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A Chink in Trembley’s Armor? +Notes

Dave Trembley removes Brad BergesenAs I hope everyone is aware, I’m a Dave Trembley fan. I like his style and I like his attitude. For the most part, I also like the way he handles a game. More and more, though, I’m starting to wonder about his approach to managing a pitching staff.

Specifically, my worry is that he’s locked himself into the idea that starters can’t and/or shouldn’t go more than six innings and roughly 100 pitches.

I understand it to a point, and that point is Koji‘s last start. But we’re six weeks into the season now and every one of the regular starters is averaging less than six innings per outing (Bergesen is right at 6). In many cases the quick hook has been a matter of performance. But in watching and listening to DT this year it feels like he might actually believe that six innings is just how far a starter should go.

Maybe the game is changing, but I’m not convinced that bullpens are meant to go three innings night in, night out. More directly to the point, this particular Orioles bullpen is definitely not meant to pitch that much.

Did anyone else notice that Brad Bergesen was rocking #35 last night? In prior starts (as seen in the photo above), he wore the spring training-esque #64.

This is bad news. The #35 has been cursed ever since Mike Mussina left. Dig this murderers row of guys who’ve worn it: Josh Towers, the DC Cab, Rick Helling, and Greg Aquino (more from numerOlogy). I really like Bergesen and I hope he can reverse the trend, but sticking with 64 would have been a veteran move.

Regarding tonight’s game, Jeremy Guthrie is due for a standout performance. He’s so far out of whack from his 2007-08 numbers right now it’s crazy. His strikeouts per nine innings number is still good (5.6 — he was 5.7 for all of last year) but his walks are up (one every 13.7 batters last year versus one every 7.96 so far this year) and his ERA has soared (5.21 speaks for itself). We have to get the “real” Guthrie back eventually, right?

Maybe it starts tonight in the Bronx. He’ll go up against Phil Hughes, which means this is a very winnable game for the O’s. Here’s to it.

(photo via)

45 comments to A Chink in Trembley’s Armor? +Notes

  • ryan97ou

    I tend to agree with you in regards to trembley’s moves with pitching…but it’s debatable. as they say, if they win he was a genius, and if not he was a moron…

    ..BUT something that is absolutely NOT debatable, which has been consistent throughout the season is the fielding and base-running mistakes. Bad pitching we expected, these two have no excuse. And that goes right to DT.

  • Andrew

    Let’s talk about the starters, since that’s basically the only thing I ever see talked about anymore in the blogOsphere.

    Rich Hill – 5.2, 88 pitches in his only start coming off of an injury. I didn’t see any reason to take him out mid-inning, but there also wasn’t particularly any reason to take Hill all the way to 100 pitches his first time out. I’ll file this under “okay with a but”.

    Alfredo Simon – pitched horribly and was removed for injury/performance reasons in his 2 starts this year. Filed under “fine”.

    Jeremy Guthrie – He averages just over 17 pitches per inning, and there has been one start where an extra inning wouldn’t push him to 120 pitches (which, if we can agree that 100 is babying them, we can agree that 120 is too much, right?), and that was in Kansas City, where he wasn’t very effective through 5 innings. I’ll put this into “fine”, especially in light of Guthrie’s arm issues the past two Septembers.

    Mark Hendrickson – the only game that you can make a valid argument for Hendo staying in was in Boston, and that game he threw the most pitches of the season (103) in only 5 innings. I’m not sure I trust Mark’s effectiveness when he’s thrown 2 pitches much less 100. I’m “okay” with this.

    Adam Eaton – that game against the White Sox is finally our good argument against DT. Eaton was cruising and left with only 103 pitches in 7.1 innings. That’s exactly the type of game you let the dude ride it out, at least through the eighth. But it’s just one game so far. “Not okay, but…”

    Koji – I think it’s pretty clear that Koji just isn’t the same pitcher at all after 90 pitches, so I’m perfectly okay with DT’s moves here. Aren’t we all? “Perfectly okay”

    BB – Our last pitcher, and our biggest case of the quick hook, Bergesen averages just 94 pitches per outing (less than 17 per inning). But – last night he was actually stretched out pretty well, throwing 107 pitches in 6.1 (his longest outing of the year). So it is possible that Trembley is adjusting. Or maybe not. “Not okay at all, unless…”

    So what have we learned? Well, most of the starters stink and there’s no reason to leave them in most of these games. You can make a strong argument that Guthrie and Bergesen ought to be pushed harder, but by and large, Trembley is getting what he can out of these guys and I can’t fault him for the hooks he is making.

