Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is it happening?

Manager Dave Trembley keeps insisting that his team isn't going to go away.

He insures us that this team isn't going to fold up.

But the fact remains that this Oriole team is tremendously overmatched, and may actually have overacheived the first two months of the season. The offensive numbers certainly don't indicate that. There is no Oriole who is really having an offensive career year. Still there are guys who are doing things in certain situations that probably defy their overall performance.

Consider Melvin Mora. The third baseman's offensive numbers indicate he'd better serve hitting later in the lineup. Maybe as deep as eighth. Yet, the 36-year old has driven in 29 runs on just 50 hits. All because he's hit so well with runners in scoring position.

The other thought is that maybe if the Orioles get some of their better hitters, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff back to their career standards they might be able to generate more offense.

Personally, I think some type of help is needed from AAA Norfolk. I know Scott Moore, who made the team out of Spring Training, has struggled mightily since his demotion. But he would provide the ability to play several positions that the Orioles could use a player to give Kevin Millar, Melvin Mora or even Roberts the occasional day off. Oscar Salazar, who isn't seen as much of a prospect, can play the same corner infield positions.

The other options would be to bring up Luis Terrero and let him DH a few days a week, as well as getting the occasional outfield start and let Huff play the corner positions.

Something needs to be done. The offense is sputtering and the pitching has been much better than could have been hoped for. The bullpen has been beyond solid and its performance has allowed for some of the struggling offense to be overshadowed.

Nobody expected this Oriole team to compete this year. They've done a great job to stay in the race for two months. But if they want to continue to compete, they must do some things offensively to stir things up. And at the same time, those moves can help the team look towards the future.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Observations

I don't know who is working the game in the truck for MASN tonight, but they need to replace him.

Sure seems like the Orioles are going to replace Steve Trachsel in the starting rotation. The TBA in Minnesota on Tuesday isn't going to be Trachsel. Now it isn't likely to be Matt Albers either as he went three innings already tonight.

Bad feeling with Jamie Walker entering. Just a bad feeling.

But I like the fact that David Ortiz is bunting. That helps the feeling.

I really think the starter on Tuesday is going to be Radhames Liz. And I still think that his best pitching may come later out of the bullpen. But after a very shaky start at AAA Norfolk, he's been solid in six of seven starts since mid-April. I think he gets the start on Tuesday. Hayden Penn was apparently under consideration but his sore shoulder has cancelled those thoughts. I'm in favor of getting Liz up here and seeing if he can't mesh with Rick Kranitz.

Another solid outing for Daniel Cabrera tonight. Obviously, the first inning was shaky but more than solid after that. His ERA has fallen to 3.60 on the season and he continues to provide quality starts. His name continues to be mentioned as a potential deadline deal prospect, but I'm just not so sure. I think the Orioles hoped before the season that they'd be able to move him at the deadline and get something back for him. Now the price tag has increased and there are definitely more interested. I also think the O's brass has to be thinking about keeping him.

The Orioles had a lot of opportunities in extra innings to score some runs. The Red Sox got one opportunity when Melvin Mora threw the ball away and Mike Lowell cashed it in.

Of course, the game probably would have been over if Kevin Millar would have run out his infield grounder that Julio Lugo bobbled earlier. I just have to believe that Luke Scott would have found a way to get the run home.

Sarfate is on, and if he gets the Birds out of this jam down only a run, they'll have to find a way to keep it going with a run against Papelbon in the bottom of the frame.

The Mount lost 16-8 to North Carolina tonight in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They'll face Elon in tomorrow's elimination game.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Questions (Baseball) of the Day

Are the Rays for real?

Were two months into the season. It's too far into it to say they aren't. I still they are probably a year or two away from being a real contender. But if they keep getting pitching like they got from Matt Garza, they are going to be tough. Really though, the only difference between them and the team I root for, the Orioles, is the Rays have beaten up on the Orioles. I don't expect the Rays to finish with the best record in the AL East, much less baseball, but a wild card isn't out of the question. And they are going to be good for awhile.

Who do you like in the NL Central race?

I'm planning on watching the Cards and Astros a little bit later (3 minutes) tonight. The Astros have that great offense. Berkman has been unreal, and Tejeda has been rejuvenated. But it's hard to imagine them being there at the end because of the pitching (or lack thereof). Yet they've proven that with Valverde at the backend, they can win a few more than last year. St. Louis has too many holes for me, and I think they've played above their capabilities thus far. But if guys like Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer continue to produce on the hill, I guess they have as good as a chance as anyone. But to me, the Cubs are too deep and too strong, not to be the representative out of the Central.

Who do you think the Orioles take with the fourth overall pick?

I think the Orioles have made it known they won't shy away from some of the Boras guys as it seems to have worked well last year thus far (Arrieta and Wieters), but I think they go with best player available regardless of position. They seem to like both the pitcher out of Missouri and the lefty Matusz from San Diego. In addition, the big first baseman from South Carolina Smoak or the young shortstop Tim Beckham are possibilities. I don't think Vandy's Alvarez gets to them, so on the record, I'll say they take Matusz. I think they are bound to do ok with this pick, I'm more interested to see if anyone falls to them in later rounds. That could be the real interesting situation.

Are the Phillies the class of the East?

They've won four in a row and they are just a game behind the Marlins now. I really like the Fish, but they sort of have that Rays feeling to them. Good soon, but not ready for a full season. But I think the Mets are done. The last half of a season or more, they haven't been good. So maybe it's just between the Phils and the Braves. If that is the case, I definitely think the Phils are the team.

With all the young talent the Rays have, aren't they positioned to trade some of it for help down the stretch?

Yes and no - and hear me out. The Rays will have some tough decisions to make if they really are in contention, because with all the talent they have, teams will try to make them pay for anything they want. Plus what exactly are they going to try and go get. There might be some slots and people available that could make them better. Would they try to get better behind the plate, at shortstop or just a veteran hitter on the bench? Maybe so, but not for what people will try to get from them. Maybe they could add a veteran starter to fill out the rotation, or someone to fill in the bullpen. But somebody like David Price or Jake McGee, might be able to give them more in the pen then what they'd get and they wouldn't have to pay anything to get them. Of course, maybe they could trade for Keith Moreland.

They said on the Cubs game last night that second base is the new power position. Who is the best of those guys to count on?

Chase Utley, Chase Utley, Chase Utley. Although, you can't dislike anything that Dan Uggla has done this year. But I just have more belief that Utley will produce more in the future.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

Lots been going on lately and I've done very little writing about it, so here is a bunch of the stuff that I've been thinking lately....

....Tim Lincecum is easier to root for now that he cut his hair. He's definitely one of the good young pitchers in the game, and he has an early 3-0 lead tonight in Arizona. For every strikeout the young righthander records in the game tonight, you can get a dollar off a bleacher seat at the Giants game on June 1st. Right now, that's a $2 discount.

.....There is no way the Orioles and Yankees should have been playing in the ninth inning tonight. And finally after the Orioles recorded the third out in the top of the ninth, the umpires decided the same. I understand that a rain delay was going to interfere with Dana Demuth (and the rest of his crew's) dinner reservation, but such is life. The conditions were unplayable.

