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Good and bad ideas

This pitcher made six starts in September, going 2-3, 5.45 for his team. In 34 2/3, he allowed four homers among 46 hits. Opponents hit .317 against him that month. Was it Jason Berken? David Hernandez? No it was Cliff Lee of the Phillies. Hit hard in Septmeber, Lee pitched Philly to a win in game one of the World Series and is 3-0, 0.54

More from the new bench coach

In this space yesterday we presented a story on the O’s new bench coach, Jeff Datz. The 2010 season will be Datz’s 29th in pro ball. During last eight years he’s been a coach with Cleveland, spending about four years as bench coach for the Indians. He played professionally, mostly in the minors, as a catcher, from 1982-90. In 1989, he saw his only Major

How Datz landed in Baltimore as the O’s new bench coach

New Orioles’ bench coach Jeff Datz already had one of the most special days of his baseball life in Baltimore. Now he hopes for more after joining the O’s coaching staff Thursday. “I’ll never forget I got my first Major League hit in Baltimore in 1989 and was able to hand that baseball to my mom and dad. “Being from south Jersey I had about

McCrory thinking positive after surgery

You have to admire Bob McCrory’s positive outlook. The Orioles’ right-handed reliever has been mostly hit hard in 15 games covering 13 2/3 Major League innings the past two seasons. Now he’s had a second major surgery in four years, yet he remains upbeat. He thinks he can be ready for spring training next year and wants to prove to the club that he can

And the Oriole award for mental toughness in 2009 goes to...

...Jason Berken. I have respect for anyone good enough to ever put on a Major League uniform. But during the Orioles’ 2009 season, I gained a ton of respect for pitcher Jason Berken. As the losses mounted for Berken, so did speculation that he’d soon be headed back to Triple-A. For a while there, his fate seemed to hang on every pitch. And some of

A question of character

When the Orioles acquire a player, should they consider the character of that player? When looking to add a player through trade, free agency or the First-Year Player Draft, is it mostly about talent, or should character come into play? Do fans care about having a team full of good guys or do you just want hits, homers and wins? It’s a complicated question and

Monday morning thoughts

Three Oriole prospects in the Arizona Fall League have been hitting so well to date it makes you wonder about the quality of pitching they are facing. Plus, the Phoenix team has ten .300 hitters at this early stage. But still, of the club’s four .400 hitters, three are Orioles with Josh Bell at .464, Matt Angle at .406 and Brandon Snyder at .400. Snyder

O’s farmhand leading hitter in World Cup

While fans in the United States were taking stock of pennant races in the Major Leagues in September, three O’s minor leaguers were raising their stock by performing well in baseball’s World Cup in Europe. Paco Figueroa, who hit .305 this year in 62 games at second base for Bowie, went 17 for 34 for Spain and led the entire 20-nation tournament in hitting. Paco

Snyder on his struggles at Norfolk

It was a bit of a mystery from the Orioles minor leagues during the 2009 season. How could Brandon Snyder hit so well at Double-A Bowie and go on to struggle when promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on June 19th?

Brandon Snyder on his big game and goal to start at 1B for the O’s

Not long after he finished up a monster game at the plate in the Arizona Fall League, Brandon Snyder was on the other end of the phone line. He was talking about his 7-RBI day on Wednesday. But before long the conversation shifted to the 2010 season. If the O’s have an open competition for their first base job, Snyder is determined to emerge the

Markakis on the youth and O’s future

Nick Markakis has had four very solid seasons as the O’s right fielder. Before he put the 2009 season to bed, he shared some thoughts on the year and the club’s future. He believes the current crop of young players is solid and the club’s future is bright.

