Offseason headlines 12/6

The Sun has a rather_feel_good_piece about some of the plans coming up.

O’s finally realize Japanese players might be a more viable option

During next week’s winter meetings in Las Vegas, the Orioles expect to have face-to-face discussions with the agents for two Japanese starting pitchers.

John Stockstill, the Orioles’ international scouting director, said he has set up tentative meetings with Dan Evans, the agent for Kenshin Kawakami, and Mark Pieper, who represents Koji Uehara.

All right, it only took the Orioles about a decade to think to pursue Japanese players. Neither of these are going set the world on fire, they’re both 33. Uehara projects more as a reliever…though he could start…but most teams think of him as reliever. These two are more in the neighborhood of Hiroki Kuroda rather than Matsuzaka or a young Hideo Nomo. That’s perfectly fine, Kuroda was solidly average last season. Trying the Asian market for starters beats signing Steve Trachsel again.

Kevin Millar knows his place

“Right now, I’m at a point in my career where I understand that nobody is coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to get 600 at-bats and be my No.4 hitter,” said Millar. “I love to play every day, but I would never not come back to the Orioles because I wasn’t a starter. It would never be a factor where I said that I’m too good for a bench role.”

Millar’s been lucky that the O’s haven’t been able to find a viable first baseman because he’s gotten an extra couple seasons as a starter out of it. I like Kevin Millar. My hope is that the O’s get a solution at first but I’d have no qualms about Millar being on the bench. The bench has been awful the past few years and he’d be an upgrade.

 That said, I don’t like this…

If the Orioles can’t bring Teixeira home — and they are considered a long shot to landing him — and don’t feel comfortable with Aubrey Huff at first base, Millar is one of their fallback options.

Don’t feel comfortable at first with Huff? They’d rather have Millar start than Huff. I don’t see the team signing Teixeira. After Tex, the free agent market for 1st basemen is somewhat_lean

Rich Aurilia (37)
Miguel Cairo (35)
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38)
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Sweeney (39)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

Any of those outside of Tex excite you? Eric Hinske hit 20_homers_last_season. Nomar Garciaparra, contrary to popular belief, still_plays_professional_baseball. Jason Giambi…nnnoooo….I’m sure his_stellar_rebound_last_season_ that the Giants will give him a longterm deal. Gary Thorne says “Richie Sexton” that would be amusing for a bit. There’s not much out there. So if Teixeria doesn’t sign, the O’s have to find another 1st baseman on the trade market. Having Millar as a starter at 1st again would be another season of the team spinning their wheels.

Chris Ray is doing swell, but…

Chris Ray says his right elbow is doing good after having ligament transplant surgery on it and missing the entire season this year. That said, he’ll won’t be given back his closer role automattically.

Trembley said he won’t decide on a closer until spring training, though returning All-Star George Sherrill appears to be the frontrunner for that role.

We’ll see. I’m betting a healthy Ray gets his closer spot back and Sherrill moves back to his specialist role. But saying that now would undermine any trade value Sherrill has. Besides, there’s no guarantee that Ray is 100% yet.

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Updates 7/1

  • Alex Cintron pulled a hammy running to 1st base during last night’s game against the Royals. Cintron went on the 15 day DL. Freddie Bynum comes up from Norfolk and gets a second chance in Baltimore. Its a shame that Cintron goes down right now when he’s been playing pretty good. He’s been getting a few hits and has been looking better defensively as of late. Bynum gets a second chance over the next two weeks to show that he should stick around. The next two weeks we get to see a tandem of Brandon Fahey and Freddie Bynum at short. I’m sure that means Andy MacPhail is going full blast to find a shortstop somewhere and anywhere.
  • Jamie Walker went on the DL and Adam Loewen takes his spot. Loewen goes in the bullpen, where he’ll stay for the rest of season, at least. Loewen’s return is important with the injury to Matt Albers. Albers has done well in the role of long relief and spot starter. If Loewen can come and do 2 innings when the starter goes only 5 and keep the score the same, then he’s doing his job. Tonight, Loewen pitched 2 scoreless innings in relief and gave up only 2 hits and no runs. Walker has had a rough season thus far. He’s sporting a 4.98 ERA and has been very hittable so far.
  • George Sherrill had two blown saves on back to back days. Sunday, against the blasted Nats, Sherrill came in at the bottom of the 12th. 2 outs and with a 1-2 against Ronnie Belliard hit a game winner. Last night, with 2 outs and 1-2 count…the same thing happened to Sherrill and the game went into extras and the O’s lost. Thankfully, Sherrill didn’t pull a repeat as he notched save number 27. It would have been a tragic for Sherrill to blow the save on ‘George Sherrill T-Shirt Night.’
  • Radhames Liz went to 3-0 on the season tonight. I was skeptical on the call-up of Liz, but he’s looking better with each start. Tonight, he went 6 strong innings. He struck out 4, walked on 1, allowed 7 hits and 3 runs. His control looked sharp as he threw 80 pitches with 55 for strikes. He needs to work on going a little longer into games, but you can’t argue with what’s done so far.
  • Brian Roberts hit homer number 6, Aubrey Huff drove in RBI 47, Adam Jones drove in RBIs 30 & 31 and raised his average to .272.
  • Matt Albers goes to see Dr. James Andrews tomorrow. From there, Albers will decide whether he can rehab or has to have surgery.