    If he had a real pitching staff of veterans and workhorses and good pitchers, it would make more sense to leave them in there, but he doesn’t, so I’m mostly okay with the moves.

  • ryan97ou

    good breakdown andrew. surprised no one has started debating the sun proclaiming weiters’ arrival on june 9th.

    i won’t be able to go to that game, so i hope they wait. *chuckle*

  • neal s

    I saw that bit about Wieters and was tempted to start a “Wieters Watch” series, but I decided I’d hold off a bit. I’d like to have something beyond Peter Schmuck’s speculation before I get too excited, even if it does make perfect sense.

  • ryan97ou

    comment of the day has to be from roch’s site, where he says: “The Orioles will be taking their swings at Phil Hughes again. Maybe they can jump out to an early lead, Guthrie can settle into a groove and the only question will be whether George Sherrill works the ninth in a non-save situation.

    Just a thought.”

    the 1st comment:

    “And maybe despite my not buying a ticket I’ll win the lottery and spend the money researching whether or not unicorns exist.”


  • Andrew

    I actually want to guess that Wieters arrives on Monday against Toronto. I imagine that the Orioles want him to be introduced in Baltimore, and the only reason to delay him at this point (with him really swinging the bat well) is to make sure he isn’t a Super-Two player. I can see the wisdom in that move, but it would be a large PR get for the birds to say “fuck that, we just want to get this kid up here already; we don’t care about the money”.

    But I can also see June 9th. So I’ll guess May 25th, but June 9th seems like the only other ideal date, really.

    It’s almost time….!

  • Neal – We’re in agreement on #35. I actually winced when I turned on the game and saw BB in those digits. But he pitched as well as could be expected, save one bad pitch to Bitch Tits. It’s not his fault that Chris Ray and the defense waved in his two 7th inning runners.

  • dan the man

    Bitch Tits might be the bet name for A-Rod ever.

  • Kevin

    The Red Sox had “The Curse of the Bambino”. If the Yankees dont win a World Series with Rodriguez, can we call it “Curse of the Bitch Tits”?

  • dan the man

    It’s interesting the Lou and Pie have both stopped receiving starts almost altogether. Lou gets some at DH, but it looks like as long as Reimold is here, he’s the left fielder. I gotta say I really like that move. Who knows if he stays or not when Luke gets back, but you kinda have to be thinking he’s staying at this point. I’m in favor of sending down Lou, as much as I like him. He’s got options, he’s probably not the future, and it’s too early to give up on Pie, who makes sense as lefty outfielder speed-guy on the bench.

  • ryan97ou

    oh, also before i forget, i was watching those stupid “defining moment” spots on masn and thought how great it would be to make a spoof of those:

    “you know what my O’s defining moment was? The game was tense…bergesen had held the yankees to a 2-1 lead on their own turf…and chris ray…THE chris ray came in…and BOOM 5 pitches and 2 errors later, the yankees are up 9-1…at which point i turned off the game and ordered a pitcher of yuengling. That’s MY defining moment”


  • Andrew

    They have to start starting Pie in left again. What a useless move to acquire a guy if you’re going to totally give up on him as a potential starter after less than 100 at bats despite the vast amount of bad luck he’s hit into.

    I mean, I’m cool with Reimold being the left fielder from now on, but it’s basically admitting that the front office didn’t really have a very good plan in place this past offseason (We have these 3 left fielders…better get this other one…and heck, we don’t need no stinking left handed starters, we’ve got Mark Hendrickson).

    Not to be a downer, but this Pie thing makes McPhail look really dumb in my eyes.

  • rick

    The 100 pitch count is so bogus, but it’s becoming the norm in a copy-cat fashion.

    I loved watching Livan Hernandez throw 150 pitches in a complete game for the Nats in ’05. I believe in one game, while on another team, he actually threw over 200.

    Young pitchers need to develop the strength and stamina to pitch a complete, 9 inning game, where if they can average 16 pitches/inning they come in at are just below 150. Used to be the norm.

