Sunday, July 31, 2011

What they're saying about the Uehara trade

Yesterday, the Orioles made two trades. First, they sent Koji Uehara to the Rangers in exchange for corner infielder Chris Davis and pitcher Tommy Hunter. The O's also sent $2 million to the Rangers in the deal. Second, the O's then shipped Derrek Lee and some cash to the Pirates for prospect Aaron Baker, a Single-A first baseman. Baker is not viewed as a top prospect.

The Lee deal was made to free up playing time for the newly acquired Davis. The O's possibly saved some money on the rest of Lee's deal, but it also hasn't been reported how much cash they're sending to the Pirates. Still, it's a minor move that was a no-brainer.

The Uehara trade, though, is more important. Here's what others are saying about it:

- "Both Hunter and Davis are under team control for a long time. Uehara has a vesting option for 2012, worth $4 million with additional bonuses. This looks like a good longer-term gamble for the Orioles, while the Rangers land immediate help in exchange for two guys who probably weren't in their future plans." Jeff Sullivan, Baseball Nation

- "Davis has more upside, but is less likely to reach it. Really, he should spell his name with a ‘K,’ because his career strikeout rate (31.7%) would rank among the league leaders every year if he qualified for the batting title. He’s been trying to cut down that number with limited success, but really he should be focusing on his walk rate. Players like Russell Branyan have shown us that a bad strikeout rate, paired with a strong walk rate and gobs of power, can make for a useful (if winding) major league career. At this point, he’s a flier taken by a team looking to acquire young talent." Eno Sarris, FanGraphs

- "Moving to the Orioles, Davis might have another shot of realizing those big league dreams. Derrek Lee(notes) has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And manager Buck Showalter probably has some familiarity with Davis, having been the Rangers' skipper when Davis was drafted in 2006.
The Orioles also get some help for their starting rotation in Hunter. While he didn't start any games this year for the Rangers, largely due to a groin injury he suffered in the spring, Hunter did make 41 starts over the previous two seasons. Baltimore may also like a groundball pitcher who relies on control working in a hitters' park like Camden Yards." Ian Casselberry, Big League Stew

- "Edged out for playing time in Texas by the more consistent Mitch Moreland, Davis has mashed this season in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, batting .368/.405/.824 with 24 home runs in just 193 at-bats. (He hit .327 in the PCL last year to finish second in the batting race.) Still, Davis lacks plate discipline and figures to remain a streaky hitter prone to slumps and short bursts where he's a force—in other words, a lefthanded-hitting Mark Reynolds. . . . The Rangers used Davis' third and final minor league option to send him to Round Rock this season, so the Orioles will have to keep him in the big leagues in 2012 or risk losing him on waivers." John Manuel and Matt Eddy, Baseball America

However, leave it to Keith Law to provide the snarky take on the O's haul:

Playing with Tinkertoys? RT @drtomfowler: @keithlaw If MacPhail calls Davis & Hunter building blocks, what is he building?Sun Jul 31 04:04:49 via Seesmic

Most people seem to think the deal was a win-win for both teams. I rather would have had Andy MacPhail target some actual prospects, but it's hard to argue his logic in making this trade. As long as the O's play Davis consistently, they should be able to figure out whether he's competent enough to stick in the majors or if he's, in fact, a 4-A player. Hunter should have no problem sticking in the O's rotation, especially considering how awful the O's young pitchers look. Also, both players are 25 and have several years of team control left between them.

It's not clear whether or not Mark Reynolds will stay at third or move across the diamond to first. Honestly, I'd like to see them put Davis at first and let Josh Bell (no superior defender either) man third, while letting Reynolds serve as the designated hitter. But with Vladimir Guerrero on the roster, there's basically no chance of that. Bell will likely be sent back to Triple-A Norfolk, which is a shame. Considering Lee's little trade value, Guerrero probably has even less since he's exclusively a DH at this point. At least Lee can play a decent first base.

The Baseball America writers (link above) also commented on Davis's defense: "He has improved defensively at third base and can play either infield corner but is better suited defensively to first, despite good arm strength. Scouting reports on him at third base regularly include the word 'adequate.'" An adequate defender would be leaps and bounds above what Reynolds has done at third base this season. But again, with Guerrero on the roster, either Davis or Reynolds will play third.

It's been clear for weeks/months that the O's are terrible and need to start freeing up positions and playing time for some of their younger players (even though there don't appear to be many talented ones). Lee was one of the players that needed to be moved, and that has been taken care of. Vlad needs to be the next.

As far as Uehara's departure goes, he'll clearly be missed by O's fans. For a team that both struggles to sign free agents and doesn't do a good job scouting and signing international talent, the O's did a fantastic job in both when they signed Uehara, the O's first Japanese player, in 2009 to a two-year, $10 million deal. Uehara was originally a starter, but he had trouble staying healthy and pitching late into games. He was still pretty effective as a starter, but he'd get tired by the fifth inning and have to be replaced.

The O's eventually moved Uehara to the bullpen, where he quickly thrived and became one of the team's best options. He was re-signed in the 2011 offseason and was having another fantastic season this year before being shipped to Texas.

As long as he can deal with the Texas heat, Uehara should be just as effective for the Rangers as he was in Baltimore. There's not a whole lot to get excited about as an O's fan, but watching Uehara work quickly and pound the strike zone was certainly a refreshing sight.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What exactly do the O's expect for Guthrie?

MLB's non-waiver deadline is July 31, so the Orioles still have two days to trade Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, or anyone else they deem worthy of a deal. And even though it can make sense to wait until the last few hours to make a deal -- other teams that are bidding against each other may get desperate and overpay -- I can't help but get the feeling that the O's are asking for too much in return for some of their players. And then I read the following on Roch Kubatko's latest School of Roch post:
The Tigers and Indians remain serious suitors for Guthrie. The Orioles need a major-league ready arm. They'd love a first base prospect.

They won't dump Guthrie and be left with another gaping hole in their rotation, but the offers might have sweetened tonight.
If the O's are trying to fool teams into thinking they absolutely won't deal Guthrie or Uehara unless a major-league ready arm or premium first-base prospect is included in the deal, that's fine, I guess. But if they really think one of those will be thrown in, they're fooling themselves.

