Tag:Baltimore Orioles
Posted on: July 29, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 6:40 pm
 

Padres acquire Miguel Tejada from Baltimore

The streaking San Diego Padres, with the National League's best record, have acquired Baltimore infielder Miguel Tejada in rookie general manager Jed Hoyer's first big July trade deadline deal.

The Padres, who sent Double-A right-hander Wynn Pelzer to the Orioles, hope Tejada will help strengthen both their offense and their middle infield. He is expected to play shortstop upon joining the club as long as David Eckstein (calf) is on the disabled list and Jerry Hairston Jr. is playing second base.

Tejada, 36, is owed a little more than $2 million for the remainder of 2010. The Orioles will send an undisclosed amount of cash to the Padres to help cover that.

The 2002 American League Most Valuable Player was hitting .269 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 97 games for the Orioles this season. Though he was playing third base for the Orioles, the Padres view him as more of a utilityman who will play some short, some third and even some outfield. Basically, a player who will give manager Bud Black more options.

Eckstein went onto the disabled list with a right calf strain July 21, and Black indicated Wednesday that he may not be quite ready to return when he is eligible on Aug. 5.

"The degree of the strain shouldn't keep him out for a prolonged period of time," Black said. "We're going to make sure David goes through all of the right steps to come back."

Eckstein is hitting .279 with a .326 on-base percentage and is statistically the most difficult regular to strike out in the National League.

Jerry Hairston Jr., who had been getting starts at shortstop, has been playing second base in Eckstein's absence. But that means Cabrera, who is hitting just .201 with a .270 on-base percentage, is getting more regular time at short and is not faring well under the daily grind.

Because of that, the Padres shifted their priorities from acquiring a starting pitcher and/or an outfielder to middle infield.

"Jed's trying like heck," one source said of general manager Hoyer's efforts during his first July trade deadline as the man in charge.

The Padres, who continue to own the best record in the NL, rank only 14th in the league with a .252 batting average and 14th with a .377 slugging percentage. However, they are hitting .276 with runners in scoring position.

Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:58 pm
 

Padres talking Tejada with Orioles

With sparkplug second baseman David Eckstein disabled and young shortstop Everth Cabrera looking lost, the first-place San Diego Padres have sharpened their focus to acquiring a middle infielder before the July 31 trade deadline.

Their chief target appears to be Baltimore's veteran Miguel Tejada, a player they think could both help their offense and relieve some of the current stress on the infield. But the Orioles are fielding inquiries from other clubs on Tejada as well -- among others, they've talked with Philadelphia and St. Louis -- and the Padres might not have the goods to complete the deal.

Eckstein went onto the disabled list with a right calf strain July 21, and Padres manager Bud Black indicated Wednesday that he may not be quite ready to return when he is eligible on Aug. 5.

"The degree of the strain shouldn't keep him out for a prolonged period of time," Black said. "We're going to make sure David goes through all of the right steps to come back."

Eckstein is hitting .279 with a .326 on-base percentage and is statistically the most difficult regular to strike out in the National League.

Jerry Hairston Jr., who had been getting starts at shortstop, has been playing second base in Eckstein's absence. But that means Cabrera, who is hitting just .201 with a .270 on-base percentage, is getting more regular time at short and is not faring well under the daily grind.

Because of that, the Padres have shifted their priorities from acquiring a starting pitcher and/or an outfielder to middle infield.

"Jed's trying like heck," one source said of general manager Jed Hoyer's efforts during his first July trade deadline as the man in charge.

The Padres, who continue to own the best record in the NL, rank only 14th in the league with a .252 batting average and 14th with a .377 slugging percentage. However, they are hitting .276 with runners in scoring position.

Tejada, 36, is hitting .269 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 97 games for the Orioles this season. Though he's playing third base, the Padres think he could return to his shortstop roots for some games here and there -- particularly until Eckstein returns and Hairston Jr. is freed up to return to short. The Padres also think he could play some outfield.

