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And it just goes on and on. The game reports practically become irrelevant now, and very depressing. Today it was Scott Erickson's turn to have a bad game, as he blew a 5-0 lead and the Orioles lost to the woeful Florida Marlins, 7-5. Other than Rafael Palmeiro's 24th home run, the offense was hardly impressive, either, despite Ray Miller's decision to move Brady and Joe Carter down in the lineup, and Alomar and Surhoff up to the top. All this resulted in the Orioles' seventh straight loss, as the Os fell to a season high (low?) nine games under .500. Even the good performances, such as Jesse Orosco's two scoreless innings, have a dark cloud; Jesse is probably being showcased for a trade.
And this is what the big fuss was about? After promising that we would see major changes, all that happened was some minor lineup shuffling, and the decision to designate Terry Mathews for assignment. Nerio was activated from the disabled list to take his place. But that's hardly enough. Obviously it may take a while to trade Palmeiro and Alomar, but why are Norm Charlton and Doug Drabek still around? Or Joe ".288 OBP" Carter? Does anybody on the planet believe these guys can contribute to a winning team? And, yet, it's not clear whether Ray Miller gets it yet. He still thinks quick fixes like lineup shuffling will have an effect.
The American League All-Star balloting is finished, and, as expected, Cal
Ripken and Roberto Alomar were voted into the starting lineup. Cal starts for
the sixteenth straight year, while this is Roberto Alomar's ninth straight
game (eighth as a starter). At the other positions, Chris Hoiles finished
fifth, Rafael Palmeiro finished seventh (one behind ex-O David Segui), Mike
Bordick finished sixth, and Brady Anderson, BJ Surhoff, and Eric Davis
finished 5th, 14th, and 16th respectively among outfielders. The rest of the
team will be announced tomorrow, at which point we can hear the annual whining
about Rafael Palmeiro not making the team.
But we'll try, anyway. A day off, but still no answers. There's been talk about some roster shuffling, with the jobs of Mathews and Charlton in danger. Eric Davis may be placed on the disabled list, though, as is typical of this club, Davis is objecting despite the fact that he is hurt too much to play. And Brady Anderson and Joe Carter might be shifted lower in the lineup.
Well, these are all good ideas, but basically, so what? This team is in complete disarray. They need to rebuild, not make some minor course corrections. There's talk about trading Palmeiro and Alomar in the next few weeks, which is the right idea, but they're still talking about re-signing some of their high-priced veterans. They just don't get it. This team needs an infusion of youth. They don't need to sign another set of overpaid injury-prone old free agents to block their prospects like Calvin Pickering, Willis Otanez, Ryan Minor, and David Lamb. They don't need to bury Nerio Rodriguez and Rocky Coppinger and Sidney Ponson and Radhames Dykhoff behind Pete Smith and Doug Drabek or Pete Harnisch and Willie Blair. Quick fixes are appealing to Peter Angelos, but they're not going to work. They worked up until this year, but if you keep borrowing, eventually it catches up with you. It has.
We're pretty tired of hearing Angelos, Gillick, Malone, and Miller blame injuries for the Os' struggles. (Yesterday, Angelos suggested that if other teams lost three pitchers, they'd be in trouble too.) Sure, injuries have hurt, but the Os only missed ~6 starts of Mussina's; if he won *every* one of them, an unrealistic standard, the team would still be under .500. Boston has lost two starting pitchers, and their starting third baseman (Henry, Rose, and Naehring), and they're cruising along with a 10 game lead on the Orioles. Meanwhile, the Yankees have lost to injury Chili Davis, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jeff Nelson for varying amounts of time, and it hasn't slowed them down. Houston lost several starting pitchers to injury. The list goes on. The problem isn't injuries, but the team put together by the brainrust. It had no depth whatsoever, and holes where Carter and Bordick and Guillen and Drabek and Charlton and Mathews cluttered the roster. We at DUOP would like to see Peter Angelos and his front office admit that for a change, instead of making excuses. Because admitting a problem is the first step towards doing something about it.
In other news, the final National League All-Star voting was released today, so
we thought we'd fill you in on the results. Former Os farmhand Ricky
Gutierrez finished sixth in the shortstop voting, well behind league leader
Walt Weiss. Bobby Bonilla finished fourth, and Todd Zeile finished ninth, in
the third base voting. Finally, Steve Finley finished sixteenth in the
Today's Post notes that General Manager Pat Gillick will not renew his contract with the Orioles for next season, despite numerous attempts by owner Peter Angelos to change his mind. We've been very open in our criticism of Gillick and the brainrust, but this puts the team in an interesting quandary. With even the most optimistic of fans now realizing it's time to rebuild, is Pat Gillick going to have his heart in acquiring the best players for the Orioles down the road, when he knows he won't be around to see the results? Or will we see Gillick try an improbable run at the post-season and trade for the likes of Pete Smith, leaving the farm system even more barren than it is now? For our money, we'd like to see trades in the form of an aging Mike Boddicker for prospects Curt Schilling and Brady Anderson, and not of the Jimmy Haynes for Geronimo Berroa variety.
Right now, the Orioles need to address the fundamental question of what direction to take this team. Is Gillick going to sign most of the aging veterans who will become free agents after this season, like B.J. Surhoff, to long-term deals? While B.J. is relatively cheap in today's market, he's getting to the age where the Orioles might regret a long-term committment- especially if signing him to an expensive contract blocks a youngster from being called up several years down the road. Is Brady Anderson, for instance, going to stay healthy and defy age for the next 5 years to justify his $30 million dollar contract extension? The 1998 Orioles are the classic case of what happens to a team full of aging players.