......The Mount plays Friday night in Cary, NC versus North Carolina. It's the second time this year that the Mount will face the Tar Heels in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The basketball Mountaineers played UNC in the first round, after beating Coppin State in the opener. The Mounties will be guaranteed another game Saturday and will play either Elon or UNC-Wilmington in the double elimination regional.

.......I'm excited to watch the US National Team at Wembley Stadium tomorrow. The US is fresh off a 3-0 win in Poland last month. That was a nice win, but winning in Wembley is entirely different. Even though the English didn't qualify for the Euro Championship which begins next weekend, this is a big game for the Red, White and Blue. It's one, I expect the US to play well in, and I'm calling for a US win.

........Speaking of the Mount. Some of the matchups for the Mounties are starting to slip out. The Mounties coming off the NEC Championship will get a home game with Boston University, and road contests at George Mason and Penn State. The Mount will also return to Philly to complete a three-game series with Lasalle.

.........I've heard Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt talk twice in the last week. A week ago at a Pitt booster golf outing, and then tonight at the Gettysburg Times sports banquet. Great speaker. Easy to see why he's doing a great job recruiting for the Panthers. But not sure he really understands the game of football. He tried to convince me that we (Syracuse) have a great program. Ok, maybe we did. But not anymore. I asked him, how far behind the Panthers we were and even game him multiple choice answers. 1 year, 1 1/2 years or light years. He just told me what a great job David Walker was doing for him. I like David a lot, and remember him from my days on the hill. He is a great guy and I wish him the best, even if he is with Pitt now. Actually, Wannstedt impressed me twice in the last week, and I wish him an 11-1 season. But realistically, I think the Panthers are more like a 7-5 or 8-4 at best football team.

..........What a crazy finish in Kansas City. The Royals couldn't touch Nick Blackburn all game, but when he gave up back-to-back baserunners with one out in the ninth, Ron Gardenhire went to the closer Joe Nathan with a 3-0 lead. Mark Teahen promptly lifted an opposite field flyball down the line in left and Delmon Young tried to make a diving grab for it. He didn't get it and it bounded away from him. Teahen never stopped running and tied the game on a 3-run opposite field inside the park homer. A far cry from the days of Willie Wilson and him hitting in on the Royals Stadium turf and letting it roll around down in the corner as he ran around the bases in about 12 seconds. But I'm guessing that Wilson never hit a more dramatic inside-the-parker.

...........Congratulations to John Desko and the Syracuse Orange. The turnaround that the team made in one season is dramatic. To go from out of the tournament last year, to national champs this season is fantastic. A great effort from all of the lacrosse folks at Syracuse and a record tenth title for the program.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Syracuse back in the Final

The Syracuse Orangemen are back in the NCAA Lacrosse Final.

Mike Leveille's fifth goal of the game gave the Orange a thrilling 12-11 double overtime win and pushed it into the final versus Johns Hopkins on Memorial Day.

The Orange rallied from down three goals at the start of the fourth quarter just to force the extra session.

The berth in the final is the fifthteenth in program history and comes just one year after the Orange had missed the tournament for the first time since the 1980's. Syracuse is looking for its tenth national championship. The last time the Orange won the crown was 2004.

Mount headed to NCAA Tournament

I gotta admit, I don't follow the Mount's baseball team like I do the basketball team. But I was excited to see that the team and manager Scott Thomson won the NEC championship with a pair of wins over Monmouth today in Atlantic City.

The Mount won the decisive game 14-2 after knocking off the Hawks 8-3 by scoring five times in the eighth inning earlier in the day. The trip to the tourney will be the school's first appearance in the postseason.

Josh Vittek was named the NEC Tournament MVP as he went 11-for-24 in the tournament, including a perfect 4-for-4 in the championship. The slugger pounded four homers in the five tournament games and drove in 12 runs.

The Mount will find out what four team regional it will participate in when the bracket is announced on Monday on ESPN. Monmouth was projected by to be headed to the Lincoln Regional to play Nebraska, while Wichita State and UCLA were also projected into that regional. However, the Mount could end up against a familiar NCAA foe. North Carolina is ranked number one in the country, and was projected to be the top seed in the field by It is quite possible that the Mount could play the Heels in the Cary regional. But we'll have to wait for Selection Monday to get the official word.

Congratulations to Coach Thomson, his staff and his team on a great four-game run through the NEC Tournament and the berth in the postseason.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mile Marker Seven: The O's Not going anywhere

The Baseball season is much more like a marathon than a sprint, and the fact that its 26 weeks long, makes it easy to call each week a mile in the 26-mile race.

Raise your hand if you thought the Orioles would have more wins than losses at this point in the season. We're basically 1/4 of the way through the season and the Orioles are just 2.5 games behind first place Boston, and just completed a very nice 4-1 week which included two wins over the defending champion Red Sox, and a series win over market rivalry Washington.

The Orioles continued to show that they have a resilency that they haven't exhibited in recent years. Twice during the week, the Birds rallied from down 3-0 to beat the Sox.

Decent starting pitching and a bullpen that has been sensational at key moments have allowed the Orioles to stay in games despite the fact they are hitting just .249 as a team.

Daniel Cabrera threw another good game in getting the win versus Boston and his development has truly been a surprise for the Orioles. Always blessed with great stuff, the 27-year old is 4-1 with a 3.58 ERA. He has been around the plate a lot more this year and seems to be coming into his own and could be developing into the ace of the staff.

Garrett Olson was equally impressive this week. The lefthander earned his third win gritting out five innings against Washington. He struggled in several of those five innings, but he managed to escape without allowing the Nats to do major damage, and keep his team in the game without giving up the big inning.

The bullpen has been fantastic and has been anchored by closer George Sherrill, who has 17 saves.

But the real story in the pen has been Jim Johnson and Matt Albers. The righthanders who both are young converted starters had not had much major league success before this season.

Albers has made 15 appearances, including two spot starts and is 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA. He has pitched well out of the bullpen and has kept his team in most games. He's been all that the Orioles have asked of him. If Steve Trachsel continues to struggle, he may more to the rotation, but he's been so good out of the pen, that is hard to imagine.

As good as Albers has been, Johnson has been better. After starting the season in AAA Norfolk, he's allowed just 11 hits in 24 innings and his ERA is 1.13. He's pitched in numerous situations and hasn't had any problems in any situation. His double play grounder to retire Manny Ramirez was a key out in the series opener versus Boston.

So after playing five games at Camden Yards this past week, the Orioles are headed to the road to face AL East this week. A trip to Yankee Stadium starts the week and then the O's travel to Tampa to face the Rays to complete the week. It would be tremendous if the Orioles are able to pull 4 wins in this week. But in reality you'd probably be happy if they come home with 3 wins after this week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Road to Foxborough: Syracuse/Notre Dame Lacrosse Live Blog

Lots of problems with the live blog. Internet issues and all sorts of stuff. My apologies to anyone who was following along. In the end Syracuse survived a great third quarter from Notre Dame, which saw the Irish rally for a 7-6 lead. At one point, it looked like the Orange would fold. But give John Desko's team credit. They never folded and they made some key plays down the stretch to advance to Foxboro for the Final Four with an 11-9 win. It's the Orange's 25th trip to the Lax Final Four.

3:26 PM: Thy are underway at Colgate and Matt Abbott has given the Orange a 1-0 lead about 5 minutes into the contest. The Syracuse offense has been patient early and Joey Kemp, the outstanding Irish keeper has had a few good saves. Not sure, but the one may have hit the post. Notre Dame has earned possession.

