This may be a rhetorical question, but why has Jeremy Guthrie became the focal point of all the frustration and angst Oriole fans have been feeling so far this season? Just the mention of his name elicits howls of despair and angry demands that the team rid themselves of the likes of him.
Granted, Guthrie didn’t have the best of seasons in 2009, leading the American League in losses with seventeen, and in homer runs allowed, with 35. His performance at spring training this year has also been a cause of concern. Guthrie was winless in four decision, pitching to a 7.40 ERA, and surrendering 4 home runs in a little over 20 innings of work.
Although he didn’t live up to expectations in 2009, it wasn’t all bad for the 30 year old right hander. He led the team in wins, with 10, and in starts with 33. Guthrie also became only the fifth Orioles starter since 2000 to pitch over 200 innings in a season, on a team that was desperate to get innings from their starting rotation.
People seem to forget that in 2007 and 2008 Guthrie was clearly the best starter in the Orioles rotation. In 2007, Guthrie pitched to a very respectable 3.70 ERA in 175 innings, then bested that in 2008 with a 3.63 ERA in 190 innings. Those numbers weren’t only good numbers for an Orioles starter, they would match up nicely with the numbers of starters on any team, good or bad.
The biggest source of concern about Guthrie is his penchant for giving up the long ball in 2009, and in the games he pitched this spring. Thirty-nine home runs allowed in 220 innings is an extremely high number, but Guthrie allowed a high number of dingers, 23 in 2007, and 24 in 2008, in the years he excelled. For him, it’s about limiting the damage that is done by the home runs he surrenders.
I would rather see Guthrie pitch seven innings tonight and allow three solo home runs, then say pitch five innings and allow six runs while not giving up a home run.
The feeling is that Guthrie will be given several weeks at the start of the 2010 campaign to get things turned around. If he continues to struggle the team will have to make a decision about removing him from the starting rotation, and possibly letting him work his problems out in the bullpen.
Here’s one fans wish that Jeremy gets off to a good start this year, beginning with tonight’s game in Tampa.
1. Just having a team in town to root for. Having lived through the loss of the Colts and the 12 year vacuum that followed, I’ll never take the Orioles and Ravens for granted.
I’m writing this open letter to you as a longtime, die-hard fan of the Orioles, and a faithful supporter of you in your tenure as manager of the O’s.
As you’re probably aware, since their return from the All-Star break, the Orioles have not played very well. They’ve only won 7 of the 23 games they’ve played since the break, and the upcoming schedule doesn’t look too promising, with most of the games coming against division leaders and teams with playoff aspirations.
The team has been plagued with mental lapses, baserunning blunders, poor situational hitting, and a general lack of fundamentals, that seems to be getting worse as the season progresses.
Now I know you haven’t been dealt the best of hands. You currently have four rookies in your five-man starting rotation, and the one veteran, Jeremy Guthrie, is having a bad season. Your best pitcher, Brad Bergesen, another rookie, took a line drive off the shin and is on the disabled list for the foreseeable future. To top it all off the club traded your closer for a couple of promising minor leaguers who probably won’t be able to help the major league team until 2011.
Many of the veteran players on the team have shown little or no leadership whatsoever, and seem to be going through the motions, waiting for the season to end. In short, all too often, the team seems unfocused and uninspired as they go through their annual collapse in the second half of the season.
But there are 48 games left to play, and how the team plays in those games may determine whether you’ll return to manage the team in 2010. If you have an ace up your sleeve that can motivate the team to play well, I suggest you play that card now. It’s the 11th hour.
I think most astute Orioles fans are on board with the rebuilding process the team is currently going through, after all, what choice do we have. We understand that the talent level on the team is not at a level that will allow the team to be contenders this year, although its not too much to ask for the team to play sound, fundamental baseball, and with a little enthusiasm. And I also think most of us expected some improvement from the previous seasons as the new players were integrated into the major league roster. Ironically, it’s the veteran players who have committed the majority of blunders that have led to the team’s most recent skid
I wish I had the answers to your dilemma, but I don’t. I wish I could tell you which buttons to push to motivate the team to play well. But you’re going to have to find a way to get this team to play up to their capabilities, and play competitive, and hopefully, winning baseball the remainder of the season.
I hope the team can turn their fortunes around quickly and finish the season on an up-note so we all can look forward to seeing a contending team in 2010, and I wish you the best of luck for the remainder of the season.
I know this is a baseball blog, but on the day that the Nashville Police Dept. confirmed the circumstances surrounding the death of Steve McNair, I feel compelled to say a few words about McNair’s passing. The Ravens are part of the Baltimore sports landscape, as are the Orioles, so I feel my comments are appropriate.
Although more closely associated with the Tennessee Titans organization, with whom he played his first eleven years, McNair did play the final two seasons of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. In his brief time in Baltimore, McNair endeared himself to Ravens fans with his gutsy style of play. McNair was a true warrior, the type of player that would do whatever it took to lead his team to victory.
