Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hill Returns To The Big Leagues

Rich Hill has made a couple of starts after being brought off the DL, and his results have been pretty good. A 1-0 record, with a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 1 HR, 12 K. His FIP is a solid 3.78 and his stats make it seem like he's a lot more like the 2007 version (3.92 ERA with 183 K's in 195 IP) than the 2008 version (4.12 ERA but 18 walks in 19.2 IP). Does this mean the O's have themselves a #3 starter?

(These are largely taken from write-ups done after each of Hill's starts.)

From his first start against the Royals (courtesy of FanGrpahs):

Hill pretty much just stuck with the fastball and curveball, as he has in the past. That one red dot - the slider - was I believe the pitch he dropped down on to strike Jacobs out (the release point confirmed that he really did drop down on that one pitch). His fastball doesn't tail in on lefties much at all, but the curveball has some big-time movement and a 17 mph difference in average velocity from the heater. If he could work his 81 mph change-up in more - he only threw a handful - then that might make both the fastball and the curve more effective.

From his second start against the Nationals (also courtesy of FanGrpahs):

I found it amusing that Hill dropped down again, once, to throw that "slider". It was to Adam Dunn, who fouled it off before drawing a walk. While it looks like his movement changed from his last start, the uniform difference of everything moving slightly to the left leads me to believe that it's an issue with the Pitch/FX system calibration on one of the two stadiums.

All six of his K's came on the curveball, with two looking and four swinging. Hill is still having a ton of problems with his fastball command, as only 37% of his pitches (overall) have been in the strike-zone (as opposed to around 50% as the league average) and lot of that is his fastball. The Pitch/FX didn't catch every pitch in his last start - and it's not exact - but it looks like he threw around a third of his fastballs in the strike zone and around 40% of his curveballs. The curve is a great pitch for him, but it will lose a lot of it's effectiveness if opposing batters know that Hill can't get his fastball over.

Statistically speaking, start #2 (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K) looked a lot like start #1 (5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K). The walks were up partly as a result of a worse ball-strike ratio (46-53 after 34-54), but he also got more groundballs which allowed him to erase a runner via a double play.

I'm not a scout, but it seems like Hill still has some less than optimal things going on with his mechanics - possibly including that shoulder tilt (which may or may not be an actual problem), crooking his wrist as he takes the ball back out of his glove, and what appears to be a lag in his arm as he rotated his body towards the plate. Couldn't find any slowed down video to check, so I would love to hear what others have to say on the matter.

Despite his solid first couple of starts, Hill still has a lot to work on before he can be counted on as a long-term contributor to the rotation.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Brad Bergesen at Toronto (Third Major League Start -- 5/2/2009)

Pitch Chart #3 for Bradley Bergesen. Let's see if he can start flashing that change-up and and locate his fastballs...


Scutaro, SS, .280
Hill, 2B, .376
Rios, RF, .248
Wells, CF, .282
Lind, DH, .320
Bautista, 3B, .310
Overbay, 1B, .250
Chavez, C, .273
Snider, LF, .258

First Inning
P1 - 2S, low, ball
P2 - 2S, low, ball
P3 - 2S, low-in, strike (looking)
P4 - 2S, middle-out, foul (back)
P5 - 2S, low, 6-3

P1 - 2S, low, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, low-out, foul (1B)
P3 - 2S, out, 5-3

P1 - 2S, low-out, ball
P2 - 2S, in, 5-3

Inning Summary: All 2-seamers and three ground balls. Good first inning and good location on his pitches. Toronto was a little eager at the plate, which Bergesen exploited to the tune of a 10-pitch inning.

Inning: 10 pitches/7 strikes, 0 BB, 0 H, 0 SO, 0 ER
Total: 10 pitches/7 strikes, 0 BB, 0 H, 0 SO, 0 ER

Second Inning
P1 - SL, in, 2B (CF, E9)

P1 - 2S, low-out, ball
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball
P3 - 2S, low-out, ball (looked squeezed)
P4 - 2S, low, 4-3

P1 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-out, ball
P3 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P4 - SL, low-out, ball
P5 - 2S, low, foul (1B)
P6 - 2S, up, 1B (RF)

P1 - 2S, out, ball
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball (looked squeezed, again; not getting that pitch)
P3 - 2S, in, ball
P4 - 2S, low-in, ball

P1 - 2S, low-in, strike (looked like the same spot called balls for lefties)
P2 - CH, low-out, foul (1B)
P3 - 2S, low-in, foul (back)
P4 - SL, low-out, ball (good waste)
P5 - 2S, middle, 1B (RF)

P1 - SL, out, ball
P2 - 2S, out, ball
P3 - 2S, low-out, ball
P4 - 2S, up-in, strike (looking; good location)
P5 - 2S, low-out, 4-6

P1 - SL, out, ball
P2 - CH, low-in, 1B (LF; not enough velo differential but good spot and depth)

P1 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-out, ball
P3 - SL, low-out, ball (good approach, just not executing)
P4 - 2S, low-in, foul (3B)
P5 - SL, low-out, 6-3

Inning Summary: I actually like Bergesen's approach today, but he isn't executing on his pitches. Too many fastballs catching the fat 1/3 of the plate and getting behind too often. It's nice to see the slider, but he has to set it up a little better, since the depth and bite are average. Better execution and he should see more success. His quick first inning is a big bonus, as he threw a lot of pitches in inning two.

Inning: 32 pitches/16 strikes, 1 BB, 4 H, 0 SO, 3 ER
Total: 42 pitcher/23 strikes, 1 BB, 4 H, 0 SO, 3 ER

Third Inning
P1 - 2S, out, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, low, 1B (CF)

P1 - 2S, middle, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, in, strike (looking)
P3 - 2S, middle, 1B (LF; bad spot up 0-2)

P1 - 2S, up-out, ball
P2 - CH, low-in, ball
P3 - 2S, out, ball
P4 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P5 - 2S, low, 3-6-3

P1 - 2S, in, ball
P2 - SL, low-out, ball (target low-in)
P3 - 2S, low-in, ball (fifth 3-0 count!)
P4 - 2S, low-out, ball

P1 - 2S, in, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, out, strike (looking)
P3 - 2S, up-out, foul tip (caught)

Inning Summary: Bergesen just isn't commanding his stuff. Again, falling behind and missing his spots with his fastball (and slider). Looks like "one of those days" where his pitches aren't there for him. It's worth noting how he handles it -- which hasn't been bad -- but there isn't enough margin in his pure stuff for it to be really effective when it isn't on. At least his 2-seamer gives him the opportunity to get out of trouble via the double-play.

Inning: 17 pitches/10 strikes, 1 BB, 2 H, 1 SO, 0 ER
Total: 59 pitches/33 strikes, 2 BB, 6 H, 1 SO, 3 ER

Fourth Inning
P1 - strike (missed pitch)
P2 - SL, in, ball
P3 - 2S, low-in, ball
P4 - 4S, up-in, foul (back)
P5 - 2S, middle, 4-3

P1 - 4S, out, strike (looking)
P2 - CH, middle, F8 (good velo differential allowed him to miss up a bit)

P1 - SL, up-in, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball
P3 - SL, low, 1-3

Inning Summary: Very good inning. Still isn't really hitting his spots, but he mixed his pitches well. He kept his pitch count down and should get through the fifth -- an accomplishment given his third inning.

Inning: 10 pitches/7 strikes, 0 BB, 0 H, 0 SO, 0 ER
Total: 69 pitches/40 strikes, 2 BB, 6 H, 1 SO, 3 ER

Fifth Inning
P1 - SL, in, ball
P2 - 2S, in, ball
P3 - 4S, low, F8

P1 - SL, low-out, ball
P2 - SL, low-out, ball (missed badly)
P3 - 2S, low-in, strike (looking)
P4 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P5 - SL, low-out, ball
P6 - SL, in, F9

P1 - 2S, middle, foul (1B)
P2 - SL, low, foul (back)
P3 - 4S, out, 1-3

Inning Summary: Another solid inning, and another inning where Bergesen isn't really executing, but is mixing well. Fell behind to first two hitters, again (both 2-0). Another relatively short inning might by him a sixth trip to the mound. We'll see...

Inning: 12 pitches/7 strikes, 0 BB, 0 H, 0 SO, 0 ER
Total: 81 pitches/47 strikes, 2 BB, 6 H, 1 SO, 3 ER

Sixth Inning
P1 - 2S, out, ball
P2 - SL, out, ball (spinner, maybe CH?)
P3 - 2S, low-in, strike
P4 - SL, out, ball
P5 - 2S, out, strike (looking; got some help)
P6 - 2S, low-in, ball

P1 - 2S, no location (wide shot), F8

P1 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking; wasn't getting that earlier)
P2 - CH, low-out, 6-3

Inning Summary: A third straight solid inning. Bergesen still wasn't sharp with his stuff, but it looks like he's managing an off day as well as can be expected. He isn't hanging his stuff over the plate any more, and he's putting himself in position to get soft contact, even if his pitches aren't as crisp as he'd like. 7th?

