Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Optimal Roster Construction, part 1,401

The recent roster moves have made it hard to tell what the Orioles are doing with the pitching staff right now, but in the end, there are 13 pitchers on the roster, with only four of them - Dennis Sarfate, Jeremy Guthrie, Garret Olson, and Daniel Cabrera - in the starting rotation.

For the time being, at least until the Orioles make a move to get a fifth starter on the team, there are nine relievers down in the pen. Nine!

Is there ANY need to ever have that many guys in your bullpen? Right now, with Juan Castro slowly taking over the starting SS job, the bench consists of Brandon Fahey, Jay Payton and Guillermo Quiroz. It's been discussed many times before, but that's just an awful bench. Payton is the closest thing to a hitter in the bunch, and he's currently sporting a .653 OPS. The biggest piece of strategy that Trembley can employ in the late innings of a close game is to pinch-hit Payton for Castro, move Payton to LF as a defensive sub for Luke Scott, and insert Fahey as the new SS. That's not really all that viable, but hey, they've made their choice to go for broke on having pitching and defense (supposedly) over any type of offensive flexibility.

But hey, Juan Castro smacked a homerun today, so maybe we've found our SS for the next 25 years? Castro did manage to beat Fahey in the race to get to 1 HR first, even with the head start he spotted Fahey. I'm actually shocked because looking at Castro I thought that even if he made good contact he'd just slap the ball to the outfield at best.

Speaking of Sarfate (we were earlier at least), his first start wasn't a total disaster. Of course I'm grading that from the perspective of "Sarfate won't last three innings" as a baseline. He actually lasted four, striking out five, and allowing just five base runners. Unfortunately all five of those guys (three of whom reached on walks) came around to score so that made for an ugly line. The guy who didn't help himself at all was the guy who just lost his starting spot, Brian Burres. He came into the game in the fifth with the game still in reach (5-2 Yankees) and after pitching a fine fifth inning, got only one out in the sixth before being lifted, eventually being charged with four runs. His roster spot is getting to be pretty tenuous as that ERA climbs close to 6.00 and he struggles in his new role as a long reliever.

Next up could be Hayden Penn or Brad Bergesen. Possibly both, as the Orioles will be needing both a fifth starter and a replacement for Sarfate in the coming weeks. Bergesen just threw a shutout for Bowie in his last start to get his 13th win of the season, and Penn had a nice start down at Norfolk. Neither of these guys are among the best arms down on the farm, but they may be the most ready, so they'll be pressed into action soon enough. Here's hoping Bowie's Jason Berken gets a look too. He's a guy I think has been a bit underrated this season.

Wieters Watch

Matthew "Babe" Wieters and his big blue Ox took it to New Britain last night to the tune of 4-5 with a double and another HR, his 21st of the year. That brings his current line up to a modest .350/.449/.600 with Bowie, .347/.448/.584. With that monster night he actually nudged his AA OPS back ahead of the OPS he had in A ball. Wieters currently ranks fifth in the minors in OPS among those with at least 300 PA, 13th among those with 150 PA.

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