Archive for March, 2009

Who is Going to Pitch for this Team?!

March 26, 2009

With opening day just a bit over a week away, the Orioles’ starting rotation is just as murky as it was when spring training began.  Going into camp, we knew pretty much exactly what we know now:  Jeremy Guthrie would be the Opening Day starter, Koji Uehara would hopefully chisel himself out a spot, and the rest was basically a crapshoot, hoping that somebody, ANYBODY would step up and claim those remaining 3 openings.

Well, NOBODY has, in case you haven’t noticed.  The O’s famously (or infamously) invited 37 pitchers to Spring Training, and they still can’t hammer out 5 starting pitchers.  Let’s take a look at the ineptitude that the bunch has produced so far…


Now, attempt to choose 3 from that mediocrity-defining list, and you certainly don’t envy the position manager Dave Trembley is in.  So far this week, he has stated that Pauley and Baez are both out of the running.  Bergeson was ruled out as of last weekend.  Hill has had some injury issues since he showed up, and hasn’t seen any live action aside from an intrasquad game yesterday, in which he got roughed up to the tune of 3 R, 2 H, 1 BB, and 2 HBP in 2.0 innings.

Penn, Eaton, Hendrickson, Simon, and Bass are the 5 left standing to try to seize one of the 3 openings.   This O’s fan would love to see Hayden Penn step up and become the solid major league starter that we all thought he could be back as a 20-year-old wonderkid, before freak injuries and bad luck conspired against him.  Penn should be handed one of the starting spots, and given “one last chance” to prove himself, and justify the amount of time and money the O’s have spent on him.  If he still can’t perform, then the time will have come to “cut bait” with Hayden.

Adam Eaton is pretty much a joke.  When I told “Phillies fan” that the O’s had picked him up, he could barely contain his laughter.  Although the Phils are still eating much of his “worst contract in baseball,” the Eaton pick-up still reeks of desperation by the O’s.

The same can be said for Mark Hendrickson, a 7-year veteran who is a sorry 50-63 with a 5.07 ERA in his career.

Alfredo Simon was intriguing, but regressed this week.  His chances are looking like slim and none, with slim warming up the car.

The guys that have been paying closer attention to the team this spring than I admittedly have seem to agree that Bass will be in the rotation come the start of the season.  Bass, 27, started 4 games for the O’s last summer after coming over from Minnesota.  He gave up 21 hits in 14 innings, struck out 13 and had an ERA of 4.71.

As for Guthrie and Uehara, well…let’s just say I’d be a lot more comfortable with those 2 as our #2-3 starters, instead of 1-2.  Alas, that is not the orange world in which we live.

Guthrie had an awful go of it representing Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, allowing 6 runs and 14 hits in just 3.2 innings, prompting the O’s to ask Jeremy to come back a little early from the festivities.  He wasn’t extremely happy with the team for that, reports indicate, but both sides seem eager to move forward and get JG ready for the Yankees on April 6.  Let’s hope they can do just that, as Guthrie is the ONLY established, consistent MLB starter on this roster.

Uehara has been promisingly solid in the ST games,  striking out 12 while walking only 3 in just 7.2 innings of work in his 3 starts.

On the bright side, the O’s look to be very solid out of the bullpen once again.  Chris Ray’s return has been very impressive, as he is yet to allow a single run in his 8.1 innings this Spring.  If Jim Johnson and George Sherrill can regain their 2008 forms, innings 7, 8, and 9 could be lights out in Baltimore.

However, you have to get through those first 7 innings.  As good as the bullpen has the potential to be, it looks like there is just as much potential for them to be worn out by Memorial Day, unless some competent starting arms emerge.

I hope I’m not coming across as “too negative,” as some O’s fans tend to label anybody who is critical of the team.  Don’t get me wrong; I am just as excited about the offensive potential of this team moving forward as the drunkest orange kool-aid connoisseur.

Markakais, Jones, and Weiters?  Sounds great to me.

But until the “cavalry” (as some have labeled them) of Matusz, Arrieta, and Tillman arrive, who is going to pitch for this team?  There were plenty of proven veteran free agent starters on the market this winter, and I can’t for the life of me understand how the O’s settled on Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson over, say, Derek Lowe and John Garland.

Anyway, like the rest of you, I’m going to be watching – hoping (but not hopeful) for the best.


Ravens Add Tight End L.J. Smith

March 18, 2009

The Ravens added some depth to the tight end position today, signing former Eagle L.J. Smith to a 1-year deal reportedly worth $1.5 million.

