Wieters should be playing

We knew the situation coming into the season. Wieters will stay down in AAA to get some at-bats, and to keep him under contract for an extra year, until May-june. But where do you say enough, and just let you top prospect play?

I say now. Vetern journeyman Gregg Zaun was signed for a 1 year deal in the winter to be a temporary stopgap until Wieters comes up, and believe me, Zaun is a stopgap at this point. But you have to ditch this whole, lets be conservative attitude with Wieters. He has proven he can hit, play defense, and do everything you could possibly ask a catcher to do in his 2nd season with the O’s organiztion. Wieters is 23 in 2009, and it is time to get him up right now.

Espically when your starting Catcher is batting .111, and its not 1 or 11. Its 6 for 54. 6 hits in 54 at-bats. Thats a little bit past slump. And right now, the Orioles bottom part of the line-up has been struggling for the most part. And you need to do someting about i. After starting 6-2, the O’s are just 3-11. Thats another reason you should take the Bergesen route with Wieters. And, just a note, Wieters has proven he can hit at all levels(only 41 in AAA, but still).

Listen, Wieters is going to be an All-star, it is 99 percent likely, and all of the MLB knows this. So wouldnt you want your future All-star to play basically a whole season, compared to calling him up at the end of May? Given Zaun is a hell of  a defensive Catcher, but when you have Wieters ready to go, you need to call him up. The Orioles have made that mistake in the past, not letting young prospects come up when they are like 15 for their last 37 in AAA? ( just a random number off the top of my head).

Besides, we are in the rebuilding phase of the franchise right now, led by one of the best baseball FO execs in the bussiness, Andy Macphail. Just let all the kids play, not just Wieters. Hernandez, Arrieta, Reimold, Patton, etc. And you will be contending again in 2 or 3 years, there is no doubt in my mind.

                                                                                            Logan Quick

Where do we stand with Adam Loewen?

I’m starting up a new series. Where do we stand with is a look a players who are currently on the roster or could soon be on the big league roster who can help the team down the road or it is thought they can help down the road. Its a look at only young players, not the Jay Paytons or Kevin Millars. I’ll give an overview of their trek through the minors and what they can bring to the big club in the future and whether they’ll be someone who the team can build around.

So I’ll kick it off with Adam Loewen

(photo from Getty Images)

Adam Loewen was drafted by the Orioles with the number 4 overall pick in the Major League Draft in 2002. Loewen signed a 4.02 million dollar major league deal with the O’s, a deal that would be a slight hinderance down the road. With much ado, Loewen was then the best pitching prospect in the system.

In 2003, Loewen started 7 games in Aberdeen. He went 0-2, but his record didn’t reflect his performance. In 23 innings, he struck out 25 batters in 23 innings. Loewen only walked 9 batter and gave up only 7 earned runs. Loewen’s final ERA in Aderdeen was 2.74.

In 2004, Loewen split time between Delmarva and Fredrick.

In Delmarva, he pitched in 20 games (19 of them starts). His final record for his time in Delmarva was 4-5. In 85 innings, he would surrendered 39 earned runs. Other totals from his time were 82 K’s, 58 BB, 77 hits, and a final ERA of 4.13.

After Delmarva, Loewen would get his last 2 starts of 2004 in Fredrick. There he went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. He went only a total of 8 innings, giving up 6 earned runs, surrendering 9 BB, and striking out only 3.

Loewen would start 2005 back in Fredrick. Over the season, he would make 27 starts (+ 1 relief appearence).  He pitched 142 innings that season. The totals for 2005 were a 10-8 record, 65 hits, 86 BB, 146 K, and an ERA of 4.16.

2005 had Loewen starting in Bowie. He went 4-2 there and sported an ERA of 2.90 in 47.2 innings. The other totals for his time there: 16 hits, 62 BB, and 98 K.

Loewen was then promoted to Ottawa, the former home of the Orioles’ triple A team. In 21.1 inning, he went 2-0 and had an ERA of 1.27. He would only surrendeder 3 ER, 3 walks, and struck out 21.

Here’s where the troubles arise. The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff of 2006 was in shambles. Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen had regressed to the point that they were moved to the bullpen. Daniel Cabrera was being moved back and forth between Baltimore and Ottawa. Russ Ortiz was brought in to fortify the bullpen, but that did not work out very well. The O’s needed a starter and had decided to bring up Hayden Penn. Penn, though, had to have an appendectimy before his major league debut against the Mariners. In the Oriole Way of the last decade, Loewen was rushed up from the minors in take the spot that Penn was supposed have.

