Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Movin' On Up

I've sold out, and can now be found blogging over at Camden Crazies.

Thanks everyone, for reading all this stuff I wrote. And for the record - they picked that name without knowing me or anything. I think. Read more ...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good News, Everyone!

That's what Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth would say right before he would send his Planet Express crew out on dangerous mission to make a delivery somewhere out in the vast cosmos.

Or on other occasions, such as when the delivery ship and crew end up stranded at the bottom of the ocean. Fry wants to go out to look for food.

Hermes: Fry, no! The pressure will crush you like a green snake under a sugar cane truck!

Professor: Not necessarily! This is a chance for Fry to test out my experimental anti-pressure pill.

Fry: I can't swallow that!

Professor: Well then, good news - it's a suppository!

Now that's not really related to anything, except it's a fantastic line from an unappreciated show (Futurama) and it's the first thing I thought of when I put in the title to this post.

Anyway... the news is that the Fanball.com Blog Network has asked me to be their Orioles blogger. I'll putting up (at least) three posts a week at CamdenCrazies.com. To be honest, I'm relatively happy with the name - though it's no KC Royals With Cheese or Texas Home On The Rangers - and the graphic with the Orioles Bird and an image of Camden Yards. It's all very exciting, though I'll probably still post an exclusive entry here occasionally. I never imagined that this would happen, and I'm very grateful to Fanball for the opportunity.

So I'll have two (near) identical blogs.... each one more identical than the last.

[Edit: Apparently my posts at Camden Crazies have to all be exclusive, so this blog will probably not be updated very often. I'll still leave it up as an archive - and I may come back to it at some point in the future - but I guess this is largely the end for Frost King Baseball. I'm very happy with the decision I made go over there, but there always will be some regrets over leaving the place I started and was totally mine.] Read more ...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ninth Inning Homers Fuel O's Comeback Win

In the first game of their series with the Phillies, the O's picked up a 7-2 win on the strength of a fortunate start by Rich Hill (only 2 runs in 6.2 IP despite 5 H and 4 BB, though he did K 5) and 2-for-4 games by Nick Markakis (plus a walk) and Nolan Reimold (including a HR).

Game two features a match-up of rookies, with lefty JA Happ going for Philadelphia and Brad Bergesen trying to continue his great stretch of pitching for the Birds. In his last four starts, Bergesen is 3-0 with 32 IP, 22 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 15 K, and has lowered his ERA from 5.49 to 3.79.
  • The O's get two hits and two walks in the first inning, but can't get a runner across the plate.
  • Two more hits but no runs again in the second. They keep getting runners on, they should score eventually.
  • Adam Jones lays down a nice bunt single in the fifth. Didn't know he had that in his arsenal. Aubrey Huff follows that up with a double into the left-center gap to give the O's a 1-0 lead.
  • Bergesen has movement on his sinker and good bite on the slider. The Phillies hitters can't seem to square up the ball very well or make solid contact.
  • The O's extend the lead for him as Andino doubles and scores on a sac fly by Roberts in the sixth.
  • I guess the Orioles are just going to slowly put runs on the board. They add another one in the seventh, as they load the bases with nobody out but can only get a single run forced in by a walk.
  • A couple of doubles to start the Phillies seventh breaks up the shutout. A couple of singles then makes it 3-2. Bergesen was cruising along and just like that he's out of the game.
  • Ryan Howard comes up as a pinch-hitter after Danys Baez got the second out of the inning and gives the Phillies the lead with a three-run home run. How did the wheels fall off so quickly?
  • Gregg Zaun brings the O''s half-way back with a solo home run in the ninth against stand-in closer Ryan Madsen.
  • Oscar Salazar hits a pinch-hit single through the right side.
  • Brian Roberts - on an 1-2 pitch - takes Madsen deep to right. What a comeback for the O's, and they now have a 6-5 lead.
  • George Sherrill pitches a perfect ninth to lock down the save.
Great win for the Orioles. Bergesen pitches six great inning before running into a wall in the seventh - he ended up being charged with 4 runs but a couple of those were actually allowed to score by Baez. The team shouldn't have even been in the situation to need the comeback in the ninth, since they totaled 21 baserunners for the game (16 hits, 5 walks) and yet managed only 6 runs (3 via the longball). Zaun went 3-4 (with the homer and a walk) and raised his batting average a full 17 points to .226. The O's have already guaranteed themselves a series win, and they go for the sweep tomorrow with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill. Read more ...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

O's-Mets, Wieters Pied After Team Win

The Orioles had interest in signing Tim Redding in the off-season, but he decided to go to the Mets instead (he'll start for NY tonight). Well, Redding is currently sporting a 6.18 ERA (though with a 4.32 tRA, partially as a result of his flukey low HR rate) so I don't think any O's fans are feeling any regret there.

One pitcher the team did bring on board is Koji Uehara, and he has been even better than advertised. Koji was billed as having pin-point control, and thus far that's what he's displayed with a first-pitch strike 68.2% of the time. His 1.94 BB/9 is 12th in baseball amongst pitchers with at least 50 IP, and he's walked two or less batters in nine out of his ten starts thus far. Koji's been about average as far as K's go too, striking out 6.63 per nine. The big worry with Uehara was the home run ball, as he's a flyball pitcher (just 0.57 GB/FB this year) in Camden Yards. Well, Koji has managed to keep the ball in the park pretty OK thus far (0.97 HR/9), but that's with an unsustainably low 6.4% HR/FB. Once those flyball start to go over the fence, it's likely that his FIP (3.66) and tRA (3.17) will start to approach his ERA (4.37).

As far as stuff goes, Koji doesn't throw hard at all (just a little over 87 mph as his average fastball) and pretty much only uses two pitches - that riding fastball and a splitter at around 80-81 mph - which he throws a total of about 92% of the time (with around a 47% - 45% split between the two, at least according to FanGraph's Pitch/FX). Then he also mixes in a cutter, a curve, a slider, and a change-up. It's not a particularly impressive arsenal to watch, but its been getting the job done.

Don't think anyone's have any regrets about this decision either.

Top 1:
  • Alex Cora hits a soft liner to second.
  • Very nice splitter gets Fernando Martinez swinging.
  • Carlos Beltran flies out to center. Quick inning for Koji.
Bottom 1:
  • Brain Roberts flies out to left.
  • Adam Jones starts his bobblehead night with a nice plate appearance, culminating with a base on balls.
  • Nick Markakis lines the first pitch he sees into right for a single.
  • Aubrey Huff pulls a single through the right side to bring in Jones. O's have an early 1-0 lead. Haven't seen too many leads for the Birds in the last couple weeks.
  • Melvin Mora swings at the first pitch he sees, and grounds into a double play. That strategy works better when you're actually a good hitter.
Top 2:
  • David Wright pops out to first.
  • Ryan Church hits a double into right-center field.
  • Gary Sheffield fouls off several pitches, but Koji eventually gets him to chase a splitter in the dirt.
  • Daniel Murphy singles down the left-field line to tie the game.
  • Brian Schneider hits a check-swing roller to second, with Roberts throwing to first for the out.
Bottom 2:
  • Luke Scott goes down swinging at a cut fastball.
  • Nolan Reimold works a walk.
  • Matt Wieters swings at the first pitch and hits a flyball to deep left-field... and it's GONE! That's the first of his career (and his first RBI too). Yaye, Matt!
  • Robert Andino takes a fastball at the knees for strike three.
  • Brian Roberts grounds out to second to end the inning.
Top 3:
  • Fastball on the outside corner gets Luis Castillo looking.
  • After fouling off a few pitches, Cora pulls a single into right-field.
  • F-Mart flies out to center.
  • Beltran singles just out of the reach of Reimold in left.
  • Fastball gets Wright swinging to leave the runners stranded.
Bottom 3:
  • Jones grounds out to third.
  • Markakis falls behind 0-2, but lines an inside pitch into right for a single. Someone's looking better at the plate.
  • Huff flies out to center.
  • Mora pops up into short center-field, but Beltran is easily able to run it down. How does this guy (Carlos) get criticized so much in New York?
Top 4:
  • Church lays down a bunt down the third-base line. With Mora playing way back, he doesn't even attempt a throw.
  • Sheff pops up to third - Mora lets it drop on purpose and throws Church out at second. That leaves the slower runner on, though Sheffield is a better baserunner in general. Roberto Alomar used to do that kind of thing.
  • Murphy singles into the left-center gap to put runners on the corners.
  • Schneider hits a flyball to center, scoring Sheffield. The lead is cut to 3-2.
  • Castillo grounds to short, with Andino flipping to second for the force.
Bottom 4:
  • Scott flies out to center.
  • Reimold grounds out to third.
  • Looks like the HR scared Redding, since he walks Wieters on four pitches.
  • Andino bounces out to short to end the inning.
Top 5:
  • High fastball gets Cora swinging.
  • F-Mart laces a ground-rule double into right-field.
  • Beltran flies out to center.
  • Wright pops out to short.
Bottom 5:
  • With two outs, Markakis lines another single through the right side. Three-hit game for Nick, and all of them where hit hard. Then, just for kicks, he steals second.
  • After falling behind Huff 3-0, Redding walks him intentionally.
  • Mora grounds a single up the middle to score Markakis.
  • Scott pops out to end the inning. O's now up 4-2.
Top 6:
  • Brian Bass comes out for the sixth, even though Uehara has only thrown 89 pithes
  • Church grounds out to second.
  • Sheffield deep and gone to left. Inside fastball, and Sheff did what he's down so many times in his career - turn on it with authority.
  • Murphy singles up the middle - he has three hits as well.
  • Schneider grounds one up the middle to put two on with one out.
  • Castillo walks to load the bases. Trembley has seen enough, and will bring in Mark Hendrickson.
  • Cora walks to force in the tying run.
  • Fernando Tatis - of two grandslams in one inning fame - comes off the bench to pinch-hit. No salamies tonight, as Tatis grounds into the inning ending double play.
Bottom 6:
  • Reimold grounds to third, but hustles down the line and beats out the throw.
  • Wieters gets ahead in the count 3-1, and hits a ball hard to center. Beltran is there to make the catch though, and Reimold - who was running - has to hurry back to first.
  • Andino flies out to center against new pitcher Bobby Parnell.
  • Roberts grounds out to second.
Top 7:
  • Jim Johnson out for the seventh.
  • Beltran grounds to second.
  • 97 mph fastball running way in on Wright gets the K, as David can't check his swing. That ball started in the middle of the plate and ended up a few inches inside.
  • Church flies out to left.
Bottom 7:
  • Slider gets Jones looking, after he fouled off a couple 97-98 mph fastballs. I had no idea Parnell threw nearly that hard.
  • Lefty Pedro Feliciano in for New York.
  • Markakis hits a chopper up the middle that the shortstop can't get to. That makes four hits on the day for Nick.
  • Huff gets a pitch middle-in and just unloads on it. Over the scoreboard it goes, and the O's have retaken the lead 6-4.
  • Mora with a single through the middle.
  • Scott is robbed of a hit by a diving Alex Cora at short, who back-hands the ball to second to force Mora.
  • Brian Stokes comes in from the pen to get Reimold to pop-out.
Top 8:
  • Sheffield singles up the middle.
  • Murphy flies out to left.
  • Nice change-up - at 89 - gets Schneider swinging.
  • Castillo grounds out to short.
Bottom 8:
  • Wieters flies out to center.
  • Andino lines a single up the middle. A wild pitch during the next at bat allows him to go to second.
  • Roberts flies out to pretty deep center-field.
  • Jones grounds out to third.
Top 9:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Cora flies out to left.
  • Tatis pulls a double right over the third-base bag.
  • Beltran flies out to right.
  • Wright flies out to center. Each of the outfielders gets some work as Sherrill closes things out.
Koji Uehara only went 5 innings, but he pitched well (7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K). Matt Wieters and Aubrey Huff each hit two-run homers, and Nick Markakis added his 4-4 day as the O's beat the Mets 6-4.
Read more ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

