Tag:Baltimore Orioles
Posted on: October 2, 2009 7:05 pm
 

Orioles do right thing with Trembley

Good for the Orioles.

They have a plan, and they're sticking with it. Even in the face of a horrendous finish to the season, punctuated by the 13-game losing streak and the fact that, on Sunday, they will finish with the worst record in the American League.

They could have taken the easy way out and tossed manager Dave Trembley to the sharks. Instead, they announced Friday that they will bring him back for 2010.

Trembley essentially was handed a thankless job this summer, which everyone knew was going to be a year of transition for the Orioles. Young players like catcher Matt Wieters and a flock of young pitchers were on the way. Veterans such as Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff were on the way out.

President Andy MacPhail asked Trembley and his staff to be patient. Change doesn't happen easily, or overnight. It's a bumpy ride when veterans become short-timers. And so it was in Baltimore.

Huff didn't run out ground balls no matter how many times the coaches spoke with him about it. A horrible example for the next generation of O's.

Mora hit the roof and blasted Trembley late in the season when he learned his name was not in the lineup one day -- and would be missing periodically after that. An unwinnable situation for any manager, especially one that does not have the collateral of winning seasons to draw from.

The Orioles traded Huff to Detroit. Mora turned out to be unmovable.

Meantime, MacPhail shipped closer George Sherrill to the Dodgers. Adam Eaton was released because, well, he pitched like Adam Eaton. There were many other moves and changes, but those aren't important.

What is important is this: The Orioles knew they were not going to win in 2009. They knew it would be a season of transition.

What they need more than anything is to not keep changing directions every other year.
Under MacPhail, a clear path is in place. And despite the ugly second half, that plan appears to be progressing more quickly than expected.

For one thing, this spring, pitching phenoms Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz were not expected to pitch in the majors at all this summer. But they progressed rapidly on the farm.

And now, Tillman, Matusz, Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Daniel Hernandez, Adam Jones ... the Orioles' commitment to youth, re-commitment to the draft and sharpening of their focus in Latin America is beginning to pay dividends.

Nobody was going to win with the O's this year -- not Trembley, not Earl Weaver, not Connie Mack.

But Trembley has gained the respect of his young players -- forget the Moras -- and managed through tremendous upheaval in a war between cultures inside the Orioles clubhouse.

That he was able to do that with grace and class says a lot about him.

That the Orioles are standing by him, after he stood by them, speaks volumes about their direction for the future.

Likes: Last three games of indoor baseball in Minnesota this weekend. ... The playoffs next week. ... Angels vs. Boston is turning into quite an October tradition, isn't it? Don't know if it's Notre Dame vs. USC yet, but it's getting there. ... My cable company adding the Big Ten Network as a high-definition channel. Ah, just in time for Michigan-Michigan State.

Dislikes: Lots of chatter about Padres general manager Kevin Towers' status in San Diego, and not all good. He's signed through 2010, though new chief operating officer Jeff Moorad is leaving open questions as to whether Towers will be back. Given the magic Towers has worked in turning what was going to be the majors' worst team this year into a club that's surpassed respectable over these last two months, Moorad not only should bring him back, but extend his contract. ... Anything to do with stories about Ted Williams' frozen head. ... Tried another new television show the past two weeks, and thumbs down to Community. Disappointing, too, given that a couple of critics I read liked it.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You don't need a penny just to hang around
"But if you've got a nickel, won't you lay your money down?
"Over on the corner, there's a happy noise
"People come from all around to watch the magic boy"

-- Creedence Clearwater Revival, Down on the Corner

Posted on: August 27, 2009 7:32 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2009 1:55 pm
 

The Orioles' rinse cycle

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley planned to do his laundry when the club arrived home around 4 a.m. Thursday following an overnight flight from Minnesota. Between "wash" and "spin", he figured he'd read the scouting report on the Cleveland Indians in preparation for the opener of this weekend's series later that night.