3:28PM: Notre Dame has tied the score at 1. Ryan Hoff scores his 41st goal to even the game. Syracuse has won the faceoff and controls.

3:30PM: Jovan Miller the former CBA football/lacrosse standout has fired and missed for the Orange. SU still controls. 7 minutes left in the first quarter. Penalty upcoming on ND. And now ND has gained possession, so they will be penalized for the slash.

3:43PM: A few technical difficulties. Maybe those posts will eventually show up. The Orange now leads it 2-1 on a Hardy goal. Kemp has been super in goal for Notre Dame. He has seven saves already. About 1 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.

3:45PM: Syracuse on the extra-man, Stephen Keogh the freshman has made it 3-1. Syracuse won its fifth straight face off as well. Quarter one is winding down.

3:47PM: The first quarter has come to an end, one that SU dominated. A great quarter of possession for the Orange. They won the faceoffs and made things a bit easier for the SU defense. Joey Kemp has been super in goal for Notre Dame, otherwise this wouldn't be close. 17 shots for Syracuse in the first quarter.

3:49PM: Guess what? Syracuse won the faceoff to start the second quarter. But Kent has once again been equal to the task.

3:55PM: A slow second quarter as no one has scored nearly seven minutes in. Joey Kent continues to make some fine saves and the Orange has been in control for the most part. Notre Dame has called timeout with 6:36 left in the quarter.

4:01PM: Steven Brooks has finally found the net for the Orange. They solved Joey Kent with the 28th shot they've taken. It is a 4-1 lead for Syracuse.

4:03PM: Freshman goalie John Galloway has made a key save for the Oragne, and possession has come back to Syracuse. The Orange throwing a few different looks at ND and Dan Hardy has made it 5-1 with a quick goal off the out of bounds.

4:05PM: A huge hit for Jovan Miller after the faceoff, but it's going to cost the Orange a penalty and Notre Dame has a one-minute man up.

4:14PM: It's 6-2 in favor of the Orange now with 2 minutes left in the half. Syracuse really controlling things, and pushed the lead back to 4, after the Irish cut it to 5-2.

4:17PM: Notre Dame wins the faceoff to begin the second half and they capitalize with a goal to close to within 6-3. Michael Podgajny with the goal.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Live Blog:Three Fights on HBO

For your Saturday night boxing pleasure, HBO brings you three fights on their series called Boxing After Dark. We'll dissect them as they occur.


Kirkland and Albert in the Junior Middleweight division will get it all started. Kirkland is unbeaten in 21 professional bouts and should get a good test from Albert. They will fight for the vacant NABO championship. Kirkland is a big puncher, while Albert has just 10 KO's among his 22 pro fights.

ROUND ONE: Kirkland has hurt Albert early and knocked him down. Albert looks very wobbly but is up and it will continue. Kirkland jumps right back on him and drops him again. This time Joe Cortez stops it immediately. So Kirkland has won again.

Originally he caught him with a short left and dropped him to really take control. We didn't get to see much of Kirkland tonight, the KO comes at 1:06 of round one, but what we saw was effective and impressive.

Next up is another Junior Middleweight bout between Alfredo Angulo, another unbeaten, versus Richar Gutierrez.

ROUND ONE: The better punches at the start of round one, have come from Gutierrez, but towards the latter stages of the round there seems to be more exchanges of punches. Still not sure that Gutierrez isn't winning those exchanges. But Angulo is finishing the round strong. Still I'll give the round to Gutierrez.

ROUND TWO: A slow start to round two, but about midway through round two, there is a big exchange at center ring. Angulo was strong there. He is getting to the body of Gutierrez as well. Angulo is the more aggressive of the two fighters right now. That round goes to Angulo.

ROUND THREE: Angulo continues to dig in with some combinations. He looks like he has settled well into this fight. Another good combination from Angulo. Angulo is throwing more punches and landing more. But Gutierrez is working as well and landing some as well. But Angulo is clearly landing the more effective punches right now. Round three in the books to Angulo.

ROUND FOUR: Angulo is still fighting at a tremendous pace as they start this round. Wonder how long they can keep this pace up? Angulo hasn't done anything to really hurt Gutierrez, but there does seem to be times where all the punches that Angulo is throwing bother him. Another good combo from Angulo, to complete another solid round.

ROUND FIVE: Gutierrez has hurt Angulo with a left hook to the chin and its early here in Round five. Let's see if he can work his way back. He was really hurt and it has clearly slowed him down. Middle of the round, Angulo has hurt him, Gutierrez is trying to hang on. A big right hand from Angulo and then some good combos to hurt him some more. But Gutierrez won't go down and Tony Weeks stops it. Angulo was just pounding away.

Angulo did a great job to come back from being bothered early in the round and get the TKO. A big right hand started it and when Gutierrez wouldn't go down, Weeks had no choice to stop it as he was getting pummeled.

The Cuban defector Yuriorkis Gamboa versus Darling Jiminez in the nightcap. We expect Gamboa to push the pace for all ten rounds of junior lightweight action, or as long as it lasts.

ROUND ONE: Tremendous hand speed from Gamboa exhibited to start the round. Fighters feeling each other out a little bit. But Gamboa gets busy towards the end of the round, but Jimenez hit him a few times. Gamboa is very impressive in the ring. Jimenez got caught and knocked off balance. Not sure he was really hurt, but definitely caught. The round goes to Gamboa.

ROUND TWO: We've seen some good young fighters in Angulo and Kirkland tonight, but Gamboa seems to have some extra special about him. Again Jimenez lands some punches against Gamboa, who seems to be taunting Jimenez. Gamboa is holding his hands at his hips, but Jimenez is for the most part not capitalizing. The round ends and you have to give it to Gamboa, although that was closer than the first.

ROUND THREE: Gamboa seems a little bit lazy. He's special in the ring. But he doesn't seem to be working hard enough to totally take control of this fight. He has control, but he could really make Jimenez uncomfortable and he hasn't done it yet. Gamboa landed a few combinations near the end of the round three. He won that round and is ahead three rounds.

ROUND FOUR: Gamboa pounding away now at the start of round four. Not sure that Jimenez can or will want to take too much more of this. But with that said, Jimenez dropped Gamboa with a right hand to the ear. He was hit hard after the knockdown again. He seems to have his legs back under him. But two more strong punches from Jimenez. He is making a fight out of it. The round, and a 10-8 variety to Jimenez.

ROUND FIVE: Gamboa is back in control here in the fifth. He's not being near as lazy and he's pushing Jimenez up against the ropes. He won the round from there. It slowed the final two minutes of the round. But Gamboa made sure Jimenez knew that Round four was some sort of anomoly.

ROUND SIX: Big right hand from Jimenez to start the sixth round that brings roars from the crowd. It was a big shot, but it did not really stagger Gamboa too much. Gamboa is busy but Jimenez is blocking a large portioin of the shots. I think that was as close to an even round as possible. But I think that ultimately Gamboa was more busy and more effective. The round goes to him and I have him leading 58-55 at the moment.