O's Errors & Stranded Runners Result In Loss To Mets

By "head up to New York to play the Mets" (in the below post) I clearly meant "the Mets will come down to Baltimore". Or I would have, if I could read a schedule correctly.

Jeremy Guthrie will take the mound for the Birds against Mike Pelfrey. These two guys are a little connected for me, as when I was looking at Guthrie's low strike-out rate for a hard-thrower, Pelfrey came up as a guy who struck out even less guys despite a good (velocity-wise) fastball.

Well Pelfrey's heater is down this year (from 92.8 mph to 92.0), and his already mediocre strike-out rate has dropped along with it (4.93 K/9 to 3.86). His walks are up too (2.87 BB/9 to 3.31), and yet he's maintained a decent ERA of 4.68 (4.46 FIP, 5.12 tRA) by limiting the home run and keeping the ball on the ground (54.2% GB rate).

Jeremy Guthrie's fastball velocity has been amazingly consistent since even 2005 with the Indians, staying around 93.3 mph. His strike-out rate has rebounded a little from his early season struggles up to 5.77 K/9 - higher than last year's 5.66 but lower than 2007's 6.31. The walks are also better than 2008 (2.58 BB/9 to 2.74), but worse than 2007 (2.41). So why has his ERA ballooned from 3.70 and 3.63 all the way up to 5.52? It's not just the ERA's either - the FIPs have gone 4.41-4.53-5.70 and the tRAs 5.10-4.84-6.02. I think it may have something to do with the awful 1.96 HR/9 he's giving up. That's 44 HR over a 200 IP season, and even for a guy who gives up more longballs than average, that's not good.

Heath from Dempsey's Army took a look at why that may be, but couldn't find anything:
"After pouring over Pitch F/X data, pitch types, pitch sequence, the counts , his velocity, the types of hitters he's facing...everything I could think of. But there's no common denominator! They're launching home runs off of every kind of pitch he throw without discrimination. It doesn't happen when he's behind in the count. He velocity and control (at least, his walk rates and amount of strikes he throws) are consistent with his first two seasons."
May I posit a possible solution? Variation on balls in play + bad luck. He's giving up more flyballs than usual (43.6% FB rate, compared to 38% and 38.2% the last two years) and he's giving up more home runs per flyball than usual (14.7% HR/FB to 10.5% and 11.2% the last two years), and the combination of the two factors - which individually wouldn't be that damaging - have really caused some trouble. Looking at the rarely used by me (though very useful) HitTrackerOnline, the average distance of the home runs Jeremy has allowed this year is 391.8 ft with a "true" distance of 395.8 ft. Last year it was 397.8 ft and 400.1 "true" ft, and the year before it was 391.1 ft and 393.3 "true" ft. Don't think you can draw many conclusions from that, but at least he isn't getting consistently crushed. This will probably be a year where Jeremy gives up a whole bunch more home runs than usual, but from here on out there really isn't a good reason to think that he'll be too far away from his career 1.28 HR/9 numbers. And that should bring his various runs allowed metrics down, though he still isn't the best pitcher on this staff.

Top 1:
  • Nice start for Guthrie, as he strikes out Fernando Martinez swinging wiht a nice change-up as part of a 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Pelfrey counters with a perfect inning of his own.
Top 2:
  • 94 mph fastball down and away gets David Wright swinging.
  • Ryan Church flies out to center.
  • Now Gary Sheffield goes down swinging at a nasty slider- that's 3 K's for Guts.
Bottom 2:
  • Another three-up, three-down.
Top 3:
  • Brian Schneider becomes the first base-runner of the game with a one-out walk.
  • He's left stranded after making it to second though.
Bottom 3:
  • No base-runner yet for the O's.
Top 4:
  • F-Mart draws a lead-off walk to start the fourth.
  • Carlos Beltran hits a double play ball to Brian Roberts, who can't get a handle on it and everyone is safe.
  • David Wright singles to left to score a run, and Nolan Reimold's throw home was way off-line allowing Beltran to go to third.
  • Church lines a single to left that Reimold plays on a bounce. Another run scores to make it 2-0.
  • Sheffield lines a single to right to load the bases.
  • Daniel Murphy flies out to right to bring in the third NY run.
  • Schneider singles up the middle to extend the lead to 4-0.
  • Luis Castillo grounds into a double play to finally end the inning.
  • I'm not sure how many of those four runs are earned given the errors, but Guthrie left a lot of hittable balls over the plate in that one.
Bottom 4:
  • Nick Markakis gives the O's their first man on base with a two-out single to left-field.
  • Aubrey Huff flies out to the warning track in right-field to end the inning.
Top 5:
  • Lead-off single by Cora, but he's left stranded.
Bottom 5:
  • Reimold draws a two-out walk.
  • Matt Wieters lines a low-and-away pitch into left for a single.
  • Robert Andino walks on five pitches to load the bases for the top of the line-up.
  • Roberts strikes out leave the three runner stranded. What a big out.
Top 6:
  • Church strikes out swinging, but the ball gets away from Wieters allowing the runner to get to first.
  • A pop-up and a double play end the inning.
Bottom 6:
  • Adam Jones singles to center.
  • Nick Markakis goes out and gets a change-up, pulling it over the scoreboard for a two-run homer. Nick the Stick might be back after his extendned funk.
  • Huff pulls a single to right-field.
  • Mora erases him though, by grounding into a double play.
  • Luke Scott pulls a couple pitches just foul - including one that had home run distance - and ends up drawing a walk. That'll be it for Pelfrey, with Sean Green coming in from the pen.
  • Reimold lines out to left. Still, the lead has been cut in half.
Top 7:
  • A one-out single by Luis Castillo will be the end of the line for Guthrie. Alberto Castillo takes the mound.
  • Alex Cora singles to right.
  • F-Mart singles passed a diving Roberts to load the bases and drive Alberto from the game.
  • Danys Baez will try to get a double play ball.
  • Beltran grounds to first, with Huff throwing home to get the force. No throw to first, though.
  • Baez falls behind Wright 3-0, but comes back to run the count full. Wright fouls a few pitches off, and then hits a pop-up down the line into short right-field. Huff ranges out and reaches over his shoulder, but drops the ball. Two runs score to make it 6-2. Damn.
  • Church grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 7:
  • O's can't counter, going down in order.
Top 8:
  • Two-out double by Schneider, but Baez spears a Castillo grounder up the middle for the third out.
Bottom 8:
  • Another 1-2-3 inning.
Top 9:
  • Matt Albers gives up a couple of singles but keeps the Mets off the board.
Bottom 9:
  • Mora singles to right.
  • Scott singles to right. Suddenly the O's have something going, and Fransisco Rodriguez will relieve Bobby Parnell.
  • Very nice plate appearance by Reimold, taking pitches and fouling some off, and eventually drawing a walk.
  • Four consecutive change-ups strike out Wieters swinging.
  • Ty Wigginton pinch-hits for Andino. He has a good plate appearance - taking a close pitch for ball three and then barely checking his swing for ball four. The walk brings in the third Orioles run and Brian Roberts becomes the potential winning run at the plate.
  • Roberts grounds to third, but the Mets can only get one out. Another run scores and now there are two outs.
  • Mammoth cut at a fastball fro strike one. Swing and a miss at a nasty slider for strike two. Roberts steals second on a slider low for a ball. Fastball swung on and missed for strike three.
The O's tried to stage a comeback, but the missed opportunities early in the game on offense and the errors on defense (with an assist from Jeremy Guthrie throwing some meatballs) did them in. The O's lose game one of the series 6-4.
Read more ...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Offense & Pitching Both Click For O's

Guess it wasn't just Matt Wieters being behind the plate - Brad Bergesen is just on a roll. After games of 8 IP (0 R), 7 IP (2 R), and 8 IP (2 R), this time Berg finished things out himself. He only gave up 2 runs (on a pair of solo home runs by Dave Ross), walked 2, and struck out 3. That drops his ERA to a very solid 3.79, though his tRA is still high(it was 5.32 coming into this game).