Despite the fact that he was rushed up, Loewen had a decent stint with the O’s for the rest of 2006. He would go 6-6. His ERA was on the heavy side at 5.37. In 19 starts, he’d pitch 112.1 innings. He struck out 98 and walked 62.

Going into the 2007 season, the Orioles had a decision to make. According to Loewen’s contract, he had to be on the major league roster at the start of the season or the Orioles would risk losing him. So ready or not, Loewen was on the major league staff for good. He would only start 6 games before missing the rest of the season for shoulder surgery. He would pitch to a 3.56 ERA, walk 26, and strikeout 22.

This brings us to this season and so far, it hasn’t been a good start. I’m taking into account that he did have a screw inserted into his shoulder. This Spring, he walked 19 in 16.2 innings. I chalked this up to the fact that he had to come back from surgery. After last night’s game, my expectations lowered. His control was terrible. There was several times Ramon Hernandez had to stand up to catch the ball. He was in a jam most of the night, though he ended up walking only 2 batters.

With the fact the Orioles are rebuilding, Loewen’s going to have all season to prove that belongs in that rotation. I’m not expecting big things from him anymore. He came up with talk that he could be a number 1 or 2 pitcher. His development was stunted by the O’s for a couple reasons. He was rushed into the bigs because of the previous front office’s poor roster management and by bad negotiation. The lack of the depth and injuries made them bring him up. Really, mid-season last season or this spring should have been his debut. But aside from their poor planning, they negotiated a contract to where he had to be on the big league roster at the start of last season or risk losing him. It was a stupid clause, but that’s what they did and here we are. You can blame the old front office for rushing him, but you can’t blame his lack of control all of them. They’re not pitching.

I’m not sure Loewen’s going to be any better. His control is an issue and his stuff doesn’t look that good. Maybe during the course of season, he rights the ship and starts looking better or he could be a 5 inning pitcher that is bound to always be a pitch away from giving up a big inning every time he throws the ball. With Andy MacPhail’s emphasis on building the team around pitching and defense, Loewen will get every shot this season season to proves that he should have a spot in the rotation. But with MacPhail stocking up on young pitching, Loewen won’t have the long leash that other pitchers in the organization (like Daniel Cabrera) have gotten due to lack of organizational depth. I’m not sold that Loewen is going to be 1 of the 5 pitchers that the team can build around. In fact, I doubt it. John Sickels isn’t sold on him much either. It seems like the only team Loewen can handle is the Yankees. That’s awesome in its own right and you’d think that if he can handle the Yankees, then the Texas Rangers shouldn’t be a problem. But if you think that, then like me, you’re dead wrong. I’m not trying to be a knee-jerk reactionary on him because he looked bad last night. He’s started 27 games in his MLB career and his ERA is 5.14 and he’s walked 95 batters in that span. That’s an alarming number. He appears to be the Canadian Cabrera at this point, with less upside.

Maybe he can make it, maybe he can move to the bullpen, maybe or probably not. Who knows. But this is what rebuilding is about. We find out who can hack it and who can’t. I’m hoping that he turn it around this season, but he’s gotta look better than he did last night.

Odds and Ends

The Roberts to the Cubs trade could be closer. Same thing we’ve seen everywhere else…but it’s closer. Heyman’s saying it looks like its Roberts and Jay Payton (please let him be in it) for Gallagher, Cedeno and some of these others: Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, Sean Marshall among others. I was once in favor of getting Murton, but once Roberts goes, who plays second? Now I think Patterson would be a better player to get.

In today’s Spring Training game against the Dodgers, the O’s led 4-1 in the ninth and soon-to-be retired reliever Estaban Yan gave up a walk and 3 runs in the ninth without recording an out.

The players who stood out today

Adam Jones hit a solo HR

Scott Moore went 3-4. He’s got three doubles already for the Spring. At this rate, there’s no way he can not make the team. It’s early…but c’mon.

Costanzo went 2-5 with a solo HR. He’s been a good story thus far, but I think he’s going to be in Norfolk to start the season. There’s such a veteran logjam on the roster still. Besides, he could use some time in Triple A.

Matt Albers pitched 2 scoreless innings and struck out 3.

Dennis Sarfate pitched a scoreless inning and struck out 2.

Bad news on Troy Patton.

