Posts Tagged 'Brian Roberts'

Buck Showalter & The Rejuvenated Orioles

The first four months of Orioles baseball in 2010 have been tough to bear witness to. Not to mention the twelve losing seasons that preceded them. But a different and exciting style of play has swept over the team since the debut of new manager Buck Showalter this past Tuesday.

Baltimore completed a three game sweep of the L.A. Angels last night, and they did so with an attitude of “This is how it should be.” It is hard to say how much a manager can really affect a ballclub. After all, skippers don’t hit, pitch, or field. But to anyone who saw the three victories the Orioles rattled off this week, the energy level was completely different, from the usual, as was the result on the scoreboard.

The games haven’t been perfect or pretty by any means. Take last night for example, when relief pitcher Jason Berken gave up a 3 run shot to Torii Hunter in the eighth to tie the game at 4. Showalter had the confidence to leave Berken in there, and he went on to retire four of the next five batters while recording the win.

The offense seems to have had a big spark as well. Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Luke Scott, Josh Bell, Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis all swung the bat well and drove in runs in the three wins this week.

Buck summed it up pretty well in the post-game news conference last night: “Nothing’s as bad as it seems, and nothing’s as good as it seems. I tried to come into it with a real open mind. There’s enough track-record players here that you know they’re better than that, but things snowball. We all know that.”

The Birds finally have a guy who knows baseball, and knows baseball talent when he sees it. He is going to be evaluating the whole roster in these remaining two months to find out who are his guys are, who he can count on, who can handle adversity/injury, and who just doesn’t belong. I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of the club, it’s in the right hands. The foundation is set, and now the time has come for a winning team to emerge.

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Another Defeat?? Rays 5 – Orioles 1

Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett beats the tag of Baltimore's Cesar Itzuris for a double during the third inning of Monday night's game

What is happening to this team! The bats have just gone very quiet in the last few games. Not to mention the fans…Monday night’s contest drew the lowest crowd in the 19-year history of Camden Yards.

In Dan Connolly’s recent blog post he brings up a great point: “The Orioles have scored three runs in their past three games – all, by the way, have been played without Brian Roberts, the offense’s catalyst who was put on the disabled list Monday.”

Not having Roberts has hurt the team I agree. And it will probably cost them some games while he is on the D.L. But tonight I doubt having B-Rob in there would have made too much of a difference. That’s because Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza was just superb.

Garza started out a bit shaky, giving up a solo HR to Felix Pie on just the second pitch of the game. He settled down though, giving up no more runs while striking out six the rest of the way. Garza improved his career record against Baltimore to 8-1 .

O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie wasn’t really all that bad. He didn’t walk a batter, struck out five, and only allowed three runs. And even though he gave up eight total hits, Guthrie was able to hold the Rays to 3 runs before getting pulled prior to the eighth inning.

The bullpen was lovely once again…NOT. In the top of the eighth, Mark Hendrickson gave up a solo HR to Carl Crawford, who went 4-4 on the night. Matt Albers was brought in with one out in the top half of the ninth. He then proceeded to give up three consecutive hits, the third of which drove in Tampa Bay’s fifth and final run.

The birds left six on base and did not record an extra base hit other than Pie’s lead-off homer.

Same two teams are at it again tomorrow evening, first pitch is 7:05.

Orioles 2010 Preview: Hope Springs Eternal

(Image Courtesy of Orioles.com)

Tonight symbolizes a fresh start for the Baltimore Orioles. All the opening days of the past 12 years have been fresh starts in a sense. But they way those last 12 seasons have ended up…yikes!

My favorite team has been hard to watch for the past decade. It has been frustrating, embarrassing, and sad to see sub par baseball year in and year out.

But there is plenty of optimism this year amongst players and fans alike. When I look at the 2010 Orioles I see serious potential for growth. That growth is what will hopefully translate into contention with the big boys in the A.L. East in the years to come

So here is my brief outlook of this year’s team:

The starting pitching staff is young (Brian Matusz, David Hernandez, and Brad Bergesen are 23, 24, and 24 respectively) but the they are anchored by veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie. One would hope there is some improvement from 2009 in which Baltimore’s starters tied for the worst ERA in baseball at 5.37

Brian Roberts once again will lead things off and play second base. He was limited to 19 at-bats during spring training due to a herniated disk in his back. Despite this he is set to go and will play in tonight’s game.  batting second is Center fielder Adam Jones. Jones was named an All Star and won his first career Gold Glove award in 2009. He has improved vastly since joining the team 2 seasons ago. He has tremendous range in the outfield and has become more patient as a hitter. I still feel he has another season or two before he really blossoms at the plate. Right fielder Nick Markakis’ stats dipped a bit in ’09. He is entering his fifth full season as a pro and I’m looking for him to be firing on all cylinders this year. An average of over .300, 25+ home runs, and 100+ RBI’s are very realistic numbers for him.

A familiar face in Miguel Tejada is back on the squad. He will play third and bat cleanup this year. DH Luke Scott and catcher Matt Wieters fill the 5 and 6 spots respectively. This will be Wieters’ first full season in the major leagues and he’d like to pick up where he left off at the end of his rookie campaign. He had a very solid September last year, finishing the month hitting .362, knocking in 14 runs, and having an on base percentage of .425.

Also entering his first full season is Nolan Reimold. He will bat seventh and occupy left field. But he will miss tonight’s opener with a sore Achilles tendon. Felix Pie will fill in. Garrett Atkins joins the O’s after seven seasons with the Rockies. He will play first and bat eighth. He is a career .290 hitter who like Markakis, is capable hitting 25+ HR’s driving in 100+ RBI’s in a good year. His numbers dropped off considerably in 2009, it will be interesting to see if he can rebound in 2010. And batting ninth is shortstop Cesar Izturis. Last year the Orioles needed major help defensively at short and they got it in Izturis. In 2009 he had a .984 fielding percentage and committed only eight errors.

There you have it. I assume it would be appropriate to make a prediction here. I’m going to say the O’s finish 4th in the American League East and just barely miss reaching the .500 mark with a record of 80-82. Just some perspective: the birds have not had more than 79 wins since 1997, when they won the division with 98! I’ll refer back to this post in October when all the dust has settled. Hopefully I’m not too off. Enjoy the season!!!


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