Inning: 9 pitches/5 strikes, 1 BB, 0 H, 0 SO, 0 ER
Total: 90 pitches/52 strikes, 3 BB, 6 H, 1 SO, 3 ER

Seventh Inning - Bergesen pulled; Baez in

Game Summery: Bergesen did not command his stuff and his slider was less consistent than usual. Still, he managed to battle through, allowing a respectable 3 earned runs over six innings pitched. He did a better job mixing in his change-up (I counted five) and generally had a better pitch-mix throughout the game. I'd like to see him keep this approach through his next start and hopefully just execute his pitches a little better. Could have been much worse; hats off to Bergesen for battling through.

Final Line: 6 IP, 3 BB, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 SO
90 pitches/52 strikes


Friday, May 1, 2009

Chris Tillman Start (5/1/2009 at Scranton)

Taking a look at Tillman against AAA Yankees. Observations on positional prospects will be written up separately. Pitch charting follows...

Yankees Lineup:
Nunez, SS
Rodriguez, DH
Linden, LF
S. Duncan, RF
Miranda, 1B
Jackson, CF
E. Duncan, 3B
Malec, 2B
Plittere, C

First Inning
Nunez, SS
P1 - FB, low, strike (looking)
P2 - FB, low-out, strike (looking)
P3 - FB, low-in, foul tip (caught)

Rodriguez, DH
P1 - FB, out, ball (good run)
P2 - FB, low-in, ball
P3 - FB, low-out, ball
P4 - FB, out, strike (looking)
P5 - FB, up-in, foul (back)
P6 - FB, low-out, ball

Linden, LF
P1 - FB, low-in, ball (good pick by Wieters)
P2 - FB, out, strike (looking)
P3 - FB, in, foul (back)
P4 - FB, low-out, 4-6

S. Duncan
P1 - FB, up-in, strike (looking)
P2 - FB, up-in, foul (LF)
P3 - FB, up-out, 2B (CF)

P1 - CB, up-out, ball
P2 - CH, low-in, strike (swinging; nice depth on pitch and solid arm speed)
P3 - FB, up-in, ball
P4 - CH, out, F8

Inning Summary: Tillman worked to establish his fastball, struggling a bit with command. He was around his spots but not necessarily hitting them. One thing that was nice was his use of secondary stuff against Miranda, setting-up his second change-up with a solid high fastball. Stadium gun has him in the 90-92 range with his fastball.

20 pitches/13 strikes, 1BB, 1 SO, 1 H, 1 ER

Second Inning
P1 - FB, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - CB, out, ball (very good depth)
P3 - FB, low, foul (RF)
P4 - FB, in, foul (1B)
P5 - FB, low-in, F9

E. Duncan
P1 - CB, out, ball (good shape/depth, again)
P2 - FB, low, foul (back)
P3 - CB, low, strike (looking; plus depth and bite)
P4 - CH, in, foul (back)
P5 - FB, low-out, foul (3B)
P6 - FB, out, foul (back)
P7 - CB, in, foul (1B)
P8 - CH, low-in, strike (swinging; good depth and arm speed)

P1 - FB, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - FB, in, ball
P3 - FB, low-in, foul (back)
P4 - FB, out, ball (good waste and change where Malec's looking)
P5 - FB, low-in, foul (back)
P6 - CB, up-in, ball
P7 - FB, low-in, L4 (Malec squared-up but right at 4)

Inning Summary: Much better mix of secondary stuff. Tillman is snapping off a plus CB bordering on plus-plus, getting very good depth and hard bite. A couple were a little soft (shape wasn't as tight) but overall the pitch looks good. His changeup has some nice depth and looks like it could definitely be an average to above-average pitch if he keeps working. I hope to see him pitch off his curve a bit the second time through the order.

Inning: 20 pitches/15 strikes, O BB, 1 SO, O H, O ER
Total: 40 pitches/28 strikes, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 H, 1 ER

Third Inning
P1 - FB, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - CB, up, 1B (CF)

P1 - FB, middle, foul (RF)
P2 - FB, low-in, F3 (foul)

P1 - CB, low-out, ball
P2 - FB, low-out, ball
P3 - FB, low-out, 4-6

P1 - FB, out, foul (LF)
P2 - FB, out, foul (LF)
P3 - FB, low-out, ball
P4 - FB, out, foul (LF; seems like a good spot for offspeed)
P5 - CB, out, strike (looking)

Inning Summary: Tillman looked pretty comfortable and had his most economical inning. I'd like to see the change-up more, if only because it's supposedly something he's to be working on and has looked pretty good the handful of times he's used it tonight. Overall, solid inning and much needed to keep the pitch count down a bit.

Inning: 12 pitches/9 strikes, O BB, 1 SO, 1 H, O ER
Total: 52 pitches/37 strikes, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2 H, 1 ER

Fourth Inning
S. Duncan
P1 - FB, low, ball (bounced in -- hey, it's been a long wait)
P2 - FB, out, ball
P3 - FB, out, ball
P4 - FB, out, strike
P5 - FB, in, foul (back)
P6 - FB, low-in, ball

Mendoza (PH for Miranda)
P1 - FB, out, ball
[Wieters/Tillman conference]
P2 - FB, out, strike (looking)
P3 - FB, out, strike (looking; framed)
P4 - CB, low, strike (looking; snapped a good one)

P1 - CB, low-out, ball (softer shape, came around it a bit)
P2 - FB, in, foul (back)
P3 - FB, low-out, strike (looking)
P4 - FB, low-out, ball
P5 - FB, in, 1B (RF; not a bad pitch but Jackson stayed inside of it)

E. Duncan
P1 - FB, out, ball
P2 - FB, low-out, strike (swinging)
P3 - FB, out, ball
P4 - FB, low, F7 (nice tracking by Reimold, back and to the line)

P1 - FB, up, ball (good to see him elevate it to start the AB)
P2 - FB, out, 2B (LF; belt-high and over the outer-half; missed inside target)

[Mike Griffin to mound w/Wieters and Tillman]

P1 - FB, up-in, F7

Inning Summary: I know this is about Tillman, but Wieters is really a solid receiver. He's quiet behind the plate and really absorbs the ball well -- the third pitch to Mendoza looked about three inches out, but Wieters took it in with minimal movement in framing and no movement at all in his body. Back to Tillman, it's hard to judge to harshly after the long layover in the top half of the inning, but he didn't look sharp. He wasn't hitting his spots and ended up around the belt way too often. Still would like to see him pitch off the curve a little more to change the hitter's eye-level, and of course the change-up would be nice.

Inning: 21 pitches/11 strikes, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2 H, 2 ER
Total: 73 pitches, 48 strikez, 2 BB, 4 SO, 4 H, 3 ER

Fifth Inning
P1 - FB, out, ball
P2 - FB, low, strike (looking)
P3 - CB, up-in, strike (looking; great bite)
P4 - FB, out, 4-3

P1 - CB, out, ball
P2 - FB, out, strike (swinging; way late, good job pitching off CB!)
P3 - CB, low, strike (swinging)
P4 - CH, low, strike (swinging; excellent pitch sequence had Rodriguez looking FB on P4)

P1 - CB, low-out, strike (looking; is he reading this? Again, way to pitch off the CB!)
P2 - FB, low-out, strike (swinging; again way behind after CB set-up)
P3 - CB, low-in, strike (swinging)

Inning Summary: Outstanding inning. Great job pitching off the secondary stuff and keeping the hitters guessing after being forced to the FB the previous inning. Should earn another trip to the mound in the sixth -- it'd be nice to see him get through six after laboring a bit with his pitch count early.

Inning: 11 pitches/9 strikes, O BB, 2 SO, O H, O ER
Total: 84 pitches/57 strikes, 2 BB, 6 SO, 4 H, 3 ER

Tillman pulled; Albers in

Game Summary: Tillman put together a nice little start after showing some inconsistent command early. His last inning was by far his best, and it would have been nice to see him out for one more (particularly to face Duncan and Jackson again). It's clear what Tillman needs to continue to work on -- command in the zone, curveball command and using his changeup. He'll also need to build up some more in-game endurance, though some of that will come as he continues to fill out and build his overall durability. His curveball flashed plus-plus today, though it generally sat around plus, with average command. His change-up was a very good pitch the few times he threw it. Hopefully he'll continue to integrate it into his arsenal. Another nice start; still not Major League ready, but he's clearly working his way there.

