Orioles Preview 4/27-4/29

Pitching:
Baltimore’s starting pitching hasn’t come by many wins, but they have faired alright.  Millwood pitched a six hit complete game against Seattle on Wednesday, but also collected the 4-1 loss.  Of course, he will be facing some Yankee batters who have owned him over his career, particularly Alex Rodriguez who has hit .429 off Millwood and Nick Swisher who has gone .345 against the righty.  Guthrie has had equally bad luck, giving up only five hits and two walks against the Red Sox on Friday, but taking a no-decision.  Matusz has found a way to win, but with the Orioles bullpen, no lead seems safe.  Matt Albers has given up nine runs over 8.1 innings while walking seven.

Offense:
The Orioles offense has shown some signs of life recently, but is far from formidable.  Nick Markakis, who has his fair share of big hits against the Bombers, has started to heat up bringing his average up to .282 after the last four games.  … Click here to read the rest

Curious About Curtis

With Mark Teixeira’s and Nick Johnson’s collective struggles at the plate getting a lot of the Yankee press–along with the success of the starting pitchers–Curtis Granderson’s getting lost in the shuffle. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as he’ll be able to fly under the radar and not come under too much scrutiny while getting used to a new environment.

Right now, Curtis is hitting .246/.343/.443/.785/117+. He’s got a .356 wOBA and a 121 wRC+. Combine those offensive numbers with a 1.4 UZR, and you’ve got a 0.6 WAR player so far (over 650 PAs, that’d be a 5.714 WAR player).

All through the winter and Spring Training we were pondering how Granderson would fare against left handed pitching. Thus far, he’s got just a .268 wOBA vs. LHP, though that’s a pretty decent improvement over the .223 mark he had in 2009. Still, that’s not a good number. So, delving deeper into his splits page on FanGraphs, I thought I’d look to see why Curtis is struggling against LHP so far.… Click here to read the rest

Could Howard Deal Impact Jeter Negotiations?

From the AP:

Ryan Howard preferred securing his future in Philadelphia to testing free agency in two years — and boy is he getting his pay day.

The slugging first baseman agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract extension Monday that could keep him with the Phillies until 2017…..

While he has put up monster numbers, averaging 49.5 homers and 143 RBIs over the past four years, he has averaged 191 strikeouts over that span.

Howard’s deal could influence Derek Jeter’s next deal with the Yankees and Pujols’ next contract with the Cardinals.

Jeter, who also is represented by Close, is in the final season of a $189 million, 10-year contract.

Pujols is making $16 million this year, and St. Louis has a $16 million option for 2011 with a $5 million buyout. Of the 2011 salary, $4 million would be deferred without interest.

Twins MVP catcher Joe Mauer signed a $184 million, eight-year extension this spring.

“It allowed us to see how the market was shaping up,” Close said of 28-year-old Mauer’s deal.

Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Orioles in the unbalanced schedule era

In light of the Red Sox’s dominance of the Orioles this decade (Sunday night’s loss to Baltimore aside) and the fact that the Yankees embark on the first of 18 against their fellow AL East rival and Boston’s favorite punching bag tonight, I wanted to see how the Yankees had fared against the O’s in the unbalanced schedule era. I figured they’d done well, although I assumed it wasn’t quite Boston-level ownage.

Well, for all my griping about the O’s being an automatic win for the Red Sox, it turns out the Yankees have actually performed even better than Boston against Baltimore this decade, going 109-57 since 2001, compared to Boston’s 107-59.

That’s right, the Orioles have played .343 ball against the Yankees during the last nine seasons. The closest the O’s came to taking the season series was in 2007, when they managed to split their 18 contests. Other than that it’s been double-digit wins for the Yanks in every season.… Click here to read the rest

The Great Debate: Closing Remarks (….At Long Last)

Net-net, the 2010 team is better than the 1998 team offensively. Easiest way to demonstrate this? Well, if you read through the lengthy argument here, discussing 2010 versus 2009, I think it’s fairly clear that 2010’s team is better at the plate. Johnson and Granderson compare positively to Matsui and Damon (though plenty of people have let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they think that’s bologna—nevermind the statistics!). Feel free to disagree. But bring some statistics to back you up, would ya? Next, add in a full season of A-Rod (rather than having him on the DL the first month, and a shell of himself for the first month or so after he was back). Finally, just for good measure, slot Brett Gardner in for Melky Cabrera. For those of you who think this isn’t a big difference (or that Melky is better, even), consider this: two weeks ago Gardner took the lead over Melky for career WAR.… Click here to read the rest

Curt Schilling-Occupation Foole (part deux)

The always opinionated Curt Schilling was at it again yesterday, this time with our very own Javier Vazquez in his cross hairs. Appearing on ESPN radio’s  Colin Cowherd show yesterday, he made some comments addressing Javier Vazquez’s slow start in pinstripes, and brought up some commonly heard tags on Javier that I think don’t hold much water. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the Daily News:

“I never, ever thought the move to New York the first time was a good one, and I didn’t think this (move) was good as well. I don’t think he suddenly learned how to pitch when he went back to Atlanta and dealt last year,” Schilling said. “It’s hard to say this without sounding disrespectful, and I don’t mean it that way – the National League is an easier league to pitch in, period, and some guys aren’t equipped to get those same outs in the American League. And he’s one of those guys.”

He adds:

“(Vazquez) thrived in Montreal and he thrived in Atlanta, and those are both second-tier cities from a baseball passion perspective.Click here to read the rest

Maybe waiting until the contract expires isn’t such a bad idea after all

Of course, as I was heading to HBT to pull Craig Calcaterra’s thoughts (also here, and here, and here), I ran across this from Matthew Pouliot, who seems to be sharing the same thoughts as I am:

Look at the Yankees. Obviously, they have a huge advantage in these circumstances, since they don’t have to worry about being outbid in free agency. But they made no attempt to re-sign Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera last winter. Their policy probably cost them some money when they had to re-sign Jorge Posada as a free agent after his career-year in 2007, but it’s worked out well overall and the team has fewer bad contracts now than probably at any point in the past 15 years.

It’s something the Phillies should have looked at very carefully before committing an additional $125 million to Ryan Howard on Monday. Howard was already signed through the end of next year, and it’s hard to imagine that the Phillies are saving any money over what it would have taken to sign him a year from now.Click here to read the rest

Minor League “Week” in Review

Of course, as their record shows, all is not roses down in Pennsylvania.

  • Jesus Montero is probably the name everyone is watching.  He has had an up and down season so far, but may be hitting his stride. Right now his line is .237/.308/.407 with two homers, four doubles and nine RBIs.  He has walked six times and struck out twelve times.
  • Reegie Corona has played in every game for Scranton, but has little to show for it.  He is hitting just .169 with an OBP of .246.  He has hit one triple and stolen two bases.
  • Jon Weber has also started off the season slowly.  He is hitting .160/.232/.200 with one triple and four RBIs.  He was also caught stealing once.
  • Romulo Sanchez has struggled on the mound.  He is 0-1 with a 8.50 ERA.  While he has struck out fourteen hitters, he has walked thirteen over his eighteen innings of work.

Trenton Thunder

The Thunder is also sitting at 9-8 as they kick off a three game set against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday.Click here to read the rest