Anyone familiar with the history of the Ravens knows that until McNair’s arrival, the Ravens had gone through a host of quarterbacks, none of which had much success. McNair was the team’s first legitimate star at the position, albeit in the twilight of his career. A true leader, Steve’s calm demeanor and leadership had an immediate impact on the team, and he quickly became a source of inspiration to his teammates.
In 2006, his first season with the Ravens, Steve led the team to a 13-3 regular season record, their best ever. Unfortunately, the Ravens fell short in the playoffs, losing to the Indianapolis Colts.
Injuries robbed most of the 2007 season from McNair, he played in only six games, and the teams record fell to 5-11. McNair then announced his retirement shortly before the start of training camp for the 2008 season.
In truth, McNair wasn’t around long enough to have the type of impact in the community that other athletes like Cal Ripken, Ray Lewis or Brooks Robinson have had, although in the days immediately following his death, the airwaves were filled with stories of charitable endeavors and acts of kindness that McNair had performed.
Baltimore is truly saddened by Steve McNair’s untimely death, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Clear Evidence of Umpire’s Bias Towards Red Sox
Shown above are a series of photographs taken from the Orioles-Red Sox game of July 1st.
Frame 1: Orioles outfielder Felix Pie slides into second base with an apparent double. Note baseball in second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s non-glove hand.
Frame 2: Pedroia tags Pie with empty glove. Note baseball still in Pedroia’s non-glove hand.
Frame 3: Umpire Jerry Layne disregards rulebook and calls Pie out.
Final Result: Orioles lose by a single run. Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge.
In an effort to become your full-service Orioles blog, I present my inaugural book review.
The title I’m going to critique is the recently released, The Orioles Encyclopedia: A Half Century Of History And Highlights.The Orioles Encyclopedia, written by Michael Gesker (The Johns Hopkins University Press), is a mammoth 896 page tome dedicated to all that is Orioles and Orioles related.
The first part of the book chronicles each season the O’s have played, beginning with the 1953 season, the last the Browns played in St. Louis, through the most recent 2008 campaign. Each season’s section contains an essay summarizing the Orioles performance, followed by a slew of statistical data pertinent to that season.
The next section of the book focuses on the players who have played for the team. Nearly 400 players are profiled alphabetically, with a brief biography accompanying each player who’s had some impact on the teams history.
Sections featuring managers, coaches, owners, and front office personnel follow, as well as features on the ballparks the team has played in, and stories about “characters” who have played a unique role in Orioles history.
The remaining sections of the book deal with a plethora of oddball stats and lists relating to the team.
Its all brought together by several hundred photographs taken throughout the 55 year history of the team. Many of the photographs are truly stunning, especially the 16 pages of color photos that seem to bring the past to life.
In my opinion, The Orioles Encyclopedia is the best book there is pertaining to the history of the Orioles, and believe me, I think I’ve read them all, or all that I’m aware of. A must for any O’s fan, and a great read for anyone who loves baseball in general.
I’m glad I have my copy, and if you’re a dedicated O’s fan, you should get yours too. It’s a little expensive, so shop around for a good price. I was able to save over $20 off of the list price by purchasing it online.
Lou Reed wasn’t singing about baseball when he penned that classic song, but with the Orioles pitchers’ inability to throw strikes, they may want to send a scout to New
York City to check out the rocker’s fastball.
Sunday afternoon in Anaheim, Orioles pitchers walked eight Angel batters, including two with the bases loaded that gave Los Angeles a lead it would never relinquish in their 9-6 defeat of the Orioles.
There were no mishaps on the base paths, no defensive miscues, and the offense put six runs up on the board. This time it was the pitching’s turn to go south. The O’s, for the second day in a row, raced out to a 4-0 lead, only to see the Angels come back on them once again.
Starter Rich Hill, as has been the case recently, gave a sub-par performance. Hill staggered through 5 1/3 innings, surrendering six runs, while walking four Halos. He blew leads of 4-0, 5-3, and 6-5, before departing in the sixth inning.
The bullpen wasn’t much better. Reliever Matt Albers extricated the O’s out of a jam in the sixth, but immediately found himself in trouble in the bottom of the seventh. After loading the bases with none out, Albers was pulled. Enter Chris Ray, who promptly walked the only two batters he faced to give the Angels the lead. The Halos tacked on one more run before the inning was over, and the O’s never seriously threatened after that.
It has been reported that after the game, Ray left the team and returned to Baltimore to have his shoulder examined. If Ray has to go on the DL, look for the O’s to recall a reliever from Triple-A Norfolk to take his place.
In the meantime, the O’s have dropped three of the first four games in this seven game road trip, and head to Seattle to face a Mariners team that’s been playing pretty well recently.
Tonight, the Orioles send their ace, rookie Brad Bergesen (5-2) to the hill opposing the Mariners Jarrod Washburn (4-6).
It has just been announced on TBS’s All-Star Selection Show that Adam Jones will represent the Baltimore Orioles on the American League All-Star Team. Congratulations Adam!! Jones is the only Oriole selected to play in St. Louis on July 14th.