The offense built on what it did yesterday against Derek Lowe, putting a total of 11 runs on the board. Every Oriole had a hit - and the team walked 9 times - with Ty Wigginton swinging the biggest stick. Wiggy went 3-4 with a couple home runs, drove in 3, and scored 4 times (he had 10 runs scored total for the season before today).

The 11-2 win gives the O's the series win against the Braves, and they'll head up to New York to play the Mets starting Tuesday. Read more ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

O's Offense Comes To Life

It's been 15 games since the O's have put 8 runs on the board, and 13 games since they've scored even 5 runs. Well the did the former against the Atlanta Braves tonight, and the letter in the seventh inning alone (they scored 6 to take an 8-4 lead, which ended up being the final score).

Rich Hill had his second bad start in a row, walking 3 (to one K) while giving up 4 runs in 4 IP. Brian Bass did what he's done many times this year - come into a game after a starter gets knocked out early and give the team some solid inning. He pitched 3 scoreless and picked up a win for his troubles, with Danys Baez and George Sherrill closing the door in the last two inning.

Brian Roberts paced the O's attack with a four-hit game, Adam Jones went Yard, and Melvin Mora and Nolan Reimold each had three hits. Nick Markakis walked twice (for the first time since May 17th) and has four free passes in his last five games - that may indicate that he's starting to pull out of his slump.

Given the sad play of late from the team - and tomorrow being Sunday, which isn't promising for a win (they're 1-8 this year) - I'm not going to say they're going to turn things completely around now. But I can hope so. Maybe September just came early this year. Read more ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Rest Of The Draft

Day One of the the Draft had a surprise in the first round with the selection of high school pitcher Matt Hobgood, but was solid overall with the addition of a shortstop and a slugging first-baseman. Where would the team go on days two and three?

Round 4: Randy Henry, RHP, College.
"Hailing from Arnett, Okla., Henry was slated to attend Texas Tech after high school. But he blew out his elbow, missed his senior season after having Tommy John surgery and ended up at South Mountain CC. He's played second base for the Cougars this year, but his future is likely on the mound. At 6-foot-3, Henry has clean mechanics from a three-quarter arm slot. Just 18 months removed from surgery, head coach Todd Eastin gave Henry a very soft landing this year, allowing him to pitch out of the bullpen. Over nine games, Henry pitched just 11 innings this season. Because of his limited time on the mound this year, Henry has been tough to see, but those that have seen him walked away impressed. His fastball has shown good life, sitting at 90 mph every time out and even touching 94-96 late in the year. While Henry threw mostly fastballs and changeups this year, when he regained the confidence to throw a breaking ball, scouts said it was an above-average pitch with great tilt and snap." - Baseball America
Given the injury, Henry might have been underappreciated by some teams. If he's healthy and just needs to work his way back to where he was with his control, velocity, and ability to throw the curve (which did indeed look good in video clips), then this would have been a potential steal in a later round. As is, it's a fine risk to take in the fourth. If I were to bet online, I wouldn't bet against this guy.

Round 5: Ashur Tolliver, LHP, College
"NAIA power Oklahoma City usually has an interesting NCAA Division I transfer, and this year's prospect is Tolliver. He went just 2-5, 7.94 at Arkansas-Little Rock in 2008, but started to blossom in the Cape Cod League during the summer. He drew a lot of attention when his fastball sat in the low 90s and popped some 96s early in the spring, though he was working more at 88-92 mph as the draft approached. Scouts wonder about his durability because he's generously listed at 6 feet and 170 pounds. He has a very quick arm, though there's also effort in his delivery, and he ultimately may wind up in the bullpen. Tolliver's second-best pitch currently is his changeup. He showed some feel for a curveball in the fall but now employs a slurvy slider in the low 80s. He has a chance to become the highest-drafted player in Stars history, surpassing Grant Hansen, who went 89th overall to the White Sox in 2003. But Tolliver didn't help his chances by giving up eight runs in three innings against Louisiana State-Shreveport in the first round of the NAIA playoffs." - BA
Lefties that can touch the mid 90s are in short supply, and the ability to throw the change-up is a big plus. If he eventually ends up as a harder throwing Jamie Walker out of the pen, then so be it. Walker did stick around in the majors until he was 37.

Round 6: Justin Dalles, C, College

Should be decent behind the plate and can hit some. Considering that one of the best catching prospects on the board - Max Stassi - fell to the fourth round in the draft, I don't see why the O's didn't just pick him there (he'll likely require over-slot money to sign, though not an absurd amount I'd think - and given the pick of Hobgood in the first, the team should have the cash to spend) and take their chance that Henry would still be available in the 5th (fair) and Tolliver in the 6th (possible).

Round 7: Aaron Wirsch, LHP, High School

A little bit of a funky looking pitching motion, though if he can keep it consistent and stay healthy (at least relative to the average pitching prospect) then it might be a plus for him. Might be a little on the expensive side to sign (for a 7th round pick) given his commitment to the University of San Diego. One can never have too many lefties in the organization.

Round 8: Devin Harris, LF, College
"Few players who will be drafted today have more upside than Orioles eighth-rounder Devin Harris, an outfielder from East Carolina. Built like an Adonis at 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, Harris a prototypical right fielder’s skill set: massive raw power, an above-average arm and even solid-average speed. He still swings and misses a lot, but he made huge strides offensively this year, batting .344 with 14 home runs." - BA
After going raw and fast last year, they're going with raw power this year. That's a change I really like, even if Harris will require over-slot money to sign. Nice to see the O's doing that after going relatively cheap on day one.

Round 9: Ryan Berry, RHP, College

Fastball:Berry's fastball was solid average, in the 88-92 mph range. He touched 93 in the ninth inning.
Fastball movement:Using a quick delivery, it has a sneaky quality to it.
Curve:Was a plus pitch, thrown 80-84 mph. It had late break and he buried it for a true out pitch. He throws it with two grips -- a knuckle grip and a spiked grip.
Changeup:He didn't use it much, but it was 83-84 mph when he did throw it.
Control:He had solid command of all his pitches.
Poise:In a big-league park, he had very good mound presence and it resulted in one of his best outings in a long time.
Physical Description:Berry has a lean build, kind of like Rich Harden. He was sporting long hair and glasses, sort of a Mark Fydrich look.
Medical Update:Healthy.
Strengths:When he's going right, he has two or three average or above pitches with command of all of them.
Weaknesses:He hasn't been consistent. He'll have to show he can do it repeatedly to make people believers.
Summary:Berry is somewhat of an enigma. He was one of the top freshman in his class, then regressed last year. He began his Draft season on a rocky note, but bounced back with a terrific start in the Houston Classic. When he's locked in, he's got good stuff and command. For him to rise up Draft boards come June, he'll have to show he can maintain it over the course of the season.

That's from MLB.com, and then from BA:
"If the draft were held in early to mid-March, Berry would have been a late first-round pick; he was utterly dominant over three straight complete games, and scouts at the Houston College Classic in February raved about his fastball command and life, as well as his secondary stuff. But his stock sank when he was sidelined with a muscle strain in his shoulder. He returned down the stretch and pitched well for the Owls, but he did not show the same fastball velocity. Still, there’s no reason to believe Berry’s shoulder woes will be permanent, and getting a borderline first-round talent in the ninth round is pretty good."
I'm under the impression that Rice pitchers get worked pretty hard, so the injury might have actually saved some innings on his arm. He'll want closer to 1-3 round money to sign, but it's these kinds of picks that make the Hobgood one look better. Really like this one..

Round 10: Jacob Cowan, RHP, College
"Despite a bout with elbow tendinitis that sidelined him for four weeks and cost him some sharpness on his pitches, Cowan has been plenty effective. He threw a complete-game one-hitter against Panola (Texas) JC in the regional playoffs, helping San Jacinto reach the Junior College World Series for the sixth time in the last eight seasons, then fanned 13 to beat Santa Fe (Fla.) JC as the Gators finished third in the nation. A 14th-round pick out of a Georgia high school by the Red Sox in 2007, Cowan spent 2008 at Virginia before transferring to San Jac. He worked with a low-90s fastball, but his arm problems have left him with a high-80s heater for much of the spring. An MRI revealed no structural damage, and Cowan should regain velocity once he fully recovers. There's also room for projection on his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame. Cowan doesn't need to overpower hitters because the late boring action on his fastball makes it tough to square up, and he mixes four offerings. His slider is a low-80s strikeout pitch at its best, and he does a nice job of maintaining his arm speed when he throws his changeup, which has good fade and sink. His curveball is his fourth-best pitch, and it has some lost some velocity and tilt this spring, but it's still an effective offering. He has a clean delivery, so when he's 100 percent he can throw all four pitches for strikes. He also draws praise for his ability to compete without his best stuff. Cowan looked like a potential second-rounder in the fall. Though he's now more of a fourth- to sixth-rounder and has committed to Texas, he's still considered signable." - BA
Doesn't look like he has the highest upside, but a solid back-of-the-rotation starter is still useful. Nice value pick in the 10th.

Round 11: Michael Ohlman, C, High School
"Yet another prep catcher from Florida, Ohlman started to get national attention last fall playing for North Carolina's "Dirtbags" travel team, which featured Tar Heel State prep stars Brian Goodwin and Wil Myers. Ohlman showed premium power potential in the summer and fall and was snapped up in the early signing period by Miami. He's tall for a catcher at 6-foot-4, and his slender 200-pound body doesn't seem suited to the position for the long-term, scouts worry. But he has shown excellent athletic ability, and he should be able to remain a catcher at least through college. He has excellent arm strength, but his receiving skills are less advanced than his Florida prep rivals. He has improved his skills behind the plate but has a long way to go in terms of blocking, framing pitches and learning other nuances behind the plate. He's tall so he has some holes in his swing but has a good feel for hitting and hand-eye coordination. His best tool is his raw power, which might be sufficient for a move to a corner. Ohlman should be athletic enough to give outfield a try if catching doesn't take. He could go in the fourth-to-sixth round range." - BA
Saw some Jayson Werth comparisons; hope the team will actually keep him if that's the case. Another guy who was drafted a little passed where it was projected he'd go.

