Tag Archives: Baltimore Orioles

Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

Continue reading

Who are the Faces of their Franchise? AL East Edition


The recent signing of Eric Chavez by the Yankees and trade request by Michael Young got me thinking: which players are truly the face of their franchise right now?

Generally, this is most likely someone who is among the highest paid players on the team, and usually one of the best players on the team as well. It generally seems to be a position player, but some teams may have a pitcher as the face of the team. And of course, there’s always the possibility that a team simply doesn’t have one player who stands out from the rest. With that, here’s my thoughts on each franchise:

Continue reading

Season Previews in Review: American League East


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ll be going a division at a time, starting with the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles

Predicted Record: 70-92            Actual Record: 66-96

It was a tale of two seasons for the Orioles, as they spent the first half of the season clearly as the worst team in all of baseball. Nothing seemed to go right for the team, and it ended up costing manager Dave Trembley his job before too long. This left interim skipper Juan Samuel to try and right the ship, while the Orioles also continued to look for his (and Trembley’s) replacement. By the August 31st trade deadline, the team had managed to ship just one of its movable pieces for prospects with Miguel Tejada being traded to the Padres. But they had also hired Buck Showalter to manage the team, and the team has already seen a drastic improvement. This record would have actually been much further off if not for the late-season turnaround.

Continue reading

Original Draft Series: Team #30 – Baltimore Orioles


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #30: Baltimore Orioles

General Managers(since 1994)

Roland Hemond (1994-1995): 134-122
Pat Gillick (1996-1998): 265-221
Frank Wren (1999): 78-84
Syd Thrift (2000-2002): 204-281
Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan (2003-2005): 223-263
Mike Flanagan (2006-2007): 70-92
Andy MacPhail (2007-current): 201-284

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
0 0 2 1 2 2 9 2

Well, the Major League team hasn’t shown a whole lot of success in the past 15 years, with only a pair of playoff appearances in 1996 and 1997 while under the tutelage of general manager Pat Gillick. When looking through the rosters, these were the best players that I could come up with at each of these positions. I realize that a few of them are barely in the Majors as it is now, but unfortunately I really didn’t find anyone that played these positions that I would consider to be better than the players listed. All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Matt Wieters 2007 – 1st Rd (5) 3 153 gm, 13 HR, 60 RBI, 49 R Currently with Org.
1B Nolan Reimold 2005 – 2nd Rd 5 133 gm, .265/.353/.442, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, 56 R Currently with Org.
2B Brian Roberts 1999 – 1st Rd (50) 11 1139 gm, .283/.355/.420, 77 HR, 443 RBI, 258 SB, 730 R Currently with Org.
3B Mike Fontenot 2001 – 1st Rd (19) 4 No Major League Appearances for Organization Traded to CHC – 2/2/05
SS Jerry Hairston 1997 – 11th Rd 8 530 gm, .261/.334/.371, 26 HR, 160 RBI, 94 SB, 241 R Traded to CHC – 2/2/05
LF Jayson Werth 1997 – 1st Rd (22) 3 No Major League Appearances for Organization Traded to TOR –  12/11/00
CF Willie Harris 1999 – 24th Rd 3 9 gm, .125/.125/.167, 3 R Traded to CHW – 1/29/02
RF Nick Markakis 2003 – 1st Rd (7) 7 688 gm, .297/.366/.466, 80 HR, 383 RBI, 37 SB, 393 R Currently with Org.
DH Gregg Zaun 1989 – 17th Rd 7+1 146 gm, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, 57 R Traded to TB – 8/7/09
SP Erik Bedard 1999 – 6th Rd 8 40-34, 3.83 ERA, 639 K, 254 BB, 658 IP, 1.339 WHIP Traded to SEA – 2/8/08
SP Brian Matusz 2008 – 1st Rd (4) 2 7-9, 4.38 ERA, 99 K, 41 BB, 119.2 IP, 1.479 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Brad Bergesen 2004- 4th Rd 6 10-9,  4.36 ERA, 79 K, 50 BB, 177.3 IP, 1.415 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP John Maine 2002 – 6th Rd 3 2-4, 6.60 ERA, 25 K, 27 BB, 43.2 IP, 1.672 WHIP Traded to NYM – 1/22/06
SP David Hernandez 2005 – 16th Rd 5 6-15, 1 SV, 5.19 ERA, 101 K, 77 BB, 151 IP, 1.570 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jim Johnson 2001 – 5th Rd 9 7-12, 12 SV, 3.87 ERA, 97 K, 60 BB, 153.1 IP, 1.396 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Koji Uehara Int’l FA – 2009 2 2-4, 3.89 ERA, 54 K, 15 BB, 71.2 IP, 1.242 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Arthur Rhodes 1988 – 2nd Rd 11 43-36, 9 SV, 4.86 ERA, 579 K, 316 BB, 622.1 IP, 1.432 WHIP Free Agency – 11/1/99
RP D.J. Carrasco 1997 – 26th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances for Organization Released – 6/14/98
RP Jason Berken 2006 – 6th Rd 4 6-13, 5.65 ERA, 86 K, 52 BB, 151.1 IP, 1.632 WHIP Currently with Org.
CL Chris Ray 2003 – 3rd Rd 6 10-17, 49 SV, 4.11 ERA, 177 K, 86 BB, 192.2 IP,  1.370 WHIP Traded to TEX – 12/9/09
BN Darnell McDonald (OF) 1997 – 1st Rd (26) 7 17 gm, .156/.206/.188, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 3 R Free Agency – 10/15/04
BN Jake Arrieta (SP) 2007 – 5th Rd 3 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 6 K, 4 BB, 6 IP, 1.333 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Augie Ojeda (IF) 1996 – 13th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances for Organization Traded to CHC – 12/13/99
BN Adam Loewen (OF/P) 2002 – 1st Rd (4) 6 8-8, 5.38 ERA, 134 K, 106 BB, 164 IP, 1.640 WHIP Free Agency – 10/20/08
BN Garrett Olson (P) 2005 – 1st Rd (48) 3 10-13, 6.87 ERA, 111 K, 90 BB, 165 IP, 1.818 WHIP Traded to CHC – 1/18/09

