Friday, April 1, 2011

Baltimore Sun O's Predictions

The main Orioles writers at the Baltimore Sun put down some predictions for the team today, and I thought they were... interesting*.

* Just a little good-natured ribbing.

HR leader: Jones (Jeff Zrebiec); Guerrero (Dan Connolly); Reynolds (Pete Schmuck)
RBI leader:
Markakis (Jeff); Lee (Dan); Guerrero (Pete)
Highest Avg.:
Markakis (Jeff); Markakis (Dan); Guerrero (Pete)
Guthrie (Jeff); Britton (Dan); Arrieta (Pete)
Strikeout leader:
Arrieta (Jeff); Matusz (Dan); Matusz (Pete)
Team wins:
75 (Jeff); 77 (Dan); 79 (Pete)
Lone All-Star: Jones (Jeff); Markakis (Dan); Matusz (Pete)
Markakis' average:
.313 (Jeff); .322 (Dan); .309 (Pete)
Gregg's saves:
27 (Jeff); 24 (Dan); 29 (Pete)
Reynolds' strikeouts:
207 (Jeff); 211 (Dan); 178 (Pete)
Guerrero's homers:
25 (Jeff); 32 (Dan); 23 (Pete)
Wieters' average:
.265 (Jeff); .278 (Dan); .290 (Pete)
Scott's homers:
24 (Jeff); 22 (Dan); 19 (Pete)
Guthrie's ERA:
4.23 (Jeff); 4.12 (Dan); 4.01 (Pete)
Fox's homers:
9 (Jeff); 12 (Dan); 5 (Pete)
Most Valuable Oriole:
Markakis (Jeff); Markakis (Dan); Guerrero (Pete)

  • Expecting Adam Jones to out-homer Mark Reynolds is unexpected (Jeff).
  • Expecting Vlad to hit 32 home runs (Dan) is... I don't want to say "crazy", but he hasn't done it since 2006.
  • Everyone thinks Nick will set new career high in batting average, despite being below .300 the lat two years.
  • Dan think Zach Britton will lead the team in wins, which implies either (1) he's going to be the team's best pitcher by a fair bit (since he'll need to make up for lost time when he gets called up), or (2) he sees some more serious injuries to the starting five coming.
  • And not votes for Matusz to lead the team in wins?
  • I'm not sure how Nick is going to lead the team in RBI (Jeff) batting from the two-spot, but OK.
  • Pete has Reynolds leading the team in home runs (a fair bet), but that implies he'll amass a lot of plate appearances. And yet, he's going to strike out less than he has in any full season in his career?
  • Also (Pete), if Vlad only hits 23 home runs and Matt Wieters bats .290, it's very, very unlikely that the former will be the more valuable player by virtue of the huge disparity in defensive value (guess he's going with BA/RBI?).
Everything else looks reasonable enough, including their win totals.

Mine, for the record, are:

"HR leader: Reynolds
RBI leader:
Highest Avg.:
Strikeout leader:
Team wins:
Lone All-Star: Matusz
Markakis' average:
Gregg's saves:
Reynolds' strikeouts:
Guerrero's homers:
Wieters' average:
Scott's homers:
Guthrie's ERA:
Fox's homers:
Most Valuable Oriole:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You Say Connelly, I Say Connolly...

Two Matt Palmer pieces in a row? I ran across this at

I have great sympathy for typos because I make them all the time and they suck. But Palmer misspells "Connolly" three times in three paragraphs.

Outside of Peter Schmuck, is there a reporter in the market who has covered the Orioles longer than Dan Connolly? I guess I could forgive this a bit if he misspelled Matt Vensel's name, someone who was a bit newer to Baltimore readers. But you should know how to spell Dan Connolly's name. Two O's, two N's, two L's.

And if you didn't, it is easily checked. Big failure on Palmer's and his editor's part...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mike Bordick is an Oriole Hall of Famer; Matt Palmer Doesn't Like It One Bit

Mike Bordick was elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame last week. I was sketching out a post about Bordick and his Oriole career when I saw this article by CSN's Matt Palmer (h/t to Camden Chat for the link.)

When it came to 1990s defensive shortstops, few were better than Mike Bordick...

And, yet, when the Orioles announced he had been elected him to the team's Hall of Fame, more than a few eyebrows were raised. The committee that chooses the Hall of Fame inductees is made up of Oriole Advocate members, front office personnel, media members and members of the Orioles Hall of Fame. Those elected must get at least 60 percent of the votes cast.

Knowing all the people that would be involved in such a vote, it's surprising Bordick was elected.

I don't know. I wasn't that shocked. There are no specific criteria published on the the Oriole Advocate website so we are left to examine the list of players who are already there and draw our own conclusions about what kind of player would merit selection into the Orioles Hall of Fame. Given the list of players who have been inducted, it is not exclusively a hall based on outstanding offensive numbers alone.