Round 12: Steven Bumbry, RF, College

Son of former Orioles Al Bumbry, who had this to say: "No. 1, he doesn't run like me... He sort of glides after the ball more. He can catch the ball, but he doesn't have speed like I had. His arm is a hell of a lot better than mine. He has a tremendous arm, which is one of his assets. As far as his batting style, he hits the ball a lot further than I did. Physically, he's more developed than I was."

The younger Bumbry isn't a big guy at 5'10", so it would be nice if he could handle center. If so, he'd have a better shot of making it to the majors.

Round 13: Tyler Kelly, 2B, College

Seems like a solid enough all around player, who can play a little defense, has a strong enough arm to play at third (and apparently the range to handle center-field some), can hit for some average, and has gap power. That kind of profile tends to be underrated, so while Kelly will never be a star he seems like he could contribute to the team in some way.

Round 14: David Baker, RHP, High School

Hit 15 batters in 60 IP this year. That's... amusing.

Round 15: Garrett Bush, RHP, High School
"Stanton College Prep righthander Garrett Bush was one of the few pitchers who looked good in Sebring at the FACA Baseball Classic. Bush has a classic, projectable build at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds with a loose arm and an idea of what he’s doing on the mound. He was 88-92 mph with his fastball that had good downhill plane and mixed in an 82 mph changeup and a 77 mph breaking ball. Bush is an Auburn recruit that was selected by the Orioles." - BA
It'll cost some money to keep him from going to college, but it's a good looking arm.

Round 16: Ryan Palsha, RHP, College
"On the other side of the country, Diablo Valley (Calif.) CC’s Ryan Palsha is a 6-foot-2 righthander that is long and loose. He throws an 88-91 mph fastball and a big curveball. He’s aggressive with his stuff and throws strikes, but is still a little raw." - BA
More pitching. The team knows they're really short on position player prospects, right?

Round 17: Jeffrey Walters, RHP, College


Round 18: Jarret Martin, LHP, College

If that name looks familiar, it should, as the O's selected Martin last year too (he didn't sign).
"Martin is a player on the rise, with a very impressive showing last summer at the Area Code Games despite not being universally ranked among the top players in the nation before that point in time. Martin has the entire package: The perfect build, a loose and easy arm action that he repeats well, improving velocity, good control and a good head on his shoulders. His consistent low-90s heater with good dip and dive late in the zone is what gets your attention first, and then he pulls out a hammer curveball in the mid-70s and a relatively polished change, showing the ability to change speeds and command the strike zone. Like so many left-handed pitchers, he also has a pretty swing at the plate that allows him to drive the ball to all parts of the field, but his future clearly lies on the mound." - BA
Hopefully they can get a deal done this time, because I like Martin, much as I did last year.

Round 19: Kipp Schutz, LF, College

Can't play center and can't hit well enough to play a corner. Probably.

Round 20: James Brandhorst, RHP, College

"Brandhorst is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound San Antonio native with a fastball in the mid-90s. Scouts told Brandhorst he might be picked in the top 10 rounds instead of 20th."

Another potentially slightly more expensive pick.

Round 21: Kevin Landry, RHP, College
Round 22: Cameron Coffey, RHP, High School
"Houston Christian High School left-hander Cameron Coffey is one of the first "pop-up" guys (meaning someone who wasn't high on follow lists coming into the spring but who is moving up lists quickly because he has improved) of the spring.

A 6'4" left-hander with a strong build and good frame, Coffey touched 92 several times in his Friday outing, sitting 89-90 early but dropping to 85-89 by the 5th inning. His best pitch is his changeup, which he turns over very well, getting good tumbling action. He has good feel for when to use his changeup, and showed enough confidence in the pitch to double up on it. His slider is well below-average right now; it's a pitch he rarely used before this year, and it showed, as he struggled to find a consistent release point on it and had several back up on him.

His arm works well and he generates good arm speed; he can overthrow a little on fastballs and plant his front foot hard enough to make him snap upwards in his finish, which is going to limit his fastball command. Reducing his stride length a little would probably mitigate this issue. Coffey's committed to Duke but all indications are that he wants to play pro ball; he's not first-round material but is high day one material, and if he can show more stamina and arm strength he will be a top 100 pick. " - BA
Apparently he had Tommy John surgery, but if he comes back healthy and they can sign him it'd be another good value pick.

Round 23: Michael Mooney, SS, College
Round 24: Justin Anderson, LHP, College
Round 25: Jay Johnson, LHP, College
Round 26: Michael Mechaw, LHP, College
Round 27: Michael Planeta, RF, College
Round 28: Kyle Hoppy, CF, High School

It'll take over-slot money to sign him, but the guy's a good athlete.

Round 29: Brandon Alexander, CF, High School
Round 30: Brenden Webb, CF, College
Round 31: Mike Flacco, 3B, College

Joe Flacco's brother. Nice (sentimental) move by the team, but he's a long-shot to make it to Triple-A.

Round 32: Matthew Nadolski, LHP, High School
Round 33: Tyler Naquin, RF, High School
Round 34: Malcolm Clapsaddle, RHP, High School

Pretty good pitching prospect, but he's probably going to college.

Round 35: Jeremy Lucas, C, High School
Round 36: Scott Firth, RHP, High School
Round 37: Taylor Rogers, LHP, High School
Round 38: Josh Dowdy, RHP, College
Round 39: Kevin Alexander, RHP, High School
Round 40: Bobby Shore, RHP, College
Round 41: Mason Magleby, RHP, High School
Round 42: Joe Valleggia, C, College
Round 43: Brad Decater, SS, College
Round 44: Kyle Westwood, RHP, College
Round 45: David Rivera, LF, High School
Round 46: Scott Swinson, RHP, College
Round 47: Nolan Martz, RHP, College
Round 48: David Burnaman, 3B, College
Round 49: Ashley Bulluck, RHP, High School
Round 50: Timothy Berry, LHP, College

That's a lot of pitchers (29 out of 47) and quite a few players that may have slid a little due to signability questions. With the money saved on day one, it would be great to see that team really go all-out to sign anyone that has a reasonable request and that has some potential. Would have liked to have seen a couple more infielders selected, but I'm pretty content with this draft. It's not the same as last year's, but I'd say it's about on the same level given my very (very) shallow knowledge about these players.

From MinorLeagueBall:
"I don't have a problem with Hobgood at fifth overall. He's signable, and in my opinion the difference between him and the other elite prep arms isn't all that great. He might not be as projectable as some of them, being more physically mature, but I really like his arm and I don't think this is a huge overdraft. Mychal Givens in the second round adds another high-ceiling arm to the system, and if pitching doesn't work out you can try him as a hitter. Townsend out of Florida International in the third round is a solid college bat in the Jay Gibbons mode; not a star but a guy who should be able to contribute. Randy Henry in the fourth round and Ashur Tolliver in the fifth provide more live arms, Tolliver in particular being a good value in that round. 8th round pick OF Devin Harris (East Carolina), 9th round pick RHP Ryan Berry (Rice), and 10th round pick RHP Jacob Cowan (San Jacinto JC) all offer very good value for their draft slots. Harris has tons of tools, and both Berry and Cowan were considered possible second or third round picks if not for injury questions. This may not be a spectacular draft class, but I think it is solid." - BA
I'll take that. Read more ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

O's Get The Win On Draft Day

The O's have lost five games in a row, but in more important long-term news for the team, today was the Rule IV draft. With the #5 pick in the first round, the Orioles chose high school right-handed pitcher Matt Hobgood. I hadn't seen Hobgood even going in the top 10 in any mock drafts, and while not it's not a really out there pick, it certainly wasn't expected. Hobgood's a big guy at 6'4" 245, throws pretty hard, and is supposed to have some secondary pitches. I still don't get the pick though, with Zach Wheeler, Tyler Matzek, Jacob Turner, and various other pitchers still on the board who were more highly regarded than Hobgood. I'm generally not a big fan of drafting pitchers high given their attrition rate, but this draft didn't have very many well regarded position players so I understand going with the arm at #5. Why Hobgood though?

From the MLB Outsider mock draft, where he was picked at #26:
"The 18 year-old Hobgood is 10-0 with a 0.34 ERA, 90 K's, 21 BB's with Norco HS in the Mountain View League. His 2-seam fastball has officially been clocked at 93 mph, but Baseball Beginnings professes that the speed may actually increase to 95 mph in the middle innings. Besides 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs, Hobgood also mixes in curveballs and change-ups. His 6'4" frame enables him to have a higher release point than other pitchers, giving him another edge over hitters.

Hobgood is also hitting .479/20/53 as a senior, making him somewhat more appealing to NL clubs, plus 19 put outs and 13 assists with 0 errors defensively. Hobgood has been on the varsity squad at Norco for all four years in high school, three as a starter, and was named first team All-League back in '07, for his sophomore season. Weight had been somewhat of a problem for Hobgood, but he lost weight for his senior season and has made it a point of emphasis in his conditioning in preparation for his professional career."
From the Baseball Prospectus chat:
"Kevin Goldstein (3:39:02 PM PT): Baltimore eyed young pitching all along, but in the end, they decided that the top guys weren't worth the coin as they take Matt Hobgood, A guy most people saw as a mid-to-late first round kind of talent.

If you see the video on MLB, you can see why conditioning could end up an issue. MLB people talking about how he moved up, but there's only one reason -- when teams called him, he didn't mention the name Rick Porcello....

Kiley McDaniel (3:39:58 PM PT): Bryan: Is it weirder to see Sanchez or Hobgood in the top 5?

Bryan Smith (3:41:44 PM PT): Kiley, I think it's weirder to see Sanchez, because he has a lot less upside. But the weirdest, to me, is that the Orioles are so worried about signability: with the successes of picks like Wieters and Jake Arrieta, you'd think the Orioles would understand more than everyone else how to benefit from other teams tight wallets...

Kevin Goldstein (4:46:47 PM PT): dkdc (NYC): Where would you rank Hobgood in the Baltimore pitching hierarchy? I'm guessing he's behind Tillman and Matusz, but is he ahead of Arrieta? Erbe? Patton?

