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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Orioles Line-Up With Platoon Splits

With the roster projections more or less done, I thought I'd update the line-up post I did previously with platoon splits. This uses each player's career numbers and then regresses (with righties expected to have a slightly smaller split than lefties).

Player Projected wOBA
Overall vs. LHP vs. RHP
Matt Wieters .324 .311 .330
Derrek Lee .340 .358 .335
Brian Roberts .335 .319 .342
Mark Reynolds .342 .361 .335
JJ Hardy .318 .337 .311
Luke Scott .355 .332 .362
Adam Jones .337 .343 .334
Nick Markakis .361 .342 .370
Vlad Guerrero .346 .363 .340

I don't have it weighted by plate appearances, but the overall marks for the team seem pretty even versus righties or lefties (~.340 for both).

Wieters and Roberts - despite being switch-hitters - have been more like lefties in their careers. Because of that, it's entirely possible that batting Roberts lead-off against south-paws isn't the right move, though the last couple years he has been better versus them than against righties. Adam Jones has a fairly large reverse split for his career (.300 wOBA vs. LHP, .338 wOBA vs. RHP), but regressing makes it go the other way slightly.

Assuming Roberts is locked into the one spot (and if Brian can't go, I agree with Heath that Cesar Izturis shouldn't be batting above 8th ever, if even that high), the line-ups could shake out like this:

Against right-handed pitchers:

Brian Roberts
Nick Markakis
Vlad Guerrero
Luke Scott
Derrek Lee
Adam Jones
Mark Reynolds
Matt Wieters
JJ Hardy

Guerrero, Lee, Jones, and Reynolds are all more or less interchangeable (and Wieters isn't that far off). Batting Reynolds third to leverage his home runs might be a plus, but I can't see Buck not having Vlad somewhere in the middle there. Roberts-Markakis-blank-Scott definitely looks like the correct alignment versus righties. Actually, putting Felix Pie in left-field (.319 wOBA overall, .325 versus righties) and moving Luke Scott to DH might not be a bad idea, as the difference in batting between Felix and Vlad versus right-handed pitchers is only ~8 runs over 600 PA, while the difference in defense between Pie and Scott in left is close to that.

Against left-handed pitchers:

Brian Roberts
Derrek Lee
Mark Reynolds
Vlad Guerrero
Nick Markakis
Adam Jones
JJ Hardy
Luke Scott
Matt Wieters

Though switching Markakis and Lee wouldn't be too awful, and would keep the top of the line-up more "normal" looking, it isn't necessarily optimal (despite many people think Nick handles lefties exceptionally well, his regressed platoon split is only a little better than average). Relievers show up in most games though, so not making huge changes is possibly for the best. And I can't see Hardy being above Scott in the line-up regardless, but with the difference between the two being small I assume Luke would be a spot or two higher.

With Brian Roberts in Limbo, A Way to Cushion the Blow

With Brian Roberts in and out of the lineup this spring, you can't help but be concerned for the offensive prospects of the Orioles this season. There are plenty of mistakes to be made when considering who to bat leadoff should Roberts not be available for the regular season.

Unfortunately, many managers overvalue speed and base running ability when choosing a leadoff hitter. They seem to forget that none of that means much unless the leadoff man.

Can you imagine the team batting Cesar Izturis in the leadoff spot for a significant portion of the season and how damaging that would be to the offense? Before you start to think that batting Izturis leadoff is so ridiculous that no manager would do it, consider this breakdown of Izzy's career and where he and his career .296 OBP have hit in the lineup:

He has hit leadoff more than he has hit 9th or 8th individually. And he's batted 2nd quite a lot too. There are enough managers out there with big league jobs who looked at Izzy and said, "That's a guy I need at the top of my lineup." It has happened and can happen. When you lose a player who embodies the classic leadoff hitter like Roberts, there is an enormous opportunity to do something stupid.

And it can lead to disaster. To demonstrate, using the Lineup Analysis tool at Baseball Musings, I created a probable and pretty traditional lineup with Brian Roberts at the top of the order.

That lineup will score you 5.127 runs per game or 830 runs over the course of the season.

Now, place Cesar Izturis in the leadoff spot and you get 4.877 runs per game or 790 runs per season. In 2010, that difference would have been enough to drop your offense from second in the American League to sixth.

Here's a quick list of the internal "traditional" options and what happens when each of them bats leadoff:

R/G   Total Runs
Izturis   4.88      790
Andino    4.90      795
Hardy     4.92      797
Harris    4.95      801

(In the Hardy leadoff scenario, Izturis is also batting 9th...)

However, leave Izturis in the lineup (he is the most likely to play second base if Roberts can't, at least to start the season) but try a different configuration.

I have recently become more strident in my assertion that Nick Markakis has the skills to be a prototypical leadoff hitter. Let's give him a shot here. And instead of a guy in the 2 hole who "is a good bunter" or "can move the runner along", let's put a decent hitter there. A guy like Luke Scott who can get on base at a fair rate and actually drive in the leadoff man.

That lineup will get you 805 runs for the season. Even choosing the worst possible offensive option at second base, with Markakis and Scott at the top of the lineup, it beats every other option available.

The loss if Roberts will still hurt but it can be mitigated if you assess the skills of the players in your lineup correctly and construct your lineup doesn't have to be a disaster. Now we'll see if Buck can navigate his way through the pitfalls.

