Thursday, September 27, 2007

#18 David Hernandez

When evaluating a young pitcher, or really any pitcher, the one question that often comes up is "does he miss bats?" Does the pitcher strike hitters out or does he rely on his defense to generate outs? David Hernandez is a pitcher that will strike batters out. In his final regular season start, Hernandez struck out an absurd 18 Winston-Salem batters and on the season he fanned 168 batters in 145.1 innings over 27 starts.

Hernandez, 22, was taken in the 2005 17th round out of Consumnes River JC in Sacramento and has put up big K numbers ever since, striking out over a batter per inning in Aberdeen in his pro debut in 2005 before doing the same last season at Delmarva. He improved quite a bit on his already lofty totals, fanning 14 more batters in just 1/3 of an inning more.

Hernandez has control problems, though perhaps not quite as acute as Radhames Liz or others in the system. His pro BB/9 rate is a high but not unmanageable 3.66, but he also has 34 wild pitches and has hit 21 batters in the past two seasons. Add that to a fly ball tendency (16 HR allowed) and a 4.95 ERA (skewed by some lousy luck on balls in play) and it's easy to see the reason for tempered enthusiasm. Even so, you'd have to think that a guy who can record so many outs without the use of his defense will have a role in the majors somewhere.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

#19 Zach Britton

Britton has a huge ceiling and is making strides

Britton did nothing special in his pro debut at Bluefield last season, but he did enough at Aberdeen in 2007 to make himself interesting. The one aspect of his game that stands out is that he gets hitters to beat the ball into the ground. Britton gave up just one homer in Aberdeen this season over 15 starts (63.2 IP). Lefties who can get ground balls have a future. The ones that have mediocre strikeout numbers and haven't reached full season ball need more time to develop.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tejada and Changing Positions

There has been increasing speculation around the Orioles that if Miguel Tejada is on the team next season, it will be at another position, possibly 3B. Jeff Zrebiec wrote an illuminating article in The Sun about the issue yesterday.

The saying is that where there's smoke, there's fire. That might not be the case here, but it's almost undoubtedly true that the some of the folks running the club can envision a scenario where Luis Hernandez takes over as the everyday SS next season. If that's the case, it's very disturbing whether or not Hernandez eventually gets the job or not.

The idea that Hernandez is a viable SS candidate at this point rejects nearly every accepted notion about the value of defense relative to offense, the tradeoffs between the two, and the utility of minor league performance as a projection for major league performance. Hernandez put together an abysmal .244/.276/.312 season at the plate for Bowie and Norfolk in 2007. Even if he experienced no drop off at all in offensive production after a move to the majors, no amount of defensive acumen, even relative to the worst defending SS in the majors (not Tejada), would make up for a .588 OPS.

Baseball Prospectus' Rate stat marks Hernandez as a +9 above average defender and Tejada as a -8 defender. Keep in mind the sample size issues present not only for Hernandez but Tejada as well. There is some inherent error in these numbers for a variety of reasons, but it confirms the notion that Hernandez has been better - much better - defensively than Tejada in 2007.

Let's look at this in terms of winning games. To this end, we'll use WARP as an indicator of a player's contribution towards winning. It's far from a perfect metric, but it can give us a rough idea of the relative value of a player.

Hernandez has accumulated 0.3 WARP in 120 innings of play this year. Projecting that out to 150 full games (about 1350 innings), we can estimate that Hernandez is roughly 3.4 win player. That's not great, but it's certainly a healthy contribution you'd expect from an average player like Melvin Mora or Kevin Millar.

Tejada has played 1002.7 innings this season and totaled 3.5 WARP. Projecting that figure over 150 full games, we see that Tejada projects to about 4.7 WARP for a full season. That means that moving Tejada from SS in favor of Hernandez results in a net loss of about one win over the course of the season, probably a bit more.

