Archive for May, 2011

Rollin' With Nolan

May 27, 2011

I can’t take credit for that slogan.  The first person I saw use it was @QweenofDiamonds on twitter (who blogs on the O’s at the awesome I Hate JJ Redick). I’m happy to jump on board though. As any long-time reader knows, we are 100% Team Reimold here at the Nest.

While Nolan had a fielding gaffe in the Royals’ 4-run second inning yesterday, he more than made up for it with his bat, going 4-for-4, with two home runs, 4 RBI, a walk, and scoring two runs in yesterday’s 6-5 win.

Watch his whole day here.

In 11 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Norfolk, Reimold is already half way to the team lead in dingers (currently 6) with three. He also has six RBI, and is slugging a ridiculous 1.455.

Now, obviously Nolan won’t keep up his torrid pace. However, even if he matches his 2009 production of .279/.466/.831 with 15 HR, the year has to be considered a success.  After his terrible 2010 – and very mediocre time at Norfolk through two months this year – many were beginning to worry that 2009 was indeed a fluke. While he’ll need to remain on the MLB club for the rest of the season and continue to produce if he wants to truly put those fears to rest, Reimold’s first few days of action with the O’s have been extremely encouraging.

He should be in the lineup every day – if that means less at bats for Felix Pie, it’s a trade off I’m willing to make. If it means Vlad Guerrero and/or Luke Scott are dealt – that’s also acceptable.

Let’s keep Rollin’ with Nolan. Give him a chance to prove he really belongs…or doesn’t.

I’ll be cheering – loudly – for the former.


SWEEP! .500!!

May 27, 2011

May 26, and the O’s are at .500, thanks to some late inning heroics by Vlad Guerrero and Robert Andino (no thanks to Luke Scott or Matt Wieters).

And of course, Nolan Reimold – but he deserves his own post a bit later today.

Brian Roberts Out for 3 Weeks; Who Bats Leadoff?

May 25, 2011

Once again, the Birds are faced with the reality of life without their leadoff hitter, Brian Roberts. While hopefully his absence will not be nearly as prolonged as it was in 2010, when he played just 59 games, Roberts is out for at least the next three weeks due to concussion-like symptoms.

This leaves the O’s in the unenviable position of needing to replace their man at the top of the order for the foreseeable future. While it is true that the “leadoff hitter” really only comes up once per game – the first time through the lineup – it is still a crucial spot in the order, one that sets the table for the 2, 3, and 4 hitters. Roberts is a prototypical leadoff hitter – one that has extended at bats, gets on base at a high rate, and can steal bases.

For his career, Roberts has a .281 batting average and gets on base at a .353 clip while slugging .416. He has stolen 274 bases and been caught 67 times (80%). From 2007-2010, Brian averaged 4.12 pitches seen per plate appearance. His numbers were down in 2011 (.221/.273/.331, 6/7 stealing. 3.85 P/PA), but he was showing signs of getting it together in May.

Looking at the current roster, the Birds really have nobody that compares to Brian.

Nonetheless, somebody has to hit first. Who might the O’s try? Let’s look at the options:

Felix Pie

Of the six games that Roberts has missed so far, Pie has hit leadoff in three of them. In his two-plus years in B’More, Pie has a batting average of just .268, a lowly on-base percentage of .309, and a .416 slugging %. He has stolen only seven bases, while being caught five times (58%). This year, he is at .250/.250/.304. That’s right, he has yet to draw a single walk in 64 plate appearances. During his time in B’More, Pie averages just 3.43 pitches per plate appearance.

Pie has speed, but that’s about it. Not nearly the eye or plate discipline to be a viable leadoff hitter.


Robert Andino

Andino has hit leadoff in the other three games that Roberts has been out. Robert has managed a .246/.310/.326 line during his two-plus years in Charm City. He has six steals, and has been caught four times (60%). In 2011, despite a hot start, Andino has cooled off to the tune of .264/.368/.319. He has walked 14 times in 108 plate appearances. The utility infielder averages 3.67 pitches per plate appearance since he came to the O’s.

