Monthly Archives: November 2010

Weak sauce

A lot has happened recently but we have been unable to post about all of it due to uncontrollable laughter after reading Derek Jeter’s contract demands. I seriously hope the Yankees let him test the market so he can see how much of an “insult” their original offer is.

As expected, the Orioles decided not to offer arbitration to Kevin Millwood. Millwood would have been likely to receive a salary much higher than the Orioles would have wanted to pay him and there was a very good chance he would have accepted the offer. They also decided against offering arbitration to Koji Uehara who had a much better case for it. Koji made 5 million dollars last season and while he pitched well when healthy, he was hurt for a good chunk of the year again and was converted from a starter to a reliever. He would have been unlikely to receive much of a raise if any. If he would have declined the offer and signed with another team the Orioles would have received a compensation pick in the upcoming draft, which is said to be the deepest draft in recent memory. I was originally furious about this decision but since it has occurred many media outlets have reported that it is well known that Koji would have accepted arbitration and the Orioles believe they will re-sign him anyway but to a smaller number than he would have been rewarded. If this occurs then the decision doesn’t look so bad, however if he does sign with another club I will switch back into “Beast Mode”.

This part still doesn’t look awesome though as the Orioles have failed year after year to acquire talent by manipulating the compensation system. The Orioles almost never offer arbitration to qualifying free agents, they don’t acquire qualifying players on expiring contracts (see Lopez, Felipe or Olivo, Miguel), and they frequently trade away players with expiring contracts who qualify for nothing (see Tejada, Miguel or Huff, Aubrey). If the Orioles want to compete while operating as a middle market team in the AL East they will need to start using draft compensation to their advantage. This goes along with “building from within”, which we are constantly reminded is what we are attempting to do. However, we don’t spend a lot of resources in the draft, we don’t attempt to gather more draft picks, and we don’t spend much in international amateur talent. I still don’t know what their plan really is.

The Orioles hired Willie Randolph to round out their coaching staff recently, so they no longer have that as an excuse for inactivity. I really can’t believe they haven’t re-signed Cesar Izturis yet, it’s amazing. Perhaps they are waiting to make the fans believe they actually looked around for other options? It’s coming everyone, don’t you worry.

The Orioles have been loosely linked to several free agents recently but their real interest level is being masked well and rumors have been few and far between. They were apparently very much in on Victor Martinez, who signed with the Tigers recently. The Orioles offer was reportedly 4 years and 48 million dollars. Thank you Detroit for saving us from ourselves this time. That contract would have been horrendous for the O’s. After the signing, Andy MacPhail indicated that Martinez was their top target this offseason. While I respect that they were able to identify a target and put an aggressive offer on the table, this would have been a terrible signing for the Orioles. Yes, Victor Martinez is a great hitter….for a catcher. The Orioles would have used Martinez primarily at first base and occasionally at catcher and DH. The league average OPS for first baseman in MLB last year was .802. Victor Martinez holds a career OPS mark of .838, this is not a masher we are talking about here. Victor Martinez would most likely be a slightly above average bat next year at first while providing what appears to be below average defense with it. On top of that, it is unlikely he would even be that good at ages 35 and 36 AND the Orioles would have had to surrender another second round draft pick. Bottom line, breaking the bank for Victor Martinez would have been a bad idea and I’m glad someone with more money to waste stepped up to jump on the grenade for us. Still, even knowing that it would have been a bad signing, it is a little disheartening to see that the Orioles can’t even get the players that they really want.

I just hope everyone will be as excited as me when the O’s sign Cesar Izturis, Ty Wigginton, and Lyle Overbay and then point to how the team played at the end of last year for hope. I’m not falling for that, and I doubt anyone else is either.

