn’t used much when he was up but when he was he was completely ineffective. Over 39.2 innings with Norfolk he was 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks. Hes a great example of a AAAA player, good enough to be useful in AAA but not good enough to make it in the majors.

2011 Prognosis: I would assume Castillo will be back with the Tide in AAA Norfolk next year unless hes taken off of the 40 man roster. I think the minor league pitching is deep enough that we won’t see him again in an Oriole uniform. Hes a solid AAA reliever but I don’t ever see him making the next step.

Pedro Viola – 0-0, 13.53 ERA, 1.1 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, 1.50 WHIP, 20.30 K/9

Viola was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds at the very beginning of the season and started out at AAA Norfolk in the bullpen. He struggled mightily to start the year and was demoted to AA Bowie in June after posting a 17.65 ERA over 8.2 innings with 8 strikeouts and 10 walks. He started out at AA in the bullpen but was moved to the rotation for 10 starts where he seemed to find his form before going back to the bullpen. He had a 3.59 ERA for the Baysox over 62.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and 19 walks. The Orioles gave him a September callup where he didn’t show much but to be fair he didn’t really have much of a chance to show anything. He seems like a mop up guy at best.

2011 Prognosis: My guess is the Orioles only called Viola up in September so they had more information on him for when they have to decide to keep him on the 40 man roster or not. I don’t think they will but you never know with left handed pitchers. Good ones are a rare commodity that teams try hard to find and will hold out hope that they will reach their potential. I see him as no more than a AAA bullpen arm if hes with the Orioles or any team for that matter.

Troy Patton – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.2 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 2.99 WHIP, 13.43 K/9\

Patton was a part of the Miguel Tejada trade from two years ago when he came over with Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, and Mike Constanzo. He was once a top prospect for the Astros but labrum surgery really cut into his stock. He worked his way back into action in 2009 where he did great at AA Bowie before struggling in AAA Norfolk in the second half of the season. Back in Norfolk this year he went 8-11 with a 4.43 ERA over 136 innings with 89 strikeouts and 43 walks. Not a great season but he had a 3.46 ERA over his last 10 starts. He only got into one game for the Orioles in September despite being called up at three separate points in the season.

2011 Prognosis: Labrum injuries are hard to come back from and I think Patton has done a good job of getting to where hes at. No doubt he doesn’t have the stuff he had before the surgery but I think he can still be an effective pitcher. I think he would do well with a move to the bullpen where he could take on a Mark Hendrickson type role. He’ll compete for a spot on the Orioles pitching staff in spring training.

2010 In Review: Starting Pitchers

October 28, 2010

Jeremy Guthrie – 11-14, 3.83 ERA, 209.1 IP, 119 K, 50 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 5.12 K/9

It was a tale of two halves for Guthrie this year. Before the all-star break he looked like the same disappointing pitcher from 2009, posting a 3-10 record with a 4.77 ERA, 57 strikeouts, and 34 walks over 111.1 innings. Something must’ve clicked with the mid-season break because he was pretty dominant in the second half going 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA, 62 strikeouts, and 16 walks over 98 innings. He was getting much better velocity and movement in the second half and I’m really curious what he changed, if anything. He ended up throwing the most innings in his career, making it two years in a row that thats happened. Three out of the last four years Guthrie has had an ERA between 3.63 and 3.83 with 2009 being the exception at 5.04. At his worst hes an innings eater, at his best hes a very solid number three starter on a good team.

2011 Prognosis: Guthrie should have alot of trade value going into the offseason and I think it depends on whether the Orioles believe he can sustain his success from the second half whether they trade him or not. It might be smart to move him now if we can get a team to overpay for him. If we don’t get an offer that we like, then we’re “stuck” with an inning eating veteran who can be dominant at times. Hes still under the Orioles control for two more seasons so there will be more chances to trade him if the need arises. If he stays with the team I would expect him to post an ERA between 4.00 and 4.50 with 200+ more innings, which has alot of value.

