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The Orioles Take Flight: The Showalter Era Takes Hold

Buck Showalter, a New Sheriff is in Town (Reuters Photo)

On August 3rd the Baltimore Orioles had a record of 32 and 73 and appeared to be heading not only for a 100 loss season but very possibly 110 or more losses.  Under Manager Dave Trembley and Interim Manager Juan Samuel they had lost 52 games before they had won 20.  It was a dismal record for a team that was demoralized and without real leadership.  Trembley and Samuel were both gentlemen and loyal organization people.  They were both popular with players but could not inspire them to win.

The organization was not only a losing organization of the field but in all departments except the minor league system. Unfortunately the promising prospects coming out of the minors entered a clubhouse where losing was accepted as a way of life presided over by an owner who did nothing to promote winning and spent no money to get All-Star caliber veterans to help provide leadership to the team. Instead of hiring top quality managers they settled for second and third tier managers for years, men who were good guys but terribly lackluster leaders and not Major League caliber managers.

The Orioles at that point seemed to be a franchise on the brink of an unrecoverable death spiral. In my times at Harbor Park last season and this season Elliott the Usher and I would spend much time together and muse about how if we ran the Orioles that things would be different.  As we talked about how to solve the problems of the world, in particular those of the Orioles I finally said that it was not the talent. I felt last season and this season that with the talent available at the Major League level as well as what the Orioles had in their farm system that they should at least be a .500 team this year.  But for the first two thirds of the season that was not the case and I told Elliott at the end of April that it was not the players but on field leadership that was the problem. I thought the Dave Trembley was a nice guy and a good minor league manager but that I felt that he had not been able to step up his game to the Major League level.  In fact I commented back on September 29th 2009 that I thought that Trembley needed to go.

“The one spot that I think that the team needs a change is the Field Manager Dave Trembley.  Trembley seems to be a good teacher but is not terribly inspirational.  Admittedly he began the year with a weak squad but something is not working and I do like his calm, but I wonder if the teams needs fire rather than calm right now.” See Oh, Oh, Oh, O’s….The Orioles Skid Continues But there are Some Bright Spots

I repeated this when the O’s had lost 9 of their first 10 games this season. Last year I was looking at Bobby Valentine as a potential manager having forgotten that Showalter was available. At the time that Trembley was fired the Orioles had a 15 and 39 record, the word by far in the majors with a pitiful .278 winning percentage. This did not improve much under Samuel who had served under Trembley as the Third Base Coach.  Samuel had a 17 and 24 record as the Orioles interim skipper with a cumulative .305 winning percentage. Most people doubted that Showalter do much with this year’s team but they were wrong. Drew Forrester wrote: As I wrote earlier this week, if I had to place a bet, I’d bet AGAINST you because history has shown that no one can turn this thing around in Baltimore…because management and ownership don’t want to do what it takes to win. But I’m really pulling for you, because I think you’re exactly what we need in Baltimore.”

I remember when Showalter was hired and I took a look at his track record. He has been successful at every team that he has managed. In fact he was in large part responsible for building the Yankees team that Joe Torre would lead to 4 World Series Championships. He did the same foundation laying work in Arizona with the Diamondbacks.  I would dare say that without Showalter building the foundation that Joe Torre might have been about as successful in New York as he was with Mets, Braves, Cardinals or Dodgers.  All of Torre’s championships came with the Yankees. I believe that this was in large part due to the acumen of Showalter and the willingness of George Steinbrenner for big name player as well as building up an excellent Minor League system to spend the money needed to produce a winner. When I saw Showalter begin to manage the O’s I knew that he would change things and that the team would start producing.  Since he took over the Orioles have won 25 and lost 15 and for the first time since 2008 had two consecutive winning road trips.  They have the second best record in the American League during this time period behind the Minnesota Twins.  The Orioles are now beating the teams of the AL East and in the past week have taken 2 of three each from the Rays, Yankees and as of tonight the Blue Jays who they will play again tomorrow.

