So as I said a few entries ago, I am busy in my finals weeks in school and have been loaded with papers to get in and tests to take, so haven’t had much time for extra O’s writing. But don’t worry, I have still been keeping up with it all and will be posting a big entry on the Yankees and Red Sox series overall, and including Minnesota in that too probably since I will write it Sunday night. Will be in Cleveland this weekend, and going to the Indians vs. Tigers game, so will put up a picture or two from that.
I currently do some writing for Baltimore Sports Report and this week I was asked to do a piece on the bullpen situation, specifically Arrieta vs. Jim Johnson. I was actually surprised by this request. I do not think the organization is debating in the bullpen specifically between these two. Instead, I will talk about the bullpen options and what I think should be done.
So here is the bullpen overall as of last night (Wednesday night):
Matt Albers, Cla Meredith, Jason Berken, Mark Hendrickson, Will Ohman, and Alfredo Simon. You can count Koji Uehara in too, though as of me writing this he isnt officially on the roster until gametime tonight in Minnesota.
Well, let’s look now at the options in the minors (that I consider to be MLB bullpen ready):
Alberto Castillo, Jim Johnson, Jake Arrieta, Kam Mickolio, and Pedro Viola.
Now how are those guys doing? Castillo was on and off, having solid outings, but then having no so great ones, like facing Robbie Cano in Baltimore last week (I don’t like thinking about that). He is also a lefty with Hendrickson and Ohman, so the O’s don’t feel the need for another lefty in the ‘pen, especially with his inconsistent pitching types (throws overhand, side-arm, and every so often a 3/4 pitch). He can be kept in AAA for now and will be used when needed. Good to have a veteran guy there though if need be for one.
Kam Mickolio won’t have a chance at anything until he gets his command issues under control, and until that happens, there’s no reason to even discuss him as an option. Pedro Viola is a high ERA pitcher with some experience in AAA, but he is also a lefty and won’t be used this year unless injuries really start coming. My consistent on Jake Arrieta is that he has a great arm and needs to keep with his development work in Norfolk, and I see no reason to mess with it. Especially with the record we have now, we are not in contention, so there is no reason to mess up a guy’s track in the organization when he could turn out to be a great starter of the future for the O’s.
Now to Jim Johnson. The guy is given no breaks on a club that gives too many breaks to almost every player. Trembley did finally work with MacPhail and punished some guys like Mickolio and Atkins for their horrendous stats, but then there are guys like Jones, Reimold, and Scott who are still consistently playing despite their terrible hitting numbers on the year. Johnson is a veteran of the team, despite being only 26, and he should be given breaks as much if not more than a guy like Jones who hasn’t even played a full season with the team yet. Also, people do not realize this, Jim Johnson is not doing horribly in his set-up role. His overall ERA may be 6.52 overall, but in the 8th innings, he has a 4.05 ERA. While that might not be incredible, it is still early in the season to be judged on ERA completely and he was pushed past his limit by pitching 2 or so innings in some games. That is not what he has been good at, and it is not something he is used to. Side note: He has better command during day games. 7:1 K:BB on day games and 2:3 on night games. Allowed his only homerun on the year during a night game as well.
Hm. Well, Albers definitely has proven himself lately after blowing 2 straight games against the Red Sox a week and a half ago and being on the chopping block for a bit until he caught fire and has been great as of late, finding his control once again. Cla Meredith, Mark Hendrickson, Jason Berken, and Will Ohman are basically locks for the season as long as none of them making any negative transitions. There are basically 3 spots or so that are up in the air and most likely will change at least a few more times throughout the season.
Arrieta needs to stay and develop. Don’t push him. Viola is worse than Castillo, so if any lefty would be used it would be Senor Alberto. Gonzo is still hurt. Mickolio does not have his command down yet.
The best bullpen would be Meredith, Hendrickson, Berken, Ohman, Johnson, Albers, and Simon. I love Alfredo, and he is on the top of my list to be the closer until we figure out the Gonzo situation. If we let him close, JJ can go back to set-up, and I think we are set with that. That is the order that has obviously worked best, so I do not know why we have strayed away from it. I know I have left Uehara out so far. That is because I have no opinion on him. He hasn’t really shown much for the team. Ever. Except that he can get injured. So this bullpen isn’t the one as of now since Koji is taking JJ’s spot (for now), but I expect him to get injured or for JJ to come up somehow. By the end of this month, the bullpen should be what I said or switch maybe Simon out for Uehara (I hate that idea but the O’s will do it because they don’t like winning it seems).
Now, the other issue is what to do when Arrieta and Tillman are ready for the bigs. Both will get rotation spots soon enough, and whoever is kicked out is either off the team or in the bullpen, depending on who. For instance, Hernandez could be converted to a bullpen guy. Guthrie, though, is a starter and we would not try him in the ‘pen. We will just have to wait and see how that works out along with the constand and nagging injuries that come about. The issue they will have to deal with is that the starting pitching has been very good quality so far, and the bullpen is the main issue (in terms of pitching, the hitting is what overall drags us down the most), so it will be a tough decision to demote a guy like Hernandez or Guthrie if they keep up with solid starts (both of them have had bad starts their last times out, but we will see if that trend continues, although both were against the Yankees).
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That’s how we have to look at it right now. With a very intense 10th
inning now completed, the Orioles held on and beat the Red Sox today,
7-6. This ends their 3 game series for the weekend, and brings the birds
back home for a bit.