Kevin Millwood – 4-16, 5.10 ERA, 190.2 IP, 132 K, 65 BB, 1.51 WHIP, 6.23 K/9

Millwood was acquired in the offseason from the Texas Rangers with the idea that he could be a veteran innings eater that could help out the young arms. He started off the season pitching very well but was unlucky when it came to getting decisions. He was 0-5 despite an ERA sitting at 3.89 after the first two months. He seemed to mentally give in to all the losing and got bombed over June and July (8.82 and 10.66 ERAs respectively) before missing some time with an injury. He came back right around the same time that Showalter came in, which looks like it had a positive effect for Millwood. He finished the year strong with a 3.54 ERA in August and 3.82 in September. Overall he didn’t give the Orioles what they were looking for, which was consistency. By all accounts he was good in the clubhouse but unfortunately that doesn’t show up in the standings.

2011 Prognosis: Millwood will be a free agent and I would be shocked if he came back to Baltimore. I think both him and the ballclub would prefer to go in other directions. I think he can still be an effective starter in the National League and thats where I expect him to wind up. Maybe right down the street in Washington. Three out of the last four years hes had an ERA around 5.00, which is what I would expect from him again next year.

Brian Matusz – 10-12, 4.30 ERA, 175.2 IP, 143 K, 63 BB, 1.34 WHIP, 7.33 K/9

It was an interesting rookie season for Matusz, a bit of a roller coaster ride. He had a bit of bad luck in the first half with weakly hit balls finding holes or landing just out of a defenders reach. In May and July he looked completely lost and it showed with ERAs of 7.50 and 8.10 but those months were sandwiching June when he had a 3.69 ERA. Just like everyone else, when Showalter took over he improved dramatically. He went 6-1 over the last two months with a 2.25 ERA. Although it wasn’t the way I expected him to get there, Matusz pretty much had the numbers I expected out of him coming into the season. The good news is that he got better as the season went on and finished strong, giving the Orioles hope that he can be the staff ace.

2011 Prognosis: I’m fully expecting Matusz to take off next year and solidify himself as a top of the rotation starter. He might not reach that point but he should give us 200 innings with an ERA between 3.25 and 3.75. Hes the real deal and a big reason why I think Orioles fans can finally get excited for the future. Andy MacPhails plan has always been to grow the arms and it appears that it is finally coming to fruition.

Brad Bergesen – 8-12, 4.98 ERA, 170 IP, 81 K, 51 BB, 1.44 WHIP, 4.29 K/9

Bergesen’s year started off horribly when he injured his throwing shoulder while shooting a commercial and it lingered into spring training. He managed to avoid the disabled list but probably wishes he didn’t after getting torched in his first three starts of the season and getting sent down to AAA Norfolk. He pitched one game down there, got called back up, and bounced back with a respectable May (3-1, 4.26 ERA). Things got bad again in June when he had two horrible starts, was moved to the bullpen, and eventually sent back down to Norfolk. After two more starts down there he came back again and proceeded to go 0-5 with a 6.32 ERA in July. Things were looking very bad for Bergesen and people were wondering if 2009 was a fluke. But once Showalter took over as manager something changed. He started pitching like he did in his rookie season, going 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA over his last 10 starts in August and September.

2011 Prognosis: Next season will be very interesting for Bergesen. Does he continue pitching like he did in 2009 and the last two months of 2010? I don’t know if he’ll be that good but I see no reason why he can’t give you an ERA between 3.75 and 4.25. Theres plenty of reason to believe that his struggles for most of last year are due to the shin and shoulder injuries that he suffered. His velocity really picked up over the last two months and he actually started to strike out batters at a reasonable rate. He should be a solid third or fourth starter in 2011.