Final Line : 5 IP, 2 BB, 4 H, 6 SO, 3 ER, 84 pitches/57 strikes


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zaun is Unlucky?

From Roch Kubatko's blog:

Trembley noted that Zaun has hit "in some tough luck."

"I think for a guy who has played as long as Zaun has, you've got to look at the track record and see what he is, and that's basically a .250 hitter, and I think that's what he would be," Trembley said.

Is Dave Trembley correct in his assessment of Gregg Zaun this season?

A quick way to find out is PrOPS.

Zaun's Actual Line: .111/.238/.185
Zaun's PrOPS Line: .241/.347/.303

It does appear that Zaun has been unlucky early this season. And if you take his expected line through PrOPS, he is much closer to the .250 hitter that Dave Trembley is expecting.

So should Chad Moeller get more playing time at this point?

Moeller's Actual Line: .250/.318/.450
Moeller's PrOPS Line: .316/.373/.538

Probably. Based on Moeller's hot bat and Zaun's cold one it probably wouldn't hurt things to split the time equally at least.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Is there any room for Pie in Left Field?

We are probably painfully aware at this point that Nolan Reimold is beating up on pitchers in AAA. This has included two launched balls off of David Price, the esteemed No. 2 in BA's top prospects. He is batting 417/486/750 and is on pace to slug 50 home runs in a full season of AAA. His MLE OPS is 1027. This makes it difficult on Felix Pie. So far he has not performed with a line of 167/259/229. That is bad. Added to this, part of his charm was bringing above average defense to left field. He has just recently achieved average defensive value and it is arguable whether he will advance beyond that.

Now . . . your head might explode here. Pie has been unlucky. More after the jump.


There are some basic rules of thumb you can apply to batted ball data. You look at a line and you will find that 0% of infield flies result in a hit, 22% of fly balls land for a hit, 28% of groundballs find holes through the infield, and 74% of line drives find a home in the outfield grass. Now, Felix has registered 2 infield flies, 13 fly balls, 12 grounders, and 8 line drives.

His hit rate so far has been 0% for infield flies, 15% for flies, 0% for ground balls, and 75% for line drives. See something off here? None of his grounders have found holes. He should have 4 ground ball hits. This would raise his batting average to .250 . . . his OBP to .327 . . . his slugging to .313. His OPS would be a whopping 640 as opposed to 488. Yeah, that is still pretty bad, but not as bad as we thought. Well, unless someone can come up with a good idea why his grounders do not make it through the infield? A line drive hitter typically hits hard grounders.

So, how much more rope do you all think he should have?


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brad Bergesen: Second Start (April 26, 2009)

Charting Brad's second start -- this time against a tough Texas lineup. Let's see if he utilizes his slider and his changeup a little more effectively...


First Inning
P1 - 2S, inside, long foul LF line
P2 - SL, outside, soft foul back
P3 - SL, low-outside, strike (swing, Kinsler fooled badly)

P1 - 4S, low-out, strike, looking
P2 - 2S, low, ball
P3 - 2S, outside, ball
P4 - 2S, outside, strike (looking)
P5 - SL, low-in, ball (great location)
P6 - 2S, low-outside, foul back
P7 - 2S, outside, foul back
P8 - SL, low-in, foul soft back (needed a little more in, but good spot)
P9 - 2S, low, 4-3 (soft grounder, rolled over)

P1 - SL, low, foul back
P2 - 2S, up-in, foul back
P3 - SL, low, strike (swinging)

Inning Summary: Very strong first inning. Bergesen did a nice job of setting-up his slider and getting good placement with his fastball. It looks like his 2S and SL are tough to differentiate out of his hand and arm slot, which should help both play up. Kinsler was looking FB and just missed a homer on the first pitch (Bergesen leaving it a bit up from the target. Overall, a strong start.

Second Inning
P1 - 4S, inside, strike (looking)
P2 - CH, low-out, strike (swinging)
P3 - SL, low-in, ball
P4 - SL, low-out, F8 (end of the bat, reaching)

P1 - 2S, outside, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, inside, foul (3B side)
P3 - SL, low-out, ball
P4 - 2S, inside, ball
P5 - SL, outside, ball
P6 - 2S, up-in, 2B (not a bad spot, Byrd just stayed inside of it and dumped it down the line)

P1 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-out, ball
P3 - SL, low-out, foul
P4 - SL, low-out, strike (swinging; good tilt)

P1 - SL, low, ball
P2 - 2S, outside, strike (looking)
P3 - SL, low, HR (straight away CF; SL was a spinner that caught too much of the plate)

P1 - SL, low-in, ball
P2 - 2S, in, foul back
P3 - 2S, in, strike (looking)
P4 - SL, low-in, 1B (RF corner; again, SL spinning a bit and catching too much of the plate)

P1 - SL, out, strike (swinging -- camera late coming back))
P2 - SL, in, foul back (camera late again)
P3 - 2S, middle, F9 (hit hard to right/center gap)

Inning Summary: 24 pich inning, 39 total. Bergesen was effective when he was hitting his spots, and ineffective when he wasn't. As we touched on in his first start, his pure stuff doesn't allow him to be imprecise. I'd like to see him mix in some more changeups the second time through the order -- I may have missed one or two due to the camera being late getting back to the pitch.

Third Inning
P1 - SL, middle, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, inside, foul (back)
P3 - 4S, low-out, ball
P4 - 2S, middle, 4-3

P1 - 2S, low, ball
P2 - 4S, low, ball
P3 - 2S, low, foul (1B)
P4 - 2S, out, foul (back)
P5 - 2S, out, ball
P6 - 4S, in, ball

P1 - SL, low, ball
P2 - 2S, up, foul (back)
P3 - SL, low, E6

P1 - 2S, outside, ball
P2 - 2S, outside, ball (not finishing; aiming outside)
P3 - 2S, low-out, 3-6

P1 - 2S, inside, foul (back)
P2 - 2S, outside, 5-4

Inning Summary: Better inning for Bergesen, though he went back to relying primarily on his 2S to try and induce groundballs. Again, I'd like to see the change mixed in a bit. He doesn't look particularly confident in his slider today, so something to change pace would be good. Also, while he needs to work down to be successful, it would be good to change the hitter's eye-level and throw a 4S up a couple of times when he's ahead.

Fourth Inning
Cruz (I'd like to see him work in with the 2S)
P1 - SL, up-in, strike (looking)
P2 - 4S, low-out, ball
P3 - 2S, out, 4-3 (soft groundball; did a good job working inside-out to get the roll-over)

P1 - 4S, low-in, ball
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball
P3 - 2S, low, foul (back)
P4 - 2S, out, F7

Saltalamacchia (I'd like to see him work down-out with the CH)
P1 - 2S, out, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, low-out, single (CF)

P1 - SL, low-out, ball
P2 - 2S, low-in, foul (3B)
P3 - 2S, low-in, foul (back; 4S up-in would be nice)
P4 - 2S, in, foul (3B; SL in would be nice)
P5 - SL, low-out, ball
P6 - 4S, low-in, foul
P7 - 4S, up, single (CF; caught way too much of plate)

P1 - 2S, in, 5-4

Inning Summary: Bergy didn't look like he wanted to throw anything off-speed to Davis. Fortunately, he kept the ball down and got soft contact. It would have been nice to put Andrus away a little earlier, as the pitch count is rising. I'll keep saying he needs to show a different look (changeup down or slider in to righties, changeup away 4S up-in to lefties). I have him at 74 pitches through four.

Fifth Inning
P1 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, inside, ball
P3 - 2S, middle-down, HR (CF)

P1 - 2S, in, 2B (LF/CF; and this is what happens when you aren't feeling your breaking ball and can't/won't go to a changeup)

P1 - 4S, low-in, ball (velocity dropping on 4S)
P2 - SL, low-in, ball
P3 - CH, middle, foul (LF, linedrive)
P4 - 2S, low, ball
P5 - 2S, low-out, 1B (CF; too much of plate)

P1 - SL, low-out, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low, strike (swinging)
P3 - SL, low, 1B (3B)

P1 - SL, low-out, ball
P2 - 2S, low, 1B (3B; ball hit hard down the line, Wigginton stops but can't make the play)

Bergesen pulled.

Inning Summary: Stuff out over the plate and very little velocity differential. Bergesen looked measured by the Texas hitters.

Impressions from Start #2: Again, no real surprises. When he's spotting his pitches, he can be difficult to square-up on, but without that changeup and without an ability to change the hitter's eye-level, I just don't see him making it through Major League lineups two and three times. It certainly isn't enough to say he isn't ready to be up with the big club, but he needs to get that changeup working, and he needs to have more confidence up in the zone with his four-seamer. Hitters are just way too comfortable by their second at bat.