But there's a fallacy here. As we project these numbers out to a full season and to next season, we assume that Hernandez can repeat his current .705 major league OPS. We assume that Miguel Tejada will not improve on his .801 OPS, his worst since 1999. And finally we assume that Tejada won't even approach the defensive prowess he exhibited in his first three seasons as an Oriole when he ranged from a +2 to a +14 defender.

If Hernandez regresses back to his minor league offensive numbers, which he almost certainly will, we see an even bigger gap between him and Tejada. If Tejada manages to play midway between where he was in 2006 (when he had an 8.2 WARP) and where he has so far this season, the gap widens still more. What might only be a one win gap under the assumptions that each of the two is playing to their true talent level can easily expand to a four win gap.

There are other considerations. Moving Tejada to 3B is an offensive upgrade over Melvin Mora, although Mora is rated as a +4 defender there this season and it isn't clear that Tejada would field that well after moving to a new position. On the whole, Tejada is a likely upgrade over Mora while Mora would be an upgrade over Jay Payton and Jay Gibbons, assuming he were to be moved to LF.

It would seem that these moves have the chance to be a net zero in terms of wins, although that seems close to a best case scenario. It is quite probable that playing Luis Hernandez as the everyday SS results in a loss of wins. In either scenario, the team is losing several wins on the table by moving Tejada off of SS that must be recouped elsewhere. And at 65-87, it should be quite clear that upgrades must be made. Simply breaking even is not a viable option at all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What's next for Daniel Cabrera?

I've been a Daniel Cabrera defender for quite a while now. Not one of those folks who still compares him to Randy Johnson and talks wistfully of his upside. No, I've been sure for some time that Cabrera was never going to reach those wild expectations. But he's a guy who is still three years away from free agency after this year. Given the money spent on mediocre starters in the free agent market, if Cabrera can put up his customary 4.50-5.00 ERA, he has value. With a bit of improvement, he becomes an incredibly valuable commodity.

But with tonight's latest debacle against the Yankees, Cabrera drops to 9-17 with a 5.51 ERA. He has given up 104 walks and 25 homers on the season. That ERA puts him in a tie for 36th in the AL among qualifying starters ahead of only Jose Contreras. His 4.6 BB/G ranks him dead last among qualifiers despite a radical improvement in that area this season. He has a 5.12 FIP ERA - that also puts him dead last in the league. And if you care about more traditional stats, his 17 losses is also - you guessed it - dead last in the AL.

Cabrera still has problems with walks, and what's worse, he isn't striking out as many batters and he's getting hit harder. While he was certainly never dominant, he did show flashes of dominance, but those have become much harder to come by this season. At this point it's hard to consider him to even be an acceptable 5th starter.

Even with any residual perceived "upside" or "potential", Cabrera's complete lack of progress at the major league level makes his trade value fairly close to nonexistent. A role in the bullpen could help refine his mechanics and shave down the walks through more frequent usage while allowing Cabrera to throw at max effort for short periods rather than pacing himself for 110 pitches. Assuming that Hayden Penn and Garrett Olson are ready for primetime (a big assumption perhaps), Cabrera's optimal role might be in the bullpen. However, unless he morphs into the relief ace the team needs, it would seem to be a waste to trade 210 innings of a mediocre Cabrera for 70 innings of a slightly improved Cabrera.

In a sense this discussion is probably pointless. Cabrera, along with Erik Bedard, Adam Loewen, and Jeremy Guthrie would seem to be near-locks for the team's Opening Day Rotation. But with Penn, Olson, and Liz in the pipeline behind him, he may need to earn the rotation slot. And that's for the best since Cabrera is a 5th starter at this point.

#20 Brad Bergesen

Brad Bergesen was the Orioles' 4th round pick (#109 overall) in the 2004 amateur draft. He was their third pick in that draft behind P Wade Townsend and OF Jeff Fiorentino. The then-18-year-old Bergesen was signed out of Foothill HS in Pleasanton for the tidy sum of $310k and would begin his pro career later that season with Bluefield of the Appalachian League.

