• Jul
    01

    Q&A with Scott Miller, CBS Sports

    Scott Miller is a National Baseball Writer for CBS Sports. He has previously worked for the Los Angeles Times, and St. Paul Pioneer Press, as a beat reporter covering the San Diego Padres, and MinnesotaTwins.

    You can find Miller's work with CBS at:
    http://www.cbssports.com/columns/writers/scott_miller/archive

    You can find Miller on Twitter at:
    http://twitter.com/#!/ScottMCBSSports

    Orioles Hangout thanks Mr. Miller for answering a few Orioles related questions.

    Orioles Hangout: “Tampa has proven over the past three seasons that a well run franchise can reach the post-season, even with far less resources than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. That said, if a second Wild Card team is added to each league, are the three largest beneficiaries Tampa, Toronto, and Baltimore? Do you believe this second Wild Card will be approved? Are you for larger realignment?”

    Miller: "I think there is no question that Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore will be the biggest beneficiaries if a second wild-card is added, but I think more importantly a change in the format of the schedule, from an unbalanced sked to a balanced sked, is a key. Because if those three have to continue playing 19 games each against the Yankees and Red Sox, it's still going to be an unfair fight. I do think the second wild card will be approved. As for larger realignment, I've only seen one plan I'd even remotely be in favor of. The problem is interleague play every day, all season."

    Orioles Hangout: “The Amateur Draft just held will be the last Draft conducted under the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement. Commissioner Selig has stated that in addition to the proposed second Wild Card, he wants Hard Slotting and an International Draft. Do you think Hard Slotting, and an International Draft will happen? Do you think those changes would benefit Baltimore?”

    Miller: "I do think a hard slotting system and an International draft will happen. Too many people agree the draft needs to be cleaned up. I don't know that those changes will help the Orioles -- they've already amped up their investment in international scouting -- but I don't think they will hurt."

    Orioles Hangout: “The Orioles enter July 1st 35-43 overall, 10-18 against the East, 25-25 against everyone else. How should being in the East, impact the decision making process for the O’s Front Office?”

    Miller: "Well, for one thing, the front office must build a powerful lineup that scores a lot of runs. I like what the O's have done with young pitching, because that's where winning teams start. But to survive in the AL East, you'd better be among the top 7 or 8 in the majors in runs scored."

    Orioles Hangout: “The O’s signed Guerrero, hoping he was still closer to the player was productive last September, vs. the player that otherwise struggled during the 2nd half of 2010. Entering July, Guerrero has had 286 ab's and has a Slugging % of .381. Scott is playing LF with a labrum injury. Lee is showing some signs of life, and is a strong defensive 1st baseman. Reimold and Pie are having difficulties getting into the lineup.Should the O’s release Guerrero, move Scott to DH, and commit to a LF platoon of Reimold and Pie?”

    Miller: "I think it's too early to give up on Guerrero. But they may want to give him fewer at-bats. More rest at his age isn't a bad thing, anyway."

    Orioles Hangout: “JJ Hardy played in 115 games in ‘09, 101 games in ‘10, and missed 25 games here in ‘11 earlier this year. The Orioles have stated they would like to extend Hardy, who is a Free Agent after this season. If the O’s can not resign him prior to the Non-Waiver Deadline, should he be traded? Is 3 years at $8-$9M per realistic for both sides?”

    Miller: "You have to consider trading Hardy if you can't sign him simply because several contenders will be looking for middle infield help -- San Francisco and St. Louis to name two -- and if you're not in the race, you've got to work to improve next year's team. I think the figures you provided are realistic."

    Orioles Hangout: “Prior to the start of the year, ESPN’s Keith Law labeled Mark Reynolds a ‘butcher’ at 3rd. I see a guy with decent range towards SS, that has trouble coming in on balls. He has shown a tendency of making his share of great plays, and struggling with the routine. His 18 errors, and current UZR of -15.5 has probably not altered Law's opinion. However, as his UZR went from -10.3 in ‘08 to 2.2 in ‘10, would you expect him to improve as this year progresses?”

    Miller: "It's hard to see his UZR getting worse. I think it can get marginally better, especially because early on he was adjusting to a new team and a new park and I think you have to factor that in. But he's another year older so I wouldn't necessarily expect dramatic improvement."

    Orioles Hangout: “On the positive side, Reynolds has a wOBA .361 (career .353), with 48 walks to go with his 30 xbh’s. If he maintains this level of offense, does it outweigh the defensive negatives?”'

    Miller: "As long as you produce more runs than you're letting in, that's a positive, right? OK, while that may be damning with faint praise, with Brian Roberts out and with Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero having tough years, it goes back to the answer to question No. 3. You've got to score runs in the AL East. The Orioles lacked power last year, especially at the corner infield spots. Right now, I think third base is one position at which they've got to lower their expectations defensively for offensive results."

    Orioles Hangout: “Jake Arrieta has made 16 starts, and 11 times has gone at-least 6 ip allowing 3 er or less. His K/9 ratio is up, his line-drive % is down. His walk rate has not improved, and he has trouble being pitch efficient. Should O’s fans be happy with his development?”

    Miller: "Yes, but while grading on the curve. He's got to issue fewer walks."

    Orioles Hangout: “The best Brian Matusz has ever looked in a Baltimore Orioles uniform was his last 10 starts of 2010. (August through October). During those 10 starts, Matusz was 7-1, with a 1.88 era. In those 72 innings of work, Matusz allowed 48 hits, 5 homers, 16 walks, with 52 k's. In that time frame his average 4 seam fastball was 89.4, and his average 2 seam fastball was 89.2. Returning from the DL, Matusz made 6 starts in June before being sent back to the Minors after his outing last night. During those starts, his average 4 seam fastball was 87.3, and his average 2 seam fastball was 87. To me, the issues with Matusz right now are location, pitch selection, endurance, and a lack of velocity differential between his fastball and change-up. Do you see the velocity drop as indication he is not physically sound?”