    PIe: mistake. admit it. move on and let Reimold play LF. Certainly there’s the possibility Pie works out well for some other club, but I doubt it. Seems to lack mental toughness.

  • Andrew

    @rick – You can keep on hoping that baseball moves back towards starters throwing an obscene number of pitches, but it ain’t gonna happen. Players get paid way too much money for any organization (except maybe the Yankees) to put all of their pitching prospects at such a big risk by forcing them to pitch that much.

    Oh sure, you’ll find more horses like Sabathia or Zambrano or Halladay*, but you’re going to break many, many more arms than you find. Goodbye Erik Bedard, goodbye Fausto Carmona, goodbye A.J. Burnett. Not to mention drafted pitchers won’t want anything to do with your organization. I doubt that the reward outweighs the risk.

    *It is definitely worth noting that Roy Halladay does not throw an obscene number of pitches. He routinely finishes under or around 110. He’s just an incredible pitcher who doesn’t get into big innings and keeps his per-inning pitch count way down.

  • Andrew

    So, Chris Ray. I told you I wanted answers, here’s the best I can do:

    He’s giving up an extraordinary number of line drives (27.9% compared to his career average of 19.7) and therefore his xBABIP of .399 makes his BABIP of .478 unlucky, but not that unlucky.

    You might be surprised to learn that home runs aren’t Ray’s problem (well, okay, they’re a problem, but they’re not a new problem). He’s giving them up only slightly more than normal (1.42 per 9 versus 1.22 career) and his strikeout numbers actually look really good (10.66 per 9). It’s the walks (6.39 per 9) and the batted balls that are killing him.

    Interesting tidbit: against righties, Ray looks pretty strong (0 HR, 3 BB, 12 K, .443 OPS) – but those lefties are really, really killing him (2 HR, 6 BB, 3 K, 1.493 OPS). And that is just a more extreme version of his career (.571 OPS vs. RHB, .819 OPS vs. LHB), which is just…strange.

    So, without looking at the pitch f/x (and I have nothing to compare it to in terms of Ray’s success, since he was hurt in 2007 and we don’t have access to any earlier data), I have no idea what the deal is. I’d stop using him against lefties immediately, though, and I bet he starts looking unhittable.

  • Andrew

    I keep telling myself that I am tired of the Yankees (I see them a ton), and then that I’m just tired of watching the Orioles screw up repeatedly every single game, but I think I’m just tired of watching this crap.

  • sci

    Guthrie has been a major disappointment this year. Pitching like a 4th or 5th starter — consistently mediocre.

  • neal s

    @rick – Andrew’s point is valid, but I agree with you. I don’t think it’s a matter of yearning for the old days, I think it’s just smart baseball. Starters should be capable of going eight or nine innings if they’re pitching well, period. That’s why they’re starters. If six innings/100 pitches becomes the norm then MLB will need to expand the rosters to 26 or 27 players. You can’t go a full season at those targets without taxing your bullpen. I think last year’s Orioles pretty well proved that point.

    On Pie vs. Reimold, I say Reimold all the way. Maybe Pie can be good, maybe he can’t, but is that really the issue? No. The issue is that Reimold is a young prospect who came up through the organization and forced MacPhail’s hand. It isn’t bad planning, it’s just a guy doing enough in AAA to earn his spot. This wouldn’t be an issue if Pie were performing at an average or better level.

    As far as tonight…sigh. Tough to stomach.

  • dan the man

    Reimold goes deep off of Rivera. Only thing worth a damn mentioning about this game.

    Nothing to see here, gents. Moving on. The calvary is coming. The calvary is coming. The calvary is coming. *rocking back and forth*

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – One of my favorite (and my Yankee-loving girlfriend’s favorite) things in baseball is what we’ve dubbed “the Fuck You Home Run” which is, of course, a late inning, way behind, meaningless home run. Except that you have to be a likeable player to get credit for a FUHR (ARod has 0, naturally).

    Glad to see Nolan Reimold is already getting his Fuck You going.

  • neal s

    I love the FUHR. Nice call.

    The cavalry is indeed coming. I feel pretty safe in saying this team will look a hell of a lot different in August than it does now.

    But…what the hell is up with Guthrie?