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

Friday, March 11, 2011

BORT Triple Play: 3/11/11

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

1. Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies had this post about developing plate discipline for Beyond the Boxscore:

I don't think it's an uncommon experience for a fan to wonder about a certain player on their favorite team, "man, that guy has a lot of tools... if only he'd develop some plate discipline!" I know I've had it (*cough* Adam Jones *cough*). How often do those young guys actually improve though? Off to Baseball-Reference's trusty play index for a quick look!

I won't spoil it for you but it does tell us what to realistically expect form Adam Jones. Oh crap, I think I gave it away...

2. Adam Sobsey of Durham-based says farewell to former Oriole first baseman and all-time Durham Bulls home run leader Chris Richard, who is retiring from baseball:

"They say athletes die twice," Chris Richard says, near the end of a long, reflective interview. He pauses. That pause lasts just long enough for the listener to realize that he's been talking about death, in one way or another, the whole time...

But the sense is inescapable that if the Tampa Bay Rays called him tomorrow to ask him to come back to the Bulls, he'd do it. Richard, a San Diego native, lives in Durham year-round. He's in a stable relationship here with his girlfriend, Ashley Hester. He's in good shape. He works out nearly three hours a day. He stays sharp with the bat, using the Personal Pitcher machine his father designed for him years ago. He is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He is, at 36, a welcome and steadying veteran presence in a minor-league clubhouse buzzing with callow prospects and occasionally aggrieved big-league failures: good-natured and professional, easygoing but exemplary in his competitive demeanor, intelligent and friendly, patient—watch his diligent, cerebral at-bats over a couple of years, and his agreeability with the media, and you see the breadth of his patience. He's the guy reporters want to go to for comment, because he tells you the truth and is willing to go into the details of what he does—batter's eyes, swing mechanics. He is the guy you want representing your team at Fanfest, because he isn't faking it. Sit down with him for an hour or so, it becomes clear that he is above all an honest, living, breathing human.

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air." Thomas Gray. Or William Cullen Bryant. I don't know, I get them mixed up.

(h/t to Kevin Brotzman of Orioles Card "O" the Day for highlighting Richard or I would have missed this one completely...)

3. Congrats, You Found My Blog! has introduced a new idea: Salary+

Nothing bothers me more than when writers, bloggers, players, TV analysts and fans alike, compare player salaries from different years as if they were apples-to-apples, lay out an overly simplistic conclusion (Alex Rodriguez is overpaid!) without ever making an attempt to adjust the salaries for historical context. It occurs to me that there is a simple way to do this totally consistent with other metrics frequently relied upon... put contracts into a historical context so we can compare players across time and take out the distorting effects of inflation. Just like the Sabermetric community uses OPS+ and ERA+, I suggest Salary+.

It's a work in progress but it's an interesting start to compare salaries across eras and he delves into stuff like MLB payrolls and how they relate to overall revenue. Good geeky stuff.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oriole = Astros? Logic Fail.

A response to this article by Austin Swafford on the Sweetspot Blog on ESPN:

There's certainly nothing wrong with trying to win right now if you have the right parts. But I have thought about the lesson that could be learned from the Astros as I have watched the Orioles since the end of last season. They closed 2010 on a good note. They hired Buck Showalter and, with him at the helm, went 34-23 to end the year.

The Orioles signed 35-year-old Derrek Lee, among other veterans, during the offseason.
So, naturally, they looked around at their very talented division and said, "No rush. We have a good manager, we're making good progress and we have young talent. We can be patient while that young talent develops." Right?

It'd be nice if that were the case, but instead of doing that, the Orioles got very involved in free agency, went out and got J.J. Hardy, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, Justin Duchscherer and Kevin Gregg. Average age: 31.8.

OK, let's start here.

There's the premise: The Orioles are making the same mistakes the Astros made 4 or 5 years ago by dealing away younger players with potential for veterans or signing veterans that block promising youngsters on the farm, all because they had a strong second half and think they are better than they are.

But after stating that the Oriole got very involved in free agency, he lists J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds who were acquired through trade. It's kind of a red flag for the points to come...he doesn't seem to have looked too closely at the situation.

Baltimore is in serious risk of getting mired in the same mud as the Astros since their surprising World Series run in 2005. The Astros haven't been bursting at the seams with young talent the last six years, but they spent four seasons taking what young talent they did have and dishing it to other teams to get veterans to try to compete now.

What young talent have the Orioles parted with this offseason? David Hernandez, a guy whose ultimate destiny is a relief pitcher, is the only player of consequence the Orioles surrendered this offseason. Jim Hoey, Kam Mickolio and Brett Jacobsen are, at best, marginal major league relievers who may or may not have figured in Baltimore's plans. Baltimore didn't package up Nick Markakis or Josh Bell to fill in the holes in the infield. It was a bunch of middling relief prospects.

They dealt Taylor Buchholz, Jason Hirsh and Willy Taveras to the Rockies for Jason Jennings. They shipped Luke Scott, Troy Patton and three others to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada. At the same time, they signed Carlos Lee as a free agent to the biggest contract in club history and patched together their rotation with guys like Woody Williams, Randy Wolf and Brian Moehler.