Smith, a Rutgers alum, spent his first 6 seasons in Philadelphia.  His best season was in 2005, when he caught 61 passes for 682 yards.  That was also the only time in his career he started all 16 games.  He averaged only 3 touchdowns per season over his time in Philly, which is pretty unimpressive when you think about it.  The Eagles have been a pass-heavy team for as long as anybody can remember, and their problems with finding consistently productive wide receivers mirror those of the Ravens.

Smith joins Todd Heap, Quinn Sypniewski, and Edgar Jones as Ravens’ tight ends.

Eagles fan” had this to say about Smith: “His initials actually stand for ‘Loser, Jerk, Shithead.’ He whined about wanting out of Philly in 2007, when the team was struggling.  Who did he think he was?  A guy who never caught more than 5 TDs in a season, or went for more than 700 yards, and he’s acting like some prima donna WR.  A real class act you guys got on your hands there.  I’d expect Harbaugh to know better.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement…but Welcome to B’More, L.J.!

Secondary Shuffle

March 16, 2009

The Ravens’ secondary continues its’ massive off-season facelift.  The team and CB Samari Rolle have mutually agreed to part ways, with the Ravens expected to grant Rolle his release on Monday.  The writing was pretty much on the wall for Samari, 32, when Dominique Foxworth signed a few weeks back.  Rolle started every game in 2005 and 2006 for the Ravens, but had some injury/illness issues over the past 2 seasons, during which he started only 6 and 10 games, respectively.  Rolle had 8 interceptions as a Raven.

Not missing a beat, the Ravens added CB depth over the weekend with the signing of former Tennessee Titan Chris Carr.  According to the Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley, Carr could compete for the nickel back position with Frank Walker.  His forte is returning kicks though, as evidenced by his 4th-overall ranking in kickoff returns last season.  Carr was also 12th in the league in punt return average.  The flashy, but wildly inconsistent, Yamon Figurs is likely out of a job.

So, to sum up the shuffling secondary:

Ravens’ CB depth chart, opening day, 2008:

  1. Chris McAlister
  2. Samari Rolle
  3. Corey Ivy/Frank Walker/Fabian Washington

Ravens’ CB depth chart, opening day, 2009 (projected):

  1. Fabian Washington
  2. Dominique Foxworth
  3. Chris Carr/Frank Walker

Ray Gon' Retire a Raven

March 5, 2009

In addition to the Matt Birk signing last night, the Ravens also agreed to terms with free agent Ray Lewis.  I say “in addition,” because as of yesterday afternoon, I was honestly more interested in what Birk was going to do with the Ravens’ offer than with what Ray-Ray was thinking.

Ray will retire a Raven now, having agreed (in principle) to a 3 year deal worth $22.5 million.  This would appear, on the surface, to be lower than the original 3 year/$24 million offer that the Ravens reportedly had on the table a few weeks ago.  Ray’s agent, David Dunn, though, is denying that such an offer ever existed.  So either he was lying last week in trying to up the ante on Ray, or he is lying now.  No matter.  The only thing he should be having a chance to lie on any time soon is his resume, as Ray should waste no time in kicking him to the curb.

Presumably, it was Dunn who was giving Ray advice lately, having him talk up every team in the NFL EXCEPT the Ravens, and never once say that he actually wanted to come back to B’More.  All that advice managed to do was embarrass Ray when he couldn’t get even a sniff from the other 31 teams in the league, alienate many of his fans in the one city that could ever truly love him, and land him right back in Baltimore with his tail between his legs.

“The bottom line” (tip ‘o the cap to #52):

  • Ray Lewis is going to finish his career in Baltimore, which is exactly the way things should be
  • Once Ray shimmies out of that tunnel next season and makes a few tackles, all will be forgiven by his fans
  • Lewis proved, once again, that the only thing he is really any good at is playing football.  Not business and certainly not public relations.  (Surely Ape will be happy to remind us of something else Ray is “supposedly” good at)

Welcome back, Ray.

Matt Birk Only Wears Purple

March 4, 2009 and WNST are reporting that the Ravens have agreed to terms with veteran center Matt Birk.

Birk, entering his 12th season out of Harvard, had played his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings up to this point.  He will be 33 years old when the 2009 season starts.

Birk has made 6 Pro Bowls in his career (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) and has also been an All-Pro twice (2000, 2003).

We were pretty bitter about losing Jason Brown in free agency, but the addition of Matt Birk is actually an upgrade at the position, albeit a short-term one.  If Birk can stay healthy (he started every game for the past 3 seasons) he will give the Ravens’ young offensive line some much needed veteran leadership, as well as buy the front office some time to address the position long-term.

Once again, the Oz man does not let us down.

Free Agency Update: Leonhard Agrees with Jets

March 3, 2009

Jim Leonhard has verbally agreed on a deal with the New York Jets, AKA the Baltimore Ravens North.

Still no news on the Ray Lewis front…