The Orioles hitting has come alive and their starting pitchers who had been beaten about by about everyone in baseball made a turn as well.  It is interesting to look at Orioles player’s reactions after Showalter took over. Center Fielder Adam Jones said: “I think what’s really going on is everyone knows his reputation as a hard-ass. He’s going to get on you for doing this; he’s going to say something about everything. I think that’s actually worked. Hey, let’s get it done. You might as well. You don’t want him on you. I think that’s the approach a lot of guys are taking. Hey, let him sit in there with that scowl. If it works, it works.”

“It’s just that his presence, well, you can just feel the change coming. He’s been on some winning ballclubs, he knows what it takes. Everybody knows his reputation around here. They know it as someone who’s going to get on you, and it’s working for us.”

Showalter and his hard driving style, ability to get the most out of players and develop young talent is already remaking the Orioles. Any observe can sense that this team, which before Showalter’s arrival was described by Forrester as “a lot of people — players, coaches and management — who have done nothing but LOSE in their respective careers in Baltimore…  Pick a player on the team.  I don’t care what his name is or what his stats show, I can guarantee you this:  He’s contributed to LOSING during his time here.  Guys who won elsewhere in their career – like Tejada and Millwood – show up here…and start losing.  It’s the “Oriole Way”.

That has changed. As of tonight they have won 4 consecutive series for the first time since 2004.  The Orioles have made one of the most dramatic end of season turnarounds in recent memory.  Players universally talk about Showalter’s tough expectations and the difference in the clubhouse. They now believe that they can win any game against any team that they play.

The starting pitching is one department where things have changed When Showalter arrived; the rotation of Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta had a combined record of 15-45 with a 5.50 earned run average. As of September 7th under Showalter, those pitchers are 15-11 with a 3.23 E.R.A.

The expectations are high. Ty Wigginton commented ”This is our manager….You’ve got his track record, and everybody knows that Buck knows how to win. That speaks for itself with a lot of guys. Let’s wait and see, but I think for some of the younger players, it kind of opened their eyes to realize: I’ve got to start getting this right.”

Brian Matusz commented: ”You can’t just walk over us….We’re playing good baseball right now. We’re doing all the little things right. It’s fun to come out and beat teams in our division and continue this streak that we have.”

The Orioles management has stated that the off season will be very busy. There will be a lot of moves and hard evaluation of talent. There is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Buck. I expect that the Orioles will now be a factor in the AL East.  I do not expect them to be the “Washington Generals” of the division and they will make the East a very interesting division next year as teams that were used to getting 10-15 wins at their expense will have to fight the Orioles at every step of the way. It will be fun to watch the Orioles the rest of this season and next year as they take flight as they have not in the last 14 years.

This could well be the start of something good.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Go Paco Go! Tides Win on Figueroa’s Walk-off Double with 2 out in Bottom of 11th

Paco Figueroa hits his game winning double

On a beautiful night the fans at Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish were treated to an outstanding pitcher’s duel and probably the most exciting finish to a game at Harbor Park.  In front of a crowd of 8247 excited fans the Norfolk Tides and the Indianapolis Indians played an outstanding ball game that was full of suspense and excitement.

Tides starter Tim Bascom got off to a rough start walking Kevin Melillo to lead off the inning and with 2 outs give up a home run that banged off of the right field scoreboard to Brandon Moss to give the I-Tribe a 2-0 lead.  After that Bascom settled down giving up only 2 more hits and 2 walks in 6.2 innings work.

Craig Tatum cross home with the winning run

The Indians starter Brian Burres gave up just 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings work. The Tides got their first run in the 7th inning off of Burres when Nolan Reimold walked and stole second base and with two outs catcher Craig Tatum got his first hit in a Tides uniform a single that scored Reimold.