Clearly, I had to stretch quite a bit to get some of these starting positions filled. Nolan Reimold has never played at 1B in the Major Leagues, but has been working at 1B in the minor leagues this season. The next best player to fill that position would have been Gregg Zaun, who has played 2 games totaling 8 innings at 1B in his major league career, none of which were with the Orioles. Overall, this team looks pretty sad overall. You’ve got solid players at 2B, LF, and RF, and a single starting pitcher. After that, you have good young players who are too new to have shown exactly what they can do yet at C, 1B, and 2 of their starting pitchers. There are some good role players, but unfortunately the build for this team kind of looks similar to the real-life organization at this point: Very raw, and not particularly good.

Looking at their drafting results, they have had 29 first round picks in the last 15 drafts (not including 2010). Ignoring the 2009 draftee, they have had only 11 of these picks even play a single game in the Major Leagues. Even giving the benefit of the doubt for the 4 players who were first round picks but have not made it to the Majors yet, that still brings the Orioles to 14 misses in 15 seasons. Generally, the first round is the one round where an organization will have the best chance of finding a MLB quality talent, and with the poor performance of the Orioles throughout the years, they’ve had 8 picks in the top 10 in the last 9 years. As evidenced by the revolving door that has been the general manager’s office, that’s not getting it done.

Something else that has really illustrated itself as I go through the players is the lack of players from international markets, the ones outside of the draft. While it remains to be seen if there are specific reasons that the Orioles are not concentrating any effort to Latin America and Asia, the fact that they aren’t is clearly hurting their development as an organization.

Overall Grade: I think I have to give them a D-, due to the fact that I was barely able to fill the whole roster with players, and the fact that they’ve missed on so many first round picks. This team would have a hard time competing against nearly every major league team on a day-to-day basis. Throw in the fact that this 25 man roster is essentially 14 or possibly even 15 pitchers really doesn’t bode well for them. Hopefully the Orioles will start to see some of the fruit of the system shortly, as they really need it.