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A few tidbits…

Ken Davidoff of Newsday writes that free agent “outfielder” Johnny Damon is “eyeing Baltimore” in a recent piece. I sincerely hope that the interest there is one sided if true at all. Damon is 37 years old, can’t play the field anymore and can’t hit for any power outside of the new Yankee Stadium in which anything hit in the air to the right side goes out. He also throws about as well as well as my grandmother does with her off hand, which would provide some entertainment if in fact the Orioles are even dumber than I think they are. Damon would be of no use to this team as he has no defensive position and he doesn’t hit nearly well enough to unseat Luke Scott. He is in clear decline and even if he posts similar numbers to last year he will most likely make a very expensive part time DH. The Orioles can’t possibly be interested right? On the other hand, it would seem to be a very typical O’s signing. An aging player who used to be pretty good but never great, now on his last legs coming to Baltimore to die like so many before him…

Derek Jeter’s agent is “baffled” by the Yankees tactics in their ongoing contract negotiations. Really guys? Really? You are baffled by a 3 year, 45 million dollar offer? I’m begging you to walk away from that and see what he gets offered on the open market if you honestly believe that to be some sort of insult. He would not come close to matching that. Derek Jeter was worth about 9 million dollars last year according to Fangraphs and he has been worth less than his actual salary in 7 of the last 9 seasons. He has already been overpaid a significant amount and the Yankees latest offer will still be a significant overpayment, but somehow it isn’t enough? Derek Jeter will be 37 years old for most of next year, he declined greatly last season both with the bat and the glove. I don’t care that he won another Gold Glove, he’s a big reason that award is now a joke, someone needs to help him beat his ego back and realize that whatever the Yankees decide to offer him is the best he is going to get. Whatever occurs, I hope it is the outcome that hurts the Yankees most. Unfortunately I know that money is no object to them and whatever they will do they will always be able to recover from it with a blank check.

The deadline for offering arbitration is fast approaching and I think it will be interesting to see what the Orioles do with Type B free agents Kevin Millwood and Koji Uehara. I would probably decline arbitration with Millwood due to the fear that he would accept. With a salary of 12 million last year it is likely he would get at least half of that in arbitration, which would be too much in my opinion. I would then offer arbitration to Uehara because I do not see any downside. If he accepts we get a solid reliever who will still be relatively cheap for another year and if he declines then we get a draft pick for compensation.

The Orioles are still rumored to be in on both Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, and I am still firmly in the “Anyone but Izturis” camp. I can’t believe there are people seriously advocating we re-sign him. He was literally worth negative dollar values and less than a replacement player. He was one of the very worst players in MLB. The dude was a little above average in the field and a great hitter if you are looking for guys who make a ton of outs (The Orioles do).

I’m still hoping to hear some good news this offseason, but I have to say so far I haven’t heard anything that sounds too promising…

In closing I leave you with this, I hate Derek Jeter.

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Who the Fuck is Ron Fritz?

In what can only be described as one of the most cockamamie ideas in Baltimore history, Ron Fritz spews out some really awful drivel.

As baseball’s Winter Meetings approach and the Orioles begin looking to upgrade their roster, they need to do something bold to build on the buzz created by hiring Buck Showalter.

Like sign good players to help us a win some games!  Great idea.

They need to sign Derek Jeter.

FUCK ME!

The Orioles have many holes — first base, third base, veteran starting pitching and the bullpen. But they also need a shortstop. More importantly, they need a leader.

Nope.  They don’t need one.  They have Buck.  Brian and Nick are stepping up their leadership roles.  We do not need to spend more than 60 million dollars on a leader.  We could spend a couple of grand to have the guy from 127 Hours speak for the team in the club house.

They need Derek Jeter.

They definitely don’t need him.

Sure, he’s 36 and will turn 37 during the 2011 season. But he’s durable, playing at least 150 games the past seven seasons. His batting average fell from .334 to .270 and his home run total dropped by eight to just 10.

Writing tip #34767 – Don’t say things that refute your argument.

But he drove in 67 runs

With a crazy prolific line-up.  They had a team average OBP of .350.  Also, who fucking gives a shit about RBI’s besides old ass “purists”?

and won a Gold Glove.

Right because Gold Glove is the most non-biased award given in baseball.  You really fucking irritate me Ron.

He’s no Cesar Izturis defensively, but he’s solid and his hitting numbers crush those of Izturis.

ANYONE’S NUMBERS CRUSH IZZY!!!!  He was the worst hitter in all of baseball last year.  That’s not hyperbole.  He was worth less than a replacement player at -.4 WAR.  I’m sure that last sentence looks like gibberish to you.

Me:  You know what WAR is right, Ron?

Ron:  What is WAR?  What is it good for?  Absolutely NOTHIN!  HAHA. In your face!  All I care about is gritty, leadershipness.

