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Ravens, Orioles Spend Busy Holiday Weekend

There’s something nearly perfect about Labor Day weekend and the way it puts a period on the end of summer, giving (most of) us an extra day to while away before the busy season starts. And a busy season it will indeed be. I’ve taken on Bmore Media as a client and will serve as the publication’s Managing Editor. If you don’t know about Bmore, I hope you’ll start checking it out. Every Tuesday it goes live with two feature stories about the innovation/creativity/entrepreneurial scene in Baltimore along with news links, original photography, and neighborhood info. It’s a year old right now and there’s a solid foundation in place. I’m aiming to make it great. Let the work begin.

If any of you have tips about people or businesses in/around Baltimore who are making things happen, let me know. I’d love to cover them.

Self-promotion over — on to the Ravens and Orioles. Both made some pretty big waves over the weekend, starting with the Ravens’ release of (among others) Troy Smith and Shayne Graham on Friday. Then they went out and signed one-time “it” receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which led to a trade of former first-rounder Mark Clayton to the Rams.

Troy Smith always made me laugh. At least, his presence did. Sports talk radio callers loved that guy, and it made for sublimely ridiculous theatre. The notion that Smith could ever even attempt to compete with Joe Flacco was always laughable, but in a good way. I’m sure he’ll turn heads out in San Francisco. Right. Because, you know, he won a Heisman.

As for the Houshmandzadeh move, all you can say is is that it’s more wizardry from Ozzie Newsome. The receiving corps has now been upgraded to compensate for Stallworth‘s absence and the team, amazingly, looks even better on paper. They don’t really have a big-play, downfield threat at wideout but with three solid guys at the top of the rotation that’s not so much of an issue. They won’t have to rely on the home run.

Then there’s the Orioles. How about two of three from the Rays and a win to open the series behind Brian Matusz in New York? I have to catch myself these days from wondering what might have been if the team had looked in April the way they look now. But then I remember that we’re in a good place today, what with Buck Showalter on board, and that maybe things had to go the way they went to get here.

Key point is “in a good place.” Both the Orioles and the Ravens appear to be there, at least for now. Let the aforementioned busy season begin in earnest.

42 comments to Ravens, Orioles Spend Busy Holiday Weekend

  • neal s

    One more note: that Dogfish Head Bitches Brew stout I mentioned in the last post is delicious. It’s not quite stout season to my mind but I couldn’t wait to try it. Glad I did.

    It’s lighter than you’d think and very drinkable, but that’s deceptive because it’s also very strong. Good balance of flavors, too — nothing overpowers. I think I’d call it a little spicy, maybe more bitter than sweet. I’ll need another bottle to know for sure.

    Plus, it’s a beer commemorating one of the greatest albums of all time. That alone makes it worth a taste.

  • Kevin

    If you haven’t, try Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch. A little bitter, but a great IPA at 8.3%.

    Great game today and love to see the competition this late in the year. This is a totally different team and I love it. They were talking about it Sunday, but Buck wanted to see the Rays clinch a playoff spot in town so he could show the team what it’s like to win. Genius.

  • dan the man

    Has Matusz had a bad outing since Buck’s been here? Let’s see, starting with 8/4 against the Angels:

    -6IP, 1ER (W) vs. Agnels
    -6IP, 1ER (ND) vs. ChiSox
    -4IP, 5ER (L) vs. Rays
    -8IP, 0ER (W) vs. Rangers
    -7IP, 1ER (W) vs. ChiSox
    -6IP, 2ER (W) vs. BoSox
    -6IP, 3ER (W) vs. Yanks

    One clunker. Not to make anything of the win “stat”, but notching 5 wins in the last month when he had only 3 the entire rest of the season is pretty nice. Especially when all of those teams are in 1st place or fighting for either first place or a wild card spot.

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    The win stat is perhaps the most useless invention since the submarine screen door. Making anything of it is making too much of it. So let’s talk Matusz for real-real, since he is our best pitcher:

    He’s been pretty good all year (4.24 FIP) considering this is his rookie year, but it’s somewhat disappointing to see that a 4.24 FIP is our best pitcher, isn’t it?

    His August (and now September) was indeed fantastic, and reminded me why I think he’s the best of our young arms. I seriously love this kid. Nobody was talking about it (probably because there was no Buck placebo coincidence to play up to), but Matusz’ June was also pretty good. Consider:

    August: 6 starts, 35 IP, 10 ER, 7 BB, 26 K, 3 HR

    June: 6 starts, 39 IP, 16 ER, 11 BB, 21 K, 3 HR

    His first starts in both September and July were also very, very good. His April, too, was rather healthy looking.

