Monthly Archives: February 2010

Back on the Right Coast

So I returned home from my visit to the left coast on Tuesday to much fanfare.  I’d like to thank all of my fans who were there to greet me at the airport.  It was really nice…felt like I got back from Miami with the Superbowl trophy.

Actually, none of that happened.

I didn’t get to have my dance off with Ian from The Caps Lock but I was able to spend some time with him and our guy Theodore.  He’ll be back in a few weeks, and I’m sure he’ll be ready for opening day, tanned and relaxed.

Ian came over for a grill out in Huntingon Beach where we talked Olympic Hockey, the internal feud on their site, and O’s baseball.  It was a good time.

Finally, I’ll share with you my run-in on the Huntington Beach Pier:

Me: Oh look, an old dude with an O’s hat.

Ted: Nice.

Me (to old guy):  Yeah!  Go O’s!

Old Guy: stares perplexed.  says nothing.

I guess he thought I was being sarcastic.  Can you blame him?

PS – Congrats to Ted and his ole lady for having their first child.  He’s already got her doing baby squats so she’ll be the first female NFL kicker.

PPS – The Caps Lock is getting noticed.  Good for them.

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Baseball America digs them some O’s

Baseball America has just released their annual pre-season top 100 prospects list. Some of our more casual fans may not know what this is or even know these players, and I say shame on you. This team is going to get better by developing talent in-house from our minor league system, so you better start learning about it. We are going to briefly discuss the list here, because I am a baseball nerd, and these lists make my pee pee feel all funny.

BA recently rated the O’s minor league system at 8th overall in MLB, which is vastly improved from recent years.The BA list included 4 Orioles players, which is above average.  On the list were Brian Matusz(5), Josh Bell(37), Zach Britton(63), and Jake Arrieta(99). We have a good chance of seeing all of them but Britton in 2010.

We have seen a glimpse already of what Matusz brings to the table and by the end of his showing in the majors last season it was very apparent why he is regarded as one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Matusz combines good stuff with good command and is probably our best pitcher overall going into the season despite retaining his rookie status. He is potentially a big time candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Josh Bell’s rating was a bit of a nice surprise, I knew he would be on the list but I did not expect him to be this high and I also did not expect him to be the highest ranked third baseman on the list (Brett Wallace is listed as a third basemen, but is expected to move to first). Josh Bell will likely make his debut at some point this season, though that is not a given with Miguel Tejada’s durability at third the O’s may not be able to find him enough at bats to bring him up. There is a chance however that Tejada struggles or that Bell forces their hand with a good showing in Norfolk.

BA had recently dropped several hints that they were beginning to come around on  left hander Zach Britton. Britton had flown under the national radar until now, though the Orioles made it known they liked him a lot before this past season. Britton had a very good showing in Frederick in ’09 and will most likely start this season in Bowie. He could potentially skyrocket to the bigs at some point this year but I see it as unlikely. There is a lot of young pitching talent in front of him on the depth chart but if he is dominant enough he could get some time late in the year. He should see some significant time in 2011 however if he continues to progress. Britton throws a very heavy sinker which is his best tool and that allows him to post ridiculous groundball rates while putting up solid strikeout rates. He is a very exciting prospect and we should keep an eye on him in 2010.

Jake Arrieta’s rating this season was a surprise as well, but in the opposite fashion as Bell. Coming into last season, Arrieta was ranked in the 30-40 range on several publication but he almost fell completely off of the list this year. Yes, Arrieta did not dominate AAA and had some struggles there but he is young and he didn’t embarrass himself either. I have seen him pitch a few times and his fastball is definitely his best tool, it wows you with the amount of bad looking swings it gets and he pops the mitt. It is almost definite that we will see Arrieta at some point this season, and I am looking forward to it. I don’t think the question with him is if he will be a productive major league pitcher, I think the big question with him is whether he will be a good starting pitcher or a dominant reliever. It will be fun to find out.