Jake Arrieta – 6-6, 4.66 ERA, 100.1 IP, 52 K, 48 BB, 1.53 WHIP, 4.66 K/9

Arrieta started out the year at AAA Norfolk where he absolutely dominated the competition through June 5th. He went 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA over 73 innings with 64 strikeouts and 34 walks. He was finally called up on June 10th against the New York Yankees where he won his MLB debut and struck out six batters. His first two starts went well but then he hit a rough patch as the league adjusted to him. He improved his ERA each month as the season went on (6.20, 5.01, 4.45, 2.60) before getting shut down in September with a bone spur in his elbow. At first he was going to have surgery to remove it but instead hes just going to rest it over the offseason. Arrieta has a bulldog mentality and hes not afraid to go right after hitters. Hes got good stuff, a mid 90’s fastball and decent secondaries, but he needs to work on his command and consistency in his mechanics.

2011 Prognosis: In 2009 Arrieta dominated AA before getting called up to AAA and struggling a bit. He came back this year and dominated AAA before getting called up to the majors and struggling a bit. Could next year see him dominate at the big league level? I doubt it but Arrieta is a guy that makes adjustments and works hard over the offseason so he should continue to improve. Hes hard to predict but I could see anywhere from a mid three ERA to a high four. Hopefully the bone spur doesn’t become an issue at some point. I wish he would’ve got that taken care of, for peace of mind that it won’t flare up at least.

Chris Tillman – 2-5, 5.87 ERA, 53.2 IP, 31 K, 31 BB, 1.53 WHIP, 5.20 K/9

Tillman has a long way to go still. He jumped up top prospect lists because he flew through the O’s minor league system dominating at every stop, striking out batters with a low 90’s fastball and knee buckling curve. The only problem is that it hasn’t translated well to the major leagues to this point. It looks like major league hitters can read the ball out of his hand and since he rarely throws his curve ball in the strike zone they just take it for a ball. He had a couple moments of brilliance, one start in Texas where he shut out the Rangers on two hits over 7.1 innings and in his last start of the season he only gave up one run over 7 innings with 7 strikeouts. In AAA Norfolk he pitched to a 11-7 record with a 3.34 ERA, 94 strikeouts, and 30 walks over 121.1 innings. The Orioles had him working on a two seam fastball to try and reduce his extreme fly ball tendencies but thats going to take time to implement.

2011 Prognosis: Tillman is still only 22 years old so theres plenty of time for him to reach his potential. Hes still maturing and working on his command along with that two seamer. Hes shown what hes capable of but fans are ready to give up on him. I’ll admit if we’re going to trade one of the young starting pitchers for a big bat I’d prefer to deal Tillman since hes the farthest out from reaching his ceiling but I wouldn’t just give him away. Him and Zach Britton will probably battle it out for the 5th starters spot in spring training if things remain the same. If it was up to me I’d have him starting out at AAA Norfolk again and make him earn another shot.

2010 In Review: DH

October 21, 2010

Luke Scott – .284/.368/.535, 69 R, 29 doubles, 1 triple, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, 517 PA

Scott had about as good of a season as you could expect out of him, despite a very slow start. In April he was held to a .638 OPS but that was about the only time during the season where he would struggle. For the first time in his career he was consistent and fortunately for Scott and the Orioles it was consistently good. In May he put up a 1.024 OPS, .915 in June, 1.018 in July despite missing half the month with an injury, .996 in August, and .780 in September. The biggest adjustment seemed to be that he wasn’t pressing when things weren’t going well. In September he didn’t have his power stroke but he was still getting on base (.407 OBP) and taking the hits he could get, even if they were only singles. He set a career high in homeruns for the 5th season in a row (10, 18, 23, 25, 27) and really seems to be coming into his own. He played some games at first base and left field but the Orioles seem to like him in the DH role despite him looking adequate in the field.

2011 Prognosis: Entering spring training Scott will 32 years old and in his prime. I don’t think you can expect him to keep improving at this point but you can hope he stays consistent and provides you with an OPS between .850 and .900. At this point hes the only true power threat in the lineup but he also probably has one of the highest trade values on the team. If the Orioles can get a great return I think they would trade him before he enters the declining phase of his career. But if they can’t get an acceptable return I think they’ll be happy to keep him as the DH and a serious 30 homerun threat in the lineup. He’d be even more dangerous with some other additions to the lineup. Should be an interesting off season for Scott.

