Tagged: smith

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” of the Baltimore  Orioles

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The Good


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Unless you are a big fan
of the game, it was very easy to miss the minor move the Baltimore Orioles made
on Tuesday morning.  
Lou Montanez, a
Double-A outfielder, was called up to the Show (Anaheim, actually).  Montanez was it tearing up in Bowie (AA),
and was among the league leaders in many offensive categories:

 

In 116 games:

10th in
.OBP    (.385)

1st in HR            (26)

1st in RBI            (97)

1st in .SLG            (.601)

1st in .OPS            (.986)

1st in TB            (271)

 

More like the leader
in many offensive categories, but he fails to be the absolute best in getting
on base.  No matter, Montanez(pictured) really
earned this call-up.  He earned it way
more than
Chris Waters did, anyhow. 

montanez.jpeg

Who
would have thought Waters was so bad in AAA, with the way he pitched on
Tuesday?  Wow. 

 

Getting back to Montanez,
if you were really into baseball in 2000, you may recognize the name.  Lou was
drafted third overall by the Cubs
that year, but struggled with the organization throughout his whole
career.  He could get on base pretty
well, but the power never came, and that was his main asset because he wasn’t
very fast.   Finally, somehow, Montanez
found his power this year, his second year in the Baltimore system.  

 

Montanez wasn’t in the
starting lineup Tuesday, but I hope he’s a starter in Baltimore rest of the
year.  I really hope the Orioles don’t
act like the rest of this season means anything. 
Dave Trembley needs to realize that Jay Payton playing everyday over
Montanez would be complete idiocy. 
Montanez needs to play everyday. 
There’s no way around that fact. 
Trembley might be right if he said that Payton playing everyday would
mean the O’s could win three or four more games.  But how many games the Orioles win this year doesn’t matter.  Montanez could play a part in the Orioles
future.  Payton doesn’t. 

 

I hate it when a team that
is completely out of the playoff race, still is focused on winning that
year.  All the decisions made the rest
of that season should be made to benefit the future.  Mark Shapiro is a master of making those decisions. 
Ed Wade not so much.  The decision of who should start in center
for the Orioles is a perfect test on how smart management is.  I have confidence the Orioles will make the
right move and play Montanez, but if the same thing happened in Cincinnati,
Montanez would be on the bench.  Out all
of all the teams, I believe the Reds have the worst management.   I stand by my statement that Brian Sabean
is the worst GM in baseball, but the combination of manager Dusty Baker, GM
Walt Jocketty, and owner Bob Castelinni is extremely bad, just in the way they
all handle the club.

 

In other good news for the
Orioles, their High A club, the Frederick Keys no hit the Salem Avalanche. 
Brandon Erbe (7IP), Ryan Ouellette (1IP), and Freddy Deza (1IP) combined on the feat Tuesday.   I’m not going to pretend this news has that much meaning, but it
serves as a metaphor on how the Orioles are a bad team, but are intelligently
rebuilding.  The Astros are just as bad
of a team as the O’s, but decided against rebuilding.  Nice move Ed Wade.  Now
your farm system is stinking up a cloud.

 

The Bad

 

You’ve got to feel bad for
Hayden Penn(pictured) I mean his 2005 and 2006
call-ups were disastrous, but he was 20 and 21 years old then. 

penn.jpg

Now he’s a much better pitcher, and was
having a pretty fair season at AAA, but missed his first call-up because of
appendicitis.  Then, was scheduled to
get called up again, but suffered a freak injury when a sliver of broken bat
hit his leg.  So, in his place Chris
Waters made the start, and well, Waters will probably stay in Baltimore, to say
the least.  A 5.70 ERA in AAA? 
Then he gives up one hit in eight innings against the Angels?  Whatever works I
guess.  Penn must be frustrated at this
point.  I would be.   Plus, Penn has 2.28 ERA in his last four
starts. 