ROUND SEVEN: Gamboa sauteeing Jimenez' face with punches at the start of the round. Jimenez seems to be tiring some. He looks similar to what he looked before he knocked Gamboa down in Round four. He did land a good inside right hand. The hand speed of Gamboa is winning this fight. Jimenez went down, but it was not ruled a knockdown. Gamboa again wresles Jimenez to the canvas. The round ends and I score it for Gamboa.

ROUND EIGHT: Gamboa continues to hit Jimenez. But there doesn't seem to be a lot behind those. It's just a good solid clinical effort. A big right hand by Jimenez staggered and startled Gamboa, who responds with a combination of his own. The biggest and best punch of the round was clearly Jimenez', but I can't give him the round on that one punch. So I give it to Gamboa.

ROUND NINE: Some good action at the start of nine. Jimenez landed a combination, and now Gamboa's punches seem to be having more of an effect on Jimenez. Gamboa just moves so well and his hand speed is so tremendous. There were times in this fight that he has looked lazy. But he just scored with a tremendous left and keeps coming forward. The round again to the Cuban.

ROUND TEN: The final round set to begin. Jimenez needs a miracle and Gamboa starts on the offensive. Gamboa fights the final round, like its the first. Great effort by him with his speed.

The fight does goe to the scorecards, but I don't see much debate here. It was clearly Gamboa. I had it 98-91 and I wouldn't expect to see anything closer than 97-92 and that is probably a reach.
97-92 from two judges 99-91 from one judge to Gamboa.

Good win and it will be interesting to see how his career evolves.

Is Big Brown the Best Ever?

Big Brown's 5 1/4 length win in The Preakness Stakes, the second in the journey to a potential triple crown, could have been much more than that. Big Brown stormed to the front at the top of the stretch and simply galloped to victory.

His performance in the Kentucky Derby was one of the more impressive performances in recent triple crown history. His effort at Old Hilltop seemed to surpass that.

But as good as it was, it must be noted that for all intents and purposes it was against a AAA-field.

The Derby field generally represents the best 20 three-year olds. At times, there is a horse or two that maybe should be considered among that level that skips the Derby and points to the Preakness or even the Belmont or something later in the summer. I don't think that happened here. And because of Big Brown's dominating performance, and maybe because some of the connections probably thought they were in over their heads in the Derby only one horse who failed to beat Big Brown in the Derby came back in the Preakness.

That was Arkansas Derby winner Gayego. He set the early pace in this one, but wasn't anywhere close at the finish.

The rest of the field were horses that were generally not thought to be as good as the 19 that Big Brown beat in the Derby.

So even though Big Brown's performance was dominating in Baltimore today, it should have been. And as a result, I'm not ready to annoint him with any title yet. We'll get a better idea in the Belmont, when he faces some of the folks he beat in Louisville, only they'll have five weeks freshness to his three. And he'll also face Casino Night, who might be one of those rare horses who was good enough to run in the Derby but didn't.

Let's wait until we see how Big Brown does in Elmont NY and maybe even later this summer before we proclaim him to be anything. For now, let's just enjoy the run he's been on and see where it takes us. It's definitely good for the game.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday night with the Birds

Luke Scott has homered for the Birds to tie the game at 3 in the fourth.

Garrett Olson hasn't been as sharp tonight as in earlier starts. But he wriggled out of a potential big inning in the top of this inning, limiting the Nats to one run after they loaded the bases with nobody out.

Adam Jones just got a two-out single for the Orioles. The impressive thing for the youngster was the hit came off a curveball.

Great play by Melvin Mora fielding deep in foul territory to throw Christian Guzman out at first by a couple of steps at first base. Fine play.

The Orioles have taken their first lead. Brian Roberts tripled to right field to start the fifth inning and then scored on Melvin Mora's gift double to right center. Mora's flyball was going to score Roberts, but it somehow fell between a diving Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes in right center. It's 4-3 with Mora in scoring position.

Kevin Millar singled home Aubrey Huff, after Huff reached on a fielder's choice to make it 5-3. But Millar was thrown out trying to get to second. It's the second time Millar has been thrown out on the basepaths tonight.

Frederick has taken a 3-1 lead on Lynchburg tonight as the catcher has hit a 2-run homer to give the Keys a lead. Many of you might be thinking its Matt Weiters again. But Justin Johnson is getting the start tonight and his homer has provided the difference in the fifth.

Matt Albers is on in relief for the Orioles. Garrett Olson is in line to get the win if the Orioles bullpen can hold on for him. Not his best work tonight. But a pretty good effort for a young guy to hang in there and give the O's a chance to win.

Albers gave the Orioles two solid innings of relief. He's done everything the Orioles have asked of him this year. Not sure if he could be equally effective in the rotation or not.

Terrible job by the defense on Dmitri Young's flyball to shallow left. The ball has to be caught and somehow nobody caught it. Looked like blaming Freddie Bynum was the right guy to blame on that one. But to Albers credit he struck the next guy out. Should they leave him out there for another inning? Hard to imagine Washington getting anything off of him, so I'd do it. I'm guessing the Orioles come with somebody else. Chad Bradford?

They left Albers out there. I think that is a good decision. He's throwing the ball very well. Jay Payton, remember him, is in for defense for Luke Scott. So why let Scott hit against the lefthander?

Albers surrenders a leadoff infield single to the hole at shortstop and Dave Trembley immediately turns to Jim Johnson. Opponents hitting just .145 against him. Don Sutton thought maybe that was a misprint in the notes. Nope, he's just been that good.

Johnson strikes out the first hitter and then fans Wily Mo Pena for the second out. Then he struck out Elijah Dukes to end the inning. Another great outing for Johnson.

George Sherrill is headed in to try to close this for the Orioles.

Good play by Millar and Sherrill to get the first out of the inning. Popup to Brian Roberts has gotten the second out.

Zimmerman lines out to Millar and the Orioles have won 5-3, their sixth win in seven games. Cue the music.....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ranking the Orioles top pitching prospects

If you follow the Orioles minor league teams at all, you know that there is a wealth of pitching talent making its way through the system right now. Trying to come up with a list of ten, I had to extend it to 12, and ranking them based upon the impact they might have in Baltimore's rotation in the future. Only looking at guys who are currently pitching in the minors.

12 - Jacob Renshaw - The biggest indication that the Orioles have a lot of minor league pitching depth is probably this guy acquired in the Steve Trachsel trade. He won twelve games in the Cubs chain last year and he was generally thought of as the Cubs top pitcher headed to Adv-A this year. Going into the spring he was probably thought of as the #4 or #5 on the potential Frederick roster. Not as dominating as many of his peers, but he has continued his winning ways and is a solid starter. He's 5-2 in Frederick and likely to stay there all year. Ceiling is probably a 4 or 5starter in the bigs, but an interesting guy to watch develop.

11 - Hayden Penn - I've just about lost all faith in Hayden Penn. And the thing is I think the Orioles are pretty much with me. Mixes a good start into the mix every now and again at AAA-Norfolk, but he's still allowing more than a hit per inning. Not sure what the future brings for him. But at the moment, I don't expect too much. Still he only turns 25 in the offseason, so maybe he's a late bloomer. I just don't read it that way

10 - Radhames Liz - I still think his future is out of the bullpen. He's got a great fastball, but has trouble with everything else. Got a cup of coffee with the Orioles last year, but still needs to develop. Question will become can he generate something other than the fastball which will allow him to get hitters out more consistently.

