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While injuries to the pitching staff- the latest to Scott Kamieniecki, who was placed on the DL today with a sore neck- certainly haven't helped, Ray Miller is costing the Orioles games by putting the *worst* relievers available into close games. After the game, Miller passed the blame, saying that he would have liked to have used Alan Mills, who was serving his two-game suspension. "When you're playing with one reliever short, it puts you in a bad situation late in the ball game." And then Miller had this to say about the game: "Obviously, it's no fun to lose a game, but I'm proud of this ballclub. They rose to the occasion. Guys battled hard all night. Our bullpen tried to cover nine innings." If Ray would get his head out of somewhere and didn't put crappy pitchers into close games, then the team might have more to show for the game than a moral victory.
So now, just for fun, compare the pitching lines of Norm Charlton, and Esteban Yan- who was left unprotected and taken by Tampa Bay in the expansion draft.
PITCHERS W- L ERA BA G GS CG GF SH SV IP H R ER HR BB SO Charlton 0- 1 7.91 .350 20 0 0 6 0 0 19.1 29 17 17 1 17 27 Yan 4- 0 3.00 .152 20 0 0 4 0 0 30 17 10 10 3 16 27So now Charlton has pitched 19 1/3 innings, and has allowed *46* base runners. In contrast, Mike Mussina, in 50 innings, has allowed only 47 baserunners. In any case, Richie Lewis was called up from Rochester, where he was 1-2 with a 3.73 ERA, to replace Kamieniecki on the roster. And no, Lewis is not a youngster- he's 32. On a good note, Mike Mussina was cleared to pitch again, and he's likely to start on Friday or Saturday against Atlanta. We can only hope getting hit in the face doesn't hurt him psychologically. Mike Devereaux was never the same after getting hit in the head by a pitch several years ago. Of course, Norm Charlton was terrible both before and after getting hit in the head by a line drive earlier this season.
In other news, Sunday June 7th's game is going to feature a special ceremony to honor bench coach and future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. B.J. Surhoff says he wants to resign with the Orioles after this season. And finally, the Cal Ripken Jr. Sports Acceleration Center opened up in Columbia.
The bad news is that Scott Kamieniecki's sore neck and groin injury will prevent him from making his start Saturday. He hopes he will be able to start Monday against Seattle. Bobby Munoz will start in his place, and it should be noted that reliever Alan Mills will be unavailable since he will begin serving his two-game suspension for his role in the brawl at Yankee Stadium. Ray Miller had hoped Mills would appeal his suspension, but Mills decided against it. In other bad news, starter Jimmy Key's inflamed elbow is causing a lot of concern. His throwing shoulder, which has already had four operations, is giving him a great deal of pain, so much so that he's already said he'll retire before undergoing another procedure on the shoulder. Tests revealed that the rotator cuff isn't torn, but even so this very bad news for a rotation already missing Mike Mussina.
And Jeffrey Hammonds, who's finally getting a chance to play everyday, is enjoying every minute of the opporunity. Said Hammonds, "I'm really the same hitter as I always was... It's just that I no longer swing at balls I don't have a chance to hit. I admit I used to do that." Finally, the Orioles signed their 3rd round pick from last year's draft, Matt Riley. Had he not been signed by midnight, he would have been returned into this year's draft.
The Orioles have now won 4 out of their last 5 games, which has led the Brain-trust (read Angelos) to believe that this team still has a chance to advance to the post-season. The Orioles aren't as bad as they were playing when they went into the long losing streak last week, and a healthy Brady Anderson and improved hitting from Roberto Alomar should help the club, but this team still isn't a very good one.
Trading for Randy Johnson is exactly the kind of move the Orioles need to avoid. He has a 4-3 record and a 6.02 earned run average this season, and there are many questions surrounding his health. Since Johnson would command a high price in a trade, is it really worth trading away the few prospects the Orioles have in the minors? John Eisenberg writes that any trade the Orioles make must make them younger, and so the Orioles should be trying to get prospects- not more veterans. As many people have noted, Peter Angelos insults Baltimore fans when he implies that they wouldn't be willing to support a young, exciting team.
