||News Archives: August 2001|
Six weeks left.
After a week which saw the Orioles win almost as many games (four)
as they won in all of July (six), winning consecutive games for the first time
since June 27-29, the Orioles have moved way up in the standings, from
27th place to a three way tie for 24th:
AL EAST WON LOST PCT GB
Orioles 49 69 .415 --
Expos 49 69 .415 --
Tigers 48 68 .414 --
Reds 48 69 .414 .5
Royals 48 70 .407 1
Pirates 45 72 .388 3.5
Devil Rays 42 77 .347 7.5
Scarily enough, though, the Orioles have played the easy part
of their schedule. Of their 44 remaining games, 15 are against sub-.500
teams (3 vs. KC, 3 vs. Tampa, 9 vs. Toronto), and 29 against playoff
contenders (11 vs. Boston, and 6 each vs. New York, Oakland, and
Seattle.) Not that this really matters for anything, but it would be nice not to
finish as the worst team in baseball.
- Baseball America released their annual Tools Survey, where they
question minor league managers about the players who have the top
tools in 18 different categories. Despite the propaganda from Syd Thrift
about rebuilding the farm system, the Orioles actually had very few
mentions. Not a single Baysock (AA) or Shorebird (A) was mentioned. At
Rochester, Brian Roberts was listed as the best baserunner in
the International League, and Wady Almonte was listed as having
the best outfield arm. Almonte, of course, has since been released, since
the only tool he has is an outfield arm. (Specifically, he was
released to make room for Damon Buford on the roster; Buford has since
asked for, and been granted, his own release. Even nepotism couldn't
get him to the majors.) And at Frederick, Ray Cabrera was listed
as the best power prospect in the Carolina League. Huh? Cabrera must
look really great at the plate, because he doesn't actually hit for
power (.417 SLG, 10 HRs in 400 PAs.)
- The Orioles, in yet another of their endless bullpen switches, have
re-demoted RHP Ryan Kohlmeier and re-called up LHP John
Bale. For our comments, you know where to look: Transactions Breakdown....
- Really good pitching prospect John Stephens has
finally been moved up to Rochester after tearing up Bowie for
months. He's only 21, and has dominated hitters at A and AA, despite the
lack of a good fastball. The Orioles don't trust him because he doesn't
throw hard -- because they'd rather have a guy who looks good than a guy
who performs. And that sums up all their problems over the past four
years. Stephens had a successful start, too; he pitched 7 innings of 3-hit,
2-run ball, giving up 2 walks and striking out eight. Go, John!
- Willis Roberts is now the de facto closer for the Orioles. So
far, so good. He's been pounded as a starter, but has a 0.69 ERA in
relief, showing control (5 BB in 13 IP) and power (17 K in 13 IP). And he's
a perfect 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
- Cal Ripken had a 16-game hitting streak snapped in the
Orioles' loss to Kansas City on Thursday. That's his second long hitting
streak since he announced his retirement. Maybe he should have tried
that years ago.
- Former #1 draft pick Keith Reed was called up to Rochester
-- not because he was playing so well at Bowie or Frederick, but because
Tim Raines Jr. hurt himself and isn't at full speed.
Jays sweep Os; Gibbons may be seriously hurt?
On Sunday, the Orioles scored twice as many runs against the Blue
Jays as they had the previous two days combined. Unfortunately, some
quick math will tell you that it still wasn't a very impressive showing.
Okay, in case Syd Thrift is reading, we'll help you out: that's four
runs. Four runs might be a remarkable accomplishment for the Orioles,
but it's not something to be proud of. Baltimore actually managed 11
hits -- but 8 of them were singles, and none were home runs. (Contrast
that with Toronto's nine hits -- only four singles, and 3 home runs.)
Starter Josh Towers dug the Orioles a hole they couldn't get out of. A
normal team could have; Towers only allowed 5 runs. But the Orioles
fell short, and lost 5-4, resulting in a three game sweep by the Blue
- The good: Multihit games from Chris Richard, Cal Ripken, Melvin
Mora, and Jerry Hairston. Ripken and Hairston even h
- Sadly, the fact that there were no errors by the Orioles is something
to remark upon.
- The bad: the lack of home runs, again. The Orioles have hit 2 all
month. You can't win games without scoring runs, and it's difficult to
score runs when your team has no power at all. And now it seems as if
their top HR hitter may be lost for the year.
- Josh Towers. He wasn't terrible; he lasted into the eighth inning,
walking none. But he gave up 3 gopherballs -- something he's shown a
dangerous trend towards -- and thus 5 runs. Jose Cruz Jr. hit two homers
- David Segui was 0-5, and is 1-9 since his return.
- The ugly: the Orioles like to tease us. They put two runners on in the
ninth, scored a run, but couldn't get the last run needed to tie the game.
Why do they do things like that?
Four in a row and 25 of their last 31. That's the current losing
streak. The last time that they won as many as two in a row was June
Standings W L GB
Baltimore 45 67 ---
Kansas City 44 67 1/2
Pittsburgh 43 67 1
Tampa Bay 37 74 7 1/2
And the Orioles did nothing at the trading deadline, as we explore in
our Bricks From The Warehouse entry, Is that all there is? So it doesn't look like things
are going to get better anytime soon.
- As we noted yesterday, it appears that 1B/out-of-position OF Jay
Gibbons has seriously hurt himself, tearing (not spraining) cartilege
in his wrist on Saturday. Larry Bigbie, who was just demoted to clear
room for David Segui, has been recalled to the team to take Gibbons'
place. Bigbie would have been with the team in Canada, but he wasn't
allowed across the border because of a lack of documents. Boy, those
Orioles always plan ahead, don't they?