2010 In Review: Right Field

October 21, 2010

Nick Markakis – .297/.370/.436, 77 R, 45 doubles, 3 triples, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 7 SB, 709 PA

Despite having the second best offensive numbers on the team and another season with 45 doubles I would consider 2010 a down year for Markakis. He continued to show his high contact hitting ability with another season around .300 and continued to have the best patience on the team with a great on base percentage but his power was almost non-existent. His slugging percentage has decreased consistently over the last three years (.491, .453, .436) and his homeruns have decreased over the last four years (23, 20, 18, 12). Hes still the most consistent player on the team and continued his great defense out in right field. Its a shame the guy still doesn’t have a gold glove or all-star game appearance on his resume but its clear he’ll have each one day. He has one of the most accurate arms in the majors and its strong as well. He does all the little things the right way, hustling and even starting to make his presence known in the clubhouse. Hes a fan favorite for a reason and will be an Orioles for a long time to come.

2011 Prognosis: Markakis is the one guy the Orioles don’t have to worry about and can count on to perform both offensively and defensively. You can always expect gold glove level defense and an OPS between .800 and .900. I think if the Orioles can get him some help in the lineup his power numbers will improve. It seems like hes content to just poke balls into the outfield but it would be nice to see him try to drive some pitches. Hes already talked about getting stronger over the offseason and that is the kind of thing you want out of your players, always trying to improve. Depending on what happens in the offseason Markakis could be hitting out of the two or three hole, either way you know hes going to produce.

2010 In Review: Center Field

October 21, 2010

Adam Jones – .284/.325/.442, 76 R, 25 doubles, 5 triples, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 7 SB, 621 PA

Jones had a similar season this year to 2009 overall, but he went about it in a much different way. Last year he came out of the gates scorching hot for the first two months before crashing back to earth in the second half. This year he started out ice cold (.633 OPS in April, .678 in May) but then caught fire in June (.952 OPS) and was pretty consistent after that (.691 OPS in July, .850 in August, .781 in September). His inability to recognize a slider and resist swinging at one in the dirt is the biggest obstacle to becoming a superstar. It limits his walks and increases his strikeouts. He’ll likely never completely kick the habit but he needs to focus on identifying pitches and waiting for his pitch. Hes got alot of power and if he improves his weakness it will only improve his ability to use it. Defensively he regressed after winning the gold glove in 2009. He probably didn’t deserve it last year and maybe it went to his head because he just didn’t show the range he had in 2008.

2011 Prognosis: I would expect Jones to continue to improve next year. Hes a hard worker and it looked like he really reacted to the Buck Showalter signing in a positive way. Showalter isn’t afraid to get on players for mistakes and I think Jones respects that. Hes got all the tools he just needs to keep putting them together. I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks out a bit next season but I’m looking for some patience at the plate and 20+ homeruns. An OPS over .800 would help the offense alot and he needs to get back to playing defense like he did the previous two years. Our hopes of contention lay in the hands of how quickly and how much our core young players develop more so than any free agent we may sign.

2010 In Review: Left Field

October 20, 2010

Corey Patterson – .269/.315/.406, 43 R, 16 doubles, 1 triple, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 21 SB, 339 PA

The Orioles signed Patterson to a minor league contract near the end of April and at the time I didn’t see the point and thought he wouldn’t see any time in the majors. I was wrong. He got called up in May, started out hot and played pretty well throughout the remainder of the season. Since last playing with the Orioles in 2007 hes bounced around a bit, not producing much at all. After signing with the Orioles he hit .368/.419/.491 with 5 doubles and a triple with AAA Norfolk before getting the promotion. The only reason he got a chance was because of Felix Pie’s injury and Nolan Reimold’s struggles at the plate but he made the most of the opportunity. Hes playing time reduced when Pie returned from the disabled list but when he did get in there he was consistent. He still doesn’t have much patience at the plate but brings some decent power for a small, speedy outfielder. His defense in left field wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, especially for a guy thats normally a center fielder.