In any case, at least there is some reason why Nerio Rodriguez performed so badly in his start against Seattle. After being demoted back to Rochester, he was immediately placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his shoulder. And finally, Roberto Alomar, speaks out about reports that he is on the trading block. "I don't take [trade talks] personally. I just take things personally when rumors start going around. I think if someone is a man, and he has a problem with me, he should come tell me to my face. Confront me. I don't like rumors."
Kamieniecki, who's still bothered by a sore neck, is questionable for this weekend, though Mussina is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday. And Terry Mathews, who's been fairly ineffective dating back to last season, had his rehab assignment canceled by Miller, and was immediately activated off the DL. That should tell you what the Orioles think of Nerio Rodriguez, and anyone under 30 in general. Despite the fact that Mathews has "no idea what my velocity is or what kind of control I'll have," (not that it was very good when he did know), Rodriguez was sent to the minors after just one unsuccessful start without being given a real chance.
And in other news, Roberto Alomar thinks that he and Rafael Palmeiro are being made scapegoats for the Oriole's disappointing season. This comes a day after his agent was quoted as saying that "Robbie would be happier with a more competitive team than Baltimore," though Alomar denies that he is unhappy in Baltimore. Finally, don't expect Cal Ripken to sit anytime soon, as he and Miller denied that Ripken is planning to end the streak in the near future.
Not surprisingly, just a day after having pitched poorly, Nerio Rodriguez was shipped back down to Rochester to make room on the roster for... Terry Mathews. Please everyone, hold your applause till the end. Nerio may be right back up however, as Scott Kamieniecki's neck is sore, which may lead to his second stint on the DL this season.
The Orioles have a rare Wednesday off before opening up a 4-game series with the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Nerio Rodriguez, who pitched in place of the injured Jimmy Key, failed to get
out of the second inning. Hopefully, he'll be given a chance by the
organization, unlike other youngsters who have struggled (Haynes, Krivda,
Coppinger, etc). We've gotten some emails saying that DUOP is very critical
when a guy like Charlton gets hit hard, but is forgiving when a guy like
Rodriguez gets bombed. While true, the difference is simply this:
PITCHERS W- L ERA BA G GF SH SV IP H R ER HR BB SO 1998 Charlton 0- 1 7.41 .347 17 5 0 0 17.0 26 14 14 1 15 24 1997 Charlton 3- 8 7.27 .312 71 38 0 14 69.1 89 59 56 7 47 55
Charlton is pitching exactly as he should be- to almost the same ERA as last season. Why would the Orioles go out and sign the absolute worst reliever available? (And on that same note, why does Ray Miller continue to put a guy who has allowed an astronomical 41 baserunners in 17 innings into close games?) Rodriguez, on the other hand, has done well in the minors, and deserves a chance to pitch in the majors- before he turns 30. His upside is much higher than Charltons, and he costs a lot less.
In any case, the 2-game winning streak appears to have put the trade rumors to rest at least a little bit, though something is going to happen soon, if for no other reason than to "shake up the team."
Finally, as Rick Cerone of HTS has reminded us 73 times in the past few days, Jeffrey Hammonds (who's making the most of his recent playing time), and Mike Mussina's Stanford Cardinal were eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
A day after whining about the pitchers, Ray Miller gave Sidney Ponson the opportunity to close the game, and he got the last two batters out successfully. Miller indicated that Ponson may keep the job even after Benitez comes back from his suspension, which leads DUOP to question why a promising young starting pitcher would be wasted in the closer role for a bad team. On the other hand, maybe we just should be grateful that a pitcher under 40 is being given any innings at all.
On the pitching front, the news is mixed: Jimmy Key was placed on the disabled list today with a strained shoulder. If one wishes to look at the silver lining, Nerio Rodriguez was called up to take Key's place. Hopefully, Nerio will be given an opportunity to show what he can do, and will keep his job on the Os all year.
In other news, since the Piazza deal fell through, the Palmeiro-Alomar trade rumors continue to circulate. It is unlikely that the rumored Baerga-Olerud deal will happen, but apparently even Peter Angelos finally realizes that the team isn't going anywhere with the current roster.