    What it comes down to is that he’s a young guy battling a lot of inconsistency that’s inherent to any rookie (with some notable exceptions). He also seems to be getting better as time goes by, which is exactly what you want to see. Compare that to today’s starter Jake Arrieta, who isn’t exactly putting it together for any extended periods of time…which is probably normal, too, but disappointing all the same.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew: You wouldn’t say that Guthrie is our best pitcher?

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    Oh, I meant to say earlier no offense intended, of course. I just wanted to really talk about Matusz…because, yes I do think he’s our best pitcher. My evidence to support this:

    1) Future considerations. Guthrie might not even be around next year, and certainly won’t be an Oriole as long as Brian Matusz will be. Matusz might very well be the ace of the next great team. This is not to take anything away from Guts. I admit that I am oddly unconcerned with past considerations.

    2) Matusz has a 4.24 FIP in 156.2 IP in 2010, Guthrie has a 4.48 FIP in 183 IP in 2010. I can certainly see where the proximity of the FIPs would become unbalanced by the extra number of innings Guts has thrown, but for me Matusz edges him out, especially considering…

    3) Guthrie has a 4.93 xFIP, which is a -0.51 difference when over his career he has -0.05 difference between FIP and xFIP. Which says to me that he’s been lucky on his home runs allowed (which of course DOOMED him last year). Matusz has a 4.64 xFIP (increasing the gap between the two) although we don’t know enough to know what the relationship between xFIP and FIP should be for Brian.

    4) In terms of sheer watchability, I love watching both of these guys. But Matusz strikes out almost 7 per, and Guthrie strikes out under 5 per. Strikeouts are more fun to watch in my opinion, so that gives Matusz an edge as well.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    andrew are you a virgo? just curious.

  • Andrew

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    capricorn, ready for your scorn.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    Fair enough, I would agree that going forward Matusz is/hopefully will be our best starter. Guthrie is just having himself a hell of a year, all luck aside.

    I’m not sure who of Arrieta, Tillman, and Bergesen will step up to be the next consistently good starter. My gut says Arrieta if they can get him to tweak his mechanics a little this offseason.

  • Mike R

    @ dan the man:
    I’d say Bergesen will be the most solid. He’s a ground ball pitcher, and he’s learning to keep the ball down now. Buck must have told him something thats got his command in line, and emotions in check. Arrieta needs some more seasoning, but I like that he’s hitting the mid 90’s on the gun, even late in games. Just needs to stop nibbling, and go after guys. Tillman I have a bad feeling about. I don’t know why scouts didn’t find this out when we acquired him, but all of a sudden the book on him is “Hes a fly ball pitcher.” Well fly balls = Home runs, as evident on sunday, and plenty of other games. Why would we want a “fly ball pitcher” in a hitters park. Keep him in the minors, teach him a sinker, or if we’re in the pennant chase next year, package him in a trade to a team in a pitchers park…like san diego…for Adrian Gonzalez.

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    couple of things:

    1) Bergesen’s run of solidness extends pre-Buck and has mostly to do with moving to a 4-seamer away from the 2-seamer. I’m waiting to see how the league responds, but I’m with you that he can be a pretty solid guy. I hope though that in a hypothetical playoff scenario we have three other guys pulling most of the weight.

    2) Brian Matusz is also a fly-ball pitcher, and it can work out just fine. In fact, lots of guys are “fly ball pitchers”. It’s not a death-stroke, especially for a 22 year old kid who is as obviously talented as Chris Tillman.

    3) Tillman’s been working on a 2-seamer and a cutter, and his minor league number might, maybe, indicate that he’s showing good work with them.

    4) Trading for Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder makes no sense. Not pointing to anyone in particular, but when I read an impassioned plea for the Orioles to somehow trade for one of those guys this winter, I lose a ton of respect for the pleader. No Sense. Especially if it means giving up Chris Tillman. Dude is totally unappreciated.

    5) Arrieta…is it just me, am I the only guy who just doesn’t really see “it” with him? I’m obviously not just going to give up on the guy, but he hasn’t done anything at all at the major league level to warrant a lot of praise IMO…yet. Someone write an impassioned defense of the guy, because I’ve got him fourth on the depth chart behind Matusz, Britton, and Tillman.

