Friday, April 30, 2010

Could the O's trade for a reliever soon?

In his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN's Jayson Stark mentions that the Orioles may already be looking to trade for a reliever. And apparently one of the relievers they are looking at is the Blue Jays' Jason Frasor:

The trade deadline is three months away, so we don't usually stumble upon many sellers in April. But the Blue Jays already have the "SALE" sign posted in their bullpen window. And one team that we've heard is looking at them hard is Baltimore, which is believed to have interest in deposed closer Jason Frasor.

"They would move a whole bunch of their bullpen guys," one AL executive said of the Blue Jays. "Frasor, [Scott] Downs, [Jeremy] Accardo. And Casey Janssen might have as much value as any of them. But the problem is, they're all situational guys or setup guys. So what are they going to get back? A middling prospect at best? I just don't see where, even if they make a trade, it's going to make that big a difference to their club."

Well, that's interesting, but should the O's be looking to trade for Frasor? He had an outstanding 2009 season -- 57.2 IP, 2.50 ERA, 8.74 K/9, 2.50 K/9 -- but he's been struggling in April and has already been removed as Toronto's closer in favor of Kevin Gregg.

Also, according to PitchFx -- and again, it's still early in the season -- Frasor's fastball velocity is down, and he's also been relying on more changeups and cutters. He also turns 33 in August.

Acquiring Frasor would probably help the O's bullpen, but at this point, with the number of impressive young arms in Norfolk, it doesn't make much sense to start trading away prospects -- even average ones -- for an average, or even above average, reliever.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

O's get shutout, lose series to Yankees

A.J. Burnett pitched eight scoreless innings as the Yankees took care of the O's 4-0 to win two of three. The loss drops the O's to an awful 4-18 record.

Burnett's final pitching line was fantastic: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 1 BB. He probably could have pitched the final inning, but he had already thrown 116 pitches. Mariano Rivera preserved the shoutout with a scoreless ninth.

Facing Burnett was Brian Matusz, who got hit around a little bit (nine hits in six innings), but still only gave up three runs. Matusz struck out just two but didn't walk any batters, which is pretty impressive considering he was pitching against the patient Yankees.

Overall, the Yankees manufactured an 11-hit attack, led by three-hit performances by Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames. Cano, who is absolutely on fire right now, hit two solo home runs and also doubled. Thames had two singles and an RBI double. Another quick note on Cano: Yes, the season is still pretty young, but April is almost over and Cano has a batting line of .407/.444/.790. Wow.

As for the O's, the team's three hits were collected by Adam Jones, Ty Wigginton, and Cesar Izturis. And they were all singles. Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters each drew a walk as well.

Yankees cruise past O's in 8-3 win

No! The streak is over! the With the loss, the Orioles drop to 4-17 and are now 1-7 at home. Here are a few quick notes on last night's game:

- The O's hit the ball a bit against CC Sabathia (7.2 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 HR), but he simply outpitched Jeremy Guthrie (4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 1 HR), who had his worst start of the season after giving up three runs or fewer in his first four starts.

- O's pitchers only walked one hitter and combined to strike out seven, but they also allowed 15 Yankee hits and eight runs (seven earned). Mark Hendrickson relieved Guthrie and wasn't very good either, allowing five hits and a run in only one inning of work. The Yankees didn't score any runs after that, though, as Cla Meredith, Matt Albers, and Will Ohman teamed up to finish the game with 3.1 scoreless innings.

- Nick Markakis had three hits, including an opposite field solo homer in the seventh and a double. His numbers have been on the rise, and he's now hitting .284/.379/.457. With his ability to walk, work the count, and spray the ball all over the field, Markakis seems like a great fit to hit second.

- Miguel Tejada had two hits -- his numbers are also starting to look better -- as did Cesar Izturis and Garrett Atkins. It looks like Atkins is feeling a little pressure from rookie Rhyne Hughes to start hitting. The competition could be a good thing for the O's.

- Again batting leadoff, Adam Jones went 0-4 but did have a walk. He's now hitting .202/.227/.372. Maybe he could use a day off.

Two other notes -- one coming after the game and one from the minors:

1) Apparently Yankees manager Joe Girardi is getting tired of Guthrie's control, or lack thereof, against his team. Here's part of what Girardi had to say: "What do you expect, me to be happy that our guys are getting plunked? I’m frustrated by it. I wish he had better command in there." Ouch. I know Jorge Posada got hit in the knee and had to be taken out of the game, but is it really worth it to complain against a guy you just beat?

2) Chris Tillman threw a no-hitter last night for Norfolk. Tillman, in 105 pitches, struck out six and walked just one. For more interesting notes on Tillman's outstanding pitching performance, follow the link.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quick update

This probably doesn't require a whole post, but whatever. As you can see from that third box down on the right, I decided to join Twitter this morning. If you're already on Twitter and care about such things, please follow me @KremsSports. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

O's defeat Yankees, earn first home win of 2010

Wow, that was close. Alex Rodriguez grounded out to second with the tying run on third as the Orioles held on for a 5-4 win over the Yankees. The narrow victory gives the Orioles two wins in a row -- and doubles their win total to four. The O's are now 4-16 but have played a little better the last few games.

The O's pounded out seven hits and walked six times. They even managed to get a few hits with runners in scoring position late in the game.

Cesar Izturis of all people led the O's with two hits, a walk, and three runs batted in. Rhyne Hughes (making his third straight start at first) and Nolan Reimold each had a hit and an RBI, and Luke Scott had a hit, walked twice, and scored two runs. Matt Wieters also walked twice, and Adam Jones doubled.

The Yankees made Kevin Millwood throw a lot of pitches, but he still had a decent performance: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 1 HR, 112 PC. Going into the ninth, the O's bullpen had done a solid job -- Alberto Castillo and Jim Johnson combined for 2.2 scoreless innings. Then Alfredo Simon, just promoted from Norfolk today, came in for the save and nearly allowed the Yankees to tie the game. Simon allowed two hits and walked a batter, but both of the runs he gave up were unearned because of an error by Izturis on a ground ball by Brett Gardner. Izturis tried to hurry to get the speedy Gardner, but the ball took a tough bounce and skipped right over his glove.

Still, Simon was able to retire Rodriguez and the O's held on for a nice win.