In any case, Manager Ray Miller promises (haven't we heard this before?) that there will be changes made before the Orioles open their series against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday. We can only guess that tonight will be the last we had to see of Terry Mathews and Norm Charlton. Of course, with all the injuries to the pitching staff, Doug Drabek- who gave up 5 runs and failed to get out of the third inning tonight- will probably still have a job. We forgot to post this earlier, but here's why you believe Norm Charlton (7.16 ERA) and Terry Mathews (6.20 ERA) were able to stay around even this long with the way they've pitched all season.
In losing to the Expos, baseball's most expensive team was swept by the team with the lowest payroll. You'll repeatedly read in the papers the Orioles referred to as baseball's most underachieving team- but the results should come as no surprise. If you refer to our quotes page, Rob Neyer of Sportszone said before the season started: "The Orioles will go down ... waaaaay down, to something like 83 wins and third place. You've heard of addition by subtraction? By adding Joe Carter, Ozzie Guillen and Doug Drabek [and Norm Charlton], the O's are attempting a new strategy -- subtraction by addition." And that's exactly what happened.
Merely spending a lot of money guarantees you nothing- the money must be
spent on quality players. The decision-makers (Gillick/Angelos) the
past two seasons drove the prices up of the players that virtually no other
team was interested in. That's why Mike Bordick is being paid $3.5 million,
Joe Carter $3 million, and Doug Drabek $1.6 million. For the sake of
generosity, we'll call these guys mediocre. Now would you rather have 3
mediocre players being paid a total of $8.1 million, or one star paid that
amount (Mike Mussina, for example, makes $6.4 million), with guys like
Aaron Ledesma, David Dellucci, and Esteban Yan filling out the roster
for closer to baseball's minimum salary of $170,000? Of course, our beloved
brainrust protected stiffs like Bordick in the expansion draft, so that the
Orioles lost the above players, but that's a whole 'nother ballgame. Until
the Orioles realize that a "name" player doesn't mean the same thing as a
good player, it's going to be another 13 years before the Orioles don't need
a television to watch the post-season again.
Indeed, there is so much confusion and disorganization that Manager Ray Miller regularly contradicts himself when discussing the future of this team. He's threatened to release relievers Norm Charlton and Terry Mathews- who have been nothing short of awful this season (and last season for Charlton)- on several occasions, yet he refuses to act on his threats. He erupted in the clubhouse in Oakland several weeks ago, asking for any 20-year olds who would throw strikes. Yet, when youngster Radhames Dykhoff was called up, he pitched once in a period of 2 weeks. Miller also says that it's not fair to manage around Charlton and Mathews, so he continues to put them in close game situations. Yet at the same time, Arthur Rhodes leads all AL relievers in innings pitched, and has began to indicate that his arm is tiring. Just what the Orioles need- another injury. And for all the bad luck the Orioles pitching staff has had this season with injuries, they've also had some good luck. Who would've thought that at 41, Jesse Orosco would still be pitching as well as he is this season.
In any case, Miller now says that he wants to bring up youngsters from the minors to replace Charlton and Mathews, but that he's getting resistance from within the organization. What's the brainrust's solution? Making a trade for an "undistinguished starting pitcher" then converting him to the bullpen. Um, HELLO! Is Anyone listening??. That must be some sort of sick joke. The Orioles already tried that approach. His name is Pete Smith. Or Doug Drabek- take your pick. This is what we mean when we say that the brainrust has no idea what it is doing. Giving up anything for an "undistinguished" picher should be avoided at all costs- that's the last thing the Orioles need.
We've heard on several occasions Miller complain that since spring training the Orioles have lacked a long-man in the bullpen. Well excuse us for asking, but why would the Orioles start the season ill-prepared when they had all winter to construct a roster? Of course, the Orioles cut Sidney Ponson and Nerio Rodriguez in spring training, and released Rick Krivda, so saying the Orioles had no long-men is nothing short of a lie. Just because they refused to give a job to anyone under 30 doesn't mean they didn't have the option.
In case you can't tell from our tone, we think the Orioles need to start rebuilding- the sooner the better. One columnist writes that the Orioles should resign free-agent-to-be Rafael Palmeiro after this season. A Baltimore Sun poll indicates that 81% of those who voted also favor resigning Palmeiro. Trading Palmeiro, or offering arbitration at the end of the season for him and getting draft picks, will only help in the rebuilding process (assuming Gillick doesn't trade him for nothing). Signing him to an expensive, long-term deal, when a decline is inevitable, is simply not what a rebuilding team should be doing.
However, the Orioles don't see themselves as a team needing to rebuild. Palmeiro says, "We're not dead yet. We've still got time." And before tonight's loss, Miller said "I've got a feeling it's going to turn around [tonight]... I just see us getting something going before the All-Star break. It's a feeling." While we certainly don't expect the players or Miller to throw in the towel- after all, it is their job to perform to the best of their ability- we do expect management to recognize that this aging team is going nowhere, and that it's time to rebuild. Earlier this month, the O's were just treading water. Now they're just losing. Still, Miller really believes this team has a chance of making the post-season. "Earl Weaver used to say you try to be around .500 after 100 games, then play .600 the rest of the way. That'll get you around 90 wins." Unfortunately for the Orioles, they'd have to go 13-6 to be at .500 after 100 games, and they've showed no indication that they can do that.