Tejada is owed roughly $2 million for the rest of 2010 and, if the Orioles do move him, probably will cost the acquiring team a mid-level prospect.

Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:59 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2010 6:06 pm
 

Short Hops: Bullpens reaching critical mass

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

 Where legendary manager/raconteur Casey Stengel once groused, "Can't anybody here play this game?", Dave Trembley (Baltimore), A.J. Hinch (Arizona), Trey Hillman (Kansas City), Ron Washington (Texas), Lou Piniella (Cubs) and Fredi Gonzalez (Florida) are among the skippers anguishing through today's modern translation: "Can't anybody here pitch in the late innings?"

Nearly three weeks in, and bullpens in each of those places range from blown up to still-smoldering. While the issues and problems are disparate, there are a couple of things in play here.

One, as Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher suggests, some relievers are still attempting to settle into the regular season's erratic workload after pitching regularly scheduled stints throughout spring training.

Two, the spectacular number of blown saves in Baltimore (two conversions in six opportunities), Texas (two in five) and Kansas City (four in nine) add grist to the argument against rigidly locking your closer into the ninth innings. Sometimes, the eighth inning is the game-changer. Sometimes it's the seventh.

"The way the bullpen sets up today, you've got a closer for the seventh inning, a closer for the eighth inning and a closer for the ninth inning," Butcher says.

So, given the nature of specialty bullpens, in an era when there are no Goose Gossage-style closers who can get seven or eight outs, maybe what's needed is less managing-by-the-book and more imagination. Maybe if the Royals, for example, summoned Joakim Soria sooner rather than later, they wouldn't have suffered four of their first five losses in games in which they led in the seventh inning.

In Texas, Frank Francisco has been removed as closer in favor of Neftali Feliz. In Baltimore, Mike Gonzalez, who blew save opportunities on both opening day and in the Orioles' home opener, went to the disabled list with a shoulder strain (and in his place, Jim Johnson has blown two of three save opportunities).

The 2-14 Orioles have lost five games in which they've led in the eighth inning or later. Texas has lost four such games. Kansas City starters already have been cost five wins because of blown saves (including two each for Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister), while Arizona, Milwaukee, Florida and Cubs' starters have lost four victories to blown saves.

The Diamondbacks suffered back-to-back walk-off losses on April 15 (Blaine Boyer, at Los Angeles) and April 16 (Juan Rodriguez, at San Diego). Then, Arizona's pen was hammered for five ninth-inning St. Louis runs Wednesday in what at the time was a tied game.

The Cubs' plight caused Lou Piniella to move erstwhile ace Carlos Zambrano from the rotation to eighth-inning set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol in an absolutely stunning move of desperation. Through Tuesday, the Cubs had surrendered 16 eighth-inning runs, a major-league high. They also had allowed 32 runs in the seventh and eighth innings combined, also the most in the majors.

"A vast majority of these games are decided in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings," Piniella explained -- as opposed to, say, the first-through-sixth innings, when Zambrano (and Greinke and Dan Haren and Kevin Millwood) usually is on the mound.

This continues, some brave manager -- Washington with Feliz? Gonzalez with Leo Nunez? -- is going to call on his closer to protect a one-run lead in the eighth instead of the ninth, out of self-defense if nothing else. And maybe that will be the start of a new -- and welcome -- trend.
 Biggest culprits in blowing up opposing bullpens? Detroit this season has caused a whopping seven blown saves, while the Dodgers have caused six. Though, as manager Jim Leyland noted Thursday in Anaheim, it would make life far easier for the Tigers if they'd start scoring on starting pitchers.

 Regarding the scorched-earth pen in Texas, the Rangers already have lost five games they've led in the seventh inning or later this year. Last year, they lost only six of those games over their 162-game schedule.

 Baltimore hitters with runners in scoring position: A big-league worst .155 (17-for-110). And .103 (6-for-58) with RISP and two out.

