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What is going on in the "minds" of the Orioles front office? Nice work by J.P., who is conducting a pre-emptive raid on selected free agents, to sign Howie Clark, a career .300 hitter in the big leagues. That's .302, to be precise, over 53 AB in a 14-game callup to Baltimore last year, 26 points better than any of their regulars. How's his batting eye? Try 41 walks and just 28 strikeouts in AAA Rochester, where he hit .309 in 418 AB, with "only" 7 HR and 43 RBI, but 21 doubles and 4 triples.

Only 28, and capable of filling in as a corner infielder or outfielder, Clark gives the Jays a decent lefty bat off the bench if he makes the club, and makes Syracuse more competitive if he doesn't, getting on base in front of Gabe Gross. Howie will go to Dunedin, out-hit Werth and Wise and see what happens. He can't be any worse than Shannon Stewart in LF, and could find himself in the DH mix if they ever let Josh Phelps carry a glove. My idea about Orlando Palmiero and Jordan's about Matt Stairs just lost a little urgency, unless (until?) Ricciardi trades Jose Cruz. Pedro Swann is the only one I can think of who shouldn't be pleased about this development.

Also signing a minor-league deal was Rob Ryan, ex-Sacramento River Cat (A's) who had a couple of cups of coffee with the Diamondbacks, and is almost certainly ticketed for Syracuse. Another lefty-swinging OF, he hit just .249 in the PCL last year. Just wondering; does J.P. ever take a day off?

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Craig B - Wednesday, November 06 2002 @ 12:59 PM EST (#102414) #
This is good. I hadn't heard this until now; Clark is a very welcome addition... but he's not really a very good hitter for a corner OF. His MLEqA of .253 in Rochester isn't going to set the world on fire. He does draw some walks, but he's a contact hitter with little power. He played almost all of 2001 in Mexico with similar success to his performance this year in Rochester.

I would expect Clark to play most of the time in Syracuse.
Craig B - Wednesday, November 06 2002 @ 05:15 PM EST (#102415) #
Also, Chad Mottola signed today for Tampa Bay.
_dp - Wednesday, November 06 2002 @ 05:44 PM EST (#102416) #
I didn't understand why Mottola never made it to Toronto this year- he was tearing up AAA early on, and the Jays had stretches where they could have used him, but gave the AB to Swann and the loser JP nabbed from Oakland.

And even though Chris Latham sucked for the Tides this year, I didn't understand letting him walk. They need some OF bodies, so I don't think wecan be too critical of anyone they decide to nab.

The pitching is another story- the decision to let Brandon Lyon walk I think will prove to be a poor one; especially embarassing if he winds up making a career in Boston.
_Jordan - Wednesday, November 06 2002 @ 06:02 PM EST (#102417) #
Mottola ended up having a pretty decent year in Syracuse, a .279 EqA with 72.8 EqR and 21.2 RARP. But Clark and Ryan both put up equal or better numbers (a .293 EqA for Clark, while Ryan produced a .278 at Sacramento but leaped up to a .311 after arriving in Pawtucket), both are a little younger than Mottola, and Clark can play more positions. From a distance, it looks like a bit of a wash, but I'm assuming their people on the ground decided Chad wasn't going to help them.

Still, Mottola has some pop in that bat, and I'm glad he's going somewhere where there's an opportunity to break into the outfield. Tampa made some pretty nice acquisitions today. With James's hiring in Boston, could it be that everyone in the AL East is -- gasp -- getting it? Well, everyone except you-know-who, of course.
Coach - Wednesday, November 06 2002 @ 06:16 PM EST (#102418) #
Mottola is horrible defensively; he's strictly a DH and they want/need a bit more versatility from a bench player. Latham hasn't shown me anything at this level and I think he's "peaked" in AAA.

It seems Ricciardi has a lot more patience with "his" guys than with holdovers from the past. That's OK for the most part, as misplaced loyalty to the likes of Alex Gonzalez and Homer Bush is what dug the club such a deep hole.

So he's sweeping out players who are stalled, or he just doesn't like, and installing replacements he thinks have a higher upside. There's more veterans in the mix for AL bench jobs and IL starting roles than there were last year, and with any luck, a few of them will be better than their predecessors. I agree the Lyon thing seems hasty, and would love to hear J.P.'s explanation for that move.

Great to see new people dropping in; thanks for the feedback.
_Syd Thrift - Thursday, November 07 2002 @ 12:04 AM EST (#102419) #
"could it be that everyone in the AL East is -- gasp -- getting it? Well, everyone except you-know-who, of course."

_Jordan - Thursday, November 07 2002 @ 09:31 AM EST (#102420) #
Hey, cool -- our first psuedonymous post! I wonder where Budzilla is.
_Keith L. - Thursday, November 07 2002 @ 03:30 PM EST (#102421) #
Just stumbled on this site via one of Kent's posts in Clutch Hits - good to see more Jays discussion.

One note to add here: Clark can play 2b as well as the outfield. In 2001 he played in 67 games in Baltimore's system, and appeared 30 times at second.
Coach - Thursday, November 07 2002 @ 06:02 PM EST (#102422) #
It's nice to hear from Syd, who supposedly asked the Jays last winter about Shawn Green. How did John Bale work out for you?

Keith L.'s post means 'psuedonymity' has become epidemic, or we're being read in high places. Watch your step, Gideon.
_Travis - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 01:09 AM EST (#102423) #
Clark is the man. He has got a lot of heart and a work ethic that compares to the greats. You will see and you will love this guy! He give 150% every pitch from the first to the last. Give this guy a chance and you will be a fan like I am.
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