Based on these numbers, Andino is a better option than Pie for the leadoff spot.

However, I have another candidate I wish Buck Showalter would consider.

Nick Markakis

Nicky Mark has never hit leadoff (that I know of – feel free to correct me), but I think he would be a great candidate to replace Roberts short-term. He is a career .295/.365/.456 hitter, with 47 steals in 74 attempts (73%). He has never developed into the 20+ home run guy that many of us envisioned he would, but Markakis has great gap power, as evidenced by his 40+ doubles in four straight seasons.

Obviously, Nick has been in a funk in 2011, managing just a .259/.325/.346 line, with only four doubles so far. I blame this partly on my observation that Nick seems to be hacking a lot more than normal. This is backed up by his P/PA, which is at its lowest since his rookie season (3.71 in 2011, career 3.85, 2010 – 4.04).

Perhaps moving Nick into a spot in the order where there is more pressure for him to get on base – as opposed to drive in runs, as in the 3-slot – would get him back to his old self of seeing a lot of pitches and taking counts deeper. His career walk rate is 9.7%, but that number is down to just 7.3% this season.

J.J. Hardy

A dark-horse candidate I’ve heard thrown out there by some on talk radio is Hardy. J.J. has a career line of .262/.323/.423. While not much of a base stealing threat (6/13 career), his OBP and career walk rate (8.1%) make him worth a look.

He has only 77 PA so far in 2011, during which he has been at .239/.316/.403. Surprisingly, his career P/PA is higher than even Nick’s, at 3.88.

Let’s compare:

Based on the point values in the chart above, the ranking would go like this:

Markakis: 17 points
Roberts: 16 points
Hardy: 9 points
Andino: 5 points
Pie: 5 points

While it could be obviously stated that yes, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis are clearly superior baseball players to Felix Pie and Robert Andino, I tried to choose metrics that most closely matched what I want in my leadoff hitter. With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and give the nod to Andino over Pie based on his superior OBP and P/PA (in 2011 specifically, not necessarily since being in Baltimore as shown above).

Given the options of Andino and Pie, my vote is for Robert Andino.

Still, I’d much rather see Buck give Nicky Mark a shot at the top of the order. Hardy would be my second choice. After Nick, it could go like this:

Jones – CF
Wieters (next highest OBP on the team after Andino) – C
Vlad – DH
Luke – 1B
Reynolds – 3B
Reimold/Pie – LF
Andino – 2B
Hardy – SS

What do you think? Who should assume Brian Roberts’ leadoff duties in his absence?

Derrick Mason Disagrees with Ray Lewis on Crime Increase

May 24, 2011

Today, 27 Ravens gathered at Towson University to hold a players’ practice. Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun, comes a video from this morning of Ravens’ WR Derrick Mason addressing some comments that Ray Lewis (who was not present at Towson) made to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Lewis predicted that crime will increase if there is no NFL football this fall.

Mason disagreed, calling that stance “pure arrogance.”

Here’s D-Mase:

The confusing part here is that Mason seems to be addressing what fans may potentially do, while I got the feeling that Ray’s comments were more directed to stadium workers who may depend…$()#()%FJKLDSTLKH

Ugh. I can’t.

I just can’t.

I cannot force myself to be interested in these things.

Consider this your daily reminder that the stupid G*D DAMN LOCKOUT IS STILL ON.

Please, football, come back.

Ed Reed:"Don't Throw it." :: Matt Wieters:"Don't Run."

May 23, 2011

For those of you who didn’t do so hot on the English portion of your SAT’s, all I’m saying with that title is that Ed Reed is to “Don’t Throw the football,” as Matt Wieters is now to “Don’t Try to Steal a Base.”

In case you forgot, here’s a segment from NFL Network with Mr. Reed from 2008 where he implores opposing quarterbacks and coordinators to not throw the ball when he is on the field.

Teams have learned to not throw it – or at least throw it to the other side – when #20 is on the field for the Ravens.