Guthrie is a slightly above average starter, and he's under team control (last arbitration year) for one more season. He's making $5.75 million this season, so unless he completely falls apart the rest of this season, he'll receive a raise. Uehara's case is a little different: He's making only $3 million this season and has a $4 million vesting option for 2012. Guthrie is slightly more valuable because of the amount of innings he throws (he's a starter, after all), but when factoring in the money owed to each and how well Uehara has been pitching, there's not an enormous difference in their values. Some team might actually pay more for a lights-out reliever like Uehara rather than a decent starter like Guthrie. Again, it all depends on which teams are serious about trading.

Guess what, though? The O's are 42-60. Guthrie has aided their weak rotation this year, and without him the O's would be worse. But they wouldn't be that much worse that they should consider holding onto him just because they aren't overwhelmed with a significant trade offer. That doesn't mean the O's should give him away for nothing, but he should be dealt. This situation is similar to their decision to keep Luke Scott at the height of his trade value instead of getting a decent prospect or two in return. And look how that's turned out.

So what should the O's expect in return for Guthrie? A Dempsey's Army post by Donovan Moore tackled that very topic on July 21:
[I]n order to break even any potential trade for Guthrie, the Orioles would need to get back a Grade B hitter ($5.5M) + a Grade C pitcher 22 or younger ($2.1M). Given MacPhail’s affinity for pitching prospects, maybe he would look to get back a Grade B pitcher ($7.3M) + a Grade C hitter 23 or older ($0.5). These would be instances where the Orioles set themselves up to break even on a deal for Guthrie—but if offered anything more than these examples, they should definitely jump right on it.
I encourage you to check out the whole post for the tables and rationale on why the O's need to deal Guthrie now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Flurry of moves continue for Redskins (updated)

I have to hand it to the Redskins; they are making a plethora of moves to overhaul their roster, and even though they seem to be targeting a few random free agents, most of them actually fit their current offensive and defensive systems. There's little to be gained by discussing the Albert Haynesworth trade much further -- fans have been waiting for months for the Skins to ship Haynesworth out of Washington -- so let's examine what else happened yesterday:

Brandon Stokley backs out of deal

So much for the whole Stokley-to-the-Redskins thing. Apparently, Stokley initially agreed to terms with the Redskins, but yesterday he decided to go elsewhere. Stokley is 35 and an injury-prone wide receiver, so there wasn't a great chance that he'd make the roster. And now there's no chance.

At the end of the linked PFT piece above, Mike Florio mentioned that "the Redskins aren’t happy about this one." Maybe, but their fans don't mind it.

Signed Stephen Bowen

The most surprising signing of the day (for the Skins, at least) had to be defensive end Stephen Bowen. Not only did the Redskins hand Bowen, apparently a sleeper/below-the-radar type of signing, a five-year, $27.5 million deal ($12.5 million guaranteed), but they also lured him away from the division-rival Cowboys. The most significant reshaping going on with the Redskins right now is on the defensive line, where the Redskins have added Jarvis Jenkins via the draft and Barry Cofield and now Bowen via free agency. Bowen and Cofield are both 27.

Unlike Cofield, who came from a 4-3 defense and may not the most ideal player to fill the nose tackle role, Bowen comes from a 3-4 defense and is seen as a pretty reliable defensive end. The main concern is that the Skins may have overpaid Bowen, a guy who's been more of a part-time player who's only really started games when others in front of him were hurt. But again, the Redskins seem to be banking on his potential to produce when giving more time on the field.

Agreed to terms with Chris Chester

At some point, the Redskins were going to address at least one of their needs on the offensive line. They did just that by signing Chris Chester away from the Ravens with a five-year, $20 million deal (can't seem to find how much of it's guaranteed). Chester, 28, will apparently fill the right guard slot for the Redskins, but he can also fill in at center if necessary.

Chester seemed to fall out of favor with the Ravens, and he wasn't guaranteed to start for them. With the Redskins, though, Chester seems to be an adequate acquisition because he's athletic enough to thrive in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. That doesn't mean the Redskins didn't overpay for him; they always seem to overpay for most of their signings.

Signed their draft picks

Last night, the Redskins signed their top two draft picks, Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins, to deals. The terms of those deals haven't been made available yet.

According to Rick Maese (in the Jarvis link), the only unsigned draft pick left for the Redskins is Maurice Hurt, an offensive lineman they selected in the seventh round. Everyone else is on board and scheduled to practice.

Update: According to John Keim, Kerrigan was the last draft pick to agree to a deal, so Hurt's apparently signed already. So that's good news.


By the way, here's a list of players the Redskins have released so far, via PFT's Release tracker:

- Casey Rabach
- Phillip Daniels
- Maake Kemoeatu
- Chad Simpson
- Andre Brown
- Roydell Williams
- Josh Bidwell
- Sam Paulescu

No arguments here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Redskins deal Haynesworth to Patriots

As I was just finishing my previous post on yesterday's Redskins moves, I saw this: According to Adam Schefter, the Skins have traded Albert Haynesworth to the Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2013.

To get anything at all for Haynesworth at this point seems like a solid move, even if it's a fifth-round choice in a couple years. The Redskins have now dealt away their two biggest headaches from last season: Donovan McNabb and Haynesworth. And by trading with the Patriots (always a little scary because of the Bill Belichick angle), the Skins also succeeded in keeping Haynesworth away from the Eagles or any other NFC East team.

So long, McNabb and Haynesworth. And congratulations, Redskins, for finally making these deals happen.

Redskins stay busy, gobble up WRs

On Tuesday, the Redskins signed defensive tackle Barry Cofield and brought back Santana Moss at a modest price. They also were very close to trading away Donovan McNabb; that deal was recently completed (for one sixth-round pick next year and a conditional sixth-round pick the year after).

But those moves were just the beginning. The Redskins filled yesterday with more activity, working hard to fill a bunch of holes on the roster. Here's what they did:

Went after wide receivers

The Redskins signed Donte Stallworth and Brandon Stokley to one-year deals. They also traded for Jabar Gaffney, dealing defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon to the Broncos to acquire him. That seems to be selling low on the 23-year-old Jarmon, who never really fit in the Redskins' defensive system when they switched to a 3-4 scheme. It's worth noting that the Redskins spent a third-round pick to select Jarmon in the 2009 supplemental draft then dealt him away for an average receiver in Gaffney -- that's not exactly the best of planning.