Tim Bascom pitched 6.2 innings allowing just 3 hits

Alberto Castillo came on with 2 outs in the top of the 7th and retired the side and sent the Indians down in order in the 8th with 2 strikeouts.  Indians reliever Corey Hamman gave up a single to Robert Andino with one out but got out of the inning when Jeff Salazar hit into a double play.  Frank Mata came in at the top of the 9th for the Tides and gave up a walk but allowed no runs or hits.  In the bottom frame the Indians send up Jean Machi to attempt to save the game and secure the win and it looked like he would do it with ease.  Machi retired both Scott Moore and Nolan Reimold but then gave up a single to Rhyne Hughes who stole 2nd base.  Machi then struck out Brandon Snyder on a wild pitch which went to the backstop and Snyder hustled down the line to first base and Hughes alertly took third base.  Craig Tatum then hit a soft grounder to the right side of the infield that Indians First Baseman Jonathan Van Every bobbled for an error allowing Hughes to score and Tatum to take first base.  Still with two outs the Tides sent Paco Figueroa to the plate as the crowd chanted “Go Paco Go!” and on the first pitch Paco hit a sinking line drive that looked as if it would fall for a hit that would score Snyder. Instead Tides fans hopes were dashed for the inning when Right Fielder Mitch Jones made a sliding catch to end the inning.

Armando Gabino notched his 7th win of the season against no losses

The game entered extra innings and the Tides brought in Armando Gabino to pitch in the 10th inning.  Gabino who has been rock solid and the undiscovered gem of the Tides bullpen blew the Indians down in order in the top of the 10th inning.  In the bottom half of the inning the Tides threatened with Robert Andino and Scott Moore on 2nd and third with 2 outs Nolan Reimold plastered a deep fly ball to left which was caught near the warning track by outfielder Kevin Melillo for the 3rd out.

Gabino gave up a hit in the top of the 11th but pitched out of the inning to keep the score tied at two.  In the bottom half of the 11th and reliever Brian Bass came was sent to the hill by the Indians.  He retired Reimold and Snyder before giving up a walk to Craig Tatum.  With each inning the cheering of the crowd had been getting louder and Paco Figueroa came to the plate with fans chanting “Go Paco Go!”  Figueroa worked the count full Figueroa hit a deep drive to the warning track that went for a double, scored Tatum and ended the game.  The atmosphere in the park was electric as the Tides ran onto the field to congratulate Figueroa and fans standing and cheering.

Armando Gabino (7-0, S2 2.18 ERA) got the win and Bass (2-3 4.11 ERA) the loss. The Indians had 2 runs on 5 hits with 1 error leaving 6 men stranded. The Tides 3 runs on 6 hits with no errors stranding 10.  The teams meet tonight with Zach Britton (1-1 2.28 ERA) pitching for the Tides and Charlie Morton (3-4 4.82ERA) on the hill for the Indians.

In personnel moves the Orioles called up Josh Bell to replace Miguell Tejada who was traded to the Padres. Troy Patton was called up to replace Will Ohman who was traded to Florida for minor league reliever Rick Vanden Hurk with Vanden Hurk being assigned to the Tides.

I’m on the way to the ballpark on a soggy Sunday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Yankees down Tides 7-1 Thursday and 2-1 Friday

Chris George pitched an excellent game but lost on Friday

After winning on Wednesday to even their series with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees the Norfolk Tides looked to more success sending Chris Tillman to the mound in Thursday night’s game.  Instead the Tides and Tillman went down to defeat 7-1 at the hands of a very good Yankee team. Tillman allowed a run in each of the first three innings and pitched into the 5th inning when after retiring Kevin Russo on a strikeout he gave up a double to Eric Bruntlett and a single to Eduardo Nunez was taken out of the game after having thrown 92 pitches allowing 5 runs, 4 of which were earned on 7 hits, allowing 2 walks while striking out 3 Yankees. Mike Hinckley then entered the game for the Tides and did not get the job done. Hinckley gave up a single to Chad Tracy that scored Bruntlett. The next batter was leading Yankees prospect catcher Jesus Montero and Montero belted a home run over the right field wall to clear the bases and give the Yankees a 7-0 lead.

The Tides bats remained silent until the top of the 9th inning.  They had a chance in the top of the 4th when Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold occupied 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs before Rhyne Hughes popped out to end the inning.  They also got 2 base runners in the top of the 8th but left both aboard.  The Tides final got a run across in the top of the 9th inning.  Nolan Reimold doubled with one out and both Brandon Snyder and Craig Tatum drew walks with two outs. This loaded the bases for Paco Figueroa to single and drive in Reimold and keep the bases loaded. This was Figueroa’s third hit of the evening.  With the bases loaded Matt Angle grounded out to end the inning and the game.

