The O's have lost 4 in a row to drop them to a .500 record and 4th place in the AL East. Let's catch up with some various goings-ons.
- New Mora Deal In Motion
Several sources are indicating that the O's and Melvin Mora have reached an agreement in principle on a 3 year extension at $26 million. If/when it becomes official, we'll break it down further. For now, check out my previous thoughts on how Melvin will age in the coming years.
- BA Argues About Reimold
Baseball America's (subscription required) Chris Kline found two scouts that were willing to argue about OTT's #1 rated prospect, Nolan Reimold. You'll have to subscribe to get the full account, but here are some snippets:
For me, he's got power, he's got the ability to hit for average, he'll steal you some bases–he isn't a burner, but he's an above-average runner–and he's an above-average defender with a classic right field arm. I don't think he's the second coming of Larry Walker, but he's definitely in that mold.
I like him, but I'm not sold that all five of those tools we see are going to play. To me, the speed is fringy, and the power comes with some question marks. Is this guy going to hit 30 to 40 homers in the big leagues? I just don't see it. He makes consistent solid contact, but he uppercuts and he has a lot of holes in there. I'd say he's more of a 20-a-year guy max, and that's OK.
The speed is something in particular that I don't see carrying over to the upper levels. I think he profiles as a first baseman with some pop down the road. But last I checked, Baltimore was pretty hungry for a power-hitting first baseman anyway. He's got some tools and he's going to be a quality big leaguer–I just don't see him staying in the outfield when it's all said and done.
While I do have an inherent bias after ranking him as the O's #1 prospect, I'm inclined to side with the optimistic scout on this one. By all accounts, Reimold was fringy when handling CF last year. Since switching to RF full-time, however, word is that he's been a plus defender. It's also pretty easy to agree with the optimistic scout, since the other guy seemingly contradicts himself. His main point is about Reimold's limited power potential and then he says "But last I checked, Baltimore was pretty hungry for a power-hitting first baseman anyway".
- BP Bashes Perlozzo
Joe Sheehan, fast becoming my favorite baseball writer, wrote an article for Baseball Prospectus detailing a few accounts of inefficient in-game strategy. Not surprisingly, of the four examples give, two were blunders perpetrated by our beloved birds.
You'll recall that I commented on a similar situation earlier, saying:
I think it was the seventh inning when Markakis led off with a single. Immediately, Brian Roberts laid down a bunt. According to this site, the O's had an 85.7% chance of winning the game before Roberts sacrificed him over to second. Afterwards, they had an 85.3% chance of winning. Nitpicking? Yes. Nonetheless, it was, at best, a pointless move (and those odds don't even factor in that Roberts is one of the O's best hitters).
Joe Sheehan had some better examples:
Sacrifice bunting is generally a bad idea, useful in certain clearly defined situations, almost all of which involve a pitcher or a late inning. It seems like the early part of the 2006 season, however, has seen a sharp uptick in the number of truly dumb bunts.
Brian Roberts: Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Roberts walked.
Nick Markakis: Ball, Pickoff attempt, Pickoff attempt, Ball, Roberts stole second, Ball, Strike looking, Markakis walked.
Melvin Mora: Ball, Mora sacrificed to pitcher, Roberts to third, Markakis to second.
This came in the third inning of Saturday's Orioles/Yankees tilt. There was no score, and the Orioles were hitting off of Shawn Chacon. Now, the two shutout innings notwithstanding, how many runs does it usually take to beat the Yankees? They score a bit more than six runs a game, so you have to count on getting, well, more than two. Not only did this bunt cut the knees out from under a potential big inning–Melvin Mora, you should note, is the O's everyday #3 batter, and presumably someone they think can hit a little–but it did so in the hopes of acquiring runs that would almost certainly not be the difference in the game. And as the Rockies did, the Orioles gave an out to a pitcher who didn't seem all that certain of getting one on his own. Thirteen pitches, eight balls to start the inning for Chacon, and he started Mora out 1-0. Throwing Chacon an out in that situation is like throwing Richard Kind a residual check.
The Orioles didn't score.
B-b-b-b-b-but wait! It gets worse!
Raul Chavez: Ball, Strike swinging, Bunt foul, Chavez singled to center.
Brian Roberts: Strike looking, Roberts singled to center, Chavez to second.
Nick Markakis: Strike looking, Markakis reached on fielder's choice to pitcher, Chavez out at third, Roberts to second.
Now, the Orioles are down 2-0 in the fifth, and they're again rallying against Chacon, who has been anything but dominant. It has been established, with certainty, that they will need at least three runs to win this game. Nick Markakis has cooled off, but Sam Perlozzo likes him enough to hit him second, and he's certainly not a player who's gotten a lot of reps laying down sacrifices. Which he shows by bunting the ball too hard and too close to the mound. The Orioles eke out a run on a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly, the only one they'll get in a game they would lose 6-1.
The first bunt was stupid, because it wasted a good hitter and let a faltering pitcher off the hook. At least, though, it set up a situation where you might take the lead. The upside of the second bunt was a two-run single that would have tied the game, with just 15 outs to get against a devastating Yankee lineup and a middle-relief corps that gainfully employs Jim Brower. Yeah, that might have held up.
Again, you'll have to subscribe to BP to see the whole article, but Sheehan reaches some obvious conclusions. In an era where the marginal value of each run is considerably lower than decades ago, in-game strategies to eek out one run in a given inning are rarely worth the wasted out.
It's even worse when a team that has no idea how to bunt, like the Orioles, tries to do it.