 Chad Billingsley has a 7.07 ERA lodged in his throat after surrendering seven runs and seven hits to Cincinnati on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Joe Torre says it looks like the pitcher has confidence issues and Billingsley says his confidence is fine. Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Billingsley had command issues, Billingsley said he didn't. And in other news, the Dodgers say the earth is round and Billingsley says it's flat. This all had better get worked out, pronto.

 The suddenly reeling Giants, who went from 7-2 to getting swept by the Padres, face contenders St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado in a homestand beginning Friday and are perfectly set up for the Cards: Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain are lined up to start.

 The Twins, according to sources, had what they viewed as a workable deal to acquire Padres closer Heath Bell after Joe Nathan was hurt this spring but veered away because they were nervous over character issues. Bell's outspoken manner at times can grate on teammates.

 When is this guy going to get some work? Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton has converted his only save opportunity this season, and though he's only appeared in six of 15 games, one scout who has watched him this year and in spring training raves about him. "Mariano Rivera still sets the bar, but Jonathan Broxton right now is every bit as good," the scout says. "I saw him this spring and I've seen him this year, and je just comes in pumping strikes at 96 miles an hour."

 Glad to see baseball came to grips with Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's hoodie. Now let's move on to the maple bat issue before somebody gets decapitated.

 Sure wish Milton Bradley would quit giving everybody so much material. Now the Chicago landlord who sued Bradley for $44,000 in unpaid rent over the winter alleges that Bradley also caused $13,900 in damage to the condo with wine, food, juice and coffee stains as well as paint stains.

 One thing I neglected to mention last week while reviewing the Twins' superb new Target Field: The excellent touches extend all the way to the crew responsible for the in-game music, especially the inspired choices of playing clips of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive during key moments for the Twins in the late innings and Bruce Springsteen's Long Walk Home after losses.

 Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker may have a crack pinch-running candidate in-house and not even know it: Congratulations to Reds media relations guru Rob Butcher, who sets the bar in his day job, for not only completing the Boston Marathon on Monday but for doing so in 3:24:59. That's 7:49 per mile!


Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:29 am
 

Even the schedule working against Orioles

Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.

That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.

The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).

That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.

Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.

The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.

At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.

A couple of other early scheduling observations:

-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.

-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.

-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.

-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).

Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.

Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready

Posted on: March 5, 2010 12:02 pm
 

Orioles' spring move long time coming

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Have you gotten a housewarming gift for the Orioles, who are happily ensconced in their new spring training home?

Manager Dave Trembley has: Early-spring baserunning drills.

Anybody who watched the Orioles last season knows they too often ran the bases as if they were blindfolded and suffering from vertigo.

But here's the key: The Orioles' early-spring schooling on the bases is not just a reaction to that. The early drills are made possible because of the upgrade to a real, live, major league spring training facility.

In Fort Lauderdale, where the O's trained the past 16 years, even something as simple as baserunning drills wasn't always possible.

"What we've done the last couple of springs, situational hitting, baserunning and bunting, we'd do it at the end of the spring," Trembley says. "This year, we're doing it at the beginning for two reasons: One, they needed to be emphasized, for obvious reasons. And two, with these facilities, we can do those things now.

"We've got four full fields, plus the stadium. We've got a half-field.

"We can run a major-league spring training the way it should be run."

That the Baltimore Orioles, who were a textbook model for fundamentals for so long through the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, were in such a shoddy facility in Fort Lauderdale for 16 years is unimaginable -- an inexcusable.

Among other things, the O's weight room in Lauderdale was a tent in the parking lot.

And while the big-leaguers trained there, their minor-leaguers were a three-hour drive away, in Sarasota.

Now, everyone is together. And making it better, the Orioles now will be able to use Sarasota as their year-round base for things like sending injured players down for rehabilitation.

"Huge upgrade," says president Andy MacPhail, who has been working toward upgrading the Orioles' spring facilities since taking the job in 2007. "In terms of travel, facilities, coming to a community that has had spring training baseball since 1929.

