Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tony Pena has an OPS+ of 3

Orioles fans should at least celebrate that our SS performance wasn't this bad in 2008. Pena has made Luis Hernandez look like Derek Jeter. He's made Freddie Bynum look like Cal Ripken. And so on with the analogies. And the Royals gave this guy, who hasn't ever been a good hitter, over 200 PA this season.

Frank O'Rourke of the 1912 Braves has the worst OPS+ (-11) of any player with at least 200 PA due to his .122/.177/.148. The thing is, O'Rourke was just 17 at the time, and though he would have a long, if not distinguished, major league career, he didn't step foot onto a major league field again until 1917 when he was 22. In fact he played in fewer than 100 games total from 1913 through 1920.In fact, O'Rourke was the last guy to get that much time in the batter's box while putting up an OPS+ of less than 5. You can even bump that number up to 10, and it's still O'Rourke.

You'd probably suspect that even the Royals can't be so inept that they can't find anyone better than Pena. And they're not. As Pena moved to the bench, the Royals have used 27-year-old rookie Mike Aviles who has hit .333 with 7 HR and 24 two baggers in just 80 games. That's not bad. Aviles isn't this good, although he did hit to the tune of a 1.001 OPS at Omaha (albeit in his third PCL stint) and has an .802 career MiL OPS.

But let's discuss the O's SS situation. It's bad. Ugly. Putrid. To the tune of a .213/.250/.274 line (five of the other eight positions have a higher average than that slugging percentage).

Now everyone already knows that, and not much has changed. Juan Castro is now the no questions asked starter after Alex Cintron returned and embarassed himself (even by Orioles' SS standards) and he's actually hit the only two HR by an Orioles SS this season. It's the small victories that drive Orioles fans.

It's easy to tell MacPhail to fix this problem. . .but Fix This Problem Andy MacPhail.

Things aren't getting any prettier on the pitching front. Radhames Liz and Garrett Olson are back in the rotation and getting smacked around like cheap hookers. Their brief respites in Triple A didn't do much for their woes. Chris Waters is still chugging along, showing why he was still in the minors at his advanced age. Lance Cormier made a start this week, and didn't pitch poorly at all. Brian Burres is back. Bryan Bass is here. Fernando Cabrera is out. Rocky Cherry ought to be.

Dennis Sarfate moved back to the pen and has struck out 16 in 11.2 innings since exiting the rotation. He's taken on a bit of a different role, pitching more than an inning in all six of his appearances since moving back to the pen, including three of two or more innings. Still can't throw strikes, but who can?

Not the Orioles. The pitching reached a new low by walking in five runs last night against the Athletics. Kam Mickolio was a big offender there, endearing himself to no one. The Orioles might need another 6-9 righthander if they get rid of Cabrera, a role that Mickolio can certainly fill. Upside for Mickolio: 3 of 4 outs have come via a K. Downside: his WHIP is over 5.00.

The pitching staff is DEAD LAST in the AL in K, BB, and HR. As in worst, less good than every other staff that has taken the field in the AL this season. Has that ever happened? My research, which was limited to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and the 1930 Phillies, says that it hasn't. It probably has though, just by simple probability, right?

Somehow the Rangers still have a worse ERA, even adjusting for parks. Of course the Rangers also have some 2007 Devil Rays mojo going on with a terrible, terrible defense (.668 DER). They've got a dozen more errors than the next worst team. Are the Rangers glad they signed Michael Young to that big deal now? He can't hit at this point, and he never could field. Hell, Young never really was any thing great as a hitter beyond one terrific year and a bunch of seasons where he piled up 200 hits and an all-star appearance.

Adam Jones is back, which is one of the few reasons to keep watching. Unfortunately besides a longball in his first game back, he's been bad at just 1-14. Jones always looks to be a guy who gives 110% so I'm hoping that this isn't a situation where he pushes himself too quickly just to get back on the field. I don't think that's the case; I don't think the Orioles would allowed one of their prized pieces to be jeopardized by that. But it's a nagging fear for me, one that admittedly has been influenced by his slow start since returning.

DRAFT WATCH - 9th pick, 63-77.

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