Given how far out of the race the Orioles are, it's not surprising that trade rumors have begun to swirl around the team. The current one is some sort of swap with the Mets of Palmeiro and Alomar for Olerud and Baerga. Superficially it has some appeal, but Assistant GM Kevin Malone called it unlikely, partly because Palmeiro has a no-trade clause in his contract with regard to New York. Talentwise, the trade would be about even; it would improve the Orioles at first base and make them younger, in exchange for making them much worse at second base. But Miller and the Orioles want speed, and this trade would make them slower at both first and second. On the other hand, the Orioles have been badmouthing both Alomar and Palmeiro, so some trade involving these players seems likely.
Finally, the good news is that Mike Mussina appears to be okay and should be back soon.
This will hardly make the team's problems go away, but at least the Os will be in
one out of five games. Until then, Doug Johns will have his slot in the rotation.
In the game, catcher Chris Hoiles exited early after hurting his hand. But don't think the Orioles will replace him with Mike Piazza, who was traded again earlier today to the New York Mets.
Finally, Armando Benitez apologized to his teammates tonight before the game against the
A's. "I just want to make it right with everybody. I don't want people to
think of me as a bad guy." Hopefully, the Orioles organization allows the 24 year
old to learn from his mistake, and doesn't trade him at the first available opportunity.
Benitez's suspension wasn't the only result of the brawl. Pat Gillick, in an attempt to defend Armando, instead made insensitive comments about Benitez's ethnicity, which resulted in some complaints. It's not that anybody think's Gillick is racist, but even well- meaning stereotyping is unwelcome. How are Latin American players going to get front office jobs from a GM who thinks they lack self-control? And now, despite his apology, Armando may have lost his closer job.
Thomas Bowell contends that, despite appearances, the Orioles' problem is caring too much, not caring too little. But in DUOP's view, it's neither. It's the lack of talent and the confusion in the front office, despite Angelos's show of support for Ray Miller. Even if Peter Angelos refuses to admit he made a mistake in replacing Davey Johnson with Ray Miller, it is clear to the rest of us.
Snide comments from the New York media are to be expected, but the Orioles have
now become a laughingstock around the country.
In other news, as expected, Armando Benitez and Alan Mills were both suspended and fined for their role in Tuesday's brawl. Benitez received an 8-game suspension, and Mills a 2-game suspension.
Finally, though the Orioles have indicated that they're working on a trade
for a "left-handed hitter with speed" (yeah, like that's the most pressing problem), owner Peter Angelos has
indicated that he still has 100% faith in manager Ray Miller and that the rebuilding
process isn't going to begin anytime soon. It appears that any deal the Orioles make will include
Rafael Palmeiro in a package. In supporting Miller, Angelos takes a cheap shot at Davey Johnson, saying
"He's had a lot of things happen. He succeeded a manager who superficially was responsible for a team
going to the playoffs. Now he looks like he can't function. He's the victim of all these problems." Okay.
Anyways, regarding the rebuilding process, Angelos says "I'm not going to give
these fans a Triple-A team when I'm charging major-league prices. I'm not going
to strip the team for the sake of saving $1 million or $2 million. It's nice to
try to save. But if you save money in the process of creating a different team
than you promised at the beginning of spring training, that's not doing the
right thing." Part of the problem with Angelos is that he thinks that having
"names" like Charlton, Carter, Guillen, etc make the team a "major-league" team.
Just because Angelos has never heard of the player- like a Haynes or a Nerio
Rodriguez- he thinks the team is a "Triple-A" team. Hey Pete- look at the way
they're playing- this teamis like a Triple-A team.
What Ray Miller, Pat Gillick et al. don't understand is that emotion and "gamer"-ness doesn't win ballgames. Talent does. And while Peter Gammons and the rest of the media are calling the Orioles the biggest disappointment of the season, and are finally realizing that it's time to rebuild, this should have come to no surprise. Not that we like being right, but we've been saying since the offseason that this team is a .500 club. What else do you expect when the team made some of the stupidest moves in the offseason imaginable. Last season, the Orioles had 3 of the best pitchers in the minors in Rick Krivda, Esteban Yan, and Jimmy Haynes. Now all 3 are gone with nothing to show for them. Despite Miller and Gillick's claims that Krivda couldn't pitch in the majors (and he *was* a gamer- asking to cheer-on the team in the playoffs two years ago despite not being on the playoff roster), he's got a 3.38 ERA in Cleveland. Jimmy Haynes? 3.77 ERA in Oakland. Esteban Yan? 3.47 ERA in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the Orioles brain-trust is full of cowards who instinctively go with age over ability. That's why we're forced to see guys like Johns, who sucked in Oakland, and Charlton, who sucked in Seattle, and not surprisingly (to anyone not named Gillick/Miller), they're sucking now. By going with these veterans, the brain trust doesn't have to take responsibility when these guys fail, because they're "veteran-gamers" with experience who should have done well.