By the way, it looks like the Orioles have found a role for Julio Lugo: pinch-runner. He had a stolen base and scored in the eighth -- a run that ended up being rather important.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red Sox escape with 7-6 victory over O's

At some point, the Orioles will stop losing games like this and luck their way into a few wins. But right now, with the way things are going, that just doesn't seem possible.

Ahead 3-1, the O's allowed six runs in the bottom of the seventh and couldn't quite complete a valiant comeback attempt in the ninth in a 7-6 loss to the Red Sox. Despite accumulating 10 hits and two walks in seven innings against starter John Lackey, the O's could only put together three runs, yet again missing opportunities to add to their two-run lead.

The O's ended up with six runs -- but they did amass 17 hits and two walks. Hitters two through eight -- Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, Matt Wieters, Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton, and rookie Rhyne Hughes (appearing in his first career game) -- all had multi-hit games. Markakis also had both of the O's walks; Wigginton and Jones each hit solo homers; and Wigginton had four hits and Scott had three. The O's definitely put the bat on the ball and even went 5-15 with runners in scoring position -- a major improvement.

Still, the bullpen wasted a strong start by Brian Matusz -- 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 3 BB, 102 PC -- by allowing those six runs in the seventh. After Matusz allowed two baserunners, he was relieved by Matt Albers, who retired just one batter before giving up a three-run home run to Marco Scutaro. Albers then gave up a double and walked a batter before being relieved by Kam Mickolio, who promptly allowed another three-run homer, this time to Kevin Youkilis. And with that, the damage had been done and the Red Sox were up 7-3.

The O's battled back, though, in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Jones homered and Markakis doubled, knocking Ramon Ramirez out of the game in favor of closer Jonathan Papelbon. Tejada, Wieters, and Scott all followed with singles to cut the lead to one (7-6). Unfortunately, with runners on first and second and just one out, Wigginton and Hughes both struck out swinging to end the game.

The O's certainly showed some heart in the final inning, but it just wasn't enough. Heart alone doesn't win baseball games or David Eckstein would never lose. Winning also requires having a bullpen that won't give up a pair of three-run bombs in the same inning.

And as weird as it is to write, the O's are now 2-16 on the season.


Hughes, by the way, was promoted earlier today and immediately started at first base. To make room for Hughes, the Orioles optioned Justin Turner to Norfolk. It would have been nice to see Turner get some more playing time, but Wigginton (.333/.411/.750) has been on fire at the plate and probably won't start sitting until Brian Roberts returns (whenever that is). Since Hughes is left-handed, the O's may decide to employ a righty/lefty platoon with Garrett Atkins and Hughes at first. With the way Atkins has been hitting, that may not be such a bad idea.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another O's game, another loss

The Orioles lost to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners last night 4-1, which dropped the O's to 2-14 on the season. With 12 straight games against the Red Sox and Yankees coming up after a badly needed off day today, it's safe to say that the O's are approaching extremely dangerous territory -- not that they haven't done so already.

I tried to watch some of the game and made it to the bottom of the fourth when the Mariners scored four runs, which was all they needed considering how terrible the O's offense has been. Hernandez ended up throwing 113 pitches and a complete game: 9 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 0 BB. The lone run Hernandez allowed, an RBI single by Matt Wieters in the first inning, only scored because of an error that allowed Nick Markakis to advance to second base after a single to left field.

Anyway, Hernandez was phenomenal, and he was able to scatter those nine hits -- all singles -- by the O's. Markakis had three hits, and Lou Montanez and Garrett Atkins each had two.

I'll be honest: I'm surprised that Kevin Millwood lasted the entire game. He labored a little bit in the fourth by giving up those four runs (more on that shortly), but he ended up pitching all eight innings and only gave up six hits and three walks while striking out four. He wasn't as good as Hernandez, but there's nothing wrong with giving up four runs in eight innings. Millwood, now 0-3 despite a 3.37 ERA, has deserved better.

I called for Justin Turner to get more playing time, but he didn't do anything constructive yesterday. Not only did he go 0-3 with two strikeouts at the plate, but an odd play at second base in the fourth opened up the Mariners' four-run inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rob Johnson hit a ground ball to Turner. The ball was hit up the middle, but Turner was still able to get in front of it, yet his flip to second base didn't come quick enough and the runner (Matt Tuiasosopo), who hustled all the way, beat the flip. On the one hand, it was a great hustle play by Tuiasosopo, but on the other, it's a play that has to be made. Three more runs followed after that play, which essentially iced the game with Hernandez on the mound.

One bright spot: At least the O's don't play another late game until June.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

O's lose again

I know it's early in the season, but I'm already running out of things to say about how awful the Orioles offense has been. The O's could only muster four hits, two walks, and one run against a trio of Seattle Mariners pitchers -- Jason Vargas, Mark Lowe, and David Aardsma -- and dropped to an abysmal 2-13 record after a 3-1 loss. The offense also wasted a perfectly useful performance by David Hernandez: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 Ks, 2 BB.

Matt Wieters had the only multi-hit performance, going 2-4 with a double. Ty Wigginton walked and hit a double, and he also scored the O's lone run in the first inning after coming home on an RBI double by Nolan Reimold. That's about it.

After last night's game, the O's have scored only 45 runs in 15 games -- that's right, three runs per game.

Adam Jones went 0-4 last night and is now hitting a horrible .215/.239/.354. He's also committed two errors already and isn't playing anything close to Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. Then again, I could go down the list of the entire offense and complain about horrible numbers (except for Wigginton and Wieters, I guess), so I'm just picking on Jones right now.

One other thing: Why does Julio Lugo ever play? He only has three hits in 24 at bats (granted, a small sample), but his line of .115/.179/.115 is something you might see from a pitcher. Justin Turner probably isn't the answer at second base either, but he can't play much worse than Lugo has. Give him a chance. It's better than watching Lugo's horrible approach at the plate for nine innings.

Kevin Millwood pitches for the O's tonight against the fantastic Felix Hernandez. Millwood has pitched well so far, but facing Hernandez isn't going to help the O's offense at all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bergesen optioned to Triple-A

According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun, struggling pitcher Brad Bergesen has been sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, and left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo will come up to fill his spot. Zrebiec also mentions that because of a few upcoming off days, the Orioles may not need to name a fifth starter until possibly May 1.