  • Dan H

    You know, some would say the “Win” stat is the only one that matters at all. *Raises a frosty brew* Here’s to some more, no matter how they happen or who’s name they follow. Let’s go get ‘em, O’s.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    I’m curious as to what you see in Tillman that you don’t see in Arrieta. Not saying I can’t be convinced otherwise because the jury is still out on the both of them at this point, but it looks to me like Arrieta’s curve/change are nearly as good as Tillman’s and his fastball is certainly “better” albeit with less control. Tillman’s been both excellent at the major league level at times and at other times gotten completely rocked. Same with Arrieta. I’m not giving up on Tillman, but I’m curious to hear what you think he does better than Arrieta at this point.

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    I’m no pitching coach, but Tillman’s younger and has waaaaaaaay better minor league numbers than Arrieta. And Tillman’s curve is in my eyes (and again, I’m no coach) way better than Arrieta’s offspeed stuff.

    Arrieta’s control is a major concern for me, and I think me saying I like Tillman better is mostly about the control, really.

    Dan H: yes indeed. But pitcher wins definitely do not equal actual wins. Poorly named in addition to being utterly useless? Yep, that’s pitcher wins. I’ll toast to more actual wins though for sure.

    I’m in a way better mood (believe it or not) about the Orioles than I have been all year. Beating the Yankees just once’ll do that.

  • dan the man

    How good does Nolan Reimold feel right now after that homer? That was exceptionally good to see. Dude’s BACK. At least for tonight.

  • dan the man

    Series WIN.

    Hells to the yes.

  • neal s

    Man, I had a really good and refreshing conversation out tonight with a friend from New York who I rarely see, but damn that bar for not having TV. Would have been nice to see this one unfold.

    Still, awesome stuff. A series win in the Bronx is what it’s all about.

    Going back to the earlier conversation for a moment –

    I wish I could craft a long-term (meaning, notwithstanding tonight) argument in favor of Arrieta but the truth is I can’t really do it for either him or Tillman. With Arrieta it’s that I don’t have enough to go on. WIth Tillman it’s that I don’t like what I’ve seen. Neither opinion, though, is fully-formed because these guys are both in the adjustment period.

    With young pitchers the baseline fact is that they have to put in the innings and there’s no getting around that. I don’t know exactly how many innings that is but I know that neither Tillman nor Arrieta is there. I hope that they both figure it out, even though there’s a decent enough chance that neither will.

    I’ll say, though, that Tillman worries me more. So far.

  • Mike R

    @ Andrew:
    About Adrian Gonzalez…I hope the O’s don’t have to make that trade, I hope we get Adam Dunn, problem solved. To sum it up, in the scenario that we don’t sign Adam Dunn, we don’t have any other holes to fill, Wiggy or Reimold or whoever is at 1B has been regressing, and the O’s are making a legit run at the playoffs, then I would try to make a deal. Only for Gonzalez. Not Fielder. Fielder would be a fan favorite for sure, but when I think of those hefty guys, I think Mo Vaughn. Big Numbers, but all of a sudden out of shapeness catches up, and he dissapears. Gonzo will like hitting here, with a proven guy like Buck at the helm, and with the master salesman MacPhail to convince him to stay, they’ll get a deal done. MacPhail wouldn’t trade away more than he needs too. Personally I would package Adam Jones as the centerpiece of a deal with a couple minor league arms for him. I’ve had it with him clearly not giving a shit, and throwing his bat and helmet down like a 5 year old every time he strikes out. It’d be different if he was jacking 40 bombs a year. But thats an arguement for another time. (He’s only drawn 21 walks this year. Thats 1 a week. Unacceptable)

    On the Arrieta/Tillman debate…It’s too early to tell. Arrieta looked pretty sharp at times last night. That breaking ball had Teixeira and others chasing. Only 1 walk which is good. The walks have to come down. He went after guys insted of nibbling and rasiing that pitch count. Pitched himself out of some jams in high pressure situations too. Tillman, again I haven’t seen enough of him. But what I have seen I’m not impressed with. Too many long balls, too many hanging breaking balls, and not the elecrtric velocity we thought he had. I agree Arrieta is 4th on the depth chart. But you left off Guts, and we have no idea how Britton will do in the bigs. Matusz, Guthrie, Bergesen, Arrieta, Tillman/Britton for 5th.

