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"And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will...
Suffer the needle chill
She's running to stand...
Still." - U2.

It seems like a different age. Believe it or not, the Orioles were the last team not being currently ignored by Robert Dudek to win the AL East.

The 1997 edition of the Birds won 98 games and made it to the ALCS. But after the season, Davey Johnson was replaced by Ray Miller; since then, they have never won more than 79.

2003 in review

- 71 - 91
- 74 - 88 (Pythagorean Record)
- scored 743
- allowed 820
- attendance 2,454,523

Last season got off to a bad start before a pitch was thrown. Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, the newly-installed General Manager pairing, didn't exactly announce their presence with authority. The biggest offseason signings were Deivi Cruz and Omar Daal -- enough said.

Spring training, normally a time of optimism, was overshadowed by the terrible death of Steve Bechler. The start of the season saw good pitching, but no hitting -- good pitching with the obvious exception of Omar Daal, that is. In the first half, the Oriole lineup included Gary Matthews Jr., David Segui and Brooks Fordyce...all of whom were offensive negatives. Only Melvin Mora started the season really well -- in fact, he started the season the way Barry Bonds normally does! Injuries and releases gradually changed the offense somewhat as the season progressed. 2003 saw the arrival of Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie from the farm as regulars.

Going into the break, the O's were generating some offense but the pitching fell into disrepair. The GMs began earning their salaries then, making a couple of deals. Sidney Ponson was sent to the Giants for Kurt Ainsworth, while Jeff Conine was moved to the Marlins for Pedro's cousin. The second half never really got going for the Orioles, as Mora got injured and when one player would get hot, another would go into a slump -- particularly in the rotation, where Jason Johnson and Damian Moss were awful as Pat Hentgen emerged as arguably the best starter in the second half.

There were some good points - Bigbie and Matos emerged as starters, Brian Roberts showed he belonged in the Majors at second (after taking over for Jerry Hairston Jr.), Eric DuBose was good in the rotation and Matt Riley, a name Orioles fans had been hearing for a long time, finally made The Show with a promising cup of coffee.

The offseason

Miguel Tejada
Javier Lopez
Rafael Palmeiro
Sidney Ponson
Mike DeJean

Deivi Cruz
Tony Batista
Brook Fordyce
Scott Erickson
Damian Moss
Kerry Ligtenberg
Jason Johnson
Pat Hentgen

The Orioles undoubtedly got better this offseason -- but so did everyone they're chasing, and the Orioles have a longer road to travel. Nonetheless, for a team that has spent many of the last offseasons failing to improve, this winter saw significant progress.

Going into the offseason, the GMs faced the reality of a very weak farm system, with the notable exception of top-level pitching. Among position players, there were very few prospects ready to step up now that Bigbie and Matos were regulars. The Orioles did, however, have some cash as a number of big contracts had disappeared off the books.

The "normal" rebuilding process of replacing older players and overpaying with prospects was not going to work with the offense -- you'd need to to have some offensive prospects for that. So the GMs took the available money, and figured that they could try to put out a decent offensive team and rebuild at the same time: They would sign veteran free agents for all the positions at which they had offensive holes. The pitching was a different matter, as there were some prospects in the upper minors who might be ready to move up soon. Accordingly, no veteran pitching (save the returning Ponson) was signed, as it would block the Orioles' rising prospects. The job for the front office this year will be to sort out which of those young pitchers will be staying and contributing going forward, and which will not.

The team will not compete for the playoffs this year -- far from it, given the opposition in its division -- but by improving both their offence and defence, they have created an environment where the young pitchers will have a chance to succeed and improve. Meanwhile, the upgraded hitting will bump up the win total and give the fan base hope for the future.

The big-name signings are well-known. Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmiero and Mike DeJean all came on board, and Sidney Ponson returned. The offense got a lot better with these moves: Lopez replacing Fordyce and Tejada replacing Cruz are huge upgrades. The return of Ponson was a nice coup by the GMs, who effectively received Kurt Ainsworth in return for a half season of Sir Sidney's services.

Importantly, the Orioles front office showed signs of getting better at signing free agents. Tejada, for instance, is under 30 and a top-shelf player at an important defensive position who isn't injury-prone -- not a typical Oriole signing, given the club's recent past. While the Lopez signing seems a little less sensible (what with old catchers generally not being regarded as sound bets), there is nevertheless a sense here that the Orioles were trying to establish themselves in the minds of future free agents as somewhere desirable to sign. The overpaying they were accused of over the winter was part of this price.