Bergesen has struggled in all three of his starts, compiling an 0-2 record with an ERA of 12.19. In 10.1 innings pitched, he's walked six batters while striking out only five. In another loss last night that sent the O's to 2-12, Bergesen lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up four earned runs (seven total), six hits, and three walks. Hopefully Bergesen can use the stint in Norfolk to regain his rookie season form.

In better news, Jason Berken, who came in to relieve Bergesen last night, pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and allowed three hits. In 12 innings out of the bullpen this season, Berken has allowed only two runs. He's also struck out eight batters and walked only two. If he keeps pitching well, he may be a candidate to take over the fifth slot in the rotation, or maybe the O's could look to Norfolk for another option. Mark Hendrickson -- 7.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 9 Ks, 2 BB -- might be another choice.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Taylor's locked to be moved, put on display at FedEx Field

According to Redskins Insider's Rick Maese, the Redskins have made a decision on what to do with Sean Taylor's locker from Redskins Park:

Two and a half years after Sean Taylor's death, the locker room memorial for one of the Redskins' most beloved players is being removed from Redskins Park. The locker will reappear before the start of the season at FedEx Field, situated in the club level and open for public viewing.

The locker had been mostly untouched since Taylor's death on Nov. 27, 2007, but it is no longer present in the locker room. In its place, wood paneling temporarily covers the empty space. A new locker is expected to be installed soon and a new player will occupy Taylor's old place in the locker room.

The decision to move the locker was surely a difficult one for the team's new leaders. On the one hand, everyone in the organization is eager to begin a new chapter and start anew after a couple of frustrating seasons. On the other, Taylor's death rocked the franchise -- from players to fans -- and his preserved locker was a very visible way for the team to honor his memory.

"We wanted to respect Sean's memory and find an appropriate place to display the locker he used every day at Redskins Park," General Manager Bruce Allen said in a statement provided to The Post. "We know how much Sean meant and still means to our fans and we are happy to be able to share this with them."

At some point between the team's April 24 draft party and the start of the season, the locker will be moved to the Club A tower of FedEx Field. Only club-level ticketholders will be able to view the locker on gamedays, but team officials say fans will be able to visit the locker during other events and during stadium tours.

I think that's fine, but it's unfortunate that "[o]nly club-level ticketholders will be able to view the locker on gamedays." Don't all ticketholders deserve the chance to view Taylor's locker?

Here are some links to a few reactions to the news of the display:
  • "Redskins are Moving Sean Taylor's Locker to Club Level" [Hogs Haven]
  • "Sean Taylor’s Locker Will Be Displayed at FedEx, But Only For Rich People to See" [Mr. Irrelevant]
  • "Sean Taylor's Locker To Be Moved To FedExField" [Redskins Blog]

A's top O's 4-2

Same early season story: Decent pitching, very little offense. With the loss, the Orioles are now 1-10.

Kevin Millwood threw 115 pitches in six innings and gave up nine hits. But he only allowed three earned runs and struck out an impressive nine batters while walking none. Will Ohman and Matt Albers each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Ty Wigginton, who hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning, was responsible for the O's only runs. Nick Markakis also went 2-4 with two doubles, raising his average to .243. Adam Jones, Miguel Tejada, Matt Wieters, and Luke Scott went a combined 0-15 in the game. The O's were also 0-4 with runners in scoring position and grounded into two double plays.

Tomorrow, Jeremy Guthrie faces Justin Duchscherer at 4:05. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the game will not be televised.

Friday, April 16, 2010

O's play all-around bad game in 6-2 loss

The Orioles got off to a bad start on the first night of a 10-game road trip, losing their seventh game in a row and falling to 1-9 on the season. Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning and eventually led 5-0 until the O's finally scored in the seventh. The damage was done, though, and the Orioles could only muster one more run in the final two innings.

Ben Sheets, who wasn't particularly sharp last night, threw six shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out four. The A's played solid defense behind Sheets and even made two web-gem-worthy plays to keep the O's from scoring (a great diving catch by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first inning on a line drive down the third base line by Miguel Tejada, and another diving catch by Rajai Davis on a Felix Pie line drive to center field in the fifth).

David Hernandez didn't pitch particular well -- five runs, four earned, seven hits -- but he did strike out six while walking only one (and also hitting a batter). But the O's didn't make things any easier for Hernandez by playing some rather lousy defense behind him. Let's examine four of those mistakes last night:

1) In the first inning, after Davis reaches first on an infield single, he clearly is looking to steal second base. Hernandez, though, throws over a few times, and he actually catches Davis leaning towards second base. But on the throw over, Garrett Atkins misses the tag on Davis, and even though Dave Trembley argues the play with the first base umpire, replays showed that Davis was safe. Giving the A's an extra out allowed them to jump out to a quick two-run lead.

2) In the fourth inning, Adam Rosales hits a leadoff double to right-center field. Trying to hurry up and get the ball back to the infield, Adam Jones grabs the ball, whirls, and fires an inaccurate throw that misses both cutoff men, allowing Rosales to reach third base. If Jones simply slows down a tad and makes a strong throw back to the infield, Rosales would not have advanced. Jones was, deservedly so, charged with an error.

3) Still in the fourth with Rosales on third and one out, Ty Wigginton is unable to stop a ground ball to second, which allows Rosales to score to put the A's up 4-0. Wigginton was playing a little closer to home with the runner on third, which made the play more difficult, but he's still charged with an error on the play. If Jones and Wigginton both make their plays, the A's should have had a runner on second with two away.

4) With runners on first and third and one out, Eric Chavez hits a flare to center field. Jones charges and makes the play, but he muffs the transfer and isn't able to make a potential throw home to cut down Ryan Sweeney at the plate. Jones didn't make an error, but a clean play could have saved another run.

After these miscues, the A's were up 5-0 -- a commanding lead with the way the O's are scoring runs. Again, Hernandez didn't have one of his best pitching performances, but with a little help, the game should have been closer.

Offensively, the Orioles had eight hits and four walks, yet they only scored two runs thanks to going 0-8 with runners in scoring position. Jones finished the game with three hits -- a single, double, and a triple -- and was the only Oriole to record more than one hit. Nick Markakis had a sacrifice fly and a double, and Luke Scott had a double and a walk. Atkins also doubled.