Some people are furious with the above moves. Others decided to go the comedic route, which is slightly better. But I don't understand all of the outrage. I'm not saying it's the best idea to target receivers who are 35 (Stokley), 30 (Stallworth), and also 30 (Gaffney). But the only guy who's basically guaranteed to make the roster is Gaffney. The other two seem to be buy-low guys. Both are injury-prone receivers, but maybe the Redskins will get lucky with one of them and be able to hang on to a cheap, decent wide receiver for most of the upcoming season. If not, and they get hurt or don't play well, the Redskins can simply get rid of them.

The only reasonable concern I've heard is that signing these guys will take some reps away from some of the younger or recently drafted receivers -- guys like Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Terrence Austin, Niles Paul, etc. I know there are currently several more receivers on the roster, but those seem like the most likely guys to get a chance to stick around. I found it tough to believe that the Shanahans would overlook what Armstrong did last season, and I'm sure they also want to see what Hankerson and the others can bring to the table when they start practicing. Still, I think it's too early for all the outrage for bringing in two receivers on one-year deals and trading away a player who was probably going to get cut for another receiver. If all three guys miraculously make the team or they start significantly taking away from the development of the other young receivers, then that'll be the time to wonder why these moves were made in the first place.

By the way, as reported by Rick Maese of The Washington Post, Hankerson was the first Skins draft pick to sign.

Signed Josh Wilson

While the Redskins were busy going after wide receivers, many wondered why they were neglecting other weak spots on the roster. Yesterday evening, though, the Redskins addressed their cornerback deficiency, agreeing to terms with Josh Wilson. Wilson, 26, signed for $13.5 million over three years, with $6 million guaranteed. The Wilson deal also signals the end of the Carlos Rogers era in Washington.

With Wilson on board, the Redskins seem to have a decent group of starting defensive backs: LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe at safety, and DeAngelo Hall and Wilson at cornerback. Some other defensive backs like Kevin Barnes will see the field, but those are the main four when healthy. If the Redskins can get any kind of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year, the defense should be markedly better.

Brought in Kellen Clemens

The quietest move of the day for Washington was the decision to sign Kellen Clemens to a one-year deal. Clemens will likely battle with Rex Grossman (if he returns) or someone else for the backup quarterback spot. Then again, the Skins may make a move at quarterback if they're not content to roll the dice with John Beck or Grossman.


For what it's worth, after a couple days the biggest deal the Redskins have handed out is the six-year, $36 million ($12.5 million guaranteed) deal for Cofield.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Redskins notes: McNabb, Moss, Cofield

The lockout is over, so you know what that means: It's time for the Redskins to win the offseason! Besides signing a few undrafted free agents, here's what the Skins have done so far:

Close to trading Donovan McNabb

According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Redskins and Vikings have agreed to the framework of a deal that would send McNabb to the Vikings:

Vikes agree to trade 6th rounder in 12 and possibly 6th in 13 to Wash for Donovan McNabb. Deal contingent on McNabb agreeing to much less $$Wed Jul 27 03:13:03 via UberSocial

Glazer has also reported that the deal is not yet done and that the two sides are "trying to work out dollars." Still, McNabb was never going to see that $10 million bonus from the Redskins at the beginning of the upcoming season, so he'd be wise to work out a deal with the Vikings so that he can go to a team that actually wants him. Then again, if he'd rather go somewhere else or wants more money, he can refuse to restructure his contract and possibly force the Redskins to cut him instead.

Considering what the Redskins traded to the Eagles to pick up McNabb in the first place, a sixth rounder or two doesn't seem like much. However, the Redskins weren't going to bring McNabb back after what happened last season, so it's smart for them to get whatever they can while also removing him from the roster. If this deal gets done, then it's your turn, Albert Haynesworth.

Re-signed Santana Moss

According to Adam Schefter, the Redskins and Moss agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal. $6 million of that is apparently guaranteed. Moss is 32 and has been injury-prone at times, but this type of deal doesn't present much risk. It's not that much money, and Moss is already comfortable in the Redskins offense.

I'd be surprised if the Skins didn't target another wide receiver in free agency, mainly because they like to make a big splash. But even if they did go out and overpay for someone like Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice, would it really even help the offense out that much? Anyway, the Moss signing seems rational.

Agreed to terms with Barry Cofield

The Redskins have signed the now-former Giants defensive tackle to a six-year, $36 million deal, according to Rich Campbell of The Washington Times. The deal includes $12.5 million in guaranteed money. The Skins were targeting/continue to target defensive line help, and Cofield was a solid defensive tackle in the Giants' 4-3 system. At age 27, Cofield is 6'4 and 306 pounds, so he has the size the Redskins are looking for. But, as The Washington Post's Mike Jones reports, "[Cofield] is listed as a nose tackle according to It’s not immediately clear if he will play nose tackle or end for the Redskins’ 3-4 defense."

Cofield can play, though: In five seasons and a possible 80 games, he's played in 79 of them. He's also accumulated 211 tackles and 10.5 sacks. So as long as he stays healthy and occupies multiple blockers, he should be a helpful addition. Still, spending big money on a player who might not exactly fit? That certainly seems like a typical Redskins move.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oddly, Redskins fire team blogger Matt Terl

Wondering how the Redskins make decisions as an organization is increasingly becoming a useless task, but they made yet another curious one when they recently decided not to bring back Matt Terl, the team's official blogger at Redskins Blog.

Here's what happened, via The Washington Post's Erik Wemple:
According to Redskins spokesperson Tony Wyllie, Terl has fallen victim to a “restructuring” of the team’s department of broadcasting and Internet.

Will the team hire a replacement? “We’ll announce what we’re doing once everything’s all set,” says Wyllie. Pressed further, Wyllie offered the Standard Executive’s Personnel-Matter Comment Exemption.

When asked what’s up, Terl said he’s “guessing I’m laid off. It’s not for performance or anything of that nature.” His last post is about a fifth-round draft pick’s thoughts on the movie “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

“That’s a staggeringly dumb last post,” says Terl.
Instead of simply being a shill for the team, Terl provided lots of interesting and original content in a refreshing way -- a shocking thing considering he worked for the Redskins. But the team wants to go in a different direction, and I guess it's their right to do so. But it's still a peculiar move; not only did Terl do a great job, but I honestly can't remember reading anything negative about his work. Sure, the cartoons were kind of wacky, but they didn't take away from the solid work on the website, either.