    Miller: "The fastball velocity drop has to be one of two things: Either something is wrong physically, or he's already peaked. Either one is worrisome, especially the latter."

    Orioles Hangout: “As far as long-term potential, who is the better trio? Markakis/Jones/Wieters or Matusz/Arrieta/Britton?”

    Miller: "Markakis/Jones/Wieters have more of a head start, and in the AL East, the three pitchers are handicapped because of the rugged lineups. So I'll go with Markakis/Jones/Wieters."

    Orioles Hangout: “Adam Jones is arbitration eligible in 2012, and 2013 before becoming a Free Agent for the 2014 season. The O’s CF turns 26 in August, and has a career .330 wOBA. Despite a Gold Glove, and a reputation for his defense, his play in CF the past two years was mediocre at best. So far in 2011, the defense seems improved (Partly due to improved positioning, though it is not reflected in the Zone Ratings). His positive effort has also been noticeable. Even if his plate-discipline never improves, he can still help a roster. If the O’s pursue a long-term extension with Jones in the off-season, and buy out the first year or two of Free Agency – what would you see as a fair contract for both sides?”

    Miller: "Yes. I like Jones' attitude, work ethic and skills. He's a young guy to build around."

    Orioles Hangout: “Matt Wieters has had an exceptional year behind the plate. He calls a good game, he blocks the plate well, and he has thrown out 20 runners with a strong arm and quick release. He has improved against LHP (.890 OPS), and is currently 4th among all Catchers in Wins Above Replacement. On the negative side, after 9 xbh’s in April, he has had just 11 in the 168 ab’s since. Should O’s fans be happy with his development, or is the fact that he has yet to become a transformative offensive force make him a disappointment?”

    Miller: "As long as a young catcher does the things Wieters is doing behind the plate, I think you've got to be happy. That doesn't mean there should be no offensive expectations, but let's remember, this kid has barely gotten his training wheels off. He's got a ton on his plate. The offense will come."

    Orioles Hangout: “Nick Markakis goes into 7/1 with a 18 game hitting streak. He has raised his OPS from .602 on June 7th to .705 today. Does he finish ’11, with an OPS at the .803 level he averaged the past 2 years?”

    Miller: "He's still got a ways to go. Let's say he finishes in the .780 range."

    Orioles Hangout: “Guthrie is a Free Agent after ’12, and there does not appear to be a lot of starting pitching available. Should he be moved before the non-waiver deadline? If so, what type of value do you think he has? Are Cincinnati’s Yonder Alonso, and Zach Cozart viable targets?”

    Miller: "I keep Guthrie because with as much young pitching as the O's have, it is important to have at least one veteran around for the kids to lean on. Someone to ask questions of, someone the kids can watch work so they know what's supposed to be done and they develop the right habits off the field as well as on."

    Orioles Hangout: “Amateur Scouting Director Joe Jordan has previously confirmed that the O’s spent $8.8M on the Draft in ‘09, and a similar amount in ‘10. As this was potentially the last Draft without Hard Slotting, and the O’s lacked the Compensatory picks of their Divisional Rivals - I had hoped to see the O’s go ‘Over-Slot’ with every selection, which did not occur. If any of the additions to the 2011 Major League roster (particularly Guerrero, and Gregg) prevented additional spending on the Draft, was this a proper use of resources by the organization?”

    Miller: "I think it was because the O's have poured resources into the draft the past few years since Andy MacPhail took over.  At some point, they needed to put a representable team on the field as a bridge to when the young pitchers develop and other young prospects come up."

    Orioles Hangout: “Andy MacPhail has recently reached his 4th anniversary as the Orioles President of Baseball Operations. He is not under contract for ’12, but Orioles Majority Owner Peter Angelos stated in March that MacPhail is not going anywhere. Do you believe MacPhail is capable of building a division winning caliber team in the American League East?”

    Answer: "I do. I think we've seen improvement -- look at how the Orioles finished last year. I see a plan, I see the farm system improving. I think with patience MacPhail will deliver."

    Orioles Hangout: “Your colleague with CBS Sports, Danny Knobler, recently wrote that the O’s might be targeting Prince Fielder. (http://danny-knobler.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/8590096/29723768) ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote that Baltimore could make the most sense. SI’s Jon Heymanwrote (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201...?sct=mlb_wr_a1) that average predicted contract for Fielder between himself, two Agents, and two GM’s was 6yrs $145M. Fielder turned 27 on May 9th and has a .929 OPS for his career. The O’s offered Teixeira 7 years $145M two winters ago. Due to Fielder’s weight concerns, I can not see the O’s being willing to offer him the 7 years they offered Teixeira. Would you advocate Baltimore offering Fielder 6yrs $145M? Who else could be a primary suitor (Texas, Cubs, Cardinals - if they lose Pujols)?"

    Miller: "Because of those weight concerns, Fielder is a better buy in the AL than in the NL because you've got either 1B or the DH to slot him into. The way this guy has hit over his career, and given what Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira have gotten, I think 6 yrs and $145 million would be solid for Baltimore. Personally, I'd invest that money in Fielder before Pujols because he's four years younger than Pujols and I think he's got more of his prime in front of him. Plus, he's a far better clubhouse presence than Pujols."


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