Tonight, Kevin Millwood gets the start against Dallas Braden, who has been surprisingly effective in two starts this season: 13.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 12 Ks, 2 BB.

A's 6, O's 2; O's now 1-9

(I made it about two-thirds through last night's late game, so I basically saw all I needed to. A recap will be coming later in the day.)

Dear Brian Roberts,

We miss you. Get well soon!

The rest of the O's offense

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blowout loss to the Rays caps an 0-6 Orioles homestand

So the Orioles played an afternoon game yesterday and lost to the Rays again, this time 9-1. The loss dropped the O's to 1-8 on the season, and they just finished up an awful 0-6 homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays.

In yesterday's game, Brad Bergesen deservedly took the loss after giving up eight runs (five earned) in three innings. Bergesen has now allowed five earned runs in both of his early season starts. Yesterday, he gave up seven hits and allowed two home runs (one to Carlos Pena and one to B.J. Upton) while walking two and striking out just three.

David Price, on the other hand, was solid for the Rays. He pitched seven strong innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits. He also walked two batters and struck out seven O's in 109 pitches.

Miguel Tejada was responsible for the lone run, hitting a solo home run to center field in the fourth inning. He also drew a walk. Batting in the second slot, Ty Wigginton added two more hits after Wednesday's two-homer performance, and Luke Scott went 1-3 with a walk. Felix Pie, who didn't start the game but pinch-hit for Nick Markakis in the bottom of the eighth, doubled in his only at bat. In 17 at bats, Pie has now collected eight hits and is hitting .471.

Jason Berken also deserves a little credit as the long man out of the bullpen. In five innings yesterday, Berken allowed one run (on another Upton homer) on just three hits. Berken also walked one but struck out five to lower his ERA to 2.08. Could this be the most suitable role for Berken, or has he just started out the season with a few nice relief appearances? Time will tell.

Obviously the O's record is bad; only the Houston Astros' 0-8 mark is worse right now. The O's offense has also been terrible, as they've only scored 27 runs in nine games -- third-worst in the majors. The O's also have the third-worst on-base percentage (.309) and the seventh-worst slugging percentage (.386). With Brian Roberts expected to miss possibly the rest of April, things definitely aren't going according to plan for the O's offense.

In the field, the O's have been decent. Tejada has committed both of the O's errors, though, oddly enough, they have come in situations where unearned runs followed. Garrett Atkins seems like he's been at least OK at first base; I can recall just one play, a scoop on a throw from Cesar Izturis, that he should have made. Then again, it's only been a few games -- and I haven't been able to watch every single inning -- so after a while some of the advanced stats may show that he's been below average. Adam Jones has made a few nice running plays, but he did drop a ball in the first inning of the O's home opener against the Blue Jays that he probably should have caught. Also, Pie has covered a lot of ground in left field when he's played; the same can't really be said for Nolan Reimold. But again, it's still early, so this topic will be revisited as the season rolls along.

The O's currently have a team ERA of 4.82 (third-worst in the AL), but that number is weighed down by Bergesen's two subpar outings. Kevin Millwood (2.13 ERA), Jeremy Guthrie (4.05), Brian Matusz (4.38), and David Hernandez (3.00) have done a pretty good job. The O's currently lead the AL in strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and are tied for third in walks allowed per nine innings (3.2). The starting rotation probably isn't this good, but it does show how terrible the offense has been that the Orioles haven't been able to get more than one win with how admirably the rotation has pitched so far.

As for the bullpen, everyone knows that Mike Gonzalez (18.00) has been a disaster so far. The Orioles placed him on the disabled list yesterday, so he'll be out for a few weeks. Matt Albers (10.38) started the season strong but has had a few bad outings in a row. In 4.1 innings pitched, Albers has walked five batters, which is way too many. Will Ohman (0.00) has allowed three hits in 3.1 innings pitched, and he has looked pretty good and hasn't allowed a run of his own. But he has allowed some inherited runners to score. Jim Johnson (6.00), the de facto closer while Gonzalez is on the DL, has been OK, allowing three hits in 3.0 innings pitched while striking out three. Cla Meredith (7.71), though, has already allowed two homers in just 2.1 innings.

The two best pitchers in the bullpen have easily been Berken and Mark Hendrickson (1.93), who has struck out eight batters in 4.2 innings. I doubt many people saw that coming.

True, the season is only nine games old and there's plenty of innings and games to play. But so far, things just aren't looking very good for the O's. Maybe a trip to the West Coast to play Oakland and Seattle will help the O's turn things around. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five-run eighth, three-run HR in 10th propel Rays past O's

In case you hadn't heard, the Orioles haven't exactly started the season on a torrid pace. The O's, 1-6 after seven games, decided to wear their batting practice jerseys to try to shake things up. Dave Trembley even juggled the lineup, moving Matt Wieters to the cleanup spot, Miguel Tejada second, and Adam Jones fifth.

And through seven innings, it seemed like some of that change was working. The O's held a 3-0 lead, which wasn't huge, but was much better than some of the leads they had worked with lately. Oh, and Brian Matusz was throwing an absolute gem. In those seven innings, Matusz allowed just three baserunners -- a walk to B.J. Upton in the second, a bunt single by Ben Zobrist in the fourth, and an infield hit to Carlos Pena in the seventh -- and that's it. He had also struck out seven Rays. Very simply, he was cruising.

Then in the eighth, things went horribly wrong. After striking out Willy Aybar to begin the inning, Matusz allowed four consecutive singles and one run and was removed from the game with a pitch count of 99. With just one out and the bases still loaded, Jim Johnson came in to face Zobrist and got him to pop out. Unfortunately, Evan Longoria was up next, and he hit a sharp single to left field, scoring two runs to tie the game, 3-3. Will Ohman relieved Johnson to face Pena, who reached on an infield single that plated another run for the Rays. On that hit, Cesar Izturis made a fantastic diving stop, but his throw to first was a little short and Garrett Atkins couldn't scoop the ball. And if that wasn't enough, Upton followed with a double off the scoreboard in right field, giving the Rays a 5-3 lead.

After that offensive assault was over, Matusz's fantastic start was ruined, and he was charged with four earned runs. Nevertheless, Matusz looked flat-out dominant through seven and gave O's fans a glimpse of how good he can be. In 7.1 innings pitched, he struck out eight and walked one.

