« What's on second? (Or is that who?) | Main | A look inside the Orioles' heads, part 1 »

A new look at some old developments

Here's an update on some subjects that have been discussed earlier on this blog.

The Hairston/Roberts quandary: Jerry Hairston has returned to the lineup as a more-or-less everyday player, with two starts at second, seven at DH, and one in left field. So far, he's looked extremely rusty, batting .250/.242/.344. This could have been expected, as Hairston missed most of spring training and served a brief one-week rehab stint, but he's going to have to pick up the pace soon if he wants to stay in the lineup. Unfortunately, Brian Roberts has slumped offensively of late—his OPS has fallen by 93 points since Hairston came off the DL—making for two black holes in the Orioles' lineup. (Some of you may be wondering how Hairston's OBP could be lower than his batting average. The reason is that sacrifice flies count in the denominator for OBP but not for BA, and Hairston has one sacrifice fly and no walks or HBP.)

Rodrigo López: After watching their starters get bombed for most of the last month while Rodrigo (R-Lo? Rod-L? Rod-Lo?) put the clamps on the opposition, the Orioles did the logical thing and reassigned him to the rotation essentially to take the place of demoted Kurt Ainsworth. In his first start on Thursday, Rodrigo looked initially like the ace reliever that he had been, holding the Mariners scoreless for the first four innings. But then he hit a wall and got torched for six runs in the fifth. Although his ability to pitch deep in games is iffy, at this point, he's better used as a starter until the young arms get themselves on track.

Mike DeJean: The sad story continues. DeJean has continued to get rocked nearly every time he's been out there. Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools Report currently ranks DeJean as the worst major-league reliever in Adjusted Runs Prevented. DeJean managed to notch his first hold of the season last Wednesday against Seattle, but was hardly impressive in doing so. Inheriting a 4-1 lead in the seventh with runners on first and third and two outs, he gave up a run-scoring hit and a bases-loading walk before receiving a merciful strike call on a borderline full-count pitch to Édgar Martínez. On Friday against the Angels, he took a 3-1 eighth-inning lead and gave up three straight hits without recording an out. Recent callup Darwin Cubillán relieved DeJean and promptly coughed up the lead, resulting in an agonizing 5-3 loss.

B.J. Ryan: In that Friday game, Lee Mazzilli went to DeJean in the eighth because Ryan had pitched on Tuesday and Wednesday and had told Mazzilli that he was not feeling well that week. That might have given Mazzilli plausible justification for not using Ryan. But DeJean? And in a two-run game against the Angels, who have scored the second-most runs in the league? Ryan, who currently ranks 16th in ARP, eventually entered that game in relief of Cubillán and put out the fire—too late to save that game, unfortunately. Ryan continues to pitch well: left-handed batters are still hitless off him, while righties have managed just a .734 OPS. But the lack of decent bullpen options beyond him and Jorge Julio is hurting the Orioles. It's turning the search for the next-best pitcher into a coin flip.

Calvin Pickering ("He Can't Pick It, But He Sure Can Hit It") has cooled down a little since his scorching start, but he's still hitting an impressive .320/.465/.820 at Omaha. Why isn't this guy DHing for someone?

Speaking of DH's, Jack Cust has not ravaged Triple-A pitching like I thought he would. This year, he's posted a feeble .233/.353/.384 at Ottawa, with just three taters and 32 K's in 118 PA's. That puts him just slightly ahead of shortstop Eddy Garabito (.311/.344/.378) as a hitter. Maybe there was a real regression in Cust's hitting approach this spring that justified the Orioles' decision to take him off the roster. Meanwhile, Cust's Lynx teammates José León (.342/.405/.711) and Pedro Swann (.328/.396/.613) are hitting like there's no tomorrow, and Robert Machado (.319/.372/.487) isn't doing too badly for himself either. Too bad none of them is young enough to be considered a prospect. Anyway, it's nice to have viable options in Triple-A in case of an injury on the big-league club. On the pitching side of the Lynx, recently promoted starter John Maine is struggling for the first time as a professional, with a 6.20 ERA and an 11/8 K/BB ratio in four starts. Looks like he's finally being challenged; let's see how he responds.

Earlier I commented that Miguel Tejada has been a slow starter in his career. Well, this year he had a relatively strong start (for him), with a .326/.374/.453 hitting line in April for an OPS of .827. This bodes well for his season overall, if he heats up during the summer like he normally does.

Comments (3)


First of all, I think it's great there's an O's blog, and I think you should post more oftenly.

I'm an O's fan from Israel, I watch all the games on the net, and this 5 game losing streak has been disheartening.