Top of head, I'd put him behind all of them but Patton . . . maybe Erbe depending on the health."
Additionally, the BP guys seemed to agree that the #11-20 picks were generally better than the top 10 picks (excluding Strasburg, I imagine). Thats' not good for baseball, but that really seems to be what happened. It's a capshoot anyway, but still.

From Saberscouting:
"Hobgood caught scouts’ attention at recent showcases in similar fashion to Younginer: with big stuff and a lack of contol. Hobgood has worked from 91-95, depending on whether he’s working with a power sinker or trying to top out a four-seamer for the radar guns. With either approach, he hasn’t been hitting spots too often and had trouble locating his offspeed pitches. There’s a lack of feel, some effort in the delivery, and some softness in his body, but the pure power stuff and workhorse frame are there."
From MLB.com:
Fastball:Hobgood threw his fastball in the 89-92 mph range and went right after hitters with it.
Fastball movement:Has heavy, hard life.
Curve:A plus pitch, 11-to-5, true curve, thrown 74-79 mph. It has the chance to be the best high school curve in this class.
Slider:It's slurvy at 80 mph, and is a usable pitch.
Changeup:Didn't show a changeup and may lack a feel for it.
Control:Has average high school command, but was throwing to the radar gun a bit too much.
Poise:Exceptional. He challenged hitters, daring them to try and hit him. He has a little mean streak on the mound.
Physical Description:Hobgood is a big, physical animal -- like a Josh Beckett type.
Medical Update:Healthy.
Strengths:Size, strength and durability. Also has two plus pitches now, with the intangibles to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
Weaknesses:Doesn't show a feel for a changeup. He lands a little hard and will have to soften his front side a little to hone command.
Summary:Hobgood is a big, strong right-hander with two plus offerings in his heavy fastball and outstanding curve. Some small tweaks to his delivery should help him find even better fastball command. If he can add a changeup to go along with his other offerings and his tremendous mound presence, he has the chance to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the future.
From Joe Jordan, via MASN:
"As always, every year we've got a group of two or three names we were wrestling on. I just got a gut feeling on this one, seperated it with more intangible stuff than anything. He's 6'4" and has power stuff. A high school kid that throws up to 95 or 96. He'll attack hitters with his sinker, his 2 seamer at 92,93. He throws a breaking ball for a strike and has a feel for a changeup. He's ready physically....

It's more a Kevin Millwood type package for me. This is a guy that if we're right, we can stack some innings on this guy. I think he'll be physical enough to handle it. I'll take that...

He's got a curveball, slider and changeup. Like most high school guys, he doesn't use his changeup enough, that's something that will have to be developed. But he's got quality to all of them. I would never take a guy at number five that was a big project or anything. This guy knows what he is doing, he'll be fine. He's going to really do well vs. wooden bats...

This was not a money saver. I knew I would be asked that, because he wasn't a name guy that people kept seeing in the paper. We scouted him all year long, I saw him the first time early in February and saw him two times after that. This had nothing to do with money. Look at what we've done lately. It's who I want and who our staff wants."
So, here's the deal (in my opinion); the team had several pitchers ranked very close together on talent - with them having Hobgood higher than most other teams but still not quite at the top - and decided that it made more sense to pick the guy they could sign easier and then put those savings to maybe going over slot later in the draft. If that is, in fact, their reasoning, then I'm more or less OK with it. The video clips I saw of him looked good (nice fastball and a plus curve), but I don't believe that Hobgood was legitimately the best player left at #5.

Here's video of Hobgood + family and friends during the draft. Regardless of my feelings above, he seems like a good kid and I'm happy to have him in the system. I'll be cheering for him.

Round two saw the O's pick two-way player Mychal Givens (high schooler as well), who was announced as a pitcher. (Really? Mychal? Is that necessary?)

From BP:
"Kevin Goldstein (6:36:17 PM PT): Really like the selection of Mychal Givens at 54 by the Orioles, a two-way star who was announced as a pitcher. He has a lot a velocity, but his arm angle and action is a bit kooky. Still, he dropped more because he didn't do as well as expected as opposed to him suddenly not being good."
From Saberscouting:
"At the PG National showcase, he was up to 94 while flashing an above-average slider and changeup from a low 3/4 arm angle; similar to what I saw, but showing improvement across the board."
Givens is a good athlete, and as a lanky guy he should have some room to add a little velocity as he fills out. The video of him makes me think more reliever than starter though. [Edit: Apparently they actually intend to have him play shortstop instead of pitch. That makes much more sense to me.]

Alrighty, then. From MLB.com:

Hitting ability:Givens isn't a raw hitter, like some athletic high schoolers are, but there is some risk in his bat.
Power:He's got some strength for future power, but doesn't currently have a power stroke. He hits off his front foot.
Running speed:He's not a burner, but he does have plus speed.
Base running:He appears to have a good idea of what he's doing on the basepaths.
Arm strength:Also a talented pitching prospect, he has at least plus arm strength.
Fielding:He shows the ability to be a good defender at shortstop.
Range:He's got very good actions and can go left and right very well.
Physical Description:Givens has a rangy, athletic frame that should allow him to add strength as he matures
Medical Update:Healthy.
Strengths:His athleticism, with plus speed and good overall defensive actions.
Weaknesses:Will he hit enough? There's talent there, but there's a question over whether the bat will carry to the next level.
Summary:Givens is one of the better all-around athletes in the Draft class who will get looks both at shortstop and on the mound on Draft day. He's a good defender with a plus arm who uses his athleticism well. A plus runner, he's got the kind of frame that should allow him to get stronger ... which could lead to more power. The key to unlocking that will be a better overall hitting approach. There is some risk with his bat, but if a team feels he'll hit, he'll go early.

From Saberscouting:
"Givens has all the makings of a first-round prep shortstop with a body that won’t outgrow the position, true shortstop actions with above-average defensive tools, and a quick release from a good arm that sits in the low 90s on the mound. He’s also an excellent athlete and basketball standout that made an amazing play at pitcher versus Dunedin as he charged a swinging bunt to field and flip to the catcher in one motion while he was running past home plate. He’s a vocal leader, good student, and likable personality with great makeup...

His speed is deceptive: he looks more quick than fast and somewhat labored once underway, but I got him at 3.87 to first from the right side on a bunt (confirmed on video) and he’s a 55 to 60 runner.

So there’s all the reasons to like Givens, but there are some things I saw that I didn’t like from these two games. Givens certainly has more upside as a shortstop as he lacked feel on the mound and throws from a true sidearm angle, which is very effective in the 90s versus high school competition, but would project him as a set-up man at best in pro ball.

As far as his swing goes, the elements are there and he has shown the ability to hit with wood against top competition, but the mechanics break down too often for me, and with his smallish frame (I’d estimate 5′10, 170) and lack of leverage, he projects to have average power at best. He struggled to square the ball up against average to good pitching when I saw him and showed bad habits in lunging at the ball, being flat-footed, out on his front foot, and an intricate toe-touch I’m not crazy about. Still, those are things that don’t become problems until professional ball, so he was still clearly the best player on the field.

I think Givens compares favorably to past hyped shortstop prospects like Jays’ SS prospect Justin Jackson or Padres SS prospect Drew Cumberland. Both were late-first to supplemental round prospects with limited ceiling or warts at the plate, a long track record of success, great defense, and the makeup to succeed with all eyes on them."
It's nice to get a shortstop into the system, but from the video I saw it doesn't look like he'll ever be an impact hitter. I have hopes that he'll stick at short and hit well enough to at least make it to the majors there. [Note: Justin Jackson is hitting .247 in A-Ball with modest on-base skills and no power. It's his third year in pro-ball. Drew Cumberland is hitting .316 with relatively poor on-base skills and no power in A-ball, also in his third year.]

In the third round (the last of the day), the O's selected first-baseman Tyler Townsend, who put up very good numbers in college. He's tried to work out in RF but will end up at first, and he's been compared to Brad Hawpe (who's a good hitter, but not as valuable at first).

From BP:
"Bryan Smith (7:22:05 PM PT): I don't know, if I'm the Orioles, I'm a lot more interested in high school slugger Jeff Malm than I am Tyler Townsend, college numbers be damned. The Orioles draft today has been strange -- their budget is clearly being impacted by the economy."
There were a fair number of slugging first-baseman in the draft last year, and the O's passed on the them much to my chagrin. At least they went for it this time, and I'll mostly hold out judgment until we see how Townsend does with a wood bat. Apparently he's a local kid (from Delaware) and really wanted to be an Oriole. That's nice to hear.

That's it for day one of the draft, which certainly had some surprises. On the bright side, all three guys the team picked are pretty good and the O's should have a decent amount of money left to take some players that slide due to signability reasons and pay them over slot. Joe Jordan has more or less earned the benefit of the doubt. we'll see how things shake out the next couple of days.
Oh right, the game!

Well Brad Bergesen looked very good, and he had the strike-out pitch working. The final line was 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. He also kept the ball down for the entire game (which has sometimes been an issue for him) which resulted in a lot of groundballs (14 GB to 4 FB) and no home runs. There was talk of him being comfortable working with Wieters behind the plate, and so far (small sample size warning), that's been the case. In his last three games he's gone 23 IP, 17 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 12 K, only 1 HR, and lowered is ERA from 5.49 to 4.04.

Nolan Reimold provided some offense, hitting his 7th home run of the year (a solo shot) and adding an RBI single, and George Sherrill pitched the ninth and picked up a save despite giving up a run.

The O's get off the schneid with the 3-1 win. [Note: "To break a scoreless, hitless, or winless streak (i.e., a schneid). According to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the term "schneid" comes to baseball via gin rummy, and in turn comes from German / Yiddish "schneider," one who cuts cloth, i.e., a tailor." - Wikipedia]
________________________________________________ Read more ...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

O's-A's, I Thought Oakland Had A Bad Offense?

The O's got beaten pretty thoroughly yesterday (9-1) as the dropped their third game in a row. Jason Berken will try to get the Birds back on the right track against 21 year-old fellow rookie Trevor Cahill.