On a completely unrelated note, in 6 games, Chris Hoiles has been
able to raise his average from .196 to .245, which tells you one thing- he's
not playing enough. While his best days are probably behind him, he's always
been a slow starter. Unlike previous managers, who had designated Hoiles the
starting catcher and had allowed him to work out of his slumps, he's been
reduced to a platoon player this season.
So, once again, we at DUOP ask: when is this team going to rebuild? The idea that they contend is a sick joke. Not even the most delusional fan thinks the team can catch the Yankees, who are now 20.5 games ahead of the Orioles. But some -- like the overmatched and utterly inadequate Ray Miller -- may hold out the unrealistic hope that the Orioles can win the wild card. It isn't going to happen. The Orioles are now 10.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox, a margin that has been made up only a handful of times in history, and more over, the Orioles are also behind the Blue Jays, Twins, and Rangers. This team is closer to last place than to the wild card. In fact, it's as close to the last place Devil Rays as to the third place Blue Jays.
If you think the Orioles can keep Palmeiro and Alomar and the others until the season ends, and then make decisions, think again. Unless the team trades these guys for younger talent, the Os will just repeat 1998 all over again. The team will continue to sink with big name players, as it did in the mid-1980s, and everyone will profess puzzlement as to why they're not winning. Rochester, stacked with veterans, holds little help for the Orioles, as the Red Wings are now in last place. The good news is that Willis Otanez, Joel Bennett, and PJ Forbes made the International League All-Star team. The bad news is that, of these guys, Forbes isn't any sort of prospect; Bennett, at age 28, isn't much of one; and Otanez is blocked by Cal Ripken. (Keep that in mind when you vote in our poll.)
And finally, in what is now ex-O news, RHP Brian Sackinsky retired
today. Sackinsky was the Os
second round pick out of Stanford in 1992, and was a top pitching prospect.
But he was as injury-plagued as his fellow Cardinal alum Jeffrey Hammonds, and
never could get his career on-track. He actually retired once before, but
decided to come back. We at DUOP followed his career with great anticipation,
waiting for him to join Mike Mussina in the rotation. Unfortunately, things
never worked out for him, but we wish him well in his future endeavors.
Tonight's game featured several of the "Brain"-trust's most recent acquisitions brought in to help the Orioles get over the top. Pete Smith, the most recent one, pitched 4 1/3 innings. He gave up 5 runs and threw a wild pitch, raising his ERA to 9.64. His "relief" came in the form of Norm Charlton. Charlton pitched to 4 batters, gave up a hit, issued a walk, and threw *2* wild pitches. His ERA now sits at a nice 7.89. It didn't get any better from there. Terry Mathews replaced Charlton, pitched 2 innings, giving up a run on a homer to raise his ERA to 7.02. We at DUOP have given up trying to figure out how these guys could still be on the team; afterall, whenever a youngster pitches poorly, he's immediately shipped out (Haynes, Krivda, Dykhoff, etc, etc). So please send us your ideas why these guys are still on the team. We'll compile a list of all your possible explanations (they can be as silly as you want, since it obviously defies all logic), and post it tomorrow. Yeah, we realize the staff is injured, but sending Drabek/Charlton/Mathews out there is killing them (and it's killing us to watch). Could guys like Dykhoff or Munoz, or Lewis- all sent down recently- really do any worse?
While we're beating the "Brain-trust sucks" horse, does anyone wonder why we sometimes call Joe Carter the human rally-killer? The Orioles rally late and score two runs on a B.J. Surhoff homer, to bring the team to within 3 runs. In the ninth inning, the Orioles have first and second, no-one out, with Palmeiro, Alomar, and Surhoff due up after Carter. What does he do? Hits into a double-play to effectively end the game. Like we've never seen that before.
Anyways, what would a DUOP game-report be without the daily injury updates? Despite all those injuries, the Orioles
have not just Cal Ripken- but *4* players to have never missed a game all season- the others being
Palmeiro, Alomar, and Surhoff.
We at DUOP have laid a majority of the blame for the Orioles mediocre season on the "Brain"-trust, as you can see if you look back through our news archives. But now, we'd like to apologize. Apparently, according to Kevin Malone, the reason the Orioles haven't perform ed as well as they were expected to is because they don't demonstrate the "necessary intensity to be a championship club... on an every-day basis." In Mark Maske's "insider," he notes that "the club's decision-makers have wondered whether a bit more in-your-face spunk would help." Hmm, we at DUOP thought the Oriole's weren't doing very well had something to do with the fact that the "Brain"-trust signed 4 of the worst free-agents available this offseason- Norm Charlton, Ozzie Guillen, Doug Drabek, and Joe Carter- and did virtually nothing to improve the club. In fact, if we remember correctly, the reason these players were brought in was because they were "veteran-gamers" who would lead the non-existant youth- or at least that's what the "Brain"-trust claimed when these moves were made. DUOP has also spent a great deal of time criticizing Ray Miller this season. This time, however, he put the whole chemistry debate in perspective: "If you're playing well and you're flamboyant, everyone says, 'Look how aggressive they are... If you're playing well and you're quiet, everyone says, 'Look how professional they are.' It's results." We couldn't agree more- "spunk" isn't going to make these players better than they are- or prevent old players from getting injured. It looks like Mr. Malone is trying to shift the blame for the Orioles woes this season.