Final Line:
4 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 3 SO, 1 BB, 3 HR
88 pitches / 59 Strikes


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Start for Brad Bergesen (April 21, 2009 vs. Chicago)

Taking a break from a full article to do some live blogging! Since we were foiled in our attempt to follow Wieters/Price, I'm gonna hop on and give some live commentary on Brad Bergesen in his first ML start against the White Sox. Just got home, so we'll pick up the action in the second inning...


Second Inning
Thome - soft groundout to Roberts

Dye - Four-pitch walk; Bergesen working outside and was unwilling to give in once he fell behind.

Konerko - Started out with a fastball outside, good placement; 2-seamer started on the black and ran inside, solid second pitch after FB away; way up an in with his 4-seamer, took off on him a bit; good 2-seamer with late life at the knees (swing and miss); 2-seamer started off on inner-third and ran in (weak foul ball 3B side); 2-seamer middle-down (GB to third, 5-4-3), caught too much of the plate but had enough run/depth to produce the grounder

Inning summary - Bergesen worked quickly and stayed around the zone. He's establishing his fastball and finding a rhythem. As he works through the order a second time, he'll need to mix in more offspeed/breaking stuff as Konerko had him pretty well measured. I think we'll move to a more traditional charting of his pitches next inning and see how that goes. We'll use this summary form: Pitch number, location, result (note, if any).

Third Inning
P1 - 2S, low-out, strike
P2 - 2S, low, ball (might be CH -- interviewing his dad so delayed coverage of pitch)
P3 - 2S, low, 4-3 

P1 - 2S, low-out, 5-3 (still interviewing dad so they aren't showing the full pitch)

P1 - 2S, low-out, ball (opened early -- overthrew a bit)
P2 - 2S , low-out, strike (good run, stayed closed in hips; pitch started outside of the zone and came back)
P3 - SL, low-out, ball
P4 - 2S, low, foul (good timing)
P5 - 2S, low-in, strikeout looking

Inning summary - Strong inning from Bergesen. Again, he worked quickly and attacked the zone with his fastball. Since MASN was interviewing his father, I only caught part of the pitch for a few pitches (you can check against gamecast to see what, if anything, I missed). Again, look for him to mix in more offspeed the second time through, but so far he has been impressive. He certainly isn't intimidated, and he's maintaining the same pace and approach that has made him successful in the minors. It's also worth noting that he isn't overthrowing -- he knows his game plan and is sticking to it (props to Zaun in this department; the two are working well).

Fourth Inning
P1 - 2S, low-out, ball
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball
P3 - 4S, inside, ball
P4 - 2S, low-out, strike (looking)
P5 - 2S, up-out, ball (walk)

P1 - 2S, low-in, bunt foul
P2 - 2S, low, bunt foul
P3 - SL, low-out, ball
P4 - (good delay in stretch to disrupt batter timing) SL, low-out, ball
P5 - 2S, low-in, swinging strike (terrific placement, good compliment to looking strike in same location previous inning)

P1 - (good delay in stretch almost leads to pick-off of Getz) 2S, low, swing and miss (good depth)
P2 - 2S, low, ball
P3 - 2S, middle, foul back (missed his spot but enough movement to prevent Quentin from squaring-up)
P4 - 4S, up, ball
P5 - 2S, inside, E5 (good pitch should have been DP, but Quentin hit it hard)

P1 - 2S, outside, foul left field (Thome had it measured but good life prevented squaring)
P2 - 2S, low-out, ball
P3 - 4S, up, ball (pretty clearly a strike)
P4 - 2S, out, foul 3B side (should follow with offspeed down-in)
P5 - 2S, in, strikeout looking (set up well by working out and up prior four pitches)

P1 - CH, low, ball
P2 - 2S, low, foul
P3 - CH, low-out, ball
P4 - 2S, out, single CF

P1 - 2S, low, single RF

Inning Summary - As warned against, Bergesen was better timed by the White Sox hitters this time through. He didn't mix in his slider enough in the middle of the order, and Dye/Konerko were ready for his 2-seamer the second time around. We'll see how he bounces back next inning. So far, the outing has to be considered a success, but there aren't any surprises as far as how Bergy's stuff is playing against a veterean ML lineup. 

Fifth Inning
P1 - 2S, low, ball
P2 - 2S, low-in, ball
P3 - 2S, low-in, ball
P4 - 4S, low-out, strike
P5 - 4S, in, foul 3B side
P6 - 4S, out, single RF

P1 - 2S, low, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-out, strike (swinging)
P3 - SL, low-out, ball
P4 - SL, low-out, ball
P5 - 4S, in, foul
P6 - 2S, up-in, single LF (missed up in the zone - target in)

P1 - 2S, low, 6-4

P1 - 2S, low-away, strike (looking)
P2 - 2S, inside, strike (looking)
P3 - SL, low, foul 1B
P4 - SL, low-in, hit-by-pitch

P1 - SL, low, F9

P1 - 2S, middle-in, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-out, 6-4

Inning Summary - All-in-all, not a bad inning from Bergesen. Chicago is, again, much more patient this time through the order -- as expected, Bergesen's margin for error is minimal. He didn't miss over the plate, and when he fell behind he was around where he wanted to be. Our book on him based on his MiL performances is right on with how he looks tonight. He has a chance to be successful when he's spotting his 2-seamer, but there just isn't any room to miss. His slider is an okay change-of-pace pitch, but the velocity differential isn't really there to throw-off hitters. He did a better job mixing the breaking ball this inning, but he needs to throw it for a strike more often to help his 2-seamer play multiple times through the order.

Sixth Inning
P1 - 2S, away, foul back
P2 - 2S, low, foul 1B
P3 - SL, out, ball (Zaun set up in -- great call but missed)
P4 - SL, low-in, ball (this was supposed to be the pitch before; executed this time)
P5 - 2S, out, ball
P6 - 4S, out, F8 (Thome didn't miss it by much, ball to warning track)

P1 - 2S, middle, strike (looking)
P2 - SL, low-middle, foul (back)
P3 - 2S, in, ball
P4 - SL, out, 6-3 (AVG depth on SL but set it up well; without previous pitch, Dye probably gets better wood)

Bergesen pulled.

Inning Summary - Bergesen executed his pitches well against Thome and Dye with the exception of P3 to Thome. His slider isn't a plus pitch, which means he needs to set it up for it to be effective. We see this in the Dye at bat, and likewise we see that Thome wasn't fooled in P4 after seeing the SL on P3. 

Overall Impression - Good outing for Bergesen. This offseason, at, we had Bergesen pegged as a leading candidate to be the first called-up and a decent bet to produce back-end quality outings. His first start fits right into that projection. There is lots to be excited about, including a terrific pace, generally good pitch location and a fine execution of a game plan. Things I'd like to see next time around? More sliders for strikes and changeups. It could be that some of his 4-seamers were changeups, but honestly it looked like he pretty much steered clear of that offering for the evening.

One last note, on a couple of occasions, Bergesen delayed in the stretch. One time, this was clearly to try and throw off the batter; the other led Getz to jump in his lead, almost creating a pick-off. Bergesen was poised and in reasonably in command of his arsenal. Baltimore fans should be pleased.

Final line: 5.2 IP, 4 SO, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 95 pitches 


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keep Zaunie In There

Here's a short one, but I thought it was mildly interesting and may lead to a bit of discussion. It regards the strange pattern of O's games thus far, which many people seem to have noticed.

With Gregg Zaun behind the plate, the O's are 6-0 with 45 runs scored (though ZAUN! is hitting just .136/.269/.273) and 28 runs allowed (4.67 per game).

With Chad Moeller behind the plate, the O's are 0-3 with 11 runs scored (Moeller is hitting .364/.364/.727) and 41 runs allowed (13.67 per game).

Incredibly small sample size, but it at least merits keeping an eye one. (Not really, but it's kind of interesting.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wieters vs. Price -- Norfolk at Durham, 4/10/2008 (7:05pm)

The top two prospects in baseball will square-off tonight in Durham. Provided I'm home in time, I'll be posting here throughout the game and watching via live stream. Pre-game reading available after the jump.

Here is some pre-game reading:

Durham Press Release

BaseballAmerica blogs from the game last night, focusing on Wieters (they'll be at it again tonight, so check in with them if I'm not able to log on). profile on David Price for their Top 50 Prospects series. profile on Matt Wieters for their Top 50 Prospects series.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No Game Yesterday, so We Get a Weird Article

Rick Maese wrote a column today.

The two major points that he has from the players' perspective is that they have no clue who he is and they want to know him. Basically, the way it is related is that the players are orphans. So what does this mean to you?