    I’m sticking to my opinion that the WBC has a lot to do with this. Pitchers are creatures of habit, and he never had a chance to properly prepare for the season. But that isn’t much consolation. Watching him struggle is painful.

  • Andrew

    @neal s – At the risk of looking like a postaholic, can I ask what would be a desirable average for innings pitched per start from a starting staff, if 6 is too low? Is it 7? Higher?

    The Orioles, of course, have a low number this year at 5.25 IP/S going into tonight.

    The 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who were so good both in the bullpen and the rotation? They averaged exactly 6 innings per start.

    How about this year’s best run preventing team so far, the LA Dodgers? 5.68 IP/S

    The Yankees, who ride their pitchers routinely up to nearly 120 pitches (anecdotely) average 5.89 innings per start. I will grant that without Wang, it’s up to 6.22 innings.

    My point is that you all want to say that baseball can’t change, baseball needs to get pitchers pitching deeper or else, but baseball changed. It already happened. Starting pitchers go about 6 innings. It IS the norm. Trying to latch onto the past and keep things from changing (especially when there is a medical, and thus financial argument to be had against you) is just going to get any team lost in the dust.

  • It hurts to see dem O’s get bullied like this in NY, but at least the overrated “King” James lost tonight in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. We are all witnesses.

  • neal s

    @Craig Ehlo – We tend not to talk much NBA, but I’m with you. I can’t stand LeBron’s pre-packaged and managed persona. It feels like that dude has had a PR consultant since birth. He’s a fucking amazing basketball player, but I’d love to have at least one moment where I felt like he was also actually a human being.

    Viva la Agent Zero.

  • neal s

    @Andrew – I’m cool with change, and those stats are definitely eye-opening. That said, averages don’t always tell a story. Combining every complete game or 7-8 inning performance with every start that ends early because of bad results is not really explaining much.

    Do you really think that it makes sense to think of starting pitching as a six inning proposition every night? If so, then you’re saying that a given team’s bullpen should consistently expect to pitch three full innings. I just can’t see how that makes sense.

  • Andrew

    @neal s – That’s fair. So we can tally up the number of 7+ inning starts for those same 4 teams I listed above:

    Orioles 3 / 39 7.7%

    Rays 53 / 162 32.7%

    Yankees 12 / 39 30.7%

    Dodgers 13 / 41 31.7%

    So, based on this incredibly vast scientific research, we can confidently say that the good pitching staffs manage to go above the 6 inning threshold around 30% of the time.

    Here’s the thing: the Orioles don’t have a good pitching staff. If Trembley left his starters out there to get to that 30% mark so as to save the bullpen, the starters would be a) getting shelled more often than not late in games, and b) destroying their arms by throwing closer to 130 pitches night in and night out.

    You look at James Shields, who in 2008 went 7 or more innings 18 times out of 33 starts, and he exceeded 110 pitches ONCE. And that was 111 pitches. The Orioles don’t presently have anything even close to that level of talent on their staff.

    I absolutely stand by my belief that attempting to develop arms like Sabathia’s that can take 120 pitch abuse most nights will get you a lot more Mark Priors than CC Sabathias. What the O’s need to (and I believe are trying to) develop is arms like Halladay and Shields, who can go deep without putting the stress on their arms.

    That is the future of good pitching, not forcing pitchers to go 120 pitches to get to 7 innings.

    Mark Prior (2003) averaged 7 innings per start. He went 7 or more innings 16 times (out of 30). He averaged 113.3 pitches per start (a little more than 16 per inning). This was the result of the mindset that you all (and Dusty Baker) espoused: a return to starters finishing what they start. Prior of course blew out his arm and was DONE by 2006.

    That is not what I want to be reading about Chris Tillman in 5 years.

  • ryan97ou

    @neal s – re: lebron. i’m a cleveland fan so my opinion is obviously skewed, but you must not have watched any of their games this season where he is pretty much out there having a great time, playing around with his teammates on the bench, etc. Not that i know the guy personally, but he looks pretty human out there to me. People just love to hate him. Especially wizards fans

    And as for agent zero….keep puttin’ all your eggs in that basket. you wanna talk about putting on an act…

    *stirring pot *

  • ryan97ou

    and also, lebron didn’t lose that game for the cavs…mike brown did for not getting all up in their faces halfway through the 3rd quarter about not moving around the ball and getting some plays started, which is what got them there to begin with.

    you might have noticed once they started doing that they got back into the game (3’s from williams, west, and a great layup move by varejou)…

    i digress…

    as for last night’s O’s game. OOF.