While the list is mostly good news for Orioles fans, there was some disappointment to be found in it. While our drafts have been pretty solid over the last few years, many fans and insiders did not like last year’s first round pick of Matt Hobgood at number 5 overall. It is waayy too early to call it a bad pick already but I was one that did not like it at the time. You may remember a post I did at the time of the draft where I recommended the O’s take a high school lefty Tyler Matzek. Matzek is on this list at number 23, Hobgood is nowhere to be found. There are several other players the O’s may have had interest in the draft also on the list in  shortstop Grant Green(52), college lefty Aaron Crow(40), and high school righty Zack Wheeler(49). This in no way confirms that the Hobgood pick was a reach and the O’s were looking to save money but it certainly isn’t great news.

In finality, let’s keep an eye on these guys this year so we know about them before they get their call. I don’t want to hear any questions about who they are from Orioles “fans” as I do every year we call up prospects. While in the last decade we haven’t had many good ones, our current crop are nationally known…let’s get with the program.

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ESH Fantasy

Not that kind of fantasy.  Although, Johnny is available for bachelorette parties.

As Jjaks mentioned, we are going to do an ESH Fantasy league and we’re going to open it up to any co-bloggers and other writers that want to try and take us on.

This will be one of two fantasy leagues we’ll be writing about over the season.  More details on the second one to come later.

So if you think you have what it takes, leave a comment or shoot us an email.  And, prepare to get your asses kicked.

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Exciting Times

After a long vacation and off season I, Jjaks Clayton, return to blogging. If you don’t mind it would be appreciated if you hold your applause until the end of the show.

Spring training is under way and that means a lot of exciting times around the baseball universe. Aside from all the real baseball news happening we here at ESH have some things going on as well. You already know we will have a representative in Sarasota for spring training stretching his lungs for battle, but that’s not all…

Tom Ludlow and I will be reliving the joy of the 1977 Orioles season via a Strat-O-Matic reenactment as part of a blog called Play That Funky Baseball where they replay the games of the 1977 season “managed” by various baseball writers and bloggers around the country.  Since none of us were even born back then, we were logical choices to head up the squad for the Orioles.  Anyway, Jeff Polman runs the site and he obviously gets us.  He sent this along to help motivate us, and it worked…big time.  Go check it out and make sure to visit the sites of all the other bloggers/writers and let them know why we are better.

Now that you’ve had time to take that in, I’ll let you in on a couple other things going on.  Some of us here in the ESH house have a “Who’s Your Boy?” board.  It helps us keep track of who our boys are and also ensure no one else tries to take credit for one of your boys doing something great, like striking out 4 times in one game or hitting a game winning grand slam.  I’ll explain why this is important in a separate post but until then let your imaginations run wild.

Also, spring training means that fantasy baseball season is almost upon us.  We will help you out with all your fantasy needs, and we do mean ALL.  We’ll have our own Eutaw Street Hooligans league (maybe we let a few readers in on the fun?) and make the results public with weekly blogs.  Also we will answer any questions or problems you face in your own leagues, so send in your questions and be ready to be amazed by our baseball knowledge.

It’s good to be back.

–Jjaks Clayton

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Luuuuukkkke

Luke Scott made a potentially troubling appearance on the Home Plate station on XM radio last night. I have stated before that I believe the current roster construction is going to leave a few players quite unhappy with their role.  Luke Scott had never been shy about voicing his opinions, and he appears to be the first one speaking out. Luke first spoke about the recent restriction on firearms in the locker room. I think this picture will explain his stance:

Luke has never been shy on his thoughts on firearms, or about his faith. We don’t cover these sort of topics on here because they aren’t baseball related and they aren’t THAT funny. Luke’s comments about the Orioles were much more concerning. Luke made it known once again that he is not happy at all as a primary DH. Luke made similar comments before the start of last season, but this year he seemed much more adamant. Luke also says that last year the Orioles promised him that he would still get half of his at bats as an outfielder. That obviously did not happen and he did not seem very happy about it. Luke wants to play the outfield and doesn’t see himself as a defensive liability. Well Luke, that’s because you aren’t.

