Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Catching Up

Posted by Mike on June 2, 2006

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  At least part of the blame belongs to my internet provider.  

Anyways, let's get straight to the bullet points.

  • Loewen To Start Tomorrow

Kilbs recently made a great point in my comments section:

The key stat for Loewen: 26 BB’s in 49.7 ip.

So yeah, I am happy with his development in that he is a prospect and not some other first round flame out. However, if he is walking this many guys in AA, how many will he walk in the majors? God forbid he pitches against the Red Sox or the Yankees. 

So I'll leave alone the fact that Loewen should have been left alone in Bowie and focus on the latest Flanaquette decision: having Loewen make his first major league start against the team best designed to exploit his weaknesses. 

Far be it from me to suggest that Loewen should rot away in the pen but wouldn't it be nice if the kid could start off with a team like the Royals or the Twins?  Instead, the O's are sending Loewen, command issues and all, against the team with a collective .373 OBP.  That's the team average, mind you.  Know how many individuals have that high of an OBP on the O's?  Two; B-Rob and Miguel.

I'm sure many of you will say: We might as well see what the kid's got or We gotta do what we gotta do.  But this is a kid who struggled in his full season debut in 2004 because, according to many, he got shell-shocked in spring training (another wonderful benefit of his major league contract) and took his time recovering.  Maybe the O's should be more concerned with protecting an obviously talented kid instead of forcing him into such an extreme scenario.

Regardless of the outcome of the game, the logic behind this move is failing.  I'll refrain from making a prediction, except to say that I'll be pleasantly surprised if he walks (or hits) less than a batter an inning.

  • Orioles Persued Kyle Lohse?

I ran into this article recently.  Basically, it names the Orioles as one of the few teams that persued Kyle Lohse this off-season.  Apparently, they weren't satisfied with only a handful of #6 starters.  I know it's easy for me to say this now that his ERA more accurately reflects his ability, but I'd be surprised if you could find many knowledgeable baseball folks who would have bet on Lohse having another sub-4.50 ERA before this season. 

What were we going to give them, anyways?  Kim Cattrell?  Because that's the only thing that springs to mind when I think of things that are less valuable than Kyle Lohse.

  • Yanks Interested in Javy

This article mentions that the Yankees would be interested in Javy Lopez, but the O's wouldn't move him to an AL East opponent.  That makes sense… if you're the Blue Jays and they are interested in Greg Zaun.  But the O's are not going to compete this year, and the 35 year old Javy Lopez is unlikely to be a major roadblock to their success the next time they build a contender.  My advice: get what you can while he still looks like he might be able to catch.

  • Another Thought on the Mora Deal 

A few of you have emailed me, or at least expressed the opinion, that the Mora signing was, at least in part, vindicated by the fact that he was underpaid the past three years.  He was underpaid, this is true.  But anytime you sign a guy to a contract, you are paying him for what you expect his production to be during the tenure of the contract

Let's say things work out to where Mora makes the right amount of money (compared to his value) from 2003-2009.  That's great for Melvin, who seems like quite a nice guy, but the O's should expect more.  If his value clearly exceeded his salary in his first contract, then he will have to underperform in his second contract to make things square.  Wouldn't the O's be better served to just cash in while they're up, instead of rewarding a guy for exceeding the expectations of his previous contract with a salary he is very unlikely to earn?

I'm not denying the existence of good arguments in favor of the Mora deal.  This just isn't one of them.

  • Time to Worry About Bedard?

Rather than get worked up about the likes of Rodrigo Lopez (who has looked better recently) or Bruce Chen, let's take a look at a guy who could be a major part of the next winning Orioles team: Erik Bedard.

Simply put, he hasn't looked good this year.  Especially lately.  And there is no underlying means to explain it away either, as his peripherals will show:

                          K/9            BB/9            BABIP           P/PA

2004                  7.93             4.65               .326               4.2

2005                  7.94             3.62               .323               4.1

2006                  5.40             3.84               .329               3.9

For those of you that don't remember, Bedard led the major leagues in pitches per inning in 2004.  He made major strides towards resolving that by lowering his walk rate in 2005, although he still works painfully slow.  His walk rate this season, while better than 2004 and in line with 2005, is nothing spectacular.  But he's maintained success by missing a lot of bats.  This year… not so much. 

I put his BABIP into the mix to show that, while it's very high, it's roughly the same as it has been each of his previous two seasons.  I still expect it to regress towards the mean by season's end, but we can't really hold it accountable for his struggles since he's overcome being just as hit unlucky in the past. 

Another thing I noticed is that while his groundball % is higher than ever (47.5%), his HR rate is also up (1.19/9 ip).  All this adds up to a pretty high HR/FB rate (15.0%) which should also regress closer to the league average (12%) by season's end. 

If the O's are going to contend in 2007 or 2008, Erik Bedard is going to have to step up.  I've repeatedly sung his praises in the past, but he hasn't exactly lived to becoming the #2 starter I envisioned.  If you look closely enough, there are certainly a few indicators that he'll improve on his current performance, but it all starts with him missing a few more bats.   

  • Draft and Follows

Here's a list of the O's signed draft and follows:

Chad Thall, lhp, Jefferson County (Mo.) CC, 27th round
Chris Vinyard, 1b, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC, 38th round
Bryan Lee, rhp, Cuesta (Calif.) JC, 42nd round

Here are their fifth year senior signings:

Matt Hayes, rhp, Indianapolis
Joe Nowicki, of, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

I'll have scouting reports on each of them shortly. 

Anyone else as excited for Tuesday as I am?  I'm holding my breath that Tim Linecum drops to the O's.

  • P.S.

Do you fancy yourself an expert on world politics?  How bout world finances?  Then head on over to The Screaming Pen

Maybe you're a glutton for pretentious writing and grandstanding hyperbole (and you're already finished with OTT for the day).  Whatever your reason, the site was recently launched and is certainly worth a look. 

Very Funny

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