Team Preview – Baltimore Orioles


Today I’m starting my preseason previews of each team in the majors. Today’s team is the Baltimore Orioles.

Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Matt Wieters SP 1 Kevin Millwood
1B Garrett Atkins SP 2 Jeremy Guthrie
2B Brian Roberts SP 3 Brian Matusz
3B Miguel Tejada SP 4 Brad Bergesen
SS Cesar Izturis SP 5 Chris Tillman
LF Nolan Reimold Bullpen
CF Adam Jones CL Mike Gonzalez
RF Nick Markakis RP Jim Johnson
DH Luke Scott RP Kam Mickolio
Bench RP Koji Uehara
IF Ty Wigginton RP Cla Meredith
OF Felix Pie RP Mark Hendrickson

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Kevin Millwood Trade (TEX) RP Chris Ray Trade (TEX)
CL Mike Gonzalez Free Agency 3B Melvin Mora Free Agency
1B/3B Garrett Atkins Free Agency RP Danys Baez Free Agency
3B/SS Miguel Tejada Free Agency

Top Prospects: Brian Matusz (P), Jake Arrieta (P), Zach Britton (P), Josh Bell (3B)

2009 Review

The 2009 Orioles finished 64-98, 39 games out of first place in the American League East. I wanted to write that the Orioles finished strong last year, ending on a 4 game winning streak. However, that’s kind of cancelled out by the fact that they lost the 13 games prior to that. The Orioles got excellent performances from veterans Brian Roberts (.283, 16 HR, 30 SB), Nick Markakis (.293, 18 HR, 101 RBI), and second-year player Adam Jones (.277, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 10 SB).

The biggest story of 2009 for the Orioles was the number of rookies who came up and performed well. The majority of the hype was surrounding uber-prospect Matt Wieters. Wieters was called up at the end of May, and never looked back, posting a respectable .288 batting average with 9 homers in 96 games. However, his interaction with the young pitching staff will have a larger impact going forward. Rookies Brad Bergesen (7-5, 3.43), Chris Tillman (2-5, 5.40), and Brian Matusz (5-2, 4.63) all provided solid campaigns to the rotation. OF Nolan Reimold also helped to provide some much-needed pop, with 15 HR, 45 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. None of the players mentioned received votes for Rookie of the Year, but Matusz is still eligible for the 2010 award.

Team Outlook for 2010

I think that the Orioles are going to improve this year. The acquisitions of Kevin Millwood and Miguel Tejada will help to stabilize the clubhouse with some strong veteran presences. Millwood specifically will be looked to help further develop the pitching staff, as he’s had success in the major leagues. The signing of Mike Gonzalez was a bit confusing to me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. One of the things that can be debilitating to a young pitcher is to watch his bullpen cough up the lead he left them with. Bringing in Gonzalez helps to stabilize the back end of the bullpen, and put pitchers like Uehara and Mickolio into roles that they are currently better suited for. Also, by having a lot of solid pitchers out in the bullpen, the younger starters won’t feel like they will be expected to go 7-8 innings every time they take the mound.

The hard part for the Orioles remains the same as every other year. The American League East isn’t getting any easier to win, with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays all expected to be very good teams as well. Even the Blue Jays aren’t expected to be slouches, which means that essentially half of their schedule will be against division opponents who will be difficult to beat on a consistent basis. I don’t think that the Orioles compete for the division title this season, but could see an improvement of potentially 5-10 wins in spite of this.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Key players from a fantasy standpoint include C Matt Wieters, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, and CL Mike Gonzalez. All of the Orioles’ starting pitchers should have some good games, but the only player I might take a risk on would be SP Brian Matusz, as he has the potential to be the leader of this rotation by the end of the season. Deeper leagues could see 3B Miguel Tejada, OF Nolan Reimold, and DH Luke Scott also have some solid value.

Prediction for 2010

I don’t use any particular statistical process or procedures to come to my predictions of win-loss record. It’s really just a gut feeling for me, after looking at their roster, briefly looking at their schedule, and previous performance.