Pondering Questions

Some O’s questions to ponder while marveling and wondering why Mariano Rivera is just about the only closer out there not yet to melt down in the post-season:

Goodfellas (minor league version)

I’m borrowing a blog idea from Roch today. He recently wrote about some of the all-time good guys he has covered working the O’s beat. From 2004-2006 after I left WBAL Radio, I had the pleasure to be the play-by-play guy on the radio for the Aberdeen IronBirds. I count it as one of the special experiences of my life. I met some great people,

Griffin on Arrieta, Patton and more

Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin has been featured in two of my blogs this week. In his two years in the O’s organization, he has made quite an impact on some of the O’s top, young pitchers. In this entry today, he talks about some hurlers not addressed in those earlier stories. How did Jake Arrieta do for you this year and what is his

A temporary Angels fan

One way to tell you are somewhat of a die-hard O’s fan. When Boston was eliminated in the post-season, you either shouted out loud or muttered under your breath “take that Red Sox nation!” Next year when they parade into the Yard acting like winning is their birth right, remind them they won as many playoff games this year as the Orioles did. There was

O’s rally late on Baseball America lists

It may not be quite as exciting as a bottom of the ninth come-from-behind win, but the Orioles made a late rally on Baseball America’s top 20 minor league prospects lists. When I wrote about this last Wednesday, the Orioles had just three players named among the top 20 of five different leagues. But, with a late rally, the O’s had three players named on

How do O’s young pitchers stack up?

In this space yesterday, I featured Mike Griffin, the O’s minor league pitching coach who spent most of the last two years tutoring pitchers like Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken. They made up the bulk of his pitching rotations at Bowie in 2008 and Norfolk this past season. All four pitchers made the Majors this year and were happy to give

Rising star in the O’s Minors

We’re talking about a coach, not a player. But a coach that has had a major impact on some key O’s minor league pitchers for two years now. Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin was the winner of the 2009 Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. It goes to the person who best exemplifies the qualities of the late O’s coach and manager. Griffin joined the

Wondering about the corners

It is a big question for the O’s front office to answer at some point. Do they already have their future players at first and third base in house, or do they need to go bat shopping at one or both of those positions? And, what if Josh Bell is the future at third and Brandon Snyder the future at first, but neither is ready

O’s minor league notebook

While the Orioles Major League season is over, about 60 O’s minor leaguers continue to take part in instructional league workouts in Sarasota, Florida. The group is made up of mostly players from the O’s lower minors and, as the title says, players get instruction on aspects of their game that needs improving. They also play about 15 games vs. players from other organizations. O’s

Tillman talk (plus Eastern League rankings)

Chris Tillman said the 2009 season was quite a special one for him. It began with him as a Triple-A rookie at the age of 20 and ended with the 21-year-old Tillman picking up Major League wins vs. the Angels and Yankees. “I’ve grown a lot,” Tillman said. “Coming into this season, I didn’t have much of a changeup, didn’t have much of a clue

What’s next for Billy Rowell?

Billy Rowell, the 9th pick in the first-round of the 2006 draft, is becoming a bit of a problem for the O’s organization. His stats are declining each season. Worse yet, some Keys’ observers this year questioned his effort and work ethic. Others said he was far from the most popular player in the clubhouse. Somewhere amidst all of this there is massive power potential

O’s sign player from Guatemala

His name is Manuel Hernandez and the 17-year-old is the first player the Orioles have ever signed from the country of Guatemala. He has played outfield and infield for his national team and was signed last Friday by the O’s during a ceremony that made big news in his homeland. No player from Guatemala has ever made the Major Leauges and Hernandez is just the

O’s get little recognition on Baseball America’s top 20 lists

Should O’s fans be concerned that Baseball America has released its top 20 prospects for five leagues where O’s have affiliates and just three O’s players have been mentioned? RHP Matt Hobgood was named the 4th best prospect in the Appalachian League while LHP Brian Matusz was rated number two and LHP Zach Britton as the 15th best prospect in the Carolina League. The O’s

A matter of leadership

Dave Trembley was asked about leadership. What makes a leader? Do the Orioles have one? “Leadership is not what you say it’s what you do. The way you go about it, the ability to offer suggestions or make corrections with younger players. Leadership is a presence. It’s reliability, it’s etched in stone like concrete. It’s day in and day out, what you stand for.” He

MacPhail speak

An added bonus in having Andy MacPhail running the Orioles baseball operations is that we are all getting to learn a new baseball vocabulary. On Andy’s watch, the O’s don’t call up players from the minors, they “introduce” them to the bigs. Major Leagues meet Matt Wieters, Matt meet the Majors. Brian Matusz meet the show, show here’s Brian, good luck trying to hit his