It's not that the skipper is that much on edge, even though his contract status remains uncertain for 2010 and the sliding Orioles are only 12-25 since the All-Star break. Rather, Trembley simply is a stickler for detail and routine. And the first thing he does when he returns from a trip is the laundry, no matter what time he arrives. It gives him a sense of order.

He needs all the order he can get right now because, at this moment, life would be difficult enough for the Orioles if all they had to worry about were the growing pains of top prospects like catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Nolan Reimold and pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jason Berken and David Hernandez.

But that's not all they have to worry about.

There comes a point in any youth movement where the cultural change causes the inevitable friction, and preventing the jaded players from poisoning the newcomers is not a job for the faint of heart.

They had Aubrey Huff behaving as if running to first base was a three-day event (they traded him to Detroit).

They've got veteran Melvin Mora's toxic attitude (contract up this year, praise be, with a 2010 option that has as much chance of being picked up as Boog Powell does of batting cleanup for the O's next summer).

And they've got veteran Felix Pie, who has all the talent in the world while retaining the baseball acumen of an aardvark. He made two crucial -- and elementary -- baserunning mistakes in Tuesday night's game in the Metrodome that helped cost the O's a victory.

This is not a good baserunning team in general, despite the Orioles spending extra time on the skill this spring. Trembley called Pie into his office to discuss the miscues before the series finale Wednesday, one of which came when Pie was doubled off of second base when Justin Morneau caught a foul ball in front of Baltimore's dugout. Pie thought catcher Joe Mauer had made the catch and then fell into the dugout. But instead of waiting for the umpire to tell him to advance to the next base -- the rule for when a player falls into the dugout while making a catch -- Pie started jogging on his own.

Out.

"You don't have a little sound piece in somebody's helmet out there," Trembley said. "Base running is an instinct, base running is anticipation, base running is the score, the situation, the number of outs, how important is my run and who's on deck. It's all instincts. The coach doesn't tell you when to go and when to stop. It's too late. When you're out there playing the game, you're on your own. All of that stuff is predetermined.

"I take full responsibility, but the player should be accountable. What am I going to tell Felix Pie (Tuesday) night when he's at second base and there's a fould ball right in front of the dugout? Do you think you're invisible? Come on."

The Orioles knew they would have to be patient this summer while waiting for their prospects to ripen (though Pie, acquired from the Cubs earlier this summer, does not fall under the "prospects" umbrella and was not around during all of those spring drills). They've funneled millions into the farm system and into a Dominican Republic academy since the arrival of Andy MacPhail as club president, but there's no substitute for time.

The biggest surprise this year is that pitchers like Tillman and Matusz weren't ticketed for the bigs until 2010. But injuries conspired to move up that timetable. MacPhail says he's satisfied with the development of many of the prospects and that things are moving forward. That doesn't make the losses easier to tolerate, though, and the learning curve will only steepen in September when the baby Birds face stretch run games in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

But there is no other way.

"We're not winning in this division by taking shortcuts," MacPhail says. "It takes time, energy and the resources to do it right. We're not going to slide by in this division. We have to have a good nucleus of young talent."

Finally, the Orioles have a pretty good start in that direction. Wieters, Matusz, Tillman, Fernandez. ...

"You really [lean on] a lot of people," MacPhail said of the evaluation process and making the call on when the prospects are ready to taste the majors. "The manager, your minor-league development people, and you make the best judgment call you can.

"Fortunately, at this point, none of them has given us any indication that they have to go back."

Given what he's had to work with, neither has Trembley. But with the clock ticking and the losses mounting, his future seems more and more uncertain.

Posted on: July 30, 2009 4:31 pm
 

O's Sherrill headed to Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are close to scooping up the bullpen help they were looking for with a deal in place to acquire acquiring closer George Sherrill from Baltimore, CBSSports.com has confirmed. The Orioles are expected to receive two prospects, third baseman Josh Bell and right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson.