9 - Pedro Beato - Part of the talented rotation at Frederick. Is highly thought of, but some of his early season struggles have pushed him down on this list. Still with all the talent that he has, he just can't be ignored. But has to be careful that not too many people pass him in the Orioles view.

8 - Brandon Erbe - Former top pick of the Orioles. The Baltimore schoolboy has sort of stalled out at Adv-A Frederick. Good life to the fastball and his changeup is probably his best pitch. But he struggled a good bit in Frederick last year, so only 20, turns 21 on Christmas, the Orioles decided to have spend another year with the Keys. Started the season well, but has tailed off of late. ERA sits at 4.82 (almost a run and half better than last year) and he still is allowing about 1.20 baserunners an inning. More potential then a lot of guys on this list, but the results haven't shone through recently.

7. Zach Britton - A little lefthander the Orioles drafted out of high school by the Orioles a few years ago. He is productively making his way through the system and is now in his third year. Just 20, he's holding his own at A Delmarva. He's 3-2 with a sub-3.00 ERA. Isn't overpowering but he does get people out. Probably never going to be a Major League ace, but if he keeps working hard, he could be a valuable part of the rotation at some point.

6. David Hernandez - Upside is enormous here. Yet, he's never really performed in the minors, but he has started the year very well for Bowie. A strikeout pitcher, who has a nasty slider but sometimes lacks command. Was better with it last year, but still some issues this year. Could become an ace, may never materialize. A huge unknown.

5. John Mariotti - This is as high as you'll probably see him on anybody's list. But I like last year's 18th round pick, because he gets guys out. He's only at A Delmarva, but he's allowing just about 3/4 of a baserunner an inning. That is very good. I'd like to see what he could do at Frederick and we might see that later this year.

4. Cory Spoone - Some arm issues have elevated his numbers this season, and have kept him from elevating on this list. Highly thought of both within the organization and out. Keep an eye on him as the season wears on and we find out if his arm has recovered.

3. Brad Bergesen - A huge surprise to be this high, but has dominated first at Frederick and then Bowie this year. The report I got back from New Hampshire after his first start clearly indicates that he is capable of this much upside.

2. Jake Arrieta - The Orioles said that this 2007 draftee may rise through the ranks quickly. So far he hasn't disappointed and a bounce to Bowie for the second half of this season seems likely. If that occurs and he pitches well, he might be competing for a slot in the rotation next spring. That's best case scenario of course, as he was just the Carolina Pitcher of the Week last week.

1. Chris Tillman - Good fastball, plus curve, likely to end up being the guy most remembered out of the Erik Bedard trade. Just 20, he drew rave reviews in spring training, and has followed it up with a good beginning at Bowie. He's on the hill right now, and he's thrown five shutout innings versus Erie. Still very young, without a lot of innings, he's probably not a real contender for the rotation next year, although if he continues to impress that could change. He has now completed the sixth today, and he fanned nine and allowed only 3 hits. His ERA on the season is about 2.40. A true top of the rotation prospect.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Orioles Magic, Magic, Magic

It's not quite the Superbowl Shuffle.....


That's right the Orioles have swept the Boston Red Sox out of Camden Yards. And maybe they sent a few of those fans with them.

For the second day in a row, the Orioles rallied from down 3-0 to knock off the defending champs. Yesterday, it was the pitching that came through with the late game heroics. Today, it was the bats.

After being silenced by Jon Lester for five innings, the Orioles closed to within 3-2 with a pair in the sixth. Then Jay Payton hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to win the game for the Orioles.

Matt Albers pitched a quick scoreless eighth and George Sherrill closed for his 15th save as the Birds made a winner of Daniel Cabrera, who is now 4-1. Dustin Pedroia was 1-for-4 for the Sox.

As far as I'm concerned Jay Payton can be on the next bus out of town. His stay here will last no longer than the end of the season. He isn't a factor in the long-term of what is to come with this franchise. But each and every day he becomes more and more valuable to this team. Because as a fourth outfielder on a contender he serves a true purpose and has a real role. And each and every day this team looks more like a team that might have enough to keep it in contention for a lot longer than anyone thought when they left Oakland a little less than a week ago.

Maybe the focus should change. Maybe everything that's remaining shouldn't be blown up.

There is lots of young pitching in the future. Some of it has already arrived. The concern is whether or not the young offensive players are of the same caliber. I say give them some time and let them develop. Don't rush them. There seems to be a belief that a player needs to be a player in his early 20's. No need. Let guys like Jay Payton be space fillers until they are ready.

I was extremely excited about the Orioles future before this season began. I figured it would take until at least 2010 for them to be at all ready to compete. But through 38 games, this era is competing. They are making it fun again. It's quite possible that there will be more bruises before this team is totally ready to be a championship contender. But this team has made it fun to be an Orioles fan again. They've taken the embarrasment away.

Now let's see what can be built.

This, That, and the Other

This: You want one reason for why the Orioles ar 1 game above .500 at this point of the season. How bout Jim Johnson? After not starting the season on the major league roster, he's pitched in 14 of 39 games and has mainly been very effective. He's allowed just 11 hits and 3 runs in 22 2/3 innings. His houdini act last night was the stuff of special seasons. Entering with a two run lead and the bases loaded and nobody out. He got the league's most feared hitter?, Manny Ramirez, to bounce into a double play on a ten-pitch at-bat, then he got Mike Lowell to fly out to left to end the threat. Big time stuff for a guy who was all but cast off in the offseason. Could he be headed to the rotation any time soon? I'd keep him where he is.

That: Why is today's game starting at 3:05? Neither the Orioles nor the Sox have a game tomorrow. Maybe it's just for a head start on the day off. But I wouldn't think the O's would sacrifice a night game against the rival for that. Attendance is bad enough as it is. But a nice job by the Oriole fans last night. Recently, it's been tough to tell who the home team is when the Sox are in town. But the fans were looking good last night. The Orange Nick Markakis tees didn't hurt.

The Other: A week has gone by since I decided on my first all-star votes. This week, I'm makings some changes. I'm changing my American League double play combo. Out are Jose Lopez and Michael Young. In are Ian Kinsler and Derek Jeter. It's a shame that all the AL has to offer is Jeter, but that is the case at the moment. I'm also going with a new outfield. Let's bump Josh Hamilton (8 HR, 43 RBI), BJ Upton, and Grady Sizemore into the grouping. Sizemore started a bit slowly but he's getting it going and he deserves this. So the AL team is Mauer, Youkilis, Kinsler, Jeter, Figgins, Hamilton, Upton, Sizemore and Morneau.

Over in the NL, the only change I'm making on the infield is Miguel Tejeda in for Rafael Furcal at shortstop. Furcal is slowed by his injury and Tejeda, as we suspected, is just doing a better job in a new circumstance. A batting average of .338, but he still hasn't shown the great power, although five homers at this point isn't bad and indicates a little improvement. Not sure how much longer I can not vote for Hanley Ramirez. I stay with Pujols at DH this week, but Ramirez is even close to replacing him there. Around the diamond its Soto,Berkman, Utley, Tejeda, Jones, McLouth, Nady, Burrell and Pujols.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Palmer calls it

Jim Palmer was talking about a three-run homer from Luke Scott just before the import from Houston launches a 3-run bomb to Eutaw Street to give the Orioles a 5-3 third inning lead at Camden Yards.