In much the same way, opposing MLB teams are going to quickly learn to not attempt to steal bases when the O’s have #32 behind the plate. Wieters caught two more Nationals on Sunday (including for the final out of the game), and has now thrown out 14 of 28 attempted base stealers.

Most times with Wieters, it’s not even close, with the opposing baserunner not even in the screen yet when the camera pans back and J.J. Hardy or Brian Roberts collect the throw. There was no doubt on either of Washington’s runners yesterday. Earlier this month, he threw out the great Ichiro by a country mile.

Only Kurt Suzuki of the A’s is close to Wieters among catches that have a similar number of opportunities.  Oakland’s backstop has caught 18 and allowed 19 steals (48%). In addition to Suzuki, only the Giants’ Buster Posey (15) and the Tigers’ Alex Avila (14) have as many CS as Wieters, but they have allowed 24 and 23 steals, respectively, and are thus throwing out only 38% of attempted runners.

Even St. Louis’ Yadier Molina, one of the game’s premiere “don’t run on him” catchers, is just 7/22 (32%) in 2011.

Thirty percent is considered “very good” in MLB circles.  Wieters is at 50.

Hey, baseball: Don’t run. Just don’t do it.

O's Embarrass, then Redeem, Themselves, Take 2 of 3 from Gnats

May 23, 2011

The weekend started off quite horribly in Birdland.

While a sweep of the lowly Nationals didn’t seem like too much to ask for after frustrating losses at the hands of the Yankees and Red Sox, any hopes of a 3-win weekend were quickly dashed Friday night. Washington set new team records by scoring 17 runs and bashing six home runs off the beleaguered O’s pitching staff.

Jake Arrieta gave up 6 in just 3.2.

Jason Berken provided absolutely zero relief, giving up six of his own in just a single inning of work.

Clay Rapada had the best night, surrendering only one run over 1.1 innings.

Kevin Gregg and Mike Gonzalez were…well, Kevin Gregg and Mike Gonzalez, each allowing two runs, in two and one innings, respectively.

The 17-5 beating came right on the heels of Thursday’s 13-2 whooping at the hands of the Yankees, giving the Birds a glorious two-day run of 30-7 baseball.

Fortunately, Saturday and Sunday would be better, as the O’s rebounded to take 2/3 from Washington.

Saturday, Jeremy Guthrie finally got some run support as the Birds won easily, 8-3. Sunday was more tense, but a two-run bomb from Vlad Guerrero in the bottom of the 7th proved to be just enough, as B’More came away with a 2-1 victory.

So at least the team can have a small sense of the warm-and-fuzzies heading into today’s off day.

On the bright side, Brian Matusz may possibly return to the rotation this week (yay!). Unfortunately, the other Brian (Roberts) is out indefinitely with headaches (boo!).

The Birds close out the month with games against Kansas City at the Yard, then in Oakland and Seattle. All three of those teams are sub-.500 at the moment, so let’s hope we can have a little feast outside of the east.

Teixeira: O's Offer was Lowest "By Far"

May 18, 2011

In an interview with B The Site published today, Mark Teixeria talks about Baltimore, his free agent courting, and crab cakes. The most interesting part of the interview, for me, was this (emphasis mine):

Baltimore fans accused you of turning your back when you signed with the Yankees in ’09. Has that relationship improved with time?

I’m a Baltimore guy. I’ve always loved Baltimore and always will love Baltimore, but baseball is baseball, and when you’re playing on the opposing team, you’re going to get booed. The day I stop getting booed in opposing parks, I’m probably on the bench and not playing that well. At the same time, it’s unfortunate that some Oriole fans take it personal that I didn’t sign with the Orioles. Of the five offers I received, the Orioles were by far the lowest offer and I don’t know if they were ever that serious about signing me. We had one meeting and that was it. I’m not sure if they were ever very interested.

So, as much as we hate Teixeira around these parts nowadays (if he wasn’t going to sign with the O’s, could he at least have signed with ANYBODY else besides Boston or New York?), our suspicions that the O’s “offer” to him was nothing but a bone thrown to the fans was pretty much confirmed today.  That bone allowed Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail to say “hey, we tried,” while, of course, not trying at all.