- Cal Ripken's 2-4 day extended his current hitting streak to 14
games. His batting average is now up to .262, though he still has a putrid
.293 OBP and .383 SLG. Still, that's a vast improvement on his
- The Orioles face the Kansas City Royals now; one of three teams in
MLB with a record worse than the Orioles'. The Orioles need to at least
split the series to stay ahead of the Royals.
- It appears that Mike Bordick, on a minor-league rehab assignment,
may have suffered a setback and may not be back as quickly as expected.
Oh well. Yawn.
- Bowie starter John Stephens, who pitched a no-hitter in his previous
outing, pitched almost as well this time out, throwing 8 innings of 4-hit,
1-BB, 1-run ball. The first inning run he allowed snapped his scoreless
inning streak at 32 2/3 innings.
- Harold Baines still wants to play, but his career is nearing an end.
- Ex-O note: Colorado Rockies designated OF Kimera Bartee
for assignment. Even 5,000 feet couldn't save his career. (He went 0-15
with 2 walks in 12 games.)
Orioles don't hit, lose yet again; also may lose Gibbons
For many years, the Orioles' glory years of roughly 1960-1984, the
Orioles were a strong offensive and defensive team. When they fell apart
in the mid-late 1980s, they had strong offenses but their pitching stunk. It
was frustrating to see bunches of runs wasted by pitchers who couldn't
throw strikes or keep the ball in the park. But now, it's just as frustrating to
see the opposite. The Orioles have been getting great pitching, but it has
been wasted by a completely inept offense. Still, there's a difference
between inept and nonexistent -- and the Orioles have been moving more
and more towards that last characterization in the past month. Oh, don't
mistake us, they don't always get great pitching. There's always Jose
Mercedes. But even when they do, they tend to squander it. Take
Saturday's game. (Please.) On Saturday, Sidney Ponson pitched a
complete game, allowing just two runs on five hits and one walk.
Unfortunately, for the second day in a row, the Orioles' "offense" managed
just four hits and one run. Yes, one run is less than two runs, so the
Orioles lost. The game started on a good note, as Brady Anderson tripled
and Melvin Mora sacrifice-flied him in. And then the Orioles got two more
hits (but no runs). But that was it. Just one more hit all game. And so
Toronto won, 2-1.
- The good: Sidney Ponson. 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Maybe
the Orioles see why they shouldn't have been trying to trade him?
- Melvin Mora was 1-3 with a double and RBI.
- The bad: everything else. The "offense" is just pathetic. It's bad
enough getting shut down, but who the hell is Brandon Lyon? A guy
making his major league debut? And the Orioles get 4 hits and a walk?
- Jay Gibbons' injury. Gibbons hasn't been incredibly effective this
year, with a .300 OBP, but he's the only power in the entire lineup. And to
sprain his wrist while swinging?
- The ugly: yes, we've said this before. The defense. Tony Batista's
fielding error led to Toronto's unearned run, and Chris Richard misplayed
several balls in the outfield, though he wasn't charged with an error.
- Did we mention the offense? What offense?
- And once again, we'll point out that the defensive problems come in
large part from players playing out of position. Why isn't Chris Richard at
The losing is beyond ludicruous now. This team was obviously not
as good as the team that played near .500 for the first couple of months of
the season -- but they're not this bad, either. Nobody is. Now, they've lost
3 in a row and 24 of their last 30. They haven't had so much as a two
game winning streak in over a month. Only three teams -- Tampa,
Kansas City, and Pittsburgh -- have worse records. They're 22 1/2 games
out of first and 21 games under .500. And the Orioles did nothing at
the trading deadline, as we explore in our Bricks From The Warehouse
entry, Is that all there is? Are you depressed yet? Look on
the bright side: at least you still have your health.
- 1B David Segui is finally back from the DL, although he
says that he isn't fully healthy; to make room for him on the roster, the
Orioles optioned Larry Bigbie to Rochester. For our comments, you know
where to look: Transactions Breakdown....
- 1B/out-of-position OF Jay Gibbons appears to have
seriously hurt himself, spraining his already-sore wrist swinging at a
pitch, and may need surgery; Bigbie will probably come right back to
Baltimore. Ordinarily, a demoted player must spend 10 days in the
minors before being recalled, but if he's an injury replacement, he can
- Mike Hargrove has announced that Calvin Maduro will take Willis
Roberts' spot in the rotation. This is allegedly a prelude to making
Roberts a closer -- though not immediately -- which begs the question of
why a pitcher with a 5+ ERA deserves to be given a shot at closer.
- Mike Hargrove yelled at the team after the game -- as if that's going
to help. Maybe he should go yell at Syd Thrift and Peter Angelos, instead.
The Orioles faced rookie Brandon Lyon because the Blue Jays had the
guts to release Joey Hamilton, even though he was a highly paid veteran.
When will the Orioles do the same with their useless veteran-laden
- RHP Kris Foster made his major league debut for the
Orioles on Friday. it was a successful, scoreless inning. But is that really
going to help when the team can't score runs?
- SS Mike Bordick has begun a rehab assignment at Bowie,
and should be back in Baltimore in a few days. Whoopee. Since the
Orioles have to start playing well soon -- because, as we said, nobody is
this bad -- he'll probably get all the credit. Meanwhile, Brian Roberts will
probably be demoted to get the average age of the roster back up to
where it "belongs."
© 2001 The Orioles Warehouse
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Last Updated: August 15, 2001