Terl also linked to one of my posts (here, about Cam Newton), which was pretty cool. I don't get many readers, but that post is one of the most-read items on this site. My take was listed below an entry from Bleacher Report, but it was still an honor to have a link on the team's official blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Buck Showalter's logic

Tonight, the Orioles face the Angels and starter Ervin Santana. As Roch Kubatko mentioned earlier today in a post about Luke Scott (who's returning to the lineup), Felix Pie has three hits in five career at-bats against Santana. One of those hits was a triple.

Predictably, Pie's in the lineup tonight, batting eighth and playing left field. Because Scott's back to fill the DH slot, Nolan Reimold's on the bench. Reimold is having a much better season than Pie and is clearly the better player, but this is probably why he's not playing tonight:

(Career) Reimold vs. Santana: 0-2, 1 BB

(Fake Buck Showalter: "Way to not get a hit against Santana in limited at-bats, Nolan. And who cares about that walk?")

That has to be why Showalter is playing Pie instead of Reimold. He can't believe Pie is better than Reimold, right? Or maybe it's just because Pie is left-handed. Yeah, that has to play a part as well.

I've probably written something similar to this before, but whatever. There's no legitimate reason why Pie should be in over Reimold. It's not like Reimold is a star or an amazing player, so I'm getting tired of having to harp on this point over and over again: He's a competent, above-average hitter. That's more than anyone can say about Pie, who, in only 140 plate appearances this season, has racked up a -1.7 WAR. Every at-bat he's receiving is a wasted opportunity that should be given to Reimold.

Or bring Matt Angle back up from Norfolk and designate Pie for assignment. Angle may not end up being a very good player, but at least we all know right now that Pie is awful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There's always hope

Last night, one of my followers on Twitter brought up a great point on the topic of trading Nick Markakis:

@KremsSports if the Angels took Vernon Wells' salary, you gotta figure someone would pay Markakis'.Thu Jul 21 03:47:47 via Twitter for iPad

Not only did the Angels deal for Vernon Wells and the $86 million left on his contract, but they also gave away Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. All right, so that's the best possible hope for a trade involving Markakis: getting another team to take his contract AND getting a couple of players in return. But Markakis also has much less money remaining on his deal ($44 million, including a $2 million buyout on his $17.5 million 2015 club option), is five years younger, and is probably better than Wells.

Like I said before, it won't be easy, but there's a chance. Maybe the Angels are interested.

Salary information, as always, via Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Time to trade Markakis

I don't know exactly how it would get done, but now is the time for the Orioles to do whatever it takes to trade Nick Markakis. He is scheduled to make $12 million in 2012, $15 million in 2013, and $15 million in 2014; he's a good player, but he's not that good.

Even though Markakis is one of the best players on the team, the O's should be looking to unload his contract on another team, while also possibly hoodwinking that team into throwing in a useful prospect or two. It won't be easy, but it's worth a shot. And at the end of the day, even just getting rid of his contract would probably be considered a minor victory, since that money would be better off spent on future pieces that could help the team in the next several seasons.

One of the best reasons to deal Markakis now? He's on fire. Just look at his monthly splits:

Mar/Apr: .204/.275/.286, .259 wOBA
May: .287/.352/.357, .318 wOBA
June: .351/.371/.459, .365 wOBA
July: .338/.386/.523, .406 wOBA

So that's impressive. It would be difficult for him to take yet another step forward in August, but it's fun to watch him hit right now. Still, even with his surge at the plate, his numbers are still similar to his disappointing 2009 and 2010 seasons.

One of the oddest things about Markakis's 2011 season is the lack of walks. He has drawn a walk only 6.1 percent of the time this season; he has a career 9.4 BB%. Despite his fantastic numbers the last several weeks, Markakis walked only four times in June and has just four walks so far in July. He does have more than a week and a half to draw more walks this month, but that just doesn't seem like many for Markakis, who has a very good eye at the plate.

He's cut down on his strikeouts: 9.2 K% this season; 13.9 K% in his career. So he's walking less and striking out less as well, meaning he's making a ton of contact. That's not really a great thing for someone whose slugging percentages have been dropping each season since 2008.

So why would another team be so eager to deal for Markakis? Good question. The biggest hurdle is his contract; no small-market team would be willing to bring his contract aboard, which certainly limits the O's trading partners. But he's still a 2.5-3.0 WAR player at this point, and there's certainly value in that. He also plays every day and has never spent much time on the disabled list, so injuries aren't much of a concern (unlike, say, the recent J.J. Hardy signing).

To be honest, it's hard to get too excited about Markakis. At 27 (turns 28 in November), he seems to be playing like he will for the next several seasons: pretty good on-base percentage, limited power, solid contact hitter who uses the entire field, average right fielder, great arm, and slightly above average speed. He's not someone other teams should target if they're thinking of getting a guy who's going to transform an entire offense. He's not that kind of player. But he is a steady force who would seem more imposing on a team with more talented hitters already on it. That doesn't mean he'd hit better there -- after all, lineup protection has more or less been proven to be nonexistent -- but there would be lower expectations on him if he's batting sixth instead of second or third.

Maybe only a handful of teams would be looking to pick up a guy like that -- maybe less. And even if they did, they would resist giving up anything in return. Regardless, the O's should be seeking out those teams and trying to work something out. Then again, if a potential Markakis trade ends up with Buck Showalter playing Felix Pie in right field on a daily basis, I'd reconsider the whole thing. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding fault with the O's decision-making

Want to know why some are criticizing the J.J. Hardy signing, despite its apparent team-friendly ramifications? Just take a look at who pitched out of the Orioles' bullpen during last night's 15-10 loss to the Red Sox:
  • Troy Patton, 25
  • Jason Berken, 27
  • Michael Gonzalez, 33
  • Mark Worrell, 28
  • Chris Jakubauskas, 32
Patton probably threw the best out of all of them, and Berken was only in the game for two pitches, allowing a hit. But the latter three -- Gonzalez, Worrell, and Jakubauskas -- combined to allow eight runs in the eighth inning, which locked down the game for the Red Sox. Gonzalez and Jakubauskas have been bad all season, but Worrell was just promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, and he didn't look all that impressive either.

So why did I include the ages of those pitchers? Because despite Andy MacPhail's current philosophy to "grow the arms and buy the bats," the O's don't have that many arms to show for it. Yes, I understand that most of the young, high-ceiling pitchers in Baltimore and in the O's organization are starting pitchers, as they should be. Also, there's no sense in promoting pitchers to fill out the bullpen just because they're young and necessarily not ready to be in a major league rotation. But why has it taken so long for a guy like Patton to pitch in Baltimore this season? He seems healthy now, and he's still rather young. He should be given the chance to pitch in more than a few games, even if he pitches poorly.