It truly was a thriller. It was a back and forth game through the end,
where luckily the O’s stopped the Sox from continuing the lead change trend.
to Wake-field up: Well, we faced Okajima and the fiery Bard after
Wakefield left, and those guys were surprises to our hitters. While we
did get the tying runs off of Okajima, it was a rude awakening call facing a
guy that throws higher than 85. Wakefield surprised me today. I
never realized how slow he was. He didn’t break 82 on the day. The
movement must be insane to see in person because other than the movement, there
is no reason any player shouldn’t be slugging off of him. He pitched
great against us only letting up 2 ER in 6.2 IP with a 5:1 K:BB ratio.
came out on top of his stuff basically. Was not as good as in Spring
against the Red Sox when he shut them out in his last start with 7 Ks, but not
far off. He hasn’t kept up with the strikeouts lately, with a 1:3 K:BB
ratio today. Letting up some hits and not getting into batter’s minds, it
was no more than an okay performance. On the bright side, he didn’t get
the loss, which wasn’t deserved with his good outing. 2 of his 3 ER were
because of the inherited runners that he left on which scored off of Hendrickson.
5 full innings though of shutout baseball is a great stat to see. He also
has stuck down on his pitches and has still not let up a HR this year, which
was his rough point last year.
and Berken each had solid stints, both letting up runs though. Looking at
their outings, neither was off their game, but just had some bad luck with
solid Red Sox hitters making good cuts. Trembley used Castillo for 2 outs
late in the game. JJ came on for an extremely positive appearance, , holding
the score and forcing the game into extras by getting the Red Sox out in the 9th
despite a leadoff single by McDonald who was eventually advanced into scoring
position before the inning ended.
Beltran: Yea, I know that isn’t a player’s name. There is an Adrian
Beltre. I remember when the Red Sox picked up Beltre in the offseason,
and I got an ESPN update text saying the Red Sox got Andre Beltran. At
that point, I had no idea what they were talking about. Maybe a
nobody? Well, he’s made a name for himself today. Just on defense,
the game started off with 2 bobbling errors on back to back Orioles hitters
grounding to 3rd (they ended up only crediting him with 1).
Ever since those moments, he has been a gold glover at 3rd. He
has robbed Tejada of RBIs, and a bunch of other guys too. He has been
making spectacular dives and grabs throughout the entire game. Through 3
innings, 7 out of the 13 balls hit in the field were to Beltre. So his
position demanded some nice plays out of him, which he definitely provided.
was interesting watching the short popups in left field today. On the
first one, which Reimold caught, Izturis actually fell over from running into
Reimold. After that, the three guys (Reimold, Tejada, and Izturis) all
communicated and stuck through the game with no errors. Props to Reimold
also early in the game with a long running catch in left. Proud he
finally held onto one of those. I have been doubting him a lot in terms
of his abilities in LF.
and the end:
O’s actually had a 1-0 lead through the 5th. Now most people
at this time would think maybe Wigginton or Markakis had an RBI early.
Wrong. In the 2nd, with 1 out (a Wigginton groundout), Rhyne
Hughes stepped up and smacked a double to the left center gap. Craig
Tatum then stepped up, and unexpectedly got an RBI single. Props to him
for the clutch hit.
the game continued, that left center gap became popular, especially balls off
the wall. Most balls today were hit towards left, whether to the outfield
or to 3B Beltre. No performance was too great at the plate, but the
hitting highlight of the day was that our 1-9 hitters all got at least one hit,
4 of which got 2 a piece.
exciting stuff today. Showed a lot of offensive firepower late which they
have been doing in this series. It is a good sign. Before the 8th,
the only guys with hits were the 1, 2, 8, and 9 slots (as opposed to last night
when 2-7 all had multi-hit games). Coming up with intensity in the 10th,
here’s the overall summary of how we took a 7-4 lead:
R. Hughes singled to right, M. Tejada scored, L. Scott to third, T. Wigginton
– M. Wieters singled to shallow center, L. Scott and T. Wigginton scored, R.
Hughes to second
hitting is really coming around. 14 hits as a team today, .311 as a team,
but once again with 10 LOB they are not producing as much as they could
be. Also, the 10 Ks against us really hurt too, with 3 in a row by Bard,
striking out the side in the 9th.
me, it was sad that we couldn’t enter the bottom of the 10th and be
a quality baseball team and have a 1-2-3 inning. Is it a requirement for
the Orioles to always worry their fans with late inning runs by the opposing
team, especially in situations of extra innings like this one? I guess.
But at least we held onto it. Props to JJ for not losing his cool.
No defensive woes, but maybe it was just that JJ should have been taken out
instead of going more. Who knows. Either way, we got the W.
2 losses of one run each, this win is something the team needed. Now,
hopefully they can rest on this off day, get their gloves back together, and
bring the same stuff out against the Yankees. It will be the top of the
rotation on Tuesday, and hopefully we can even sweep the Yankees. They
might be doing well, but the offense we are producing may be the key to
overcoming the Yankees steroid and money driven lineup. Hopefully, also,
we can bottle up this quality work by the bullpen today, especially JJ, so that
we won’t have to rely on a lot of work by a slumping guy like Fat Albers.
Millwood, Guthrie, and Matusz will all hopefully keep up with their solid
seasons so far so that this lineup can come out and give the O’s some wins.
we somehow have one of those high scoring games where you can tell by the 6th
That’d be nice. I hope we can find some type of game or two like
that. Maybe even the series win over the Yankees. Now that’d be
impressive. Just no more of these nail-biters. I’m running out of
nails. inning that we win and are up by 5+?