 

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I originally was inclined
to suggest that the Orioles should move
Dennis Sarfate (pictured) from the rotation
back to the bullpen. I thought the
switch was stupid because Sarfate had never started in the majors before, and I
really liked his future in the bullpen. 
But after I looked at his career statistics, I decided the O’s were not
that stupid.  When you’re a team like the
Orioles, you can afford to experiment. 
Sarfate put up good enough numbers as a starter in the minors, that I
think it’s worth a shot giving him a chance to come into the rotation for the
rest of the season.  Of course, we’ll
see how he does in his new role, but I believe a starter with 4.60 ERA is as
valuable as reliever with a 3.60 ERA.

 

The Ugly

 

We are now at “ugly”, so I
will start off by talking about the Orioles’ worst move this season.  The worst move was the move that was never
made.  Nobody was traded at the deadline!  Sherrill was not traded, Millar wasn’t
traded, Payton wasn’t traded, Bradford wasn’t traded, and Mora wasn’t
traded!  I understand that most of these
players (except Sherrill) were past their prime and getting overpaid, but all
that means is the Orioles can’t get as many or less coveted prospects.  If you read my previous entry “Sherrill Must
Go”, then you know why I felt the Orioles should get rid of Sherrill.  But Bradford, Mora, Millar and Payton also
should have been dealt for prospects. 
None of these players have any meaning for the Orioles in the future. 

 

Because of almacphail.jpgl these
player’s salaries, the prospects involved in the deal would not be
top-notc
h.  The deal would be simple,
though.  The more the Orioles pay of the
remaining money owed to the traded player, the better prospects Baltimore
acquires. For example, if Kevin Millar was traded to the Mets, and the Oriole
s
paid 70% of the money remaining on Millar’s contract, the O’s could acquire an
average AA level prospect like Shawn Bowman. 
But if the Orioles only paid 30% of the money, they would get a prospect
more like Jose Bierd, who’s in A bal
l.

 

Lastly, my biggest
question to Andy and Dave…why is Juan Castro with the club?  I mean you have an 36-year-old lifelong
utility infielder that has a .158 .OBP this year on your horrible rebuilding
team?  Look, I’m all for buying cheap
free agents and plugging them in holes so you don’t have to rush your prospects
to the bigs.  In you’re a rebuilding
team the last thing you want to do is rush your prospects.  But this is a different case.  

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In AAA Norfolk, Freddie
Bynum, Brandon Fahey, and Eider Torres all are being blocked in the majors by
whom?  Juan Castro?!  I would like to see Andy MacPhail speak with
Fahey, Bynum, and Torres, look them in the eye, and explain why Juan Castro is
better than all three of them.  I assure
you, calling up any of the three would not be labeled under “rushing
prospects”.  Any one of these players
could be with the Orioles as a utility men for the next five to six years.  We are not talking about Matt Wieters, but
these guys still play a part in the future. 
It’s stupid to let them play yet another year at AAA.  I have confidence that Bynum, Fahey, and
Torres will all be able to have their .OPS be higher than Castro’s .340.

 

I wrote about as many
different things concerning the Orioles, as the number of times Jerry Manuel
has walked to the mound in the 8th an 9th innings this
week.  Oh dear god, Jerry, just pick one
guy to close.  My pick would be Joe
Smith.  If Kunz can show he’s ready, I’d
turn to him because he’s the only real closer the Mets have.

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Oh, never mind about that
Chad Bradford comment.  He just got
traded to the Rays.  Great deal for both
clubs.  The Orioles acquired the always
valuable PTBNL.

bradford.jpg

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Oh by the way, milb.com is
having a poll on the best bubble photo. 
Here your choices:

Matt
Dominguez

West
Michigan Whitecaps Bullpen

Dustin
Martin

Vote on the milb.com
homepage in the lower right hand corner.  I voted Dustin Martin, but they are all so funny.

Them Pirates…..