The O's don't have nearly enough pitching depth. Without a doubt, they still need to get younger and better. It doesn't make much sense to hold onto guys (or pay them a bunch of money, for that matter) who won't help this current team four, five, and six years (etc.) down the road. That's not to say that there can't be a couple of guys like Jakubauskas, Mark Hendrickson, and Worrell in the team's bullpen for various stretches. Every team works with bullpen fill-ins from time to time. But these types of guys show up in the O's bullpen year after year. The only homegrown reliever who's really any good right now is Jim Johnson, and even he should probably be stretched out into a starter if the O's aren't going to deal the 28-year-old. And that's just talking about relievers, who are supposed to be failed starters or guys who can't throw multiple innings at a time. It should be much easier to assemble a decent, young bullpen corps than a competent starting rotation. Yet, the O's can't even accomplish that feat.

Where is all of the pitching talent for a team that annually picks at the top of the draft? Shouldn't someone like Hardy, and others, be used as bait to bring in prospects?

I'm essentially ranting at this point, but here's another questionable move: I turned the game off in the middle of that horrible eighth inning, but apparently Josh Bell pinch-hit for Felix Pie in the bottom of the eighth. He even singled, which is great. But in the ninth, he stayed in to play left field. For one inning, that's not really a big deal. But isn't he a third baseman, and at the very least a corner infielder? Why put him out there at all? That's another situation to examine: If Bell is on the roster, he should play. And if he's not going to play, he should be back in Norfolk playing every day. But he may only be in Baltimore for a few days, so who knows.

Nolan Reimold has been one of the O's most productive hitters this season, and it still took a few injuries to get him in the daily lineup. Vladimir Guerrero and Luke Scott will likely both return from the disabled list soon, and I have no doubt that they'll immediately return to the lineup, moving Reimold back to the bench. What kind of decision is that for a team that's nearly 20 games under .500? Don't they want to know if Reimold is a talented, cost-effective player who they can plug into the lineup for the next few years?

Basically, I don't trust the O's to make sound long-term decisions. And even the short-term ones don't always make much sense.

Monday, July 18, 2011

O's have roster decisions to make

As Jeff Zrebiec notes here and here, the Orioles' recent roster shuffle continues, and it will likely continue for the next few weeks. After another awful start, Mitch Atkins was sent back to Triple-A. Other spots that recently opened up: Alfredo Simon (restricted list), Vladimir Guerrero (15-day DL, broken bone in his right hand), and Pedro Viola (demoted to Double-A). Those four openings have been, at least temporarily, filled with Matt Angle, Troy Patton, Mark Worrell, and Josh Bell.

Luke Scott, Cesar Izturis, and Vladimir Guerrero are all on the mend and could return shortly. If Scott comes back healthy and starts hitting the ball like he did last season, that could help the O's tremendously. But the other two really only block younger guys from playing while also not giving the O's much value in return. There's also Brian Roberts, who's still dealing with complications from his concussion, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he ended up missing the entire season. Justin Morneau missed more than a year with concussion issues, and he still hasn't played like his old self (though he's also dealing with a wrist injury). Concussions are serious, and Roberts shouldn't return until he's 100 percent healthy. That may take a long time.

Which moves the O's make will tell a lot about how they're viewing the rest of this season. Guys like Guerrero have little trade value, if any, so he'll probably be on the O's roster for the rest of the season. It would be nice to get rid of him somehow to free up some playing time for Nolan Reimold or anyone else to DH (Mark Reynolds?) occasionally, but that likely won't happen. Izturis's presence also seems redundant at this point; is he really an upgrade over Blake Davis or Ryan Adams? And if Scott does start hitting, the O's should do whatever they can to flip him immediately for anything in return. There's already a logjam in left field (Reimold, Felix Pie, Matt Angle), and it doesn't seem like the O's are willing to part with Pie anytime soon -- which is unfortunate, because he can't hit.

The starting rotation will also continue to change, as some of the young starters will be back at some point. Brian Matusz has found a little recent success at Triple-A, and he could be back soon if he keeps that up. Zach Britton will likely be back as well, though he'll have his innings limited for the rest of the season. Chris Tillman could return in September as well, but he hasn't been pitching well at Norfolk.

Oh, and the O's have some decisions to make as the trade deadline approaches. They have a few trade chips, though they recently took their biggest one (J.J. Hardy) off the market by signing him to a three-year extension. So will the O's deal away Jeremy Guthrie or Reynolds? What about Koji Uehara or Jim Johnson? Or anyone else? There's no guarantee that the O's must make a couple of trades, but it would be surprising if the trade deadline passed with the O's failing to bring back a few prospects in a trade or two.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hardy, O's near extension? (updated)

(Update: The Orioles have agreed to terms with J.J. Hardy on a three-year contract extension for about $22.25 million. The deal is still "pending finalization of specific contractual language and Hardy passing a physical," but that's all just a formality at this point. The deal seems more than fair and is much less than what I figured Hardy would sign for.)

Although the Orioles continue to lose and then lose some more, there is other news going on with the team: J.J. Hardy has been seeking a new deal, and he may be close to signing an extension to stay in Baltimore. Via Dan Connolly:
The Orioles and shortstop J.J. Hardy continue to make progress on a three-year contract extension that would be worth between $7 million and $8.5 million per season, according to two baseball sources.

"My thought is that I still hope it gets done," Hardy said. "I know my agent and [Orioles director of baseball operations] Matt Klentak have been talking. I don’t know exactly where they are at or what they are thinking. If it gets done or not before the trade deadline, I don’t know what their thoughts are. But I still say I hope it gets done."
Hardy seems interested in staying with the same team for more than a year or two, and that's something the potential extension would accomplish (especially if he receives a full or partial no-trade clause).

But although $7-$8-plus million per season for a few seasons for Hardy seems more than reasonable, I just don't know if it's a deal the O's should be handing out right now. Sure, all teams want good shortstops, and Hardy is solid both offensively and defensively. But the O's are also terrible right now and need to be thinking about which players they can deal away to receive younger talent. Hardy, even though his current deal expires after this season, would likely net the O's a few nice prospects in a trade.

