Terrible Weekend

Things don’t seem like they can get much worse for the O’s. Except they are now calling up a 23 year old in Brad Bergesen to end the losing way. The O’s will host the White Sox and Rangers hoping to end their losing ways they’ve picked up. The weekend in Boston was rough but other than Monday’s blowout, the other 3 games were close. Friday was a game that should have been a win though. Up 7-0 after 2 innings and losing that lead can hurt your offense’s confidence.

We’ll see if the offense can pick it up this week back at the Yard. Hopefully Adam Jones will return to the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game with a sore hamstring. Ryan Freel had a scary injury today when he took an errant pickoff throw off his head.

For the pitchers, it’s very simple. The starters need to work into the sixth more often. The bullpen is going to be killed by midseason at this rate. Whoever is starting needs to realize how important this is. I’m rooting for a 4-2 homestand but praying we can get through it with a healtier lineup and bullpen than what we have now.

The Koji Era

-Game 2 of the 2009 season will be fun. I’m willing to guarantee it. Seeing Wang vs Uehara will be interesting. The O’s are coming off an impressive offensive display in beating the Yankees on Monday and will look to take the series before turning to a Thursday afternoon game. The O’s will most likely trot out a similar lineup, with the interesting twist of Melvin Mora batting cleanup. With Jones slotted to stay in 2 (looked pretty good on Monday) and Markakis hitting 3rd (your best hitter should hit in the 3 hole in my opinion), the team is inclined to have Mora or Huff in the cleanup role. We’ll see if the team shakes up the lineup alot or sticks to the same one. My early prediction is Trembley rides out this top 5 in the lineup through the first month.

-Jeremy Guthrie looked fine on Monday. I know he wasn’t at the top of his game but he faced a very tough lineup that could have had him out of the game early if he pitched the way he had in the WBC and Spring Training. He picked up the win and was in control for the most part. He kept the Yanks off their game by mixing his multiple pitches (showed the changeup at opportune times).

-Chris Ray’s first appearance was short and very unsweet. He looked fragile and needs to come out strong. Sure, he just came back to Majors after missing a year due to injury. But he didn’t help himself with his fans who wanted him to be closer (two thumbs pointing towards me). Jim Johnson will continue to pitch the 8th as Ray gets his “swagger” back. George Sherrill will remain closer longer than I expected if Ray is shaky. We could even see Ray get sent down if he throws a few of these kinds of appearances together. Dennis Sarfate could become the new 7th inning guy if Ray struggles as well.

-I’m still not expecting Caesar Izturis to hit more than 5 HR’s. To get 1 on Opening Day is nice though, especially with the nice little “fan interference” angle Damon tried to pull when his glove was clearly in the crowd (making it fair play). As long as Izturis continues to bring it on the defensive side, I’m fine with his signing. If he can hit .275-.280 with some speed on the basepaths while hitting 9th, he’ll continue to get my compliments.

Opening Day 2009

Starting Lineups are up now. Here’s the O’s batting order.

1) Roberts, 2B
2) Jones, CF
3) Markakis, RF
4) Mora, 3B
5) Huff, 1B
6) Wigginton, DH
7) Scott, LF
8) Zaun, C
9) Izturis, SS

This looks like the lineup we’ll see on most days against LHP. Felix Pie will play against RHP in place of Scott in LF. We’ll also see Freel making starts at a few positions throughout the season. Jeremy Guthrie hasn’t thrown well in the WBC or Spring Training so let’s hope he turns it around here on Opening Day.

10 Orioles Predictions

Well we’re only a few hours away from the new season starting. I personally can’t wait because as of right now, the O’s are 0-0 with hope. Now we can’t expect playoffs or maybe even a .500 season….but optimism is always at it’s highest in early April. I want to lay down 10 of my personal predictions for the Orioles though.

1) Brian Roberts will steal at least 55 bases. Higher OBP% leads to him having a great year on the basepaths.

2) Koji Uehera wins 10 games. Many aren’t giving him much of a chance to stand up but I think he wins enough to stay in the rotation.

3) Chris Ray gets 10 more saves than George Sherrill. I think he assumes the job at some point and keeps it. Sherrill was inconsistent for most of the last four months of last season and hasn’t proven to be a reliable closer.

4) Here’s my token Matt Wieters prediction: 420 AB’s, .288 batting average, 15 HR’s, 70 RBI’s. The kid is a stud and it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself in the everyday lineup. If we had a pool going, I’d take May 11 as the date of call-up.

5) Alfredo Simon and Mark Hendrickson make a combined 30 starts at most. Neither lasts the full season in the rotation and if they do, the O’s will win 50 games.

6) Adam Jones takes the next big step in his ascent to be a Major League star as he will be a name everyone knows by the end of the season. Let’s just say…. .285 BA, 30 HR’s and 95 RBI’s.

7) Jeremy Guthrie gets off to a terrible start this season but rebounds nicely to win 12 games and have a below 3.60 ERA. The guy has to come through for us just about every 5th day to give this shaky rotation some stability. He has a lot on his shoulders but he will be able to deal with it.