The O’s never had any intention of bringing Mark home.

Good thing they didn’t sign him. That money is going to much better use in the bank accounts of the likes of Garrett Atkins, Michael Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, and Vlad Guerrero, right?

Sorry to open up old wounds here. I’ll of course still boo Teixeria as lustily as ever, as I’m sure you will too. Just don’t forget who the real villains are here – the nincompoops in the Warehouse.

BuLOLpen Blows 6-0 Lead, .500

May 17, 2011

Last night, the O’s held a 6-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox, with just 12 outs standing between them and a .500 record in mid-May.

Fans of other teams who stumble upon this post may scoff at the use of the .500 barometer as something to strive for, but hey…we’re O’s fans. We’ve been beaten down by 13 straight years of sub-.500 baseball, and at this point it’s really all we hope for.

Since falling below .500 for a second time on May 2, then dropping to a season-high 5-games below .500 on May 8, many here in Birdland didn’t expect to see that “hallowed ground” until Opening Day 2012 and 0-0.

So when last night, the Birds jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Red Sux after five innings, we could all just smell .500 – to be honest, it smelled kind of mediocre, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s good enough for us!

Unfortunately, starter Chris Tillman’s back stiffened up after five shutout – shaky, but shutout nonetheless – innings, and Buck was forced to turn things over to the bullpen.

Or, as I’ve taken to calling them, the buLOLpen.

Of the six (!) relievers the O’s called upon over the game’s final 3 1/3 innings, four of them gave up at least one run.

Six pitchers. Ten outs. Ten hits. Eight runs.


Though the O’s managed to “hold off” the Sux in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, never allowing the game to become tied, O’s fans everywhere knew that there was only one way this game could end.

With a Kevin Gregg blown save.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened.

Adding insult to injury, it happened in the most Kevin Gregg-esque of ways as well.

After retiring leadoff hitter Jason Varitek (on a fly ball to the warning track, no less), Gregg proceeded to walk each of the next two batters, the fastest guys on the team not named Crawford. Following those free passes to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez smacked one off the ‘monstah and that was all she wrote.

Add another to list of late-inning collapses against the Red Sox, and the O’s are now – again – a small winning streak away from that .500 milestone.

De facto ace Zach Britton takes the hill tonight against Tim Wakefield to try to get said winning streak underway.

Ahhhhh, Birdland.

Britton Throws 9 Scoreless, O's Sweep Away M's in 12th

May 13, 2011

Orioles rookie phenom lefty Zach Britton had his best outing to date (which is saying something) last night, pitching nine innings of 3-hit shutout ball. Britton issued zero walks and had five strikeouts in his dazzling performance.

So, complete game shutout right?


The O’s bats were also stifled by Seattle lefty Jason Vargas, who threw nine scoreless to match Britton.

Two pitchers both pitching 9 scoreless innings? Quite a memorable night at the yard.  It was just the third time that had happened in MLB since 2000.

It was a shame that the Birds were unable to get Britton the W, which would have been his sixth of the young season, but at least they were able to come away with the win at all.

Jim Johnson allowed the Mariners to put up the game’s first run in the top of the 12th, and it looked like the O’s were going to completely waste Britton’s outing.  However, just like Tuesday night, all it took was falling behind – and Seattle bringing in closer Brandon League – to wake up the Birds’ bats.

Helped along by back-to-back HBP’s from League issued to Vlad Guerrero and Adam Jones, the O’s loaded the bases with none out.  Matt Wieters scorched a liner right at the Seattle shortstop, just missing his second walk-off in three nights.

J.J. Hardy would not be denied though, smacking one right back up the middle, past the M’s drawn-in infield and scoring Derrek Lee and Jake Fox.

Britton remains at 5-2, but his 2.42 ERA and 52.0 innings pitched (8 starts) are both tops on the team.

Though they managed only six runs combined the last two nights, the O’s pulled off their first home sweep of Seattle since 2005. The series gave us two of the stranger games we are likely to see all season, but the good news is that the Birds came out on the winning end of each.