Some more interesting points from the article:

1. Before opening day, only Mora and Roberts had met Angelos.
2. Trembley and MacPhail want him around more often.
3. Players fish in his pond.
4. He picks up dinner tabs.
5. Adam Jones had a rock star reaction to him.
6. Maese believes all of the players want him around.

Personally, I understand why Angelos has basically disappeared over the past decade. One, he is busy. Two, he is pretty much universally hated by the Baltimore fan. He made a series of completely awful management moves and plied his hand in the overall workings of the club, which occasionally resulted in rather awful results. That said, I don't care if he shows his mug around or not. I'm not sure why it matters to the players so much. I have honestly never cared about the guy who signs my checks. I care about my work. If he can walk around and act like an old sweet Grandpa with individually wrapped hard candy in his pocket . . . I do not mind him developing elaborate fist bumps with Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis. Perhaps the only concern I would have is that Angelos might develop friendships and loyalty to some of the guys. That typically is not good for business in baseball where turnover is somewhat required to have success. Otherwise, we'll wind up with Mora playing third until he is 45.

Anyone care to expand or contradict these comments?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day

All thoughts and comments about Opening Day . . . let the conversation whirl at its own pace.

Using ZIPS and the run projector tool, pitching adjusted score:

Orioles 3.557
Yankees 4.975

Lineups behind the jump.


Runs/G for Lineup: 5.082
Adjusted for CC: 3.557

Brian Roberts - 2B
Adam Jones - CF
Nick Markakis - RF
Melvin Mora - 3B
Aubrey Huff - 1B
Ty Wigginton - DH
Luke Scott - LF
Gregg Zaun - C
Cesar Izturis - SS

Jeremy Guthrie - P


Runs/G for Lineup: 5.408
Adjusted for Guthrie: 4.975

Derek Jeter - SS
Johnny Damon - LF
Mark Teixeira -1B
Hideki Matsui - DH
Jorge Posada - C
Robinson Cano - 2B
Xavier Nady - RF
Cody Ransom - 3B
Brett Gardner - CF

CC Sabathia - P


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final-ish WAR Projections

With the roster more or less finalized, I've done likewise for the projections for the BeyondTheBoxScore WAR project (though final touches are of course a possibility). My spreadsheet is here, and the underlying stats are below.


Matt Wieters:
300 PA, .289/.359/.482, 10 HR, .365 wOBA

Gregg Zaun:
300 PA, .241/.340/.374, 5 HR, .320 wOBA

Aubrey Huff:
600 PA, .280/.344/.472, 22 HR, .357 wOBA

Brian Roberts:
625 PA, .285/.365/.425, 9 HR, .358 wOBA

Cesar Izturis:
550 PA, .260/.311/.327, 3 HR, .290 wOBA

Melvin Mora:
550 PA, .271/.333/.418, 16 HR, .334 wOBA

Felix Pie:
500 PA, .267/.322/.409, 10 HR, .323 wOBA

Adam Jones:
575 PA, .273/.325/.425, 15 HR, .331 wOBA

Nick Markakis:
650 PA, .301/.401/.493, 20 HR, .395 wOBA

Luke Scott:
575 PA, .262/.343/.476, 23 HR, .355 wOBA

Ty Wigginton:
475 PA, .271/.334/.469, 20 HR, .350 wOBA

Chad Moeller:
75 PA, .229/.281/.344, 1 HR, .286 wOBA

Ryan Freel:
300 PA, .254/.327/.353, 3 HR, .321 wOBA

Robert Andino:
100 PA, .235/.281/.342, 1 HR, .292 wOBA

Luis Montanez:
75 PA, .274/.326/.432, 2 HR, .333 wOBA

Total offense: .272/.342/.429, 160 HR, .338 wOBA

In 2008, the O's hit .269/.333/.429, 172 HR, .340 wOBA so things don't look all that different. Huff and Mora probably won't repeat their '08 seasons, but the additions of Wigginton and Wieters help. A bit above average again, while putting a plus defense on the field (especially in the outfield).

Starting pitching:
Pitcher IP ERA
Jeremy Guthrie 180 4.15
Koji Uehara 150 4.70
Rich Hill 100 5.00
Matt Hendrickson 80 5.13
Adam Eaton 70 5.30
Alfredo Simon 70 5.43
Brad Bergesen 75 5.18
Chris Waters 65 5.51
David Pauley 55 5.40
Danys Baez 35 5.47
Matt Albers 30 4.74
Radhames Liz 25 5.52
Total 935 4.95

Relief pitching:
Pitcher IP ERA
George Sherrill 55 3.79
Jim Johnson 60 3.85
Chris Ray 50 4.10
Dennis Sarfate 55 4.37
Jamie Walker 35 4.72
Danys Baez 40 4.70
Kam Mickolio 35 4.24
Brian Bass 45 4.58
Brad Hennessey 40 4.52
Matt Albers 35 4.38
Matt Hendrickson 25 4.32
Radhames Liz 35 4.73
Total 510 4.31

Pitching total: 4.73 ERA

Last year it was 5.15 so that's a big improvement. It's not really "better" though, as it's really hard to pitch that poorly (5.14 FIP too) two years in a row. Only two guys in the rotation with ERA's under 5 (Guthrie and Uehara) would make games hard to watch most days, so hopefully they can stay healthy all year. And there's a decent chance that someone (anyone, please) actually lucks into a pretty good season. Alternately, it's likely that one or two guys put up an ERA above 6. The idea is that those guys get replaced quickly (if the ERA is deserved) by someone who is less bad.

Overall, that team has about 78 wins worth of talent based on Wins Above Replacement. Given that they play in the AL East I would personally be inclined to knock another win or two off of that number, but a 75-77 win season is what I'm looking at. And no September collapse would be nice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

O's MiL System in the top tier . . . how about next year?

The Orioles minor league system has come pretty far in the last few years. Today, it stands as an organizational that is listed in the top three farm systems according to Baseball America (9th), Baseball Prospects (7th), and a quantitative method using Victor Wang's prospect worth analysis (6th). A typical response from some of the critics of the Orioles minor league system is that their recent upswing in quality is almost completely connected to Matt Wieters' worth. This is a fairly astute observation as Wieters does account for about a 35% of the MiL worth according to Victor Wang influenced calculations. With Wieters in the mix, the system is worth $112.1MM. You remove Wieters and that number drops to $79.9MM, which would slot us in 18th between the Mets and Reds. Other options would put us at $86.4MM (16th overall, Ross Detwiler), $100.7MM (10th overall, Matt LaPorta), or $88.6MM (16th overall, Philippe Aumont). Word at the time was that the Orioles did not expect Wieters to be there and, even if he was, was more likely to go with Detwiler or Aumont. Matt LaPorta was reported as a possible alternative. That said Joe Jordan has never mentioned who else he may have considered.

With that said, what does this mean for the rankings coming out in February of 2010?


I'll be focusing on the Wang-related rankings as it makes up for generically ID'ing players with a more quantitative focus.

We can expect Wieters, Montanez, Reimold, and Bergesen to lose their rookie status (Reimold is probably the most arguable of the four to lose it). This would result in a system loss of about $39MM. This would reduce the overall worth of the system to $73MM. It appears as if Arrieta and Matusz will probably keep their value as top 25 pitchers. They both looked good this Spring and do not have shaky command issues, which is a typically value drop from one year to the next. That said, I do not think Matusz' value could increase and I think Arrieta's value is as likely to increase as Tillman's is likely to decrease. So, for the top three, I would probably just call it a push.

Going beyond that, Erbe, Snyder, Hoes, and Drake probably represent the best upside players. I would expect 1 or 2 to make it into BA's top 100 prospects. I think Erbe will sneak into BA's top 100 as he is already in there for other publications. This adds the team worth to $76.8MM. Assuming one of the other three makes it (let's saw Hoes), the value is raised by $10.5MM to $87.1MM. I doubt much else will change.

The draft will also be a contributor to next year's value. Conservatively estimating our selection as rating between the 25th and 50th ranked prospect in baseball and assuming the following picks with not be top 100 players . . . the Orioles are probably looking at an increase in value of $14-20MM. This places their final MiL value at $101.1-107.1MM.

We are probably looking at a loss of 9.7%.

How do you all feel about those assumptions?

Ideally, one would want a system that is operating with at worst a net zero loss in value each year. Losing a top ten player makes that rather difficult.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun with Graphs: Ripken, Tejada, Jeter, Trammell

This is basically another idea stolen from Beyond the Box Score. We do that well here, but at least we cite accordingly. Anyway, after the jump is a comparison of Cal Ripken Jr., Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, and Alan Trammell by graphically illustrating their seperate seasons' WARP from greatest to least.

Quick response: Man, Cal was so much better than any of them and Jeter is the second coming of Trammell . . . WARP-wise.