2011 Prognosis: Patterson is a free agent but theres still a chance the Orioles bring him back. It depends on how the offseason unfolds. The Orioles could acquire another outfielder moving Felix Pie to the bench as fourth outfielder, which would make Patterson unnecessary. Or they could trade Pie or make him the everyday left fielder, in which case Patterson could be useful as a fourth outfielder. I doubt he’d accept a minor league deal with how he played this season, I’m sure plenty of teams would be willing to guarantee a spot on their bench for him. If he signs somewhere else its nothing to lose sleep over but if it works out that he returns its not the end of the world either.

Felix Pie – .274/.305/.413, 39 R, 15 doubles, 5 triples, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB, 308 PA

Pie didn’t get many at bats in the first two weeks of the season but when he did he was killing the ball. Unfortunately he tore a muscle in his back and had to miss three months of the season or he would’ve gotten a chance. When he came back he struggled to get back into it. After a cold July (.593 OPS), he had a good August (.780 OPS), but then cooled off again in September (.617 OPS). Hes still only 25 years old and an intriguing prospect with alot of potential but hes still got a ways to go. After showing signs of developing patience last year he only walked 13 times in 2010. He also didn’t show much power after returning from the DL but that may have been an issue from his back injury lingering. He seems to get minor injuries at a pretty high rate and could be labeled as injury prone if it keeps up. His defense is improving but he still makes some mental errors out there.

2011 Prognosis: This will be an interesting offseason for Pie. I could see the Orioles dangling him to other teams as a trade option to improve at another position of need. He probably has alot of value with the flashes and improvement hes shown over the last couple of season and the O’s might want to take advantage of that. Theres also a chance that the Orioles keep Pie as a fourth outfielder and get a more established player for left field. He would be a good fit there but I’m not sure we would want to limit his development at this point of his career in that role. Or theres the possibility that the Orioles go into spring training with Nolan Reimold and Pie battling it out for the job in left. 2011 could be his breakout year or it could be more of the same. I like the guy and I’m hoping he succeeds somewhere, hopefully here.

Nolan Reimold – .207/.282/.328, 9 R, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 131 PA

Going into the season Reimold was being counted on to pick up where he left off in his solid rookie campaign. He had minor surgery on his heel to repair some fraying and was supposed to be ready for opening day. The foot seemed to still be bothering him through spring training and he struggled enough in the first month and a half of the season to be sent down to AAA Norfolk. Reports surfaced that he was also being bothering by some off the field issues somehow involving the birth of his first child. With the mental and physical problems he continued to struggle with the Tide, hitting .249/.364/.374 with 12 doubles, 10 homeruns, and 37 RBI. He didn’t lose his batting eye evidenced by his OBP and strikeout to walk percentage but his power and contact rate took a dive. He stole 9 bases over the last two months of the minor league season and his stats continued to improve each month so it looked like he was getting over his issues. He got called back up when the rosters expanded and hit for a .603 OPS over 30 plate appearances.

2011 Prognosis: 2011 will be a make or break year for Reimold as he tries to get over his miserable 2010 season. He’ll be 27 years old so he doesn’t have much more development. He needs to get back to what he was doing in 2009 or hes going to get passed by and become a bench player at best. I’m sure he’ll be given a good look in spring training with a chance to win the left field job unless we sign an established player there. I think theres a good chance he makes the team, for the bench to start, unless he continues his pitiful hitting from this year. He fell hard over the last year and now hes got to get back up.