The GMs are showing an impressive interest in innovation. The story broke this winter that they are using psychological testing to determine whom to draft and trade for. Testing in itself is nothing new (there were references to standard testing results in Moneyball) but the Orioles are taking things further, using different analyses and going into far more depth. As Frank Marcos, head of the Major League Scouting Bureau, said, "They're at the forefront." When you're in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, a willingness to experiment can only be a good thing.


The numbers below for each players are the indespensible ZiPS forecast from Dan Szymborski at Primer. Remember that with ZiPS, the playing time projections are not necessarily an accurate forecast of the coming season.



I have no idea what Lopez did last year. I've read suggestions that the secret to his startling season was as simple as getting in shape; if he could bottle it and sell it, there'd be a lot of buyers.

His OPS+ for the last six years:
1998 122
1999 133
2000 105
2001 91
2002 76
2003 174

One of those years is not like the others. The question isn't really whether he will decline from last year -- it's by how much. His numbers in 2003 (.328/.378/.687) made for one of the best offensive seasons by a catcher ever. Even if he can return to his levels of the late nineties, the Orioles will be in good shape behind the plate. The ZiPS projection looks quite likely to me.

If you are a believer in the "theory of the contract year" -- and I am -- Lopez is the new poster boy. If he had come into the market after his 2002 season, he would probably have been able to find a starting job somewhere -- but it might have been somewhere like Detroit, and it certainly would not have been attached to a $20 million+ paycheque. If a new attitude to fitness and conditioning was behind last year's monster season, it does beg the question of whether Lopez will be able to find the motivation to keep his fitness at peak levels with a big contract in the bag and a team that is unlikely to contend. Much as I expect Lopez to be a good player this year, there is every chance he will be something of a liability by 2006, especially if he has to move out from behind the plate and ties up the DH slot.

I have always wondered about Lopez, given the whole Greg Maddux controversy. You'd have to have a job working for Tony Blair to be able to spin the fact that one of the best pitchers of his generation refused to be caught by you as a positive thing. The official line apparently is that Maddux wanted the same catcher every time out, so they gave him the backup meaning Javy got regular rest.

Yeah, suurrrre.

First Base


Palmeiro had been a model of consistency throughout his middle-to-late thirties until last year, when he lost 95 points of OPS. The move in ballparks is not going to help him get it back. ZiPS does not like his chances at all this year, calling for another 100 points to drop off his OPS. That seems overly pessimistic to me, but Dan Szymborski sees the precipitous decline in his double rate (from 34 in 2002 to 21 in 2003, in roughly the same number of at-bats) as a sign of potential collapse. I foresee Raffy being productive this year; whether he is productive enough for the O's to pick up his option and keep him around next year could depend on the free agent market. There is a lot of talk in Baltimore about making a run at Magglio Ordonez next offseason and engineering a move (back) to first for the younger and cheaper Jay Gibbons.

However much Palmeiro declines, he should still be able to be an improvement over Jeff Conine -- even by the most pessimistic measure. The really good thing about Raffy from the O's standpoint is his ability to play regularly. If he misses any significant time, the names B.J. Surhoff, David Segui and Tim Raines Jr. will be written on lineup cards far more often than anyone in Baltimore will like. Even if Palmeiro is nothing more than a one-year rental, he will give the lineup some pop and be popular with the fans. There are many, many worse ways to fill a position for a year.

Second Base

JerryHairston Jr.R/R27410.259.326.363

Mick Doherty believes Brian Roberts is the best second baseman in the A.L East, which is a valid argument, although I would take the O-Dawg myself. In the longer term, though, Roberts might not even be the best in the Orioles' organization, as Mike Fontenot has recovered his prospect status (see below). If he hits at AAA as well as he did at AA last year, Fontenot could, and should, be the O's' starter sooner rather than later.

It's quite probable, then, that one of the two big leaguers will be gone very soon -- and quite possible that the other will follow him a few months later. For now, though, Roberts will start the season as the incumbent and Hairston Jr. will begin either on the DL or getting back into game shape in the minors; he suffered a hand injury early in spring training but will not require surgery.

