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April 2004 Archives

April 1, 2004

Hargrove to throw out first pitch at the Jake

2000-2003 Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, now back with the Indians as a special adviser, was tapped to throw out the first pitch at Cleveland's home opener on April 12 (story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer), marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of Jacobs Field.

He has told the press that he wants to manage again, creating the potential for tension between him and current Tribe manager Eric Wedge, but apparently the two have been friendly with each other throughout their time working together.

Despite his lack of success in Baltimore, Hargrove was always a stand-up guy, and it's hard to blame him for all the O's struggles during his tenure here. It's comforting to see him still in baseball and back with the Indians, the team with whom he has spent most of his career as a player and manager.

Akron Beacon Journal: "First pitch goes to Hargrove"

April 2, 2004

Tejada's Offense: Applied Relativity

Second in a series of articles about the Orioles' most prominent newcomer, Miguel Tejada

The same week of his December 2003 column on Miguel Tejada, Rob Neyer was asked in an ESPN.com chat if Tejada, who hit a superficially unimpressive .278/.336/.472 (BA/OBP/SLG) in 2003, was really worth $12 million a year. Neyer responded succinctly, "Yes, I think [Tejada] is worth $12 million in this market. You're talking about a player who's every bit as good as Nomar Garciaparra."

Continue reading "Tejada's Offense: Applied Relativity" »

April 4, 2004

O-pening Day analysis

If you've been following the Orioles' Opening Day coverage in the mainstream news media and still find yourself unsatiated, Ben Jacobs of The Hardball Times has posted a hard-hitting analysis of the 2004 Orioles called "Five Questions: Baltimore Orioles." The questions he asks (and attempts to answer) are:

1) How much will Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, and Rafael Palmeiro help the Orioles?
2) Haven't we seen this before from the Orioles?
3) What does 2004 have in store for Melvin Mora?
4) How good is Baltimore's young outfield?
5) Is there any hope for Baltimore's starting rotation?

I think that Jacobs's assessment of the team is largely spot-on, although he doesn't really say anything groundbreaking. Most of the information in the article should be common knowledge to any Orioles fan worth his salt.

I will also add that the use of statistics in the article is on the heavy side, even for an inveterate stathead like me. Who really needs to know Erik Bedard's minor-league strikeout rates to two decimal places?

For those who are unfamiliar with the source, THT is an online publication of pro baseball analysis. It was begun not long ago as a collaboration of several fine writers from across the country, including distinguished bloggers Aaron Gleeman and Larry Mahnken.

O-day roster

Opening Day roster update to follow up last week's entry:

The Orioles gave Erik Bedard the fifth spot in the rotation, although he will start the season in the minors and be called up April 10 to make his first start. At that point, Rick Bauer probably will be optioned to Ottawa if the Orioles continue to keep eleven pitchers.

The season-opening bench will consist of five players: Keith Osik, Luis López, José Bautista, Jack Cust, and B.J. Surhoff.

Mark McLemore was released because the Orioles could not guarantee he would be placed on the major-league roster when he recovered from his injury. Omar Daal was put on the 60-day DL, and Jerry Hairston joins Marty Cordova on the 15-day DL. To make room on the 40-man roster, John Stephens was designated for assignment; his future with the organization is uncertain as of this writing.

From MLB.com: "Roster finalized with surprises"

April 7, 2004

Tejada's Offense, Part 2: A Splittin' Image

Third in a series of articles about the Orioles' most prominent newcomer, Miguel Tejada

The previous article in this series looked at various facets of Miguel Tejada's offensive game, including his home-road splits and hitting with runners on base. To further add to the picture of Tejada as a hitter, here are a few more cross-sectional slices of Tejada's hitting statistics.

Continue reading "Tejada's Offense, Part 2: A Splittin' Image" »

April 15, 2004

Digressions: Beats & Eats

Lest the rainouts of the last few days (and my stat-heavy blog entries of the last few weeks) weigh you down, here's some lighter fare for Orioles fans out there.

Latin-lovin' O's?

Last week, Kevin Cowherd wrote a whimsical column in the Baltimore Sun about the Orioles that touched on some personal aspects of this year's squad. Among his observations:

Continue reading "Digressions: Beats & Eats" »

April 20, 2004

Hit the road (to Ottawa), Jack

After the Orioles designated Jack Cust for assignment on April 9 to make room on the big-league roster for Erik Bedard, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the Orioles' sabermetric community. I discussed Cust earlier—he is a flawed player, but he still has too much promise as a hitter to be surrendered for nothing.

However, I have yet to see a commensurate level of surprise at what happened after that: not a single major-league team claimed Cust off waivers. After ten days, the rights to Cust then reverted to the Orioles, who assigned him to Triple-A Ottawa.