Down 5-3, though, the O's weren't ready to throw in the towel. With two outs and a runner on first (Atkins after a walk), Luke Scott pinch-hit for Izturis and hit a line-drive home run to right field off of Randy Choate to tie the game.

After a scoreless ninth inning for both sides, Matt Albers entered the game for the Orioles and proceeded to walk Zobrist and Longoria. Albers then gave up a three-run homer to Pena, which put the Rays up 8-5 and gave them the lead for good. Ty Wigginton hit a solo homer in the bottom of the tenth -- his second of the game -- to cut the lead to two, but the O's didn't have another rally in them and dropped to 1-7 after the 8-6 loss.

On offense, the Orioles actually managed to score a few runs and collected 11 hits and two walks. Wigginton went 2-5 with those two home runs and three runs batted in, and Felix Pie had his second solid game in a row by going 3-5. Nick Markakis also had two hits.

The Orioles have now lost five in a row -- all at home, where they're still winless.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another poor offensive performance, another loss

The Orioles (1-6) wasted another decent start by Jeremy Guthrie -- seven innings pitched, eight hits, three earned runs -- and dropped their fourth game in a row (all at home) after a 5-1 loss to the Rays. Matt Garza threw eight strong innings, giving up only one run, and earned his second victory over the Orioles in this young season.

Garza allowed just six hits, with the O's lone run coming on a leadoff home run by Felix Pie. The Orioles had a couple of chances to score -- in the second and seventh innings -- but again couldn't put together another hit or two to put more runs on the scoreboard.

With the O's ahead 1-0 in the second, Matt Wieters led off with an infield single, and Luke Scott followed with a single of his own to right field. Unfortunately, Garrett Atkins came up next and hit a ground ball right to the shortstop for a double play. And in a sentence that will probably be repeated numerous times this season, Julio Lugo then struck out to end the threat.

In the seventh (the Orioles are trailing 3-1 at this point), with one out and Scott on first after a walk, Atkins hit a shot into the left center field gap, but the ball was caught on an outstanding running play by Carl Crawford. So with two outs, Ty Wigginton, pinch-hitting for Lugo, hit a flare to short right field that fell in for a single. With runners on first and second with two outs, Nolan Reimold was sent to the plate to pinch-hit for Cesar Izturis -- makes sense, right? Reimold, though, never got a chance to swing the bat -- on a ball in the dirt that got away from the catcher for a moment, Wigginton took off for second. There was just one problem: Scott stayed put. Wigginton was easily caught in a rundown, ending yet another scoring opportunity. Who does Wigginton think he is? Melvin Mora?

Pie, as stated before, led the O's offense attack with his solo home run. He also singled and walked. Jones, Wieters, Scott, and Wigginton each had a hit, and Scott and Wieters both drew walks. Nick Markakis went 0-3 and is now hitting .143, but he did walk again. And Miguel Tejada went 0-4 and saw just nine pitches in those at bats -- not exactly the kind of performance the O's are looking for from their cleanup hitter.

The Orioles have now scored just 20 runs in seven games. Get well soon, Brian Roberts.

By the way, if the team's recent play isn't bad enough, the 9,129 fans in attendance at Camden Yards tonight broke the "record" for the smallest crowd in the stadium's 19 seasons. Awesome.

O's get swept by Toronto, drop to 1-5 on the season

(Quick note: I went to Orioles games on Friday and Saturday, and both times during the O's ninth-inning comeback attempts, several fans were more interested in trying to start the wave than cheering on the team. Seriously, who tries to do the wave in the ninth inning?)

Well, that was unexpected. After a tough 7-6 loss in their home opener, the Orioles continued to struggle and their bats remained quiet on Saturday and Sunday as the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the O's. On Saturday, the Blue Jays and starter Dana Eveland shut the O's out 3-0, and on Sunday, despite trailing most of the game 2-1, the Blue Jays scored four runs in the eighth and ninth innings in a 5-2 comeback victory.

Although Mike Gonzalez was the scapegoat for the first few games of the season (not that he's off the hook yet, by any means), the real culprit for the O's disappointing start is probably the team's offense, or lack thereof. Granted, that doesn't excuse Gonzalez's poor performance, and of course, barely a week has past in the MLB season, but the Orioles have not looked particularly good at the plate.

In six games, the O's are tied for the third-fewest runs scored with only 19. The O's also have the worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.167) and have scored just 14 runs in 54 at bats in those situations. I doubt that the offense will continue to struggle so much, but it doesn't help that Brian Roberts is possibly headed to the disabled list with an abdominal strain.

On the bright side, Matt Wieters is hitting .409/.458/.545. Eight of his nine hits have been singles (the other a homer), but he's been the best O's hitter so far. Garrett Atkins (.350/.350/.500) has had a decent start to the season, though he hasn't yet drawn a walk. Nick Markakis is hitting just .167 at the moment, but he has the team's second-highest on-base percentage (.444) mainly because he's been patient at the plate and has drawn a team-high nine walks (tied with Adam Dunn for the most in the majors).

Miguel Tejada (.240/.296/.400), Nolan Reimold (.200/.294/.467), Adam Jones (.231/.259/.462), and Luke Scott (.167/.250/.389) have all struggled and are not getting on base enough. Those four have each hit a home run, but they've drawn only four combined walks. With Roberts out, those guys need to step up and play better.

I'd ramble a little more and complain about the team's 1-5 record, but again, they've only played six games and hopefully will turn things around. If the O's continue to receive decent starting pitcher performances, they should start to win more games as the offense scores more runs and takes advantage of scoring opportunities.

Next game: An early season rematch tonight at 7:05 against the Rays as Jeremy Guthrie faces Matt Garza again. Last time, Garza pitched a phenomenal game, throwing eight strong innings and allowing only one earned run.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gonzalez blows another save as O's fall to 1-3

Mike Gonzalez is struggling right now, but you probably know that already. Before yesterday's O's home opener even started -- during pre-game ceremonies and player introductions -- Gonzalez was booed mightily and was the only player who received a vicious response from the crowd.

Keep in mind, it was April 9, the first home game, and many, if not most, fans have already turned on Gonzalez. If that doesn't tell you that fans are expecting more of this team than in previous years, then nothing will.