Following tonight's loss, Pat Gillick indicates that
change is on the way. However, he says he has no intention of starting the
rebuilding process because "We have a responsibility to the fans and the public. We have a
responsibility to ride this thing out as far as possible, and try to turn
the corner." He insists that the most likely change is to the right-field
tandem of Hammonds, Davis, and Carter. While most fans know that Carter is
the least productive of all these players, raise your hand if you'd be
surprised to see Hammonds traded for some "veteran-gamer." Gillick's
responsibility is to put the best possible team out there- not the oldest
and most experienced. Let's face the hard reality. It's time for the
Orioles to rebuild, though we have no faith that Pat Gillick has any idea
of how to do it. But the longer the Orioles try to "ride this thing out,"
the more they are sacrificing the future. If Palmeiro and others are kept
on the team the whole year and allowed to become free agents, the Orioles
will get nothing in return for them. And while you may think that the
Orioles have guys like Ryan Minor in the minors ready to contribute, keep
in mind that he's struggling MIGHTILY in AA (.221 AVG with only 2 HR and 8
RBI). He's not ready to contribute to the Orioles next year- that is if
he's still around. But we have to admit, we wouldn't be surprised to see
him packaged in a deal for some washed-up veteran to help bring emotions to the team.
Meanwhile, a day after an ex-Oriole that Pat Gillick gave away threw a perfect game, ex-Oriole Jimmy Haynes pitched a complete game shutout to lower his ERA to 3.77. Of course, he did it for the Athletics, not the Orioles, because Pat Gillick gave him away, after eleven bad starts, for a player -- Geronimo Berroa -- that the Os didn't even want and whom they let go after a few months. Doug Drabek has now receieved nine bad starts; let's see how many more he gets before the Os give up on him.
As nobody who watched last Thursday's game will be surprised to hear, the Orioles decided to put Mike Mussina on the disabled list, retroactive to the 15th. And in a decision which is a microcosm of the team's woes this year, his replacement is not Aruban prospect Sidney Ponson. His replacement is not top prospect Nerio Rodriguez. No, Ray "Phil Regan" Miller is starting 30-year old Doug Johns, a flop with the pitching-poor Athletics. If you can explain this, we'd love to hear.
DUOP is run by pessimists, so seeing our griping probably doesn't impress all of
you that much. But now
even Thomas Boswell thinks the Os deserve to be
Now, on to the current batch: As Yogi Berra said, this is deja vu all over again. Yesterday, we pointed out the Os lack of offense and poor performances by many of the people the Orioles signed for their Veteran Ability. Today, the same was exhibited in yet another loss to the Devil Rays, along with poor relief pitching and the worst job of managing since Phil Regan was born. The Os wasted a good outing by Scott Kamieniecki and Brady Anderson's third home run in a week in losing to the Devil Rays, 7-3. That raises expansion Tampa Bay's record against the Os to 4-2 this year.
The Os are losing, and losing ugly, but at least they vary the ways they lose. Sunday, Kamieniecki pitched six shutout innings before tiring in the extreme heat and giving up a two run homer to John Flaherty. When Brady got the Os the lead with a three run homer, things were looking up. Then Ray Miller brought in Norm Worst Reliever In the League in 1997 Charlton. The crowd booed, because they knew what was coming. Norm walked the batter he was brought in to face. Then Ray Miller tried Alan Mills, who walked the two batters he was brought in to face. And then Jesse Orosco, who gave up a two-run double to the batter he was brought in to face. And then Armando Benitez, who finally recorded some outs, but not before giving up an infield hit, a hit batsman, and a walk. Five runs scored in all, the stadium emptied, and the Os moved into a tie with the Blue Jays, two games under .500, just a half game ahead of the Devil Rays, and 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Ray Miller can't force the hitters to hit and the pitchers to pitch, but he can avoid making the situation worse. In the eighth inning, with the Os down by four runs, Roberto Alomar got on base. Rafael Palmeiro had the count in his favor. So Ray put on the Hit-And-Run, aka "The play called by the manager when he needs to create the illusion that he's managing." Raffy flew out, and Alomar got doubled off. The last threat was wiped out, and the Os fell to their worst record since Phil Regan was managing.