    Dave Littlefield, former GM of the pitiful Pirates, is widely held responsible for the woe that is currently the Pirates.  Rajai Davis to the Giants for Matt(I’ll make you forget the overatedness of Jason Giambi when you see my salary) Morris?  Yeah that trade was bad.  Drafting Brian Bullington first overall instead of B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, or Jeff Franceour.  Even worse.  But hey, the Pirates aren’t completely screwed (see Giants).  In fact the Pirates actually have a nice problem in their outfield situation. 
   
    From a quick glance the Pirates outfield looks set for a while.  With Bay(29) in left, McLouth(26) in center, and Nady(29) in right, the Bucs look like their outfield is the one component of their team which they don’t need to focus on.  But in fact the outfield situation is probably the area of the Pirates Neil Huntington (GM of Pirates) needs to focus on the most.  The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen and Steven Pearce in AAA. 
   
    The case with Andrew McCutchen(pictured left)is simple, next year he will be the starting center fielder in Pittsburgh.  3zARcaIW.jpgSteven Pearce is a bit more difficult to predict because he has the ability to play left field, right field, and first base.  Obviously, all three of those positions are already occupied well in Pittsburgh by Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Adam LaRoche respectively.  Let me first start off by saying, although it doesn’t mean absolutely anything, the Adam LaRoche for Mike Gonzalez trade was horrible.  Adam LaRoche.jpgMike Gonzalez was, if not the best, one of the best closers in baseball, and why Bobby Cox put Bob Wickman in the closer spot over Gonzalez is another story.  Adam LaRoche for a top-notch closer?  Perhaps the Pirates could trade away LaRoche for a shortstop or third baseman. 
   
    In fact if I was GM, I would have traded Freddy Sanchez to the Rockies during the off season and gotten Ian Stewart(Third baseman) and Taylor Buchholz(reliever).  But that’s not going to happen, because #1. Freddy Sanchez.jpgFreddy Sanchez is horrible this year(.262 OBP, ugh) and #2. Buchholz has been dominant this year, even better than I thought he was going to be. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did, in my mind, set up this trade during the off season.  I’m not making it up right now because Sanchez is sucking and Buchholz is awesome.  Anyway let’s stop talking about if I was GM and start talking about what Neil Huntington should do. 
   
    I can’t lie to myself, Steven Pearce has been a huge disappointment in Indianapolis(AAA).  His numbers aren’t that bad, but (as I’m sure Steven knows) he really needs to play like he did last year in order for Huntington to consider either trading him or Bay, McLouth or Nady away.  Steven Pearce.jpgPearce had a good September call up last year, and really just blasted his way through every level of the Pirates from A+ to The Show.  A .321 OBP and nine home runs through 71 games in Triple A is not going to cut it.  You wonder why?  Not only was Steven Pearce good in Indianapolis last season, but he was good in Majors, and the only reason he didn’t start in the majors this year is, unfortunately for him, the outfield is the strongest component of the Bucs.  

    Nate McLouth in a perfect world is a right fielder.  A starting right fielder?  For now, I say yes but that could change.  The high OBP isn’t as surprising as the power numbers
 to me.  Nate McLouth.jpgHis OBP has been increasing every year as he becomes a more polished player.  The power perplexes me, and that isn’t a good thing.  Usually when something is perplexing to many people it isn’t a good sign for the future.  Or could it be as simple as playing everyday, Nate’s swing has developed and that is the reason why the once 14-homers-a-season guy has turned into a 32-homers-a-season guy. 

    If the Pirates should have Andrew McCutchen in center and Nate McLouth in right, then that leaves the question of who do you trade?  Jason Bay or Xavier Nady?  It would have been a no brainer a couple of years ago, but both are 29 years old and Bay maybe has more of an upside but Bay’s been playing worse every year since 2005.  Nady since becoming a full fledged starter since being traded for Oliver Perez, has been getting considerably better.  A GM’s gut may still tell him to take Bay, but let’s just compare stats since 2004.