Here's another issue: Hardy is an injury-prone player, which is where most of his value is lost. When he's on the field, there isn't much concern that he'll perform. But the chances of Hardy not getting hurt again are slim, which could force the O's to deal with another Brian Roberts-type situation. Hardy doesn't seem to have as serious an injury risk as Roberts's concussions, but similar risk still exists.

For now, though, this isn't a done deal yet, and talks could break down at some point if Hardy wants more money or if the O's choose to explore the trade route.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trade chips: Do the Orioles have any?

After their latest, and ongoing, awful losing skid, it's clear that the Orioles aren't going to win anything this season. Right now, the O's are 36-52 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games. So, with that in mind, the O's should once again start thinking about future seasons and which of their current players can be dealt for young players who can be helpful down the road.

Let's get one thing out of the way: There's no way the O's will trade any of their young starters like Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman. Britton is the best of that group right now, mostly because he pitched with the most success this season. He'll be back in Baltimore at some point in the next few weeks or months while the O's do their best to limit his workload and make sure he stays healthy for years to come. Arrieta is the only one of the four still in the rotation, but he's had his struggles as well. He'll continue to get the ball every fifth day, as he should, but it's also important that the O's keep him healthy. As for Matusz and Tillman, both have certainly struggled at times at the major league level, though Matusz's regression is much more alarming because of his injury earlier in the season and his drop in velocity. Tillman has also been dealing with a dip in velocity, but he never pitched with as much success as Matusz did in the second half of last season, either. Both guys are still young -- Matusz is 24 and Tillman is 23 -- and it's too early to give up on them. However, if both never recover their missing velocity and they don't learn to pitch effectively without it, the O's rotation will be an even larger concern going forward (something that's hard to imagine).

The O's also aren't going to trade Matt Wieters or Adam Jones. Trading one of these guys, or both, is something that could possibly happen in the next few seasons (the Wieters angle was recently examined by Camden Crazies), but the O's front office undoubtedly considers these two guys building blocks and will not part with them easily.

Also, these players on the roster have little or no trade value: Mitch Atkins, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, Michael Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Mark Hendrickson, Chris Jakubauskas, Alfredo Simon, Pedro Viola, Craig Tatum, Brian Roberts, Robert Andino, Blake Davis, Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Luke Scott (injury), and Felix Pie. Some of them are useful players and have played well in stretches, but they just don't have much value right now because of their overall talent level or their current contract, or both.

I also seriously doubt the O's would want to part with Nolan Reimold, who has demonstrated the ability to both get on base and hit for some power, but then again Buck Showalter hasn't been particularly interested in putting Reimold in the lineup every day, so maybe he knows something about Reimold that fans don't.

Removing all of those guys from the potential trade chip list, a handful of O's players are left. That doesn't mean the O's want to deal them, just that they should at least think about doing so.

J.J. Hardy

The decision on what to do with Hardy may be the O's most important move this season. Hardy has been tremendous and has hit for much more power than the O's anticipated. Unfortunately, solid-hitting shortstops can be expensive, and if the O's want to keep Hardy from walking after this season (if they don't trade him), they'll need to hand him a multi-year contract and a sizable chunk of money. Because Hardy has dealt with a few injuries in his career, handing him a bunch of money over multiple years is extremely risky. At his best, Hardy is a fine shortstop and will probably outplay his next contract, but that won't mean a whole lot if he gets hurt again.

I'm also growing tired of hearing the following as one of the main reasons for keeping Hardy: The O's should definitely keep him around because he'll be a fantastic shortstop until Manny Machado is ready. Sure, that would be wonderful -- having a very good shortstop is a luxury that many teams don't have -- but that doesn't mean the O's should keep him around at any cost necessary. If Hardy wants to stick around for a reasonable deal, that's fine. But he'll also likely work to get the best contract that he can find, as he should. The O's shouldn't take an enormous risk to sign him, whenever it is that Machado is ready to take over the shortstop position in Baltimore.

Hopefully, the O's have learned from the Roberts contract decision from a few years ago. The O's could have dealt Roberts a few times when he was valuable, but they instead signed him to a four-year, $40 million deal that won't expire until after the 2013 season. Roberts is a useful player when healthy, but that's the problem: He can't stay healthy. Do the Orioles really want to go through that again with another middle infielder? I'm not saying that trading Hardy is the right move, but a still-rebuilding franchise shouldn't be handing out tons of money to injury-prone guys. Then again, the O's don't have a problem signing mediocre (and Type A) relievers to multi-year deals, so I wouldn't be surprised with any decision they make.

Jeremy Guthrie

I'm starting to believe that the O's aren't going to trade Guthrie. And that's not the worst thing in the world either. He's a competent pitcher, maybe a fourth or fifth starter on a good team, so he has a little bit of value -- just not a bunch. That means he may be worth a couple decent prospects, but probably not any top ones. Then again, things could change and a team could decide to make the O's a deal they can't refuse. And that's OK. But a pitcher like Guthrie arguably has more value to a team that is struggling to keep their younger pitchers in the starting rotation. Matusz and Tillman are both in Triple-A, and Britton was recently sent down and will have his innings limited for the rest of the season. Besides Guthrie and Arrieta, the O's rotation currently includes some combination of Atkins, Jakubauskas, Simon, and maybe Bergesen or Berken. That's not good, and sometimes (much more frequently lately) those starters have trouble reaching the fifth inning. Guthrie has had his own difficulties lately, but he pitches more innings than the team's other starters.

I believe that next year will be Guthrie's last arbitration-eligible year, meaning the O's could keep him around at a reasonable price. Guthrie is probably also getting to the point where he'd like to explore a multi-year deal, be it with the O's or another team, so that's a possibility as well if he gets traded and pitches well.

Mark Reynolds

Reynolds is under team control until 2012 and has a team option for 2013, so there is some value in that if a team decides that they want Reynolds around for a couple seasons. Then again, that all depends on how good Reynolds actually is at the plate. He started this season off horribly, not only failing to hit for much power, but not getting on base much either. But he's turned that around, and he has a chance to hit 40 home runs. He's also been walking a lot, and he's on pace to walk more than he has in any other season in his career.

So, assuming that the current Reynolds is the real Reynolds, there's just one problem: He's a lousy third baseman. He's having a terrible defensive season at third, and he just might be the worst fielder at that position in the majors right now. He'll likely have to be moved to first base or DH, and if the O's had a better option at third right now, that move likely would have happened already. But, you know, it's important for Guerrero and Lee to get their daily at-bats.