Granted, fans were/are booing Gonzalez for mainly two reasons: 1) In three appearances, he's blown two of three saves and in that span has given up five hits, four walks, and four earned runs in only two innings pitched; and 2) the O's signed him to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal in the offseason to solidify the closer's role.

The worst thing about Gonzalez's struggles isn't that he's simply pitching poorly, but also that he seems to have lost confidence in his pitching abilities so early into the season. Matt Wieters went to the mound at least twice to talk to Gonzalez, and Miguel Tejada and Julio Lugo each tried to give Gonzalez some encouraging words while he was in the middle of a difficult inning.

Right now, Gonzalez deserves a few more opportunities to right the ship. And it would probably be nice if the O's could get him into the game with more than a one-run lead at this point to give him a little leeway. However, if he can't straighten things out soon, Jim Johnson should take control of the closer's role. Every team blows save opportunities once in a while, but one of the main reasons Gonzalez was signed by Andy MacPhail in the first place was to prevent this type of thing from consistently happening. If Gonzalez can't get the job done, someone else should be given the chance.

OK, enough about Gonzalez. Honestly, the worst part of the game yesterday -- besides the heart-breaking 7-6 loss, obviously -- was that Brian Roberts suffered an abdominal strain after sliding into second base in the first inning after a stolen base. Watching Lugo inadequately fill Roberts's shoes by going 0-4 made me realize how much Roberts means to this team and how they can ill-afford to lose him for an extended period of time. It's also not a good sign that Roberts, already dealing with back problems, now has another injury concern to worry about.

Also, Gonzalez's blown save made a lot of fans forget how awful Brad Bergesen looked. Bergesen, who lasted just 4.2 innings and threw only 71 pitches before Dave Trembley had seen enough -- allowed five earned runs on eight hits. He also only struck out two Blue Jays, though he did just walk one. He was consistently around the plate but was hit hard more than a few times. I'm willing to give Bergesen the benefit of the doubt, not just because this was his first start of the season, but because his 2009 season ended abruptly with an injury and he hasn't faced Major League hitters in a regular season situation for a while now. Also, two runs scored in the first inning on a long fly ball by John Buck to center field that Adam Jones normally would have caught (the ball bounced off his glove). So if those two runs didn't score, Bergesen may have pitched a little longer and his outing may have looked a little better -- for what it's worth.

By the way, it's a little strange that the O's have played four one-run games to start the season. So they're 1-3, but they've been in each game and could easily be 3-1.

As for hitting numbers, the O's collected seven hits and seven walks. Tejada was the team's offensive star yesterday, going 3-5 with a two-run home run and knocking in four runs. Nick Markakis had a hit and two walks, and Garrett Atkins went 2-4. Cesar Izturis had a walk and a big hit -- an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth that briefly gave the O's the lead. Nolan Reimold and Wieters each went 0-2 but walked twice.

Next game: The O's face the Blue Jays tonight in game two of the series at 7:05. David Hernandez takes the hill against Dana Eveland.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Orioles hold on to get first win of 2010

First off, great win for the O's last night. I didn't have the chance to watch the entire game, but I did make it home in time to watch the end of the game. It looked like Mike Gonzalez might blow another ninth inning lead, but to his credit, he got the job done. But more on the win in a minute.

Man, what an eventful three-game series for Carl Crawford. In the first game, he hit a walkoff double (even though it was really a single) to win the game for the Rays. In the second game of the series, Crawford was involved in a controversial strike-three/check swing call at home plate that led to a double play for the Orioles. The play ended up not mattering much as the Rays still won, but both Crawford and the crowd were not pleased with the home plate umpire.

And if that wasn't enough, Crawford was again right in the middle of another blown call last night (though it again didn't effect the outcome of the game). In the top of the eighth with one out, Matt Wieters hit a sinking line drive to left field. Crawford got a great jump on the ball and lunged forward, snagging the ball right before it hit the ground (view the play here). Watching the play quickly, it's easy to see why the second base umpire (Dana Demuth) thought Crawford trapped the ball against the turf. I'm not going to start rambling on about the use of instant replay only for home run calls, but eventually the use of instant replay needs to be expanded. Seriously, how long would it have taken to watch that video a few times to determine that Crawford did indeed catch the ball? One minute? Maybe two? Again, it was only a single, and the O's didn't score that inning. But isn't it important to get the call right?

Anyway, back to the game. Making his season debut, Brian Matusz had an up-and-down performance. In five innings, he allowed only two earned runs and two hits. But he walked five batters and threw 97 pitches. Then again, he also struck out seven. So, I guess you could say he was effectively wild, though it's never a good idea to average a walk per inning. Still, he admitted that he was a little nervous and noted that his mechanics were off because of it. Matusz did finish strong, striking out four of the last five batters he faced, including striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth.

After Matusz left the game trailing 2-1, the O's went on the attack and pieced together a four-run inning. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a single, and Miguel Tejada followed by getting hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count. Luke Scott then walked to load the bases. Next, Wieters hit a single to center, scoring Markakis, and Tejada scored after that on a wild pitch by reliever Grant Balfour. With runners on second and third, Nolan Reimold struck out swinging, but Garrett Atkins singled to hit, which allowed Scott and Wieters to score. Not a bad rally, and as it turns out, the O's would need all four of those runs.

With Matusz out, the bullpen did an adequate job -- Matt Albers gave up one run in two innings, Will Ohman retired the only batter he faced, Jim Johnson allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning, and Gonzalez pitched a scoreless ninth for the save even though he walked two batters and gave up a hit. It was a George Sherrill-type save for Gonzalez -- a roller-coaster ride to the very end -- but it worked. The only thing missing was a bunch of Orioles flipping up the brim of their hats after it was over.

On offense, the Orioles combined for nine hits and three walks. Brian Roberts, Wieters, and Atkins each went 2-4, with Roberts drawing a walk, Wieters driving in a run, and Atkins driving in two. Reimold scored the game's first run in the top of the third when he homered to left field (watch here). Markakis and Scott each had a hit and a walk. Adam Jones went 0-5 and was somewhat impatient, only seeing 13 pitches. Tejada (11 pitches) and Julio Lugo (13 pitches) were both 0-4, though, as mentioned before, Tejada did reach on a HBP.