Wow. He used an example of the Astros blunders by using a trade they made...with Baltimore! Dealing the 5 players they did for Miguel Tejada before the 2008 season would have been like the Orioles trading Nolan Reimold, Garrett Olson, David Herenadez, Brandon Waring and Denis Sarfate (ironically) for J.J Hardy. Or Jason Bartlett. There's no real comparison to Tejada out there right now but a couple of years of control over a middling infielder. They didn't do that.

(As an aside, was that trade for Jason Jennings really so bad? They took a flyer on one year of Jennings, gave up guys who did very little elsewhere and had people on the farm that could take their places. That doesn't seem like a crazy trade for the Astros at the time nor in retrospect.)

Houston spent four years suppressing the development of young players under the delusion that these poorly constructed teams loaded with not-so-good veterans might actually compete. Much like the Orioles, the Astros would go on good second-half runs that convinced the front office that they were just a piece or two shy of competing. Of course, they never even came close.

I'm not sure that competing is what the Orioles had in mind. They had holes, big ones, and were looking for way to fill them and be mildly competitive, not to take the division. Think about it. There is no one in the Oriole system ready to play shortstop. Their best prospect, Manny Machado, is years away. Hardy is a free agent after 2011 and is blocking nobody.

At first, they picked up Derrek Lee on a one-year deal. Brandon Snyder is not exactly tearing it up in Norfolk. Joe Mahoney has half a season under his belt at AA Bowie. That's all the O's have right now for internal first basemen. Lee is blocking no one.

Mark Reynolds is at third and under team control for the next couple of years. The best third base prospect in the system, Josh Bell, showed that he is completely overmatched against major league pitching at this point (not with his 53/2 K to BB ratio he posted in his debut last season...). He needs to go back to Norfolk. And if he is knocking on the door later in the season, Reynolds can slide over to first base for 2012 (or Bell for that matter). Reynolds will block no one.

Justin Duchscherer was a low cost, one-year deal for pitching depth. If he blocks anybody, it will because Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton are ALL pitching well. It's unlikely and it would be a great problem to have. In that case Duchscherer would be cut or traded. Duchscherer blocks no one.

Kevin Gregg blocks no one. There is not much in the Oriole system as far as top notch relief prospects go. Outside of the size of the contract and it being a two-year deal, that is not a move that is detrimental to any young talent. If fact, you can make the argument that it will help.

Vladimir Guerrero is the one move where the writer may have a point. The combination of Lee and Guerrero squeezes out Felix Pie and, more importantly, Nolan Reimold. Reimold needs to play and may very well end up in Baltimore for the majority of this season. But Guerrero's signing puts that in a bit of jeopardy.

The point is, the Oriole's are nothing like the Astros of a few years ago. Firstly, they have more young talent than the Astros had. Secondly, they have given up virtually none of it this offseason. Thirdly, any of the veterans signed (or acquired) have no more than a two year deal. In fact, only Gregg and Reynolds have that kind of obligation. Everyone else mentioned in this article is a one-year rental. And fourthly, they are not blocking any young talent, not in 2011.

If the Orioles had gone out last offseason and picked up Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, maybe he'd have a better point. But the Orioles have no Carlos Lee-sized blunder. Andy MacPhail, is anything, has been overly averse to giving veterans big multi-year deals.

Four out of five rotation spots (at least) are filled with products of the farm system or Jeremy Guthrie, a waiver wire claim who comes very cheap. Even after all the dealings to fill the infield holes this offseason, two of the five infield positions are filled with homegrown players. The entire outfield is filled with either homegrown talent or inexpensive young talent acquired in trade (or in Scott's case, he was youngish when they originally acquired him).

All in all, this looks nothing like the mid-aught Astros. Not a bit.

...the Orioles are in danger of falling into the same trap as the Astros. Let them serve as a cautionary tale that a good month and a half doesn't mean the team is a few overpriced veterans away from going to the World Series. Let them serve as a cautionary tale of what happens to a club when they refuse to develop young talent.

Yeah. I haven't heard any of the Oriole brass say that this team can compete for the division, let alone the World Series. I think they wanted to build a team that could compete a bit, be respectable and maybe win. But I don't think MacPhail's goal were that lofty.

Are the Orioles the Astros of 2008? Not even close.

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Markakis' Overlooked Skillset

I wanted to highlight this post by Tim Anderson of Birds Watcher, not really for praise and certainly not for ridicule but to frame a larger concept I wanted to delve into: Nick Markakis, Leadoff Hitter.

Tim wrote an article when Brian Roberts was sidelined with neck spasms and wondered who would/could lead off in his absence. A very good question.

Last season the answer would have been easy – Corey Patterson. His speed and hot bat at the plate was ideal for the lead-off position.

While this would not have been true most of the time, Patterson, at least early in the season, did a decent job in that role. The Orioles called him up on May 12th and through the end of June was posting a line of .286/.337/.409. Considering the fact that Oriole leadoff hitters had only been getting on base at a sub-.300 clip before that, Patterson was a welcome surprise.

But considering the fact that Patterson has a career .292 OBP and that he finished the 2010 season with a .315 OBP, he's not normally suited for that role.

Pie would also have been a good option, batting lead-off in eight games for the O’s in 2010. However, with the acquisitions of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, Felix Pie is sentenced to a bench role in 2011.

True, Pie will probably not be a full time player in 2011. But he's got a .305 career OBP and it's not about to get better. Why does Tim think he would be a good leadoff hitter? Why do I think he won't? Let's try to define the qualifications for a competent major league leadoff hitter.