Just about the time the Hall-Of-Famer was saying, "Beckett doesn't serve many up" Scott was sending the drive into orbit.

The Orioles playing the third straight game without backstop Ramon Hernandez, Melvin Mora is out for the second straight game. He did DH Sunday in KC. Brian Roberts did make his return to the O's lineup.

Aubrey Huff started at third and his error along with the error of first baseman Kevin Millar helped to fuel Boston's three-run first inning.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Around the League

Great pitcher's duel going on in Cleveland tonight. Shawn Marcum and Cliff Lee posting zeroes up there.

Lee has been remarkable this year and he got some help from the defense a little earlier. Asdrubral Cabrera turned an unassisted triple play. With runners on first and second in the top of the fifth, the Jays put the runners in motion. Cabrera made a diving grab of the liner stepped on second for the second out and tagged the runner coming from first for the third. Only the fourteenth unassisted triple play in the history of the majors.

Marcum has gotten through the seventh. So we're headed to the eighth with blanks up there.

Boston scored three in the top of the first, but Minnesota has rallied back for a 7-3 lead. The Twins surprising a lot of people, including myself, this year. After trading away Santana, many expected them to fall off. Plus they lost Torii Hunter to free agency. But right now they are a game in the lead in the mediocre AL Central.

It's always fun watching a baseball game from Canada broadcaster TSN. Because they break in between innings for hockey highlights.

The Pirates won for the sixth straight time earlier today. But then they lost the nightcap to the doubleheader so the streak is over. But the Buccos are playing better baseball right now. The outfield of McLouth, Nady and Bay is pretty solid. Ryan Doumit has provided some offense behind the plate. They have a group of young pitchers, who should be ready to get guys out and pitch consistently at this level. They have struggled a little thus far, but seem to be getting better at the moment.

Be interesting to see how the Sox handle Clay Buchholz. Right now, even though he's not exactly pitching well, they need to keep him in the rotation. But later in the year, they might get Schilling and even Colon back and then Buchholz' 5+ ERA may move him to the bullpen or back to the minors to get him some confidence. Right now, he just isn't sharp enough with his fastball to get major league hitters out consistently. His curveball is impressive, but he can't live on that. Hitters have come to realize they can ignore the curveball and hit the fastball. He turns 24 in August, which is still fairly young, but he still needs some innings to mature and develop at this level.

Most Oriole fans would have taken 19-19 at this point. And it was certainly good to see the team rebound from the 1-5 start to the road trip, to finish up 4-6. Still, the promise of the organization is in all the young arms that the Birds are starting to accumulate in the minor leagues. In addition, Matt Wieters has answered any questions as to whether or not he'd be a true prospect. He's torn up the Carolina League in the first few months of the season. He was the Carolina League player of the week last week, when he hit three homers and extended his hit streak to nine games. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta was named the pitcher of the week. I'm beginning to think that Arrieta might just be the top pitcher at A-Adv Frederick. I think you could see both both players at AA-Bowie after the All Star Break.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Syracuse in the Postseason

The Syracuse Lacrosse is back in the postseason and is facing Canisius in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game is on ESPNU right now.

8:02PM: Brendan Loftus has given the Orange a 3-0 lead early on, as the Orange is dominating the faceoff circle. The MAAC champion is in serious jeopardy of getting blown out of this right now.

8:05PM: (I must indicate, I'm watching the game on TiVo, so there is a little tape delay at the moment - I should be caught up soon) But I don't think the same can be said for the Golden Griffs. Greg Niewieroski just scored for the Orange to make it 4-0. The Orange were a man-down but killed off the power play and added a goal.

8:09PM: Penalty flags against the Orange again. But the last time the Griffs had the man advantage, Syracuse scored. John DeRosa the guilty party, a 30-second penalty.

8:10PM: Are you kidding me? I know I'm not a lax expert, but I really don't remember too many short-handed goals in all the games I've ever watched. Now the Orange has two in the first nine minutes tonight. Josh Amidon got that goal, and this game ought to be over by the time Desperate Housewives comes on. My wife will be happy.

8:12PM: The Orange has seven shots. They now have six goals. Dan Hardy collects this goal for the Orange. It's 6-0 and growing. A year away from the NCAA tournament and the Orange has returned fired up.

8:15PM: The winner of this game faces Notre Dame next weekned in Cornell. I'm pretty confident saying the Orange will have the easier commute.

8:17PM: We are nearing the end of quarter one. The Syracuse defense has appeared impenetrable right now for the third-ranked Orange. These first round games aren't always blowouts. UMBC gave #2 Virginia all it could handle in the game before this. UVA scored with about six minutes left to win 10-9. The Retrievers had some shots late but the Cavs held on.

8:20PM: The second quarter is six seconds underway and the Orange lead has grown to 7-0. Mike Leveille scores his second of the night, and 40th of the year. How many times will be happy if the football team has 7 points six seconds into the second quarter this year?

8:21PM: Syracuse is going to the penalty box again. So expect the Orange to score pretty soon. Canisius has had two man-up opportunities in the first quarter, and the Orange scored twice. This is a one-minute penalty.

8:23PM: Ok, if the ESPNU commentators have it right, and have you ever know Rob Simmelkjear not to be right? Then the second Orange goal that I was calling a shorthanded goal, occured after the penalty had expired so the goal was at even strength.

8:25PM: A Griffin is half-lion and half-eagle in case you were wondering? It has gotten to that point in the ESPNU broadcast.

8:26PM: Steven Brooks, #44, just scored on a nice shot from the outside to make it 8-0. To make matters worse for the Griffs, there is a one-minute penalty upcoming for the Orange.

8:28PM: The North Bracket will play next Sunday afternoon at Ithaca. So it looks like it will be Syracuse vs. Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon.

8:32PM: So much for the shutout. Adam Jones has broken through for the Griffs. The freshman scored his 38th goal of the season and the Griffs are within 8-1.

8:35PM: Great goal from Pat Perritt for the Orange. He went the length of the field and fired one in from a tough angle to make it 9-1.

8:37PM: Michael Blocho has scored quickly for Canisius and the Griffs have settled into this a little bit more and its now 9-2.

8:39PM: Canisius won in Emmitsburg this year. Back on March 15th, when the Mount campus was celebrating the hoops championship, the Griffs won the MAAC opener 11-7.

8:41PM: We're just about at halftime and there seems little doubt what the outcome is going to be. Syracuse is clearly in control and seems to be headed to the Quarterfinals. So my night of live blogging is complete. We're comfortable calling it a good SU win on graduation day.

8:43PM: Blocho just scored his second goal with 19.0 seconds left in the half. That makes it 9-3.

Alex Cintron up with the Orioles

Due to the Orioles injury troubles on a short bench, and probably the fact that if something wasn't done with Alex Cintron by May 15th, the Orioles have recalled him from Norfolk and he should be in Kansas City by gametime today.

The official announcement from the Orioles should be forthcoming. Expect the Orioles to clear one pitcher. The options would seem to be Bob McCrory out of the bullpen, or Garrett Olson out of the rotation. Olson certainly hasn't pitched like he deserves a demotion, but with the O's not needing a fifth starter for awhile it is possible they'd send him back to Norfolk to keep him on proper rest schedule and not move him to the bullpen.