Season finale post-game notes and quotes

It’s over now - The O’s ended the season with a three-game sweep and four-game win streak. They finished 64 and 98. They went 39-42 at home and 25-56 on the road. They ended up 24-48 vs. the AL East. They went 6-20 in September and 4-0 in October. The three-game sweep was the O’s first since taking three at Philly June 19-21. It was

O’s win 5-4 in 11 innings in season finale

What a wacky way to end a season. With runners on first and second and no outs in the last of the 11th, Jeff Fiorentino dropped a sac bunt. Pitcher Brandon League’s throw was low and skipped off the first baseman’s glove, allowing Michael Aubrey to score from second with the winning run. The O’s celebrated an 11-inning, 5-4 walk off win over Toronto.

Checking on the numbers

Brian Roberts got his 30th stolen base in the first inning - check. A couple of batters later, Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer to up his RBI total to 101 - check. Jeremy Guthrie has pitched through the 6th and needs to 7 2/3 innings to hit 200 for his career high - no check yet.

Today’s pitchers: Guthrie vs. Romero

RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.05) today makes his 33rd start of this season, his 17th at home and the 11th in his career vs. Toronto. Over his last four starts, Guthrie is 0-4, 5.68. In the previous four starts, he went 3-1, 1.33. He leads the American League in losses, earned runs allowed and homers allowed. Guthrie’s 17 losses is five more than his previous

The final game: Toronto at Orioles

Game Preview Toronto (75-86) at Orioles (63-98) Now that they won’t end this season losing, say, 20 games in a row or with 100 losses, what’s left for the O’s to play for in today’s 2009 finale? Probably the chance to end the year on a four-game win streak and with a series sweep of Toronto. Today, at 1:35 p.m. the O’s host the Blue

Post-game Notes: O’s double up Toronto

On the Mark - Mark Hendrickson got the win in his first start of this year, on April 10th vs. Tampa. Tonight, in his 11th start, he picked up his second win as a starter. Hendrickson, now 6-5, 4.37, pitched 6 1/3 and gave up six hits and three runs. He threw 90 pitches, 55 for strikes. In four starts since he re-joined the rotation

Hendrickson makes a good final impression

Last night Michael Aubrey stated his case to be an Oriole in 2010. Over the last month or so, Mark Hendrickson has been doing the same thing. He got the win Saturday night, giving up six hits and three runs over 6 1/3 innings vs. Toronto. Hendrickson is now 6-5, 4.37. Since September first, in seven games, four starts, he is 1-1, 3.55

A three-game win streak! O’s top Jays

Mark Hendrickson picked up his first win as a starter since April 10th as the Orioles beat Toronto 6-3 Saturday night in front of 23,254 at Camden Yards. The O’s improved to 63-98 with the win to guarantee they will avoid a 100-loss season. The O’s now have their first three-game win streak in over 90 games. The last streak of three or more wins

Looking for a three-game win streak

Can anyone remember the Orioles’ last three-game win streak? A win tonight, and they lead 5-2 after four frames, would make three in a row. They have gone this whole second-half without a three-game streak. They went all of July without one. You have to go back to June 17-21st when the O’s won five straight, for the last streak of three or more wins.

Tonight’s pitchers: Hendrickson vs. Richmond

LHP Mark Hendrickson (5-5, 4.38) tonight makes his 53rd appearance and his 11th start of this season, his 6th start at home and the 13th of his career vs. Toronto. In three starts since moving back into the rotation on September 17, Hendrickson is 0-1, 4.11. Over the last two starts he has given up 5ER over 12 innings with all five runs scoring on

Roberts talks about being named the MVO

Brian Roberts took time today to react to the news that he has been named Most Valuable Oriole for the second time. He also won the award in 2005. “It’s something you don’t set out to accomplish, that’s not your goal. But we had some guys that had some good years on this team. I don’t even know who picks it, but it’s something humbling

The final Saturday: Toronto at Orioles

Game Preview Toronto (75-85) at Orioles (62-98) Who could have predicted that Chris Waters and Michael Aubrey would be heroes in back-to-back O’s wins following a 13-game losing streak? But after Waters pitched the O’s to a win Thursday, Aubrey slugged the O’s to victory Friday night in the first game of the last series of the year. Aubrey homered twice, hit his first Major