Earl Weaver on leadoff hitters:

The leadoff hitter should be someone with a high on-base percentage, a guy who draws seventy or more walks and hits for a high average...The first inning is the only time a manager is given the chance to set up the batting order exactly the way he wants it. After that, it's rare for the leadoff hitter to start an inning. My goal is to have as many players on base as possible when the number-four hitter comes to bat...I like to get my best on-base men in the first three spots inthe order.

Bill James:

One player--a leadoff hitter, no less--said a few years ago that if he wanted to walk he'd have been a mailman. Common sense would suggest that the response considered appropriate to such a comment would be to yank the player aside and say, 'Look, you yoyo, you're not out there trying to prove to girls in the bleachers what a big strong hitter you are. We're trying to win ballgames here. You're expected to help.'

First and foremost, getting on base is the most important skill a leadoff hitter can possess and by a wide margin. All other skills are icing on the cake.

For me, a leadoff hitter should have the following attributes, in this order.

1) Good On Base Percentage - hits for average and walks regularly
2) Good Baserunner - speed is a plus but a smart baserunner can go from 1st to 3rd on a single more often than a dumb one with speed
3) Power - leading off a game with a double or  homer can be a potent weapon
4) Good Basestealer - they can pile up the bases...but more importantly, don't often get caught.

So it starts with OBP and neither Patterson nor Pie have it.

Center fielder Adam Jones lead-off 15 games for the O’s in 2010 and struggled mightily. He hit .188 with a .443 OPS and only two extra base hits, both doubles.

This is true. Jones has some pop but is not a very good baserunner, not a good base stealer and then there's that .319 career OBP to contend with.

The only logical option for lead-off would be the man filling in for Roberts at second – Robert Andino. Andino played well in 16 games last season, collecting a .295 average, a .333 OBP, and driving in six runs. Andino is not the best hitter and that certainly hurts the Orioles offensively, but he is the best option for the team.

No. Not by a long shot.

Those 16 games from 2010 aside (actually, including them), Andino has a career .275 OBP in the majors. And only a .309 OBP in the minors. There would be fewer worse options on the roster than Andino. Anyone can be respectable for 16 games.

Who else is there?

Nick Markakis? Long shot.

We'll come back to Nick...

J.J. Hardy? Not quite.

Mark Reynolds? No.

A .323 and .334 career OBP respectively. Better options than Andino but not ideal.

Luke Scott? Absolutely not.

Why "absolutely not", I wonder? Scott has a career .354 OBP. He's not a base stealer but is a decent enough base runner. And he definitely has some power

The problem is, Tim never states exactly what he's looking for in a leadoff man. I would assume, given those  who he favors and who he dismisses, he is looking for a speedy guy, preferably a guy who can steal bases and bunt for hits. But he is undervaluing OBP.

Now back to the "long shot". Markakis possesses a .368 career OBP. Check. He's a good base runner and the Bill James Handbook has backed that up. Check. While he has never developed the home run power that was hoped for, Nick has doubles power to the gap and double-digit homer power. Check. Not a great base stealer but does choose his spots well with a 72% success rate over his career. Half a check.

Markakis is so obvious a choice to move into the leadoff spot in Roberts' absence that it is amazing that his name never comes up in that capacity. He is still seen as more of a middle-of-the-order type of bat, so much so that everyone ignores his top-of-the-order skillset.

So if Roberts went down again, I would move Nick to the leadoff spot and probably slide Scott in at #2 ahead of Derrek Lee, Vlad Guerrero and Mark Reynolds.

And Nick would make a hell of a leadoff hitter. It's time to recognize his skills. After all, Brian Roberts won't be around forever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Crystal Ball 2011: Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman

With the signing of Justin Duchscherer, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta became linked for Spring Training 2011. With his addition Tillman and Arrieta are the most likely candidates to be sent down to Norfolk. (Although with this news, maybe not so much.)

Jeremy Guthrie, Duchscherer (if healthy) and Brian Matusz are locks for the rotation. Bergesen is probably staying...he's not great but fairly reliable. So Tillman and Arrieta are dueling for one spot.

Some point to Arrieta's September as proof that he has turned a corner and should be the front runner for the final spot in the rotation. But while the numbers are great (2-1, 2.60 ERA, 13 K, 2 BB) but it was only over 17 innings. But over the course of the season, he walked nearly as many as he struck out. Not a good recipe for a young pitcher to make a leap forward.

Speaking of the numbers...

              IP    K   BB   HR   ERA   FIP   WHIP
Arrieta     100.1  52   48    9  4.66  4.76  1.535
Tillman      53.2  31   31    9  5.87  5.89  1.528

Yeah...still doesn't look great for Tillman here.

But it seems to me that Tillman got more "swings and misses" with his stuff last season. So let's compare with the data from Fangraphs. O-Swing is swings outside the strike zone, Z-Swing is swings in the strike zone. Swing is total swing percentage, F-Strike is first pitch strikes and SWStr is swinging strikes.

           O-Swing%  Z-Swing%  Swing%  F-Strike%  SwStr%
Tillman     25.2%      66.0%   43.2%     50.0%     6.3%
Arrieta     29.0%      61.6%   43.6%     54.1%     5.7%

I thought Tillman would have had a bit more of an advantage here but they are pretty much even. Which is disappointing. I would have expected a bit more swinging strikes from Tillman's stuff than Arrieta's but up to this point, they are in a dead heat.