Because of that lack of a third baseman -- Josh Bell doesn't seem to be an option at this point -- and his recent resurgence at the plate, I'd be surprised if the O's decided to part with Reynolds. But, just like almost anyone on the roster, they should consider it if a team makes them a good offer, because while Reynolds is hitting much better at the plate, his bad defense takes away from his offensive value.

Koji Uehara/Jim Johnson

There's not a whole lot to say about Uehara and Johnson being included on this list. They are the two best relievers the O's have, and the O's should consider moving either one for the right price. My only concern would be that it may not be wise to trade both of them; after all, the rest of the bullpen is pretty bad. I'll also say that Uehara is a little better than Johnson, but Uehara also has a $4 million vesting option in 2012. Johnson, on the other hand, doesn't have a whole lot of service time, and he's still arbitration-eligible for the next couple years. That's worth mentioning.

Nick Markakis

Most fans still like Markakis. Heck, I like Markakis. But what I don't like is the production the O's are getting from their highest-paid player. The O's signed Markakis to a six-year, $66 million deal in 2009, and that deal is not looking so good right now. Markakis plays just about every game, which is impressive, but he hasn't impressed in some key areas at the plate, including his on-base and slugging percentages. He still hits plenty of line drives all over the field, but the O's are paying him to be a guy who gets on base much more and hits for more power.

More than anyone on this list, I'd be sad to see Markakis go. I still think there's a chance he regains some of his abilities at the plate and starts walking more and hitting more home runs, but if there's a chance to get some decent prospects in return and to also get rid of that contract, the O's should seriously consider taking it.


That's basically it. I'll guess that the O's make one or two moves, but probably not anything more than that. Hopefully that includes getting some talented pieces in return.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The O's still aren't developing younger players

The Orioles lost again last night, but that's not surprising considering how they've been playing lately. The loss included bad starting pitching, terrible relief pitching, and mediocre hitting -- all things that the O's excel at right now. (For what it's worth, Matt Wieters did steal a base [the first of his career], which is something that should never happen.)

It's hard to watch the O's at the moment for obvious reasons; it's never fun to tune in to watch your team lose night in and night out. But something that's even more troubling is an issue that has been plaguing the O's for more than a decade: They still aren't developing their young talent.

Let's take a look at O's players 27 years old and younger and how they're doing. Sure, 27 seems like an arbitrary number and isn't necessarily "young," but it's my list. Here they are, with hitters listed first, then pitchers.

Adam Jones: .283/.326/.457. Jones, who turns 26 on August 1, was having a very good season a few weeks ago before he started to slump a bit and his numbers took a tumble. Still, his numbers are still up slightly and he's on pace to have his best season in Baltimore. It's somewhat concerning that FanGraphs doesn't rate his defense very highly, and the same is true this season. I've wondered why Jones seems to make several fantastic, flashy plays but tends to have a few defensive lapses here and there and not always make the routine plays. I still think he's a pretty good center fielder, but he just may not be an elite one. The same can be said of his skills at the plate; he's not necessarily going to be an elite hitter, but he can be a productive hitter who isn't batting at the top of the lineup. Jones hasn't developed (yet) into a star, per se, but he's still one of the best young players the O's have.

Matt Wieters: .269/.319/.413. The 25-year-old Wieters, the lone O's All-Star this season, still seems to make many people angry because he's not hitting like Joe Mauer. Because of his pre-O's hype, many expected him to completely alter the entire franchise with his amazing abilities. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, but he's still an intriguing piece. Thanks to his .288/.340/.412 batting line in 385 plate appearances in his rookie year (2009), Wieters probably set the bar a little too high, too early. He hasn't been able to hit for that average or get on base that often since then, but he is hitting for as much power this season and has shown signs that he may be able to hit for even more. It is surprising that with his eye at the plate he doesn't walk more (6.7 BB% this season) -- though he did walk three times last night. While he still has work to do at the plate, Wieters has developed into one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. He's caught 24 of 54 runners (44.4 percent stolen base percentage), far and away the best among all qualified MLB catchers. (The next closest is Alex Avila, at 36.9 percent.) FanGraphs rates his defense the highest among all catchers as well, which is also a top reason why he's leading the O's with a WAR of 2.3.

Nick Markakis: .293/.339/.385. Markakis, 27, has been on fire over the last few weeks and has turned his season around. He's still not walking a ton or hitting for a whole lot of power, but he's been much better lately. Check out my recent post on Markakis for more analysis.

Nolan Reimold: .271/.362/.492. Reimold turns 28 in October, and the O's still have no idea if he's an everyday player or not. Buck Showalter obviously doesn't think too highly of him or else he wouldn't be mostly benching Reimold when a lefty isn't on the mound or pinch-hitting Felix Pie for him. I've written about Reimold plenty lately, so I don't have much more to say. But I will add this: I don't have much faith in the O's playing well in the second half of the season, but I do hope they give Reimold, and maybe some other younger players in Triple-A, some playing time that's being wasted on guys like Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee.

Mark Reynolds: .230/.350/.504. Like Markakis, Reynolds, who turns 28 in August, has turned it on lately and has been hitting the cover off the ball. Unlike Markakis, many of those hits have been home runs. I'm not sure if he's quite this good or not, but he's hitting for a lot of power and is getting on base. He also walks much more than anyone on the team, another valuable skill. Under Reynolds's current contract, he's due to make $7.5 million next season and has a club option for $11 million (with a $0.5 million buyout). Compared with someone like J.J. Hardy, who will likely be looking to cash in as a free agent, Reynolds is still under team control for at least one more season. There's value in that, especially if the O's want to deal him before the trade deadline. Unfortunately, Reynolds has been an absolutely terrible defender at third base this year, and he'll probably need to be moved to either 1B or DH. If the O's had a better option at third, it's possible that Reynolds would have already been moved across the infield to play first. But they don't, and that may play a part in the O's holding onto Reynolds instead of dealing him.

Felix Pie: .231/.244/.282. Pie, 26, probably isn't anything better than a fourth outfielder (if that). Sure, he doesn't receive consistent playing time, but he's never really showed the ability to hit or get on base. He has some value as a defensive replacement and a runner, but that's about it. Sorry, Felix.

