• Jul

    By August 1st

    The 6 and 21 stretch into the All-Star break was ridiculous. The rest of July could easily be very similar. What occurs between now and the Non-Waiver Deadline and what happens over the last two months of this year remains important.

    We have talked previously about the different paths the O’s can choose from here:

    In this post, I’m not going to focus on Guthrie, Hardy, etc and the other players that could possibly be moved prior to the beginning of August. What I want to discuss are the moves that regardless of anything else the O’s do, that need to occur.

    1) It was the right move to send Matusz down after his 6th start in June. There were issues with him across the board. However, if he is healthy enough to continue pitching every 5th day for AAA Norfolk - he needs to be back in Baltimore. His next start for the Tides is scheduled for the 15th. If he is reasonably effective, make the move to replace Atkins or Jakubauskas.

    2) Similarly Tillman should be back in Baltimore as well. Frankly, Tillman was pitching as a league average 5th starter when he was sent down. His last start (on the 8th) was disrupted by a long rain-delay, and he only pitched 2 innings. There are plenty of questions with Tillman, but he is better than Atkins or Jakubauskas. Hand him the ball every 5th day during the last two months, and go into the off-season knowing if he can handle beign a back of the rotation starter heading into '12.

    3) Britton had a horrible start on the 8th in Boston and was mediocre in June (4.50 era). Clearly he was sent back to the Minors though because the chances of the O’s finishing .500 had been erased, and the Orioles could gain another year of team control by keeping him down until 7/30. That is fine, and probably the right course of action. By August 1st he needs to back in an O’s uniform. While plenty of people pay attention the Verducci ‘effect’ (last year Britton pitched a total of 153.1 ip, and the expectation is that the O’s would want to limit him to 178 to 183 or so innings this year. To date, Britton has pitched 104.1 innings.) we should also look at Britton’s pitches per outing. Britton last threw over 100 pitches in a start 5/18 against NY.  In his last 8 starts though, he threw 42, 92, 90, 85, 81, 79, 83, and 97 pitches. He should have no problem finishing out the complete year.

    4) Reimold has to play everyday in LF. He had a .831 OPS with the O’s in 358 ab’s in ’09, followed by a miserable year in ’10. In 70 ab’s this year, he has a .780 OPS. He is 28 in October, it is now or never for him as an everyday player.

    5) The O’s have a bunch of arms that have no business in a Major League rotation that could potentially help a bullpen. Simon, Berken, Atkins, and Jakubauskas are current examples on the existing roster. Keep them in the pen, and see who can contribute down the stretch. There are others in the system that also fit in this category:

    VandenHurk: 3-5, 4.21 era, 62 ip, 58 hits, 12 hr, 12 bb’s, 36 k’s over last 10 AAA Starts
    Patton: 4-1, 1.91 era, 42.1 ip, 41 hits, 0 hr, 12 bb’s, 28 k’s  with AAA Norfolk
    Spoone: 5-6, 5.00 era, 90 ip, 100 hits, 5 hr’s, 53 bb’s, 53 k’s combined at AA & AAA
    S.Johnson: 5-4, 3.88 era, 92.2 ip, 78 hits, 11 hr’s, 41 bb’s, 80 k’s combined @ AA & AAA
    Ballard: 6-4, 4.20 era, 96.1 ip, 98 hits, 12 hr’s, 20 bb’s, 88 k’s combined @ AA & AAA
    Pelzer: 4-6, 4.16 era, 67 ip, 67 hits, 6 hr’s, 40 bb’s, 58 k’s with AA Bowie
    Bascom: 6-2, 2.73 era, 79 ip, 63 hits, 2 hr’s, 23 bb’s, 68 k’s, @ A & AA

    I would not be worried about stunting the development of any of them. Rotate these arms in and out of Baltimore, and go with whoever is currently doing the job.

    6) If Scott returns, and Guerrero is not traded by 7/31; release Guerrero.

    6a) Jake Fox has 13 xbh’s (7 homers) and a .897 OPS in his 113 ab’s since going back to AAA Norfolk. While I would still prefer him as the backup C vs. Tatum, that is not going to happen. Perhaps Fox can find some ab’s down the stretch at DH, LF, 1st?  I think he would probably be exposed in everyday ab’s, but I think he can help a Major League roster.