Here's Berken's movement chart from his last start against the Tigers (7 IP, 1 R, but took the loss) courtesy of FangGraphs:

Berken's fastball has been about average, coming in at 92 mph and showing only slightly below average movement in on right-handed batters (and exactly average vertical movement). He also has a two-seamer at 90.7 mph, that sinks more than the four-seamer but less than the average two-seamer. The change-up is also very average, when it comes to both velocity (82.5 mph vs. 82.7 mph as the average) and movement (-6.7 vs. -6.4 horizontally, and 5.3 vs. 5.0 vertically). He throws a couple of different breaking-balls at very similar speeds but with different movement. The slider is at 81.1 mph with above-average break (4.2 vs. 2.4 as the average horizontally, so it moves more away from righties than average, and 0.2 vs. 2.2 vertically, so it drops more than average). That might explain why the slider has been his most effective pitches thus far going by linear weights (2.86 runs above average per 100 sliders thrown: the fastball is -0.56 runs, the change-up is also good at 1.47 runs, and the curve is something he may want to throw a little less of at -1.53 runs), and Jason did throw more of them in his second start than in his first (as a percentage of pitches thrown). The curveball comes in at only slightly slower than the slider (79.3 mph) and with more movement, but that movement is actually below average for a hook (4.7 vs. 5.5 horizontally, so it doesn't move away from righties as much as an average curve does, and -4.7 vs. -5.5 vertically, so it doesn't drop as much).

All of this is in a very small sample of two games, but Berken still looks like he has decent stuff. He won't be able to survive with a 1:1 strike-out to walk ratio though. He needs to get the walks down a little (3.75 BB/9 so far) and get the K's way up (also 3.75 K/9) to be successful, though I'm almost as excited about him as I am about Bergesen (who has a pretty good sinker - and I'll look at his Pitch/FX eventually - but is still giving up 1.16 HR/9; when he leaves the sinker up in the zone it can get hit a pretty long way).

Cahill actually works with a sinker himself, and he's giving up even more home runs (1.34 HR/9) than Bergesen, while also not striking anyone out (about a 4 K/9 for both) and walking more guys too (2.5 BB/9 for Berg, 3.9 BB/9 for Cahill). It may be wishful thinking given their play of late, but the O's should be able to put some runs on the board if they're patient at the plate.

In other news, Cesar Izturis is out after having just had an appendectomy. Sounds like he's going on the DL, with Oscar Salazar being called up. Thankfully the Birds traded Hayden Penn (7.77 ERA, 4.53 tRA out of the pen) to Florida for Robert Andino (.239/.280/.261, .275 wOBA, +2.8 UZR at short this year for the O's).

The line-up has also been shuffled around, with something I've been harping about - flipping Nick Markakis and Adam Jones - being part of that. This allows Luke Scott and his .449 wOBA to move up into the clean-up spot with Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora sliding down (since Jones will now break up the lefties a little). Felix Pie and Gregg Zaun will also be in there, giving Reimold and Wieters a day off. Now if only they'd rest Markakis and Roberts some time, we'd be in business.

Top 1:
  • Roberts flies out to center.
  • Markakis singles down the third-base line.
  • Nasty sinker down and in gets Jones swinging. Cahill's throwing it 92-94 instead of the 88-91 I was expecting.
  • Luke Scott chases a change-up way outside for the second K of the inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Orlando Cabrera lines the first pitch he sees into the right-field corner for a double.
  • Adam Kennedy flies out to right, with Cabrera moving to third despite Nick's strong throw.
  • Jack Cust grounds out to first, scoring a run.
  • Matt Holliday flies out to the warning track in right to end the inning.
Top 2:
  • The A's don't really shift against Huff, and he grounds out to third-base. That might have been an infield single if the fielders were moved around.
  • Mora grounds out to short.
  • Zaun grounds out to second.
Bottom 2:
  • Jason Giambi grounds out to second.
  • Kurt Suzuki gets jammed and grounds out to third.
  • Aaron Cunningham flies out to right.
Top 3:
  • Felix Pie fouls a pitch straight down, and the ball bounces back up and hits him in the throat. Looks like he's OK, though he waves at a change-up way outside for Cahill's third strike-out.
  • Andino grounds out to short.
  • Roberts flies out to center.
Bottom 3:
  • Looks like that ball hurt Pie worse than it appeared, as Nolan Reimold takes his place in left. He handles the flyball by Jack Hannahan.
  • Rajai Davis takes a high change-up (or a hanging curveball) into the left-center gap for a double.
  • Cabrera bounces out to first.
  • Kennedy hits a ball to center that falls in front of Adam Jones. Then it bounces passed him allowing Kennedy to go to second, with Davis having already scored to make it 2-0.
  • Cust draws a walk.
  • Holliday walks on four pitches, and that loads the bases with two down.
  • Giambi will clear them with a double down the right-field line. 5-0, A's.
  • Suzuki pops out.
Top 4:
  • Markakis grounds out to second.
  • Jones doubles into the left-field corner.
  • High fastball gets Scott swinging.
  • Huff grounds out to first.
Bottom 4:
  • Cunningham doubles to left-center.
  • Hannahan grounds to second, with Cunningham moving to third with one out.
  • Davis draws a walk.
  • Cabrera doubles off the wall in left to score a couple. 7-0, A's. They're just knocking the crap out of O's starters these last couple games.
  • Kennedy doubles to left-center to make it 8-0. That's it for Berken, whose once shiny 2.25 ERA is up to 7.04.
  • On the bright side, we get to see some more of David Hernandez. He'll take the mound, with the O's having burned much of their bullpen yesterday.
  • Cust grounds out to first.
  • Holliday singles through the left side to drice in the A's ninth run of the game. Roberts was actually shaded towards second-base, and if he was playing straight away it would have been right to him.
  • Giambi flies out to left, with Reimold running a long way to get to that one in foul territory.
Top 5:
  • Mora serves a single to right-field.
  • Zaun flies out to left.
  • Reimold, coming up for the first time today, grounds into a double play.
Bottom 5:
  • Hernandez gives up a lead-off single, but K's a pair and gets a groundout to end the inning.
Think I'm more or less done paying a lot of attention to this one.

Hernandez pitched very well out of the pen (2.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) and Nolan Reimold went deep (three-run homer), but it wasn't enough to get the O's all the way back. The lose 9-4 - another game over before it really even started.
Read more ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

O's-A's, Can't Dig Out Of Early Hole

After losing two of three in Seattle, the O's continue their West coast swing with a stop in Oakland. The A's were a popular pick for the AL West crown once the injuries beset the Angels before the season, but I was still a little hesitant (projecting 82 wins) because of the pitching staff. Well the A's (who are still one of my favorite teams in baseball) are sitting at 22-30 and in last place, and the young pitching staff hasn't worked out exactly as planned.

A's top starters:
Dalles Braden (age 25) - 3.63 ERA, 4.06 tRA
Dana Eveland (age 25) - 7.40 ERA, 5.01 tRA
Josh Outman (age 24) - 3.02 ERA, 5.15 tRA
Trevor Cahill (age 21) - 4.33 ERA, 6.54 tRA
Brett Anderson (age 21) - 4.97 ERA, 4.92 tRA
Total - 4.30 ERA, 5.13 tRA

O's current starters (+ Koji):
Jeremy Guthrie (age 30) - 4.86 ERA, 5.68 tRA
Koji Uehara (age 34) - 4.09 ERA, 3.36 tRA
Rich Hill (age 29) - 4.15 ERA, 3.21 tRA
Brad Bergesen (age 23) - 4.64 ERA, 5.92 tRA
David Hernandez (age 24) - 4.91 ERA, 4.17 tRA
Jason Berken (age 25) - 2.25 ERA, 4.81 tRA
Total - 4.41 ERA, 4.83 tRA

There are some smaller sample sizes in there (really of them, but some more than others) but that explains a lot of the A's struggles. The continued lack of offense doesn't help either though. Despite reworking the line-up by bringing in Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera, the A's team wOBA has actually gone down from .313 to .311. And even taking into account the pitcher's park in which they play, their adjusted wOBA this year is still .318.

The O's offense has been far more impressive, though still with only a wOBA of .340 (which is about average). The A's counter that advantage with a better pen (3.75 tRA to the O's 4.86 tRA) and a better defense (+6.0 UZR to the O's -13.0). It's because of those kinds of things (though not directly) the two teams having pretty much the same records according to third order wins from Baseball Prospectus (.438 winning percentage for the A's and .435 for the Birds).

Tonight it'll be the teams' respective "aces" - Dallas Braden (who actually beat the O's in his major league debut) and Jeremy Guthrie - on the mound.

I was going to blog through the game, but by the time I turned it on it was already 6-0 Oakland and Guthrie had been knocked out of the game. Mark Hendrickson came in and pitched a few innings, giving up a three-run homer to Matt Holliday. Matt Albers pitches a couple scoreless innings. Alberto Castillo - called up to take the place of the recently released Jamie Walker - pitched a perfect seventh (with a K), and Brian Bass finished it off with a perfect eighth. Unfortunately, Luke Scott hit his 13th HR of the year (and his 8th in the last nine games) - a solo shot - and that's all the offense that O's got on the night. They lose the first game of the series 9-1. Read more ...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bedard Beats O's, M's Were Still Fleeced

After a good pitching duel yesterday, with Rich Hill beating Jarrod Washburn 1-0, we've got another interesting match-up tonight. David Hernandez will make his second start of the season after getting the win against Detroit with 5.2 innings of one-run ball. Since the Pitch/FX for that start is strangely not available on FanGraphs, I'll talk about his opponent instead.

Erik Bedard didn't have a very season in 2008 after being traded to Seattle. He was injured, throwing only 81 IP with a 3.67 ERA, but his walks shot up (4.1 BB/9 after 2.8 BB/9 in 2007) and that lead to an only average 4.85 tRA. This year Bedard is back on track, with a 2.48 ERA. His strike-out rate hasn't risen back to 2007's likely career high (10.9 K/9), but it's a very good 8.9 K/9 and his control is the best it's ever been (2.5 BB/9). That's resulted in a 3.75 tRA.