Advanced defensive metrics such as UZR will tell you that Luke is an average to slightly above average defensive corner outfielder for his career. The Orioles have a cluttered outfield situation right now and it is going to be next to impossible to get him much playing time in the outfield without injuries. He appears to be 5th on the depth chart as it currently stands with Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis slated to get the lions share of the playing time. The Orioles had a very brief experiment of playing Luke at first base last season where he did not embarrass himself in my opinion. It seemed worth a longer tryout to me as it seemed that could be the best way to solve this situation. Luke has played first base before in his college days and briefly in the minor leagues, it is not a completely foreign position to him and let’s also not pretend it is an extremely difficult position to play in general. I think with a little experience there it would have been very likely that Luke could have been a more valuable first baseman than Garrett Atkins will be, by a good margin. Atkins defensive ability there is certainly not established and while he used to be able to hit, he has real potential to be a 4.5 million dollar disaster at the plate.

For me, the ideal situation would have been to go into the season with Luke as the starting first baseman with Brandon Snyder waiting for the call if he falters. With Scott at first, that would free up left field for more playing time for Felix Pie who proved he deserved in the second half of  ’09. This would put our best defensive outfielder (Pie) on the field and relegate our worst defensive outfielder (Reimold) to the DH role. Everyone wins in this situation, our best players are on the field and Luke is happy playing defense (He did say he was open to playing first regularly). As it currently stands, Luke will probably be treated a lot like he was last year, DH vs right handers and a lot of sitting vs lefties. Luke was also our best hitter vs left handed pitching last year despite his platoon reputation and he splits aren’t as drastic as you would think for his career. Sure, he is streaky and he isn’t a superstar, but Luke is a solid corner outfielder and probably deserves a better fate than the Orioles have planned for him. At this point, it seems obvious they intend to let him try to establish some value with a good start and then move him somewhere where he has a better opportunity, and I hope for his sake that is the plan.

This is not a problem that will be uncommon for this years team with reasonable health. There doesn’t seem to be adequate playing time for Scott, Wigginton, or Pie in what appears to be the teams roster/lineup plans. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more events like this occurring in the near future, stay tuned for more pissed off O’s…

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A New Campaign

Hope springs eternal.  It’s that time of year again.  Ground balls, working the cage, and the Schmuck v. Roch blog wars.  It feels amazing.

There’s nothing I like more than reading the constant updates from our new spring stomping grounds, Ed Smith Stadium.  It’s the start of a new campaign.  And for one O’s fan, yours truly, it’s the start of a different kind of campaign.  The Grow it Back Campaign.

Allow me to explain…I’m a dude with a beard.  I’m in the process of making it into a great, big, bushy beard.  If you caught our Fanfest videos you may have seen me and Markakis share a bearded moment together.  It was magical.  And right before that moment I had a brief back and forth with a female O’s fan.

My opinion:  Men with beards are far more powerful than men without.

Her opinion:  Men with beards are not necessarily more powerful.

Exhibit A:

Look how awesome he looks in all his Greek God Glory.  Sorry, When I Talk About His Beard I Get The Caps Syndrome.

And Nicky isn’t the only one rockin the lumber jack.

Exhibit B:

Are you kidding me?  That wolfman beard with his preference for carrying concealed weapons…that’s like the ultimate dude bro right there (No offense to Bode, Shane).

Sure there are more important things on a player’s mind than their facial hair.  And sure, most fans are more concerned with being updated about our young guys’ progress.  But, I don’t care.  You want insight and statistics, go somewhere else.  Or ask Tom or Jjaks.

I’m here for the beard.  So join me…fellow lumberjacks.  Free the faces.