 The Orioles got further word on Monday on injured starter Troy Patton, who was shut down from his Sunday sideline session. Patton, who’s believed to have a tear in his left shoulder, was examined by team physician John Wilckens and will undergo further testing in Baltimore later in the week

Wilckens apparently believes that surgery is not a foregone conclusion. Patton went four months without throwing this offseason, but still felt discomfort when he got going this spring. If he undergoes surgery, the southpaw will likely miss the entire 2008 season and will come into Spring Training untested.

That’s bad news. The good news is that if he does have surgery and even if he doesn’t pan out that Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, and Mike Constanzo are all making some noise this spring. If a couple of them keep this up, then its fine. Hopefully, Patton can avoid surgery heal up and become a good major league pitcher. If not, we’ve got some players in this deal that look to be capable of making this deal a win regardless.

Chris Tillman made his first showing as an O in Sunday’s game. It took him only six pitches to retire the side. Nice. It’ll be even nicer when he’s doing it in Baltimore in a season or two.

The Reds signed a couple of former O’s to minor league deals. Corey Patterson and Jerry Hairston Jr both will be vying for spots with the Reds. Patterson will be in the running for the starting centerfielder job and Hairston for a utility role. Both of these guys played for Dusty Baker in Chicago, which I guess is why they wanted him there. I’m wondering why they’re signing Patterson when they have Jay Bruce close to being ready. If they didn’t want to rush Bruce, why trade Joey Hamilton? Kenny Lofton would have made alittle more sense as a stopgap.

1st game of Spring, Teixeira

Ah, the first recap of the season.

Not the best of days. Our O’s lost 16-3 to the Florida Marlins. Granted, it is the first game of Spring Training. There’s some rust to shake off and there’s some players playing that aren’t going to make past spring with the team.

Case in point, Estaban Yan. Yan was a semi-productive bullpen arm about six seasons. Now, he’s just trying to hook on with a club. Today’s showing doesn’t bode well for his hopes of making the team.

1 inning 4 hits 4 runs 1 walk 0 k

Lance Cormier, who’s vying to be long relief, didn’t fare well either.

1 inning 3 hits 3 runs 2 BB and 1 K

Old reliable Jamie Walker did fare well either. 5 runs on 5 hits. On the bright side, he had no 0 BB and two K’s. I’m not worried about Walker. It’s the first game. Walker’s a good pitcher and he’s shaking off the rust.

Adam Loewen didn’t have a good outing in his return to mound after his surgery. He pitched one inning and didn’t make an out in the second.  3 hits, 3 runs, 4 BB, and 2 K’s for the day. Makes you shake your head and groan, but I’m going to chalk it up to the very first game of the spring. He’s coming off surgery and maybe that’s playing a role. Let’s hope so or it might be a longer season than we think.

On the plus side, some guy named Craig Anderson (did some research and here’s his career) came in and bailed out Loewen without allowing anymore runs. Chad Bradford gave up only 1 run. Rock Cherry pitched two scoreless innings. Jon Leicester pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings.

At the plate, Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, and Tike Redman all drove in runs today.  Adam Jones went 0-0 with two walks. Nick Markakis had a double and that was about it for the day.

It is what is and it’s a Spring Training game. There’s plenty of other games to get the team tuned up. Hopefully, Loewen gets it together and there’s no more of these games.

Teixeria Pipedreams

Ah, it’s never to soon to start dreaming about Mark Teixeria signing with the Orioles this offseason. The Sun has already threw out the first pitch out of the season on the subject.

Do I think its possible. Certainly. Do I think it’ll happen? It has a chance….but I’m not counting on it.

The question is whether the Braves would shell out so much for one player – perhaps $20 million-plus per season for six or more years. A major strength of the Braves organization is that it doesn’t get caught up in emotions. It makes its moves based on what best fits the overall plan.

Therefore, the Orioles should be able to outbid Atlanta. And don’t be surprised if they take on the Yankees, too. Orioles owner Peter Angelos doesn’t like to overpay, even for a star. He would never do it for a pitcher. But he did open the checkbook rather wide for Albert Belle and Miguel Tejada. And this one is a better match.

The Braves didn’t like to break the bank to keep players since they usually have a player groomed to take their place usually. They can come up with the money. The have before, but more often than not, the players usually give them the hometeam discount because the Braves are a class organization. Teixeria’s going to hit the market and probably won’t be giving anyone a discount.