Tillman (8-6 3.40 ERA) got the loss and Jason Hirsch (6-7 4.22 ERA) picked up the win. The Tides had 1 run on 6 hits with no errors and left 9 men on base. The Yankees 7 runs on 12 hits with no errors leaving 6 men stranded.

On Friday it was a pitcher’s duel as Chris George battled Ivan Nova.  George allowed just 2 runs on 5 hits striking out 7 in 7.2 innings work.  The runs came in the 2nd inning when George struck out Jesus Montero but the pitch was wild and Montero took first.  This brought Jorge Vazquez to the plate and Vazquez homered scoring both of the Yankees runs. The Tides got 9 hits of Nova and left the bases loaded twice scoring only once when Michael Aubrey singled in the 5th inning to score Matt Angle.  Jonathan Albaladejo came in for the 9th inning and picked up his 34th save of the year. Chris George (5-5 3.88 ERA) got the loss while Nova (10-2 0.89 ERA) got the win.  The Tides had 1 run on 10 hits with no errors leaving 7 aboard and the Yankees 2 runs on 6 hits with 1 error leaving 3 men on base.  The Tides return to Norfolk on Saturday for a 4 game home stand against Indianapolis.

It was a pity that George had to lose, he pitched an excellent game apart from two pitches allowing few hits that hte Yankees starter and striking out more.

In Baltimore the news was that Buck Showalter has been hired by the O’s and will take the helm Tuesday at Camden Yards. Juan Samuel will resume his 3rd base coach job should he desire and Gary Allenson will return to the Tides. In trade news the O’s traded Miguel Tejada to the Padres for minor league pitcher Wynn Pelzer.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Defeat Rochester 4-3 as Cla Meredith gets the “Unsave”

Chris George pitched a great game but was left with a no-decision

The Norfolk Tides took the second game of their four game set against the Rochester Red Wings behind solid pitching by Chris George and Denis Sarfate.  With the game time temperature at a comfortable 75 degrees and a light 5 mile and hour wind blowing out to center field under clear skies it was a beautiful western New York night for baseball in front of just under 5000 fans.

The game began on the wrong foot for the Tides when on the second pitch of the game Jason Repko hit a ground ball to third which Josh Bell mishandled and was charged with an error. Repko stole second and took third on a ground out by Brian Dinkelman. He would score on a single by Trevor Plouffe.  This would be the only run allowed while George was pitching and was unearned.  The Red Wings did not score again until the bottom of the 8th inning.

In 6.2 innings work George gave up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 Red Wing batters. Rochester starting pitcher Glen Perkins held the Tides in check until the 4th inning. In the fourth Josh Bell hammered his 16th double of the season and Nolan Reimold still digging out of his horrific hitting slump on his arrival in Norfolk then singled.  Paco Figueroa came up next and singled to score Bell and was followed by Adam Donachie who singled to drive in Reimold giving the Tides a 2-1 lead.  George would get the first two batters of the 7th inning but after hitting Brian Dinkelman with a pitch was relieved by Ross Wolf who got the next batter, Trevor Plouffe to ground out to Brandon Snyder at first.  In the top frame of the 8th inning the Tides scored again.  Robert Andino doubled to lead the inning off of Red Wings reliever pitcher Brad Hennessy.  Hennessy intentionally walked Josh Bell and got Nolan Reimold to pop up to first base for the second out. Brandon Snyder came up to the plate and singled the first pitch delivered by Hennessy into center field which scored Andino.

In the bottom of the 8th the Tides brought in newly activated relief pitcher Cla Meredith who had been optioned to Norfolk from the O’s late last week. Matt Macri singled to lead off the inning and Meredith walked Brock Peterson.  Wilson Ramos advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt to first base and Meredith struck out Jose Morales.  On a 0-2 count Dustin Martin singled to drive in Macri and Ramos to tie the game, which netted Meredith his first blown save in Norfolk.  He was able to retire Jason Repko to end the inning.

