Welcome

If this is your first time here, please visit the "about" page. If you've been here before, thanks for stopping back in.

The comments are open, and your voice is welcome.

Orioles Lose…And It’s Different

It was a fairly dismal result for the Orioles tonight at home against Seattle. 4-0 victory for the visitors behind Luke French, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Kevin Millwood pitched well enough to win with one run and six hits over eight innings. Lack of run support, yet again.

Familiar story, no? Throughout the first two-thirds of the season nights like these were the norm. They beat us down and sapped our energy. Caused us to wonder about hope and whether having it made any sense at all. But answer me this: does tonight’s loss feel like similar losses felt, say, two months ago?

It doesn’t for me. Not even close.

We’ve had plenty of discussion here about the need to avoid anointing Buck Showalter as designated Team Savior. He’s just one guy and his mere presence does not erase the team’s overall shortcomings. This is true and worth remembering. But that doesn’t mean his arrival hasn’t had an effect.

The 10-5 record he’s helmed is part of it, but not the part that matters. The biggest thing is the change in attitude and expectation. Simply put, the Orioles under Showalter are a different team. They still have a lot to overcome but Buck has done a lot to lift the dark cloud hanging over their heads and ours. The losses don’t sting as much as they did before because the sense of real, positive direction remains.

Yes, yes, I/we said much the same thing about the arrival of Andy MacPhail. But if you think about it, that’s not really a problem. We were hopeful when MacPhail arrived because we figured he’d fix things. We knew it wouldn’t be easy and wouldn’t come quick. Now, he’s hired Showalter. That’s part of fixing things. That’s more progress.

It’s a hell of a thing to have gone on this 2010 ride with the Orioles. High expectations to begin it gave way to a horrendous start and a slate of dashed hope. One manager gone, then another. Now, a new hope.

With that new hope comes less intense focus on the losses. They no longer feel like an avalanche. More like obstacles. Neither is desirable, but an avalanche buries you where an obstacle simply slows you down. The Orioles will be slowed down and challenged many times between now and whenever they return to winning baseball. Right now, though, it again feels like they’ll eventually get there. Even when they lose.

22 comments to Orioles Lose…And It’s Different

  • Watching Rockies/Dodgers with my Gram in Colorado.

    Weird to watch ‘ol Flat Brim in Dodger Blue and with a HUGE goatee and ‘stache. But he’s tearin’ it up still.

    Miss that guy.

  • Greg

    @ Ryan: Tearin’ it up? I know he’s got a 1.000 OBP, but his ERA is ugly. I highly doubt they signed him for his plate discipline.

    Does anyone have any insight on why Tyler Kolodny fell off the face of the earth? He was tearing it up for a while in Delmarva (.260/.358/.552, lead the minors in HR for awhile). I read somewhere that he was demoted for disciplinary reasons as well as defense issues. They played him in a couple games at Aberdeen, pulled him off 3B and stuck him in the outfield. Then they completely took him out of the lineup; he hasn’t played a game in two months. I always felt like he had a good chance to be a productive power corner-IF prospect and he was one of my favorite players to follow. I’m a tad disappointed to see his pro career swerve off a cliff like it seems to have done.

  • ryan97ou

    “tearin’ it up”

    PFFFT

  • dan the man

    What I’ve liked after losses is that Buck always seems to make sure he still mentions the word “win”. He gives credit (but not too much credit) to the other team, but always lets you know he would have rather won. Too often at the end of DT’s tenure, DT would give some kind of “c’est la vie/mea culpa” response that got really tired. “We gave it our best, but came up short.” Come on now, no one wants to hear that shit. Buck at least mentioned the need to get better against left-handed pitching after last night.

    I hope we can hit Pauley around tonight. I don’t get how he was bad for the Sox and the O’s and now he’s sporting a 3.31 ERA for Seattle. I think our lefties will feast on him.

  • Mike R

    @ Ryan:
    You think thats weird, how about watching Jay Gibbons dressed in Dodger blue, or a big league uni of any team for that matter.

    Wieters is hitting the ball well lately. He hit 3 balls hard tonight. One just short of a homer, one onto Eutaw Street, and one inches away from extra bases and tying the game. I’m thinking they should try him out in the 3 hole. The protecton he gets from Scott could benefit him, and the team. Wigginton isn’t getting it done anymore, and I’m hoping we can move him and get something in return. A playoff team would love to have a versitile guy they can plug in anywhere, and possibly pinch hit effectively if called upon. Moore, Hughes, Aubrey would come up in 12 days anyway right?