In other news, Cal Ripken and Roberto Alomar continue to lead in All-Star votes for their respective positions, so apparently fans around baseball aren't still upset with Alomar over the spitting incident. And as we mentioned yesterday, we're working on a full-prospect report (with the O's minor-league system, that shouldn't take too long). But for now, Big Cal Pickering, Bowie's first baseman, and Bowie shortstop David Lamb have made the AA All-Star team. And finally, in an ex-o report, the St. Paul Saints of the Northern (Independent) League just signed catcher Matt Nokes.
Say what you want about Cal Ripken's current skill level, his selfishness, his attitude, or his effect on his teammates, but he plays all out every game. On Sunday, he ran hard and reached first on a third strike that was dropped by Toronto's catcher. How many times do you see a player not bother to run it out? And then today, he got picked off but rather than just letting himself get tagged, he stayed in the rundown long enough for the Mets to make an error. If people are going to criticize him when he does things wrong, we feel he ought to be congratulated when he does things right. Of course, if he continues to hit .250 with little power or walks, these things won't be enough to merit a starting job for him, but until then, we at DUOP will present a more balanced picture.
It's lucky that Mussina seems to be back, because the rest of the pitching staff is much more iffy. Jimmy Key is still not very close to coming back, and it's not clear whether or when he will be. He doesn't want to come back at all if he's not going to be fully effective. Meanwhile, Doug Drabek is going to miss another start tomorrow, and Doug Johns will pitch in his place. Then again, Johns won't be any worse than Draboskie.
And finally, we just want to note, with a sigh of relief, that the Cardinals picked up Bobby Witt, who had been designated for assignment by the Rangers. Given the acquisitions of Drabek, Charlton, and Pete Smith, we figured Witt couldn't be too far behind. But there are still trade ideas swirling around, so pray that Johns and Ponson pitch well, or the Os could end up with Mark Leiter or someone equally old and mediocre.
We've already mentioned that Jeffrey Hammonds and Scott Kamieniecki are still weeks away from returning, but several ex-Orioles also are hurting. Dodger Bobby Bonilla was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday because of an intestinal infection, while Tiger Billy Ripken left Saturday's game in the fourth inning with back spasms. Devil Ray Tim Laker was designated for assignment, while Ranger Mark McLemore (or as Brooks Robinson used to pronounce it- "McElmore") should return from the DL on Monday.
The Orioles open up a home-and-away series Monday against the Mets, with the
first two games played at Oriole Park, and the last two moving to Shea
In other news, after showing up Manager Ray Miller on the mound after being removed from the game two nights ago, pitcher Terry Mathews admitted he "made a fool out of myself," and apologized to Miller. And while we at DUOP would describe his pitching since (not to mention before) coming off the DL as simply "crappy," he had the following to say about it: "I want to prove to the fans, the coaching staff and everyone that I'm a quality big-league player and it's kind of hard after coming back and not giving up hard-hit balls, but they're still finding places to fall. It's getting frustrating, but I can't let that emotion take over."
Finally, in what seems like our daily injury update , outfielder Jeffery Hammonds has nerve "irritation," and is still at least two weeks away from being activated off the DL. And starter Doug Drabek felt fine after throwing on the side, and will make his scheduled start Tuesday against the New York Mets.
It took 5 hours and 49 minutes, but the Orioles eventually came out on top as they used homers from Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson, and Rafael Palmeiro, and 10 innings of shut-out pitching from the bullpen to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4. Arthur Rhodes lowered his ERA all the way down to 3.06, while the much maligned Armando Benitez lowered his to 3.86. Say what you will about him, but Armando has the third best ERA in the bullpen, and is the youngest member at only 25 years of age. With a roster full of 35-year old has-beens, Armando, who has been discussed in numerous trades, is the kind of player that the Orioles need to keep.
Speaking of age, when you hear a quote like "He was a premier pitcher, but that was six years ago," you'd think Ray Miller had finally come to his senses and realized that Norm Charlton and his 8.07 ERA, or Doug Drabek and his 6.72 ERA couldn't pitch anymore. Nope, he was referring to the 40-year old Dave Stieb, who worked a scoreless 9th for the Jays against the Orioles in the series opener. So, unfortunately, we'll still be seeing Charlton and Mathews in tight game situations- though Mathews didn't help himself much when he showed up Miller on the mound last night when he was removed from the game. Miller had some choice words for Mathews when he returned to the dugout.
And since we're on the topic of Manager Ray Miller, he had this to say about Rick Krivda: "He throws so many pitches up in the strike zone. He's so one-dimensional... We tried to get his to do something to be more effective against lefties; drop down, change your arm angle. But he just continued to throw the same way...The problem when you're so effective in Triple-A is when you come to the big leagues you don't want to make any changes. But obviously the step from Triple-A to the big leagues is more than a step. It's Mount Rushmore." Krivda, who was just traded to the Reds, sports a 3.24 ERA. You'd think Miller would have enough to worry about with his own players- like Charlton, Drabek, and Mathews, who all sport much higher ERA's- than to bash a former player.
And now fellow Oriole fans, BEWARE!. Yes, Doug Drabek will make his next scheduled start, but that isn't what we're referring to this time. One "club official" had this to say about the Orioles making a trade for another pitcher: "It's far more likely that something will happen than won't happen in the next several weeks". Now it's good to be optimistic and everything, but the Oriole need to come to their senses. Even though half a season remains, this is a team that is *17.5* games out of first place, and hasn't been at the .500 mark since May 15th. Not to spoil our poll for the week or sway anyone's vote, but do you really want to suffer through more seasons of bad free agent signings and mediocrity just to try and make the playoffs this season- even though the chances of that happening are slim? Jimmy Haynes, who was the Orioles top prospect last season, has a better ERA than almost the entire Oriole's pitching staff, and he was traded for half a season of Geronimo Berroa (who was subsequently let go for nothing) on a team that led the division from wire-to-wire.