For the third straight game, the Orioles didn't commit an error, but since I didn't watch the game, it's hard to tell if there were a few balls that O's fielders didn't get to that maybe they should have. Listening to the radio on the way home, I do remember a play from the bottom of the eighth on a Carlos Pena ground ball to second that could have been turned for a double play but wasn't because of a bobble or something. But B.J. Upton fouled out in the next at bat for the third out, so it didn't hurt the O's.

Overall, O's pitchers walked too many Rays batters (eight times), but they pitched out of jams and got the win. Hopefully they get the walks out of their system, and hopefully Wieters keeps going 2-4 every game. Not likely -- but hey, if anyone can do it, Wieters can.

Next game: O's home opener today against the Blue Jays, 3:05 p.m. Brad Bergesen vs. Brandon Morrow.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

O's drop to 0-2 as late rally falls short

Another game, another 4-3 loss to the Rays. This time, though, it was the Orioles who rallied in the ninth -- scoring a run on a Garrett Atkins ground rule double to cut the lead to 4-3 -- but Brian Roberts flied out to center field with two outs and Felix Pie, the tying run, on third base.

As if the Orioles needed another lesson in how important it is to add to a lead late in a game, the Rays, and particularly Evan Longoria, demonstrated that perfectly when Longoria homered in the bottom of the eighth to give the Rays a two-run lead (4-2). That run proved to be the difference as closer Rafael Soriano again had an adventurous ninth inning (two hits, one earned run).

However, the story of the game was the tremendous start by Matt Garza. Garza threw 114 pitches in eight strong innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run while striking out nine and walking only two. Garza's most effective pitch last night was his overpowering fastball, but he also efficiently mixed several sliders and curveballs into his attack to keep O's batters off balance.

For the second straight game, Rays pitchers held Roberts (0-5) hitless, demonstrating that one of the best ways to prevent the Orioles from scoring a bunch of runs is to keep Roberts from getting on base -- no easy task. After battling back from a back injury and a stomach illness, Roberts predictably looks a little rusty and will probably need a few games to get back in the swing of things (sorry for the pun).

O's hitters collected just six hits and two walks and left seven runners on base. Matt Wieters had the only multi-hit game for the O's, going 2-4 with two singles. Wieters also reached on an error in the first inning that allowed Nick Markakis to score all the way from second. The other hits -- all singles besides Atkins's double in the ninth -- belonged to Adam Jones (1-4), Miguel Tejada (1-3, one RBI, one HBP), and Nolan Reimold (1-4). Luke Scott seemed to struggle the most at the plate against Garza, going 0-4 and striking out three times.

In terms of pitching and defense, the O's were pretty solid again. Jeremy Guthrie gave up three earned runs in 6.1 innings, striking out six and walking two. Similar to Kevin Millwood's first start, Guthrie cruised in the first few innings and started to struggle around the fourth and fifth. Will Ohman was effective for the second straight game, retiring all three batters he faced. However, Cla Meredith, who relieved Ohman, gave up the eventual deciding run when he allowed Longoria's solo home run in the eighth. The O's also didn't make any errors and turned two double plays (more on one of them in a second).

This game was well-played for the most part, but it had a couple of moments that reminded me of the O's from last season. In the bottom of the fifth, on a Carl Crawford ground ball to first, Atkins fielded the ball and then oddly enough ran into Guthrie, who was trying to cover first on the play. Fortunately for the O's, Crawford overran the base, allowing Atkins the chance to flip the ball to Roberts for the out. That play wasn't really anyone's fault, but it's easy to see why Atkins isn't necessarily a natural at first base.

Another odd play took place in the bottom of the seventh and again involved Crawford. With a 3-2 count, Crawford appeared to check his swing at a ball low and away and headed down to first base. Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley was convinced that Crawford swung at the ball -- replays showed he clearly did not -- and called him out instead of motioning to the third base umpire for help. But that wasn't all; Reid Brignac, who was on first at the time after a single, figured that Crawford had walked and started to go down to second base. Wieters, who obviously was paying attention since he was in the middle of the action, fired the ball down to second for the double play. Crawford, who still didn't know what had really happened and was basically to first base at this point, proceeded to throw a mini-temper tantrum and actually threw his helmet, yet he was able to stay in the game. Maybe Danley realized he had made an awful call and decided not to make the situation any worse by throwing Crawford out of the game. Rays fans, obviously more than a little unhappy with the call and ensuing double play, decided to boo Danley for the rest of the game, which was funny for a few minutes but got old fast. Now if that's not Orioles baseball, I don't know what is.

The O's fell to 0-2 with the loss but shouldn't feel too bad about themselves since they've been close to wins in both games. The O's can salvage the series a bit with a win tonight when Brian Matusz faces Jeff Niemann.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rays rally past O's in the ninth on Opening Day

Well, that felt a little too familiar. Clinging to a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles handed the ball to new closer Mike Gonzalez with the bottom of the Rays' lineup coming to bat. Gonzalez got off to a good start by striking out Pat Burrell but then allowed the next four batters to reach base -- Sean Rodriguez singled, pinch-hitter Kelly Shoppach doubled (and missed a home run by a few feet), Jason Bartlett was intentionally walked, and Carl Crawford, with the bases loaded, doubled to right field, knocking in two runs to give the Rays a dramatic 4-3 win over the Orioles on Opening Day.

Now, it would be easy to simply blame Gonzalez for the loss since he's the one who gave up the lead. But the Orioles missed a handful of opportunities throughout the game to extend the lead and put the game away for good. The Orioles did this a lot last year, and it came back to hurt them many times. Good teams tack on runs and take advantage of scoring chances.

Sure, it was the first game, but the O's left 10 runners on base and were 1-12 with runners in scoring position. Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada, who each went 0-5, were both 0-3 with runners in scoring position. The two best chances for the O's to add some runs occurred in the top of the fourth and the top of the ninth.

In the fourth, after Luke Scott led off the inning with a towering home run to right center to put the O's up 2-0, Matt Wieters singled and Felix Pie doubled, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Then Garrett Atkins popped up to second, Cesar Izturis grounded out to first, and Brian Roberts lined out to center field. Neither Atkins nor Izturis were able to hit a fly ball or a ground ball up the middle, and Wieters and Pie were stranded.

