This is from Roch Kutatko’s page on MASN: “According to Elias, the Orioles have won a franchise-record 96 consecutive regular season games when leading after seven innings, dating back to August 2011. It’s the third-longest streak for any club during the expansion era (since 1961). The only longer streaks are 116 by the 1998-99 Yankees and 97 by the 2002-03 Atlanta Braves.”
All I have to say to that is that it sure is an incredible streak of luck to do that. Of course I say that in jest. The entire story that is out there among national baseball pundits that the Orioles are a one-season wonder … full of good luck and fortunate circumstances that cannot be repeated or sustained. To them I just say “shut-up!”
Of course the Birds are not likely to repeat a 29-9 record in one-run games. I’ve written upon this theme before, but, one-run wins are not a tell-all story. It just says that your bullpen is good and your guys like to battle. I am hoping those numbers are NOT repeated this year. I’m hoping that there are so many runs put up by a better offence that there is no need to win an unusual number of one-run games.
Well… anyhow… I’ve been a busy boy lately and have only written one recent article on Manny Machado… found HERE.
The bad news is that I’m going to miss a couple of weeks of games soon while travelling to Europe. The good news is that I will miss seeing the dreaded West Coast trip – especially that terrible ballpark in Oakland.
On another note, Conor Jackson retired today! There must be a story behind the story there that has not been told yet. I’d frankly rather have him than Pearce.
There is no doubt that Buck Showalter is a great manager – maybe about the very best out there. But if there is any place where I often disagree with him it is in the matter of the batting order. I really don’t get the placement of Manny Machado in the 2nd spot here during the first two games. He is certainly going to be a fine hitter and have a long career, but he does not seem the best option for that spot right now. Not with Nolan Reimold in the lineup.
There is going to need to be a roster change in the next 48 hours to open a spot for Chris Tillman. I’d suggest it be Luis Ayala – and not just because he stunk up the place tonight. That is simply symptomatic of the problem – specifically that he is not able to come into a game with inherited runners. All his good statistics come from starting innings as a reliever – he allowed far too many inherited runners to score even last year. I was surprised to see how many Orioles fans reacted very negatively to the idea of Ayala being shopped around late in spring training. There are better options at this point. Send the short-arm thrower away I say… and today.
But it is good to see the season started. The earth is back on its axis again and spinning properly.
The Orioles were very proud yesterday of putting on a specific shift that had Machado throwing a guy out from right-center field. Tonight, the Rays are using the shift well on defense (after all, they are the essential inventors of it), and they are hitting the ball where the Orioles aren’t. You live by the shift; you die by the shift.
Let me reference you to check out an article I wrote on the nature of the Orioles schedule this year. Both the opening and closing 20% of the season features an unusual number of road games… and hence the middle 60% features an abundance of home contests. The challenge with that is that these will be played in the heat and humidity of Baltimore – could wear down the team for the final push. Although, given the weather of the last month, perhaps we won’t have a summer this year.
With only about 10 days remaining of Spring Training, it has been as interesting to follow as we all hoped it would be for the Baltimore Orioles.
Among major themes:
Who will be the 5th starter? – It is still very uncertain. Perhaps Jake Arrieta has the best shot right now? And Brian Matusz has been better than I expected, while Jair Jurrjens had a great outing just today. It would appear Zach Britton took a step back, though he would have been my pick a month ago to win this competition. Perhaps a strong outing in his next showing puts him back on the map. Steve Johnson is less likely it seems to me, though he has a huge following among Orioles fans – presumably because of his father.
Will Brian Roberts really be healthy and able to be anything close to his old self? – It sure looks like the answer to this is a “yes.” Again, I would not have predicted this.
Will Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis be able to return to top form? – The jury is still out on both of these guys. I actually feel better about Reimold. What worries me about Nick is that there is no reason given as to why he has the disc problem in his neck – it is not incident related. So, if nothing caused it, what would a crash into the right field fence do to it??
Will the WBC be disruptive to O’s players participating? – The answer appears that it was universally a positive experience.
