Hall O Fame Ballot

John Sickels rates the Orioles’ prospects

Cooperstown time,

The Hall of Fame ballot is out and the can of worms is opened. First let’s deal with class. Ripken and Gwynn are on the ballot. These two are shoo-ins, as well they should be. Both of these guys were the prototype of class during the span of their careers. They were never me first guys and they never bailed on their team, even though they had their chances. These two are also, some of the last 1 team players. When it comes closer to January 9th, I’ll do a salute post about my first hero, Cal Ripken Jr.

Then there’s Mark McGwire. If there were no steroid clouds thundering above his red head, then he’d be a no brainer. But he’s a tainted player. He never failed a test, but there was that andro flap. There were all the accusations. Jose Canesco, literary mind at large, implicated him in his book. There was that horrible appearance before Congress.

“I don’t want to talk about the past.”

That’s fine, Mark. But if you take that view, then we might as well forget yours.

That’s what I don’t understand. During the great home run race, he was the big burly slugger with a big smile. Since then, he’s a recluse. I haven’t seen him in public….since Congress, I guess. Instead of hiding, why not help these kids and tell them about the dangers of steroids? He doesn’t have to admit anything, of course, if he were to do this….then he’d be smeared for that.

But wouldn’t it be better to be smeared while trying to fight the problem instead of hiding?

McGwire begs the question….what about the rest of the players of the steriod era? There’s the Sosas, the Bonds, and the Giambis. How will the admittance of just not them, but every player be decided? There’s no way to tell if someone has or hasn’t, if they haven’t failed a test.  Sadly, it’s an end result of the steroid era.

Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Dante Bichette, Bert Blyleven, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Dave Concepcion, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Tony Fernandez, Steve Garvey, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Paul O’Neill, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Devon White, Bobby Witt.

Cal, Gwynn, Goosage, Dawson, and Jim Rice all should get in the hall in my opinion.

Some of these players I didn’t know they retired.

Devon White? I didn’t realize that he hadn’t played in 5 years.

Jay Buhner…remember him. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Dante Bichette….one of the original Rockies. I guess that sums it up.

Jose Conseco- rather unlikely

Eric Davis, one of my favorite players. Sadly, he won’t make the Hall. But he’s in the Hall of Fame for very tough guys.

Albert Belle…would he be able to leave prison to give his speech if hell froze over and he was elected?

Bobby Bonilla might make the hall if the change the name to hall of good players who were jackasses.

Bret Saberhagen said that if elected to the hall, he would refuse unless they let Pete Rose in. I don’t think Bret is going to have that problem.

Just heard on the XM that Mark Mulder has signed with the D-backs, so scratch him off your drool list.

Feeds

I’ve got a quick question for those of you who get my blog through feeds.

How’s that working out right now? Back when I was blogspot, I had several feeds through there that I had installed. With WordPress, I can see that I do have a fairly steady feed audience. So I guess my question is, do any improvements need to be made and if so tell me what. Be specific too, because what you see on the site is as good as I am with technology.

I always forget about Jay

When I did my little piece last night about the make up the team next season, I forgot about Jay Gibbons. I guess it’s easy to forget sometimes because he’s a touch injury prone. What I’m curious about is, what will be his role on the 2007 Orioles.

I think it’s safe to say that the rightfielder’s job is taken by some kid named Markakis. Leftfield is open, but in all of volumes and volumes of O’s articles that I consume on a daily basis, Jay Gibbons in not mentioned as a possible solution, nor should he be.

Gibbon’s outfield defense is scary. Most of the time it managed to be just good enough, but there were balls he should have caught. There were errors and all the like there. His defense was what almost killed him in LA against the Angels.

So scratch leftfield off his list of positions to play

Maybe it was the Sun or the Post that mentioned a day or two ago that Perlozzo said Gibbons would be getting an extended look at 1st base in Spring Training. That’s good, I know he doesn’t want to be a full-time DH, and if you’re not 300 lbs, who wants to be? First base is a lot safer for Gibbons and his fragile body, but let’s see how good those hands are. Remember the Javy Lopez fiasco last spring?

We could always DH, but after he came back from his multiple injuries he said that he didn’t mind DHing for the rest of this past season but he doesn’t want to be a full-time DH. I don’t blame him. I’d want to be on the field too.

So if we don’ t trade him and I doubt that. After a couple injury plagued years, Gibbons’ trade value is low. One thing to consider too, since he’s best friends with Brian Roberts, I don’t think the O’s would trade him until AFTER they sign Brian Roberts to a contract extension. That is IF they are able too.

