This is the End, My Friends

Today is the final of the regular season, which means the Orioles season ends today. It hasn’t been a bad season, it’s been a decent season with an absolutely horrible last month to it. That’s how it goes though sometimes.

In a way, I’ll be relieved to have the season over with. The how-low-can-you-go injury plagued/medicore pitching has caused me turn off many of games during the second or third inning. The once good, now duct taped bullpen has to be happy to see this grueling season end.

This will be the last time we see some of these players in an Oriole uniform. Some I’ll be sad to see go, not many but a few. So I’ll be relieved to see leave. The Rocky Cherrys and (cross your fingers) Daniel Cabreras of the team will cause me fewer tears during their exit than during their tenture. Some players might be traded, released, or sign elsewhere.

It’s been a bad bad month, but let’s keep things in perspective. All the media outlets, a larger number of seasonable fans, and myself thought the 2008 Baltimore Orioles were going to be a historically bad team. 100 losses minimum. For 3/4ths of a season, this team kept it close. They won a lot of 1 run ball games and looked like they were having fun out there. They gave me a reason to want to watch again. Reality set in hard, but I’m not taking the season as a whole for granted. It’s been fun….for the most part.

So it’s one last go for the 2008 O’s. We have an offseason of rebuilding, Mark Teixiera rumors, and of course…plenty of Brian Roberts trade rumors as well. Let the fun begin anew.

How are those September Callups Doing?

Now that the season is almost done, its time enough to see how those players who got the call up from the minors have fared thus far in Baltimore. Some are prospects with at least some upside, some are medicore guys, and who knows about the rest.

Kam Mickolio

Kam was a player acquired in the Great Bedard Swindle of 2008. He’s been described as a raw power bullpen arm. He’s been in the minors for the bulk of the season, but got called up a few weeks ago.

Thus far it’s a mere 6.2 innings pitched, an unflattering 6.75 ERA, 5 runs, 4 BB, and 7 K.

It’s a small small sample size, so its hard to judge a guy on this when he’s just breaking in the majors. He’s got some talent, but he was 5th player in the Bedard trade. Not every player in a trade pans out, but he’s an incomplete at the moment.

Brian Bass came along from the Twins for straight up cash money. MacPhail said some flattering things about him because he’s supposed to. Honestly, any pitcher a team gets through during the waiver deadline isn’t going to be great. Brian Bass isn’t great. He doesn’t have any decisions, but he’s rocking a 6.00 ERA through 15 innings. 10 ER, 9 BB, and 9K…and he’s managed to hit 2 batters. Nothing special here.

Rocky Cherry came via the Steve Trachsel trade last season (another example of the fact teams don’t get great pitchers through waiver trades). I made the misguided push for him after a stellar spring. He’s up here and is another bandaid on a festering wound of a bullpen. in 16.2 innings, Cherry has a 4.86 ERA with 14 BB and 15 K. Cherry’s a medicore pitcher with no real upside.

Alfredo Simon had a dandy start last night until Jamie Walker threw it away. In 3 games (1 of those being a start), Alfredo (great name, by the way) sports a 4.91 ERA. 11 innings, 6 runs, 1 BB (that’s a nice number), and 8 K’s. He’s 27 and has been kicking around the minors for awhile. I like him though. He has a cool name and he doesn’t walk anybody. That’s worth something.

Bob McCrory came back. I suppose you could say he’s doing better. He had a 108.00 ERA when he returned to Baltimore. Now he’s got a 16.62. That’s an improvement.

Jim Miller came over during the Rodrigo Lopez trade a couple years ago. He’s toiled in the system and got called up once relievers’ arms began to fall off. So far, he’s done his job. He’s 0-2, but has a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 inning. The 8 K’s to 5 BB ratio isn’t lovely, but it is a small sample size.

Lou Montanez has been a swell story. He’s hit 3 HR and drove in 14 since his call up. He’s much better than Jay Payton out there and wouldn’t kill me to see him as a 4th outfielder next season.

Oscar Salazar is one of those guys who’ve been around for awhile, has a nice run and gets you excited but will likely only disappoint you down the road. He’s 30. He’ll be 31 next season. I think it’s safe to say, he’s not a key clog in the rebuilding effort.

Omir Santos is a backup catcher. He’s 1 for 7 and bats .143. Somewhere Paul Bako is proud.

O’s Drop Twin Bill, the slow painful spiral continues

There’s only 4 games left. I wonder if this woeful team will win anymore games this season. For the month, their record is a staggering 4-18. There’s a chance they could win one more game.