Grow it back.  Grow it back.  Grow it back.  Grow it back.  That’s all Nick is going to hear from me in right field this year.

For more on baseball facial hair, peep this out from Teddy Logan.

Also, don’t forget, Tom is headed down to Sarasota to start training for the heckling season ahead.  Got to warm up those pipes.  We got a lot of yelling to do.

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Non-O’s Related Editorial

Two things are happening in the sports world.  Well two things that are taking all the attention away from important things like Spring Training.

The US dominating the Olympics and Tiger Woods having a press conference.  The first is no surprise so I’ll focus on Tiger.

Tiger is going to make his first stop on the image resurrection tour.  A press conference with no Q&A.

The two recurring themes of the coverage are:

1.  Referring to the situation as the biggest sports controversy in memory.

2.  All the pundits telling Tiger or whoever is listening, what Tiger “must do”.

First, this is not the biggest controversy in sports memory.  It’s not even a sports controversy.  It’s a celebrity controversy.  It’s not like he was banging chicks at the turn in the clubhouse.  He wasn’t sexting on the 13th green.  He was stroking fairways that weren’t his wifes during his free time.

Having sex outside of your marriage is certainly deplorable but it has nothing to do with athletics.  I mean, unless you’re banging a ymnist.

Tiger is still going to mop the floor with the rest of the field.  He’s still going to give Nicklaus s a run for his money.

But, with the elongated news cycle that we are subjected to as a society, people have to talk about every, fucking, little, detail until everyone has their two cents in.

“Tiger must do this.” and  “If he’s going to fix his image he has to do that.”

News flash, self-important idiots sitting in front of a camera.  He doesn’t have to do shit.

If he wants to get some sponsors back, then sure, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make the rounds.  If he wants to make it work with the ol’ lady, then sure, do your best to repair the image.  If he actually does feel remorse…do the right thing.

But if he doesn’t care and wants to keep on banging every chick in the free world.  He can.  And he’ll like it.  And eventually, the world will like it.  Golf needs a bad boy anyway now that Daly is skinny and playing like crap.

Now back to Sarasota.

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Rolling into Spring Training

Pitchers and catcher report to spring training this week and despite the teams outlook for this season, I’m still excited. There is no better time of year than baseball season. Having a good time at the yard and playing a little ball myself are probably my two favorite things to do and this is the only time of year they both happen simultaneously.

The Orioles offseason appears to be paused until spring training. There are rumblings they are interested in signing Jarrod Washburn but I don’t see it happening. I have a hard time believing that he would be interested in coming here or that the Orioles really want Chris Tillman to start the year in Norfolk. He has already dominated AAA hitters and if he is going to learn to get major league hitters out he needs to do it against major league hitters at this point. People are forgetting that this kid was 21 years old last year and pitched the most professional innings he ever had in a single season. We aren’t going to compete this year and everyone knows it, let him learn at this level now. If midseason he is struggling mightily we have Jake Arrieta, David Hernandez, and Jason Berken waiting in the wings to take some starts. Let’s not forget we are talking about the fifth starter here. Tilman doesn’t have to be very good to be comparable to most fifth starters around the league.  We have depth we haven’t had in quite some time in the pitching staff, and most of it is homegrown and cheap. There is also many promising arms in the pipeline.

