O’s Grapefruit League Takeaways March 13th – March 20th
Game 10 Takeaways March 13th:
1) One of my favorite O’s is Guthrie, but his penchant for first-inning troubles is growing tiring. In this start, he allowed 4 er (3 in the 1st), in his 3.1 innings of work. It is going to be interesting to watch what happens to Guthrie this year. If he starts the season well, he could still be traded with the O’s attempting to make room for Arrieta (or even Britton). If he starts poorly, you wonder how much rope he has. My guess is everything for Guthrie is tied to not only his own performance, but that of the team. If he is pitching well, and the team is competitive; there will be a desire to keep his likely 190 innings in the rotation. If he is underachieving, and the team thinks they can improve internally – that is a change that could be made by June.
2) Berken pitched 1.2 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 bb, and a er. Again, I really like the idea of having Berken, and Hernandez in the pen; with the innings they could provide. With each day, it seems less likely that either will have that opportunity.
3) Meredith and Albers both with additional scoreless innings. Easy to get excited about an improved rotation, with multiple positive options available in relief.
4) Homers for Wigginton, and Atkins.
Game 11 Takeaways March 14th:
1) I have been wondering aloud for months if Brian Matusz might be capable of a year similar to Mussina in ’92, and with each Spring Training report my anticipation for his season grows. 5 innings, 3 hits, 1 er, 0 bb’s, 2 k’s. He is the best Oriole starter, and he is going to give the Birds an opportunity to win in the great majority of his starts.
When the O’s drafted him, I liked the pick, but had personally wanted Gordon Beckham. Joe Jordan and the Scouting Department get credit for their decision. What I really like about Matusz (besides being able to throw 4 pitches for strikes consistently) is that he has a mentality where he continues to want to learn, and improve.
There will be some growing-pains along the way, but if Matusz stays healthy enough to make 30 starts in 2010, he will end this year as one of the best starters in the American League.
2) Reimold got the start in left, and had another 2 at-bats.
3) Mickolio, and Uehara with scoreless innings; Johnson beat-up a bit during his .2 innings of work.
4) Jones, and Markakis with 2 hits each. Bell with a hit and 2 walks.
Game 12 Takeaways March 15th:
1) Bergesen had no trouble making his 2nd-start, going 2.2 innings.
2) Snyder had been looking to get going, and did that today with 2 hits in his 4 at-bats, including a homer.
3) Scott is warming-up, but as streaky as he has shown to be, you hope he does not leave the bat in Florida. 2 for 3, hr, double, and 4 rbi.
4) After Tillman’s 3 walks today, the O’s brass sent out subtle comments that the 5th starter had not been decided. Do not buy into that ‘hype.’ Tillman will be the 5th starter when this season begins. The comments were designed as a simple (cheap) motivational-ploy.
5) Wigginton with another 4 at-bats playing 2nd today.
Game 13 Takeaways March 16th:
1) Another message sent to Tillman today, with the start of David Hernandez. 3.2 innings, 5 hits, 0 er, 1 bb, 2 k’s. I really am not sure what the O’s are doing with Hernandez. If they send him back to AAA to start every 5th day, it seems to me that is more about increasing his trade-value vs. having insurance. Someone should ask Hernandez what he prefers. ‘David, do you want to go back to the Minors, with the hope of returning to the Majors to be a League-average 4th or 5th starter, or do you want to stay with the Birds in-relief, and move one-step closer to potentially becoming the closer and finding a pay-day?”
2) Uehara, Ohman, and Albers each with scoreless innings. Ohman has all but locked-up a position in the pen at this point. Sarfate allowed a bb, and a run in his inning; but had 2 more k’s.
3) Reimold DH’d, and was held hit-less in 3 at-bats.
Game 14 Takeaways March 17th:
1) Even in Spring Training baseball, seeing Izturis’ name at the top of the line-up is like nails on a chalkboard for me.
2) Arrieta struck-out 4 in 2 scoreless innings. Should have been a nice impression to leave the Coaching-staff with.
3) Reimold again DH’d, and was again held hit-less in his 3 at-bats. The good news is that he was able to play in back-to-back games. The bad news is not the lack of production, but that both starts were not in LF. At-least the O’s have options.
4) Berken started, and allowed his 3er in the 3rd. Okay, it is just 1 Spring Training outing, but I think this is the perfect outing to remind what Berken is. If he is limited to an inning or two, he can help. If you stretch his role past that, his value decreases quickly.
5) Mickolio also stretched to two innings, and allowed 3 bb’s.
Game 15 Takeaways March 18th:
1) Guthrie was again only able to go 3 innings, this time allowing 3 homers, 3 bb’s, 7 hits, and 6 er. Guthrie is a pitcher who has struggled with confidence issues through-out his career. You would hope he is strong enough mentally to write this off to a poor Spring, but you do wonder where his head is. I think he is going to need to see some success the next-time out, or the pressure is going to really start to build. Little late in the game for him to be working on adding a pitch, but perhaps he needs to look at how he sets-up hitters. Yes, he needs to continue to get back to working down in the zone, but it also seemed like hitters were just waiting on pitchers from him last-year. Needs to throw something else into the mix that gets hitters a bit less comfortable in the box.
2) Uehara left with a hamstring-pull. Sad to see this, as it provides a disruption to a very solid Spring for Koji.
3) Homers for Jones, and Wieters.
4) Tejada had 2 errors, giving him 3 for Spring Training. All-in-all, the reports have been pretty positive about the transition for Tejada though.
5) Albers had his first difficult-outing, allowing a homer, and 2er in his inning of work.
Game 16 Takeaways March 19th:
1) Kevin Millwood’s 375 Career Starts, and 155 Major League wins will earn him the Opening Day nod, but Matusz sure looks like the man. 5.1 scoreless, hit-less innings, with 6 k’s.
2) 2 more hits for Bell, but he also had his 3rd error. Will be interesting to hear the reports of his defense at Norfolk. He has slimmed-down, and was named the best defensive 3rd-baseman in the Southern League; but you occasionally see reports of him being lazy around the bag.
3) Reimold again back at DH, and again hit-less in 4 at-bats. Certainly a player in need of seeing a hit or two fall in.
4) Wigginton again back at 2nd.
5) Johnson, and Sarfate with scoreless innings of work.
Game 17 Takeaways March 20th:
1) Chris Tillman made his own statement to end the week with 5 innings of outstanding work against Boston. 2 hits, 2 er, 1 er, 1 bb, 1 k. There is plenty of unease from Oriole fans about what the Birds are showing in Florida (the lack of offense, poor performance of Guthrie & Millwood, injury concerns for Roberts and Reimold), but as long as Matusz, and Tillman each make 30 starts in 2010; there is going to be major improvement for the Baltimore Orioles.
2) Atkins again hit-less. Been in a bit of a slump since his homer to start the week.
3) Meredith again perfect, as he has yet to be scored-on.
Game 18 Takeaways March 20th:
1) Bergesen with a major-step forward, with 4.2 innings of work today. 2 er, 1 bb, 4 k’s for the young-righty.
2) Mickolio and Albers both went 1.1 innings, and did not allow a run.
3) Reimold again at DH, and again hit-less, though he did draw a walk. As the week-ends, my take on Reimold has not really changed. He is healthy enough to hit everyday (even if he is not hitting). That means he is coming North. He also says he is able to run full-out, but that he is not on instructions. That also means he is coming North. This next-week, it will have to be seen if he gets additional time in the OF, or if his Achilles is further rested at DH. My impression is that the O’s believe he could play the OF today, but want to rest him as much as they can. I think they also want to get his bat going first.
4) 2 hits for Pie as he got the start in LF.