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Jason Bay    Age:29      2008 Salary: $6 million
                          G       AB        H       HR   RBI      BB      SO     SB   CS  OBP     SLG

2004 PIT 120 411 116 26 82 41 129 4 6 .358 .550
2005 PIT 162 599 183 32 101 95 142 21 1 .402 .559
2006 PIT 159 570 163 35 109 102 156 11 2 .396 .532
2007 PIT 145 538 133 21 84 59 141 4 1 .327 .418
2008 PIT 74 269 76 15 40 49 60 6 0 .393 .524

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Xavier Nady   Age:29      2008 Salary: $3,350,000

Year   Team       G      AB      H      HR      RBI      BB   SO   SB   CS   .OBP   .SLG
2004   SD          34     77       19      3         9         5      13    0      0     .321     .416
2005   SD          124   326      99     13       43        22    67    2      1     .301     .439
2006   NYM-PIT 130   468     131     17       63        30    85    3      3     .337     .453
2007   PIT         125   431     120     20       72        23   101   3      1     .330      .476 
2008   PIT          66    245      77      10      49         21   43     1      0     .376     .510

     Salary is another interesting factor in this discussion.  There is no clear cut answer on who’s the better player, so you may just take the guy who makes over $2 million less.  If I’m the GM of another team looking to make a deal with Pittsburgh, I would rather acquire Nady, even if I thought Bay was the slightly better player, which I do. 

    Another issue the Pirates need to address is why they are not trading away Jack Wilson(30) or Freddy Sanchez(30).  Would you be surprised if I told you that Freddy Sanchez is older than Jack Wilson?  Sanchez, in fact, is eight days older than Jack Wilson.  Sanchez has created the illusion of being younger than he is, by having a breakout year (2006) at the age of 28, which is basically the prime of your career.  But, since most people had not heard of him, it gave the impression that he was an up-and-coming ballplayer.  I understand the reasoning of them not planning on trading away Adam LaRoche, because he is still a young position player and would be good fit for that team if played the way he did in 2006.   On the other hand both Wilson and Sanchez are getting past their prime, but still could be considered starting players.  One would say that since third base, shortstop, and second base are weakest positions throughout the Pirates organization, you can’t trade away the starters at your major league level, but do you seriously care when you’re in the Pirates situation?  You’re not winning with Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez so trade them away before Sanchez proves he’s a bust and before teams start seeing Jack Wilson as a poor man’s old Omar Vizquel.  Wilson could create interests with numerous teams like the Rays(Jason Bartlett is not a starter), Orioles(neither is Alex Cintron), or Cardinals(we’ll see how good Brendan Ryan really is). Jack Wilson.jpgSome teams are seeing Jack Wilson as a great utility guy and other teams are thinking of him as a starting shortstop. In any case, I think it would be intriguing to let Josh Wilson be the starting shortstop if Jack Wilson somehow moves.  Josh was a guy thought to be a true hitter coming up with the Rockies, but has been blocked by others everywhere he has gone and has struggled in a utility position.  In AAA so far he has a .358 .OBP with four dingers in 68 games. 

    Before the season started, Sanchez’s value would have been much higher, but come on Sanchez’s season has been horrendous and I am not really sure how much the Pirates could get for him, but Sanchez needs to be traded at this year’s deadline, period.  Teams like the White Sox, Cubs, or Indians could trade away some good middle infield prospect away.  Just throwing out some feasible trades in my mind.  Freddy Sanchez to the Cubs for Michael Wuertz, Ronny Cedeno and/or Marquez Smith.  Freddy Sanchez to the Indians for Jensen Lewis, and Wes Hodges(the Indians probably won’t let Hodges get away, so perhaps the Pirates could get Jared Goedert and Josh Rodriguez instead).

    Well, I’m finally done venting, and frankly after using three days to write this post, I’m sick of the Pirates.  I’m done writing about them, unless of course they actually do trade somebody in which case I will analyze it right here on District Boy.  When people say that I’m only thirteen and am spending so much time on studying baseball and I’m obsessed with it, I think this is what they mean(spending three days writing about a team that I don’t care the least about, yet do it anyway because, well…………

    I think I’ll cover the Giants next entry.  (Warning – If you are a fan of Brian Sabean stay away from this blog for at least a week)