Leading 3-2 in the ninth, the Orioles failed to capitalize on another rally attempt. Atkins led off the inning with a double. Up next, Izturis, trying to move Atkins to third with a sacrifice bunt, managed to reach first somehow by hustling down the line (First base coach John Shelby was rather pleased with Izturis on the play). Unfortunately, Atkins was thrown out at home after Roberts hit a grounder to third. After an Adam Jones ground out and a Nick Markakis walk to load the bases, Tejada worked a full count before lining out to left field. To be fair, it would be pretty difficult for anyone to hit the ball harder than Tejada did, but the ball was still caught. So not only did the Orioles fail to score to extend the lead, but they let Rays closer Rafael Soriano, who never really looked comfortable during the inning, off the hook.

But besides the loss (obviously the most important thing), things weren't all bad for the O's. They actually looked pretty good for it being Opening Day, when many teams look sloppy. The O's didn't commit an error and didn't look bad in the field. Markakis threw out a runner at home, picking up right where he left off from last season in terms of outfield assists. Tejada had a few chances at third -- and not all of them looked rather easy for him -- but he still made the plays. On offense, the O's had 11 hits, and all three of their runs came on solo homers by Jones, Scott, and Wieters. Jones had three hits, Markakis had a hit and two walks, and Wieters and Izturis collected two hits apiece.

Kevin Millwood gave up two runs and nine hits in five innings and looked pretty sharp until he started the sixth inning, when he allowed a leadoff home run to Evan Longoria and two singles to Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton. Matt Albers relieved Millwood and did a fantastic job, getting Burrell to ground into a double play and then striking out Rodriguez. Albers, Will Ohman, and Jim Johnson combined for three scoreless innings, but their solid work was erased by Gonzalez's unfortunate ninth inning.

On most nights, a similar performance by the O's will be good enough to win. But the offense has to tack on runs when given the chance. Gonzalez is a decent closing option, but it's hard to be 100 percent confident in any closer with just a one run lead.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No surprises in O's Opening Day lineup

The Orioles will begin their 2010 season tonight on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays. Kevin Millwood gets the Opening Day start against James Shields.

As far as the team's first lineup goes, it's basically what has been speculated all along. According to Orioles Insider, The Baltimore Sun's new O's blog, here's what the lineup will look like:

Brian Roberts, 2B
Adam Jones, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Miguel Tejada, 3B
Luke Scott, DH
Matt Wieters, C
Felix Pie, LF
Garrett Atkins, 1B
Cesar Izturis, SS

Hopefully Wieters takes a big step forward this season and eventually moves up a spot or two, but for Opening Day, that's a pretty strong lineup.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Redskins trade for McNabb, shock an entire fan base

After a few relatively minor signings this offseason, the Redskins finally made a big splash -- and, for once, not many people saw it coming. Last night, the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb, acquiring the six-time Pro Bowler for a 2010 second-round pick and either a third- or fourth-round choice in 2011. The move feels a bit familiar because it involves the trading of draft picks, which most fans desperately wish the Redskins would stop doing, but it also feels a bit foreign as well considering not only did the Redskins acquire a big name quarterback, but they also traded within the NFC East.

This move has several angles that need to be examined:

1) Shanahan must not have been impressed with Campbell. Do you think new head coach Mike Shanahan felt confident going into the upcoming season with Jason Campbell as his starting quarterback? Probably not. I wonder if this is something that will eventually be explained, because I thought the goal all along was for Campbell to start this season while a younger quarterback waited in the wings for the next season or two. Honestly, I was looking forward to seeing how Campbell would adjust to yet another offensive system, though this time he would be working under one of the best offensive minds in football.

2) What do the Redskins do with Campbell now? Hindsight is 20/20, but most fans should have seen at least some kind of quarterback move coming because the Redskins never publicly committed to Campbell as the starting quarterback this season. They even brought in Rex Grossman to, as it was announced at the time, compete with Campbell for the starting job. Now, McNabb is the clear No. 1 quarterback on the roster, meaning there isn't much of a reason to keep Campbell. If the Redskins are able to move Campbell, maybe they'll be able to trade for a mid-round draft choice.

3) Why are the Redskins targeting older players? McNabb is 33. Willie Parker is 29. And Larry Johnson is 30. (And oddly enough, all three have birthdays in November.) Basically all of the players the Redskins have signed or acquired this offseason are on the downside of their career. So what exactly does this mean? Are the Redskins just trying to improve the team for next season while also planning for the future? Those questions and more probably won't be answered until seeing the Redskins' approach in the upcoming NFL Draft. One of the most important questions will be:

4) Will the Redskins still draft a quarterback this year? This is a huge question, especially for next season. It's no secret that the Redskins need offensive linemen in the worst way. Campbell was supposed to be the bridge to the quarterback of the future, but that player now appears to be McNabb, who is probably a better option. But, as stated before, he's on the downside of his career, so at some point, either this season or next, the Redskins will have to draft a quarterback. But when will they do that? As of right now, the Redskins only have four choices in the 2010 draft: first round (4th overall), fourth round (103), fifth round (135), and seventh round (211). No matter who they pick in the first round, the Redskins don't select another player until the fourth round, nearly 100 spots later.

5) Will the Redskins trade down? They probably should trade down to get more draft picks, but will another team be willing to move up to the No. 4 slot while also giving the Redskins what they want? There will still be talented players at No. 4, but teams frequently are unwilling to trade up that high because of the high price tag that player will command. Hopefully if the Redskins can't trade down, they'll select the best available offensive lineman, but at this point, no one really knows what they'll do.

One more thing: I understand why the Redskins made this move, and I think most fans can see the rationale behind it. If the Redskins are able to find a young quarterback they like in this year's draft or next year's, then McNabb isn't a bad choice to be the team's quarterback until then. However, the Redskins really need to stop trading draft picks. It's downright laughable at this point. There probably isn't another team in the NFL that values draft picks less, and it's not surprising to understand why the Redskins don't have adequate depth at most positions.

Although McNabb is a little more mobile than Campbell, he still needs an offensive line to give him time. Even if the Redskins take a left tackle at No. 4, there's still work to be done to significantly improve the line.

Obviously, there will be more to come as the draft approaches. Let's just see what else the Redskins do this week.