Will Chris Davis be adequate at first base? – The answer to this is apparently such a positive that nobody is even worrying much about it anymore.
Overall, it has been a good spring. The team has played well (16-6 as I write this!) and seems to be very deep. There have been a lot of nagging injuries … and actually I’ve written an article on this subject by comparing modern players and injuries to those of an earlier generation. Here is the link:
I also wrote about ranking the starting pitchers here:
And then I wrote a sort of crazy thing about what are worries for the team, and what are items to not worry about… is all how you look at it:
I think it is going to be a good year!
Here on a freezing and flurrying March 2nd in Maryland, the hope that warms the soul is that it is but a month to go until opening day. I think I can make it… maybe.
The Orioles are playing the Rays in Port Charlotte as I write this. I cannot get the game on any media, though I can sort of follow it on Gameday on mlb.com. Matusz had a 1-2-3 in the 3nd inning as he came on as the first reliever. He did it on three pitches! May that trend continue! Really – as a reliever. It looks to me to be his sweet spot and that there are equal or likely better choices for starters.
Steve Melewski of MASN sports asked the question today if Matusz was better as a reliever or starter … now you know what I think.
He also asked what is the biggest weakness of the Orioles team. That is difficult to assess. All winter we have wondered about 2B and LF/DH. Assuming that Roberts will be healthy (and he looks great so far) and that McClouth and Reimold can likewise be healthy, those positions look to be covered. I’ve always thought Davis will be sufficient at 1B; we have to have his bat in the lineup. The bullpen is stellar, and the starters look to be deep and better than any recent year. So where is there a weakness?
I answered that it is in the matter of on-base percentage, and thus the difficulty of turning over the lineup. There is a lot of power in this lineup, but Davis, Wieters, Hardy, and to some extent most others in the lineup, all swing through a lot of pitches. But in any event, I do not see how the offense can be anything but much improved – and it needs to be, as my credit/blame stats of recent years prove.
I have been on the road a bit in February and did not write as much for the Fansided network. I do have a piece yesterday on the issue of one-run games. It is a bunch of bunk that because the Orioles cannot possibly repeat those record-breaking stats of last year that they are therefore doomed to mediocrity. Here is the link:
Ouch! Update – Matusz gives up two homers in his 2nd inning of work! Gosh. Well, my hopes are not that invested in him anyhow.
Well here it is the middle of February and the Orioles are back in camp to prepare for another season. So I guess it is time to break out the blog here with some new posts – even if I am writing this on a cold day, seated next to the coal stove. So, this is a true hot stove report!
Over the winter I’ve continued to post occasional articles on the BirdsWatcher network blog, and I’ll link to a couple of them in a moment.
The news is that Jair Jurrjens has at last been signed by the Baltimore Orioles. This has been in the works for several weeks, and it was obviously one of those situations where everyone was keeping quiet about what was really happening. An original 1.5-million dollar deal with 2.5 million in incentives has now become a minor league deal with invitation to spring training. (This is one of those times that really give meaning to the phrase “pending the passing of the physical.”
The reconstructed contract appears to be the difference between “what could be” and “what is.” Jurrjens is young and was, when healthy, a terrific talent – even an all-star. That the Atlanta Braves had completely given up on him in such a short window of time either says that they are total idiots or that the physical situation with his knee is really bad. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it is most likely the latter.
Some fans who are critical of Dan Duquette’s moves of this sort (and lack of big-name transactions) call this “dumpster diving” on various comment boards. Well amen! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This has all the makings of Duchscherer part 2 … though with less money attached. But what if?… what if Jurrjens can make it back?
I for one am really pulling for the guy, and here is why. It has been reported that Jurrjens’ knee problem is the basic absence of meniscus – putting it bone on bone. The meniscus is the stuff that is like a gasket in the knee between the joints. When it is gone, it hurts a lot and swells easily. How do I know this? Well, I could take a picture of my knee and gross you out online, but I’ll suspend that impulse. I’m 30 years older than Jurrjens and have a bumb knee (actually two) because of arthritis … but the result is much the same. So, Jair Jurrjens is my man; I am now a big fan of him making it back and beating the messed-up meniscus malady. Go Jair! You are my hero and the hope of osteoarthritis sufferers everywhere.