Ripken's peak was higher than Jeter or Trammell and his second tier seasons were about a half game higher. Miguel looks like a distant fourth. One thing to remember though about these graphs is that even though they are linked with a line . . . the data points are not directly related to the points on either side. It just looks prettier.

So discussion . . . hmmm, probably Jeter vs. Trammell is a good one to have. That might not be Oriole enough. I think one thing that we often miss was just how good Cal was. We tend to over look his first few years in the league, which were dominating. We also tend to view a lot of his numbers with a post '93 perspective. In reality, he was far better than many realize. I find it strange when on different boards how some will put forth the silly claim that Ripken is in the Hall because of the Streak. Really, his Streak happened because he was a dominant player who insisted on doing things his way.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Quick Excercise In Lineup Optimization...

A quick look at lineup optimization and how it could be used on the projected 2009 Oriole lineup.

I'm stealing this idea from Beyond the Boxscore but I don't think they are in any hurry to do this exercise with the Orioles so I'll do it here.

It's all about optimizing lineups, getting the most bang for your buck out of the players that you have. I think batting order is very overrated when it comes to run production (I think Sky at BtB has said the same thing) but it is interesting to see how unorthodox a lineup can look and, theoretically, score more runs per game.

Like BtB, I'll be using the standards found in The Book: Playing The Percentages in Baseball as well as David Pinto's lineup tool found at Baseball Musings.

Here are the main players for the Oriole lineup and their CHONE projections for OBA and SLG for 2009:

B. Roberts .359 .423
M. Mora .328 .414
N. Markakis .376 .474
A. Huff .354 .466
L. Scott .352 .462
A. Jones .337 .444
G. Zaun .313 .355
F. Pie .320 .407
C. Izturis .287 .326

Using the rules, the first step is to identify the top three hitters on the team. For the Orioles, that projects to be Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff. These guys will take up the top three spots in the lineup.

For leadoff, OBP is king. You also want the batter with the least power among those three elite hitters on the team. Speed is icing on the cake. Hello, Brian Roberts.

In the two hole, it's the best hitter between Huff and Markakis. This hitter comes to bat in more big situations than any other hitter in the lineup. #2 belongs to Nick.

Cleanup should be one of the best hitters on the team and the guy with power. This would be Huff. You could quibble that Markakis may have more raw power next season and you could swap the two without much argument from me. But Huff is #4 for now.

The next two best hitters on the team are Adam Jones and Luke Scott. More value is gained in the 5 slot with a batter who hits singles, doubles and triples rather than living and dying with the home run. Scott doesn't live and die with the homer but Jones is probably a more well-rounded hitter is this regard. Scott goes to #3 and Jones is #5.

Melvin Mora, Gregg Zaun, Felix Pie and Cesar Izturis are left. From here, the order goes from best hitter to worst with a caveat that if you have someone who can steal bases, they add some value in the 6 hole. Only Izturis is a fair stolen base threat at this point in his career but the bat is so bad that I don't think he will leverage that skill too often. Mora is the best of what's left, followed by Pie, Zaun and Izturis.

Your "optimized" 2009 Orioles lineup:

1 Roberts
2 Markakis
3 Scott
4 Huff
5 Jones
6 Mora
7 Pie
8 Zaun
9 Izturis

Plugging this information into the Lineup Optimization Tool, this lineup is estimated to score 4.885 runs per game. If you swap Huff and Markakis, the total is 4.879 so I was barely correct with Markakis in the 2 hole.

Pinto's best lineup? It scores 4.898 runs per game.

1 Roberts
2 Markakis
3 Jones
4 Huff
5 Scott
6 Pie
7 Zaun
8 Mora
9 Izturis

Mora and Pie, as well as Scott and Huff are interchangeable with the same production.

One wrinkle: what if we add Matt Wieters? Wieters' CHONE: .349 OBA and .439 SLG.

Wieters would fit in at the 5 slot and bump everybody down:

1. Roberts
2. Markakis
3. Scott
4. Huff
5. Wieters
6. Jones
7. Mora
8. Pie
9. Izturis

Just the addition of Wieters...brings the runs per game up to 5.031

Pinto adds this lineup for a runs per game of 5.041 moves Wieters to number three.

How about the run production for a "traditional" lineup?

1. Roberts
2. Mora
3. Markakis
4. Huff
5. Scott
6. Zaun
7. Jones
8. Pie
9. Izturis

This configuration gives you a runs per game of 4.857.

Swap Wieters in for Zaun in the 6 spot? That gets you 4.999 runs per game.

Difference in runs per game using The Book rules vs. the traditional approach: .028

The Book vs Pinto? Pinto wins by .013

The Book vs The Book with Wieters? Wieters improves the rate by .146 runs per game.

Traditional vs. Traditional with Wieters? Wieters adds .142 runs per game.

Conclusion? I would love to see a team try one of these non-traditional lineups sometime but as you can see, it matters little. I suppose it might let you win a game or two over the course of a season which could be a facotr in a close race

But adding a better catcher? It improves jumps by at least a factor of 5.

So improving the actual members of the lineup means far more than the shuffling of said lineup. Go figure...


Monday, March 23, 2009

Why I prefer Angelos to Ripken as the Orioles Owner

Ok Guys, it just might be time to have a more full-throttle conversation. BORT has definitely gotten off to a slow start, but with the season soon approaching and this site being a place where some of us will post game time chats and recaps . . . much is to be looked forward to.

Over the past few years there has been a rumble about Angelos' intentions with selling the team. This past off season it was rumored that he was not aggressively seeking Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, and others (not sure really what the O's had to do to be more aggressive in signing a very good 1B who did not want to come here and a perpetually somewhat injured Jekyll/Hyde starting pitcher, but eh) was to consolidate the salary structure and present it ready to be sold after this current season. This hopeful argument was then finished with the glee that Cal Ripken will ride throughout the kingdom on his white steed collecting offerings to generate enough cash to buy the team and restore us to our old glory, the Oriole Way.

Well . . . I'm not sure this is what Angelos is doing. I do not think he is consolidating payroll. I think there were good reasons not to dedicate the money to those players we lost out on. I actually advocated against signing either Burnett or Teixeira to megacontracts. All that is well and good for another discussion, but I will bring it back to why I do not want Cal Ripken to be the owner of the Orioles behind the jump.


Ego and good intentions paved the way to 11 losing seasons and counting. That was Peter's human faility. He took over ownership of the Orioles in the early nineties and proceeded to spend a good deal of money to bring a championship to the Orioles. He also refused to allow Pat Gillick the freedom to make deals as he saw fit. Angelos' spending and his hesitancy to let Pat trade away quality players (i.e. Bobby Bonilla, Jeffrey Hammonds) let the Orioles into the playoffs in 1996 and a return trip in 1997. This success went to his head. Angelos may have been right contradicting Gillick's intentions, but it was not because he had a better head for baseball. Sometimes even the most brilliant baseball minds are wrong.

After '97, Angelos was certain he knew baseball well. He succeeded at law and now was succeeding at baseball. He then tossed Davey Johnson and Pat Gillick to the curb by not allowing them to do their own jobs. The next decade was spent with the team acting like the guyin your office in the corner cubicle who perpetually loses the fantasy baseball league you are in. The guy who does not know who the good young under the wire players are and who still thinks that Mike Piazza is still capable of playing ball. Angelos wants to win. I am sure of that. He wants to win as much as that guy in the corner cubicle in your office failing at fantasy baseball. They both just have no idea how to do it. Angelos wound up listening to Syd Thrift. The guy in the cube listens to Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan.

It seems now though that regional hatred and a decade of losing has humbled the old man. Angelos seems to think now that he does not know what he was doing and has left the team in the hands of a competent, maybe above average, GM in Andy MacPhail. MacPhail, so far, has been doing well collecting talent and avoiding large expenditures on free agents that have little use to us. Angelos may revert back to his previous form by signing the Albert Belles and demanding that we draft a Rice pitcher, but that does not seem to be what he believes these days. His ego has given way and his good intentions have led him to isolating himself from the baseball side of the operation.

This is what concerns me with Cal Ripken. He is a Hall of Fame player. He is a Baltimore Oriole. He is regarded by some to be capable of nearly anything. That is a problem. If anyone knows about his traveling habits, his basketball pickup games, and his general demeanor . . . he has an ego. That is fine. Ego is what let him become such a great baseball player. His skill set was amplified by his sheer determination. His playing days are worthy of awe and celebration. Just like Angelos' adeptness at being a trial lawyer should be worthy of awe and celebration. Likewise, the abilities and skills required for playing baseball well are not the same as the abilities and skills required for running a baseball operation. Ripken, I am sure, will have good intentions, but I question how he will handle his ego. Will he recognize that he has little to offer during the offseason or draft day? Will he try to minimalize the GM? Will he use an internal bully pulpit to have the Orioles operate as he sees fits? Would Ripken be a Billy Beane or a Matt Millen?