In the top of the 9th with one out Joey Gathright singled on a ground ball to second and advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Brian Dinkelman and Matt Angle singled to bring Gathright home to retake the lead for the Tides. In the bottom frame the Tides brought in Denis Sarfate sent the Wings down in order on 12 pitches for his 4th save of the season.

Cla Meredith got what I am going to start calling the “unsave” instead of a standard “blown save.” The definition that I give to the “unsave” is a blown save where the reliever who blows the save ends up getting the win.  It’s kind of like when 7-Up was called the “uncola” it’s not a save and yet it doesn’t have the same sting as a blown save, unless perhaps you are the pitcher that would have had a win had the reliever not blown the save. Unsaves are kind of wins that a pitcher falls into as he has to blow the save to get the win which if you think about it is not a way that you want to win if you can avoid it. But anyway I digress.

The Tides had 4 runs on 12 hits with 1 error and left 10 on base while the Red Wings had 3 runs on 8 hits and 1 error and also left 10 men on base.  Cla Meredith (1-0 18.00 ERA) got the win for the Tides and Denis Sarfate (0-0 S4 1.15 ERA) the save. Anthony Slama (0-1 1.80 ERA) took the loss for the Wings. Tonight the teams play game three of this series with Troy Patton (3-6 5.70 ERA) who dominated Pawtucket in his last start taking the hill for the Tides and Matt Fox (4-2 2.44 ERA) pitching for the home team.

The Orioles lost their sixth straight, this time to the New York Yankees as Miguel Tejada committed an error which allowed two runs to score giving the loss to Brian Matusz who only allowed one earned run to the powerful Yankees attack.  The loss dropped the O’s to 15-37with a .288 winning percentage.  Things do not look any brighter tonight as the Yankees have a 6-0 lead in the 5th having driven Brad Bergeson from the game.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Lose Heartbreaker: Drop 5th Straight

Errors and unearned runs have been the bane of the Norfolk Tides this year. On a beautiful night in from of 3292 fans the Tides lost a game despite excellent pitching for their starting pitcher on an unearned run. Last night the Tides lost 4-3 to the Braves but gave up three unearned runs and tonight the Braves scored the deciding run on a throwing error by Tides Second Baseman Scott Moore to first.  Tides starter Alfredo Simon pitched a solid game surrendering just one earned run in the first inning on a little twisting fly ball that was knocked down by the wind and fell in front of Jonathan Tucker by Brent Clevlen which scored Matt Young.  Simon would give up just that one earned run on 7 hits with 5 strike outs in the loss. Simon had an excellent night continues his solid performance for the Tides and might wind up with a mid or late season call up.

For the second night in a row the Tides gave up three errors.  Some of this is due to players like Moore playing out of position. Moore had not played the middle infield before this season and obviously has not adjusted to it.  Of course he is there because Justin Turner was called up to Baltimore when Brian Roberts was injured.

Gwinnett was the beneficiary of an outstanding start by Todd Redmond who pitched 7.1 innings giving up one earned run on 6 hits with 4 strike outs.  Scott Proctor got the two outs in the 8th and Craig Kimbrel got his third save of the year taking the Tides down in order in the ninth.

Joey Gathright grounding out to third. Gathright went 0-4 in Tuesday’s game

The Tides woes at the plate continued Joey Gathright, Scott Moore and Brandon Snyder all were hitless in 4 trips to the plate each.  Robert Andino doubled deep to left center with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth to drive in Adam Donachie.

Robert Andino getting one of his two hits, a single

The loss drops the Tides to 4 and 9.  The anemic Tides hitting has driven the team batting average to .230 which is third from the bottom in the International League and their team on base percentage is a miserable .304.  In 13 games the Tides have given up 68 runs on 131 hits while scoring 55 runs on 99 hits.

Jeff Salazar doubled in the bottom of the 8th to drive in the only Tides run

Now the Tides have already felt the ripple effect of the glut of injuries at Baltimore.  Lou Montanez, Justin Turner and Kam Mickolio have all replaced injured O’s and Tides Alberto Castillo was brought up when Brad Bergeson was optioned to Norfolk.   The talk is that if Bergeson can get his sinker and confidence back that he may go back up to Baltimore on May 1st to face the Red Sox.  If he is not ready the belief is that Tides starter Jake Arrieta who is not on the 40 man roster could make his major league debut on that day.  In one other personnel move Blake Davis was promoted to the Tides from AA Bowie.