Of course in Ramon Hernandez needs to goto the DL, unlikely as the O's have recalled a position player, or Brian Roberts needs the same, that would be the move.

We'll wait for the word.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Picking the NL All Stars

I think there have been many more top notch individual performances in the National League this year, and in some cases that makes it a little bit easier to pick a team.

Here we go.....

C - Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs - Not sure if he still qualifies as a rookie or not, as he's been up each of the last three years. But this is his first real long-term assignment. He's ripping it up at the moment. He's got 6 homers, 24 RBI, and is hitting about .333. He also has 13 doubles and a triple, so his slugging percentage is .623 and the OPS is 1+. Impressive.

1b - Lance Berkman, Houston - Berkman's recent offensive tear has given him the advantage over a few other deserving candidates including Conor Jackson and Albert Pujols. But Berkman's .380 average and 12 homers and 35 runs batted in gets him my vote.

2b - Chase Utley, Philadelphia - May be the easiest pick of all of them. Utley has 13 homers, and is hitting about .336. He's really as much of an MVP candidate as any.

3b - Chipper Jones, Atlanta - He just seems to keep getting better with age. His torrid start includes an amaing 1.179 OPS. That's of the highest quality. He's missed a little bit of time due to injury, but he's got 10 homers and a +400 batting average.

SS - Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles - Another position with a great competition going on. Could easily have selected Hanley Ramirez or Miguel Tejada but Furcal deserves it slightly more at the moment.

OF - Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh - There probably isn't a more surprising start in the majors than Nate McLouth. He's hitting .315 with 9 homers and 29 Runs driven in.

OF - Pat Burrell, Philadelphia - The boos are over for this guy, for now in Philly. He's got a 1+ OPS and he's thriving in this power laden offense. In his free agent year, he's making the most of it.

OF - Xavier Nady, Pittsburgh - He's always a quick starter and he's made this an all Pennsylvania outfield. With 18 extra-base hits, he has driven in 34 runs thus far.

DH - Albert Pujols, St. Louis - Pujols is the most deserving of the position players I didn't pick to go here, and he earned my vote when he scored from second base on an infield groundout earlier in the week in Colorado.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Big Night for Orioles prospects

Don't know how things are going to turn out for the Orioles at Kaufman Stadium tonight. (Currently they lead 5-2, so it looks good at the moment) But tonight, was a good night for the future of the organization.


Matt Weiters blasted two home runs in Frederick's 8-1 win at Lynchburg. Those were his sixth and seventh homers of the season.

Jacob Renshaw, who was acquired as part of the Trachsel trade last year, earned his fifth win for the Keys.

Brandon Snyder hit his second home in the win.

In the first game of a doubleheader in Lexington, Zac Britton threw five shutout innings, before tiring and allowing two in the sixth and one in the seventh in the Shorebirds win.

At Portland, Chris Tillman threw six shutout innings confusing the SeaDog hitters all night long. He struck out six, including the last six he faced, while allowing just one hit in six innings. He earned his third AA win.

The All Stars - Who Should you vote For?

You can now vote for baseball All-Star's teams. We are about 1/2 way to the All Star break, so by now we have some idea who we should be voting for. Let me help you make those picks right now.

Let's settle the American League in this post.....

C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota
- The 25-year old is becoming the American League's best catcher. He hasn't hit with home run power yet this year, but he's swinging the bat at .346 and reaching base 42% of the time. He does 9 doubles and a triple and he gets my vote here.

1B - Kevin Youkilis - Boston - He's such a different type of player for the Sox. His OPS is nearly 1.000 as he has smacked 7 homers and driven in 27 runs early in the year. Truly many of the big name first basemen haven't performed and I thought I'd vote for Casey Kotchman here, but I can't look past what Youkilis has accomplished.

2B - Jose Lopez, Seattle - I think there are six or seven guys who are probably deserving of some consideration here. Not sure that any of them are really having a stellar season yet. But Lopez is hitting .291 with 41 hits. He's been an all-star before, and he's my vote. For Now.

3B - Chone Figgins, Los Angeles - You think this guy has any chance to win this slot over ARod. Neither do I. But based on the way he's played to start the season, and the fact that ARod has been out with the injury and been a little sluggish (at least for him), I'll go with Figgins and his .421 OBP and 11 steals.

SS - Michael Young, Texas - The former All Star MVP is off to a decent start at .301 and has driven in 16. He's solid with the glove and he's one of the game's best young stars that nobody knows about.

OF - Manny Ramirez, Boston - He very well maybe the MVP at this point, so I can't let him off the All-Star team. He's slugging almost .600 and getting on base nearly 40%. Yet we sort of expect more from him. Still, I think he'll be in this slot. And I think he deserves it.

OF - Bobby Abreu, New York - It pains me to vote for a Yankee. But Abreu is doing a lot to help his team win games. His OBP isn't as high as normal, but he's still hitting the ball and driving in some runs.

OF - Johnny Damon, New York - I contemplated Josh Hamilton or Torii Hunter here, but Damon is scoring a lot of runs hitting at a decent average and he has 19 extra-base hits. So for now he is here.

DH - Justin Morneau, Minnesota - There really aren't a lot of options. Baltimore's Aubrey Huff deserves some consideration and Big Papi may end up ultimately being the guy. So, I'm going with the guy who seems to fit in here best, even though he actually plays a position in real life.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bynum officially on the roster

and he's 1-for-1. He just singled to right field to start the third inning. The Orioles lead the Royals 1-0 in the top of the third.

Bynum was activated from the DL earlier today and recalled from AA-Bowie. He's in the lineup at shortstop and the nine hold.

Eider Torres was optioned to AAA-Norfolk to even the roster out at 25. The Orioles continue to carry 13 pitchers and I wouldn't be surprised to see that change in the upcoming weeks.

Bynum is now on second as he advanced on a wild pitch.

I don't really think that Bynum is the answer at Shortstop. He seems to fit in more as a utility guy. However, he might be the Orioles best option, and he should provide more offense than Luis Hernandez has thus far. But expect Hernandez to become a late inning defensive replacement for Bynum. Hernandez had played a bit better of late, but he definitely isn't ready to be an everyday major league shortstop.

Bynum to be activated and recalled

I might be speculating a bit too much....but Freddie Bynum who has been on a rehab assignment at AA Bowie will be joining the Orioles shortly. I expect as soon as tonight in Kansas City.

It has been rumored recently that Bynum would be up with the big club when they return to Baltimore after the weekend, but I'm not sure the team is waiting any longer.

Bynum was pulled after one at-bat last night, a home run, and is not in today's lineup at AA Bowie. I am speculating the reason is a recall. There is no official word yet from the Orioles, but I would expect Bynum to be in the lineup tonight in Kansas City.

The Orioles have been sputtering of late, dropping their last four series and have lost seven of eight overall. Much has been because of a sagging offense.

Assuming that Bynum is recalled, expect Bob McCrory or Eider Torres to be shipped out.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Race for Eighth

Don't know if you noticed it or not, but the NCAA approved two more bowl games recently. The Congressional Bowl in Washington D.C. will feature Navy versus an ACC opponent, and a bowl in St. Petersburg will give the Big East another Bowl tie-in.