The list of players in the Orioles Hall of Fame ordered by WAR and compiled through the Play Index:

Cal Ripken, Jr. 89.9
Brooks Robinson 69.1
Jim Palmer 63.5
Eddie Murray 54.8
Boog Powell 35.9
Frank Robinson 34.4
Paul Blair 32.7
Mark Belanger  32.6
Bobby Grich 32.6
Brady Anderson 30.8
Ken Singleton 29.4
Chris Hoiles 23.4
Al Bumbry 22.3
Dave McNally  22.1
Doug DeCinces 21.3
Rick Dempsey 20.3
Mike Flanagan 20.2
Milt Pappas 19.9
Don Buford 19.0
Davey Johnson 17.6
Scott McGregor 17.5
B.J. Surhoff 16.7
Mike Boddicker 15.9
Mike Cuellar  15.9
Steve Barber  15.6
Jim Gentile 15.4
Hoyt Wilhelm  14.7
Luis Aparicio 14.5
Mike Bordick 13.1
Gregg Olson 12.8
Hal Brown 12.6
Gus Triandos 12.3
Stu Miller 9.4
Dick Hall 8.7
Harold Baines 8.5
Gene Woodling  8.4
Dennis Martinez 8.2
Tippy Martinez 6.3
Elrod Hendricks 6.2
Eddie Watt 5.1
Lee May         2.5
Billy Hunter   -1.4

Bordick is hardly the worst choice if you want to judge a player by his play on the field. And he is hardly lowering the standards. His bat was not great but he was a superior defender for several seasons.

Reportedly, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar did not get enough votes, but both were on the ballot. Say what you will about Palmeiro's turbulent final year in Baltimore, but he contributed far more to the organization during his time than Bordick. Even though Alomar played just three seasons, the minimum number allowed to be eligible, he also contributed mightily offensively and defensively during his time with the Orioles, which included two postseason runs and the best Orioles teams since 1983.

Rafael Palmeiro belongs...but again, I really don't know the criteria. I am guessing that, like the regular Hall of Fame, Palmeiro is being punished on moral grounds surrounding his use (or perceived use) of steroids and lying (or perceived lying) to Congress about it. That's problematic for any team at this point and he will likely have to wait awhile.

Roberto Alomar would be a fine induction as well. But he did only spend three seasons as an Oriole and had that nasty spitting incident. He will probably also get in at some point but given his short time in Baltimore, I'm not that surprised. And wasn't Bordick on that '97 team with Alomar? How come Bordick doesn't get some credit for that too?

He batted .260 lifetime and with the Orioles. The one season in which he made an All-Star game wearing orange and black was 2000, when he batted .297 during the first 100 games of the season. He was then traded to the Mets, but returned to Baltimore the next season. 
He clearly found a home in Maryland and an organization where he was comfortable.

But he was never great beyond his fielding.

Well, yeah, that's true. But look at that list. Mark Belanger, Luis Aparicio, Elrod Hendricks, Gus Trianados, Rick Dempsey...there are a lot of guys in the OHoF who were great with the glove and light with the bat.

And the last time I checked, fielding still matters in baseball. Bordick had three of the greatest fielding seasons in Oriole history and was always very, very good. Harold Baines or Lee May were not penalized for being one-dimensional offensive players. Neither should Bordick be seen as sub par baseball player.

Palmer is really hung up on Bordick's bat but you have to know that his bat was never what made him great. If Bordick is considered OHoF worthy, it would absolutely have to be on the strength of his glove, not his offensive prowess. Palmer can't be surprised at that.

Rarely was he a player fans flocked to see. If they did notice him, they went home saying, "You know, that Bordick's a solid player."

That really defines Bordick's career. Solid. That's not meant to diminish his incredible play at shortstop, a grueling position in a marathon sport. 
But, as the team has struggled in recent years, players who had "pretty good" careers with the team are now next to greats such as Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver and Eddie Murray. Granted, not every player is going to rise to that level. 
But, it should be harder to get in the door.

And Palmer is really hung up on the notion that the OHoF is just for players who were the caliber of Ripken, Palmer and Murray. But it's not and never has been. Eddie Watt. Dennis Martinez. Lee May. B.J. Surhoff. Gene Woodling. Stu Miler. Scott McGregor. A bunch of guys are already there who could be described as "solid". You can feel that it should be harder to get in the door but you'd have to kick at least a few of these guys out.

As currently constructed, Bordick belongs in the OHoF. And if you don't think he does, well, you ARE diminishing his incredible play at short.