Jeter also would bring five World Series titles, command respect in the locker room and show a young Orioles team how to play the game. The future Hall of Famer is 74 hits from 3,000. If there is one thing the Orioles do well, it’s milestone ceremonies.

I think you might have something here though.  Andy’s biggest weakness is clearly is inability to wine and dine potential free agents.  But, if he just told them about how well we throw milestone ceremonies, he might increase is closing average.  Genius.  I sure hope Regis Stanczak is still trolling the internet looking for great ideas, cause this one is a fucking gem!

If the Yankees are willing to let Jeter test the free-agency market, then the Orioles should be there with an offer, somewhere in the four-year, $60 million range. Really, whatever it takes.

That’s pretty much what he turned down.  That’s a fucking-lot for a motivator.

Ask Cal Ripken Jr. to help recruit him.

Why?  It’s not his job.  Cal isn’t Ray Lewis trying to get Boldin or TO to play for the Ravens.  Cal is busy being an absolutely badass/dreamboat.

And then, because you have a shortstop who does more than hit singles, you can maybe re-sign Ty Wigginton to play third or first and still be able to spend decent money for another corner infielder.

86% of Izzy’s hits were singles.  Jeter literally crushes him by a whole 10%.  That’s what an extra 55 mil is worth.  10% more extra base hits?  I literally don’ t know what else to say to you Ron.

It would be a PR disaster for the Yankees,

Here, I agree with you.  It would be hilarious.

it would hurt them on the field

No it wouldn’t.  The Yankees are a blank check away from any player they want.  The only thing that keeps the Yankees from getting players is when players actually hate the Yankees like we do (Unless you’re Johnny Damon).  And, as you pointed out, he’s really declining with age.  So they’ll just get someone better.

and maybe, just maybe, his signing would send a signal to other free agents that Baltimore is a great place to play.

Why would that be the case?  What if he came here and was like, “Fuck…I really messed this one up.”

Imagine Showalter and Ripken holding a No. 2 Orioles jersey with Jeter on the back as they announce the signing.

Why is Ripken there again?

They couldn’t print tickets fast enough at Camden Yards.

Yes, they could.  They have plenty left over from last year.  Peter has his paralegals hand cross out the dates and repurpose them.  He’s a dastardly man.

Yeah, I know he’s a Yankee, and Orioles fans hate the Yankees.

He’s not just any Yankee.  He’s Mr. Yankee.  The face of the franchise.  The sheer embodiment of the biased, cock sucking that goes on with mainstream sports pundits.  If you wanted to burn the Yankee’s in effigy, the stuffed doll would surely be wearing a number 2 jersey.

But they hate losing even more.

I’m kind of used to it.  I like being able to sit wherever I want and walk up to the ticket window at a whim for a game.

What better way to end years of futility than signing one of the all-time great leaders and winners in the sport?

Yeah, bring back all the idiot fans that stopped watching by signing a name like Jeter.  That’s what we want.  A stadium full of Ron Fitz’s.  Baseball isn’t a game won and lost by one guy.  He’s a winner because he’s a good ball player that plays on a team, year in and year out, stock full of some of the best in the game.

Would he consider playing for the Orioles?

No.  Seriously, consider the question you are asking.  Would a “winner” like Jeter leave the bright lights of New York for Baltimore?  I love this city, but it’s not for everyone.  Certainly not a guy used to dating actresses and super-models.

Would a “winner” like Jeter really leave a team that almost is guaranteed a spot in the play offs for a team that hasn’t broken .500 in over 10 years?  Are you fucking serious?

It’s time to find out.

The Orioles need to sign Derek Jeter.

FUCK YOU!

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Thank Jeebus!

According to Jeff Zrebiec at the Sun, the Orioles are pursuing both Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy. I don’t know if I would like giving up David Hernandez for Bartlett, but it’s nice to see they aren’t settling for Izturis. Anyone but Izturis!

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And his name is…

DAN UGGLA!

Well, one of my offseason suggestions is now off the table. Dan Uggla was traded to the Braves for the baseball equivalent of a case of beer. I hope the Orioles at least made a phone call because it would be awful hard for me to believe we couldn’t easily beat an offer of Omar Fucking Infante and relief prospect Michael Dunn. Experts agree with me that that seems to be a very weak return for a solid player like Uggla. Really Florida? You ask St. Louis for Colby Rasmus and then take this as a consolation prize? I don’t get it.