This team can't even play .500 baseball, and in DUOP's opinion, it would rediculous to see our top prospects playing for other teams next season so that the Orioles can acquire more old veterans. The names being tossed around that the Orioles are considering include Carlos Perez, Randy Johnson, Kevin Millwood, and Mark Leiter. And, as the old saying goes, you have to give up something to get something. With very few prospects in the minors (trust us for now- but we'll have a full minor league report on all Oriole prospects shortly), the Orioles would feel the effects of trading for a rent-a-player for years to come. We at DUOP- and we're sure we aren't alone here- would rather see the likes of Sidney Ponson and Jimmy Haynes pitching for the Orioles for the next ten years than to have half a season of Randy Johnson and an empty farm system.
PITCHERS W- L ERA BA G GS CG GF SH SV IP H R ER HR BB SO Charlton 1- 1 8.26 .340 27 0 0 8 0 0 28.1 42 26 26 4 21 35Norm Charlton is an IQ test for managers, and Ray Miller has failed. Of course, believe it or not, Charlton was only one of two pitchers that Ray Miller used tonight who had an ERA over 8; I'll bet you can guess who the other is. (Hint: his name is Terry Mathews.) And to add insult to injury, the Os were shut down in the ninth by the 40-year old Dave Stieb, who hasn't pitched in five years, and who would only be the SECOND oldest player on the Orioles, behind Jesse Orosco.
In some ex-Os news, the Expos sent Mike Johnson to AAA Ottawa and recalled Shawn Boskie. Deja vu? Meanwhile, former Os farmhand Pete Rose Jr. refused demotion by the Reds from AAA to AA, and became a free agent. To take his place, the Reds AAA team called up IF Kevin Baez, who the Orioles acquired from the Mets in the David Segui trade.
In a couple of roster notes, Terry Mathews was activated from the disabled list, and Radhames Dykhoff was optioned to Bowie to make room. Well, pardon me for wondering -- but what is going on in the brainrust's heads? Dykhoff got called up two weeks ago and one inning in one game, and then sat on the bench. What a waste of an option. Meanwhile, he's demoted so proven loser Terry Mathews can rejoin the roster. Also, because of Doug Drabek's alleged injury -- although we at DUOP still maintain that "washed-up" is not an injury -- Doug Johns will get the start tomorrow against Toronto.
And in a non-Os roster move, Mike Stanton was given a five game suspension by the league for hitting Eric Davis.
With Cal Ripken's diminished production recently, calls have intensified for him to sit. Ripken essentially dismisses these calls as the annual Cal-Ripken-is-slumping-so-he-should-sit calls. But these aren't the same; for the first time since 1992, Cal Ripken is not merely average, but really bad. It's tempting to be the Pollyanna, to pretend nothing is wrong. And surely Cal sitting down would not cure the Orioles' woes. This team has a lot of problems, after all. But they've got to start somewhere, and sitting Cal in favor of Willis Otanez would be a good start. But, then, there's the question as to what to do with Cal -- is he being sat once, a few times, or regularly? Should he even start anymore? Unless taking a day off is going to restore Cal's range and bat speed, probably not.
Errata: I have to apologize for misreading Tom Boswell's column yesterday. While it's certainly
possible that Ray Miller holds the views I ascribed to him -- namely, that the
washed up Drabek belongs in the rotation and the promising Ponson belongs in long
relief -- those were Boswell's interpretations of Miller's words, not his own.
And today's game illustrates why we at DUOP rant and rave when the Orioles sign the Drabeks and Pete Smiths of the world. Today Baltimore looked like a real major league team, and they did it with a 21-year old starting pitcher, not a 35 year old one. It's exciting to see someone pitch well and think "Wow, this could be the start of something good," rather than, "Oh, that's his good start for the month." Because even on the rare occasions when the Smiths and Drabeks pitch well, we know they're not part of the team's future. Even if Ray Miller is so incompetent that he really believes that the washed-up Doug Drabek is "supposed to be" in the rotation and the promising Sidney Ponson "belongs" in long relief.
In another good move, the Orioles designated minor league journeyman Jesus Tavarez for assignment and claimed outfielder Rich Becker off waivers from the Mets. Now, Becker's no star, but he's a real major leaguer, unlike Tavarez. He's a good fourth outfielder. He can play centerfield, can run well, gets on base, throws well, and generally has good secondary offensive skills. Even batting .190, for instance, he has a higher OBP than Joe Carter does.
Not to toot our own horn, but the print media tends to be a little slow on the uptake. Ken Rosenthal of the Sun just figured out the things we at DUOP have been saying all along -- the team's injuries are NOT simply bad luck, but a result of the team's age. And what's unusual is not their injuries, but their inability to handle them because of the team's lack of depth.
In a followup to yesterday's Ex-Os report, we should note that Jeff Manto was signed by the Cleveland Indians today to a AAA contract. In addition, LHP Rick Krivda was traded by the Indians to the Reds, reuniting him with his erstwhile Oriole teammates Tony Tarasco. And OF Jack Voigt was called up by the As.