    Then hopefully we fill that hole for good this offseason. Could you offer Dunn a contract that says “you won’t DH ever, unless you want to.”?

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    Lineup protection is a myth that’s been debunked a gazillion times, and doesn’t really make any sense anyway, if you think about it. This isn’t like me saying there’s no such thing as momentum. There really is absolutely no such thing as lineup protection.

    Wigginton already didn’t make it through waivers and was revoked. He can’t be traded. Ditto Luke Scott. Andy MacPhail came out and said that the chances of another deal happening in the next two weeks was very, very low. Which is really too bad, since something > nothing, and Wigginton is pretty much nothing for us.

    Dunn would be the only firstbaseman on the market that I’d be intrigued by, but I suspect that the price on him is going to go a little overboard. Or maybe not, I don’t know. I’d love to have him in the lineup, that’s for sure.

    When you’re getting eaten alive by the Mariners you know the shine has worn off, and here come the Rangers, looking to lick their wounds after the Rays swept them. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Pirates overtook us again in the coming weeks. That particular battle could seesaw for a long while.

  • Mike R

    @ Andrew:
    I didn’t know we couldn’t move Wiggy. Even if we could I know he wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway.
    I have to debate this, you don’t believe in lineup protection? If there is no scientific formula for it, it isn’t true? Explain Matt Holliday. Good numbers in Colorado with Helton behind him. He sucked balls in Oakland where he gets pitched around all day, then all of a sudden he starts putting up all-star numbers in St.Louis when he gets pitches to hit cause pitchers don’t want to walk him in lieu of Pujols.

    Explain Ryan Brauns drop off.
    2009-.320 32HR, 114RBI.
    2010-.290 16HR, 68RBI.
    30 point drop in avg. He probably wont reach 25 HR or 100 RBI.

    Prince Fielders dropped off too.
    2009- .299 46HR, 141RBI
    2010- .266 25HR, 66RBI!!
    33 point drop, and will probably have 50 less RBI.
    You don’t feel they’re related? You don’t think when Fielder was hitting well that Braun was treated like Holliday? Now that Fielder isn’t as dominant, you don’t think teams aren’t afraid to pitch around Braun to get to a guy who is having trouble driving in runs?
    Ryan Zimmerman, I doubt if you stuck him in the Indians, or Mariners lineups he still hits .300+ and 25+ dingers. It helps having Dunn behind him. Vice versa. Zim gets hot, they put Dunn 3rd in front of Zim, Dunn starts seeing more pitches, and blasting them out of the park.

    Obviously Julio Lugo can’t bat in front of Pujols and hit .325 with 30 bombs, but when good hitters get pitches over the heart of the plate, they drive em. When the guy in the on deck circle is dangerous, your Holliday’s, Zimmermans, Brauns see more of those pitches. Thats why Markakis’ numbers are down. No pitcher was scared of Tejada anymore.

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    Two things:

    First, and most importantly, a ton of studies have been done and none of them have found any evidence that lineup protection is a thing. Ever. There aren’t any facts (stats) to support it. No, I haven’t read these studies, but I’ll take the word of some super smart bloggers out there who have.

    Secondly: I’ve been thinking lately about how a lot of times I feel like I think one thing, look at the numbers, and then either change my thinking blindly or struggle with the two differing thoughts, when I think there’s a lot of interesting work that can be done in working through the differences. They say Jeter’s a terrible statistical shortstop, but you think he looks like one of the best? How do you bring those two thoughts together? I think it’s interesting.

    Anyway, let’s talk about lineup protection as a logical thing. Lineup protection suggests that a pitcher will not want to face player B, and so will be afraid to walk player A, and therefore player A will get more “pitches to hit”, thus raising his overall numbers, correct?

    What? So, the pitcher is so afraid to face player B that he will intentionally make it easier for player A to get on base, therefore forcing himself to face player B? It makes no sense. If pitchers have figured out how to hold Nick Markakis to a .350 OBP, they aren’t going to chance the way they pitch to him for the worse and give him a .380 OBP just because we sign Prince Fielder. Why would they do that?

    Players – hitters and pitchers – are constantly adjusting their games. Guys slump, guys go on tears, guys have career years or mediocre years, and let’s not forget ballpark effects or league effects when we’re talking about a guy like Matt Holliday.

  • sci

    @ Andrew:
    I essentially agree with you, but where it’s pretty plain that lineup protection or lack thereof DOES make a difference is when there is one amazing hitter and a bunch of pedestrian hitters. For instance, the Giants lineups (for the most part) when Bonds was in his prime. The difference it makes is that the amazing hitter will, no question, get more walks if there is no one to really worry about around him in the lineup. If Pujols was hitting behind Bonds (scary thought), then Bonds would not have gotten as many walks (both intentional and “pitch-arounds”). Just one example, but why would you ever feel a need to pitch to the one amazing hitter in a given lineup? You avoid him as much as possible. It’s just logic.