"They've embraced us early. This will be better in any form you can imagine."

Sunblock Day? Not exactly. The sun is shining, but let's just say this: The Twins pushed their workout back an hour this morning, from 9 to 10, because of predicted early-morning temperatures of 39 degrees.

Likes: Boston's City of Palms Park sold out Thursday night despite temperatures in the 40s. Not surprised. ... Akinori Iwamura in a Pirates uniform. Stylish as ever. ... Former catcher Matt Walbeck, one of the game's good guys, managing Double-A Altoona in the Pirates' system this year. ... Nino's Italian restaurant in Fort Myers, Fla., hasn't lost its fastball. Great chicken parmigiana the other night. ... And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the ribs at Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue joint in Tampa the other night. ... The Oscars are Sunday and one thing completely slipped past me until this week: I had no idea that author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) was up for best adapted screenplay for An Education. Hornby is terrific. Haven't yet caught up to his latest book, Juliet, Naked -- it's in the stack of books I've got at home, waiting to be read.

Dislikes: Mets' shortstop Jose Reyes shut down because of concerns over his thyroid levels? And he'll return to New York for tests? Lordy, Lordy, the Mets just don't quit with this health stuff, do they? ... Speaking of which, neither does Nick Johnson. Scratched from the Yankees' lineup Thursday with a stiff lower back, and he says the problem came when he wore spikes instead of turf shoes on the mat in the batting cage. Good luck with this move, Yankees.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
"To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
"And all around me a voice was sounding:
"This land was made for you and me.
"When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
"And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
"As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
"This land was made for you and me.
"As I went walking I saw a sign there
"And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
"But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
"That side was made for you and me."

-- Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land

Posted on: March 3, 2010 4:33 pm
 

Tryin' to reason with exhibition schedule season

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The changing spring training landscape is presenting some clubs with scheduling dilemmas, not the least of which is teams which already face divisional rivals 18 or 19 times a summer because of the unbalanced schedule facing those clubs even more in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.

In Florida, with Baltimore having moved to the Gulf Coast side (Sarasota) from Fort Lauderdale, all five AL East clubs are within a two-hour drive of each other. Tampa Bay is just down the road in Port Charlotte, the Red Sox are a little further down the road in Fort Myers and the Yankees and Blue Jays not far north in the Tampa area.

Result: Tampa Bay is scheduled to play AL East foes in 16 of 31 Grapefruit League games. The Orioles play AL East rivals in 15 of 32 games. And so on.

The Dodgers' move to the Cactus League last spring made for more NL West spring matchups. In Vero Beach, Fla., the Dodgers didn't see any of their NL West rivals all spring. This year, Los Angeles plays NL West opponents in eight of 28 Cactus League games.

Aside from the simple fact that you get bored playing the same teams over and over, are there advantages to seeing divisional rivals so often in the spring? Disadvantages?

"There are two schools of thought on that," Baltimore president and general manager Andy MacPhail says. "One, is that you need to hide, or camouflage, what you have. The other is that what you're afraid of letting your opponent see, you get the same benefit with your opponent.

"There's probably some validity to both points of view."

The Yankees, for example, could pitch Joba Chamberlain in a 'B' game one day this spring rather than against Boston, thus not allowing Red Sox hitters the luxury of seeing Joba until the meaningful games begin. Or they could shuttle Joba into a minor-league game.

There was the spring in Arizona several years ago when Curt Schilling did just that, facing either the White Sox in each of his spring starts or the Diamondbacks minor-leaguers. His preference was to not reveal anything to the Rockies, Giants or Padres until he had to.

Meantime, the defections of the Orioles and Dodgers from Florida's East Coast has made the Cardinals and Marlins (Jupiter) and Mets (Port St. Lucie) adjust travel plans. That trio must play each other more often, and make a couple of extra trips north to face the Nationals (Viera).