Going by the numbers, the two are very similar. ZiPS prefers Roberts to Hairston, but Shandler prefers Hairston to Roberts. Roberts had a strong first half this year, but was not so impressive after the break (his OPS dropped 70 points). Hairston missed a lot of last year with a foot injury. Prior to that, though, he was showing excellent walk and OBP tendencies. Admittedly, a month and a half is a very small sample size.

Whichever one of the two is playing on any given day will also lead off. To do that job effectively, they both need to maintain and then improve the .360 OBP rates they were producing early last year. You could write "should walk more" next to both of these guys, which is true for too many of the Orioles. Both of these guys run pretty well, and both should be able to steal 30+ bases.

Third Base


While signing Tejada was a good move in many ways, it left Melvin Mora shunted along a stop. Then again, the idea of acquiring a big-name shortstop when you already have a perfectly adequate one caught on in New York this winter as well. It does seem a waste of Mora's defensive skills at second, short and centrefield to leave him at third.

There was much grumbling over the winter in the usual circles that Mora was overpaid with his new contract (3 years, $10.5 million). I don't really see it, though. The deal takes him through the remaining years where he can likely be productive, and means the O's don't have to take him to an arbitration case that they might lose if he has another big year like last year.

Mora was obviously conferring with Javy Lopez a lot through the first half of least year about how to achieve a .350 improvement in OPS. Unfortunately, he must have stopped consulting his future teammate in the second half, as he quickly regressed back to his mean. He should still be good for an OPS near .800 and a good glove at third, and that's a huge improvement over Tony Batista.



I have to be nice about Miggy or I'll be in Gitz's bad books. Actually, it's very easy to be nice about Tejada; I think he's great. The contrarian view of this signing is that (1) he has only had one year when he put up $12 million worth of value, and (2) he isn't A-Rod, but the Orioles can afford to overpay by a couple of million or so a year, and Tejada is still one of the best shortstops in the league -- particularly away from Oakland.

Here are the road numbers for the past three years:
Tejada .304/.361/.499
Garciaparra .266/.314/.459
A-Rod .278/.375/.564

Conclusive of nothing, I know, but interesting nonetheless. Remember that Tejada's also at his peak age and had a hot second half last year (an .872 OPS after the break). There is every chance he could surprise a lot of people with some very big numbers this year. To call him an upgrade over Cruz would be a gross understatement.

Right Field


An ex-Jays farmhand (he was lost in the 2000 Rule 5 draft), Gibbons is moving into his peak years with a rather nice last couple of years behind him. His batting average, in particular, continues to inch from poor to good. He is an average rightfielder at the moment, but at his age there is always a chance of a rapid advance. Certainly, a 30+ home run season is in the cards.

The big worry with Gibbons is a recurring right wrist problem; last year was the first time in his career in the bigs that he was apparently not bothered by it. A big decline at the end of last year was not an encouraging sign, though; the Orioles have been explaining it away as fatigue after playing his first full year of being in the lineup every day. Whatever it was, his September production (SLG under .350) was worthy of a Yankees second baseman.

To go from being a useful player to a really good one, Gibbons needs to improve his OBP and avoid the second half slump syndrome that has been something of a career feature. Still, even if he just remains at the useful level, he will stay one of the O's best bats.

There have been rumours recently that Gibbons will be moved to the Dodgers for a starting pitcher. This one makes no sense to me on many levels. Why would Paul DePodesta be interested in a player at an offensive position with a .318 lifetime OBP, who isn't particularly noted for wearing pitchers out? Why would Baltimore deal from a position of weakness (Tim Raines Jr. is the only alternative at outfield) for a pitcher who might only be blocking some good young arms from gaining Major League experience?
This makes no sense unless DePodesta has gotten drunk with power, temporarily lost it and offered Edwin Jackson. Then again, that would be more than drunk; that would be like taking a tour of the Jack Daniels factory and falling into one of the vats.

Left Field


Bigbie is the one Oriole who can be relied upon to get on base at more than a league-average rate; he has so far in his career, at least. Never a highly-rated prospect, Bigbie started last year at AAA and returning there for a spell after an injury. Since his recall, though, he has turned into a hitter with a good average who will take some walks. He had something of a power spurt in the second half last year, with 9 home runs and a .510 SLG. He will hit second in the lineup and immediately before the big new imports, so his getting on base will be a key for the Orioles.

Center Field


Another example of an injury sometimes being a blessing in disguise for a team. Matos started the year, like Bigbie, at AAA and only got his chance in the show after an injury to Sarge Jr. He had been destroying AAA and carried right on hitting in the majors, putting up an .810 OPS in 313 first half at bats. Matos cooled off a little after the break, but rebounded at the end of the year to end with a season line of .295/.338/.440.