Bergesen made it to Aberdeen in 2005, and although his performance record was undistinguished that season, he made his way to Delmarva to begin the 2006 season, an impressive feat for a 20 year old starting pitcher. Bergesen's record with the Shorebirds was that of a finesse pitcher - just 49 k's with 97 hits in 86 innings. But what made Bergesen interesting was the mere 10 walks he allowed on the season, good for a tidy 4.9 K/BB.

Bergesen isn't a finesse pitcher, though. His "stuff" is solid and despite the lack of strikeouts his accomplishments aren't the result of smoke and mirrors or feasting on younger competition. His season at Delmarva was solid, but it wasn't even good enough to merit a mention by prospect guru John Sickels in his list of top Orioles' farmhands.

Returning to Delmarva for the start of the 2007 season, he continued his success with a 73/17 K:BB in almost 100 innings of work. His ERA was an outstanding 2.19 after 15 starts, and that was good enough to get him promoted to Frederick for a shot in their rotation. Bergesen floundered somewhat in the more advanced Carolina League, posting a 5.75 ERA in 10 starts, although with a very solid 35/9 K:BB and a near total lack of luck (.374 BABIP) were looming beneath the surface.

One of the things that made Bergesen an interesting prospect after this season was that he induced quite a few more balls on the ground this season, going from a 1.17 G/F in 2006 to a scintillating 2.14 ratio in 2007, a tendency that led to a minuscule 7 HR in 150.2 innings pitched. The lack of strikeouts is concerning, but when mitigated by extreme control and the ability to avoid homers and to keep the ball on the ground, it's not a deal breaker. It should be noted that in addition to his low walk totals, Bergesen hit 14 batters on the season.

Bergesen will likely start next season as part of the Frederick rotation. It will be a crucial year for him to prove that he is a legitimate name to remember in the future rather than a borderline prospect in the vein of Jim Johnson.

first in a series of Prospect Profiles

Orioles Top Twenty

1. Matt Wieters
2. Billy Rowell
3. Garrett Olson
4. Nolan Reimold
5. Brandon Erbe
6. Scott Moore
7. Radhames Liz
8. Brandon Snyder
9. James Hoey
10. Chorye Spoone
11. Pedro Beato
12. Jake Arrieta
13. Brandon Tripp
14. Christopher Vinyard
15. Timothy Bascom
16. Jeff Fiorentino
17. Blake Davis
18. David Hernandez
19. Zach Britton
20. Brad Bergesen

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Keys Win

Of the nine teams in the Orioles' organization, the only one to make the playoffs was the High-A Frederick Keys of the Carolina League. Even the Keys limped into the playoffs, finishing only 64-74 on the season. Frederick won the North Division in the first half with a record of 32-37. That same record in the second half was good enough for only third in the four team division.

The Keys - led by a rotation that included Chorye Spoone, David Hernandez, Jason Berken and Brandon Erbe - finished 7th in the 8 team Carolina League in both runs scored and runs allowed on the year. They were outscored by a whopping 154 runs in their 138 games. To say they were an underdog in the playoffs would probably have been an understatement.

But anything can happen in a short series. We all know that. Facing the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Royals affiliate in the best-of-3 North Division playoffs, the Keys won back to back games, 9-2 and 3-1 to take the series in two straight. After pounding out 17 hits and getting 7 strong innings from starter Brad Bergesen in game 1, the Keys got a tremendous start from rising star Chorye Spoone in the clincher, a complete game one hitter that featured 9 strikeouts from Spoone. The no-hitter was not spoiled until the 9th inning on a two out homerun. But Spoone was not yet done with his postseason heroics.

Next up were the Salem Avalanche of the Astros' organization in a best-of-five series. The Keys took the first game in a tight one, riding another seven inning pitching performance, this time from David Hernandez, to a tough 3-2 win. Salem won the next game 8-4, but Frederick retook the series with a 6-4 win on the road.