Although the season is very early it appears that the depth, talent and youth of the Tampa Bay Rays organization is paying off big for their International League affiliate the Durham Bulls.  The bulls lead the league in almost every offensive category.  Durham’s pitching is solid giving up only 4 earned runs on 95 hits.  In the past four games the Bulls have produced 39 runs compared with 5 by their opponents. When one looks at the Rays and the Bulls it is clear that unless both are hit with a ton of injuries that the Rays could challenge the Yankees in the AL East and the Bulls could well repeat as the Governor’s Cup Champion.

On Wednesday the Tides will send Troy Patton (0-2  11.12 ERA)  against the Braves’ Ryne Reynoso (0-2  6.30) The weather might be on the soupy side with temperatures in the 60s and 50s and a 50% chance of rain showers.  I’ll be there and hope that you are too!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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O’s Lose 10th Straight….How long Can this Go? Johnson Blows Save A’s Defeat O’s 4-3

“Been in this game one-hundred years, but I see new ways to lose ’em I never knew existed before.” Casey Stengel

Well sports fans it is yet another day and another loss for the Baltimore Orioles.  This time it was close, the O’s despite a persistent lack of hitting had the lead until the bottom of the ninth when closer Jim Johnson blew the save giving up 2 runs to the A’s who came from behind to win 4-3.

The O’s got 2 runs in the sixth and 1 in the 8th and had nine hits but were unable to seal the deal.  Jeremy Guthrie gave up 2 runs and 6 hits but got a no decision for his work. Will Ohman, Matt Albers and Cla Meredith held the A’s to no runs in a combined 2.1 innings work, but when it came down to the clutch the O’s again could not keep the lead.  Ryan Sweeney of the A’s had 3 of the 4 RBIs for the A’s including the walk off 2 run single in the bottom of the ninth off of Johnson. Johnson contributed to the O’s demise with two wild pitches in the bottom of the ninth one on a strike out to Rejai Davis who reached first and scored the winning run.

The O’s experienced another injury when in when Miguel Tejada slid headfirst into first base in the sixth and had to leave the game.  As of yet the extent of the injury and any impact that it will have on Tejada has not been announced.

With the loss the O’s record drops to 1-11. The teams play again Sunday with the O’s sending Brian Matusz against Brian Anderson.  Having now lost 10 in a row can the Orioles turn things around before the season slips away before it even gets going?

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Woe Woe Woe the O’s Woes Continue to Grow

Earl Weaver like him or not knew how to manage and motivate

“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver

Well if you are an Orioles fan like me you have got to be wondering what is going on in Birdland.  The Orioles sports fans are losing and are patently not following the advice of their legendary Orioles skipper Earl Weaver. After a perfectly miserable 2009 season the Orioles looked like they had righted the ship and were ready if not to be competing for the AL East title at least to be competitive and playing .500 ball.  Veteran hitters like Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins were added to the line-up and last year’s crop of rookies including Catcher Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold were expected to start shining.  Additionally with Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis  and Felix Pie in the lineup the hitting drought of last year was expected to end.  In the pitching department great things were expected as the young arms of the O’s supplemented by veteran Kevin Millwood acquired from the Rangers over the winter were also expected to perform at a higher level than last year.

Matt Wieters is developing well for the O’s

Unfortunately no plan survives first contact with the enemy and it looks like the Orioles who definitely have the talent and potential to be competitive need to find a way to win.  After losing their opener in Tampa they won the second game in that series but haven’t seen a win since. They lost the third game in Tampa and returned home to be swept by both the Blue Jays and the Rays before losing last night in Oakland to the surging Athletics.  With a 1 win and 9 losses the O’s are tied with the Houston Astros for the Marianas Trench of Major League Baseball and as of the moment show no sign of coming out of this crash.