Matos plays a good centre field by all accounts, and with Bigbie and Mora on hand, the Orioles are one of the few teams with legitimate depth at centre. Since Matos is still a couple of years away from his prime, you can put that together with his offence, his defence and some speed on the base paths and you can see why Matos was a big positive for the Orioles last year. Question marks do remain, most noticeably over his health; he has been no stranger to the trainer's room over his career.

Like many of the Orioles, he takes comparatively few walks. If it were possible to teach hitters to be more patient at the plate (and my Moneyball tells me it isn't), and the Orioles could find someone who could do it, they should offer him half Peter Angelos' kingdom.

Designated Hitter


Jack's going to be Jack Cust. I'm trying to think positively on the Orioles' behalf, and I refuse to believe that B.J Surhoff and David Segui will be allowed to take significant at-bats at-bats away from Cust. There is preferring veterans over rookies, and then there is downright incompetent stupidity. I think it's pretty obvious which one we would be talking about if Cust were kept out of the lineup. Cust was brought up twice in the first half and didn't get a single at bat.

Cust seems to have been a prospect forever. In fact, I'm not sure if he can be called a prospect any more; surely there must be some time limit on the term! Most people who weren't in charge of the Orioles lineup card last year are convinced Cust can hit, and I am one of them. The guy deserves a break after a career of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. An OPS in the .850 range would seem likely if he can get regular playing time.

Put simply, he has to hit, because he apparently has all the defensive prowess of a Leafs blue-liner not named Leetch. If he cannot produce like a DH should, he could be out of the game fairly soon.



The bench is really nothing to write home about.

Mike Emeigh has suggested on Primer that the Orioles are trying to strike a deal with Segui where he would stay on the DL all year. Great idea by the O's front office if they can talk him into it! If unproductive at-bats have to occur, it's better they be taken by players with a possible future in the organisation. Segui was very good indeed a few years ago; but rather than fading away, his career has juddered to a halt. All he can do now, sadly, is take at-bats away from Cust. The only time the O's should have Cust not at DH is when Lopez or Palmeiro are having a day off defensively.

B.J Surhoff isn't a bad guy to have around on the bench, providing he spends a good amount of time there. If he's there to pinch hit and give starters a day off then he's OK, since he's not blocking any uber-prospect in the minors or anything. The problem is, the Orioles of recent vintage have had a habit of thinking he is still a good, productive everyday player and throwing him out there whenever possible. Hopefully, for O's fans, Surhoff doesn't have any incriminating photos of Mazzilli as he obviously did of Hargrove, and is given a role more in line with his present abilities.

As Mike Bordick showed us here in Toronto last year, being in your late thirties does not necessarily mean a loss in fielding abilities. Mark McLemore should do a perfectly good job backing up the middle infield. His numbers at the plate fell off quite a bit last year though, so no fireworks should be expected offensively. Then again, I doubt that any were.

Marty Cordova? Blah, another DH -- "Pass," to quote Bill James.

Batting Order




The Orioles pitching problems can be neatly summed up by an assessment of Sidney Ponson. He will doubtless be referred to as the ace -- but being the number one starter on the Orioles unfortunately does not acehood confer. Consider where he would fit in with the teams the Orioles are trying to catch: In Boston he would be in long relief, in New York he'd be the fifth starter until Lieber got back, and in Toronto he would probably slot in the middle somewhere with Hentgen and Lilly. It was no particular surprise that it took a contract year for Ponson to harness his considerable potential and knuckle down a bit -- he put up the best numbers of his career in the first half last year. The less- than-encouraging news is he came to camp 15 pounds heavier than he did last year, albeit at the same weight at which he finished the season. I don't mean to knock Slim Sir Sidney, who should be a decent starter for the next few years and keep putting ERA+ numbers of 110 or more. If the Orioles want to contend in this division, though, they need to find a couple of guys who can take places ahead of him in the rotation.

Kurt Ainsworth could be one of those guys. Ainsworth was a first round pick and made his debut for the Giants in 2002 (at 23) where he pitched well in his four starts. He started 2003 in the Giants rotation but then blew out his shoulder and spent most of the rest of the season on the DL. Provided he has recovered properly, he has a chance to be the Orioles best pitcher this year. I would be worried if Dusty Baker were managing him, though.