The Keys had their ace Spoone back on the hill for the possible series clinching win. Once again Spoone took a shutout into the ninth, leading 5-0. Spoone failed once again to get the shutout, giving up a run on three hits to the Avalanche in the ninth. But more importantly, Spoone suceeded in closing out the win. The single run was accompanied by a whopping 11 hits, but Spoone pitched well enough to strike out 8 and won a well deserved series MVP award.

Congratulations to the Frederick Keys for their second Mills Cup win in three years. Look for Spoone, Erbe, and a few others in the upcoming Orioles Top 20 prospects list.

Baez to have Tommy John?

Maybe, or so says Roch Kubatko in his blog.

If Baez does need to have TJ surgery, he'd almost certainly be out for 2008 and the Orioles would no longer have to deal with his sub-replacement level 6.44 ERA. The team has always been unable to recognize a sunk cost when they see it so there was little chance they would simply release Baez if he continued to pitch to his current level. And even in a trade with the Orioles taking on a significant portion of the money owed to Baez, there most likely would not be a line forming to acquire his services for 2008 and 2009.

That being said, Baez has only faced 233 batters this year, a relatively small number on which to judge a pitcher (or any player). If Baez could come back next season and approximate his 4.53 ERA from 2006, he'd have some value, even if that value was far below what he will be paid. A sub-0ptimal solution is sometimes a necessary evil given that Rob Bell or Victor Santos are the types of alternatives the team might be inclined to audition.

In either case, the team clearly needs to upgrade the bullpen for next season. Although Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker have both been perfectly acceptable this season, Andy MacPhail hopefully realizes the folly of throwing big money at the problem. And while scrap heap solutions can work, it's much better to acquire some young flamethrowers with big arms (Fernando Cabrera) rather than old guys long past their usefulness (Paul Shuey, Rob Bell).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ten Straight

The Orioles lost their 82nd game of the season this week, which is significant for no other reason than the fact that it clinches another losing season. For those who have lost track, this is the tenth straight season that the Orioles have failed to as much as break even at 81-81.

It's lonely at the bottom, but the Orioles have some company. The inept Devil Rays are also in the midst of ten straight losing seasons, precisely the number of seasons they've been in existence. And sadly enough, Tampa Bay hasn't even mustered a season better than their 70-91 campaign in 2004. The Pirates have had 14 straight losing seasons dating back to when Barry Bonds left the team. And if you expand the category just a bit, the Brewers have had 14 straight years of finishing at or below .500, though that's likely to end after this season.

It's not unexpected of course. The Orioles have been a deplorable 3-16 dating back to the 30-3 defeat against the Rangers. The pitching staff has fallen apart, and what's left of it seems almost universally incapable of recording an out.

Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada have come on strong over the past two months, and Kevin Millar continues a solid season, but the rest of the offense has remained lethargic, with even Brian Roberts seeing his performance collapse.

At this point in the season, it's pointless to bemoan Paul Bako playing more than JR House or Jon Knott being DFA. Changes need to be made in the offseason - that much is clear. Hopefully Andy MacPhail will finally be the man to enact the necessary changes to bring back the proud tradition of Baltimore Baseball.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Trembley Interview

Some interesting notes in a Baseball Prospectus interview with Dave Trembley (subscription required). A few revealing answers:

BP: Weaver’s reputation included playing for the three-run homer. Do you share a similar philosophy?

DT: I think you have to adapt, and adjust, your philosophy and approach to the personnel that you have. I’ve always been a believer in baseball fundamentals, and to me that’s a repetition of basic baseball skills. It’s pitching, defense and timely hitting. I think you win more games, or at least have the opportunity to win more games, if those things are in place. Obviously, the three-run home run makes it a lot easier, but if you don’t have pitching and defense, a three-run home run doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

Andy MacPhail was in the booth on Saturday and said that the game was "80% pitching". He might have been exaggerating for effect, but given what we've heard from he and Trembley it's clear that pitching and defense is going to be an organizational mantra. And that's fine to an extent.

