• May
    19

    Looking at the O's and more...

    It’s May 19th and the Orioles are three games over .500 and one and half games back out of first place. Wonder what the odds were of me saying that was in March?

    This next stretch of games should tell us lot of about this ball club as they play 19 of their next 22 games against the American League East. How tough is the AL East this year? Only two teams not in the East (Indians at 7-6 and A’s at 7-3) have winning records against AL East teams.

    You think the Tampa Bay Rays at 25-19 are not for real? They are 18-12 against Al East opponents. They have a lot of young players that will need to prove they can make adjustments throughout the year, but there's no way this team just folds up shop and ends up in the cellar again.

    Outside of the Red Sox, the Rays, Blue Jays, Yankees and Orioles all could easily finish 2nd as easy as they could finish last in the AL East this year. 

    Take Steve Trachsel out of the rotation (pretty please?) and the current Orioles starters have kept the team in games pretty consistently all year. The Orioles are 7-1-1 in games started by Daniel Cabrera (yes the White Sox game is still a tie until it's settled later in the year), 3-1 in games started by Garret Olson (in the only loss Olson allowed just one run over six innings), 4-4 in games started by Brian Burres (he's pitched into the six innings in 7 of his 8 starts) while going 4-6 with tough luck Jeremy Guthrie on the mound (who's allowed more than three runs in a start only twice out of his ten starts).

    The Orioles 4-9 in the 11 starts between Trachsel (2-5) and Adam Loewen (2-2).

    So if they bounce Trachsel from the rotation, who should get the nod? Matt Albers (2.15 ERA in 29.1 IP) would seem like the most likely candidate, especially with Jim Johnson (1.17 ERA in 24IP) establishing himself as the 8th inning guy for the Orioles. It would be nice to look down into Norfolk and grab Hayden Penn (5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 9 starts over 53.2 IP) or Radhames Liz (5.12 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 8 starts over 45.2 IP), but neither have pitched effectively enough to warrant a promotion. 

    With Memorial Day fast approaching, the Orioles might want to consider some promotions to not only help a battered Tides rotation, but to see if some of these red hot Bowie and even Frederick hurlers may be able to help out the second half of the season. If I were running things, I'd promote 24-year old Jason Berken (2.96 with a 40-4 K-B ratio in 8 starts covering 45.2 IP) from Bowie to Norfolk opening up a rotation spot for 22-year old right-hander Jake Arrieta (1.74 with 59-25 K-Bb ratio, 0.95 WHIP, .140 BAVG in 9 starts over 51.2 IP) who is just dominating Carolina League batters. How dominating has Arrieta been at Frederick? Right-hander batters are batting just .106 off him and he's only allowed one home run all year. I'd also consider moving Bowie's 20-year old super prospect Chris Tillman (2.40 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with a 38-20 K-Bb ratio, .167 BAVG in 8 starts over 37.1 IP) who hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts and only three hits while striking 15 in 12 IP, but as young as he is there's no rush, and he still needs to work on his command a bit despite the gaudy numbers.

    Want a sleeper to replace Albers in the bullpen if the Orioles choose to do so? How about 26-year old Jim Miller who was acquired in the Rodrigo Lopez trade a few years ago with the Rockies? Miller, who's fastball sits at 93-94 MPH, hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances and has struck out  10 while walking two while allowing just three hits in those outings covering nine innings. Miller fastball/slider combo will eventually give him a shot in the big leagues, perhaps this year.

    Another thing the Orioles can do to help themselves now is to designate Luis Hernandez for assignment and promote the versatile Oscar Salazar for the bench. One of my favorite Hangouter posters, Wildcard, saved me a lot of work in this fantastic post on the board on this subject. Basically with with Alex Cintron and Freddie Bynum on the club, both Wildcard and I agree that there's no need to keep Hernandez around. He'll need to be passed through waivers, but I seriously doubt anyone would claim him. Even if they did, it really wouldn't be a loss for the Orioles. Salazar (.311/.856 OPS) will need to prove he can be effective by getting just 5-10 at bats a week, but if he does, he could carve out a nice little 25th man career. Either way, Hernandez is just taking up space on the roster and needs to go.

    Lastly, I want to thank the generous Hangout community for coming through for Jim Duquette's daughter Lindsey in her fight against a kidney ailment called Nephrotic Syndromein. Through your generosity and kind hearts, we've raised $4150 (as of this writing) to help find a cure for this unknown and debilitating ailment. If you would like to donate, please visit Lindsey's page at http://www.active.com/donate/stepforwardmddc/PDuquet1.


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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.

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