The O’s (17-19) can get back to .500 if they can extend their winning streak to five games.  They begin a weekend series with Tampa (who they are playing for the third time already, and still have yet to play Toronto – stupid) as Jeremy vs. Jeremy (Guthrie vs. Hellickson) is featured for the second time in less than a week. If Guthrie wants to keep up with Britton (at least on the IP scale), he’ll need to pitch 8+ innings – this is Guthrie’s 8th start, and he has pitched 44.0 innings so far.

Counterpoint: Mark Reynolds is NOT Garrett Atkins

May 12, 2011

Yesterday, I posted Lookalike: Mark Reynolds Edition, in which I said that the O’s new third baseman is nothing more than a blond-haired Garrett Atkins.

Kevin over at Eutaw Street Hooligans took exception to the comparison, and penned a rebuttal on his site, which I am reposting in its entirety below.

(Caution: Language)

The Mark Reynolds – Garrett Atkins Comparisons Should End

Raise your hand if you were jumping for joy when we signed Garrett Atkins last year.

Ok.  No one.

Now raise your hand if you were jumping for joy when we traded for Mark Reynolds.

Hmm.  No one.  Well this guy.  Most of you were just nodding your heads slightly in approval.  A tempered optimism.  How could you have more than that?  All you heard for the next 5 months was “200 strike outs” and “strike out king” (whoops, we were guilty of that one too).

So Mark is struggling and there are plenty of theories why.  A new league.  Lingering affects from injury last year.  An overhaul in approach to appease the strikeout cry babies.  The reason doesn’t matter.  He’s struggling.

Now here are the reasons he and Garrett Atkins are not the same:

Garrett Atkins was signed as a free agent at 30 years old.

Garrett Atkins was never a big home run guy.  His best year was 29 HR’s.  Mark, is a home run guy.  He’s an Adam Dunn type.  Swing your balls off and hit it a fucking mile.  Mark, with injuries and missed time last year, still hit 32 HR’s.  His best was 44.  That’s big power.  So complaining about strikeouts and average is kind of like complaining to a shark when it eats your stupid ass for swimming on his turf.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Garrett Atkins was a solid offensive player, in his prime.  He got on base,  he hit for some power,  BUT NOT A BIG HOME RUN GUY.  Besides Mark has 3 already this year in 10 less plate appearances that Atkins ended with and he only had 1. Atkins was also pretty clearly a product of Coors Field, like so many before him. Atkins sported a .875 OPS at home vs. a .728 away. Atkins was coming off a full year where he OPS’d a .650 (64 OPS+ ?!?!?!), at Coors fucking Field. That followed a 2008 where he put up a .780 (96 OPS+). Atkins trends were alarming, especially for someone who really only had one good season and another decent one in his career. Garret Atkins was clearly a fluke one hit wonder in 2006 with some scary downward trends while entering his 30s. It was a recipe for disaster and pretty much everyone saw it coming. Mark Reynolds had a down year last year, but his bad year was still a .753 OPS (98 OPS+). Reynolds was actually a decent hitter for most of last season too. He has admitted that he stupidly tried to play through a hand injury in September/Oct and during that month he put up a .291 OPS in 18 games, destroying his end of season numbers. He was one year removed from a year in which he went .892 (127 OPS+) and received MVP votes. In fact, his OPS for his first 4 seasons had been .843, .779, .892, .753. He had nothing even resembling the trend Atkins had before he came to Baltimore.

Mark’s defense had been trending upwards and he had posted a positive UZR/150 for the first time in his young career.

Some recent developments last night about Mark’s attitude should also not go unnoticed.  I’m not saying Garrett didn’t have a good attitude but Mark has the “want to”.  See here.  Here.

This is all just the icing on the proverbial cake.   The obvious answer as to why Mark Reynolds is not Garrett Atkins:  Reynolds is 27, and he was brought here to play a totally different fucking position.

Ok.  We’ve made our peace.  Proceed spreading misinformation out of frustration, tired, beleaguered Orioles fan base.