That is six bowl tie-ins for the Big East now as they have vacated the Texas Bowl and allowed Conference USA to take that slot. In addition, the SEC will now replace Conference USA in the Papa John's Bowl in Birmingham. Not bad for an eight team league.

So as a Syracuse grad and fan, my immediate thought was troubling. Now Syracuse could very well be left out of a bowl game again, but its getting embarrassing with everyone else going. 68 teams will play in bowl games this year. Because you need a .500 record to get to the postseason, and the Orange just doesn't seem likely to get there. How depressing is it, that the once proud program of the Orange gives me no hope in the months leading up to the season, to actually make the Bowl season?

The Big East's six bowl affiliations are as follows: The BCS series, the Gaton/Sun tie-in, the Papa John's tie-in, the Meineke Car Care tie-in, the International Bowl in Toronto, and the newly formed St. Petersburg Bowl.

It's asking a lot for the Orange to be a part of that lineup. And what a sad statement that is.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Here we go - Gavin Floyd carries a shhh into the ninth

We can't tell you by name what Gavin Floyd is doing....because that might be bad luck. But we can say it's not a shutout. The Twins scored on a walk and a sacrifice fly.

He's ahead 0-2 on the first hitter in the ninth. And Brendan Harris is down on a called strike three. The fourth strikeout for Floyd, and now he's two outs away, but don't tell anyone.

10:32 PM: Joe Mauer now at the plate - and he breaks up the no-hitter with a one-out double to the left centerfield gap. Give Nick Swisher credit for diving at the flyball. He missed by about ten feet, but it was a good effort.

10:33 PM: Ozzie Guillen has pulled Floyd and replaced him with Bobby Jenks. I'm back to watching the Orioles. Another great effort by Floyd, who flirted with the no-hitter for the second time this season.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mile Marker 5: Birds headed in the wrong direction

For the first time all season, the Orioles had a truly disappointing week. Since Monday's game with Chicago hasn't officially been completed yet, the O's have now dropped three straight series, and seem to now be headed towards what many of the expectations were for this team: the basement of the AL East.

The problem really is the offense. There just isn't enough of it. It's not a real surprise, when Kevin Millar is your cleanup hitter (and I know that has been changed) you are signalling that your offense has some deficiencies. The scary problem is there probably isn't much that can be done. Manager Dave Trembley has tried shifting the parts around in the lineup. That seems to have rejuvenated Nick Markakis a little bit. At least giving him some more pitches to hit, and he's responded with some power of late. But the Orioles are counting on him to hit better than the .273 that he currently is hitting at. He is on pace to hit 30+ homers, so you can't fault his production. He's got an OBP better than .400 so getting him higher in the order isn't a bad thing. I wouldn't even mind if the Orioles batted him leadoff and let the more aggressive Brian Roberts get some chances in RBI situations.

For the most part, the Orioles had to expect to get more from most of their players than what they are getting right now. Maybe the exception is Aubrey Huff and Luis Hernandez. Huff is hitting .277 with 5 homers, while the light hitting Hernandez is right around .250.

But guys like Melvin Mora (.258), Millar (.214), Luke Scott (1 Home Run), Ramon Hernandez (.198 - although he's raised the average of late), Roberts (.266, OBP .352), Adam Jones (.239) have probably all performed below their capabilities.

Meanwhile, the pitching with the exception of Steve Trachsel, has probably been better than could be expected. I'm anxious to see how Garrett Olson performs this week. I've never thought he'd definitely be a top-notch major leaguer. But he started the season solidly at Norfolk (AAA) and gave the O's a great effort last week, and might have been the big bright spot of the week.

You have to wonder how much longer the O's go with Trachsel. He continues to get hit and unlike the other starters, isn't giving his team the opportunity to win each night. Hayden Penn (had a good start at Norfolk tonight), Radhames Liz (had been pitching well after starting poorly but struggled in his last start, or arms in the bullpen Matt Albers or James Johnson will all soon deserve Trachsel's innings, if the veteran can't get guys out.

The Orioles did get Greg Acquino through waivers and he closed out Penn's win for the Tides tonight. They also recalled Lance Cormier from Norfolk. Cormier is a guy who has shown promise before but has never been fully healthy. He's a guy, I was happy to see the O's sign in the offseason. He was terrible in spring training and didn't make the team as a result, but pitched well in Norfolk during the first month, and earned the promotion when Randor Bierd went on the DL. Bierd, the Rule V pickup, had pitched very well for the big club, but is out with a shoulder impingement. Hopefully, it doesn't turn into anything serious. Cormier has pitched three hitless innings since being called up.

One thought I had today was maybe the Rockies would have some increased interest in Brian Roberts now that Troy Tulowitzi is out until at least the All-Star break with a torn quadriceps. Obviously BRob isn't going to play SS for them. But Clint Barmes who had been playing a lot of 2B would fill in at SS and Roberts could play 2B and provide some offense at the top of their lineup. Included within the Rockies top 10 prospects by Baseball America are two shortstops, a definite area of need for the Birds. With Tulowitzi locked up long term in Denver they maybe blocked. Chris Nelson, the #7 prospect hit 19 homers at A ball last year. He has started slowly at AA this year. Hector Gomez, the #4 prospect, is from the SS production factory of San Pedro de Macrois. He has been limited to 3 at-bats this year though. I really don't know if either of them has a true future, but it is an area of need, and I would think if the Orioles could get the top Rockies position prospect in Ian Stewart, who seems to be blocked by Garrett Atkins at third base, and a few young arms to go with one of the two SS prospects it might make some sense to deal Roberts to the defending National League champs.

I'm still not convinced that the Orioles shouldn't try to hold onto Roberts, but if they decide to deal him, and the Rockies name has been mentioned before, here is a spot where they might be able to get some more out of his value due to the Rockies injury misfortune and their desire to win right now.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Picking the Derby Winner

I'm a firm believer that history repeats itself at the Kentucky Derby. It does so in the fashion that the same type of horse usually wins the race. Therefore, even though a full field of 20 usually shows up at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, its easy to eliminate a lot of the horses going to the starting gate.

This year based on past history I eliminated 10 horses and was left with 10 horses, but I was still in a quandry. The best horse clearly looks like Big Brown. I mean clearly. But he's only three times and nobody has won that way in almost 100 years, so I don't know what to do with Big Brown.

Of the remaining 10 horses, the horse that I seem to like best is Colonel John. But the Santa Anita Derby winner has never won on the dirt. Never. He's run all his previous efforts on the synthetic surfaces. Some horses transition marvelously, some look lost. Colonel John seems to be handling the Derby surface marvelously working fabulously since arriving from Southern California. The problem with putting any cash on CJ is that we won't know for sure about him until they turn for home tomorrow.

So for me that would leave Gayego. Gayego won a relatively weak Arkansas Derby after coming east from Southern California where he couldn't beat Colonel John. But at least we know he won't totally not like the dirt surface.

So my plan is simply to play those three horses with some of the others, that I think have a shot based on history. Those horses include Cool Coal Man, Tale of Ekati, Court Vision, Z Fortune, Visionaire, Bob Black Jack, Monba, and Cowboy Cal.

So remember, if the best horse wins it's Big Brown. If the horse I like best wins its Colonel John and if he doesn't take to the surface I'll throw Gayego in there.

But when you've got a blog, you've got to make a pick. I'll stay with Colonel John.