8) Jim Johnson is the star of the bullpen, even with Chris Ray being back as closer (see #3). He fortifies games in the 7th and 8th innings, keeps us out of trouble and is the best pitcher in the bullpen…if he stays healthy. He was shut down for awhile in Spring Training but he should be ready to improve on a solid year.

9) Ryan Freel = Super Sub. Caesar Izturis = Finally a good defensive SS. Gregg Zaun = Better than Ramon Hernandez was the past few years.

10) The Orioles win 75 games. Doesn’t seem like much but it’s a step in the right direction as we wait for our pitching of the future to arrive at the big league level.

I’ll update again tomorrow during the game. Go O’s…we need Guthrie to come out and give us 6 innings. Hopefully we can hit C.C. who tends to be less effective early in the season. This is a chance (maybe our only one on national tv) to prove to the doubters that this team can compete at a higher level than in the past season. I know I’ll be watching.

30 Games Remain

For the Orioles, the past few weeks have been tough. The team has fallen to a season high 8 games under .500, hurting their chances to finish 82-80 which has to be the goal at this point. We’re less than a week away from 40 man rosters and the question of whether Matt Wieters will join the big league ballclub. The team right now has slowed down a bit on offense and the pitching remains terribly inconsistent and tough to watch on a nightly basis.

Here’s a look at the final 30 games of the 2008 season:

7 vs Tampa Bay

6 vs Toronto

4 vs Cleveland

3 vs Boston, New York, Oakland, Minnesota

1 vs Chicago

The O’s get unlucky having to see hot Cleveland and Toronto teams for a 1/3 of their schedule. They will also be playing TB, a young team looking for their first playoff spot. NYY and Bos did a number on the O’s at Camden Yards last week so these game look tough as well. Minnesota is trying to hang with Chicago and brings their playoff hopes to Camden Yards in September. The 3 game series with Oakland looks like the most winnable games on the schedule, as the A’s have struggled since making the Harden and Blanton trades.

Tonight it’s Jon Danks vs Radhames Liz. Brian Burres returned last night to the starting rotation and gave the team nothing. The bullpen is depleted at this point with no real option at closer (Jim Johnson would be a candidate but he’s struggled of late as well). For now, my money is on the O’s going no better than 12-18 the rest of the season, leading to a 74 win season….one that will fall short as they flirted with .500 for four months before August came around.

An Impressive Debut: Waters Quiets Halos

What a day to get back on the blog. Just minutes ago, the O’s defeated the Angels 3-0 out in Anaheim behind rookie Chris Waters. Waters gave up 1 hit over 8 innings, showing some tenacity along the way as the kid had quite the memorable first start. The team improves to 54-58 (5-3 on the road trip that ends tomorrow).

For the O’s, it was another interesting game. They recorded 9 hits, 3 by Luke Scott, including his 19th HR. George Sherrill recorded his 31st save in the ninth inning and the team can look forward to tomorrow where they will send Garrett Olson to the mound against Ervin Santana.

The team recieved some bad news today though, as they learned Adam Jones will be on the DL at least for 15 days with a foot problem. He’s been out the past few games with Jay Payton replacing him in CF. The team called up Luis Montanez, who came in tonight in the ninth inning to play LF. Montanez is having a monster year at Triple A so it will be interesting to see what he can do for the Major League squad in limited time. He’ll find himself as the fourth OF, as Payton will play CF and Scott will play LF. This also gives both of these vets a chance to play everyday, as they platooned each other in LF the past four months.

Wednesday’s ballgame is a 3:35 start with Olson vs Santana. The O’s look to take their third straight road series on this road trip after taking the first two against NY and Seattle. They would lose the finale in both of those series so hopefully the O’s can head back home for the weekend with a big series win.

Post All Star Break Performance

For the O’s, Monday’s 8-3 win over Toronto was refreshing. It didn’t have much drama late (making it 2 games in a row, counting Sunday’s beatdown the Tigers put on the O’s) but it’s nice to see the team win a game that isn’t decided in the final inning or two. With 3 more against Toronto, the goal has to be taking 3 of 4 from the Jays.

Radhames Liz proved again to be effective at times, as he moved his record to 4-2. His ERA still has to bother some but he gives a quality 5 to 6 innings out there from time to time. He has stablized the back end of the rotation in his short time with the ballclub I look for the O’s to keep him up throughout the rest of the season. He certainly has the stuff to have a future starter for the team and this year is a good test for him to get his share of starts.

The offense has looked much better in the past month, as the O’s have “exploded” for 8 and 11 runs in 2 of their last 3 games. While Justin Verlander brought the O’s back to Earth Sunday, the team continues to hit the ball well. Moving an improving Adam Jones to the #2 spot in the lineup, allowing Nick Markakis to move back to his tradtional #3 spot has given the O’s some pop at the top of the lineup. The next three games will show us what the O’s really are about as they will face Shawn Marcum, AJ Burnett and Roy Halladay. This will be followed by a 3 game weekend series against the Angels. 6 games against two good pitching teams should give an indication on whether the O’s offense has really arrived.