Rodrigo Lopez was great in 2002 and awful in 2003. If healthy, he could be a good bet for a rebound this year, provided he can get his home run rate back under control. He suffered abnormally from hits on balls in play last year, as his DIPS ERA was 1.16 lower than his real ERA. The big question with Lopez is how healthy his arm is. Since he continues to pitch in winter ball in Mexico every year, his workload might have caught up to him.

If the Orioles are to take a step towards becoming a contending team this year the back end of the rotation will be a key area. The first thing they should do is confine Omar Daal to long relief. He was a failed experiment, brought in to eat some innings and provide some veteran presence. He is by no means part of the future, while Riley and DuBose probably are, so the Orioles should let the youngsters sink or swim in the rotation.

I like Matt Riley, but it's not the "sabermetrically approved" kind of liking. I saw him pitch a pretty impressive 5 innings against the Jays in late September, and made a mental note that he was going to be worth keeping an eye on. Way back in the day, Riley was one of those "can't miss" guys who too often end up proving the TINSTAAPP axiom. He was very highly ranked as recently as 2000, when the injury and recovery cycle took over his career. Since his Tommy John surgery, though, he has recovered his old velocity and by all accounts found some better command to go with it. At just 24, he is still young and his comeback has been promising enough to have him ranked #29 on the Baseball Prospectus top 50 prospects list.

DuBose was another of those who seemed to have slipped from prospect to decent fill-in. Eric started off at Ottawa last year, where he was good, and was then promoted to Baltimore when Pat Hentgen was moved into the rotation. He had a couple of spot starts and then moved into the rotation, with some success, in September. Historically, although ZiPS doesn't reflect it, he has not struck out a lot of hitters -- which is not the greatest omen. He has very little history to go on, and given that his minor league career was not the strongest, the jury will remain out. If he can keep his strikeout numbers up and continue to destroy righthanded hitters (righthanders had a .586 OPS against him), the Orioles will have found a valuable starter.



Jorge Julio will close again. He was pretty bad last year after being pretty good in 2002, although he did at least keep his save percentage up while all of his more relevant statistics declined. Julio's walk and home run rates both increased markedly last year. He undeniably has the stuff to be a great closer, including a high 90s fastball, but he did not do a good job of harnessing it last year.

Mike DeJean was brought in to be a setup guy and, presumably, "proven closer in waiting," should Julio lose the job as he did a couple of times last year. Why Kerry Ligtenberg couldn't do this job as well as doing the job of being younger and cheaper than DeJean is a mystery yet to be solved -- not that I'm complaining as a Jays fan. DeJean will need to improve on his recent inability to retire lefties if he is to stay in the setup role.

B.J Ryan was very good last year, although he did mix in some bad spells. This year, he will share the setup duties with DeJean. He was probably the Orioles best reliever last year, which meant the O's were using the Bill James bullpen method by accident, as Ryan saw a lot of the high-leverage 7th- and 8th-inning-type situations in which James argues the best reliever should be used. Ryan should only continue to improve, as he seems to do by small increments every year. If he could cut down on his walk totals, he would be probably be recognized as one of the best relievers in the league.

Buddy Groom will perform the LOOGY duties that managers love so much, and he should bounce back a bit from a horrible year last year. Rick Bauer and Omar Daal will probably be the other bullpen members and will split the middle and long relief duties.



Mike Fontenot, 23, 2B

Fontenot bounced back from a poor 2002 to put up very good numbers (.325/.399/.481). Similar numbers in AAA at the start of this year may see him in Baltimore at some time this year.

Nick Markakis, 19, OF

A toolsy guy -- quick with excellent defense. He also showed some impressive plate discipline with a .372 OBP at Aberdeen. A way to go yet, but an encouraging start.


Denny Bautista, 20

Acquired for Jeff Conine in a trade last year, Bautista may be the O's best prospect. He is a cousin of Pedro and even if he doesn't quite have Pedro-like stuff (who does?), that is still a nice pedigree. He has power (mid 90s) and lots of movement on his pitches by all accounts. Denny ended last year with 14 starts in AA.

Erik Bedard, 24

Recovering from Tommy John surgery, Bedard threw just 19 innings last year. There are signs that he is fully recovered and has his pre-operation velocity back (low 90s). If he has, and of one of the starters struggles, he could be in line for a promotion to the bigs sometime this year.