Tonight is the finale against the Tampa Rays, who should thank the O’s when they win the AL East.

Thursday’s an off day, then the finale is a three game set against the Jays.

Then its over with. Hey, at least 100 losses didn’t happen…that’s one plus.

Last night, the O’s dropped both ends of a double header.

The first one was a 7-5 loss

Garrett Olson wasn’t bad, going 6 innings and giving up three runs..but James Shields is pretty good. Shields went 7 strong and struck out 8. The mistake by Shields (or any Rays pitcher) was a pitch that Lou Montanez took for a 2 run homer. Montanez has hung in their pretty good since his call up. I certainly would rather have him play than Jay Payton.

The back end was a 7-5 loss.

Alfredo Simon (such an awesome name) went 7.2 innings and probably pitched the game of his life. Simon gave 3 runs, walked none and struck out 6. Jamie Walker came in to get the 8th inning cleared and threw BP to the Rays for a bit. Walker went 0.0 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 runs, and walked a guy. He’s a got a spiffy 6.87 ERA at the moment. Last season’s Jamie Walker seems like a long long time ago. Chad Bradford pitched for the Rays last night. He’s got a 2.05 ERA right now.

Last one against Tampa’s tonight. A win would be nice.

O’s close out Yankee Stadium Tonight

In case you hadn’t heard, tonight the Orioles will be the last team to play against the Yankees in the last game ever at Yankee Stadium.

I think its rather fitting. The Yankees have had a disappointing season and won’t be going to the playoffs. Instead of a possible ALCS ESPN dream of a Red Sox/Yankees game to close it out, its the bumbling Orioles who get to close it out.

Yankee Stadium has its history. Everyone who remotely follows baseball knows about the history at Yankee Stadium. Its been drilled into us through every Sportscenter, ESPN/Fox Game of the Week, and all the meida like. Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, a boatload of World Series, and all the blissful Yankee lore of old. I hate the Yankees. Always have and always will. I respect the fact that back in day before you could buy the best players via free agency, that they had some of the best players in the game.

Now though, the house that Ruth Built will be closed by the Orioles. Chris Waters faces Andy Pettite tonight. I’d relish it if the O’s would whoop up on them tonight. That’d be a nice end of it for me anyways.

Dog Days Blues

In my three years of doing this blog, the last quarter of the season I lose my steam. The three quarters of each season, I’m usually on it and keep things going; at least I like to think. But as the O’s enter their yearly season end skid, I enter my own skid of indifference. I resolved this season would be different, but it hasn’t been. About two weeks ago, I was trying to somehow word “Daniel Cabrera has no control, Garrett Olson still has to have upside, and Rad Liz confounds me” differently for the thousandth time and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to say it…yet again. That’s why I had to step back and  take a break. I didn’t watch a game for at least a week. I went to beach. I hung out with my friends. I’ve been dating again, so that takes plenty of time (fyi we’ve been going out for about six weeks, so things are going well). Me and my friends watched football. I did what I wanted and besides box score watching, I ignored the O’s. I needed a break and I think the old batteries are back charged up for the final throws of yet another losing season.

All in all, it hasn’t been a bad season. I think I got spoiled. There was all the talk that the 2008 Orioles were going to be one of the worst teams ever. They came out and for three quarters of the season, they played at least respectable baseball. Then, albeit rather late, reality set in. Aside from Jeremy Guthrie, the pitching staff is either rushed prospects or just not very good. On top of those shortcomings, injuries set in. As a result of that, an already injury plagued bullpen became overworked by the struggles of starters who struggle to make it five innings on a good night. The offense has been good this year. This is the first time…ever…I think…that I haven’t done a Terry Crowley needs to get canned post every couple of weeks.

I think, or rather know, that I got spoiled by an overachieving ball club. Andy MacPhail is rebuilding this team and its not going to happen overnight. Chances are that the next couple of seasons are going to be something like this. When the young pitching makes through the minors on their terms of merit, rather than the old way of rushing them up because they had a few good outings at Bowie and another Baltimore starter is out. There still needs to be a longterm solution at short and the hole at first base.

On the positive, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are 2/3rds of an outfield that’s going to be good for a long time. Luke Scott has been a nice addition to the O’s. Matt Wieters will in all likelihood be the starting catcher for the 2009 Baltimore Orioles. As long as Brian Roberts is around, the O’s will have a great leadoff hitter and one of the best second basemen in the game. Liz and Waters had back to back great starts, I’ll need a few more to get some faith back in ’em, but hey its still nice to see. Melvin Mora had a hot hot hot second half of baseball. Aubrey Huff has been mighty good this year. Whether its one last hurrah season or whether he’s just picked it up, it doesn’t matter at the moment. At least he’s playing his butt off. There’s plenty of pitching talent in the minors; a minor league system that for so long as been devoid of any pitching talent.