Regarding recent Birdswatcher articles:
I wrote one about my main concerns as to what can go wrong for the Orioles – stuff like Wei-Yin Chen getting figured out by the rest of the league, Pedro Strop having a dreadful season because of this World Baseball Classic silliness, and the fear that Brian Roberts will not perform well but will be thrown out there every day simply because of the contract. You can read that by clicking HERE.
I also wrote about how difficult it is to predict much of anything with certainty – beyond the core elements of the team. There are so many variables and moving parts … not to mention parts that may not even be in camp at this point. It makes it all interesting, but what REALLY can we know? Click HERE.
This is a first post here for the new year. Baseball cannot be too far away, since FanFest is this coming Saturday.
This blog remains the home of a few of my faithful and long-time readers and friends who stop in, along with the occasional newbie who catches it somehow. I continue to write about 90% of everything I have to say over on the Orioles page of the Fansided.com sports network. The page is www.birdswatcher.com … another guy there posts something every day, and we have three new writers who are beginning to also post things a couple of times a week.
Here are some links to some recent stuff I’ve written:
Early in January I wrote two pieces about my highest hopes and biggest concerns for the 2013 Orioles. Each is a sort of survey of where the team stands:
My most recent post takes on the issue of fan unrest and concern that the Orioles have not made huge off season moves to acquire a middle of the order bat, or possibly a frontline pitcher – either through trade or free agency. Exacerbating the problem, of course, is the sense that all the other AL East teams are massively improving. (I actually doubt that as I give it a cursory look – though I don’t feel conversant enough to take on the topic in an article – all I’ll say is that I’m not scared of these teams any more than before. The Orioles are capable of beating them all.) So I’m mostly appreciative that Dan Duquette has held on to our players, roster, and system as currently constituted.
So, keep coming back. If the BirdsWatcher blog starts to get pretty crowded, I might end up writing more things here.
With the 2012 season past, there has not been as much to write about in two blogs, and what I have written has mostly been posted in my primary blogging location at www.birdswatcher.com.
Through November and December I posted a series of reviews upon the season past, and again just today have another article disputing the occasionally heard contention that the Orioles were merely lucky in 2012. Red Sox fans are particularly prone to this fallacy, but that is understandable since, if they were not prone to disease, they would not be Red Sox fans in the first place.
I also recently wrote a long piece comparing where the Orioles are positioned now as compared to a year ago. You can read that by clicking HERE.
Just a couple of quick things:
The departure of Mark Reynolds – It is sad on one hand to see him go, yet I don’t think the production he brings to the team is worthy of the dollars he was seeking (and did indeed get from Cleveland). I’ll miss his good character and his defense at first base, but I will also gladly miss the strikeouts. I’ve not weighed in yet extensively on my views of Chris Davis at first base (which is a bit scary), but I did write a while back about how I thought the Orioles should put Nolan Reimold there (click HERE to see that article).
It would be good to get this sought after middle of the order bat who could also play first base, DH, or maybe play left field. But I think it should only be obtained very judiciously. I hate to see any pitching lost … though if we have to lose some, I’d say Hunter and Jake Arrieta are most available, maybe Matusz or Strop, grudgingly Britton, and certainly not Tillman or the young studs.
If I were Duquette, I’d sign Saunders and really try to get Morse if LaRoche signs with the Nationals (which I’m betting against). But if we have to go to war with the current army, I’m good with that also.
Well, it is goodbye to 2012. As I write this, the snow is falling. I hate it, but it is one more day closer to Spring Training and the return of baseball.
I have not written in this blog in a while, but I have a number of pieces I would reference the reader to check out at www.birdswatcher.com. Right now, I’m working through a series of 12 postings that reflect on the 2012 season; and what I did was to look back at all that I had written over the season – noting a series of stupid things I said (as time revealed what would happen) and also a series of smart things written. Yep! There were some! For example, I said even before the season started that Nick Markakis should bat leadoff.