I’ll chalk this one up as a missed opportunity, but I’m sure the O’s weren’t even involved.

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What If?

The way I look at this offseason; you have two parties.  The prudent group.  Grow the arms.  Buy the bats.  Wait until the time is right and strike with a big name player or two.  Or, you have the sell the farm.  Go for broke crowd.

Sure it’s not as cut and dry as this…it’s a bit of a generalization but that’s the way I want this hypothetical to play out.  So lets say, AM goes with the latter.

What if he spends 100 million on Beltre and Dunn and De La Rosa(All 3 to 5 year contracts)?  And let’s say, just for fun, he pulls of a miracle trade:  Tillman, Bell, and Hernandez for Adrian Gonzales.

And everyone calls this offseason a smashing success.  And we still get our asses kicked all around the AL East.

We’ve dug a pretty deep hole.  I can’t imagine AG would want to sign an extension with a team that is a bottom dweller even with all the talent.

Who gets blamed?  PA?  AM?  Buck?  How does the organization look the next 5 to 10 years?

I’m just curious because everyone seems to have the answer on how the team can win.  But they still have to the play the games.  The players still have to perform.  They play to win.  But what if they don’t?

 

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We’re not dead…yet.

Hello everyone, yes it’s been a while since we have graced the interwebs. There’s a billion different reasons why our posts tailed off as the season went along so I won’t bore you with the details. (Hint: subtract 1 billion)

It’s offseason time and there is plenty to talk about since the Orioles expect to be very “active”. I use active in quotes because they were expected to be active last offseason too and we ended up with awful, but totally expected, versions of Miguel “I’m actually 47” Tejada and Garrett “Squints” Atkins. My concerns that they had both fallen off a cliff were confirmed and my concerns about the durability of Mike Gonzalez were also confirmed. The season was a disaster and basically everything that could have gone wrong did. Once everyone was healthy however, the Orioles showed that they were not as epically bad as their first half indicated. Most people want to blame the turnaround on the arrival of Buck Showalter as manager, but they would be wrong… mostly. The clear reason for the turnaround the Orioles experienced during the second half of the season was due to an exponential improvement in the starting pitching. Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen all experienced dominant second halves at the same time, while Jake Arrieta and Kevin Millwood both pitched admirably as well. The healthy returns of Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez created a bullpen that was also much better than terrible in the second half. Despite the winning, the offense remained awful but we prevented enough runs that it didn’t seem to be consistent with the second half. Still, the Orioles carry obvious holes at 1B, 3B, SS, and possibly LF going into the offseason… so what will they do?

1B -First base will be a “priority” this season just as it was last year. The free agent market is actually pretty deep with first basemen but no elite talent is available this year. Elite talent is most likely not in the Orioles price range anyway. Casual fans can scream all they want that we should be buying every free agent available but the fact is Baltimore cannot spend with the big boys. My preferred route is always to trade for young talent that will be around for a free years rather than short term veterans but I think the Orioles go the latter route here. My prediction is they sign one of Adam LaRoche, Derek Lee, Lance Berkman or Carlos Pena to man the 1 bag. My preferences of those  possibilities would be Derek Lee or Lance Berkman, who were both bothered by nagging injuries all year but have shown elite level performance that the other two could only dream about.

3B – The Josh Bell catastrophe last year proved he isn’t ready for the big stage yet, he also may have proved he never will be. A trade seems to be the only likely scenario to get a legitimate upgrade at the hot corner. Adrian Beltre is the only legitimate option in free agency and Baltimore will be priced out of that race before the first offer is even made. I would love to see the Orioles get creative and acquire a talented player such as Alex Gordon or Mark Reynolds, who both may be available. Perhaps they could also try to convince Dan Uggla to move to third base which I wouldn’t hate. It’s unlikely they will be willing to pay Uggla what he wants for an extension however. What I expect the Orioles to actually do is something incredible short sighted and lazy. So they will probably re-sign Ty Wigginton or sign his statistical twin Jorge Cantu, another possibility may be Bill Hall who I may actually prefer out of those three dreadful choices. I really hope I am wrong here.