What says you, BORT? Am I off base? Should Angelos sell? What would be the ideal owner (specifically a name)?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guthrie Leading A Motley Crew

The last post on outfield defense devolved into a discussion of the O's pitching staff construction, so maybe a more direct look at that is warranted.

I don't think anyone is under the illusion that the Orioles are going to have a very good pitching staff - 2009 is a transition year before the Big Three (who still need a better nickname) and the other assorted minor-league starters begin to make their mark on the big club.

I've been trying to project the pitchers for the coming season, but the level of uncertainty is pretty staggering - question-marks abound.

Guthrie: Clearly the team's best starter, but can he keep putting up good ERAs despite merely OK peripherals? Other pitchers have managed it, but will Guts?

Uehara: Even though other teams didn't even see him as a starter, he's the O's #2. How well will he transition to the US, and especially the AL East?

Hill: Health? Control?

A whole host of other guys, including Hayden Penn (not much success since his call-up to the majors at a young age), Chris Waters (#5 starter, maybe), Radhames Liz (who's already been demoted to the pen), David Pauley (knocked around in Spring Training), Danys Baez (bad last time he was in the majors, as a reliever), Matt Albers (recovering from labrum injury), Troy Patton (recovering from labrum injury, and maybe not major league ready), Matt Hendrickson (not very good - better role is swing-man), Adam Eaton (not particularly good in recent years), Brad Bergesen (hasn't pitched at AAA and doesn't have the best stuff), Brian Bass (can't go deep in games).

I'm not even really asking about the quality of the innings - I'm just curious who's going to provide them.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Orioles' Outfield Defense...The Best In Baseball?

This week, I'll pick up the banner for defense...

The Baltimore Orioles will possibly field one of the best outfield defenses in baseball in 2009. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis already have good track records as superior defenders and Felix Pie, a centerfielder in Chicago, should be a superior fielder in left. On a team that is likely to lose more than is wins for the 12th straight season, watching those three run down flies and gun down runners at the plate should be one of the bright spots of 2009.

How good will they be? I figured I'd look at some of the best defensive trios of the last few years and see where they stack up. I used UZR/150 ratings from so I oculd only look at the last 8 seasons. I had two requirements for selecting the trios; 1) Each fielder has to play at least 800 innings in the field and 2) Each fielder had to have a positive UZR/150. I didn't want to have outfields composed of two superior fielders and one plodding slugger. Not the aim of this post.

I included the top 6, for reasons that will become obvious...

6. 2008 Baltimore Orioles

N. Markakis 9.3
A. Jones 12.2
L. Scott 6.6
Total 28.1

That's right, even with the much-maligned glove of Luke Scott in left, the 2008 version of the Orioles outfiled is one of the top 6 in baseball in the last few years. Scott may not look pretty in left but he gets the job done. Markakis adds a superior arm and Jones' arm is well above average too.

5. 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays

C. Crawford 22.1
J. Cruz, Jr. 6.9
R. Baldelli 3.6
Total 32.6

Most of this score is provided by Crawford and his amazing range but Cruz was no slouch in center and Baldelli's arm provided good value in right.

4. 2006 Atlanta Braves

R. Langerhans 15.4
And. Jones 14.6
J. Francouer 5.8
Total 35.8

All very well-rounded fielders but only Francouer displaied a plus arm. All are now clinging to the major leaque carrers nearly three years later. I saw this outfield in person several times that season and they were pretty impressive and a lot of fun to watch.

3. 2003 Philadelphia Phillies

P. Burrell 6.5
M. Byrd 13.5
B. Abreu 16.1
Total 36.1

Yes, only five years ago, Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu were plus defenders. Burrell was not too rangy but did not embarrass himself. Byrd and Abreu were both good all-around fielders.

2. 2006 Toronto Blue Jays

R. Johnson 23.9
A. Rios 12.8
V. Wells 7.2
Total 43.9

Thus trio was the only one to appear multiple times, each posting above-average UZR/150's from 2004-2006. The best defensive outfield of the new century so far.

1. 2004 Chicago Cubs

C. Patterson 33.8
S. Sosa 11.1
M. Alou 4.6
Total 49.5

A young, rangy Corey Patterson, Sammy Sosa in his prime and an aging Moises Alou made for an unlikely candidate for the top of this list. But here they are, buoyed by Patterson's amazing range in center and the surprising range of Sosa and Alou.

Can this year's trio of Markakis, Pie and Jones rank among the great outfields of this decade? A lot will depend on Pie's learning curve in left and Jones' health in center. If Pie masters left and Jones stays healthy, they could certainly do so.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Off-season Moves Not Made

Quick hit this morning. We've talked a bit about the major and minor moves this off-season. What about the moves that weren't made?

So far as I can tell, the two most talked about free agents for Baltimore to potentially go after were Teixeira and Burnett. There was talk about potentially trading for a SS like Hardy, or moving Roberts, Huff or Sherrill for some prospects.

What moves, if any, do you think Baltimore should have made? Do you think any opportunities were missed?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Offseason and The Minor Moves

I'll throw out a thesis here for discussion. The moves the Orioles made this offseason are more important for who they allowed Baltimore to leave off the roster than the players they actually added. At least for 2009.

Let's start with Felix Pie..

I'll focus on the bats. The addition of Pie allows Luke Scott to do a lot of DHing which in turn allows Aubrey Huff to play primarily at first base.

So we add Pie's WAR projection to the team (1.9) and subtract Millar's WAR projection (.4) for a net gain of 1.5 WAR.

The addition of Ryan Freel (WAR Projection: 1.8) allows players like Jay Payton/Freddie Bynum to be unnecessary (estimated platoon WAR Projection: -.4) for net of 2.2.

My point here is that I'm not sure the offseason acquisitions are that great but they do allow the O's to shed some players (or those types) who were pretty abysmal for Baltimore in 2008.

Am I off my rocker? Can we really evaluate the team this way?


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Off-Season and Six Years of Markakis

Keeping with the theme from this morning, I'd like to look at the other big contract the O's handed out this off-season; the 6 year, $66 M deal given to Nick Markakis.

I copied most of this from my post at the time of the signing:

"I've lost count of the number of times I've suggested that the Orioles need to sign Nick Markakis long-term. With Nick going into his first year of arbitration, the O's have locked him up to a six year $66.1 M deal, including some incentives and a limited no-trade clause. No word of any team options, but I won't be too nit-picky.

Right now I've got Nick worth a monster 5.5 Wins Above Replacement next year (3.65 with the bat, 0.50 with the glove, 2.50 for the replacement level, -0.75 for the position adjustment, and pro-rated to 650 PA). And, though it's not close to being finalized yet, the feedback I've gotten on my initial projection of .301/.401/.493 is that it's too low. Assuming we don't project him to be even more awesome, Nick should be worth about $25.1 M next year (on the free agent market).

For arbitration, players tend to get 40%, 60%, and 80% of the free market value in successive years. That means the team "should" pay him about $161 M for those six years, assuming he stays at those 5.5 WAR every year and there's 10% salary inflation annually.

That's why I've said that no matter what contract Nick would be signed to, he'd still be a bargain. The difference between $64 M and $66 M (or whatever) isn't nearly as important as actually getting the deal done. The guy is a championship caliber player.

Needless to say, I'm really really happy about this."

Most of the professional projection systems don't have Nick rated as highly for 2009.

CHONE - .299/.382/.474
Marcel - .299/.378/.473
Oliver - .292/.364/.368
ZiPS - .294/.382/.497
PECOTA - .286/.368/.466

A year more the like the one above would drop about a full win from Markakis' value. Then if one assumes that he won't continue at that level and will miss playing time in the future, this takes away even more value. Even given these factors (which it seems are the general consensus, to the point that the contract discussions on non-Oriole sites project Nick to be worth slightly less in 2009 than he was in 2007 and only about $65-70 M for the six years), it would take a Ben Grieve like fall-off for the O's to not come out ahead.

Count me on the side that says Nick will be the cornerstone of Orioles teams for the next six years.

The Off-season and Five Years of Roberts

Jon's tied-up on "real world" matters, so I'm stepping in to moderate our first week here at the Round Table. Since we're all kicking things off at BORT, the Minor Leaguers will be shuffling off to MiL camp shortly, and the off-season is rapidly regressing into the rearview, Week 1 will loosely focus on the off-season. As always, any topics are welcome, but I'm curious what everyone thinks about that past few months of happenings. I'll start off with Jon's piece from Feb. 21 analyzing the Roberts deal...