With spring training about to begin, the O’s believe they have 21 of their 25 roster spots set. The positions up for audition are several bullpen spots, and backup catcher. I think Chad Moeller ends up returning as the second backstop but he will be “competing” with Michel Hernandez, recently of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Craig Tatum, a waiver pickup from the Cincinnati Reds. The final 3 spots on the roster will be bullpen arms. It appears there will be a heavy  competition for these three spots between David Hernandez, Jason Berken, Kam Mickolio, Cla Meredith, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, and Will Ohman. Don’t get me wrong here, I love Will Ohman’s Harry Carey impression as much as the next guy, but I just don’t agree with the Orioles notion that you need a LOOGY in the pen. I think Ohman ends up with one of the spots simply because he throws with his left hand. If it were me, I take the guys I think are the 3 best pitchers on the team regardless of what hand they throw with. We already have two lefties in Gonzalez and Hendrickson, we don’t need a one out guy who is going to pitch an inning per week. Give me three guys that can get guys out no matter what side of the plate they are on who can pitch whole innings regularly. In my scenario, the 3 spots go to Mickolio, Meredith, and David Hernandez. Mickolio looked very promising before injury last year and is a power arm who can miss some bats. Meredith was not impressive last year but he has had solid years and is a groundball machine when he is right.  David Hernandez also seems destined for the pen with a power fastball and inconsistent secondary pitches. I believe if told he was only throwing an inning or two he could be a dominant two pitch reliever if he finds command in the pen. Fat Albers is out of options and could be lost to waivers in this scenario but I don’t see that as a big loss with the plethora of arms on the way, not to mention he is not very good. What do I think the Orioles end up doing? I think the last 3 bullpen spots end up going to Albers, Meredith, and Ohman, with the rest of the bunch being sent back to AAA because, well, they can.

I don’t believe the Orioles are done making moves before Opening Day however as I think we will possibly see a trade or waiver pickup before the start of the regular season but I will not speculate on that just yet. Ultimately, spring training will be interesting for the same reason it always is, the baseball season is right around the corner. I will be in Sarasota for a few games between March 25th and 29th to give some reports, stay tuned.

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Nick Swisher Needs a New Hobby

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a fan of the Swish.  Well, until he became a Yankee.  I’m physically unable to be a fan of a Yankee or a Red Sox player, unless they are Asian.  Can’t bring myself to hate an Asian person.

Anyway, I follow Swish on Twitter and up until recently, he seemed like a decent enough Twitterer.  I mean he put out the usual tweet crap:

Have a question for me? Ask me ANYTHING on my new YouTube Channel! Check my latest video.

4 Days until Valentines, what are you getting your valentines?

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints on winning the Superbowl!

See, nothing ground breaking there.  But then he put this up:

RT @baron_davis Spent some time today hanging out with my boy @nickswisher dude is hilarious – http://bit.ly/cnXutb

So let’s break this down a bit.

Notice the RT in front.  This, for you non-twitterers, is a Re-Tweet.  Basically it’s just repeating what someone says on their network, to your network.  Great for spreading breaking news.  In fact, a hiker caught in an avalanche was found because the word of his disappearance spread so quickly on Twitter, people found him.  Great stuff.

But here’s the problem I have.  He’s repeating a compliment given to him by another famous athlete.  One who happens to be one of my beard idols, Baron Davis.

So Baron Davis said something nice about another person on his own network.  As if, someone hung out with us at an O’s game and told all their friends how much fun they had.

And Nick happens to follow Baron so he saw the compliment too.  As if, Shane Falco overheard someone say how much fun we are to watch an O’s game with.

And then Nick had to go tell all his friends that Baron thinks he’s funny.  As if, Shane, after overhearing the compliment, went out and told every single one of his friends, one by one, that someone thinks we’re awesome.

Are you that insecure that you need to tell a lot of people who already like you, that another famous person likes you?

Isn’t this your wife?

Can’t you think of something better to do with your millions of dollars, famous friends, and smoking hot wife?

And before you point it out: I have nothing better to do than make fun of famous people who could give a shit what I say.  And I’m sad.

Bonus – Want to see her without clothes? Enjoy!

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When is Spring Training again?

What is it about another foot of accumulation, on top of the existing 4 feet that makes it feel like spring?

Save us Sarasota.  Save us from the winter hell that is Turdland.

*Bonus points – Name that player!  And don’t look it up, cheater.

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Let’s go shake der hans.

If you are a really astute reader, you may have noticed a new link added on the side bar called Hockey’s version of ESH.  Most of you probably didn’t.