Also, I never did a final wrap-up of my occasional credit and blame series – looking at what part of the team is to get credit or blame for wins and losses. Here are the final numbers.
Point Summary – after 162 games = 93-69
Credit Blame Differential
Starters +108 -69.0 = (+39.0)
Relievers +70 -40.0 = (+30.0)
Offense +96 -89.5 = (+6.5)
Defense +5 -8.5 = (-3.5)
Total +279 -207
I’ll say a couple of things here that these stats demonstrate:
1. The greater problem with this team is the offence – not the pitching, not even the starting pitching. Essentially, left to the offence to win or lose games, the Orioles would only be two games over .500 … only slightly better than average. The defense was below average slightly – though was much improved as the year went by. However, the pitching is what made the wins possible. Relievers are not as able to pile up as many points as starters in this scoring system, but in any way you slice it, the pitching was gold.
2. These stats do demonstrate the opportunity for starting pitching to win and lose games. A team cannot get far without at least a decent staff, and a team can get nowhere really significant without a good one. However, a good starting staff can keep an otherwise mediocre team in the running for a long time. (Oakland / Tampa, etc.)
The Long Winter Ahead …
Ugh… I hate it. Any day you can’t play baseball is a bad day. But the good news is that we are already 5-6 weeks into the off-season. It will be interesting to see what the Orioles do in terms of roster, but I do not think there is a need for massive moves. There are a few moves to be made, but the entire scenario is so much better and clearer than a year ago … and that illustrates again what a great season the Orioles had in 2012.
It was a great Orioles year. We cannot complain about much at all, as we were given more by this team than we could have ever imagined. A few breaks, especially in game 3, and perhaps the Orioles could have played longer. I don’t think they SHOULD have beaten the Yankees, but they could have.
I’ve written a total of seven blog postings this month already over at http://www.birdswatcher.com … check them out … especially the post for tonight after the final game: http://birdswatcher.com/2012/10/12/sabathia-breaks-orioles/
The Orioles have some issues to address over the off season, though I expect they will likely stick with most of the players they have. And that might make the following list difficult to significantly change, but …
- They need better contact and less strikeouts
- They need a much better average in RISP situations.
- There is a need for more team speed – hoping for a Nolan Reimold comeback
- Hardy needs to go down the lineup to the 7 or 8 hole – with some combination of Markakis, McLouth and Reimold batting 1,2.
- A big decision involves the option on Reynolds. He disappeared again in the last 10 games, or else he’d be a lock to stay. My guess is that he is retained – for team chemistry and for his defense at first base.
In any event, I’ll keep writing here and most likely continuing with the BirdsWatcher blog – presuming they keep me or no better option comes along – after all, I am a free agent at my age!
Thanks for reading … looking forward to FanFest 2013.
I’m writing this while the Monday night games #160 are going on … with the Orioles trailing the Rays 4-1 and the Yankees leading Boston 9-0. Gosh, the Red Sox are simply so horrible.
We knew this was going to be difficult, and that was the theme of my earlier blog today on the BirdsWatcher site … you may link to it HERE.
Prior to that blog posting, I recently wrote another on the amazing array of varied players that have joined the Orioles over the course of the season – both from within the organization and from the outside. You may link to it HERE.
It has been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog about my “credit and blame” statistics – about what portion of the team – offense, starters, relievers – are contributing most to the winning and losing of games. The stats demonstrate how critical starting pitching is – when it is good, the Birds win a lot of games. But I believe it also demonstrates that the starting pitching is better than it is given credit for being. And the offence has really only more recently put up the good numbers. September was indeed a good hitting month. But as can be seen tonight in Florida – good pitching will stop good hitting – even though the Orioles have tied the game since I began writing.
Point Summary – after 152 games = 92-67
Credit Blame Differential
Starters +106.5 -69.0 = (+37.5)
Relievers +68.5 -40.0 = (+28.5)
Offense +96.0 -85.0 = (+11.0)
Defense +5.0 -7.0 = (-2.0)
Total +276 -201
I’ll put up a blog after these three final games are over that compares these stats of this year to last year.