From Camden Depot, February 21, 2009:

This past week, the Orioles signed Brian Roberts to a 4 year, 40MM extension. Add this on to the current contract which pays him 8MM for 2009. I think it would be unfair to think of this as a 5 year, 48MM dollar deal as I would regard this year as a sunk cost that we would have been unable to relinquish given the current trade market. This post will focus on projecting Roberts' performance over the life of the extension and trying to determine whether this was a good deal to make.


Predicting Offensive Performance
The offensive projections for Brian Roberts were taken from the CHONE projections. I believe that this is an optimistic system to use given Roberts age and position. CHONE is quite useful for short-term projections, but is not really geared to predict long-term performance. PECOTA may be slightly better determining long term performance as it makes predictions based on similarity scores. I will be using the CHONE numbers though as they are publicly available and allow for a bit more transparency in this exercise. Performance is converted into LW runs and related to replacement level value after accounting for projected playing time. For second basemen, replacement level was considered 62 runs while average production was considered as 85 runs.

Predicting Defensive Performance
Last year, Roberts was rated as below average at 2B by UZR/150. We actually rated him slightly above average. We think over the course of the next 5 years, he will probably miss about 5-8 plays more with each following season. That might seem aggressive, but that follows the path of typical players at this position. With this in mind, it was simply assumed that he will give up an extra 4 runs each season. This makes him a slightly below average fielder this year (-5 FRAA) and a poor one in 2013 (-21 FRAA). It should also be acknowledged that in this work average fielding ability is considered on par with replacement fielding ability. There are arguments for and against this approach, but we feel it is a pretty accurate description of what is truly available at the replacement level.

Predicting the Value of a Win
Offensive and defensive production expressed as runs above replacement value were than added. The total runs value was then divided by 10 to determine WARP, which was then multiplied by assumed market value. It is generally accepted that a win over replacement production is worth about 4.5MM. There is growing sentiment that the economic crisis may put that in doubt, but I think a correction will occur and it will remain at about that level. That being so, I have attached the 4.5MM value to 2009 and increased the value by 10% each year. In 2013, the value of a win is projected to reach 6.6MM.

In the table below, I have listed Roberts' offensive production over the four years of the extension as well as his total production.

What you will notice is that over the course of the four year extension, he rates above average for two of those seasons and below average for two of those seasons. His lowest mark with regard to replacement value is being worth 0.9 WARP in 2013. Overall, he produces 7.7 WARP over the course of the extension. This could also be expressed as 0.5 wins above average. This potentially becomes problematic as the second half of his contract has his as -0.9 wins above average. Particularly in his final season, it may serve the team best if Roberts is on the bench.

The following table shows Roberts' actual contract against his projected worth over the course of the extension.

The projected value of his performance is worth 42.5MM with 63% of that worth coming in the first two seasons. Overall, the Orioles pay below the predicted going rate of cost per win. Although in the final two seasons they pay above.

The contract is fair, but may not be in sync with the Orioles development plan. Roberts' career path is not in line with the young arms in AA and AAA that this team is relying on to make it competitive. If the team is viable in the playoff race in 2013, it will most likely see Roberts losing time to L.J. Hoes or another second baseman. At this point, we assume that the Orioles should be able to stow away a moderately poor contract this year. In the end, the open question is whether or not the 40MM spent here could have been better applied on future free agents, international talent, or the draft?

Personally, I would not have extended such a deal, but it is understandable why Andy MacPhail chose to do so. Actually, a reason why I would offer Roberts an extension is if I was not planning to depend heavily on the young arms for plus performance. He is probably the best option we can obtain to bat lead off and he is a fine player for the next few years. If this is the plan, then I would expect major acquisitions in the next offseason cycle. The holes the Orioles will need to fill are most likely 1B, 3B, DH, and a top tier starting pitcher.

Although I doubt Ty Wigginton will actually produce well for the Orioles, he is an option at first base (his defense at third is incredibly bad). Next year's market is awfully thin at first and he is projected to hit 268/338/466. Though, he probably should be protected against excellent right handed pitchers. This might mean that this would be a good role for Luke Scott to platoon part time at first. A more expensive option would be to extend Aubrey Huff's contract. He most likely will not repeat last season's amazing performance, so he might be an option. Outside the organization, they could sign Nick Johnson and have him face all right handers and Wigginton play against lefties and backup other positions. It may be a situation where we look to find a left handed platoon player at first. Again, Luke Scott might be that guy.

As mentioned earlier, third base should not be left for Wigginton. They could resign Melvin Mora to a one year deal, but I think that would not be ideal. His defense is dipping to below average, he has trouble charging the ball, and he is at an age where batting performance could evaporate and be left way below average. In fact, the two seasons prior to last year were not good and it will be unlikely that he will play a solid third in 2010. The FA market will offer Troy Glaus and Adrian Beltre. Glaus projects as a fine hitter and a decent glove at third base. His age (33) and his previous back issues make him a dicey acquisition. I view Adrian Beltre as a better choice. He is 2 years younger than Glaus and will probably offer a level of play that is not commensurate with his actual performance. Many underestimate Beltre's glove and SafeCo's effect on his offensive performance. He will never be an offensive star, but, if he continues to provide a win to a win and a half with the glove, he is easily worth a four or five year deal at 13MM. He is someone the Orioles should target.

DH is another position with in house options. Those include Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Luis Montanez, Ty Wigginton, and Nolan Reimold. Outside the organization, the list includes Jason Bay, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, and Hideki Matsui. If they do not expect Huff to play 1B for them, then they should probably play the market. This past year saw player value plunge for DH type outfielders. With the market so limited to AL only teams and with many teams already filled at the DH slot, it may make sense to roll the dice and see what is out there. At worst, the in house options should perform at a high enough level to provide average production.

Finally, a starting pitcher would have to be acquired. I think it is doubtful that the inevitable parade though the middle and lower rotation this year will produce much in terms of dependable pitching. In reality, we will probably have Guthrie (a solid middle order pitcher on a competitive team) and two lower order guys emerging from this season. Next year, we can probably slot one of the young guys (i.e., Matusz) at the five slot. This leaves us with a front line pitcher. Next year's market may potentially carry John Lackey, Eric Bedard, and Rich Harden. Signing one of these guys will make the team far more competitive.

A potential lineup would look like this:
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
1B Aubrey Huff
C Matt Wieters
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Luke Scott/Ty Wigginton
LF Felix Pie
SS Cesar Izturis

To go along with a top tier starter and a collection of third and fourth pitchers. This team rates in a highly competitive division as a 91 win team. Adding Beltre and a pitcher like Harden or Lackey is all that is needed in this scenario. If ways can be found to upgrade other positions, it should make the team more capable of reaching that level. I guess we will know a year from now.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Introduction to BORT

Welcome to the Baltimore Orioles Round Table.

This is a forum consisting of several individuals who follow the Orioles. The present incarnation of the forum includes individuals from a wide-ranging spectrum in order to provide differing perspectives and seed potentially interesting conversation and analysis. Our goals are to challenge each other with aspects of transient issues pertaining to the club as well as providing a venue to share our own work with each other. With this forum, we hope to become better at doing what we do, which is to provide local and, sometimes, unique assessment.

The rules here are rather basic. This is a closed forum. The members of this forum are the only ones able to post and comment. Feel free to email any of us with comments if you so choose. If we find them applicable and interesting . . . we'll post them for you with proper attribution. If you have a topic or a link you would like us to discuss, we encourage you to contact us. We will also be steering the rudder in our own way. Each week, one of us will take a turn at moderating the conversation. A topic is chosen and we will sometimes keep to it. Expect a few posts each day and maybe some lively interaction.

Without further delay, here are the founding members of BORT:
Heath Bintliff - Brew Afficionado and Southern Fried Oriole Fan who operates Dempsey's Army;
Paul Bugala - Founder of the Bowie Baysox Blog;
Phil Finch, Novelist, Journalist, former BBWA member, and an intense Orioles fan since 1981;
Nick James - Raw, but toolsy, scouting at Camden Depot and daylights in law;
Lucky Jim - BORT's Poet Laureate and our second lawyer;
Daniel Moroz - Provides Frost King Baseball with statistical assessment and projection;
Jon Shepherd - Environmental Toxicologist and Jack-if-All-Trades over at Camden Depot; and
Jay Trucker - BORT's self-proclaimed witticist and a columnist for the Baltimore Examiner.

Thanks again to all the contributors and lets make this a fun year.

Jon Shepherd
Camden Depot
BORT Founding Member

Monday, March 2, 2009

Round Table Coming Soon

For those who have come across this site, we will open up on March 9th when I formally introduce the round table and open up the discussion. This will be a closed forum for the participants, but all are invited to follow along and email any of us. On the right hand side, you can see who is currently part of the group and we will shortly have five or six more to round it out.

Camden Depot