  • Mike R

    Andrew wrote:

    What? So, the pitcher is so afraid to face player B that he will intentionally make it easier for player A to get on base, therefore forcing himself to face player B?

    Eaiser for player A? If player A is the caliber of your Braun, Holliday, Zim, then yeah. Even so, in the game of baseball, while Braun last year had a .320 average, that means he still made an out 68% of the time he put the ball in play. So the odds are still in the pitchers favor.

    The more I think about it, lineup protection probably doesnt exist in the Orioles case, I’ll give you that. Luke Scott doesn’t have the numbers or reputation that Pujols, Fielder or Dunn has.

    Another example. Tejadas been batting second in front of Adrian Gonzalez. Since being in San Diego Miggys been one of the best hitters in baseball. In the best pitchers park in the game. After sucking in a hitters park.

    I know there are slumps, and guys tear it up for a few weeks at a time, but when good hitters hit in front of great hitters, great things happen. Josh Hamilton struggled to start the year, then Vlad Guerrero got red hot, and Hamilton followed suit. Just saying, while there is no stat for it, it seems to be a trend.

    Who said Jeter is a terrible statistical shortstop? A red sox fan? He’s gonna be hitting his 3,000th hit next year. A career .315 hitter, and will have 500+ doubles. I hate the Yankees as much as the next guy, but it’s hard to find a flaw in Jeters approach.

  • Andrew

    @ sci:
    I agree: really good hitters tend to draw more walks, intentionally or otherwise. But that’s not really lineup protection.

    @ Mike R: A couple of things:

    1) I meant a defensive shortstop. All of the defensive numbers hate Jeter at short, but he has a lot of Gold Gloves and a reputation as the cream of the crop.

    2) I think you’re underestimating a lot of things about Tejada: the league effect, his BABiP jump which leads to the incredibly small sample size issues*, not to mention whatever sort of mindset changes he’s had moving into a pennant race, playing shortstop, different coaches, whatever.

    3) Adrian Gonzalez has batted 3rd all year. The Padres #2 hitters have a .709 OPS. The Padres as a team have a .703 OPS. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see any protection…but then…

    4) I’m not following you, and I need clarification. Are you saying lineup protection exists only if two really good hitters are going back-to-back, so that the first hitter gets the benefit of protection?

    5) I really want to stress this. People who are way smarter than all of us have had this exact same conversation, and they’ve all agreed that its a myth, as much of a myth as the usefulness of the sacrifice bunt. For me, that’s the bottom line, but like I’ve said, I like talking about this and rationalizing the two sides of my brain, so let’s continue.

    *I kind of hate it when people say “Small sample size, I know, but…”. No. Stop it. If it’s a small sample size then that’s it. Your argument stands on pillars of sand. Sorry, pet peeve. And I do it a lot myself.

  • dan the man

    Who are these smart people? Can we get some links? Some statistical proof?

    Take Manny out of the Red Sox lineup, and Ortiz got worse. Put Swisher in the Yankee lineup, and he revives his career. Seems to me the better hitters you have in your lineup, the better your mediocre hitters become.

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    What, my word isn’t good enough? My logical attack, neither? Harumph harumph harumph.

    http://www.baseball1.com/bb-data/grabiner/protstudy.html

    http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2004/09/the-protection-externality-it-doesnt-exist/

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1042

    I can go on if you’d like. You’re citing specific anecdotal scenarios that don’t prove lineup protection is a real thing. You can’t control for the many other factors that went into David Ortiz becoming “mediocre”, like his age or injuries.

    Ortiz specifically:

    Before the deadline deal, Ortiz OPSed .858. After the deadline deal, he OPSed .900. This year, without Manny or Jason Bay and with most of the Red Sox core struggling or hurt, he’s OPSed .911. I don’t see it, sorry, not even in this one case.

  • neal s

    @ Andrew: Sorry that hit the filter, Andrew. Sometimes happens with multiple links.

  • Andrew

    @ neal s:
    I figured that was it. No worries, no need to apologize to me either.

    Two things:

    1) I don’t want anyone to think I’m getting on my high-horse or being a dick or anything. Far from it, even though I’ve gotten pretty heated around here in the past when talking stats, I’m hoping that that’s past me. I’m just debating, the same way you would if someone told you they thought Cal Ripken didn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. So don’t take any comments as snark or smugness, please.