Rumor has it that Peter Angelos might like Teixeria…

If Angelos sets a club salary record, it would be for Teixeira.

If Angelos sets a club salary record, it would also be with Teixeira’s agent, Scott Boras, whom the club has avoided pointedly in the past.

 But why would a rebuilding team shell out big money for Teixeira when they’re rebuilding? The logic in that is right here.

And, maybe most important, this wouldn’t be the first time Boras has sent a top player to a bad team for big money. Remember 2003-04, when catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a Boras client, helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series and then signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, baseball’s worst team. Critics said it was classic Boras, caring more about the dollar amount than his client’s landing spot.

The next year, Rodriguez was joined by Magglio Ordonez, another Boras client, and then another, left-hander Kenny Rogers. In 2006, the Tigers, thanks to deft trades and drafts and the Boras trio, made it to the World Series. Giving Boras the last laugh.

I’d love to have Teixeria. He’s only 28. The Orioles have a gapping hole at first base. Our offense is going to need help. We’ll be players in this. The question is whether we’re going to be used to drive up the price so that he can get more money from the Yankees/Red Sox/Braves or whether the O’s are a viable contender for him.  I say its 50/50.

Latest on Roberts trade

From the Chicago Sun- Times:

Some in the organization think the Cubs won’t get Roberts at all after watching the last three months of on-again, off-again talks play out. The Orioles want pitcher Sean Gallagher, infielder Ronny Cedeno and two more top young players for Roberts.

Basically, we know nothing more than we know now apparently. Gallagher and Cedeno are both players that aren’t holding up the trade. Gallagher is a young pitcher who the Cubs are willing to give up. Cedeno is player that the Cubs have probably written off. 2006 was Cedeno’s first crack at the starting gig and it didn’t work to say the least. Last season, he was in Triple A most of the year. He might be someone who with a change might be someone who can be the O’s shortstop for the longterm or what he was in 2006 is what he’ll be the rest of his career. There’s no answer yet, but he’s certainly not someone who’d hold up this deal. The two more top young players the O’s want are likely what’s holding up this deal. Is it Felix Pie, Tyler Colvin, Ceda or someone else the O’s want holding up this deal? If the offer is Gallagher, Cedeno, one time Oriole Kevin Hart, and maybe Murton if they’re offering him….take the deal. Gallagher and Hart are young arms we can use. Cedeno can play short this season. Murton can be a 4th outfielder. If they’re willing to take Jay Payton….all the better!

Mark DeRosa’s heart scare may or may not hurry this deal up. Its good news that DeRosa’s doing better. Cubs GM Jim Hendry has said that this won’t change how they do business. But I’m wondering if they don’t want hurry and get Roberts just in case.

Whatever happens, its not going to happen for alittle longer.

The holdup in a would-be trade is on the Orioles’ side, and no movement is expected on that front until at least a week or so of exhibition games are played, with the O’s expected to have scouts taking another look at young Cubs players.

There’s smoke here but no fire yet.

The Day After

Now its the day after the Bedard trade and we’re over the ‘unbridled enthusaism’ of the big trade going down (and I have a brand spanking new mouse), let’s take a step back and look at things.

The team has given up its ace for 5 players. 2 of those players will be on the team this year, by season’s end Tillman and Kam will likely be on the big club. I doubt Butler will be in Baltimore until 2009, though I could be wrong.

Going in the week, the O’s had holes at SS, CF, and closer. No need to bring back Corey Patterson now, Adam Jones is our new centerfielder. George Sherrill, a setup man by trade, looks as if he’ll be working the ninth this season. Now shortstop is the spot that needs addressing. I’d rather not see Luis Hernandez playing and I sure don’t want to see Brandon Fahey there. If the team doesn’t make another move, I’d honestly rather see Freddie Bynum play short (no joke). In the next week or two though, I’m sure Brian Roberts will be traded and this season’s shortstop will be coming to Baltimore. Ronnie Cedeno maybe? Doesn’t excite me, but maybe last season in the minors and a change of scenery will do the trick for him. He’d be better than Fahey and company.

