Monday, April 12, 2010

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of The Baltimore Orioles

At 1-5, the Orioles haven’t exactly started the season with the excitement that many fans were hoping for.

Not only iss the record a bit troubling, but the team Baltimore fans have tuned in to watch seems to be almost the polar opposite of what they expected.

That being said, I present to you the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Orioles first six games.

The Good: The Starting Pitching

If there was one dimension of the O’s that maybe wasn’t expected to excel right away, it was the rotation. Guthrie and Millwood were shaky in spring training, Brad Bergesen is coming off an injury, and Brian Matusz is just a rookie. It was almost expected that the rotation would need a little help.

Instead, the rotation is the only thing keeping the O’s in contention. If you excuse Bergesens rough game (4.2 IP, 5ER), the Orioles starters have an ERA of just 3.00 and are keeping the team in games.

While it’s true that they haven’t gone as far into games as you would like, you can chalk that up to it being early in the year, when pitchers don’t have the command that they will midseason.

The success of this bunch should be taken with much optimism. Matusz had control issues and still struck out 7; David Hernandez proved worthy of the fifth spot, and Guthrie looked way more relaxed on the mound.

Right now, the team’s record is frightening, but the Orioles have always been led by successful rotations when they competed in the past, and this is a great sign that those days will come again.

The Bad: Mike Gonzalez

Tony La Russa once said that if he were building a team, he would start at the closer (his guy was kinda good, Dennis Eckersley…maybe you’ve heard of him), and work backwards from there.

After the debacle that is Mike Gonzalez, Orioles fans understand why.

To say Gonzalez has been erratic is more generous then saying Peter Angelos isn’t THAT bad of an owner. Not only did he make throwing strikes look impossible, but he somehow has trouble with putting it in a place where Matt Wieters can even catch it.

He has four walks in just two IP and after being booed off the mound Friday, he has been told he won’t be the closer until he works his issues out.

The problem with the search for his mechanical problem is his wind up. It is almost as complex as that of Dontrelle Willis and he has been trying to find the glitch in his wind up for years now.

What ever it is, it has caused him to lose a ton of velocity on his fastball and making it impossible for fans to watch.

The Ugly: Baltimore’s Bats

Out of every summary written about the Orioles this spring, there was not one I saw that said the Orioles couldn’t put up runs. Yet, Baltimore is only averaging three runs per game.

Quite frankly, with the exception of Wieters and Garrett Atkins, everyone has been terrible. Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis are all batting under .200, and excluding his opening day, Adam Jones is just 3 for 21.

The issue has also come from just terrible numbers with runners-in-scoring-position. At 8 for 54, the O’s have not been able to manufacture runs other than those driven by home runs.

The bottom line is that if you have a man on second with no outs, or one on third with one out, there is no excuse to not pick up a run. Manufacturing runs is something the great teams do regularly and if you can’t do the same, wins are hard to come by.

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