Post-game Notes: O’s whip Blue Jays

The offense returns - Coming into tonight’s game, the O’s had scored just seven runs over the last three games and 13 runs over the last five. They matched the five-game output with 13 runs tonight. The O’s had just four extra-base hits over the last three games. Tonight they got two doubles and three homers. The O’s went 14 for 38 at bat and

Aubrey talks about his two-homer night

If the Orioles have a competition for the first base job next year, Michael Aubrey is showing he wants in. “This has meant a lot. It’s given me a chance to show my ability and my confidence out there. The one thing I am is confident. Hopefully that can be enough to help a team, hopefully help out this team next year.” Amber talks with

Andy MacPhail comments on Dave Trembley

In announcing that he is picking up Dave Trembley’s option on his contract to manage the Orioles in 2010, Andy MacPhail said “Dave did what we asked him to do” in terms of helping the young players on the roster succeed and grow while he knew the club would pile up some losses along the way. Here are other comments from MacPhail from today’s press

Some player thoughts on Trembley

As O’s fans await word on whether Dave Trembley will return as manager, a couple of O’s pitchers hope he returns. One is a veteran, another a rookie. “Every manager is a leader and someone that sets a tone,” Jeremy Guthrie said. “He gets a team through the tough times. He’s done a tremendous job, Dave cares about us and first and foremost, as a

The final weekend: Toronto at Orioles

Game Preview Toronto (75-84) at Orioles (61-98) Now that they’ve put an end to the third longest losing streak in Orioles history, the Birds will look for a couple of wins this weekend to avoid a 100-loss year. The O’s need to win two of three to finish with 99 or fewer losses. Tonight, the Orioles host Toronto at 7:05 p.m. to begin the final

A Trembley supporter

I hope Dave Trembley returns as O’s manager next year. I say this for one main reason - he works well with young players. Next year’s team should be loaded with young players. Maybe it was all those years in the minors or the man’s amazing patience, but young players respond to him and he can relate to them.

Post-game Notes: The losing streak is over

Finally !!!! - The Orioles beat Tampa 3-2 Thursday in their final road game of the season to end a 13-game losing streak. It was their longest streak since losing 21 in a row to start the 1988 season and losing 14 in a row in August of 1954. The 13-game losing streak was the third longest in team history. The O’s picked up their

The losing streak ends! O’s top Rays

The Orioles’ 13-game losing streak started vs. Tampa Bay. Tonight it ended vs. Tampa Bay. Chris Waters and four relievers teamed on a five-hitter as the O’s topped the Rays 3-2 to end the longest losing streak in the Majors this season. It was the O’s first win since September 16th and also snapped a ten-game road losing streak. The victory also allowed the O’s

He likes hitting off O’s pitching

Ben Zobrist has been abusing O’s pitching this year and he hit a solo homer in the last of the fourth tonight to cut the O’s lead to 3-1. No player the O’s have faced all year has hit more homers and knocked in more runs this year vs. Baltimore than Zobrist. He is 6 for 14 this series with three homers and 6 RBI.

Tonight’s pitchers: Waters vs. Garza

LHP Chris Waters (0-0, 8.10) tonight makes his 5th appearance and 1st Major League start of this season after spending most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk. The 29-year-old Waters was recalled from the minors on September 8th. In four games in relief with the O’s he has pitched 6 2/3 innings giving up seven hits and six runs. In his last outing he pitched

Road trip finale: O’s at Tampa

Game Preview Orioles (60-98) at Tampa (82-76) A team on a long losing streak usually finds a variety of ways to lose. The Orioles are no different during their current streak. For a while the bullpen was imploding. Now that the pen has pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings the past two games, the O’s scored just four runs in those games. The Orioles losing streak

Losses of Bergy and Sherrill was first sign of trouble

Of all the players lost via trade or injury this year by the Orioles, the two most important to me, have been Brad Bergesen and George Sherrill. Within about 24 hours at the end of July, Bergesen took a liner off his leg and Sherrill was dealt to the Dodgers. The O’s have not recovered from that. They are 16-41 since the pair exited.

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