Why put in a debut pitcher when the game is 2-0 against the yankees? why isn't DeJean sent to the minors to get his act together.
The has pitched very well in 4 out of his 8 ML years. The others were horrible. In 1999, he pitched 56 games, 61 innings and posted a 8.41 ERA. This year it's 9.19. He showed no signs of getting better tonight.

Why has the O's hitting been so lousy? Where are the April-Beginning May O's? who played with so much heart, and took advantage of every play?
Is it Mazilli's fault?

What is going on here?!


This is the first I've heard of an O's fan in Israel. Shalom.

I'm sorry I don't post on this blog more often, but I prefer to write only when there is something truly notable in the team's news or when I feel I have something substantive to say. (I've been chugging away at some long articles, so stay tuned.) Daily, piecemeal recaps of minor events are not my cup of tea. Of course, if you have any topics to suggest, feel free to broach them. And it appears that you have done just that.

Your questions, answered briefly:

> Why put in a debut pitcher when the game is 2-0 against the yankees?

I'm a little stumped about this move, as Bedard had pitched four innings capably while totalling only 79 pitches before exiting. I'm guessing that the long rain delay had some effect on the Orioles' decision to pull Bedard early.

As for sending in Denny Bautista, well, I would not have called him up to the majors in the first place because he was not even pitching well in Double-A. His performance record over the last two seasons clearly indicates that he has had trouble commanding his pitches. Better choices would have been John Maine or Eddy Rodríguez from Triple-A Ottawa.

> Why isn't DeJean sent to the minors to get his act together?

I'm not absolutely certain about the rules since they're not posted anywhere that I know, but after five years in the majors, a player earns the right to refuse a minor-league assignment (even if he has options remaining) and can demand a release instead. That is the situation with DeJean, who is an eight-year veteran as you mentioned.

Clearly, DeJean has been dragging the Orioles' bullpen down, so the Orioles may well release him anyway. Some of DeJean's failures are due to bad luck, as he claims. But the magnitude, consistency, and frequency of his failures suggest that ineptitude is playing a larger part. I'd give him one more week to turn it around, and if he shows no signs of his old, half-decent self, then I'd free him from his misery and let him start anew elsewhere.

> Why has the O's hitting been so lousy? Where are the April-beginning May O's, who played with so much heart and took advantage of every play?

There are a lot of reasons for the Orioles' recent decline, but the one that sticks out in my mind is that the Orioles have been facing much better teams lately. Specifically, the White Sox, Angels, and Yankees have been looking like playoff teams so far, and the O's have played against those three teams in thirteen of their last nineteen games (and have gone 3-10 in those games). In contrast, the only truly good team the Orioles faced in April was Boston, which was missing Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon. Most analysts predicted that the Orioles would win 80-85 games this year, and I see no reason to dispute that projection unless some of the pitchers make a miraculous turnaround.

> Is it Mazzilli's fault?

In general, no. It's not Mazzilli's fault that DeJean has been so ineffective this year, or that Osik hit .080 before being released, or (most importantly) that the starting pitching has been so wild and inconsistent. Essentially, he's been hamstrung by a weak bench the entire year, the rotation was bound to have its ups and downs, and the bullpen has been steadily softening past Julio and Ryan. However, the fast starts by many hitters in the lineup and the weak schedule in the first month masked many of those shortcomings.

One can argue that Mazzilli should not have used DeJean in so many pivotal situations or retained Osik as the backup catcher or used Jerry Hairston as the regular DH. But it's hard to pin all the blame on Mazzilli. Many of those decisions were made with an eye toward the long term, a concept that is unduly discounted by the average fan. Also, the field manager does not have full authority over personnel decisions, so many of those choices were made in consultation with (or by fiat from) the front office.

It's still early in his managerial career, so Maz is still learning about his team's strengths and weaknesses. Today's roster moves should give him more and better options with which to work. I think it's important to see how Mazzilli evolves. Some rookie skippers overmanage at the start, then gradually ease back on the controls as they discover the right buttons to push. Mazzilli, for the most part, has not been guilty of overmanaging. He has been showing a lot of patience with his players, which is a good trait in a manager as long as those players have some underlying talent.

The really interesting question is whether the Orioles' young players, such as Ainsworth, Bedard, Bautista, Bigbie, and Matos, can perform as well as management thinks they can. The answer to that will determine how far the Birds go this season.

> What is going on here?!

Hey, I don't have the answer to everything.

(Okay, maybe not so briefly answered.)


Your notes did help me put things into a bit of perspective. But after last nights game, the orioles pitching really does look hopeless. Although i guess it can't get much worse:)

Let's see how their "ace" can do.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 23, 2004 3:54 PM.

The previous post in this blog was What's on second? (Or is that who?).

The next post in this blog is A look inside the Orioles' heads, part 1.

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

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33