Heroes for the Os were numerous; every starter except Eric Davis had at least one hit, with Palmeiro and Carter ringing up three apiece, including a solo home run by each of them. After seven solid innings by Scott Erickson, Jesse Orosco shut down the Yankees for two innings to earn the save. After Palmeiro's home run in the seventh, Mike Stanton hit Eric Davis with his next pitch. Whether it was intentional is not entirely clear, but John Hirschbeck, the home plate umpire, immediately ejected Stanton to forestall a repeat of The Brawl.
This victory is hardly a playoff-clincher for the Orioles, but since we at DUOP are so vocally negative so much of the time, it's only fair that we compliment the team when things go right. The combination of strong pitching and good scoring against the best team in baseball is definitely a Good Thing. Scott Erickson has been erratic all year, but this was his third straight strong start. And in other good news, Brady Anderson may not have to go on the disabled list.
A few days ago, the Orioles signed Steven Bechler, Joshua Yarno, Francisco Monzon, Antonio Mack, Dustin Brewer, Samuel Berrien, Joey Hammond, Ricky Green, Sean Fisher, Jason Benham and Sonny Garcia, their third, fifth, ninth, twenty-first, twenty-second, twenty-third, twenty-fifth, thirtieth, thirty-first, thirty-seventh, and forty-seventh picks in the recent amateur draft. Today, the Os inked their sixth round pick, Tim "Little Rock" Raines Jr, son of current Yankee outfielder Tim "Rock" Raines, as well as Randy Perez (8), Eliot Tomaszewski (11), Derrick Gutierrez (12), Jason Pruitt (16), and Denis Gratton (18).
In a couple of brief ex-Oriole notes, 3B Jeff Manto was designated for assignment by the Tigers and refused assignment to the minors, making him a free agent, and OF Tony Tarasco was called up by the Reds.
Smith allowed 3 walks and 10 hits, including a mammoth home run by Jose Canseco, in his 4.2 innings of work. On a positive note, the bullpen was relatively effective, even with Alan Mills' wildness, and Norm Charlton even managed to pitch to one batter without giving up any runs. But once again, the offense was pretty inept, as is to be expected when Jesus Tavarez and Joe Carter are 2/3s of the outfield and Brady Anderson is not available at all. Today's "bench" consisted of Eric Davis (able to bat but not field), Mike Bordick, and Lenny Webster. Move over '27 Yankees. Of course, playing little ball early in the game, as Ray Miller did when he gave up two outs on bunts, surely didn't help.
The Orioles front office people have spent a lot of time lamenting their injuries lately. ("Lamenting" being the polite word for "whining about.") Well, what did they expect? Mike Mussina's injuries were fluky, but all the other injuries are to be expected when you have a team older than the invention of fire. It's bad luck when your ace gets a wart or gets hit in the face with a ball; it's normal when 34 and 35 year old pitchers and outfielders have strains and sprains.
And pardon our cynicism, but why moan and groan when Doug Drabek goes out with an injury? That's not a problem; that's a good thing. Not that we would wish injury on any person (not even a Yankee), but we're not exactly going to be upset about it when a player who obviously can't play any more is out of action. Ray Miller doesn't seem to know how to handle it, so we have a suggestion -- try using someone else! How could they possibly be any worse than Doug Draboskie? Where's Rocky Coppinger? Give Radhames Dykhoff a start! Call Mike Flanagan out of retirement! Just don't keep starting Doug Drabek!
And there's a lot more news on the injury front for this aged team. In the next day or so, team officials will decide whether or not to place Brady Anderson- who left Friday's game with a strained quadriceps muscle- on the DL. Also,the injury status of starters Jimmy Key and Scott Kamieniecki have been reversed. Now it appears that Key may be ready to return to the rotation around the All Star break, and he may begin throwing next week. It's Kamieniecki's future that is now unknown- he's still bothered by a sore neck, and he has no idea when he can begin throwing again. Finally, Jeffery Hammonds will likely not be ready to return when he's eligible to be activated from the DL next Thursday. He is still bothered by back spasms, and he can't begin strengthening the area until the spasms stop.
And if you have Real Audio, here's a link to an interview with Cal Ripken from CBS Sportsline- where
he talks about everything from the designated hitter to his thoughts on interleague play.
Though this was the Orioles 12th win in their last 19 games, it could prove costly, as Brady Anderson exited the game early with a strained quadriceps muscle. Anderson had finally climbed his way up to the .200 mark, and his improved hitting is part of the reason for the Orioles recent run of success. And with Jeffery Hammonds already on the DL, we can only hope the injury isn't serious.
On an unrelated note, did anyone else wonder why Ray Miller left Norm Charlton in to face Jose Canseco with the bases loaded in the 8th, with the Orioles "clinging" to a 9-4 lead? To his credit, Charlton did manage to strike Canseco out, and despite giving up 5 hits and a home run in his 2 innings of work, he managed to lower his ERA all the way down to 7.27. Nonetheless, the results could have been a lot worse.
The "Brain"-trust concedes that Pete Smith is not the answer to the pitching staff woes, and that they'll make a more serious attempt for a front-line starter when the July 31st trading deadline approaches and teams are more inclined to trade their pitchers. But you have to give up something to get something, and with precious few prospects in the minors, is it really worth it to completely deplete the farm system for the slim hopes of winning the wild card? It took 13 years for the Orioles to make the playoffs, and it'll be even longer to get there again if the Orioles continue to let young guys like Dave Dellucci, Esteban Yan, and Jimmy Haynes go in favor of the likes of Joe Carter, Norm Charlton, and Doug Drabek.