Zach Britton: 3.47 ERA, 3.82 xFIP. At 23, Britton has taken over the role as the most promising pitcher on the O's roster. Britton has already thrown over 100 innings, so it's probable that the O's will limit the rookie's workload in the second half of the season. With the way the other young starters have pitched, Britton and Jeremy Guthrie are basically carrying the load right now. Britton (1.7) is second in WAR among all rookie pitchers behind Michael Pineda of the Mariners (2.5). Not bad at all.

Brian Matusz: 8.77 ERA, 5.06 xFIP. Matusz (24) is supposed to be in the O's rotation right now, providing another reliable starting option. Instead, he's back in Triple-A Norfolk after a frustrating, awful return from the disabled list. Much has been written about Matusz's reduced velocity, and it's possible that he's still hurt. But if he never recovers that velocity, he'll have to learn to pitch a new way. It won't be easy, but Matusz still has the secondary stuff to be an effective starter even without that low-90s fastball.

Jake Arrieta: 4.90 ERA, 4.33 xFIP. Like Matusz, the 25-year-old Arrieta has disappointed (though not as much). The frustrating thing about Arrieta is that he has the stuff to be effective, but he can't seem to find the strike zone consistently. He's walking 4.44 batters per nine, which is way too many. He walked four again last night in an ineffective outing against the Red Sox. And there's also a concern that Arrieta may have some kind of elbow injury. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this soon.

Chris Tillman: 4.69 ERA, 4.86 xFIP. There's not a whole lot to say about Tillman (23) right now. Tillman received 10 starts at the beginning of the season, and he pitched OK at times. His big issue, though, was his inability to stock around past the fifth inning, because he tends to throw lots of pitches each inning. When he was demoted, instead of returning to Norfolk and dominating Triple-A hitters in an effort to get back to Baltimore, he's still struggling, walking too many batters and not striking out enough either. I'll be surprised if he doesn't return to the O's at some point later in the season, but he has plenty left to prove. It's also worth mentioning that he's about four months younger than Britton.

Brason Berkensen: 5.90 ERA, 4.06 xFIP; 5.92 ERA, 4.39 xFIP. Jason Berken (27) and Brad Bergesen (turns 26 in September) aren't quite the same -- Bergesen is younger and probably a little better -- but I'm lumping them together because they're both pitching out of the bullpen and haven't been very good. Both have pitched well at times this year, but they're essentially the mop-up crew now (you could add Alfredo Simon to that group, too). Whenever the O's are down by more than a few runs, one of them is usually the guy the O's turn to to get through the next few innings. Sure, there's value in that if it's done properly, but I have a hard time believing that either guy will ever be effective over an entire season (especially in the AL East).


There's also a few guys in Norfolk -- Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell, Ryan Adams, Troy Patton, Matt Angle -- who have some promise, but that's not much to choose from. The goal all along was for the guys above to take the next step (or several steps) forward, but only a few have really done that.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

So the O's are not very good right now

I was considering writing something demonstrating just how bad the Orioles have been lately, but Dan Connolly went ahead and did just that this morning with a few numbers during the O's skid. Here they are:
6-17 – That’s the Orioles’ record in their last 23 games.

5.80 – The Orioles’ staff ERA in those 23 games.

1 – How many games the Orioles’ starter has lasted seven or more innings in their past 22 contests.

6.85 – That’s the Orioles’ starters ERA in those 22 games.


18 – The number of errors the Orioles have committed during the 6-17 skid.

14 – The number of consecutive games in which the Orioles have allowed four or more runs. That’s the worst for any team this season and longest for Orioles since 2001.

63-29 – The combined scores of the Orioles’ last nine games (eight losses). Yes, in case there was any doubt, they scored the 29.
The O's, now 36-48, also currently have the second-worst run differential (-80) in the majors. The only team they trail in that category is the Astros (-92).

And as if things couldn't get any worse, after losing five of six in Atlanta and Texas, the O's head to Boston to face the Red Sox for a four-game series right before the All-Star break (which can't come soon enough).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nolan Reimold vs. Felix Pie

Lately, Buck Showalter has gone a little overboard when it comes to overmanaging. He mostly does this with the bullpen, but another example presented itself last night. Trailing 5-4 in the top of the ninth, the Orioles had a runner on first with two outs and Nolan Reimold due up. Showalter decided to pinch-hit Felix Pie for Reimold; Pie then struck out to end the game.

So here's the question: Why pinch-hit Pie for Reimold? Simply to have Pie, a lefty, in to face the right-handed Craig Kimbrel? Does that really make much sense? Recently I looked at whether Reimold was some left-handed hitting specialist. He's not. So let's look at Reimold vs. Pie, both in general and against right-handed pitching.

Reimold vs. all: 603 PA, .263/.348/.442, 22 HR
Reimold vs. RH: 359 PA, .261/.343/.430, 13 HR

Pie vs. all: 991 PA, .253/.299/.381, 17 HR
Pie vs. RH: 815 PA, .267/.310/.404, 14 HR

So Reimold is both better against right-handed pitching and a much better hitter in general. Pie has some value for the O's -- defensively, and also as a runner late in games. But unless he's going to be used to hit in the pitcher's spot in NL ballparks or to pinch-hit for someone like Robert Andino when a righty is on the mound, that's really it. Pie should never replace someone like Reimold at the plate; choosing to do so doesn't make much sense at all.

Showalter does seem to like to play the right/lefty game a lot, and that had to be why Pie hit for Reimold. I'd really like to hear the rationale for such a move. I'm also hoping that Pie's higher batting average against right-handed pitching (.267 vs. Reimold's .261) wasn't the reason for the move. Maybe Showalter likes batting average -- who knows.

Basically, though, I'm growing tired of the O's refusing to make logical decisions. Most fans would rather see Reimold in the lineup every day instead of Vladimir Guerrero. Most fans would rather see Koji Uehara or Jim Johnson pitching in a critical situation rather than Kevin Gregg. And I'm starting to get the feeling that most fans would like to see Blake Davis get more playing time than Andino, even though Davis has only been on the major league club for a few weeks.

Overall, there isn't a whole lot that Showalter can do to change this club. He's not the one that put this roster together, and it's obvious that the O's need more talent in order to compete for an entire season. But micromanaging to the level of pinch-hitting Pie for Reimold is ridiculous. I'm sure that Showalter is trying to do everything in his power to end this current slide (2-8 in their last 10), but enough is enough.