Our boys over at The CAPS Lock are taking hockey by storm.  If your looking to blame someone for having to dig out of 4 feet of snow…blame them.  Ian stands on the roof of his house in San Diego with a fan, a leaf blower, and his lungs of steel and pushes the warm moist air across the country to the frigid east coast.  What a dick.

Anyway, if you don’t follow hockey, the Caps are on fire right now and if you need somewhere to go for Caps related humor and all the hockey fights your stomach can handle, well,  you know where to go now.

I’m traveling out to the left coast to meet up with Ian and our own Ted Logan for a week in the sun.  Got any suggestions on what three knuckleheads can do to cause O’s related mischief out there?  Drop a line in the comments.  My gut tells me I should try and find Manny and spike his morning OJ with colon blow.

Also, bonus points for any reader who can name the movie referenced in the title of this post.

And finally, with El Nino fresh on our minds, I give you…The Nino.

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Bullpen Shakedown

Oriole fans everywhere exhaled in unison on Thursday when the announcement was made that Mark Hendrickson was coming back on a one year deal. Start printing off the playoff tickets baby!

In all seriousness it isn’t a bad move. Hendrickson will be back at a lower amount of money than he made last year and he will be used strictly out of the bullpen, where he has excelled throughout his career. Hendrickson has been miscast as a starter until this point, but out of the bullpen he has always been solid. His numbers from last year do not look good as a whole but most of his innings were logged struggling as a starter, when he was moved to the bullpen he was largely effective. He is also cheap, which is a good quality for relief pitching due to its volatile nature.

The bullpen this year will almost definitely be an improvement from ’09 and it should be very interesting to watch its development. Bringing in Mike “The Situation” Gonzalez should help, although I am not a giant fan of his acquisition. If he is healthy, he will be a solid pitcher but he has had his share of health issues previously. As I stated before, relief pitching is a volatile commodity an I do not like the money they committed or that we relinquished a second round draft pick to sign him. All of the being said, if he stays healthy he will be a solid contributor.

Along with The Situation and Hendrickson, the other locks for the bullpen (assuming health) appear to be Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, Kam Mickolio, Cla Meredith, and one of the Hernandez/Berken duo. I would also imagine Fat Albers will be on the bubble for a spot and the Orioles may even make a typical stupid decision to carry 13 pitchers. Dennis Sarfate would also have been in this conversation, but he was recently designated for assignment and his future is up in the air. When performance and health issues arise we have a number of interesting arms in waiting that could prove to make us very deep in an area that has been a weakness in recent years. At some point this year we may see any of Jake Arrieta, Brandon Erbe, Luis Lebron, Troy Patton, and Wilfrido Perez. The O’s are also still being linked to Erik Bedard and his signing would also impact the bullpen for obvious reason. The Orioles have also extended spring training invites to lefties Will Ohman and Hisanori Takahashi, though neither has accepted the offer yet.

The Orioles should have a deep number of talented arms to create a bullpen from and I expect it to be a strength of the 2010 team barring a catastrophic number of injuries. The very interesting part will be how they construct the pitching staff going forward from this year with the glut of starters that will be available soon. We are going to have see of few guys who have been groomed as starters in the bullpen or see some moves being made to clear room in the rotation as guys like Arrieta, Erbe, and Zach Britton are ready for the show.

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Gonzo Got Good Body

If you’ve never seen Bobby Bottleservice, take this opportunity to do so.  Our video will make a little more sense if you watch it.  Besides, it’s awesome.

And now here we are.

In all fairness, if we’re this mean to our own players, just imagine what it’s like to be on an opposing team.  We don’t pull punches.  That’ll be written on our collective tombstones.

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Fanfest Video Numero Two.

Part two of our Fanfest series, kind of.  Lots and lots of beard love going on in this one.

Enjoy!

Well did you, enjoy?

Another new video tomorrow.  And it’s a good one, especially if you like Bobby Bottleservice.

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