Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

First Impressions

Posted by Mike on April 6, 2006

Tonight, according to Yahoo Sports, I helped make history:

Only 16,083 showed up on a chilly night, the smallest crowd in the 15-year history of Camden Yards.

That would have been 16,082 without me.  And indeed, it was quite cold.  The Orioles did their part to make it bearable; handing out blankets at the door and routing the Devil Rays 16-6.

I thought I'd pass on a few of my first impressions on the Orioles v.2006:

Nick Markakis

Tuesday, Kevin Goldstein wrote a piece on some of the surprise inclusions on various 25-man rosters.  Markakis, of course, got a mention:

I get the feeling a conversation happened in the Baltimore front office recently, and it went something like this:

[Phone rings]
Important Front Office Guy: Hello?
Voice On Phone: Hey There! You see my boy Markakis again?
IFOG: [sighs]. Yes sir, Mr. Angelos. He's going to be a good one, sir.
Peter Angelos: He sure is! I can't wait to see him with the big league club this year!
IFOG: Mr. Angelos, please don't get me wrong here. Markakis is an outstanding prospect, clearly our best, and he's had a fantastic spring. But our outfield situation is very crowded, and to keep him we're going to have to not only take at-bats away from a veteran, but go with one fewer pitcher on the roster than we'd like.
PA: Well, I'm sure you'll figure something out to get my boy Nick on the roster for Tuesday. Maybe a bench role!
IFOG: We also feel that Nick needs some more time, sir. He has only 33 games above A ball, and is just 22. No need to rush him, sir. In the minors he could play every day and continue to develop.
PA: Get it done!
IFOG: Yes, sir.


That about sums up the more pessimistic (realistic?) viewpoints in Oriole land. 

Today, however, Markakis looked good.  Real good.  He walked in his first three AB's, which is not quite as impressive when you consider that Seth McClung looked like he was capable of walking Jose Reyes.  In the eighth inning, Markakis homered off of Dan Miceli.  Again, that's impressive, but you don't need me to tell you that. 

What caught my eye were the two AB's in between those events.  In each, Markakis drove pitches to the opposite field.  Neither fell for a hit.  In fact, Carl Crawford made an incredible play on the first batted ball to rob Markakis of a sure double, but I have to admit how impressed I am with the maturity of his approach. 

I'm sure you'll hear more than a few comments out there about Markakis batting second in the order.  For the record, I have no problem with it.  In fact, the only sound reasoning for Markakis being on the team right now is if Flanaquette believes that he has little to learn in the minors at this point and is so good that he will provide an immediate boon to the offense.  Conceding those points not only justifies batting Markakis in a premium spot in the order; it necessitates it. 

Now that the big one is out of the way, let's do a lightning round version:

Kevin Millar

He looks like he is really slow and then he still manages to surprise you with how slow he actually is.  Through two games, though, he does look pretty sure-handed. 

Erik Bedard

He did not look good at all today.  For some reason, he seemed to be rushing through his warm-ups.  I have little idea what to make of that, but let your imaginations run wild.

Jim Brower

2 ip, 2 ER.  He looked pretty bad.  Even the bottom of TB's order was making solid contact to all fields against him.

Sendy Rleal  

With Aaron Rakers out of the way, I don't think I'll be rooting for anyone as hard as Rleal this year.  I see no reason he couldn't be the go-to guy in the pen after Ray and Hawkins.

Corey Patterson

For those of you that played somewhat competitive baseball, do you remember the first time you faced a guy that could throw 90 mph?  How about the first guy that could throw a real curveball for strikes?  Remember how silly you looked until you were able to make adjustments? 

Patterson looked worse.

I fear that it is only a matter of time before the boo-birds come out in Baltimore against Patterson.  After the turmoil he suffered through in Chicago last year, beat writers questioned his mental toughness and cheered his departure.  I'm finding it increasingly unlikely that his stint in Baltimore ends any differently. 

I know, I know- cue the small sample alarm.  But in a game where everyone and their mother recorded a base hit, Patterson rarely appeared to come within 6 inches of the ball. 


4 Responses to “First Impressions”

  1. Nate said

    Slick Nick will surely be the talk of the water cooler today, but let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves. The one thing I can say for sure since we really do need to give him some time before we make any real judgements is this… From what i have seen (albeit limited) this guy appears to have an approach at the plate that guys with 10 years in the league still do not have. If someone offered him 1,000 dollars to swing at a ball I wonder if he would take it.

    Not that he hasn’t been the talk of Oriole Nation this year so far, but he only keeps getting more interesting. I can’t wait to get to the park on Friday and hope he is in the line-up.

    That being said, I don’t think I should need to hope he has a spot due to the fact that Corey Patterson looks like he was called up from American Legion ball rather than the Chicago Cubs. This asshole continues to take a stand in the media that he will not change his approach at the plate, and if he continues his routine things will happen. Look Corey, when your routine is to swing at every pitch that is thrown to you, the only thing that will happen is you being fired. I used to be a big fan of this guy, but as Mike mentioned, he is quickly heading for a miserable existence in Baltimore, and I for one will be at the forefront.

    I hate to say it, but it almost looks like this guy has given up at the plate. And yes, it is still early, but in the coming weeks if nothing changes with Patterson and Nick shows that he can handle CF I don’t see any reason why he does not begin to start games there. A lot of games.

    Anyhow, most commentary, including mine is premature at this point. I will be interested to see how we fare when the Sox come to town this weekend, as opposed to the D Rays. I undoubtedly will have no voice on Saturday morning.

  2. Greg said

    That’s gotta be one of the first times Millar has been called “sure-handed”.

  3. Mike said

    I never thought it was his hands that were in question, just his range. Either way, he actually made an impressive play last night (albeit in slow motion).

  4. Nate said

    I’d have to agree with Mike, Millar has shown that he has no problem digging balls out of the dirt and playing well around the bag. However, he certainly isnt going to get to the same balls that Derek Lee does. The outfield is something else altogether, but at first I don’t see a problem. And hey, he is the emergency catcher.

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