If I had to choose, I still like Tillman's upside better than Arrieta's but they are very similar at this point. This spring, I'd watch the strikeouts and walks for both of these guys very carefully. Homers will happen in Florida, ERAs and Wins will fluctuate with the defense but the walks and strikeouts will be the best bellwether for their competition in Sarasota. And it starts tomorrow when Tillman takes the mound against the Phillies.

For more general ramblings about the Baltimore Orioles, go check out Dempsey's Army...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Many Microscpes Examining the Yankee Rotation

As spring training gets into full swing, you can expect there to be a serious focus on the Yankees. After all, they have the largest fan base, a rabid fan base that demands constant coverage, even when there isn't much to cover.

This season, there is little to settle on the Yankee roster in spring training. It's a veteran team and they are pretty much set at every position. Except their 4th and 5th starters. So there are a bunch of hurlers in camp. Thanks goodness...everyone looks great!

On the main field, it’s Freddy Garcia. On the back field, it’s Bartolo Colon. I chose the back field, if only out of curiosity. I had no idea what to expect, but I’ll say this.

I thought Colon looked pretty good.

Russel Martin took him deep to left, but Colon seemed to have legitimate zip on his fastball. When he missed, he seemed to miss low. That’s just an observation from the sideline, and I could be completely wrong, but I came away feeling like Colon was more legitimate than I originally thought.


“(Freddy Garcia) looked pretty good to me,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said all along, Freddy knows how to pitch, and he knows how to compete. He knows what he has to do to get ready. He threw a lot of strikes and he mixed his pitches..."


(Larry Rothschild) On Dellin Betances: “He’s got a real good changeup, he can spin the ball, and he’s a big kid that has a pretty good feel for delivery for that big a kid. It usually takes taller kids a little bit longer, but he’s pretty good. He’s got three pitches, it’s just a matter of being able to repeat a lot. He’s certainly got the makeup. I don’t think he scares. He’s got a look that’s pretty intense.”

I don't know what you can tell from the first week of camp from a bunch of guys throwing batting practice but I defy you to find a pitcher in Yankee camp that looked bad in the Yankee coverage. Although, I would say that anyone giving up a homer Russell Martin can't be pleased, no matter when it happens.

Seemingly, the further away you are from the big leagues, the more the beat writers want to create a sense that they are a dark horse candidate for a rotation spot.


The men who will determine his future watched closely from behind their sunglasses, though none of it seemed to bother Yankees pitching prospect Andrew Brackman as he threw a batting practice session today...

But Brackman, 25, pitched as if none of them were watching, displaying a much-refined delivery and improved command. The highly touted prospect, who is considered a longshot in the competition for a spot in the Yankees rotation, may have improved his odds with his well-timed performance.

More gravitas was never assigned to BP session in the history of baseball.

You would expect a little of this from the beat writers though. The fans are craving information and these guys have to dig up a story somewhere. It's odd and bit absurd but you can understand where it comes from.

But the national baseball media...

Et tu, Buster?

The international sign for good pitch is a catcher jabbing his glove hand toward the mound, and time and again on Sunday morning, a glove was aimed at Manuel Banuelos, a left-hander who is in the Yankees' camp as a non-roster invitee and had his turn at throwing batting practice to hitters.

Banuelos doesn't turn 20 for a few weeks, yet he already has a sharp breaking ball that can freeze left-handed hitters and a changeup that fades away from right-handers...

Which is important, because while the Yankees will look for solutions all over the place this summer -- whether Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon or Mark Prior, or from the yet-to-be identified veteran pitcher they will inevitably target -- they will also need some help from their farm system...

And when can Banuelos, who seems to have the stuff that would make him a good late-season reliever? Maybe Dellin Betances, regarded as the best of the Yankees' pitching prospects, will be able to help at some point, despite having never thrown a pitch above Class A....

So they don't need the No. 4 and No. 5 starters to be great; the Yankees just need them to be competitive, to hang in there, and to hold the fort for what should, again, be a very strong offense. They just don't know what names will be attached to the solutions -- perhaps someone like Manuel Banuelos.

Manny Banuelos. Has there ever been so much ink spilled in a national piece for an A-ball pitcher from Mexico? I mean...really? Banuelos for the 2011 Yankee rotation? That's quite a stretch.

I used to think the media scrutiny and pressure for Yankee players was overstated. I'm not sure I feel that way anymore...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Training Moods

Hats off to Karl Menton Ferron and the video team at The Baltimore Sun for the excellent video they are putting up at as they cover Spring Training for the Orioles. What makes it excellent? First, it looks great. It's video for sure but looks like it's shot on film and the colors are warm and lush...just beautifully shot and edited. Second, they are doing, for lack of a better term, "mood pieces" for Spring Trianing in addition to interviews and more informational video posts. They capture the sounds and feel of Spring Training so well as to make you forget the winter that still lurks outside your window. This is sports photojournalism (vid-journalism) done right. Bravo.

Check them out here. I've embedded three here to give you a feel.

For more general rambling about the Baltimore Orioles, go check out Dempsey's Army...

Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 Baltimore Oriole Projections - My Take (Kind Of)

Now that spring training has started and the roster is a bit more projectable, I figured it was time to formulate a win projection for the 2011 version of the team. Well, I kind of formulated it. I'm using the WAR spreadsheet from Beyond the Boxscore.

Here's the work but before you look, the ground rules and caveats:

* I used Marcel Projections and I grabbed those from FanGraphs. I stuck to those pretty tightly.

* Playing time was adjusted a bit from Marcel, usually granting a bit more than less to fill in the gaps.

* I gave Felix Pie, Cesar Izturis, JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters some above average defensive value scores and a slight bump to Derrek Lee. Jake Fox, Brian Roberts and Josh Bell got defensive demerits. All others were neutral.

* Only Roberts got an adjustment for baserunning.

* I assigned all batters their exact Marcel projections with three exceptions. I selected Adam Jones as my breakthrough player for 2011. I bumped him up from a .333 to a .345 wOBA (bascially a .762 OPS to a .803 OPS). It a nice jump but not a crazy one. I bumped Nick Markakis from a .353 to a .356 wOBA (an .807 OPS to roughly an .820 OPS) and I knocked Brandon Snyder's .330 wOBA down the .300.

* I used FIP for the ERA projections.

* Since I used FIP, I adjusted Jeremy Guthrie's ERA projection down by a quarter run. All other pitchers kept their Marcel projections. Except...

* I put Jake Arrieta's name on Chris Tillman's projection and vice versa. Arrieta's projection was better but I still think Tillman can miss more bats than he showed last season. So I gave Tillman the better stats even though the combined projection remains the same.

All that gives us a Win Talent of 79.8 wins which we can round up to 80.

I don't think any of these numbers I plugged in are either crazy or overly optimistic. One thing I will say is that this team is pretty thin. Any significant injury to, say, Guthrie or Matusz on the pitching side or Markakis or Scott on the hitting side throws all of this out of whack and spiraling out of control.

But with a little luck and a couple of young guys taking steps forward (even if Jones doesn't), this team could (can't believe I'm going to say it) actually win this year. I am not alone. PECOTA has the Orioles winning 82 games in 2011.

And if the young guys keep getting their starts and at bats in the process, all the better.

For more general rambling about the Baltimore Orioles, go check out Dempsey's Army...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nestor Aparicio Comments on the Radio Biz

So WNST's Nestor Aparicio, unsurprisingly, weighed in on  the Orioles switching their radio affiliation from CBS's 105.7 to WBAL. Also unsurprisingly, he somehow made it about himself.

On Tuesday night we learned what we’ve known for months – Peter G. Angelos and WBAL Radio are going back into business together once again for the 2011 Orioles season and beyond. The old man finally gets his eternal wish – to be the king of the AM band on summer nights on a dying radio station that no one listens to anymore but cadavers and people in his age demographic who still think a “smart phone” is one with an answering machine.

Let's address the "dying radio station that no one listens to but cadavers", etc. WBAL is a consistent top ten performer in Baltimore and is no stranger to the top five either (in people meter ratings for ages 12+). That's hardly a dying station. And I would guess that those numbers would have to include a significant percentage of people who are not card-carrying members of AARP.

Say what you will about the AM band but WBAL has put together a lineup of programs that get ratings and generate revenue.

It’s like jumping in and out of sleeping bags for both franchises and these two corporate monoliths as a formerly lucrative revenue stream – local radio rights – continues to dry up as sports fans go to places on the internet like for an honest look at the news, issues and analysis revolving around the franchises and the big business that follows those logos and partnerships.

Well, it's not like Hearst (owners of WBAL) are in business to lose money. And it's not as if CBS didn't want to keep the Oriole radio rights. By all accounts, there were at least two suitors to be the flagship station of the Orioles Radio Network. And one was a station that already performs solidly in the market and didn't need to overpay for the Orioles to improve their brand or put themselves on the map. They evidently believe that they can sell the Orioles 162 nights a year and see that as a viable product, a product with an audience.

And really? Who really listens to baseball or football on the radio with any consistency circa 2011 when you can get a real-time scores, chatter and every situation from your mobile device on websites like

For football, I'll give Nestor a pass. He could be right about that. But baseball? Baseball is a game that lends itself fabulously to radio. I'll take listening leisurely to Fred Manfra and Joe Angel any day over clicking on any website from my smart phone. If I'm not at home to watch it, I'm listening. Guaranteed.

When will our friends (105.7 The Fan hosts) Scott and Bruce and Ed and Steve and Bob and Mark and Damon and Jeremy begin “Uncensored” gameday coverage of the Orioles now that Angelos will do his best to make sure they don’t see a dime of revenue regarding the baseball team?

Good question. WBAL did not have the right to Orioles radio for four seasons. I don't remember them suddenly launching an outrageous sports show to finally "tell it like it is" about the Baltimore Orioles. They were no longer beholden to Peter Angelos. Even if you believe that they would have an ax to grind, what's the upside?

In theory, the upside would be ratings and subsequently, cash.

WNST, as they say, "tells it like it is" about the Baltimore Orioles all the time. Where has that gotten them? Last place. Dead last, consistently, in the Baltimore people meter ratings. You can tell the truth all you want but it doesn't always make for compelling radio. At least not compelling enough to attract a decent audience.