Lou Montanez – .140/.155/.140, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 58 PA

Montanez got called up after Felix Pie went on the disabled list and was used as a reserve outfielder. He got sparing at bats but didn’t show anything at all with the bat and also struggled in the field. He didn’t have any extra base hits and only one walk. He was barely used at all in May and June and then went on the disabled list. He never made it back to the big league club, instead bouncing around in the minors after he was healthy enough to play. He was eventually released after the minor league season ended. That makes three seasons in a row Montanez failed to impress when given an opportunity.

2011 Prognosis: Hes a free agent now and has already stated he will look for an opportunity with another organization for next season. If he couldn’t make it with the Orioles over the last three seasons I don’t see how he could make it with anyone but I’m sure he’ll get a minor league contract from some team that looks at his impressive minor league numbers.

2010 In Review: Shortstop

October 18, 2010

Cesar Izturis – .230/.277/.268, 42 R, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB, 513 PA

Izturis continued to live up to his billing as a all field, no hit shortstop this year. His defense was great, one of the best in the league, but his hitting was atrocious. He had the worst OPS in the major leagues for players that got enough at bats to qualify for the batting title – by far. His was .545, the second worst was .609. Its the lowest OPS in the major leagues since 1994. Thats historically bad and isn’t going to cut it unless you are one of the best fielding shortstops of all time, like a Mark Belanger type. To be fair it was easily the worst year offensively in his career and while his career OPS (.619) is very low, its still .074 points above 2010. Izturis’ bat was a black hole in the Orioles lineup all year. With that terrible production he had the 5th most plate appearances on the team. Thats unacceptable if you want to be a competitive team in this league.

2011 Prognosis: If it were up to me, Izturis would be the absolute last resort to man shortstop next season. I would exhaust every opportunity to find an upgrade with the bat. There are some good options out there in free agency and on the trade market. Unfortunately there are reports that Buck Showalter likes Izturis alot and they’re going to try and re-sign him. I would sign him to be the backup shortstop/infielder since he would be great as a defensive replacement/pinch runner but theres no excuse for him to be the starting shortstop of the Baltimore Orioles in 2011. His defense will keep him in the game for a long time but I’d prefer it to be with someone else unless hes a bench player for us.

Julio Lugo – .249/.298/.282, 26 R, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 20 RBI, 5 SB, 264 PA

Lugo was acquired from St.Louis in a trade during spring training that sent cash to the Cardinals. The thought was he could provide a spark for the bench as an infielder with some pop. Unfortunately for the Orioles that pop was nowhere to be found and he looked old and pretty much finished as a player. He was another reason that shortstop was a blight on the Orioles in 2010. And while Lugo hit like Cesar Izturis, his glove was nowhere near as good. His range was terrible and his arm wasn’t much better. On top of that hes a hot head. I honestly can’t believe he made through the whole season on the Orioles roster.

2011 Prognosis: Lugo is a free agent and theres no way he re-signs with the O’s. I’m not sure he’ll sign with anyone but theres always a team thats willing to give a veteran like him a shot on a minor league deal. Maybe a trip back to the national league will help.

Robert Andino – .295/.333/.459, 6 R, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 66 PA

Andino started the year off on a bad note when he angered Orioles coaches with his attitude in spring training. He was cut from the roster after being expected to be the backup shortstop and utility infielder coming into the season. He wound up at AAA Norfolk where he put up some respectable numbers with the bat, .268/.302/.405 with 30 doubles, 4 triples, 13 homeruns, and 76 RBI. Hes got good power for a middle infielder but no patience at the plate and his defense isn’t up to par either. He got called up in September when the rosters expanded and gave Buck Showalter a good initial reaction, at least with the bat. His defense was pretty poor but he showed off more of that power.

2011 Prognosis: At this point Andino has to be the favorite to be the backup infielder going into spring training. He won’t be the starting shortstop because of his defense but he wouldn’t be a bad option to pinch hit and play once or twice a week. If he can duplicate his AAA numbers from last year to the majors that would make him a valuable member of the team. He started off the season on a low but worked his way up all season and ended on a high note.