Still, that trade was a very, very bad one for Seattle (though it did put the nail in Bill Bavasi's coffin, which is good for the long-term health of the team given the very capable front-office that's been assembled now). How bad was it? Well, even if you break it up into 2 trades, then they're still bad.

1) Erik Bedard for Adam Jones: Bedard was worth (from FanGraphs) 1.1 WAR ($4.7 M) in 2008 and is on pace for about 3.6 WAR (about $17 M) this year. That's 4.7 WAR (about $21.7 M) while being paid a total of $14.5 M - that's about $7.2 M in excess value. Adam Jones was worth 2.2 WAR ($10 M) last year and is at 1.9 WAR ($8.5 M) already this year. Not on pace for (that would be about 5.7 WAR) - already at. That's 4.1 WAR already in from Jones for $18.5 M in value while being paid less than a million dollars total. Without taking into account anyone the M's might acquire for Bedard in a trade or via a draft-pick if he leaves as a free-agent - or the remaining 4 years that Jones is under Orioles' control - the Mariners have already lost this one.

2) Erik Bedard for George Sherrill and Chris Tillman (lets even pretend that Kam "The Almighty" Mickolio (4.50 ERA in Triple-A but with 26 K's and 6 BB's in 20 IP) and Tony Butler (4.42 ERA in A-Ball with 44 K's and 11 BB's in 50 IP) won't ever contribute in the majors): Bedard has the aforementioned $7.2 M in projected excess value, and this time lets add in the expected excess value of the draft-picks Seattle would get if he's a Type-A free agent. Over at The Hardball Times they valued those picks at about $3-5 M, but given the success Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik had with the draft in Milwaukee, let's lean towards the high end of that range. So that knocks the excess value from Bedard up to about $12 M.

George Sherrill was worth about 0.4 WAR ($1.7 M) last year while being paid $1.0 M, and is on pace for about 0.9 WAR (about $4.3 M) this year while being paid $2.75 M. That's $2.25 M in excess value.

Victor Wang did some research on value of prospects, which I'm going to use. Combining the top prospect lists going into 2009 from Baseball America (#22), Kevin Goldstein (#16), Keith Law (#40), and Deric McKamey (somewhere around #25), Chris Tillman (2.13 ERA in Triple-A with 44 K's and 13 BB's in 38 IP) ranks about 24th in baseball and 9th amongst pitchers (he's about equal to Brian Matusz, by the way). Top 10 pitchers have an expected excess value of about $13.5 M. That's already more than what Bedard is projected to provide to Seattle, and then add Sherrill (and Mickolio/Butler if you want), and this is another pretty clear win for Baltimore - even if it isn't quit as lopsided as the Adam Jones one.

In fact - depending on your opinion of Mickolio and Butler, and the value Sherrill can bring to the O's in his remainging time in Baltimore (I'd say about zero total, with some positive times and some negative times - though more if they can trade him for something decent) - one could even say that the O's would have come out even or ahead if this was split into 3 trades (Jones, Tillman, and Sherrill/Mickolio/Butler). No reason to get greedy though. It was an absolute steal as it is.

And it'll feel even better if the O's can beat Bedard in this game (though I'm still a fan, and would be open to bringing him back after the season if he'll take a discount).

Top 1:
  • Brian Roberts ends a long at bat with a pop-up to short.
  • Adam Jones grounds the first pitch he sees to third.
  • Nick Markakis grounds the first pitch he sees to first. I think these guys forgot that being patient at the plate is what helped bring them so much success early in the season.
Bottom 1:
  • Ichiro! bounces a groundball into the hole at short and beats out Izturis' throw. That sets a new M's franchise record for a hitting streak at 26 games, beating the previous record of 25 games held by Ichiro!.
  • Russell Branyan (batting second?) grounds a single into right-field.
  • Adrian Beltre pops a 95 mph fastball at the letters up, and Ty Wigginton (playing first) makes the catch in foul territory.
  • Hey, it's the zombie of Ken Griffey Jr! Seriously though, it's really nice to see Junior back in an M's uniform - he can't catch up to a good fastball (fouls off 97, then misses 94 and 96), but things are just better in the universe with Griffey back in Seattle.
  • Jose Lopez hits a flyball to deep left that should end the inning, but the ball goes off of Reimold's glove and two runs score. Both will be "earned".
  • Yuniesky Betancourt pops out to second.
Top 2:
  • Aubrey Huff flies out to center. Bedard looks good thus far, but not dominant - the O's can score a couple runs off of him I think.
  • Melvin Mora ropes a double just fair down the left-field line.
  • Wigginton grounds out to short.
  • Mora steals third without a throw.
  • Matt Wieters grounds out to third.
Bottom 2:
  • Rob Johnson hits a lead-off double to left-center field.
  • Endy Chavez drops down a sac bunt.
  • Frankiln Gutierrez draws a walk.
  • Ichiro! pops out to Wieters behind the plate.
  • Branyan hits a monster shot just foul down the right-field down. He ends up popping out to Mora in shallow left-field to leave the runners on.
Top 3:
  • Sharp 3-2 curveball gets Reimold looking.
  • Izturis strikes out looking as well.
  • Roberts lines out to third.
Bottom 3:
  • Beltre grounds a single through the left-side.
  • Griffey pops out to Mora.
  • Lopez doubles into the left-field corner.
  • Betancourt grounds out to third, but that will bring in another run. 3-0, M's.
  • Johnson flies out to left to end the inning.
Top 4:
  • Adam Jones with a long flyball to left (man, the ball really doesn't carry well in Seattle) - it goes off the wall in the corner for a lead-off double.
  • Markakis draws a walk. WOOOOOO! I may be the only person that gets really excited when Nick walks - maybe it's because I spent so much effort trying to show that his great walk rate from last year wasn't a fluke.
  • Huff flies out to deep center-field. That might have been gone in Cmaden Yards.
  • Mora pops out.
  • Wigginton lines out to right. The O's really needed to score there, and they couldn't come through.
Bottom 4:
  • Ichiro! serves a two-out single to left.
  • Hernandez strikes Branyan out swinging to end the inning.
Top 5:
  • Wieters lines a single into left-center.
  • Fastball on the inside corner gets Reimold looking.
  • Izturis bounces to short, though the M's can only get the force at second.
  • After a steal of second by Cesar, Roberts strikes out swinging at a high fastball.
Bottom 5:
  • Beltre singles to left-field.
  • Griffey doubles over Jones' head in center-field. It was on a 92 mph fastball down in the zone, and he just dropped the head of the bat on it. I guess after striking him out and touching 97 in the first, Hernandez is trying to conserve some energy now and stay in the game long enough for his teammates to put some runs on the board for him. The O's have Mark Hendrickson is warming up in the pen.
  • Lopez grounds out to short, which brings in the fourth Seattle run.
  • Betancourt flies out to center.
  • Johnson grounds up the middle, but Izturis ranges across the bag to get the ball and throw him out.
Top 6:
  • High fastball gets Jones swinging.
  • Markakis grounds out to short.
  • Absurd curveball gets Huff looking. It started right at him and broke over the heart of the plate.
Bottom 6:
  • Wigginton dives/falls down to snag a grounder by Chavez and takes it to the bag himself for the out.
  • Gutierrez singles to right-center. That'll be the last batter Hernandez faces today, with Hendrickson coming in.
  • Ichiro! grounds to short with Izturis getting just the force at second.
  • Branyan walks on four pitches.
  • Beltre singles to right to bring in Ichiro!, but Wigginton cuts off Markakis' throw home and fires to third to get Branyan to end the inning. Run counts though, and it's 5-0.
Top 7:
  • Mora swings through a fastball for Bedard's 8th K.
  • Wigginton singles to left.
  • Wieters, with a patient at bat, draws the first walk of his career.
  • Reimold battles through a tough plate appearance - fouling off several pitches - before drawing a walk himself.
  • We've decided here that if Izturis hits a grand slam we're going to go get a beer. It won't be off of Bedard though, with Sean White coming in (12 BB and 11 K in 25.2 IP this year - those aren't good numbers). And it won't be Izturis either, with Luke Scott coming up to pinch-hit against the right-hander. Tired Bedard vs. Izturis or Sean White vs. Scott? Tough call, but I think I would have stuck with Erik.
  • Scott grounds to third, but Branyan's only play is at first. That gets the O's on the board.
  • Roberts grounds up the middle, but White snags it and throws him out. 5-1, M's.
Bottom 7:
  • Griffey doubles deep into the left-field corner.
  • Lopez grounds out to first, but that advances Junior to third.
  • Matt Albers will take over on the mound for the O's.
  • Betancourt grounds out to third, with Mora looking Griffey back to the bag.
  • Gutierrez walks.
  • Nice tailing away from Chavez gets him swinging.
Top 8:
  • Jones grounds a single through the right side.
  • Markakis hits a groundball to second, with Lopez taking it to second himself and getting taken out by a Jones' slide. His throw to first was way high, and Nick is safe.
  • Huff hits another long flyball to the track in center that Gutierrez gets to. I'm not a big fan of "arena baseball", but playing in Seattle is frustrating.
  • Mora pops out to end the inning.
Bottom 8:
  • Albers gives up a lead-off single and gets replaced by Jamie Walker on the mound.
  • Ichiro! flies out to center.
  • Branyan deep and gone to right. 7-1, Seattle. Walker has now given up 3 HR to left-handed batters in 4.2 IP this year.
  • Beltre flies out to center.
  • Make that 4 HR in 5 IP to lefties. Ken Griffey Jr. hits #617 for his career. It was a breaking ball down and away, and Junior went out and hooked it.
  • Lopez doubles to deep center-field. Walker isn't fooling anybody, and if Andy McPhail came down to the field right now to cut Jamie then I'd be A-OK with it.
  • Betancourt grounds out to third.
Top 9:
  • Felix Pie will pinch-hit against Denny Stark. Nice piece of hitting by Pie as he lines a double off the chalk down the left-field line. I still have faith in him to be a quality major leaguer, even if he'll only get a real chance in Baltimore if an injury occurs at this point. And 88 at bats does not a "real chance" make, though his PrOPS line of .249/.318/.388 isn't exaclty a confidence booster.
  • Wieters bounces out to second. His timing looks just a little bit off at the plate.
  • Robert Andino (who came in to play shor when Scott hit for Izturis) flies out to right to score Pie.
  • Luke grounds out to second to end the game.
David Hernandez showed some impressive stuff, throwing a very hard "rising" fastball (92-97 mph, though without much run in on right-handed batters), a nice change-up that he didn't throw for strikes as much as one would like, and a sharp slider. The general line on him has been that he posted good strike-out numbers in the minors (with iffy control) but that scouts didn't like him very much as a potential quality major league starter. If he can keep the walks down, I don't see any reason he can't hang around as a #4 starter. His line doesn't look pretty (5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K), but two of those runs could easily been kept off the board if Reimold had taken a normal route to a flyball in the first inning. When you give up a lot of balls in play, sometimes the hits will fall in. Unfortunately for Hernandez, Erik Bedard was very effective for Seattle. The O's had there chances, but couldn't take advantage and lose 8-2.