  • dan the man

    @ryan97ou – JtG and I are rooting for Lebron for the simple reason that if they go all the way, he’ll probably re-sign with Cleveland, thereby making millions of New Yorkers cry. Yes, please.

    Also, I was in favor of not re-signing Gilbert last offseason and sure enough, it’s already looking like a bad move. You have Caron and Jamison – what you need now is a dominant center and a pass-first point guard. I’m a Gilbert fan, I just don’t think it was the right move for the organization. We’ll see. Also, they need to stop drafting like shit. That might help. So might Flip Saunders.

  • ryan97ou

    @dan the man – i actually love jamison. i think he’s the best you got.

    and as for the cavs winning a championship (although i am breaking my knuckles right now knocking on wood), if they do i think it gives lebron even more reason to go to new york. “heey i got you a championship…now i can leave”

    hope it doesn’t happen, as i would never hear the end of it from my knicks-loving friend

  • The reason why the Calves lost last night is because LeBronze (we all know the most recent U.S. gold was all Kobe) is a ballhog.

    The reason why they didn’t move the ball and “get some plays started” is because he wouldn’t give it up, and i’m not talking about a simple drive, draw and kick, i’m talking about a fluid dynamic offense like the one Denver runs with a REAL point guard (billups)

    If Mike Brown would get off of his knees and out from in front of the altar of “king” james and have the guts to implement an offense that’s a little more dynamic, they might have a chance to win the series.

    Give some credit to the Orlando shooters too, who have ice water in their veins, unlike Delonte West and co. who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn even with the wide open looks they were getting as a result of the double teams on James.

    That was pathetic.

    What Bron Bron really needs to do is bust out his secret weapon – THE CRAB DRIBBLE – it’s unstoppable.

    And for all the white people who say “I don’t really like the NBA, the college game is a much better brand of basketball wah, wah, wah,” you’re missing out, these NBA playoffs have been awesome.

  • dan the man

    @Craig Ehlo – Couldn’t agree more about the college game. Who are these schools anyway? And why should I care about them? College sports in general bore the bejesus out of me. The NBA is not nearly as bad as people think. The season is a little long, so just tune in at the half-way point when shit gets good.

    I’m not sure you can put anything on Mike Brown – I mean the Cavs had a ridiculous record all season. Obviously, whatever method they use to win games has been working all season. What’s really going on here is that the Magic are no joke. As a Celtics fan, I will attest to that. If your shooters are off and their shooters are on, it’s basically over. It’s up to Lebron to involve the other guys early rather than late, and then take over the game if he needs to in the 4th quarter.

  • Ryan97ou

    @Craig Ehlo – I love people that just regurgitate whatever espn is spewing. I would expect more from an o’s fan. As a matter of fact lebron is averaging 7.2 assists compared to your beloved kobe. Who routinely scores 50+ and averages 4.9 this season. And its also worth noting that kobe’s career high for avg assists is a whopping 6.

    Lebrons career low is 5.9 (his rookie season)

    What a ball hog

  • Andrew

    Today’s topic: Brad Bergesen. Does the defense actually play better behind him?

    (On a side note, I think it might be a decent idea to have some sort of regular debatable subject like this or the pitch count thing, just to spice things up…but I might be in the overwhelming minority here. But it could be fun, Neal could get two opinions to present a for and against case as it relates to something Baltimore sports related – and not just baseball or the Orioles)

    Anyway, I’ve heard the anecdotes about how the defense looks better and the players enjoy playing better behind BB as compared to, say, The Taxi To Nowhere (now starring in the Nats’ bullpen!), but do they in fact play better? Defense is famously hard to quantify, but let’s try. Let’s examine the facts:

    The Orioles have committed 26 errors, but only 3 of those have come with Bergesen on the mound. In terms of defensive efficiency, the Orioles have a .665 total and a .658 for Bergesen. I’m surprised that a) the two levels are so close and b)BB’s defense is actually worse than the team average (according to that metric). Of course, BB’s BABIP is .325 (against an xBABIP of .290) and the team’s BABIP is .322 (against .300 expected)…so one can make a pretty good argument that the defense does no better behind BB than anyone else.