SS – Cesar Izturis was bad last year. I mean don’t get me wrong, Cesar Izturis has always been bad… but last year was reallyawful even for him. He was the worst hitting regular player in major league baseball last year. Let me stress that again: the worst hitter in major league baseball. Yes, he played slightly above average defense at short but his bat was so epically bad that he was worth less than a replacement player according to WAR. No Belanger references please, I know people love to defend a shortstop who can catch a ball like it’s still 1964. Izturis isn’t in the same stratosphere as Belanger defensively and when compared to peers in his era Belanger was a better hitter too. The comparison is a stretch to say the least. Cesar Izturis is a bad major league baseball player. Once again a trade seems to be the best option here just as it is with 3B. This will become more and more common now with teams realizing the value of young talent and locking them up earlier and earlier. Free agent classes will continue to get thinner and thinner which is why the Orioles must get better in the amateur realm all around. What I would like to see them do is sign J.J. Hardy if he is non-tendered by the Twins but that seems unlikely. They should explore his availability either way. Gordon Beckham is also appearing in trade rumors and he would be my number one target here if true. Yes, he hasn’t played shortstop because of the presence of Alexei Ramirez but all indications are he can still play it. The Orioles could also look into the availability of Jason Bartlett or Reid Brignac in the Rays crowded middle infield situation. What I expect the Orioles will actually do is to re-sign Izturis, despite a plethora of better options in the trade and freee agent markets, because it is cheap and lazy. Hell, there are probably any number of minor league free agents that would be better options as well. I really hope I am wrong here too, but I am nearly 100 percent certain that this is the way it will go down.

LF – Some may disagree with me that LF is a hole going into the season. I know most of use want to believe that we can get a legitimate corner outfielder out of Nolan Reimold or Felix Pie but I’m convinced that we cannot. Reimold’s bat still has potential but even when healthy and hitting he is nothing short of a butcher in the outfield. He should not be guaranteed anything coming into this year. If he earns his way back onto the team that will be a great problem to have but we can’t expect anything. Felix Pie is a real enigma, his talent is obvious but he only shows it in small doses. He went backwards with the progress he made in the plate discipline department in 2009 and went up to the plate with the Adam Jones strategy last season. He also has real problems with durability and even at his best his numbers play much better in center than they do in left. Felix also plays better defense in center according to UZR, though he plays good defense anywhere in the outfield. I would like to see either Jones or Pie moved, preferably Jones because his value will be much higher, but that is for a different post. There are two elite free agents (Werth and Crawford) available for left field this offseason but both are likely out of the Orioles’ price range. That leaves a thin crop headed by Manny Ramirez, Pat Burrell, and Brad Hawpe. I also can’t see any of the free agents available to be a huge upgrade here. What I would like to see if for the Orioles to acquire both a first baseman and another hitter than could DH, they could then move Luke Scott back to left where he wants to play and where he is actually pretty good despite lacking the athleticism of the other two options. He is clearly the best offensive player. What I expect the Orioles will actually do is nothing, they will continue to run out whoever is healthy out of Pie and Reimold.

To fill in other areas I am hoping the Orioles re-sign Koji Uehara, he has shown that he can be a dominant reliever when available and we are locking backend types right now. I just hope they don’t repeat past mistakes by throwing tons of years and money at the bullpen. That is always a mistake and I hope they have learned that lesson by now. I could also see them being interested in a veteran starter like Jon Garland, but I am hoping they stay out of that market. I would prefer they go into the year with a rotation consisting of Guthrie, Matusz, Bergesen, Arrieta, and Tillman with Zach Britton ready to step up when needed. Unless of course they trade Guthrie, which would be a great idea with him coming off of a rebound season. I would also not be opposed to taking fliers on a reclamation project like Erik Bedard or Rich Harden and trying them out in the bullpen to preserve their arms… Hey, it worked for Kerry Wood. It would be low risk with the potential for high reward if they can be remotely healthy.

I expect the Orioles to be far less than active and to make a few small moves with nothing ground breaking or creative being done. That’s always been Andy MacPhail’s modus operandi. I think we will see some small scale free agency moves with very little trading and we will continue not to be competitive in the amateur market in comparison to the rest of the AL Beast. I see another season with an absolute ceiling of 85 wins, with a more likely range somewhere within 75-82. Once again, I hope I am wrong.

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