The rest of the post just addresses Nestor's standard grievances with the team. I'd say you've heard them before but evidently, there aren't that many of you listening.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tim Kurkjian Believes in the "Presence" of Vlad

I was over on reading Tim Kurkjian's column where he asks one question of each of the 30 MLB teams as they head into Spring Training. For the Orioles: Is this the year they finish .500?

They scored the second-fewest runs in the American League last year, and didn't have anyone with as many as 77 RBIs. Guerrero drove in 115 runs last season, and he gives the Orioles a presence that they didn't have in 2010.

It's not as if Vladimir Guerrero will just show up with an extra 40 RBIs in his equipment bag. RBIs are useful, if at all, as a team stat only. And Kurkjian knows that. And there's that word "presence" again. What does that mean exactly? Is Vlad a ghostly spirit whose aura will mystically envelop the Orioles lineup? Seems like lazy shorthand for "proven hitter". I know this is just a quick hitter type of column but we expect better from you, Tim!

The rest of the Oriole section opines that with the addition of Vlad, Luke Scott or Felix Pie could be trade bait for another starting pitcher, that the team seemed to respond to Buck Showalter's message and that he believes a .500 season is possible.

However, when the only questions for our AL East rivals are related to bullpen (Red Sox and Rays), 4th and 5th starters (Yanks) and direction of the franchise (Blue Jays and they seem to be headed in the right direction), it's hard to see how Kurkjian could see a .500 season as probable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Cheer, Andrew Gibson?

When I first started out writing a blog, I was largely unfocused and unsure why exactly I was writing a blog.  It was shortly after I found out that there was a blog about the Orioles called Cookin' With Gas.  It mingled my more in depth interest (and perhaps too strong devotion at the time) to utilizing statistics alternative to those frequently used by more traditional scribes.  That is, why rely on problems with fielding percentage when you can use new things like total zone.  As far as I could tell, it was an oasis in the statistics barren field of Oriole writing.  What was disappointing to me was that the site had been recently defunct. So, I took to periodically writing in 2007 to fill the void. The hope was that my presence would somehow trigger others to write and then I could read them instead of writing my own work. 

It is now 2010 and I think there are several bloggers out there who are interested in the numbers.  Not merely what the numbers say, but how they are crafted, how they are calculated, and how effective they are.  People that seem to share that joy of mine in sitting down and re-engineering statistics.  Yet . . . I still blog.

Today, I would like to focus on a writer who has lately emerged and has written several interesting items.  Andrew Gibson has been posting over at Camden Chat.  He is someone to which I think you all should pay some attention.  In today's BORT, I am going to go over his piece on the Orioles Defensive Efficiency right after the jump cut.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Crystal Ball 2011: Luke Scott

It seems like anytime I sit down to write about Luke Scott, I feel compelled to defend him.

This is because the Oriole fan base still underestimates him and they fail to understand what a good hitter he is. The Vladimir Guerrero signing has highlighted this fact yet again. When debating the relative merits of the two players, I was told that I was "way overvaluing Luke Scott" (even though over the past 3 seasons, Scott and Guerrero have exactly the same .845 OPS and that Scott has a better park-adjusted OPS+, 122 vs 121, than Vlad) and that Luke did not "significantly outperform" Vlad in 2010 (even though Scott posted a .902 OPS while Guerrero put up an .841 OPS. I'd call that significant). Just when I thought it was impossible, Luke Scott is getting even less respect than he ever has, even after his best season to date. He's quickly becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball.

I won't even address the assertion that signing Vladimir Guerrero "gives the O's a legitimate clean up hitter which the Orioles have NOT had since Palmeiro" (yes, these are all actual quotes) since I already havea couple of times. Scott was one of the premier cleanup hitters in the American League last season. Period.

But since people are quick to dismiss 2010 as Scott's career year, a performance that he won't be able to repeat...fine. One year means nothing. Evidently, three years means little as well. So let's go back five seasons and see how Luke stacks up.

Looking at all qualified MLB batters over the past five seasons, Scott ranks 27th in slugging and 17th in Isolated Power. That puts him just on the cusp of all the elite power hitters in the game. And he has sustained it for five seasons.

I'm going to quote The Hardball Times' Steve Treder once again as he gives a wonderful definition of the cleanup hitter:

The role has been called "cleanup" since forever for a reason: See the runners soiling the pristine white bases out there? This guy's job is to clean them bases up, get them runners home.

Obviously it's great if a cleanup hitter hits for a high average and/or draws a lot of walks, but if he's doing either or both of those things without hitting for power, he isn't properly performing the cleanup function. Setting the table is a means to an end, not an end in itself; the purpose of getting on base is to come around and score. The cleanup hitter is there to convert baserunners into runs, to finish what the others have started. And that means hitting for power, and plenty of it.

Sounds like Luke Scott to me.

For the past 5 seasons:

                         AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   OPS+   ISO   2B   HR
Luke Scott 2006-2010    .272  .357  .512  .869   126   .241  131  103

Pretty nice numbers, huh?

I think it's safe to say that Scott is a good bet to at least slug .500 and get on base at a .350 clip. That's a nice floor for a player who continues to be better than anyone will give him credit for.

So if you want to give Mr. Guerrero the label of "legitimate cleanup hitter", that just fine. But just know that now the Orioles have two of them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Four Quotes about International Talent in the Dominican Republic

A little more depth on these things can be found over at Camden Depot, but I thought this might be a conversation worth having over here.  I should also have another post up here tonight or tomorrow.