O’s continue rampage—make it 6 and 1!

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

The O’s ruined the Rangers’ home opener by spanking them 8-1. That’s now 6 wins in a row, as our ORIOLES HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN ALL OF BASEBALL, BABY!

Luke Scott continued his tear, by going 2-4. In what was sure to be an angry response to Miguel (no longer Miggi) Tejada’s homer last night, Scott hit his first homer as an O. It’s amazing that we have a real life left fielder now. Scott’s done more in the past 9 games than those bunch of jokers in left over the past few seasons have ever done.

Speaking of Scott, Scott Moore got his first in a trifecta of starts. He spelled Melvin Mora at third today and led it off with a homer. He did seem to be swinging for the fences all day, I’m sure that’s because he’s trying his hardest to stay up here and get at bats. After this, I’m sure Trembley’s going to make more time for him.

Aubrey Huff went 4 for 4 today with 4 RBIs. Its awesome that he’s not doing his usual “I’m a slow starter” schtick. Keep that bat hot Huff and the boos will cease.

Brian Burres wasn’t bad. He worked his way out of a few ugly jams a couple times, but I’ll take 6 innings with 7 hits (6 of ’em singles), 3 K’s and 2 BB and 1 ER. That’s far better than I thought he’d do. Happy Birthday, Burres.

The bullpen again was solid Matt Albers pitched 2 innings and struck out 4. Greg Aquino, acquitted himself from his debut, pitched a scoreless ninth. Before the game, the bullpen ERA was 0.84. Unbelievable.

I feel like I’m in a bizzarro world. The first 7 games have been the complete absolute polar opposite of what usually happens in an Orioles game. Usually one of the following scenarios happen:

1) Good performance by starter, bullpen blows it.

2) Good performance by starter, but zero offense

3) Good performance by offense, but starter has awful start.

4) Decent performance by all parties, but after 7 innings the bats get shut down and they lose by 1.

5) Sloppy defense proves costly in 1 run loss.

So far this season—

Starting pitching– Nothing amazing, but for the most part, its been decent. Decency keeps the ballgame close (and pure).

Bullpen– Lights out awesome

Offense– The offense has been a murderer’s row, nor will it be, but its been all about timely hitting. During the M’s sweep, we never plundered them….but got a hit when it mattered. The O’s of the past few years would have refused to have done so.

Defense– Pretty good. I’m not on the Luis Hernandez bandwagon by any means, but the past few games his defense has been nice, not to mention some well-timed hits.

Will it last? Who cares. These O’s are giving it their all and watching games are a blast right now.

Let’s say it one more time…..

The Baltimore ORIOLES HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN ALL OF BASEBALL. Take that Joe Girardi.

Win Number 1

I was getting pretty disgusted with the game after Cabrera’s performance, but man it turned out to be a good one.

-Aubrey Huff thrives off hate apparently and hit a 2 HR and a 2 R double.

-ADAM JONES!!!! went 2 for 4 with 1 RBI and a stolen base (his arm in the outfield looks great too)

-The bullpen was awesome. I haven’t been able to say that in along time.

Randor Bierd two scoreless innings

Chad Bradford one scoreless inning

Jamie Walker does what he does and strikes out the side with authority.

George Sherrill, with his flat cap bill, walked two but struck out in getting his first save as the closer of the Orioles.

It’s been a great game. Its not too often that the O’s come back from a 3 run hole in the 8th inning. It’s only one win, but we’re not going to see a 0-21 start.

Daniel Cabrera: Nothing New Here

I heard during the offseason how a new pitching coach would do wonders for Daniel Cabrera. There was talk about how he needed to just get a new start and move on from last season. Blah blah blah. Tonight was the first start of our *ugh* number 2 pitcher and how’d he do?

Same old song, same old tune

4 inning 6 hits 6 runs 6 earned 5 BB 2 K and 2 HR allowed, ending up with a 13.50 ERA.

Cabrera pitched to 5 batters in the 5th, but couldn’t get an out.

We’ve been waiting for what, 3 or 4 seasons for him to turn the corner, but sadly, that corner apparently has been turned, but it leads into a solid brick wall. Sure there’s still time, but I’m done with waiting on him. I can’t wait for some of the young pitchers to be ready and I won’t have to cross my fingers and hope maybe finally this is the year for Cabrera. It ain’t happening. If I’m wrong, then hey…..I’ll be happy to be wrong, but at this point I think he is what he is.

On a positive note, Randor Bierd came in to fix Cabrera’s mess and pitched two innings of scoreless relief. It’s only two games, but Albers and Bierd give me hope that this year’s bullpen may not be the chamber of horrors that it has been in the past couple seasons. It’s early, remember John Parrish started the season strong last season and then he turned into the Daniel Cabrera of relievers.

Hey, Aubrey Huff just hit a 2 run homer off Matt Garza. Maybe a cure has been to found to Huff’s annual slow start…..Boo him. Keep it up, Huff. Get that trade value up.

Luke Scott wasn’t supposedly to be a great defender, but he’s made two great catches tonight and Adam Jones’ arm looks sharp on the throws he’s made to second. Good stuff to see.