Read more ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

O's-M's, Pitching Rules As O's Eek Out 1-0 Win

The O's dropped the last two games of their series with Detroit after being on a little bit of a roll. They'll try to get back in the win column out on the West coast against the 24-27 Seattle Mariners.

It'll be a battle of left-handers with Rich Hill (6.14 ERA, 4.13 tRA) facing off against Jarrod Washburn (3.45 ERA, 4.55 tRA). Hill was largely ineffective in his last start against Toronto, giving up 7 runs in 3.1 IP. For him, success comes when he has some command of his fastball. Thus far this season, he's thrown only 43% of his pitches in the zone. That hasn't bitten him too badly (though a 5.5 BB/9 is awful) because hitters are still chasing pitches out of the zone (swinging at 22.4% of them, compared to 24.5% as the league average). If they stop doing that though - like they did last year when it was just 10.8% - then Hill may be in a lot more trouble. The curveball is great, but the fastball is down even more velocity-wise to 87.5 mph on average (88.3 mph last year, and 89.4 the year before) and with some control his ceiling is likely that of a #3/4 starter. Now that's still a big addition for the O's staffs of late, but with the young pitchers coming up he may not be able to keep his job for too much longer without showing some improvement somewhere.

Top 1:
  • Adam Jones fouls off a few pitches and draws a one-out walk.
  • He ends the inning still at first though, as Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff both fly out.
Bottom 1:
  • Ichiro (!) starts the game with a double to left-field, and then takes third as Nolan Reimold's throw in goes off-line.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt pops out to second.
  • Hill elevates a fastball to the shoulders, and Adrain Beltre helps him out by weakly swinging and missing for the K.
  • Mike Sweeney pops out to first. Nice job by Hill to leave the runner at third stranded.

Top 2:
  • With one out, the most recent Player of the Week - Luke Scott - lines a single off the wall in right-field.
  • Cut fastball down and in gets Matt Wieters swinging.
  • Reimold singles through the right-side.
  • Cesar Izturis bounces out to second to end the inning.
Bottom 2:
  • Russell Branyan walks. Branyan has finally been given a shot to play full-time, and boy is he taking advantage of it (.323/.413/.614, 11 HR, .433 wOBA coming into the game).
  • Jose Lopez grounds to second for an easy double play.
  • Wladimir Balentien walks on four pitches. Hill's not showing any improvement in fastball command thus far, and the curve isn't falling in for strikes much either.
  • He strikes out Rob Johnson on three pitches though.
Top 3:
  • Markakis grounds to short, but Betancourt throws the ball away and he's safe at first with two down. Nick hit .381/.460/.600 in April and .240/281/.438 in May. The drop in average; fine. Balls don't fall in and all that - BABIP fluctuations - it happens. It's the drop in walk to strike-out ratio from 13-13 to 6-13 that's concerning. He's getting less balls thrown in the zone to him, but he's swinging less at those and more at pitches out of the zone. And his fielding out in right has been awful. Add it all up and he's only been about a replacement level player thus far (just 0.1 WAR or so). Very disappointing, though it has to pick up.
  • Oh, and Huff pops out to end the inning.
Bottom 3:
  • Franklin Gutierrez walks on four pitches. Hill's lucky the M's don't have a particularly good offense.
  • Ichiro (!) grounds to second, but the can only get the force at second.
  • Betancourt singles to left.
  • Usually Hill can make up for his lack of fastball command by throwing curveballs in the zone. Tonight though, a lot of those are hanging up and out of the zone themselves.
  • Beltre pops out, with Huff reaching over the railing into the M's dugout to make the catch.
  • Sharp curve/slider gets Sweeney, as he's not able to check his swing. Again Hill gets himself into - and then out of - trouble.
Top 4:
  • 1-2-3 go the O's.
Bottom 4:
  • 1-2-3 go the M's. A couple groundouts and a K, with 9 of 13 pitches classified as strikes (only 26 of 50 in the first three innings).
Top 5:
  • Reimold lines a single to left.
  • Very quick turn of the double play off an Izturis grounder to second.
  • Roberts strikes out.
Bottom 5:
  • Another 1-2-3 inning for Hill (all 9 pitches were strikes).
Top 6:
  • Adam Jones breaks his bat on a foul ball, and then uses the new one to line a double over the left-fielders head. The ball beat Jones to second, but it was a bit off-line and Adam just got in there.
  • Markakis lines a single to center and the O's have runners on the corners.
  • Huff hits a flyball to deep center to bring in Jones. Nick tags up himself and goes to second, just getting in ahead of the tag with a nice slide. O's up 1-0.
  • Mora flies out to right.
  • Scott flies out to the track in right.
Bottom 6:
  • Fastball on the inside corner gets Beltre looking for the second out of the sixth.
  • Nasty 69 mph curveball swung on and missed for strike two. That thing could get people to fall over trying to get it. Sweeney flies out to end the inning.
  • Hill's retired 11 in a row.
Top 7:
  • Wieters drives a 3-2 pitch into deep center-field, but Gutierrez is able to just run it down. It didn't even look like he hit it that hard, but the ball traveled about 400 ft.
  • Reimold flies out to short right.
  • Izturis singles up the middle.
  • Roberts flies out to right.
Bottom 7:
  • Nice curveball gets Branyan swinging. The count was 3-2, but Hill has shown that he'll throw the hook in any count.
  • Lopez pops out to Wieters.
  • Fastball gets Baletnien looking.
Top 8:
  • Chris Jakubauskas in for Washburn, who pitched pretty well and definitely used the big outfield to his advantage.
  • Markakis draws a one-out walk. That's his first base on balls since May 17th. Yikes.
  • Amazing play by Branyan to make a diving stop of a Huff grounder, throw to second for the force, and then get back to the bag to catch the relay. That's a Web Gem right there.
Bottom 8:
  • Jim Johnson will come in to hold the 1-0 lead.
  • 97 mph fastball boring down and in gets Rob Johnson swinging.
  • Another one at 93 gets Gutierrez swinging.
  • Ichiro flies out to left.
Top 9:
  • Mora flies out to right.
  • Scott strikes out looking.
  • Wieters, batting left-handed for the first time today, strikes out looking as well. Hey, but at least he called a good game.
Bottom 9:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Betancourt flies out to deep center.
  • Beltre flies out to deep center.
  • Sweeney flies out to deep right.
Rich Hill started out shaky, but he really settled down and pitched well (7IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K). O's pitchers retired the last 20 hitters of the game, and the offense was able to scratch out one run for the win. In the post-game interview, Adam Jones said he and Nick Markakis don't remember the last time the O's won 1-0, and I have to agree. (It was 2007 apparently.) Great win for the Birds, and for Hill after his struggles last time out.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jackson Beats Berken In Pitchers' Duel

After the last couple of games with Matt Wieters behind the plate, today Gregg Zaun (who I still like, and I think could be a very effective back-up) will be out there with Wieters DH'ing. At first I thought that Wieters was sitting, and was a little less excited to watch the game. WIth the way Luke Scott has been hitting, he's staying in the line-up and playing left with Nolan Reimold getting the day off. Ty Wigginton and Robert Andino are giving Melvin Mora and Cesar Izturis some rest as well.

The O's are finishing up their four-game series with the Tigers having already guaranteed themselves at least a split. Jason Berken goes for the Birds - it's his second start and the first time I'll be seeing him pitch - against Edwin Jackson, who has found some command (2.3 BB/9 this year, improving from 3.8, 4.9, and 6.2 BB/9 the past three years) and much improves results (2.58 ERA, 3.49 FIP)
  • Both pitchers record quick first innings.
  • Berken is a pretty small right-hander. He's listed at 6'0", but there's no way that's accurate. He gets OK movement on his low-90's fastball, but does a nice job pounding the zone and mixing his pitches. The third time throught the line-up probably won't be very pretty though, as they'll already have seen everything he has to offer.
  • After a quiet first three innings, Curtis Granderson takes Berken deep in the 4th to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
  • Nick Markakis picks up the O's first hit, lining a single to left.
  • Jackson is just mowing these O's hitters down. Low to mid 90's fastball and a sharp slider - both of which he's shown excellent control over. With Zumaya waiting in the pen jsut in case.
  • Berken matched him almost pitch for pitch, and will be taken out for Danys Baez in the eighth. Jason's final line was 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K, and though he didn't look particularly impressive he got the job done. Now he just needs some offense.
  • Baez gives up a walk and a double to make it 2-0 Detroit. That seems like a huge lead today.
  • Wigginton leads off the 8th with a ground-rule double into left-center field. O's can't get him in though.
  • Mark Hendrickson gets some work in the ninth and also gives up a run on a walk and a single.
  • Adam Jones draws a two-out walk against closer Fernando Rodney, but Markakis grounds back to the mound to end the game.
  • Two hits and two walks is all the O's get on the day, as the lose once agian on a Sunday 3-0. It's off to the West coast now.
Read more ...