Recent success has prompted the Orioles to take Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro off the trading block, because the Orioles feel these players are needed in order to make a post-season run. Instead, the player on the Orioles shopped by the "Brain"-trust is Armando Benitez, a 25-year old pitcher who posted a 2.45 ERA last season. How a team with a bullpen that consists of Charlton and Mathews and their 7.50 ERAs could even consider trading one of the few young stars is simply baffling. Thankfully, his role in The Brawl in New York tarnished his image enough around the league such that his trade value has diminished.
Assistant GM Keven Malone remains baffled as to why the Orioles aren't performing well this year. "We've got all-stars at just about every position. You would think that would be enough to compete and get into the postseason." His mentality, that a recognized name equals talent sums up the construction of the roster this season. Just because a player *was* an All-Star in the past, doesn't mean he's going to continue to perform at that level when he reaches his mid to late 30's. Indeed, it's akin to heresy to say, but it's now approaching the time that even Cal Ripken Jr. steps aside. He's said all along that he'd sit when someone better came along, and as a shadow of his former self, that time is fast approaching. While Ryan Minor continues to struggle in AA Bowie (.246 AVG, 7 HRs, 26 RBI, and he strikes out 1 out of every 3 ABs), 25-year old Willis Otanez is tearing up AAA, on pace for a .330 AVG with 39 HRs and 144 RBI. However, odds are that since the "Brain"-trust probably hasn't heard of him, he'll be packaged off in a deal to bring some 40-year old "Veteran-gamer" to the team in July. With management's recent track record, who would be surprised?
With the acquisition of Pete "Another Doug Drabek" Smith, the Orioles needed to make a decision about their starting rotation. For a change, the youngest guy wasn't the one given the shaft. Ray Miller has decided to keep Sidney Ponson in the rotation after his strong start against the Phillies, and move Doug Johns to the bullpen. Of course, our happiness over this decision is tempered by the fact that, once again, the crapp y veteran is given a job, despite his poor track record. If you can figure out why Pete Smith, who hasn't had a decent season since the Bush administration, is being handed a job in the rotation at all, we'd like to hear it. On the other hand, at 32, Pete Smith is actually relatively young for this team.
And now, a new feature at DUOP. As you may recall, a few weeks ago, we advertised for columnists. Well, we're now happy to introduce our first column, by our new contributor, Nina. Her eclectic viewpoint will appear here on a regular basis. If you have reactions to her column, or, indeed, to any other content on our site, feel free to write a virtual letter to the editor to us . We'll be publishing some of your comments, and our responses, at a later date.
Don't tell this to the "Brain"-Trust however, as once again they're leading the team in the wrong direction. Instead of beginning the rebuilding process, the Orioles traded 26-year old minor-leaguer Eric Estes to the Padres for 32-year old Pete Smith. Granted Estes isn't a particularly good prospect, but Smith is a *proven* crappy pitcher- putting up Drabek-like numbers over the past couple of seasons. This season, Smith has pitched to a 4.78 ERA in the NL, hardly what the Orioles need to make a run for the wild card. Of course, there's a good chance the trading isn't finished, and before the end of the season, the Orioles could end up trading all of their players under 30 for veterans. As long as the Orioles hang around the .500 mark, the "Brain"-Trust is going to be deluded into believing this team has a legitimate shot at the post-season, and we can expect to see the team make silly "running-in-place" trades to make it seem as though they're improving the club. Like the Pete Smith acquisition, for instance.
In any case, to make room on the roster for Smith, Richie Lewis was disignated for
assignment. Also, tests revealed that Jimmy Key has no new rotator cuff damage, but he still is a long way from coming back
to the team. Terry Mathews, however, is pitching a rehab assignment in Bowie, and may be activated the 17th. Since he can't even get minor leaguers
out (2 runs and 3 hits in a short stint), his return is a bad thing. And finally, ex-O
Mike Devereaux signed a minor-league contract with the Padres.
From the Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud Department: Norm Charlton pitched well today, as he has done several times when brought in during a blowout. This leads Ray Miller, for some unknown reason, to think that Charlton can pitch when the opposing players are actually trying. So, based on today's 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball, Charlton will probably get seven or eight more chances in close games. Just what the team needs.
Eddie Murray's pre-game Number Retirement Ceremony 2.0 was emotional for everyone, with chants of "Ed-die" filling the park the way they used to at Memorial Stadium. Murray, who normally shows little emotion in public, was clearly touched by the ceremony, at one point having to brush back tears. His family sat by him as the other Orioles whose numbers have been retired -- Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, and Brooks Robinson (via videotape) reminisced about him. And Cal Ripken, who singled out Murray for praise during his Streak ceremony three years ago, spoke for a few moments, also. It should be noted that Murray's number had technically already been retired, but since he left Baltimore on bad terms, it wasn't really very meaningful at the time. Today, it was.
And it's a shameless plug, but why the heck not. DUOP was selected as the O's
Best Internet Team Site by this
site. This is a good site to check out fan pages for all teams in every sport.
Though it's possible that Mussina still has psychological scars from being hit in the face, he did manage to strike out 10 batters. And just when you thought the team was getting healthy, Jeffrey Hammonds made his annual trip to the DL today, with Jesus Tavarez called up from Rochester to take his place. To make room for Mussina on the roster, Terry Mathews was placed back on the DL. And as we mentioned yesterday, Radhames Dykhoff was called up from Bowie when Bobby Munoz was sent back down.