So I’m back. We’re all in this one together. The Orioles are getting better. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but for once it seems a plan is in place and its being followed. So now that I’ve regrouped and got a breather and took a step back…its time to get back to it. I’m in the haul, but I think I’m going to make things a little looser around here. It makes it easier to take the losing, if you can laugh about it sometimes and other times just let the frustrations loose a bit. So hey, its good. Let’s get back to some baseball.

A few notes

I’ve been out of the loop for the weekend and got back today to get back into said loop. Here’s a few little blurbs of interest I found.  

  • Saturday was the day that the O’s clinched their 11th consecutive losing season. We expected it, but its still painful to see the big 82 sitting in the loss column.
  • Oscar Salazar hit two homers yesterday and has five already. I’m going to have to read up and see what the deal on this guy is.
  • Lou Montanez is hanging around with a .321 average.
  • Daniel Cabrera hasn’t won since August 9th.
  • Radhames Liz went 8 strong innings Sunday, walking only 1 and striking out 4. Its nice to see him have an outing like that. If he has a few more, then maybe I’m wrong on him. Maybe.
  • Garrett Olson recorded only 2 outs Saturday. He appears to be regressing further.

Peter Schmuck thinks that the O’s will_go_after_Paul_Byrd_type_free_agent_pitchers_this_offseason. He thinks we’ll sign two of them. I’m figuring by Paul Byrd type he means, medicore older guys who win about as many games as they lose. Proof of my defination can be seen here.

That’s not a horrible plan. Shoot, I’d love to see the O’s sign CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets this offseason. That’s not happening though. It could happen if the O’s grossly overpay but that’s not happening on MacPhail’s watch. Seeing the pitching staff implode yet again during the final weeks of the season, makes me halfway like this plan. It all depends on the ‘Paul Byrd’ type pitchers you sign. Seeing Oriole pitchers wear out, fall apart mechanically, get hurt, or just stink during the last month of year has gotten old over the past three seasons.

A couple reasons why it makes some sense:

  • Having a medicore vet as a stopgap hopefully prevents the team from rushing legit pitching prospects to the majors.
  • Having someone(s) who’ve managed to pitch a full season a few times would be nice.
  • Maybe one of them would bump Daniel Cabrera from the rotaton.

Who pray tell are these pitchers?

*Please note that I’m only focusing on the downside of 30 pitchers.

  • Paul Byrd himself- Since being traded to Boston he’s 4-1 with a 3.82 ERA. Not bad for a 37 year old pitcher. He almost signed with Baltimore two seasons ago, but went to Cleveland at the 11th hour. For a one year deal, I’d be fine with this.
  • Derek Lowe- He’s 12-11 with a 3.53 ERA with the Dodgers this season. He’s 35. Shoot, I won’t mind seeing him signing a 2 year deal with an option for a 3rd.
  • Andy Pettite- He’s 37 and having an average season (13-12) with a 4.49 ERA. This won’t happen because he’ll retire if he’s not pitching for the Yankees. Besides, I wouldn’t take kind to seeing an aging Andy Pettite in orange and black.
  • Mike Hampton- Hampton, 35, signed a billion dollar deal with the Rockies a while back and promptly broke down. He’s been traded twice and has missed the past 2 seasons and the bulk of this season  for the Braves with injury. Pass on this one.
  • Mike Mussina- Moose is 40 and sports a shiny 17-8 record this season. Would everyone be able to forgive and forget about the fact he left the O’s and went to the Yanks. I could (because he got lowballed by the O’s back then with that offer). It’d be a nice ending.
  • John Smoltz- Smoltz is 42 and would be coming off surgery. He’s said he’d be open to the idea of finishing his career somewhere other than Atlanta if they have other plans. He also said he wants to return to the playoffs before his career is done. I don’t see this one happening.
  • Pedro Martinez- Martinez, 36, is coming off an injury plagued year and hasn’t looked too hot with a 5.44 ERA.
  • Steve Trachsel- Syke!

There’s some others out there. If the team were to sign Byrd and Lowe, I’d be cool. That’s a rotation of Guthrie, Lowe, Byrd, and two others from the bunch of Olson, Cabrera, Penn, Bergesen, Liz, and any others in the system who could possibly be ready.