I’d rather see Gibbons at first than some retread dinosaur that’s still on the free agent market.

 Here’s what’s left on the first base market

Craig Wilson (I’ve made my position clear on him)

Erubiel Durazo- Would be nice to have if healthy, but I’d DH him

After those two..nothing

There’s Dmitri Young, who is shipwreck, wrapped in a trainwreck, hit by a plane crash and smothered chemical spill.

Shea Hillenbrand- pass

Travis Lee- pass

Jeff Bagwell- a couple years too late on that one

That’s really it basically.

Check it out if you don’t believe me.

Howie Clark is on that list. Remember him from last season? For the Orioles? Yeah, no one really does.

Baseball mastermind Ken Rosenthal took a couple shots at the O’s today. I’m guessing he watched exactly 0 minutes of Orioles baseball last season with a quote like this:

The World Series demonstrated that it actually might be preferable to construct bullpens on the cheap if you’re got quality young arms — which, to an extent, the Orioles do.

Most of the young quality arms we have are either in the rotation (Loewen, Cabrera) or not quite ready (Liz, Erbe, Olson). The only young arm we could that with would be Penn. But I don’t want Penn on the Opening Day roster. We do have Hoey and Burres, who could fill the last two slots in the pen, or they could wait and let them get some time in at Norfolk and not rush them.

Rosenthal does say this:

If the Orioles succeed with their bullpen binge and add one quality starting pitcher and one big slugger, they could be a dangerous team in the ever-competitive A.L. East.

BUT….wait for it…

More likely, they’ll fail to obtain the other players they need, endure another losing season and wonder why the heck they spent more than $42 million on middle-inning relief.

Thanks, Kenny.

Good article in the Sun today about what to do from here. I agree with the fact that we don’t need to be really spending many more bucks from here. We don’t really need much else for the bullpen, though I think we could sign Alan Embree or someone like him cheap. Aside from picking up maybe Wilson and hopefully signing Mark Mulder to an incentive laden option-triggered deal, we need to look to the trade market to get the rest of the holes filled.

Hey, If Rosenthal’s got you down, Buster Olney gave the Orioles a little praise today

 The Orioles had a busy day, writes Jeff Zrebiec, signing four players, including backup catcher Paul Bako. The Orioles have spent about $45 million this offseason, in bullpen help, and the Cubs have spent about $240 million — and there is really no question that toward the end-goal of making the team better for 2007, Baltimore has, so far, made more progress, because the O’s have improved their pitching. They had a serious bullpen hole and they’ve worked to fill it (The Cubs did well in addressing their bullpen issues last year, but all the money spent on offense will be wasted in 2007 if the team doesn’t fundamentally improve its starting pitching).

Remember, good pitching always beats good hitting. But with all the cash we’ve spent on the pen…it’s useless if our starting pitching can’t hand them the lead (ask the 2006  Cubs…except for Ryan Dempster, who blew every lead  he got).

That’s it for me today, unless we sign a couple more relievers.

More signings to the pen

All right, the bullpen last season…what’s the word…ah yes, sucked.

Todd Williams couldn’t get down an intentional walk right.

Julio Manon made me want to hurl.

Bruce Chen was a joke…of the day.

Eddy Rodriguez showed he’s likely a career AAAA player.

Not to mention the Jim Browers, Russ Ortizes, John Halamas, and the rollercoaster ride known as an inning with LaTroy Hawkins. But, the front office has watched games and said “Holy dang, these guys are bad.” and we are getting a monopoly on free agent relievers. To this, I am happy about.

Jamie Walker was a good signing. Who was our lefthanded specialist? I don’ t think we had one.

Danys Baez was expensive, but he’s proven he can pitch in the AL East and close games. He’s also a nice safety net in case Chris Ray has a sophmore slump.

Word comes today, that the O’s have signed Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson. Both are solid signings, I think. Bradford, who I saw pitch last season when the Mets visited the Braves, pitches sidearmed and is a very solid player. Williamson is a bargain that could be a very crafty signing. If he stays healthy, he’ll be  a steal at $900,000.

Read that there could be one more pitcher added to all this. Maybe Dustin Hermanson or Octival Dotel? Dotel would be a nice one to add. Regardless, I like our new expensive pen.

From ESPN

Baltimore has been making moves to strengthen a bullpen that was 19-25 with a 5.25 ERA and 35 saves in 56 opportunities.

Gag with me a Louisville Slugger.