    But I’m definitely not satisfied. Let’s look at each kind of ball (line drive, bunt, ground ball, fly ball) ignoring vectors and see how the Orioles do. They field 19% of line drives (4/21), 75% of ground balls (52/69), and 80.8% of fly balls (21/26). Disturbingly, none of those rates are even average (ground balls are close, though, as the average is 76%)…but that makes sense because BB’s BABIP exceeds his xBABIP.

    What that doesn’t tell us is whether those are better rates than what the Orioles do in general. That will take a little while…back later with that update, but for now it doesn’t appear that BB makes any difference to the defense (especially the outfielders).

  • ryan97ou

    andrew – agreed. seems it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound for our D to give up errors/play bad.

    *grumble *

    also more base running mistakes last night

  • Andrew

    @ryan97ou – It’s really been the most frustrating thing so far, hasn’t it? We give up multiple outs per game on stupid, stupid, STUPID plays on the bases and we give the other team 4 or 5 outs multiple times EVERY SINGLE GAME.

    It’s absolute crap, and it’s really wearing me down.

  • ryan97ou

    @Andrew – it’s the one thing this season i wasn’t prepared for. Lousy pitching…ok…been there done that..cavalry is in the wings.

    but this really wasn’t expected, especially with the edition of izturas. oh well. As george clooney once said “we must weather the storm”. then again he also ended up dying in that movie.

  • Andrew

    @ryan97ou – This too must pass.

  • ryan97ou

    unrelated note: a pitcher from the indians AA team just pitched a perfect game:

  • I don’t know where you’re getting that my analysis is regurge, it’s just obvious. I haven’t listened to or watched a lick of espn.

    Kobes assist totals aren’t that high because he is a prolific scorer and doesn’t pretend to be a point guard. The lakers offense is orchestrated through him not by him. My point is that LeBron needs better players around him and a system with a true point guard.

    It’s clear when he brings the ball up in half court sets that the offense becomes stagnant and limited. That works during the regular season when defenders don’t close out but not come playoff time. Mike Brown, a noted defensive minded coach, needs to show some imagination and diversify their offense lickedy split or they’ll be watching the finals on teevee.

    Kobe has proven something LeBron hasn’t – that he can take over a game in the fourth quarter deep in the playoffs. That being said, I think Denver is the best that’s left in these playoffs. They play the best team ball and I hope they’re rewarded for that as Melo is reppin b-more.

  • neal s

    Never would have guessed we’d have a smart, fairly deep NBA convo here. I love it.

  • ryan97ou

    originally posted byCraig EhloKobe has proven something LeBron hasn’t – that he can take over a game in the fourth quarter deep in the playoffs.

    did you watch the 2007 eastern conference finals against the pistons?

  • dan the man

    @ryan97ou – I gotta side with ryan on this one. If anything, Kobe has shown that he can’t get it done “alone”, and yet, when he tries to involve his teammates, he tends to stick with that plan for too long. I’ve seen so many games where Kobe just needs to take over in the 4th but he doesn’t and they lose. Lebron has a better feel for turning it on, in my opinion. And he’s just the better player, plain and simple.

  • dan the man

    I dig Trembo’s lineup tonight with Reimold at DH and Felix in LF. While I don’t think Reimold should be relegated to DHing in the future, I like the O’s showing commitment to the kid by getting him in the lineup over Wigginton and Montanez. They’ve stuck to their word: as long as Nolan’s up here, he’s going to play. Taking Mary-ann-o deep last night doesn’t hurt, either.

  • I did watch the 2007 NBA eastern conference finals where Boobie Gibson went five for five from three point land, against a Detroit team on the downturn, to propel the calves to the finals where they proceeded to get swept by a complete team with a great point guard (Parker)

    That’s my point, LeBron has no help, the calves aren’t a complete team and that’s why they shouldn’t win the title. The closest thing to a complete team in these playoffs, with a bonafide point guard, is Denver.

    And I’m not saying LeBron isn’t a fine player it’s just ridiculous and really unfair to him to be compared to Kobe at this point when you examine their bodies of work.