Some administration news . . . I'm looking for reader submissions.  If you want me to highlight a news item or you want to take your own take on it for me to throw it up here, email me at camdendepot at gmail.  If  can find a few writers with top notch skills, I'll grant access for them to post at will.

Onto the four quotes:

ESPN's story on the Dominican Prospect League where unsigned Dominican players take part in a 25 game schedule.
"Also, though most teams' scouts have shown up regularly for games, Mejia notes that some teams -- like the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles -- still have not had a regular presence at games."
Roch chasing the story with an interview of International Scouting Director John Stockstill.
"We do have people reporting to us," Stockstill said.

Stockstill also pointed out that many of these players are showcased at other events. "And many of them have probably been at our facility and our camp," he said. "And that's not just Baltimore. That's probably a lot of other clubs, as well."

In other words, the Orioles aren't depending only on this prospect league to evaluate the talent over there. On any given day, you might have 20 workouts taking place at various complexes.
Brian Mejia's, founder of the Dominican Prospect League, response.
This whole DPL and O's presences was blown out of proportion. I was asked a question by ESPN reporter and gave a simple answer. It's not like the O's don't scout, evaluate and sign players in DR. The question was asked, "how many teams are consistently evaluating players at the DPL games". I gave him a simple answer.

The O's have many other things to worry about than being at all 25 DPL games. They do what they do and sign who they like... Budget, sign ability, need and roster spots all come into play when making signing decision in DR. The DR is small but players are everywhere, I'm sure they are doing their due diligence, I'm also sure everyone in BAL FO wants to win asap, any opportunity they have to sign the right guy they will do it.
A year later and this is a quote from Andy MacPhail.
They're not playing baseball anymore. What these guys prepare them to do is to come in all these complexes -- and now we have one of them -- and they'll do workouts. They're not playing the game anymore. They're guys who have been developed over three or four years to look good in a three or four day tryout. And there are those old fashioned amongst us who are concerned that's not really the look we need to make a good read on a 17-year-old kid out of the Dominican. We would much rather see them play games. 
Do these quotes seem as peculiar to me as they do to you?

Camden Depot Articles on this.
Baltimore May Be Dropping the Easy Ones, Too... (January 6, 2010)
Roch Kobatko Chases Down Stockstill about the DPL (January 7, 2010)
The DPL Trilogy: The Agent/Co-founder Responds (January 9, 2010)
Revisiting the Orioles International Effort (February 13, 2011)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Re-BORTing with a Word on Steve Melewski

BORT (aka Baltimore Orioles Round Table) was originally designed to be a forum for a few Orioles bloggers and preeminent posters from a smattering of message boards.  As quickly as the solid gold idea was created, it came crashing down.  The platform was just not very conducive to everyone who was interested in taking part.  The interest probably was a bit too directed toward increasing traffic on our home pages as opposed to making genuinely interesting content on the BORT site.  So, after a couple years . . . why do we, or maybe just I, wish to re-BORT.

For me, the idea arose one year ago and has been festering since.  Then, an upstart and prominent Orioles prospect website was caught in a brew-ha-ha about blatantly plagiarizing professional prospect sites.  It was a typical story of a teenager who wanted to have more pull than he had the ability to do so.  Often with upstarts we see a craving to be important instead of organically growing.  It truly does take a lot of effort and loads of criticism to be a decent writer (I do not consider myself a decent writer).  Anyway, the aforementioned plagiatizing blogger repeatedly refused that he was doing such a thing when his site was completely borrowing from PG Crosschecker and other sites the would be unfamiliar to the common fan, but stick out like sore thumbs for many of us.  He even was selling all of this borrowed information as a book.  After a bit of a tedious runaround, he realized he had no avenue other than owning up and writing about how much he learned from the experience.  Apologies mean nothing to me (well, almost nothing).  What means something is how people change their behavior.  I consider that blogger reformed.  He now runs a relatively solid and popular website that is a great repository for information about Orioles prospects.  He does very little analysis because he is not well trained for that, yet.  He does provide lots of interview, focused information from Orioles prospects, pictures, and videos.  It is a blog that was needed within our loose group of blogs.  Again, though, it was tedious to get this change to occur.  A few of us joke how much effort it took to get this guy to act responsibly and how the large sites, like Jonathan Mayo and PG Crosschecker, did not care.  I thought then that a website that operated as a meta-filter reviewing and pointing toward other articles would have nipped this one in the bud.

However, a site just bent on a Puritan righteousness of how awful we are and our writing, but oh how we love our Orioles did not seem like a particularly fun concept.  What does seem like a fun concept however is a site that not only questions what some people write, but also praises what others write.  It is in this new incarnation that I suggest BORT now becomes a place where daily we try to highlight certain Oriole centric articles by bloggers ranging from Orioles Post to Baltimore Sports and Life to the School of Roch to Peter The Schmuck Stops Here.  Our ideas may not be grand or interesting, but hopefully this little experiment will work out.  Also, with great hope, we will hold our own articles on pillars and thrash them with equal measure.  To add more, the goal here is really to add discussion and to be more engaging as a community.  I hope this is not taken to be merely mean-spirited.

After the jump, a word on today's feature: Steve Melewski's Blog entry over as MASN.