Also, backup catcher Paul Bako was signed. The one this to keep in mind here that he is a DEFENSIVE specialist. His offensive talent is…well…offensive.  He batted .208 with 0 homeruns and 10 RBIs in 56 games, so he’s not going to DH much. But he could help our young pitching alot.

Last but not least, Kevin Millar will be back next season. I have NO problem with this, as long as we platoon him at first. He had a decent season. He works the count and has a good OBP. Let’s not forget he’s a clubhouse presensce….which is very important in Baltimore.

I’m glad to see our front office be aggressive with our holes. We now need LF and 1st and DH taken care of. I’d like another starter too.

What would I like?

Glad you asked.

Barring any sort of trades (I’m predicting 3 trades. They might not be blockbusters, but the front office is aggressive, so I think we make some noise on the trade market) and based one what’s available.

I still want Craig Wilson at first. Yes, he was invisible with the Yankees, but why did the Yankees trade for him the first place. If the O’s can’t find a young blocked first baseman via trade (ala Ryan Shealy) then go with Wilson most of the time at first and Millar can do a little at first and DH.

Shannon Stewart would be ok in left, if we don’t trade for some else. I’d like Jose Gullien….if he has his head screwed on straight. Remember when he was with the Angels, he was suspended during a career year for the rest of that career year due to a flap with manager Mike Scoisa. If healthy and sane, he could be this year’s version of Frank Thomas (damaged goods that healed and rebound).

Seeing Rodrigo Lopez traded is also high on my list. Man, I hope he’s not an O next season. I have to give credit to the front office. Years past we’ve moved at a snail’s pace, but this season we’ve doing a lot of moves quick. So the bullpen is done (I’d assume), let’s get the rest of these holes filled and get this team back on course.

O’s sign Danys Baez

The Orioles have signed free agent righty reliever Danys Baez to what is believed to be a three deal deal worth 5 or 6 million a year. I have to say 5 or 6 million a year is a lot for a reliever. But you know what, our bullpen outside Chris Ray last season was rancid. With the addition of Jamie Walker and now Danys Baez, it looks like the front office is making the bullpen the first priority. The article also mentions that the Orioles have offers on the table for Chad Bradford, Dustin Hermanson, and Joe Borowski.  Bradford’s the one I really want, so if we can sign him, then our pen will be much improved. If we sign Hermanson or Borowski, I’d be happy too. Let’s get this pen squared away and look to get the rest of this team right.

So Much for Carlos Lee

A couple days late on this, but I was busy getting my heart ripped up with Jad Dean missing a 39 yard field goal with 18 seconds left, to give the much hated South Carolina Gamecocks a 31-28 win over Clemson. Clemson now sits it’s typical 8-4, will go to an average bowl, and will be medicore despite having the best 1-2 punch at HB with James Davis and CJ Spiller. Only one more game of having Will Proctor at QB and Jad Dean kicking. 

Anyway, the Astros signed Carlos Lee to a 6 year deal totaling 100 million dollars. The first 4 years has a complete no-trade clause and the last two have a limited no-trade. I’m a little bummed that the O’s couldn’t seal the deal, but it’s no surprise that Lee went to Houston for several reasons

1. He has a ranch around there. I think it’s in Panama or something, but Houston is close for him and that was a big factor.

2. Houston is closer to contending than we are. Petitte and Clemens likely won’t be back, but they have Oswalt, they signed Williams, and have a couple of young pitchers who are OK.

3. 100 million and no income tax.

We would have had to go to 6 years and 115 million to get this deal done. Lee would have been smart to go to an AL team because in a couple years he’ll be in DH shape.

With this happening, I think the O’s should look to get younger and explore doing some trades. Tejada’s contract is going to look very good with these insane Soriano/Lee contracts. You have think the Angels aren’t satisified by the Gary Matthews Jr signing alone, which is a commitably insane contract.

For a trip down memory lane check this out Mike Tyson’s Knockout was and is one of the best video games ever. I remember those days in elementary school where we’d go to each other’s houses and play. King Hippo was my favorite foe. Ironically, I played the Xbox 360 yesterday for the first time at a friend’s house after that fiasco of a game and it was great stuff, but I miss the old games. The ones that were completely unrealistic. They were fun. Props to  joesportsfan.com, a very good site that I don’t check out near enough.

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

I had hoped to add Carlos Lee on things that I’m thankful for, but he hasn’t signed anywhere yet.

I’m not doing any work to link today, but it’s down to the Orioles, Phillies, and Astros. Houston is still the favorite, but I’ve still got some hope.

Anyway, eat up and watch football and enjoy the day.