The Orioles are exactly halfway through the season and it’s time to grade the players currently on the roster on their performance in the first half.
The Orioles are 36-45-.444 in fifth place in the A.L. East and 12 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox
Here is how I graded the players on their first half performance. Their first quarter grade is in parenthesis next to their name.
Brad Bergesen ( – ) A Rookie pitching like 10-year veteran
Matt Albers ( – ) B+ Has been very effective since recall from
Jim Johnson (B-) B+ Great in set-up role despite rough couple of
George Sherrill (B) B+ Solidified hold on closer role in second quarter
Danys Baez (A) C+ Has bubble burst in second quarter?
Brian Bass (C) C+ Very effective in long relief, just not in close
Jeremy Guthrie (C-) C Still plagued by the longball
David Hernandez ( – ) C Needs to improve control, but tools are
Jason Berken ( – ) C- Must have pinpoint control to be effective
Mark Hendrickson (C-) C- More effective since moving to the pen
Still not trusted in tight games
Rich Hill (incomplete) D+ Don’t know what you’re going to get each
start but its been mostly bad
Chris Ray (D) D Supposedly got it straightened out at
Norfolk, but since recall, its been the
same old, same old
Oscar Salazar ( – ) A Has done everything asked of him well
Nolan Reimold (incomplete) A- Potential Rookie-of-the Year, great eye,
doesn’t panic with two strikes
Aubrey Huff (B+) B+ The team’s most consistent hitter
Adam Jones (A) B+ 2nd quarter slump has dropped him from
sure All-Star status
Luke Scott (B) B+ Streaky, but when he’s hot he can
carry the team
Robert Andino (C) B Suprised as very capable fill-in for Izturis
Nick Markakis (A) B Not as effective at the plate in 2nd quarter
Ty Wigginton (C-) B- Much better offensively in 2nd quarter
Felix Pie (C-) C+ Has excelled as fourth outfielder
Brian Roberts (B) C Playing like he’s in a fog of late
Somethings not right there
Matt Wieters ( – ) C Good defensively, but hasn’t got bat really
Gregg Zaun (C) C Has played better in back-up role
Cesar Izturis (C+) C Was playing well before appendicitis
Melvin Mora (C-) D No power, little run production, if it continues,
will lose more playing time
These four players were on the O’s roster when I did my first quarter grades, but aren’t with the team anymore: Adam Eaton, Chad Moeller, Lou Montanez, and Jamie Walker. Koji Uehara is currently on the Disabled List.
The following players have since been added to the Orioles roster in the second quarter, and didn’t receive grades in my first quarter assessment: Matt Albers, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, David Hernandez, Oscar Salazar, and Matt Wieters.
Embarrassing, humiliating, sloppy, incompetent, hapless, you pick the adjective. That would describe the Orioles performance in their 11-4 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels last night. The Orioles stumbled and bungled their way through nine innings of baseball that saw the Angels score 11 unanswered runs after the O’s had taken a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
The culmination of their poor effort was when a pop-up to short right field fell between second baseman Brian Roberts and right fielder Nick Markakis. That allowed the go-ahead run to score in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Orioles never recovered. Both players could take the blame for the mishap. Roberts failed to aggressively pursue the ball, expecting to be called off by Markakis, while Markakis pulled up, expecting Roberts to make the catch on what would have been an easy play for the right fielder.
If only that had been the only misplay by the O’s last night. They committed only two errors, but there were several other plays that could have, or should have been made, that weren’t. Melvin Mora was late in covering third base, allowing a runner to reach safely. Roberts not only made a key error in the fifth inning that aided the Angels in narrowing the lead, but also misplayed two cut-off throws that would have led to led to runners advancing if they hadn’t been backed-up correctly.
Starting pitcher Jason Berken walked a tightrope through the first four innings, not allowing a run while the Birds built an early lead, but was finally solved by Los Angeles in the fifth. Berken couldn’t escape the inning, and was removed by manager Dave Trembley in favor of Matt Albers who finished the inning with the O’s clinging to a one run lead.
After a scoreless sixth, the Angels took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, scoring twice off of O’s reliever Danys Baez, although the inning should have ended with the game tied. The Halos then roughed up Brian Bass, scoring sixth times in the eighth inning to put the game away.
Trembley has good reason to be upset with his squad for the poor showing. It’s not the rookies or young player who are making the crucial mistakes. It’s the veterans who are not playing good fundamental ball. Roberts, Markakis, and Mora, are all experienced players.
With many young players infiltrating the Orioles roster, now and in the near future, the team’s management has to be concerned with the quality of leadership or lack there of that they are getting from their veteran players. If the vets can’t focus on a regular basis, how does that play with the younger players?
What role does the manager play in this scenario? Can he discipline the older players without “losing the clubhouse”? The O’s are exactly halfway through the season, and the second half is going to answer a lot of questions regarding the future direction of the team.