Ray Miller held a team meeting before the game, as he stubbornly insists that "attitude" or "chemistry" or whatever other mumbo-jumbo he can think of is the real problem. When will ownership face up to the fact that this team just isn't very good? Just because the Orioles hand out lots of money and call the players Gamers, that can't hide the fact that most of them are washed up. And every time you see Miller talk about "chemistry," remember that he specifically requested that the Orioles sign the Carters and Drabeks and Charltons and Guillens that we fans have been suffering through. He specifically wanted them because he liked their attitudes. So what does that say about his judgment, if he's now questioning the team's chemistry?
This is starting to resemble the Os of 15 years ago, in very depressing ways. Coming off a very successful
season with a very old team, management decided not to rebuild. They were going to extend things Just One More
Year. They did it, of course, by signing Old Free Agents. When the Tigers got off to a white-hot start and
blew away the league, the Os fooled themselves into thinking it wasn't their fault they didn't win. So they
just added more old players. Don Aase, Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, Lee Lacy, Ray Knight. All added as the
years ticked by. It took the disatrous 0-21 start of 1988 before management finally realized that the problem
wasn't attitude. It wasn't one hole that needed to be filled. It was a lack of talent on the roster and a
barren farm system.
It seems someone in the front office reads this page; Charlie Greene was sent down to Rochester today. Well, we at DUOP would like to take credit for it, but we can't. It was actually because of uncertainty about the status of Mike Mussina, whose nose was broken in Thursday's game. It's likely to cost him a start but not send him to the disabled list, but just to be safe, the O's called up former Yankee prospect Bobby Munoz, whose career appeared to be over after Tommy John surgery in 1995, until Pat Gillick realized that Munoz had turned the magic 3-0 earlier this year.
In other transaction news, now that Erickson has been signed to a multiyear deal, Peter Angelos is close to deals with Alomar and Surhoff. But the shocking Mike Piazza trade may change the Os' calculus; Baltimore is one of the top rumored destinations for the future HOFer, though Peter Angelos seems less enthusiastic than the front office. Where the Orioles would get the prospects to acquire him is anybody's guess.
And in a few brief Ex-O notes, Todd Zeile and Bobby Bonilla were swapped for each other as part of the Piazza
deal, while former farmhand Scott McClain, who Pat Gillick gave away to the Mets for nothing a few years ago,
was called up by the Devil Rays.
In other news, Scott Erickson's 5-year, $32 million dollar contract extension was announced, meaning that he and Mike Mussina are now signed into the next century. However, the Orioles still have 12 potential free agents at season's end- among them Roberto Alomar, B.J. Surhoff, and Rafael Palmeiro.
Finally, even though Armando Benitez doesn't have the requisite "30 saves in a season" to be seen as a
closer in Manager Ray Miller's mind, he has all but
assumed that responsibility.
In contract news, the Orioles have almost completed an insane 5 year, $30 million deal with Scott Erickson. Full disclosure: I have never been a Scott Erickson fan, and was against the original trade for him. He has been rather inconsistent in Baltimore, a point conveniently forgotten by management, but after his strong 1997, I was ready to admit I was wrong. But his struggles this year, combined with the fact that he is 30 years old, make an offer like that ludicruously risky. A wait-and-see attitude seems a lot more prudent. Peter Angelos seems desperate to sign as many potential free agents as possible in order to avoid the rebuilding process forever, but the current Brady Anderson debacle shows the danger of handing out megamillion multiyear deals to retain old players.
