Archive for November, 2012

Stop asking Jim Johnson about starting

November 28, 2012

I think we can finally put the “Would Jim Johnson make a good starting pitcher?” questions to bed for good.

Johnson, who set an Orioles record with 51 saves last season, has been quoted in the past as saying he would like to be a starter. It’s been a topic of discussion for several years, with even the great Jim Palmer endorsing J.J. as a starter on several occasions.

However, it appears as if it’s time to accept that “Nails” is going to be comfortably occupying the closer’s role in Baltimore, and is no longer staring longingly at the starting rotation.

Johnson was on 105.7 The Fan this afternoon with Bob Haynie and Mark Zinno, and was none too happy when Zinno began a question with “You’ve said – on this show and elsewhere – that you’d like to be a starter…”

J.J. was immediately heard mumbling something. When Zinno stopped his question to ask Jim what he said, J.J. replied with a gruff “I thought we were done with these questions.”

Things got awkward for just a split second, as Zinno quickly moved on to his next question.

However, the interview only got worse.

Later on, after Haynie asked J.J. about the Toronto Blue Jays’ blockbuster trade (Johnson admitted that he wasn’t 100% sure which players changed teams), Zinno asked Johnson about the Orioles’ record in one-run and extra inning games in 2012. The O’s, of course, were phenomenal in those types of games, and Zinno’s question revolved around how the team could “bridge the gap” and reach the postseason again without having to win a historical amount of games by the skin of their teeth.

J.J.’s reply? (And I’m paraphrasing)

“Man, you  guys are really catching me off guard here. I didn’t know [the interview] was going to be like this.”

After the interview wrapped up, Zinno stood by his questions. Personally, I see nothing wrong with either question.

However, be warned radio and podcast hosts – stop asking Jim Johnson about starting.

Here’s the link to listen to the interview: http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2012/11/29/orioles-closer-jim-johnson-gets-mad/

 

Showalter loses out on Manager of the Year

November 14, 2012

Despite pulling a moribund franchise from the depths of a 15-year losing streak and coming within one game of the American League Championship series, despite reversing a 69-93 record to 93-69, despite putting together the best record in one-run and extra inning games in recent memory, apparently O’s skipper Buck Showalter did NOT do enough to win the American League Manager of the Year award, according to the Baseball Writers of America.

Idiots.

Now, I’m not saying that Oakland manager Bob Melvin wasn’t a deserving candidate; he absolutely was. Melvin took a team that was supposed to finish at the bottom of the American League West and led them to a division title, a season culminating in a sweep of the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers in the final series to give the A’s their first AL West crown since 2006.

It’s just that Buck did MORE.

If the Yankees had tanked down the stretch like the Rangers did, instead of very impressively holding off the surging Orioles over the final month, maybe the AL East crown would have been enough to push Buck over the top. Still, the O’s made it just as far (Game 5 of the ALDS) in the playoffs as the A’s did, and just like the A’s, they had to beat Texas to get there (in the O’s case, the one-game Wild Card playoff, which was played in Texas, as opposed to the final OAK-TEX series, played in Oakland).

It was the A’s fifth postseason berth since 2000, and fifth since the Birds last finished .500 or better. Oakland has made a science out of getting a lot out of a little – hell, they just had a movie made about them doing just that (Moneyball, as opposed to the much more awesome but also much more fake BUCKYBALL).

A’s GM Billy Beane is the real hero in Oakland. Buck has pretty much single-handedly changed the culture in Baltimore since arriving in midseason 2010. While Dan Duquette did his part to finally give Buck some pieces to work with (an aside – Buck getting snubbed makes me even more angry that Duquette didn’t garner even a single vote for MLB Executive of the Year), where would the O’s be if they had instead hired Eric Wedge or Bobby Valentine (ughhhh) instead of Showalter?

Again – no disrespect to Mr. Melvin.

This was Buck’s award though.

I guess if the O’s want any respect from these national media a-holes, there’s only one thing left to do, Buck. (caution: language)

This fake Orioles movie needs to be a real thing

November 6, 2012

For the last several weeks, our friends over at Baltimore Sports Report have been doing a very fun little exercise where they choose the cast for “Buckyball: A True Underdog Story” (like Dodgeball), a movie that documents the Baltimore Orioles’ amazing 2012 season.

Some of the cast they have chosen include: Will Smith as Adam Jones, Neil Patrick Harris as Nate McLouth, Ben Affleck as Jim Johnson, and Buck Showalter as himself (because, come on…who could really do Buck justice?)

Anyway, there are now two fake trailers for this fake movie, and they are both amazing in their own right. The first is sure to give any O’s fan chills, while the second one is more likely to leave you with one of those huge goofy grins that I can’t stop referring to every time I look back upon this season.

Oh, and the second one also featured a surprise appearance by our very own Goob, so it got extra points in my book.

Check them out below:

O's pick up Ayala's option, decline Reynolds's

November 1, 2012

Yesterday, the Orioles made one contract move, as they exercised their $1 million option for right handed reliever Luis Ayala. Ayala – his inherited runner track record aside – was damn impressive out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.64 ERA in 66 appearances.

However, it was the option that the club declined that has Birdland all atwitter today.

In a move that was widely expected, the club opted not to pick up the $11 million option on first baseman Mark Reynolds.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the 29-year old wont be back in 2013. In fact, Mark would prefer to stay.

“I love playing in Baltimore. I have a lot of friends on the team. I love playing for Buck and I love being in the city. Hopefully, I’m in a win-win situation here so that if they do want me back, hopefully we can work something out and I’ll be back playing for Buck and the O’s.”

The team can either take Reynolds to arbitration, or non-tender him and attempt to sign him as a free agent to a new contract. However, as Eduardo Encina points out, that may be risky if they really do want to keep him.

Reynolds said Wednesday he’d have to test the waters if he was non-tendered, and even though I believe Reynolds is true in saying he likes playing in Baltimore, allowing him to become a free agent is a risk.

The first baseman free-agent crop isn’t great. Carlos Lee is 36. Carlos Pena is 34. Both are coming off horrid seasons. James Loney’s stock has fallen dramatically.

Adam LaRoche, coming off a Gold Glove season in which he hit a career-high 33 homers, will be the cream of the first-base crop if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nationals. Nick Swisher can play first, but he figures to get a multiyear deal and he might not be a fit for the Orioles’ clubhouse.

So Reynolds might be one of the best available first basemen in the free-agent market, especially now that he’s established himself defensively at the position. While there aren’t too many teams looking for first basemen, the Orioles might be forced to offer a multi-year deal to retain Reynolds if they allow him to go on the market.

Personally, I’d like to see the team bring Reynolds back. While some fans (and I count myself in this group sometimes in the heat of the moment during games) pull their hair out over his strikeouts, the fact remains that even this season – a down year for him power-wise – he still led the team in walks and had the second highest OBP of any regular (.335 to Nick Markakis’s .363).

For a team that struggles mightily to get on base – the Birds were 11th in the AL in OBP – and whose GM is an OBP guy, jettisoning one of the few guys on your squad who knows how to take a walk probably isn’t the best way to improve.

And if Mark is serious about wanting to say in Baltimore, I think we have to assume that he’s finally let go of his whole “I still want to play third base” thing, right? With Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy (sporting his first Gold Glove), the team is set on the left side of the infield.

And as well as Reynolds played at first this season, one has to think that he’ll only get better.

So, Mark Reynolds – come on back at say, $7-9 million per year for 3 seasons?

I’ll take it.

Plus, how can you not love this guy? (0:34)


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