The deal is pending medicals and some other details and, assuming everything checks out, it is expected to be announced later Thursday afternoon or evening.

With Jonathan Broxton closing, Sherrill likely with slide in as a set-up man for the Dodgers. At the very least, it gives the Dodgers both depth and options. Sherrill and Broxton could share the closer's role, and the duo gives the Dodgers insurance against injury as well.

The move not only beefs up Joe Torre's relief corps this year, but gives the Dodgers a nice bullpen piece next year as well. Sherrill is not eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season.

In 42 appearances this year for the Orioles, Sherrill has 20 saves and a 2.40 ERA.

Posted on: July 30, 2009 2:26 pm
 

Sherrill, Bell talks continue

The demand for relief pitchers continues to produce a seller's market, with San Diego closer Heath Bell and Baltimore closer George Sherrill among those receiving plenty of interest as Friday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trade deadline approaches.

The Orioles continue to field offers on Sherrill, with "seven or eight" clubs involved, according to CBSSports.com sources. Both Los Angeles teams, the Dodgers and Angels, are among those involved. The Chicago Cubs, looking to add a lefty reliever and already having spoken with Pittsburgh about John Grabow and with Washington about Joe Beimel, also are believed to be involved.

The Orioles control the 32-year-old Sherrill for two more seasons (he's making $2.75 million this year) and, as such, feel no urgency to move him.

As of early Thursday afternoon, Baltimore was still talking with clubs and had nothing imminent in place. The Orioles, quite simply, are looking for young talent in return. They've already broken in rookie catcher Matt Wieters this year and highly touted right-hander Chris Tillman made his big-league debut Wednesday night against Kansas City.

If they do deal with the Dodgers, they likely would demand one of two young infielders -- Josh Bell or Blake DeWitt -- and, in dealings with the Angels, young infielders Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez surely will be discussed.

As for Bell, the Padres so far have not been able to swing a deal with the Florida Marlins, with whom they were engaged in discussions deep into Wednesday night. Reportedly, the Marlins have rebuffed San Diego's request for one of two young starters, either Andrew Miller or Sean West. Both are power arms who fit into Florida's future plans.

While the Padres still could become re-engaged with the Marlins, close to a dozen other clubs have been speaking with Padres about Bell.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 8:59 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2008 5:11 am
 

Teixeira talks heating up

LAS VEGAS -- The market for Mark Teixeira is taking shape, according to agent Scott Boras, and while still fluid, it is described as having reached the stage where the slugger could make a decision "in a short period of time."

"He's received offers from numerous clubs," Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings. "We've been on the phone all day. Now we'll have meetings to go through the economic process."

At least five clubs are seriously in on Teixeira, and sources familiar with the talks say at least four of those five have offers of at least eight years in to him: Boston, the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees have been involved in the discussions but have not made an offer.

The Red Sox, who were in meetings late into the night Wednesday, is widely thought in the industry to be the leader of the Teixeira sweepstakes.

It is believed that at least one of the offers ranges up to $176 million, or an average annual value of $22 million per season. However it plays out, one person with knowledge of the talks said he expects Teixeira to command a larger deal that the seven-year, $161 million package pitcher CC Sabathia has agreed to with the New York Yankees.

Boras declined to discuss specific teams or contract terms -- he wouldn't even confirm the number of clubs seriously speaking with the free agent -- but said Teixeira is weighing several factors, including family and economic considerations, team strength, ownership and commitment to winning.

"It's not something that is imminent," Boras said. "We're going back and forth with the teams. It's moving in the right direction. I can't tell you a time frame."

The five teams involved in the talks fit various parameters of Teixeira's expectations. It is believed by some that Teixeira, who is a Maryland native, prefers to play in the east. However, Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who has spoken with Teixeira, said this week that he thinks Teixeiria's experience in Anaheim last season would make him amenable to returning.

Boras said Teixeira has met with all of the teams with whom he's currently speaking, and they've addressed his desires.