But the problem seems to be that the men in charge haven't indicated that they appreciate the tradeoffs between offense and defense. The three run home run doesn't mean a lot without the pitching - see Tampa Bay. But there seems to be no recognition that the pitching and defense is no good if the lineup scrapes just to score four runs every night. In order to field a winning team there should be a mix of all three components rather than the thought that any offense generated is a nice bonus for the team.

It's fine to trade some hitting for good fielding up the middle (or anywhere that it adds value), but that doesn't make Luis Hernandez or Brandon Fahey viable options for an MLB roster. It doesn't mean that the team needs to move Miguel Tejada to a less valuable defensive position, and it doesn't mean that a "defensive" catcher like Paul Bako or Alberto Castillo should be on the roster getting at-bats over a JR House.

BP: What is your approach to the use of statistics and statistical analysis?

DT: Well, it’s gotten a lot more sophisticated since I first started. I like to look at match-ups, right/left, and situational things. I think it’s a tool, and I think that a lot of the services that provide this information have some good things, but it’s not a sole basis for making decisions. I think the game is still played between the white lines, and there are a lot of decisions that are made by your gut, not by what you see on paper.

I might be reading into this what I want to see, but this doesn't sound like a man who is going to look at the statistical analysis available to him? Obviously there are going to be situations that can't be neatly summed up by the statistics, but is going with your gut the better option? Is it too much to ask that a manager actually makes decisions by some analytical process rather than the tried and true "gut method"?

It's infuriating that not only will people not take to heart the knowledge gained through statistical analysis, but they'll also say things like "the game is played between the lines". Of course it is. And the statistical record analyzes the things that occur between those lines.

I actually like Trembley a lot so far, although I liked Perlozzo too at the beginning. I don't want to be too hard on him because of one interview, but I do hope he takes to heart the analytical side of baseball.

Guthrie Done for the Year

Just a few days after Erik Bedard was shut down for the season with a strained oblique, Jeremy Guthrie left yesterday's game with the same injury. And now he's out for the season.

Guthrie was the surprise of the season, pitching like a Cy Young candidate for a few months after being picked up off of waivers in the offseason from the Indians before fading down the stretch. Guthrie's season was strikingly similar to that of Rodrigo Lopez, who posted a 3.57 ERA as a 26 year old rookie in 2002 after being picked up from the Mexican League.

Guthrie got by early in the season with a Maddux-like walk rate and an extremely low BABIP. Once those two measures regressed, and combined with a startling 1.2 HR/9 on the year, Guthrie began to pitch more towards preseason expectations. Guthrie has great stuff and put up solid numbers this season so it makes sense to pencil him as a back of the rotation starter next season despite the warning signs of a possible collapse.

So now the rotation is in shambles with Rob Bell (he of the 7.75 ERA) and newly acquired Victor Santos starting in the upcoming series against the Angels. Talk about depressing. It's tough to find reasons to watch a team with what has become, almost completely, a sub-replacement level pitching staff. How did the pitching staff crumble so quickly? Garrett Olson will also miss at least one turn and Birkins is back in the pen so I suppose the rotation is currently Cabrera, Bell, Santos, Leicester, and Liz. Or something. Yikes.

Nick Markakis continues his torrid second half (.325/.401/.549). I'm going to look at his season a little bit more in depth after the year is over. He's the biggest reason to keep watching at this point. Legitimate hope for the future is always nice.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pedro Alvarez Sweepstakes

So named for the presumptive first pick in next season's draft (depending on who you ask) Here are the leaders as of the conclusion of last night's games. Let's Go Orioles!

TBD 59-83 --
FLA 61-81 2
CHW 61-81 2
BAL 61-80 2.5
KCR 62-79 3.5
WAS 63-79 4

Stay tuned as the Orioles try to make up a 2.5 game deficit with just 21 games left. Feel the Magic.

Jon Knott DFA; O's acquire two

The Orioles picked up Victor Santos from the Reds to help in their desperate search of pitching. Santos is really not a good pitcher at all. He's 30 and has a 5.14 ERA in 588 career innings including a 5.14 ERA in 32 relief appearances (49 innings) this season. Santos will start on Tuesday Night.