It's that, or hike clear across the state, or way up to the Orlando area.

Sunblock Day? Technically, because the sun is out. But the game-time temp for Baltimore's first-ever game here in Sarasota today was 54 degrees, with a howling wind making it feel like high 40s or low 50s.

Likes: Thanks to Johnny Damon for playing along when I hit him with this quiz on Detroit and Michigan the other day. Not everybody would have been such a good sport. ... Thanks also to the Jefferson High School track team in Tampa, which graciously shared its facilities with me the other afternoon when I actually got outside for one of my few outdoor runs over the past couple of weeks in this chilly state. Jefferson, by the way, is the alma mater of Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. ... Great line in Baseball Prospectus in comparing the struggles of the Orioles, Expos and Brewers in its 2010 edition: "The Expos were a ward of the state, while the Brewers were a ward of the Selig family, and in both cases, the clubs were the baseball equivalent of inmates in dire Dickensian orphanages." ... In the tweet world, it will be hard to top one of Dave O'Brien's from several days ago. O'Brien, who does a great job covering the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted something about closer Billy Wagner's "flannel shirt." Only he dropped the "r" in shirt. Fairly soon after came another tweet from O'Brien, explaining that's what happens sometimes when you're trying to work the keyboard on a cell phone.

Dislikes: Jay McGwire. What a sleaze. Can you get any lower than writing a book to cash in on your brother's name? Jay and Mark apparently are estranged. This oughta keep them that way. ... Watched the monologue of Jay Leno's return to late night Monday. It was even lamer than his monologues used to be. David Letterman remains the king in my book, and Conan O'Brien got jobbed.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The senioritas don't care-o
"When there's no dinero"

-- Zac Brown Band, Toes

 

Posted on: December 9, 2009 8:22 pm
 

Orioles could become players on Hideki Matsui

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Orioles, in the market for another starting pitcher, a closer, a corner infielder and a middle-of-the-lineup bat, could become a serious player for designated hitter Hideki Matsui depending on how things play out there with the Yankees and where Matsui might turn next.

"I don't think there's any question he's still a productive hitter," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said Wednesday night. "He showed us that this postseason.

"We have positions to fill."

Baltimore's first priorities are to find another starter, a closer and a corner infielder, but after that. ...

"It's always possible," MacPhail said. "We're looking for a middle of the order bat.

"[He's] somebody who's on our board. We have a great deal of admiration and respect for how he plays the game."

Posted on: December 9, 2009 4:23 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2009 7:14 pm
 

Texas sends Millwood to Orioles for Ray

INDIANAPOLIS -- In a deal that allows Texas to clear salary off its books and Baltimore the chance to add the veteran starting pitcher it wants, the Rangers have agreed to send right-hander Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for pitcher Chris Ray, CBSSports.com has learned.

The key to the deal is the Orioles agreeing to pick up "a significant portion" of Millwood's $12 million 2010 salary. The deal, in the final stages of being formalized, will be announced early Wednesday evening.

Millwood, 35, was 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA over 31 starts for the Rangers in 2009. He worked 198 2/3 innings and, in to the Rangers' credit, once they were eliminated in September, they did not pull the plug trying to limit his innings pitched. At 180, his 2010 option for $12 million automatically vested.

While the players' union certainly would have barked, the Rangers, who have been hovering on the brink of financial crisis since early last season, could have worked toward preventing that.

The Orioles were looking for a veteran starter to anchor a 2010 rotation that is expected to include youngsters Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and likely Brad Bergesen or David Hernandez.

And with the market setting up for pitchers after Brad Penny ($7.5 million base salary with incentives that could bump that up to $9 million with St. Louis), Randy Wolf ($29.75 million over three years with Milwaukee) and Andy Pettitte ($12 million over one year) all signed this week, Millwood looks like a bargain for the Orioles.

Ray was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in 46 relief appearances for the Orioles in 2009. A 27-year-old right-hander, Ray missed the 2008 season following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com