Bricks from the Warehouse

August 10

Were we to write titles for our updates, "Don't say we didn't warn you" or "We told you so" would be appropriate here. During the O's hot streak right before the trading deadline, we said that "It's almost as if the Brainrust can not remember all the way back to June, when the Orioles followed a stretch in which they won 11 out of 12 by losing the next 10 games. But once the July 31st deadline passes, it will be too late, as players will first have to clear waivers before they can be traded..." Well, sure enough, after the Orioles neared the trading deadline by winning 12 out of 15 games, and GM Frank Wren said that the Orioles were going to try to win the WC, the O's promptly dropped six in a row and 9 out of 12, removing any glimmer of hope that the Wild Card was in reach.

So, while we were happy Juan Guzman was traded for two pitchers under 25, our main reaction was, is this it? (For Cincinatti's reaction to the trade, see the take of the the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post.) While trading a veteran for prospects is a start to rebuilding, frankly, young pitching is so unpredictable that you need to stockpile young arms in the hopes that a few will pan out, not acquire two young pitchers and envision them in your rotation 3 or 4 years down the road. So when the trading deadline passed with only Guzman gone, it was yet another missed opportunity to convert high-priced veterans like B.J. Surhoff, Jeff Conine, Arthur Rhodes, Will Clark, Delino DeShields, Mike Bordick, Scott Erickson, and Jesse Orosco into the Orioles of the next decade. The last time the Orioles began a serious rebuilding process, they netted Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, and Curt Schilling, among others.

While recently Wren has conceded that indeed the Orioles are out of the playoff picture, we still fail to see the direction this team is heading. It's hard to know what to believe when you read trade rumors, but in any case the Orioles should have done a lot more. One such rumor had the Orioles rejecting a deal that would have sent Arthur Rhodes to the Yankees for prized shortstop prospect D'Angelo Jimenez. According to reports, the deal did not go through because the Orioles wanted another prospect in the deal, this for a guy who sports an ERA over 6! Don't get us wrong- we are big fans of Rhodes, who is still only 29 and came up through the system- and probably would have pitched better had he (and the rest of the bullpen) not been run into the ground by Manager Ray Miller. But when you can acquire a top shortstop prospect for an injury-plagued, inconsistent middle reliever, you do it... especially when your team is 3,700 games out of first place. You don't sign him to a $10+ million, multi-year deal, as Peter Angelos has indicated he would like to do.

In any case, the Baseball Prospectus publishes a stat called Pitcher Abuse Points, which we won't get into, other than to say that it uses pitch counts to determine how pitchers are being (ab)used by their managers. Despite being out of contention virtually all year, Ray Miller has gotten Mike Mussina, 22-year old Sidney Ponson, and Scott Erickson on the list as some of the most abused pitchers in baseball. And in Tuesday's 17-1 victory over the Devil Rays, Miller inexplicably left Ponson in to pitch a complete game- his league-leading 6th! Ray Miller should explain why a team 20 games out of first place would even risk harming Ponson's arm. And from the complaints from members of the bullpen, what with Miller having players warm up 20 times a game, it is not only the starters who are being abused by Miller. It would be nice if the Orioles had a manager looking out for the long-term health of his team, not an insecure person trying to cover his rear and keep his job on a daily basis. Just another reason, not that any more are needed, why Ray Miller should be fired.

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Last Updated: August 10, 1999