To make room for him on the 40 man roster, the club officially ended the Jon Knott Era in Baltimore. Knott hit .250/.356/.451 with 13 HR in 288 AB in class AAA Norfolk. The handwriting had been on the wall for a while in regard to Knott, no more clear than when he didn't even get called up after rosters expanded last week. It's extremely disappointing that Knott wasn't even given a shot with Payton/Gibbons manning LF for most of the season, but such is the way of the Orioles.

The Orioles also shut down Erik Bedard for the season, putting him on the 60 Day Disabled List. To add depth, the Orioles picked up Victor Zambrano, whose biggest career achievement was being traded for Scott Kazmir. Zambrano had brief stints with the Mets and Blue Jays over the past two seasons and was horrible. He also pitched to an ERA over 5.50 in class AAA with Syracuse and Indianapolis, naturally making him a desirable acquisition for the Orioles.

Hayden Penn has pitched well in Norfolk so far (20/5 K/BB in 21 IP) and would seemingly need to get some more work after missing a large part of the season with an injury, but the Orioles have decided against bringing him up even with the need for pitching. It would be nice to allow the 22 year old to ease his way back into the majors with some low-pressure innings out of the bullpen this month, but that appears not to be in the plans.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Minor League Leaders

Thanks to the awesome new minor league site on, it's easy to look at minor league numbers (going back to 1992) in a number of different ways. I decided to look at the Orioles' Minor League leaders for 2007. This isn't a list of some of the best prospects. It's a lot of unfamiliar names that are old for their level, but it's still fun to look at the leaders.

AVG (min. 200 AB)

Omar Casamayor (DSL) - .344

OBP (min. 200 AB)

Matthew Angle (ABD) - .421

SLG (min. 200 AB)

Luis Antonio Jimenez (BOW) - .591

OPS (min. 200 AB)

Luis Antonio Jimenez (BOW) - .990


Luis Antonio Jimenez (BOW) - 22
Oscar Salazar (BOW) -22


Oscar Salazar (BOW) - 96


Daniel Figueroa (DEL) - 35


Craig Anderson (BOW/NOR) - 12

ERA (min. 75 IP)

Wilfredo Perez (DEL) - 1.67


Craig Anderson (BOW/NOR) - 167


David Hernandez (FRE) - 16


Cory Doyne (NOR) - 29

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Orioles vs Devil Rays: The Race for Last!

Baltimore and Tampa Bay are fighting one another to avoid the ignominy of finishing last. It's a war going on right now on two (2!) different fronts - the standings and the bullpen ERA leaders. The Orioles hold a four game lead in the standings and a slight edge in bullpen ERA (5.93 to 6.17), but keep checking back. This race is sure to go down to the wire!


With active rosters expanding to (a maximum of) 40 players, the Orioles called up Luis Hernandez, Brandon Fahey, Gustavo Molina, and Fernando Cabrera.

I'm interested in seeing what Cabrera does, but the other three are no-hit position players that have no role on this team. What is the fascination with Hernandez and Fahey? Do the Orioles not understand offense? Molina is another light-hitting catcher. With JR House on the roster and not getting any playing time, do we really need to evaluate Molina this month, as if he has any business on a major league roster?

It's nice that Scott Moore and Rocky Cherry went right to the active roster, but it's very disappointing to see Nolan Reimold, Hayden Penn, Jon Knott, Jeff Fiorentino, and Cory Doyne won't get a shot this season.

And oh yeah! Rob Bell is back. He cleared waivers (imagine that) so he'll be in the bullpen once again. Now why you'd want to have a pitcher on your roster that is old with history of major league failure, I have no clue. Sendy Rleal was Designated for Assignment and Paul Shuey was given his long overdue release. Not that I wasn't rooting for Shuey, but let's get serious.