In a related story, Pat Gillick has finally decided not to trade for a pitcher. We at DUOP would regard that as a good sign if it were because the organization had faith in young talent. But in reality, it's just because Gillick hasn't been able to make any trades, despite his tendency to overpay for veteran players. Laughably, Miller has "gradually lost confidence in Charlton," which makes us wonder if he also "gradually learned not to drive his car into telephone poles."
Stat of the Day: Charlie Greene has played in a grand total of 3 games, and
has had 4 plate appearances, since his callup almost two weeks ago. Remind us
again why the Os needed this guy? Wouldn't it be great to have someone on the
bench who could contribute?
In the not-so encouraging news department, Brady Anderson continues to struggle, and was dropped by
Ray Miller to the 7th slot in the lineup, though he will return to the leadoff slot on Tuesday.
In other news, Mike Bordick- who has committed a throwing error in his last three starts-
is nursing a sore shoulder. And Gerardo Sanchez, the "Cal Ripken of Mexico,"
ended his consecutive games streak at 1,415 games after having his flight
delayed because of bad visibility due to smoke from nearby forest fires.
Since coming back from the disabled list, Moose has now pitched 16 2/3 consecutive scoreless
innings. But since starting the season, Mussina has been absolutely dominant:
IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP K/W Mussina '98 44.2 31 10 10 7 44 2.01 .851 6.3:1 Mussina-wart 39.2 23 5 5 6 39 1.13 .731 6.5:1
Finally, Cal Ripken may have broken out of his slump with two hits, including a
homer, against the Devil Rays, but whether he has or not, his popularity continues unchallenged. Meanwhile,
Roberto Alomar continues to suffer the aftereffects of
the spitting incident.
With the team's slow start, Peter Angelos insists that "If we have to spend some money to get out of this predicament we're in, I'll be more than happy to do it." However, Thomas Boswell writes that though the Orioles may well have blown their offseason personnel decisions, now is the time to stick with the team and see how well they can perform over a longer period of time.
Finally, an article on top
Oriole prospect Ryan Minor, who, according to Cal Ripken, is the
first "prospect [that] came into camp and you actually open your eyes and feel like he's pushing you a bit."
Although we reported yesterday that Brady Anderson was not on schedule, healthwise, he seems to disagree, and unexpectedly played in Monday's exhibition game between the Orioles and Bowie. But he has been known to stubbornly play when he shouldn't before, so we should avoid reading too much into this. If there has been one effect of Brady Anderson's injury, it has been to focus attention on his controversial use of creatine in bodybuilding. Suffice it to say that the jury is still out.
Scott Kamieniecki is on schedule, as mentioned earlier, and he performed well in his short stint in the
Os' exhibition game, pitching three strong innings. His return should bolster the rotation, and finally allow
the Orioles to release Doug "Boskie" Drabek.
Good news mixed with bad: Scott Kamieniecki is on schedule, but the irreplaceable Brady Anderson is not. And catcher Lenny Webster is also hurting. That's what you get when you have a team full of senior citizens.
Finally, our exclusive DUOP poll reveals fans' unhappiness
with Ray Miller. Disagree? Vote in our polls, and comment on our message board.
The excuses continue, though. Rather than admitting that the manager knows less about running a baseball team than he does about seventeenth century Egyptian architecture, and that old and expensive is not the same thing as talented, the new spin from Assistant GM Kevin Malone is that it might be distracting for the many players that will become free agents after the season.
In other news, Mussina, as expected, has been recalled from the disabled list to
start Sunday's game. Unexpectedly, the Orioles did not demote Nerio Rodriguez to
make room, instead placing Terry Mathews on the disabled list. His wrist is bothering him, which allegedly explains why he hasn't
pitched well recently, but which doesn't explain why he hasn't pitched well in the last year.
In injury news, Manager Ray Miller says that Mike Mussina will likely be
activated from the DL in time to pitch on Sunday against the Twins. Mussina,
however, isn't so sure, saying that his finger was still pretty sore and he
didn't know when he'd be able to pitch again. Miller also says that Brady
Anderson will begin hitting soon, and that when Kamieniiecki returns from the
DL, either he or Doug Drabek may have to pitch out of the bullpen. And not
surprisingly, the Orioles are looking for pitching help. Again, not
surprisingly, the help is in the form of a 37 year-old, who hasn't been
effective in several years- Steve Ontiveros.