I have to say that I was shocked. After all, one week earlier the Orioles had let go of John Stephens, another flawed prospect held in high esteem among performance analysts, and saw the Red Sox (who have the vanguard of the sabermetric movement on staff as an adviser) claim him and add him to their 40-man roster. I expected something similar to happen to Cust. Despite Cust's defensive deficiencies, I thought that surely an American League team with a weak farm system (Red Sox, Yankees) or a sabermetrically savvy front office (Athletics, Blue Jays) or a weak major-league roster (Devil Rays) could find a place for him. Perhaps an NL team needing bench depth (Giants) would find a role for him as a pinch-hitter and spot starter. But no one bit. And it's not like some teams fell asleep at the waiver wire, either, because the move drew extra attention when MLB found the Orioles guilty of calling up Bedard too early after the transaction was announced and reversed it, forcing the Orioles to place Cust back on their roster for a few more days. One reason for the other teams' hesitation was that (to quote MLB.com beat writer Gary Washburn) "any team that claimed Cust would have had to place him on the 25-man roster." This was not true in Stephens's case.

But the total lack of interest from 29 big-league teams showed just how far Cust has fallen in the eyes of MLB talent evaluators. This is the same guy who made a lot of top-50 and top-100 prospect lists just a few years ago, who has an impressive .299 BA/.436 OBP/.551 SLG in his minor-league career, who was one of the Orioles' top hitting prospects when he was acquired from the Rockies in March of 2003, who has nearly three full AAA seasons under his belt, who posted an impressive .878 OPS in a limited role last year, and who is still just 25 years old. What happened? Are all those teams dunderheads for passing on him? Or were they right, and have the stat-heads overrated Cust and turned a blind eye to his flaws?

Continue reading "Hit the road (to Ottawa), Jack" »

April 23, 2004

Another ex-O named Cal

If you haven't noticed, ex-O's farmhand Calvin Pickering has been destroying the Triple-A Pacific Coast League as a member of the Omaha Royals, with eleven homers in his first thirteen games. His batting line as of Thursday speaks for itself:

2004 Batting Statistics for Calvin Pickering
13 43 13 19 54 2 0 11 26 0 1 4 6 0 11 0 0 0 .442 .537 1.256

(from BaseballAmerica.com)

Continue reading "Another ex-O named Cal" »

April 29, 2004

Maz an early hit in Baltimore

The Sun has a feature-length article today on Lee Mazzilli called "The Yankee in our midst." Written by Patricia Meisol, it takes a lighter, more human-interest slant than the typical sports story, making it refreshing in its own way.

As Meisol trailed Mazzilli during his first extended homestand as manager of the Orioles, she discovered that Maz has the theme to The Godfather as his cell phone ring tone, befitting the Italian-American from Brooklyn that he is. He also claims to have given the "godfather" nickname to Joe Torre, manager of the Yankees and his former mentor. I suppose all this stuff is tongue-in-cheek, yet it makes him a ripe target for comedy in the vein of the Godfather, the Sopranos, and every other Italian-American mob stereotype in the book.

The initial read on Mazzilli is that he is a player-friendly manager who has succeeded in creating a positive vibe in the clubhouse. I cite the following from the article:

Larry Bigbie, who some say is the next great Oriole, or one of them, says Maz is "definitely a players' manager." He lets people do their thing until or unless he sees they can't do it. Every day he checks in with every player. They always know his mood, which except for yesterday, is always good. He connects with you in a way that makes you want to work harder.

Mazzilli is apparently big on talking with his players (unlike Baltimore's standard-bearer Earl Weaver, who often went weeks without talking to his stars), yet I wonder how he can check in with each player every day, as the article says, beyond the usual "hey" and "how are you." But even if that's all he does, it couldn't hurt to keep the lines of communication open.

This excerpt sums up his managing style pretty well:

Just know this: He runs the team like his family, setting out rules, values, expectations, trusting them, setting them free, pulling back the reins when things go wrong.

This winning attitude, a lot of things account for it: family, upbringing, community. When you have pride in yourself, he says, you don't settle for less. "You sacrifice a lot to win. Sometimes you ask yourself, is it worth it? Then when the moment comes, you say it is."

With the Orioles above .500 and in second place as April ends, it's so far, so good for Mazzilli. Despite a few hiccups along the way, most of his decisions have worked in his favor. Co-GM's Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie seem to have made a solid choice in picking the relatively untested Mazzilli as their manager last fall.

p.s. I'll have a harder analysis of Mazzilli's performance later. Right now, I'm preparing some articles on Miguel Tejada and the coverage of the Orioles in the media.

About April 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Orioles Warehouse in April 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2004 is the previous archive.

May 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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