Plus the O's finally decided to win a game, 8-4 at Tampa Bay. Guthrie had another "meh" start, walking four and giving up three runs over six innings. But the bullpen pitched shockingly well and Aubrey Huff hit another homerun, his 15th. Don't look now, but Huff is starting to look like a real, live offensive player. So that's nice 4 months later.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Congratulations, Nick Punto

For being the worst player in the majors. And it's not even close. His VORP (-26.3) is far worse than the next worst player in the bigs, Craig Monroe (-15.0). Punto is hitting a robust .199/.288/.256 in 467 PA for the Twins. He's threatening to become the first player since Rob Deer (.179 in 1991) to hit less than .200 in a season of 500 or more PA. And isn't that just as exciting as a player chasing .400? It's always nice to see a guy really, truly flirt with the Mendoza Line.

Of course to have the lowest VORP in the league, you need to accrue some significant playing time. So Punto isn't really the worst player in the majors right now. At least I'm not sure that he is. There are untold dozens of players who could have been just as bad if given enough plate appearances. But isn't that the important part? Not everyone can hold a regular job at 3B with a .256 slugging percentage.

Punto has been a good enough defender to get his WARP to exactly 0.0 on the season, making him the definition (or at least BP's definition) of a replacement level player. So he's only the worst hitter in the league. But that's not half bad.

Bedard Out for the Season?

Erik Bedard hasn't pitched since last Sunday against the Twins and the team doesn't know when he'll be back - if he's even back at all. Roch Kubatko has the latest. It's disappointing that his Cy Young Award bid is over, though that was likely the case after his poor performance against the Twins. I don't mean to sound like a crotchety, old sportswriter, but everything is falling apart right now. At least Markakis and Tejada are showing some power. And the offense as a whole has been strong lately. But this season looks like another 4-32 finish is on the way. I've tried to look at the positive developments this season, but that's getting harder to do - especially with Kurt Birkins on the mound about to give back a 4-0 lead to the Devil Rays.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

No Hit

The Orioles were the only team in the majors yet to be shut out heading into last night's game. Clay Buchholz saw fit to end that. He no-hit the Orioles last night in his second career start. The Orioles bullpen gave up 6 more runs in 3 innings and Boston won in a romp, 10-0.

I suspect the Orioles were the first team in baseball history to allow 30 runs and to be no-hit in the same fortnight, but I shall have to check the records on that one.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Trachsel to the Cubs

I was wrong.

I was vocal that Steve Trachsel needed to be gone from the rotation on August 1 so that we could plan for the future. I assumed Trachsel would continue to pitch poorly, just as his peripherals indicated he would and that he had little trade value. I assumed that Garrett Olson and Brian Burres would be just as good. But instead it was Trachsel pitching brilliantly in August with Burres melting down after being moved to then pen and Olson performing poorly in his five starts as an Oriole.

And on the last day for teams to add players and have them eligible for the postseason, the Orioles sent Trachsel to the Cubs (another trade with Cubs?) for 3B Scott Moore and RP Rocky Cherry.

Moore was rated as a top 10 prospect in the Cubs system this offseason by Baseball America, John Sickels, and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. He then proceed to rake to the tune of an .899 OPS in Iowa this season, hitting .265/.373/.526 and improving his troublesome control fo the strike zone. He's only 23 so he's still young enough to have a legitimate career. His strike zone judgment is still worrisome, and he doesn't rate as a particularly good defender but he seems to be a guy that will hit enough to contribute over the next few seasons.

Cherry posted a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings out of the Cubs bullpen which means he's automatically the best pitcher in the Orioles bullpen. Maybe that isn't true, but he's still a nice arm to have around. His minor league track record isn't spectacular, and he is already 28. That being said, there's enough there to suggest that he can be a nice relief option in the near term. He strike out almost 10 batters per 9 innings in Iowa this season with other good peripherals despite a high ERA. The bullpen is sometimes a war of attrition, and Cherry is a nice guy to have in the mix.

It was a fantastic job by the Front Office. Moore and Cherry are certainly not cornerstones, but they could be cheap, effective contributors, a commodity that you can never have too much of.