Of course, Bedard leaving means we don’t have an ace. I’m sure Jeremy Guthrie will be our number one this season. If he pitches like he did last season, then that’s the best spot for him on the team for the time being. In a year or two, maybe Troy Patton or Chris Tillman will become an ace. Maybe Adam Loewen. Who knows. We’ve lost a good pitcher, who has the potential to be great. If he stays healthy and keeps progressing at the rate he is, he’ll be great. I hate to see him go and I hope that over the past two weeks I haven’t appeared to want to get rid of him for the sake of getting rid of him. In a perfect world, Erik Bedard would retire an O. The world ain’t perfect and the O’s sure aren’t. He didn’t want to commit long-term to a rebuilding team. I can’t blame him for wanting to go to a winning team. To get something good you have to give up something good and Bedard was the ‘goodest’ thing the team had. I wish him well and hope he has a great season in Seattle (except when he pitches against the Orioles). Seeing him pitch in teal and white though will make me a little jaded. It’ll be kind of like seeing your ex-girlfriend with another guy right after a breakup. You’re alittle pissed and jealous at first, but once you realize that it was necessary to end things….you feel alot better. In a year or two, when you’re engaged another girl and you look at what you end up, hopefully, you can look back and say “Yeah, things were good back then, but this will be a lot better.”

 This season will be an audition for a lot of these players to see what they have and what they can contribute to this team long term.

It’s a happy day. Rebuilding has happened. The outfield is looking awesome. The organization has depth in the minors. There’s a surplus of young arms. Dare I say the bullpen could be better this season. Now let’s see some dead weight moved. I’m going to need to order me an Adam Jones jersey soon.

Bedard Trade FINALLY Done

It’s finally done.

From ESPN

Baltimore received outfielder Adam Jones, who will probably start in center field on Opening Day. The Orioles also obtained reliever George Sherrill and pitchers Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio.

I like the return, while I would have liked Clement or Triufel being in the deal, we made out pretty good.

Adam Jones- This should be our centerfielder for the next six years (at least). I’ve heard and read that he should be the next Tori Hunter, he’s going be better than Torii Hunter, he’s a blend between Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron. This kid should be good. I’m looking forward to an outfield of Luke Scott, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. Man, that’s the best outfield we’ve had in ten years. Remember when Ed Rodgers was playing left field against the Mets two years ago and lost the ball in his jersey? Yeah, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.

LF Scott                                     CF Jones                                         RF Markakis

That’s awesome…..or rather potentially all around awesome. Nick is already. We’ll have to see about the other two.  

George Sherrill- At first I was thinking why are they wanting to get a 31 year old reliever in this deal? Upon further reading, he’ll be under team under for the next 4 seasons. He’s a lefty who can setup or close. A bullpen lefty like him can pitch 8 more years. He’ll close for us this season more than likely and next offseason he can be traded again or if he has a good reason, well….let’s hold on to a good bullpen guy.

Chris Tillman was the M’s minor league pitcher of the year last season. If either him or Tony Butler turn in a solid rotation pitcher that’s awesome. If both pan out, then it’s awesomer. The great thing about these guys is that they can pitch in the minors this season and if as the season progresses an injury occurs, we’ve got depth in the minors. Good young pitching depth! No Victor Zambrano or Russ Ortiz signings!

Kam Mickolio is probably going to be our closer in the next year or two. He’s supposed to have some nasty stuff and with a name like that I’m sure he’s going to be nasty.

It’s a great day. Rebuilding is underway. The O’s are no longer trying to give us patchwork teams that can win 70 games. This season will probably be tough. Next season too. But I’m definately going to order my Extra Innings this season so I can see my O’s progress. MacPhail has a plan and it’s happening. He wants a team that’s deep on pitching and if two or three of the pitchers he got from Houston and Seattle pan out, we’re on the way back up.

This has been the best offseason for me in a long time. For years all we’ve had is the horrible near signings. Players use the O’s to drive up their price for the teams they really want to go to (Carlos Lee, Vlad, Korenko). There hasn’t been any crappy signing like the Huffs and Paytons. There hasn’t been any horrible contract extensions (Melvin Mora, Jay Gibbons).

What’s next? Is Brian Roberts getting traded? It probably should happen, but it doesn’t have to happen right now. I want some of the dead weight to go away. I don’t want Jay Gibbons, Jay Payton, Melvin Mora, and Huff taking away playing time from the future of the team. I’m anxious to see what MacPhail can get for them. Not much I’m sure, but he did well with the Traschel trade.

Kind of all over the place with this post, but its been that kind of week. Anyway, It’s been a great day. I hate to Bedard go, but the deal has to happen. If the team is going to rebuild, we have to get the best return we can. Bedard has brought us back the most. Happy Trails, Erik. You were awesome and I’ll miss you.