    7) Move Bobby Bundy, and Clayton Schrader to AA Bowie. Dan Klein was advised to begin a rehab program 6/21. Hopefully the SLAP (superior labrum from anterior to posterior) injury he had suffered convinces the O’s to not try and stretch him out to becoming a starter. Rehab should be targeted to allow him to compete for a spot in the O’s bullpen next Spring.

    8) Roberts made it through light conditioning work Saturday, without any issues. The goal should be getting him back into the everyday lineup to start next Month. Even if he plays everyday during August and September, the O’s will still need to acquire a backup with upside greater than Andino who would be capable of playing everyday if needed in ’12. I see some people suggest that Roberts should be shut down, with the focus being on next Spring. I just disagree with that approach. My thought is getting him back into the lineup benefits everyone (Roberts himself, the fans, the O’s Front Office).

    9) I fully expect that negotiations with Dylan Bundy, and Nick Delmonico will go down to the last possible moments. I anticipate that Bundy will sign, and Delmonico will not. Everyone else that is going to sign, should be signed by 8/1.

    10) Assign Brady Anderson, work with Josh Bell full-time with a goal of improving his plate-discipline. Assign Mike Bordick to Frederick for the remainder of the year to work with Machado at SS, and Schoop at 2nd.

    11) Andy MacPhail (President of Baseball Operations) discussed his take on the Orioles International Operations with MASN’s Steve Melewski. We posted earlier today the responses of several Orioles Hangout posters: http://www.orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/303/orioles-hangout-posters-respond-to-andy-macphail

    Most of that interview focused on the Dominican Republic. I’d like to hear the leadership state what they feel can reasonably be accomplished in the next year, 3 years, and 5 years out.

    Venezuela, Brazil, Netherlands Antilles etc –
    South Africa – It has been estimated that there are 300,000 South African kids playing baseball due to the partnership between Major League Baseball and the South African Government.
    Australia – I know the game suffered after the disbanding of the Australian Baseball League in 1999 (since restarted). Despite that, it is a country which has produced Major League talent before.
    Europe – Particularly Italy, and The Netherlands?
    China – Is the China Baseball League catching-up to the level of play in the Taiwanese League?
    Taiwan – Any presence here?
    Korea – Do the O’s employ a full-time scout to cover the Korean League?
    Japan – You regularly hear analysts say that Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball is somewhere between AAA and the Majors. In addition to Scouting for players, has there ever been any internal thought to Baseball Operation hires? Not necessarily limited to Field Managers, but also towards their Scouts and Player Development types? I realize it is not an apples to apples comparison as their organizations structures differ starting with the corporate structure which is in place in Japan. However, if reports about the NPB having far superior fundamentals are accurate, it might be interesting to bring some of those philosophies to the States.

    12) I think the Orioles should be announcing decisions on MacPhail, and Joe Jordan (Scouting Director). If they will be returning for 2012, make it known. If MacPhail will not be back (and that is his decision), begin the search for his replacement by 8/1. The goal would then be to have the replacement in place prior to September, and allow the replacement to hit the ground running in the off-season.

    13) When this season started, I thought the O’s had a chance to sell 2.1M tickets during the year. I knew the season-tickets that had been sold was limited, but I figured if the team remained competitive enough during the 1st half, they would have a decent walk-up during the remainder of the year. That 6-21 stretch to end the 1st half is going to further cripple the gate the rest of the year. The O's have had 43 home games, and have drawn 935,325 fans. (21,751 per game x 81 games = 1,761,831 for the year on the current pace.) The O’s should be giving away tickets at will in the 2nd half. Bring fans to the park, let them buy concessions and at-least improve the atmosphere. At a minimum, there is zero question that there are 1000s of available seats for Cleveland (7/14 – 7/18), Toronto (8/5 – 8/7), Chicago (8/8 – 8/11), Detroit (8/12 – 8/14), Toronto (8/30 – 9/1), Tampa Bay (9/12 – 9/14).  The O’s could probably give away 10,000 seats for each of those games. At-least they would buy some good will from the public. A plan should be put in action for this and announced today

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Michael Williams

Lifelong. Down by the river.