  • dan the man

    @ Mike R:
    I think you’re way off base saying Adam Jones doesn’t give a shit. He needs to work on his defense out there, sure, but he wants to win maybe more than anyone else on the team from what I can gather. He’s not too big to bunt, he was the only player at the Buck press conference. Listen to his interviews and watch him in the dugout. He wants to be a leader, he just needs to mature a little. I just think anyone saying Jones doesn’t care is completely wrong. Sorry, but to me that’s like saying Pujols is a bad hitter. It’s just obvious that that’s not the case.

    I do agree that Dunn would be a great target if he’ll not whine about being a DH. You could play Luke/Reimold at 1B.

    One thing I have a hard time figuring out is who hits #3 next year. Jones?

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    There is simply no way either of those guys gets traded and then signs long-term with their new team. They’re both going to test the free agent waters. Can’t blame them, either, really. That’s just the state of the game today. And I don’t think that package gets it done anyway. But if we’re in the pennant chase next summer and either guy is available to fill our firstbase hole, I will absolutely be salivating at the mouth to get them…which isn’t too smart, but I’m dying for games that matter.

    It’s all too true that the results haven’t been any good for either Tillman or Arrieta. Time will tell is all we can say, really. My like for Tillman over Arrieta is based purely on his superior AAA numbers and age (and that curveball…oh!…). Time will tell.

    I’ll be at the Frederick Keys playoff opener tonight with some friends from CamdenChat and the LJ Hoes Fanclub, sitting in general admission. Anyone who wants to come and watch playoff baseball, first beer is on me (unless I run out of money).

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    Anybody would probably be a better fit than Wigginton. He’s a hole up there. If you can bring in Dunn or trade for some other actual first bagger, then you can bat them third and Luke 4th (if he’s still around). Problems for another day, yes? I want to sweep up my kitchen today.

  • Dan H

    I love these O’s, where have they been all year. If only, if only. This September is exciting because of playing good ball, but imagine if it still mattered. Oh man. Gives me butterflies. Let’s keep this up. Take a series from the Rays. Take a series from the Hot Yankees in New York and still another game for the you know what.

    @Mike, @dan the man: There is still so much potential there for AJ that I am giving him a lot of rope to develope. Not just on the field, but all those intangibles that are so important. Leadership, marketability, etc. Those type things won’t take effect until his game improves and I’m willing to wait on it.

    He’s taking longer than I like to be the player we need him to be, but not everybody dives in and starts to rake immediately like Posey. The one thing that is making me mad is the defense. Your bat can slump, but your D cannot. We should have had two more outs in the game, yes tough plays no doubt, but plays a 5 tool guy makes. Good thing it didn’t hurt. Arrieta = dealing. Getting out of trouble. Fuck Teixeira. Great game last night.

  • dan the man

    One thing I will say about Jones… last night, he was an absolute butcher in CF. Got to got to got to got to get better than that.

  • Mike R

    On AJ… I’ll give you that he’s not to big to bunt. Thats great. He did show up to Buck’s welcome, and he sounds sincere in interviews. But your taught from little league not to show emotions on the field. Don’t let the other team know they got in your head. Well, he does just that everytime he slams his bat down, throws his helmet in disgust. It’s not passion, or heat of the moment, it’s childish. You take a deep breath, swallow, forget about it, learn from it, and go up there with a better plan next time. Strikeouts are going to happen. Just be professional, and mature about it.

    I can also tell you I have a friend of mine who interns at one of the local news affilites, and he has spent plenty of pre-games in the O’s locker room. He isn’t supposed to disclose what goes on in there, but to say Jones’ pre-game preparation is lackluster is a huge understatement.

    When everyone else is getting better, and Jones is not, that tells me you can’t coach him, he’s going to do what he wants, he’s not a team player(aside from bunting), and not one of the 25 “nuggets” Buck wants with a common goal of winning a title. I’m sure Jones wants the team to win, but he’s not pulling his weight to help that cause.

  • Andrew

    @ Mike R:
    It’s too much to say Jones isn’t getting any better while everyone else is. His overall numbers this year stink (.317 OBP, are you kidding me?) but since the All-Star Game: .346/.406. That’s good. That’s exactly what I want to see. Eleven walks in 159 PA is pretty good, too.

    It’s not much. It’s arbitrary endpointing. It’s a small sample size. Yes. But take any other exciting player on this team (except Luke and Nick) and you’ll end up with a similar looking picture. The defense looks really bad, that’s true…and I don’t know what is to be done about it. But the idea that he isn’t improving period, and that therefore he’s uncoachable based on hearsay and perceived laziness or emotionaility or whatever is bunk. Pure bunk.