Actually, Palmer listed the six Oriole players who have their numbers retired by the club in that paragraph. Do you think he is confused? Do you think he believes they are retiring Bordick's number?

For more analysis, news and general musings about the Baltimore Orioles, visit Dempsey's Army...

Friday, March 18, 2011

BORT Triple Play: 3/18/11

Highlighting three posts, articles or stories you should be reading this week...

1. Crawdaddy of Camden Depot continues to examine the effects of hGH and steroids in sports by, you know, checking studies done by doctors and scientists instead of sportswriters and congressional leaders. In other words, people who might actually know something.

Somewhat blind assumptions, halo effects, and mob mentality tend to shape an uninformed perspective more so than what experts say is likely or know to be true...a study that surprised me was a study that consisted of telling participants various surprising facts.  These facts were differentiated in that some were attributed to "experts" and others were just given.  Participants were more likely to accept surprising facts from non-expert sources.  So . . . maybe there is a fourth effect, which is perhaps a societal suspicion of scientific literature, which I think would be largely due to a misunderstanding of the scientific method.  People often want definitive answers and there are awfully few laws in science.  Anyway, this is going on a tangent.

However, with all that being said . . . that players are using something to give them a competitive edge is a great reason to investigate on the efficacy of the treatment.  Sometimes lacking a full comprehension of something does not prevent someone from discovering something new.  What many baseball players have become are alchemists.  Alchemy had its usefulness as it encouraged the works of many, such as Isaac Newton and Paracelsus.  It also fostered some silly beliefs such as all things could be turned into gold.  So, it may be that baseball players and others have actually hit gold on hGH.

Craw goes on to summarize and draw together some studies on the effectiveness of hGH and PED's and comes to a more informed conclusion than 99% of baseball writers, fans and sanators on this issue. If only people were more apt to resist the hysteria surrounding this issue, they might learn that hGH (at least) is not the bogeyman it's been made out to be.

2. Continuing to highlight BORT contributors, The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel did a Q&A with Dan from Camden Crazies about various Oriole subjects yesterday:

Baltimore is blessed with a bunch of talented sports bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. I often link up to these local writers in my morning Coffee Companion posts, but instead of just exchanging anti-social links with them, I have decided to be slightly less anti-social by exchanging emails with them in a somewhat regular feature called Blogger on Blogger.

Although I've seen bloggers highlighted by The Sun before, I can't recall a long form forum like this before. Vensel asks good questions and Dan, as he always does, gives thorough, thoughtful, informed answers. I like the format. I'm not sure it has legs in the long run but it's a good feature and one that I haven't seen in mainstream Oriole coverage before.

3. Andrew_G of Camden Chat wonders why the Orioles can't seem to get something going with their international scouting.

One of the criticisms of the Orioles off season this year has been that their increased spending efforts on the major league roster prohibits them from spending more money on amateur players. A lot of the regulars on this very website have scoffed at that notion, and with good cause. The $8 million that Peter Angelos is paying to Vlad Guerrero was obviously not being taken out of what he plans on paying for the newly drafted Orioles this summer. There is no reason to believe that the budget for the roster and the budget for the draft are directly related in the Orioles set-up...

Of course, Andy MacPhail will be the first person to tell you how important spending on the draft is and that the Baltimore Orioles, over the past three years, have spent more on draftees than all but three teams (which unfortunately includes the Boston Red Sox). It would be a huge surprise to see the Orioles spend even a penny less on the 2011 draft than they did in 2010...

There is, however, another story to tell about amateur spending that isn't nearly as kind to Andy MacPhail and the Baltimore Orioles...

It will be interesting to see how MacPhail's strategy plays out and Andrew delves into that quite a bit. He is spending in the draft and that may yet bear fruit but as I've said and as Crawdaddy has also shown this week, there can be merit in even moderate spending internationally, even if you don't want to jump into the high stakes bidding.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fans Interested in Cheaters, Not Cheating

Yesterday, ESPN published an article on how Americans view PEDs:

New research conducted for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency finds that Americans rank the use of performance-enhancing drugs as the most serious problem facing sports today.

The USADA commissioned a study that surveyed about 9,000 Americans -- including adults, children, athletes, coaches and teachers -- to measure the impact sports has on values and culture in the U.S.
Strangely enough, of the last ten posts I published, my human growth hormone (hGH) post was by far the least viewed.  It brings up an interesting point though.  I think baseball fans are much more interested in being upset with pharmacological cheating than with the actual effects of pharmacological cheating.  I find this disappointing because the conversations would be much more interesting than the silly teeth gnashing we currently endure.

In a pure ethical sense, I can understand demonizing all cheating.  However, there is a difference between cheating and getting no advantage vs. cheating and getting an advantage.  Maybe that difference is merely a practical one, but I think that needs to be acknowledged.