    2) The Frederick Keys are going to the playoffs, and the Bowie Baysox stand a good chance of going themselves. If they do, I’ll be heading out for a playoff game (at least) at each and I’m thinking a group thing would be fun…so I’m gauging interest. Let me know if you’d be down for some championship-caliber minor league baseball. No commitments, of course, just gauging interest.

  • Mike R

    Andrew wrote:

    I’m not following you, and I need clarification. Are you saying lineup protection exists only if two really good hitters are going back-to-back, so that the first hitter gets the benefit of protection?

    Yes, thats about it. Like I said before, you can’t put Lugo in front of Pujols, and he all of a sudden hits .300/30/100. I don’t know how else to put this. Holliday, Tejada, and Markakis have proven they are less productive without great hitters behind em. Not to say Huff is great, but Cakes highest BA, .306, was in Huffs silver slugger year. My argument, 2nd tier hitters capable of .300/30/100 are more likely to reach those numbers with a 1st tier hitter capable of .325/40/125 behind him. I’d bet if Pujols hits the DL, Hollidays numbers go down with him.

  • Mike R

    @ Andrew:
    I don’t think you’re being a dick. I know there’s two sides to every story. I think the David Grabiner article does support both our arguments, my arguement by noting that Robbie Alomar(2nd tier) hit better in front of Joe Carter(1st tier) than he did in front of Kelly Gruber(3rd, 4th tier). Harold Reynolds hit significantly better in front of Griffey. Some of his examples are a stretch. Like when he cites Milt Cuyler, Alvin Davis, Kevin Reimer, Dale Sveum, guys who hit primarily in the bottom of the order, or more often than not pinch hit, so they’re not good hitters anyway. That 3rd article about Either and Ramierez, the update contraditcs himself when he says in that 3-2 count he’s more likely to see a fastball down the middle, than a slider wich may miss the plate and walk him. Fastballs for guys like Either are much easier to drive than a slider down and away, which he may chase and strikeout. Thats protection right there.

    Not every team has hitters that can provide that kind of protection, or the #2 or #3 hitter who can take advantage of it. But for guys to call it a myth, thats a little much. Especially when the article supports protection exisits in some cases.

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    How do you account for Holliday’s numbers being worst this year than in any other year since 2005? Or that his best numbers came in 2007, hitting in front of Todd Helton, who was really good but is certainly not on the same plateau as Albert Pujols?

    Miguel Tejada’s best year was 2004 or 2006. In ’06 he hit mostly in front of Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez. In 2007, his numbers took a tumble while he hit in front of Aubrey Huff and Kevin Millar. What do you make of this?

  • Mike R

    @ Andrew:
    His numbers are still good. He’s right on pace for .300+/30/100. I think he’s good, not great. Not many guys are going to go .340/36/137 every year. Except Pujols, who is on another planet. Hollidays average dropped 35 points during his tenure in Oakland from .321 to .286. He hit 11 HR, and 54 RBI in 93 games. In 63 games with the Cards his average was .353, 13 HR, 55 RBI. Don’t downplay Helton though. No one is on Pujols’ level, but Helton is probably a hall of famer. .325 career average, .981 career OPS.

    Miguel Tejada, Steroids, and who knows how old he really is. I know it sounds like a cop out, but It’s true. In 2005 He hit behind Raffy and was great until Raffy got busted, then from July on he had to get clean, and his numbers dropped severly.

    Look here at his splits,specifically pre allstar break vs. post allstar break. It’s brutal

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?playerId=3727&type=batting&year=2005

    2006-cant explain that one

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    Seems like maybe where we’re going to settle (beyond agree to disagree, since it doesn’t look like anyone’s mind is going to be changed) is that if protection exists, it’s only in special cases, and even then you can certainly debate on what other factors are at work, like natural fluctuations in production, aging, league differences, ballpark effects. Where I’ll give some ground is that I would think Matt Holliday feels more comfortable knowing that Pujols has his back. Whether that’s a placebo effect or not might be irrelevant.

    Comfort in the box isn’t nothing…even though the pitcher might not be pitching you any differently than if Pedro Feliz is behind you (and I don’t think they would. Like I said, it wouldn’t make any sense for them to pitch differently in order to give the hitter better numbers). Seem like a fair reconciliation?

    Buck was actually talking about that, unless I misheard him, about feeling like you can “pass the baton” and things’ll be okay. The best offenses need that kind of mental approach, I think (e.g. “I don’t need to get the big hit here if I can walk because the guy behind me can easily get the big hit”).

  • He tore it up that night. Sayin’.