John Maine, 21

Maine had a 2.27 ERA in 146 innings last year with an astonishing 181/35 K/BB. He throws hard with an apparently quirky delivery that makes him difficult to pick up. He'll need to pitch just as well this year against tougher opposition to get a shot with the O's.

Dave Crouthers, 22

A former shortstop, Crouthers had an ERA of 3.66 in 137.2 innings at AA with a 111/61 K/BB. He throws hard, and started to throw an (apparently) very effective changeup last year to go with a fastball and slider. He will probably start the year as AA, but may see AAA by the middle of the year.

Adam Loewen, 20

The pride of Canada is often compared to Mark Mulder. He only saw 7 games last year, but great things are expected. The Orioles are apparently set to be cautious with his pitch counts, but they do expect him to move quite quickly through the Minors. It should be noted that Loewen has been very poor in spring training this year.


Let's look at the bright side of Orioles life: The O's look much better now than they did a year ago, both for 2004 and in the future. They are vastly improved at catcher, first base, third base and shortstop -- and almost everywhere else they have promising starters under 30.
For this year, I am going to agree with Rob Neyer: "Better to finish a strong fourth rather than a distant fourth".

There is more money available next year as another $13 million or so comes off the payroll (a payroll that is still at just $56 million). The prolonged attempts to sign Vlad this winter show an owner who is more than happy to open his wallet. If some of the young pitchers start to look like middle- to front-of-the-rotation starters this year, the Orioles' future should be a lot better than their recent past. The problem for them is the teams in front of them -- two of them spend like there's no tomorrow, and the other has the best GM in the game. The issue for the Orioles isn't just getting better, it's getting quicker at getting better than the guys in front, in order to claw their way back from some of the distance between them.
Baltimore Orioles Season Preview | 18 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_3RunHomer - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 11:39 AM EST (#72067) #
Notes from a life-long Orioles fan: This is the first optimistic spring in many many seasons. There are no easy outs in the lineup (bye bye Deivi, Tony and Brook ... don't let the door hit you on the way out). The old-and-oft-injured starters are gone (so long Pat!) as well as the completely mediocre (have fun in Detroit, Jason!).

The young pitchers and Peter's money are the new foundations of this club. By September, the starting rotation will be Ponson, Ainsworth, Riley, and pick-two-from-Bedard-Maine-Bautista-DuBose. All are talented and all but Ponson will be getting better for years to come. The team will also bid on another slugger next winter (Beltran? Ordonez? Delgado?).

I'm rooting for the Blue Jays this season, but in 2005 the Os will contend.
_Matthew E - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 12:34 PM EST (#72068) #
I hate to say this.

I'm disappointed in this article. I've come to expect much better from this website. I don't have a problem with the actual arguments presented, but I'm surprised to click on a Batter's Box article and have to swim through spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors from top to bottom.
_Kyle S - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 01:34 PM EST (#72069) #
The rumor in Atlanta about Lopez/Maddux is that Maddux was mad that Lopez was tipping his pitches. Back before Maddux decided he needed a personal catcher, he had several starts in a row where he was hit harder than usual (I think in 1996, but I'm not sure). He switched to Charlie O'Brien or whatever .320 SLG backup we had at the time, and didn't go back to Javy until the playoffs last year.
_Gwyn - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 02:13 PM EST (#72070) #
Aplogies if this was difficult to read. My laptop fried itself a couple of days ago, so I had to re-write this in rather a rush. I did run it through a spellchecker, obviously not very well.
Gitz - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 02:17 PM EST (#72071) #
The Orioles, and, to a similar extent, the Jays, remind me of that guy in the Airplane movies, you know, the one who had various vices he was trying to kick: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking." In this case, it's "Looks like we picked the wrong division to try to rebuild."
_Lefty - Sunday, March 21 2004 @ 05:14 PM EST (#72072) #
I'm disappointed in this article. I've come to expect much better from this website. I don't have a problem with the actual arguments presented, but I'm surprised to click on a Batter's Box article and have to swim through spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors from top to bottom.