70-92, 5th in the AL East

Free Agency Review – Relief Pitchers


Today I’m finishing up my series of reviews of this offseason’s free agent class, talking about the relief pitchers of the class.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Left Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Mike Gonzalez ATL BAL 2 $12 M
Billy Wagner BOS ATL 1 $7 M
John Grabow CHC CHC 2 $7.5 M
Darren Oliver LAA TEX 1 $3.5 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: None

This group of lefty relievers did well, as both Gonzalez and Wagner received high dollar contracts that I, for one, did not really see them getting out of the teams that they did. Gonzalez seems like he was a good signing for the Orioles, as he can help to stabilize the bullpen for the very young rotation they have. Wagner was a bit of an unusual signing, as he was a type-A free agent. The Braves could have kept either Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano without having to give up the draft picks, but felt that Wagner was a better fit instead. That said, there is a certain swagger that Wagner can bring to the club that I don’t think either Gonzalez or Soriano would provide.

Right Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Jose Valverde HOU DET 2 $14 M
Fernando Rodney DET LAA 2 $11 M
Rafael Soriano ATL ATL/TAM 1 $7.25 M
Kevin Gregg CHC TOR 1 $2.75 M
Takashi Saito BOS ATL 1 $3.2 M
J.J. Putz NYM CHW 1 $3 M
Octavio Dotel CHW PIT 1 $3.5 M
Rafael Betancourt COL COL 2 $7.55 M
Matt Capps PIT WAS 1 $3.5 M
Kelvim Escobar LAA NYM 1 $1.25 M
LaTroy Hawkins HOU MIL 2 $7.5 M
Brandon Lyon DET HOU 3 $15 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Kiko Calero (FLA)

Lots of closers in this group. The Rodney signing was interesting to me, as it signals either one of two things: Rodney isn’t that concerned about being a closer, as he could probably have gotten a job as one with a number of teams, and 2)the Angels have very little faith as Brian Fuentes as the closer. Either way, definitely something to be watched. Washington, Houston, Detroit, and possibly Pittsburgh all got closers off of the free agent pool this year. The other interesting trend was the musical chairs game played by some of the teams, with Valverde and Lyon essentially trading spots, and deciding that the player they don’t know is going to be better than the player they do.

This weekend’s posts: Fantasy Previews of 1B and 2B

Free Agency Review – C/1B/3B


All week, I will be recapping the free agency signings this offseason, by position. Today’s group: Catchers and Corner Infielders (1B, 3B)

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Catchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Bengie Molina SF SF 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Olivo KC COL 1 $2.5 M
Ivan Rodriguez TEX WAS 2 $6 M
Jason Kendall MIL KCR 2 $6 M
Gregg Zaun TAM MIL 1 $2.15 M
John Buck KC TOR 1 $2 M
Brian Schneider NYM PHI 2 $2.75 M
Yorvit Torrealba COL SD 1 $1.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Rod Barajas (TOR)

There really wasn’t a lot of available jobs for catchers this offseason, as realistically 5 jobs were vacated by free agents. Bengie Molina probably did the best, in my opinion, as he got the highest annual salary ($4.5 M), and managed to go to a team that has a very good prospect waiting in the wings. Of some concern was the fact that Molina had an even better offer on the table from the Mets, and turned it down anyway. Ivan Rodriguez was probably my favorite signing for a specific team, as he should be a real help to the Nationals rotation and lineup with his experience, and his winning track record. Nearly all of these signings are of the low-risk, high-potential variety, and no really big contracts either.

First Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Adam LaRoche ATL ARI 1 $6 M
Aubrey Huff DET SF 1 $3 M
Nick Johnson FLA NYY 1 $5.75 M
Troy Glaus STL ATL 1 $1.75 M
Jason Giambi COL COL 1 $1.75 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Russell Branyan (SEA), Carlos Delgado (NYM), Hank Blalock (TEX)

This year’s crop of free agent first basemen really didn’t have a lot of high-end talent, with Branyan and LaRoche probably having the best seasons of any of the players available. As a result, we saw exclusively 1 year contracts for most players, and some still looking for work. Branyan is really the biggest surprise, although his published demands early on during the offseason may have scared away a lot of teams. Next year’s class of 1B free agents is extremely strong, including Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, and Carlos Pena. This may also have contributed to the lack of long contracts, as teams may not want to tie up the position for next season’s bonanza. Another group of lower-risk, higher-potential contracts that if they don’t work, will not really cause any problems for the teams that signed them.

Third Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Mark DeRosa STL SF 2 $12 M
Adam Kennedy OAK WAS 1 $1.25 M
Chone Figgins LAA SEA 4 $36 M
Adrian Beltre SEA BOS 1 $10 M
Melvin Mora BAL COL 1 $1.3 M
Garrett Atkins COL BAL 1 $4.5 M
Pedro Feliz PHI HOU 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Tejada HOU BAL 1 $6 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Joe Crede (MIN)

3rd base actually had some solid free agent signings, with some big dollars as well. Beltre got the highest annual salary at $10 M from the Red Sox. That contract actually seemed like a bit of a surprise, as the Red Sox still have Mike Lowell who will now be relegated to bench duty. Figgins was the cream of the crop of this group, and got a well-deserved $36 M contract from the Mariners. The other signing I really found interesting was the Miguel Tejada signing. Tejada has never played 3B before, but will be moving to the position in his return to the Orioles. It looks like a really good value signing for the Orioles, and provides some more veteran leadership in the Orioles clubhouse.

Prospect Review – Brian Matusz – P – BAL


Baseball Reference.Com Profile
Fangraphs Profile

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st Round (#4 overall) of the 2008 Amateur Draft by the Baltimore Orioles
Age: 23

Statistics

2009 – Frederick (Carolina League – Orioles High-A) – 11 starts

  • 4-2, 2.16 ERA, 66 2/3 IP
  • 75 strikeouts, 21 walks
  • 2.91 FIP

2009 – Bowie (Eastern League – Orioles AA) – 8 starts

  • 7-0, 1.55 ERA, 46 1/3 IP
  • 46 strikeouts, 11 walks
  • 2.55 FIP

2009 – Orioles (MLB) – 8 starts

  • 5-2, 4.63 ERA, 44 2/3 IP
  • 38 strikeouts, 14 walks
  • 4.08 FIP

Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (BAL – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (BAL – 2010) – 5 star
John Sickels – #1 (BAL – 2010) – A

Analysis

Matusz was highly touted coming out of the University of San Diego, and the Orioles took him with the 4th pick in 2008’s amateur draft. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2008, but didn’t make his regular season debut until 2009. He has since skyrocketed through the Orioles’ system, finishing the season with the big club. His season totals (16-4, 157 2/3 IP, 159 strikeouts, 46 walks), while split across 3 levels, were still very good.

I’m actually having a bit of a hard time finding things to say about Matusz that haven’t already been said. He’s extremely well thought of as a prospect, and has pretty universally been placed near the top of prospect lists all off-season.

From MLB.COM: “His slightly above-average fastball touches 94 mph while his curve and slider are both outstanding. He also throws an above-average changeup. He knows how to pitch and has the ability to throw all four pitches for strikes.”

I really like what I’ve seen so far of Matusz. He throws from a 3/4 arm slot, and the motion looks very smooth to me. He has excellent control, even showing it in his stint in the Majors at the end of the season. From the scouting reports I’ve seen, he has 4 solid pitches, which really bodes well for his long-term success with the Orioles. He really looks like an ace in the making.

Outlook

Matusz will start the 2010 season in the Orioles rotation barring some unforeseen complication. And I have to imagine he’s going to stay there for quite a long time, probably leading the rotation very soon.

Projection for 2010

12-8, 3.75 ERA, 175 IP, 160 strikeouts, 45 walks

Expected ETA

He’s already here. And its highly likely he’s here to stay.

Tomorrow’s Prospect for Review – Domonic Brown (OF) of the Philadelphia Phillies