Miguel Tejada brought back for his bat leads the O’s in RBIs but is not hitting well for average…yet

The team batting average is only .232 and the have scored a total of 29 runs in their first ten games and their on base percentage is a mere .309.  Neither are they stealing bases with only 3 stolen so far this year. Felix Pie is leading the team in hitting at .400 with a on base percentage of .455 and slugging percentage of .650.  Miguel Tejada leads the team in RBIs with 7 nearly a quarter of the Orioles total run output.  Matt Wieters is showing signs of maturity at the plate hitting .313 and an OBP of .405.  However some of the bats which are expected to deliver have not woken up yet and maybe it is time to invoke prayers to Jobu to wake them up.  Brian Roberts is now on the 15 day Disabled List and has been replaced at second by Justin Turner called up from the O’s AAA affiliate the Norfolk Tides.

Big Righthander Kam Mickolio was Brought up for injured Mike Gonzales

The pitching staff widely regarded as having some of the best arms and potential in the majors has fared no better with a 4.89 ERA giving up the most hits with 97 hits to their opponents in these ten games and they have allowed 32 walks. In one area the pitching staff is doing well, the can strike out opponents ranking third in the majors with 80.  Kevin Millwood leads the staff with a 2.13 ERA while rookie Brian Matusz has the team’s only win and leads the team with 15 strike outs.  The biggest disappointment has been newly acquired closer Mike Gonzalez.  Gonzales has blown two saves and lost both games and has an 18.0 ERA.  He is on the 15 day DL and the O’s have called up Kam Mickolio from Norfolk as a middle relief man while moving Jim Johnson to the closer role.

Now it is certainly very early in the season but losses in April count just the same as losses in September and losing nine of your first ten games puts you in a very deep hole to start the season.  However at this point one has to start asking what is going on. The O’s are a very talented team and by all rights should be doing much better than their record and statistics suggest.

Orioles Manager Dave Trembley….”Nice guys…finish last?”

At the end of last year I laid the blame on Orioles Manager Dave Trembley.  As I said then:

“The one spot that I think that the team needs a change is the Field Manager Dave Trembley.  Trembley seems to be a good teacher but is not terribly inspirational.  Admittedly he began the year with a weak squad but something is not working and I do like his calm, but I wonder if the teams needs fire rather than calm right now.  My choice would be for the O’s to make a serious offer for Bobby Valentine now that he has returned from Japan.”

From “Oh, Oh, Oh O’s….The Orioles Skid Continues….” September 29th 2009 at  https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/oh-oh-oh-o%e2%80%99s%e2%80%a6-the-orioles-skid-continues-but-there-are-some-bright-spots/

Please do not get me wrong. I think a lot of Dave Trembley, however the team seems to have little life and it is my opinion that a very motivational manager with proven success at all levels of baseball like Bobby Valentine would be an ideal choice to manage the Orioles.  With so much of the season left I do not think anything is gained by keeping Trembley at the helm.  Now is it possible that Tremblay and his managerial style could turn the team around….certainly.  He is popular with the players a gentleman and a very nice person but I’m not so sure that he is the man to make this happen.  In addition to Valentine Clint Hurdle who has managed at Norfolk and led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007 is coaching at Texas and if one wanted a Baltimore connection there is Don Baylor who is currently the hitting coach for the Rockies.  If an interim manager is needed the Orioles could reach down to AAA Norfolk for Tides manager Gary Allenson who has the advantage of having worked with many of the younger O’s for the last four years and managed the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League as well as the Ottawa Lynx before they moved to Norfolk and became the Tides.  He has a long history of managing in the minors and it may be his time to hit the bigs.

Norfolk Tides Manager Gary Allenson might be a good interim manager should the Orioles fire Trembley

Regardless of what course the Orioles take it is imperative that they start winning. Success breads success and as Chuck Tanner said: “I don’t think a manager should be judged by whether he wins the pennant, but by whether he gets the most out of the twenty-five men he’s been given.” Unfortunately I don’t think that Dave Tremblay is getting the most of this very talented young team and even though it is very early in the season it is not too soon to make the change at the top.  As Leo Durocher said “What are we out at the park for, except to win?”

I’m hoping that the Birds will turn it around soon.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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