Sheesh, thats pretty picky alright.
Very informative, great article.
_nate - Sunday, March 21 2004 @ 08:11 PM EST (#72073) #
3runhomer : how can you be a lifelong orioles fan, but be rooting for the jays this year? doesn't really seem to compute ...
_Matthew E - Sunday, March 21 2004 @ 11:31 PM EST (#72074) #
lefty, if it was just one or two mistakes, I wouldn't have said anything. I know these things happen. But they haven't happened this much in anything else ever published on this site.
_3RunHomer - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 01:31 PM EST (#72075) #
3runhomer : how can you be a lifelong orioles fan, but be rooting for the jays this year? doesn't really seem to compute ...

I'm realistic enough to know that the O's won't compete this season. Therefore, I'm rooting for the underdog Jays to beat the Yankees and Red Sox. Why doesn't that compute?
Coach - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 02:23 PM EST (#72076) #
Out of our 28 previews published so far, I'm sure that each of them has rubbed someone the wrong way -- even my long-winded dissertation on the Cardinals and my childhood -- and each of them is someone's favourite. This one may have pushed Matthew's buttons, but I found it informative and entertaining, if imperfect.

Why Kerry Ligtenberg couldn't do this job as well as doing the job of being younger and cheaper than DeJean is a mystery yet to be solved -- not that I'm complaining as a Jays fan.

If I ever meet Beatagan (either of them) that will be my first question. What were they thinking? The O's turned down a $1.2 million option, doing Ligtenberg a tremendous favour. Kerry's now making twice as much money, with an extra year of security, on a better team.

being the number one starter on the Orioles unfortunately does not acehood confer

I also wonder how Ponson feels about the organization after being traded away. My guess is that only reason he returned was a lack of better offers elsewhere, and his always questionable work ethic doesn't figure to improve under the circumstances.
Craig B - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 05:58 PM EST (#72077) #
if it was just one or two mistakes, I wouldn't have said anything. I know these things happen. But they haven't happened this much in anything else ever published on this site.

Well we learned one thing this weekend... Matthew obviously doesn't read my articles. :)

Great to be back on, finally. Looks like everything went swimmingly during my unnoticed absence!
Mike Green - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 09:16 PM EST (#72078) #
Craig, noticed but not commented upon. Welcome back.

I too was scarce courtesy of a Montreal visit. The Gazette writer suggested that Bergeron had completely altered his hitting approach, and has a shot at the CF job.
Craig B - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 10:30 PM EST (#72079) #
Bergeron had completely altered his hitting approach, and has a shot at the CF job.

Well, he was hitting the right way before (slapping the ball into the short outfield and using his speed). Basically, hitting like a sucky hitter should hit. He just sucked at hitting, even at hitting like a bad hitter, because he's just not fast enough to draw the infielders in enough, especially on the old, rock-hard Olympic Stadium turf (now changed for 2004). He's hitting .480-something in the spring, but the Expos are also the best team in baseball in March, which tells you how much stock to put in spring numbers.

He also can't steal bases to save his life, and he's a bad outfielder. All in all, he is about as useless a player as there is in major league baseball, and I'd rather have Esix Snead or somebody as my starting centerfielder than Peter Bergeron. If he gets the Expos job, they deserve all the bad things that are going to happen - both as a result and otherwise.
Mike Green - Tuesday, March 23 2004 @ 10:04 AM EST (#72080) #
The Gazette writer indicated that Bergeron had learned to turn on the inside pitch and drive it down the line. I know, it is the spring, and I haven't seen it for myself, but I have a world of confidence that Frank Robinson will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
_BaltimoreSean - Thursday, March 25 2004 @ 11:10 AM EST (#72081) #
I think the pitchers are going to surprise people and put up better numbers than what is listed on this page.

Toronto fans should look out because they won't have a stranglehold on third place like they have in the past.
Craig B - Friday, March 26 2004 @ 04:32 PM EST (#72083) #
Ligtenberg was effective against righties (.591 OPS) but horrendous against lefties (.953 OPS). This is the reasoning behind letting him go.

Good thing they haven't yet heard of the term "sample size".

Yes, Ligtenberg is usually much more effective against righties. But last year's bad numbers against lefties were an aberration. He's usually about average against them.
_Matt Aaron - Friday, April 16 2004 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#72084) #
The Orioles seem to have the organization and community spirit/cohesion they have been lacking in the past few years.
Our batting line up is with out question improved and post season - worthy, and yes our pitching needs work. But with so much young talent, although they are inconsitent, if every pitcher puts in a few really good games, i think we could possibly squeeze out 88-90 wins in the tough AL East division. We will see ... Ponson, Riley and BJ Ryan all look very promising early on, Lets go O's!
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