As for the winning part of the equation -- in a comment that seemed to describe the travails of the Nationals and Orioles -- Boras said, "If a team's building and can't immediately win, then they have a lot of answers as to why that will be a short (window) until they do."

Boras has evidence of that in his fleet of clients with Ivan Rodriguez, the catcher who signed with Detroit before the 2004 season. The Tigers were wretched, and three years later they were playing in the World Series.

Among the things Teixeira is asking for is a no-trade clause. After bouncing from Texas to Atlanta to the Angels over the past two seasons, and now empowered to protect himself via his first trip to free agency, Teixeira is said to be insistent on that.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 2:23 pm
 

Orioles close on Izturis

LAS VEGAS -- The Baltimore Orioles are on the verge of landing their shortstop: They've all but finalized a one-year deal with Cesar Izturis, according to sources.

Izturis, 28, hit .263 with a .319 on-base percentage and 24 steals last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Orioles had inquired on several other shortstops, including discussing Khalil Greene in trade with San Diego before Greene was shipped to the Cardinals this winter. With Detroit having signed Adam Everett this week, the shortstop market was beginning to dwindle.

Rafael Furcal, who continues talking with Oakland, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City, remains unsigned, as does Orlando Cabrera.

Posted on: February 8, 2008 5:02 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2008 9:14 am
 

Orioles getting younger, smarter

In dealing Erik Bedard to Seattle on Friday and Miguel Tejada to Houston in December, Baltimore president Andy MacPhail acquired 10 different players, and even if the Orioles now may have to summon Charlie Brown to be their opening day starter, this is exactly the kind of thinking this decrepit organization needs.

Amassing young players -- not sending Snoopy's master to the hill.

The Orioles, rotting to the core in the Peter Angelos years, stink. They're long overdue for an overhaul, and the fact that MacPhail now has been able to pull off two major deals in the past two months signals that things are as promised when he accepted the job, that he's got the freedom to re-make the team without Angelos' mitts interfering.

The crown jewel of the haul is Adam Jones, a 22-year-old phenom from Seattle who likely will be Baltimore's opening day center fielder and one day could be an All-Star. The rest of the prospects acquired from the Mariners and Astros range from hard-throwing pitching prospects to unpolished position players.

Maybe not all of them will turn out. Maybe many of them won't click.

Odds are, however, that Jones and at least a couple others will -- lefty Troy Patton and righty Matt Albers, perhaps? -- and that still leaves the Orioles far ahead of where they are now.

Without Bedard, one of the best young pitchers in the game, the Orioles right now probably can't even hazard a guess on their opening day starter.

And that makes things even worse for Baltimore than they were last year, or two or three years ago, when the Orioles knew who would start on opening day?

Au contraire.

Enough of swinging for the fences in Baltimore. Boog Powell is gone, Brady Anderson's one year of power was a mirage and so, too, have been the Orioles. The standings over the past decade have shown as much and the fans have spoken by a mass exodus from Camden Yards.

Baltimore's current run of 10 consecutive sub-.500 seasons is the worst in club history. Tejada, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Brian Roberts, B.J. Ryan, Bedard ... new hopes have come, new hopes have gone, and all it's proven is that you can slap a new coat of paint on the house, but if the wood is bad, it ain't going to last.

The Orioles need depth, not sheen, and they finally have an executive who understands this.

It was a heavy price to pay for Seattle, five players for a lefty pitcher who can be a free agent following the 2009 season, but the Mariners are buoyed by the hope of last season's second-place finish (six games behind the Angels in the AL West) following a three-season freefall.

Man-for-man, they don't yet measure up with the Angels, AL West winners in three of the past four seasons. But Bedard and Felix Hernandez present an imposing one-two punch atop the Seattle rotation, and free agent Carlos Silva joins Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista to lengthen a rotation that should keep the Mariners in contention for much of the summer at worst, and, with a few breaks, maybe even sneak past the Angels at best.

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