  • dan the man

    Not improving? That’s all Jones has done in the second half of the year.

    And you can keep your intern friend’s 7th hand information. Just keep that right in your pocket, guy. No use for that here.

  • ryan97ou

    come on koji. don’t fail me now.

  • ryan97ou

    i had a feeling if we didn’t have more than a 1 run lead we would lose on some sort of miracle yankee walk off homer.

    UGH.

  • sci

    Aaaarrrggghhh! Swisher is the worst…

  • ryan97ou

    i am just gonna try to remind myself that we still won the series. seems when koji isn’t 100% on he’s susceptible to the DINGER. oofa.

  • dan the man

    I totally called that Swisher home run in my head as I was listening. You knew we couldn’t get out of a Yankees series without his pesky ass doing something like that. He is my absolute least favorite player in the history of all sports ever.

    Also @MikeR, sorry that was a little too salty at second read. Apologies.

  • Dan H

    Sergio Kindle: overly talented or underly intelligent?

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bs-sp-ravens-kindle-0908-20100907,0,7744659.story

    Kindle on falling down the stairs: “I’m not a head doctor but I work out and do drills on my own and I feel fine,” said Kindle.”

    “I made a wrong turn,” he said. “It wasn’t my house. It was my first time being there. It was a big house.”

    “The whole thing is, I should have turned the lights on,” Kindle said. “I could have easily done it. A lot of people think it was my fault.”

    …. wow….

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i was watching the nfl network’s top 100 players of all time today and ed reed was 88 which was cool. each player had a pertinent narrator discussing their skills, etc. reed’s was hines ward and for the first time in my life i kind of liked him.

    then the segment ended and i wanted him to die again.

  • Mike R

    @ dan the man:
    No worries man. It ruffles feathers when I show displeasure toward one of the teams young rising stars. As a matter of fact, not one person I have had this argument with agrees with me anyway. I’m probably wrong.

    I hadn’t looked at the numbers over the last month, didn’t know his OBP increased that much under Buck. Thats impressive. I still see the defensive miscues, the swinging at bad pitches, and the emotions pour out. I guess I let that cloud the big picture.

    I don’t want people to think I despise Adam Jones or anything. I want him to be part of whatever greatness is brewing in birdland. I just want him to curb the emotions, and get dirty out there in the field.

  • Mike R

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    I saw that too. When it’s all said and done, Ed Reed is probably the best safety ever right? I think he got hosed at 88. If you’re the best ever at your position, you should be in the top 30 easy. If Ray is lower then 25 on that list I’ll be mad. And If Johnny U isn’t in the top 5 I’ll be super mad.

    I bet the top 25 is all QB’s, and RB’s. Jerry Rice probably gets in there in the teens.

  • Andrew

    Well, nobody took me up on my Frederick Keys offer last night, which didn’t surprise or offend me. But you missed a minor league gem. Oliver Drake (whom the Orioles drafted out of Annapolis due to some murky “is he eligible?” assumptions from other teams) was awful as the starter: Eight runs on three hits with multiple wild pitches. In the first inning alone. I’d say he was too wound up for the playoffs, but it was hardly a playoff atmosphere.

    Cole McCurry came on and pitched pretty well as a mop-up dude, since the P-Nats wouldn’t score again until some dude hit a homer off Will Startup (who has an insane leg kick from the stretch) in the ninth. We also saw Brett Jacobsen, who the Orioles got in the Huff trade, and he looked pretty good.

    Anyway, the Keys scored 7 in the first on their own, including a grand slam that went out of the stadium in the deepest part of center field. Ball was easily crushed 450 feet or more by Bryan Ward, the number nine hitter. In the end, the Keys won 10-9 on a walkoff sac bunt error that scored LJ Hoes (who looked pretty good, too) from first in the ninth. Madness.

    Also Billy Rowell was there. He had torn his trousers. Xavier Avery was there, too (though he had been promoted to Bowie), but he had a couple of Ks, which was disappointing.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    Didn’t we get Will Startup in a trade, or was that a straight minor league free agent thing? And wasn’t he already at a higher level than A-ball?

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    Minor league free agent. He’s what you like to call “an organizational man”. He’s not a prospect, but he’s around to fill out the rosters, provide some stability, and help win some games.

  • dan the man

    I’m so pumped for Monday night.

    BUCKLE UP YO CHIN SCRAPS!

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    does anyone know where i can watch the game online? justin tv seems like bullshit now.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    oh nevermind it’s on nbc’s website