And don't forget that on Sunday, Eddie Murray's #33 jersey will be retired by the Orioles.
You knew it had to come some time. The Os would finally lose patience with some of their struggling bullpen members and do something about them. Norm is gone, right? Nope. Terry Mathews is gone? Nope. These two guys still have a job for some reason. Instead, Bobby Munoz was shipped out, and in his place rookie Aruban lefthander Radhames Dykhoff was called up from Bowie. Dykhoff has never pitched above AA, but has been pitching very well there. Dykhoff is one of four Arubans the Os plucked from the small Caribbean isle -- Sidney Ponson, Eugene Kingsale, and Phillie Calvin Maduro are the others.
And, if local baseball fans hadn't lost enough with the death of Rex Barney, comes the news that veteran (and when I say veteran, I mean it) sports columnist Shirley Povich has passed away. Povich had covered baseball and other, lesser sports since the 1920s. The Washington Post has a tribute to him.
Lobotomized Manager Update: Norm Worst Reliever In the Majors in 1997 and Working On Repeating Charlton was his typical self, allowing 3 more baserunners and two more runs in his one inning of work, boosting his ERA up to 8.44. Why is this guy still on the team? His seasonal numbers, presented without further comment:
PITCHER W- L ERA BA G GS CG GF SH SV IP H R ER HR BB SO Charlton 1- 1 8.44 .351 22 0 0 7 0 0 21.1 31 20 20 2 20 30
The June Draft is over, and you can see the complete list
of players chosen by the Orioles.
The other good news, besides Johns' excellent start, is that Mike Mussina is healthy and ready to start on Saturday. Given the rest of the rotation -- Sidney Ponson starts tomorrow for the Os -- Moose's return is crucial to any hopes the Orioles have for contending for the wild card.
The second half of the amateur draft was held today, with (obviously) no big names chosen by the Orioles. That's the big problem with the baseball draft -- nobody knows who any of these guys are. The Os selected one more local player, LHP Matthew Blethen of Havre de Grace, in the 42nd round. Again, we will provide more detailed analysis soon, but for now, the complete list of players chosen.
Cal Ripken, as usual, leads in the All-Star balloting at his position, third. Of course, it's early, but no other Oriole appears close to a starting slot, though Brady Anderson is seventh among outfielders, and frankly no Oriole other than Robbie Alomar deserves a starting slot. Of note is former Oriole David Segui, currently Seattle's first baseman, leading in the voting, but that should change as soon as more votes come in.
And, finally, in a couple of other quick ex-O notes, Geronimo Berroa, who has been on the disabled list much of the year with a torn plantar fascia, has been activated by the Cleveland Indians, and cult hero Jeff Manto has been designated for assignment by the Tigers.
The win was painful for some Orioles; Mike Bordick sprained his ankle and is expected to be out for much of the rest of the week, while Arthur Rhodes and Doug Drabek took hits from line drives (thankfully, not in the face), and were bruised, though both stayed in the game. We at DUOP wonder how you can tell whether Doug DraBoskie is injured, given how bad a pitcher he is ordinarily.
With another awful outing by a starter, and with Jimmy Key's prognosis looking less and less promising, the Orioles have joined the list of clubs looking at Hideo Nomo, who was designated for assignment by the Dodgers yesterday. The Dodgers have just ten days to trade or waive Nomo.
And with all the starting injuries, the Ponson-as-closer experiment is over before it began; he's starting on Thursday versus the Red Sox. And, Armando seems to have won his job back.
The first day of the amateur draft was held today, and the Orioles chose left-handed high school slugging OF Rick Elder from Marietta, Georgia with their first round pick. Elder, listed at 6'6", 230 pounds, hit .516 with 14 HRs and 15 SBs in 93 ABs. Other notable players chosen by the Orioles include Tim "Little Rock" Raines, Jr., son of the Yankee outfielder, in the sixth round, and local players Alex Hart, William Whitecotton, and Joseph Hammonds, from Marion, PA, Linthicum, MD, and Frederick, MD, respectively. Complete draft coverage will appear later, but for now, the first twenty-five rounds.
In news from around the league, we want to congratulate ex-O Dennis Martinez; his win over Milwaukee on Tuesday allowed him to tie Juan Marichal's record for most wins by a Latin American pitcher. We also want to note the twelve ejections resulting from two brawls between the Angels and Royals, sparked by five hit batsmen. We bet that people don't call for any of those pitchers to be demoted, suspended for a month, banned from the game, or anything equally severe. Why the double standard with Armando Benitez?
With the terrible struggling of the bullpen, and the joke of a starting rotation the
Orioles are using now, (that's Erickson-Drabek-Lewis-Johns-Munoz, for those of you
scoring at home), you're probably wondering when Mike Mussina is coming back. Well, the
Os are planning on having him pitch on Saturday against the Braves, and they're not going to alter that plan.
In any case, with the advent of the wild card, the Orioles should remain
in post-season contention throughout the entire season barring a major
collapse. Ken Rosenthal writes that the Orioles should be making deals to
the club younger and better, although Peter Angelos is unlikely to go along with any
trade that gives the appearance of rebuilding. But with all the injuries and the depleted
farm system, the O's chances at making a serious bid to win the World Series aren't that
great anyway.Should the Orioles decide to stick with their current team, they will
receive draft picks as compensation for the free agents that sign elsewhere, provided
they are offered arbitration. In any case, nothing is likely to be done until later in
the summer when the Orioles standing becomes more clear.