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Roberts to Play, New Names and Faces

Birdland positively bursts at the seams today with good news. For the first time I feel like Opening Day is in reach, as slowly but surely Spring Training anxiety fades into the background where it belongs.

First up we have Brian Roberts, who will finally see game action on Friday. It is, as Schmuck notes, not a surprise, but I’m glad it’s official.

I doubt Roberts will get enough at-bats to be fully ready for the season, so expect him to start slow. That’s better than no Roberts at all. Looks like we might have dodged a bullet with the back issue, at least for now. I’ll need to see him stay healthy all season (more or less) before I consider the matter settled.

Then came news via MASN that they’ve hired Eddie Murray, Brady Anderson, Mike Boddicker, and Ben McDonald to assist with color analysis this season.

Per the press release: The four former Orioles will rotate as color analysts in an occasional three-man booth throughout the season, each appearing nearly a dozen times on MASN telecasts and several more times on Orioles radio broadcasts.

I’ve heard Anderson and McDonald on the radio in the past and I think they’ll both take to this role quite naturally. Keep an ear out for McDonald’s thick southern drawl, if you haven’t heard it already. Good stuff.

Finally, Brad Bergesen looked like, well, Brad Bergesen today against the Yankees. 5.2 IP with no runs and only three hits. The closer we get to the season the more those numbers start to mean, so I’m chalking this up as a good sign.

I’m feeling a fresh wave of optimism coming from…somewhere. Feels nice.

(photo via Keith Allison — dig that #64)

22 comments to Roberts to Play, New Names and Faces

  • It’s short notice, but i’m scrambling to fill a fantasy baseball league via ESPN. We’re supposed to draft saturday at noon, and 2 people just dropped out. $50 buy-in, 12 team, snake draft format. Head to Head categories. If the league isnt full, we cant draft. drop your e-mail if your interested. We’re all good friendly people. thanks

    GO O’S !!

  • ryan97ou

    if you go over to the orioles video page you can see jones’ homer where he hits the yankees bus and a nice over the shoulder grab from wiggie.

    is it just me or does wiggie look a bit slimmer this year? he sure looks quicker running out that far in the outfield.

    http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?topic_id=bal&c_id=bal

  • dan the man

    Definitely starting to feel something resembling optimism again. I guess the only thing that will bug me all year is going to be Roberts. I mean, a herniated disk in the first year of his 4-year extension… there’s just no way to ignore that. If he’s able to play through it for 2 good years out of that 4, then I’ll call it a win for the Orioles. Fortunately, his contract has a little bit of hometown discount so it’s not like we’re paying him 15 or 16 million a year. Anyway, if the back injury means he doesn’t steal as much, then OK. Just keep ripping doubles and play solid 2B. It’s time for Jones to step up on the steal department anyway.

    But YES, the pitching is coming around. To the point where our former ace is looking like the odd man out. When we’ve got guys like Bergesen working fast and attacking the zone, and smart guys like Matusz, and huge upside guys like Tillman, Guthrie’s style just seems to not make the cut. At least this new struggling version of Guthrie. I’m rooting for the guy, but I’ll be keeping one eye on him and one eye on Hernandez and Arrieta.

    @ryan97ou – Yeah, I think I’ve heard that he lost about 15 pounds coming into spring training. It looks like it’s paid off, too. He’s getting some hits and making some plays. If he has to man 2B, it’s not ideal, but at least there’s a chance his bat comes around. Have to say, though, Andino has looked pretty good at the plate this spring, but that’s to be taken with extra salt for sure.

    I’m really impressed with Pie this spring, too. Not only is he getting hits, but he’s working counts and drawing walks, which would be a revelation if he keeps that up. With Reimold heating up, I think things are taking shape.

    The big question this season is, of course, how do Miggles and Atkins perform? It would be super super fun for Atkins to return to form, wouldn’t it? I really want him to be that goofy looking, good old boy fan favorite who found his power stroke and made MacPhail/Crow look like geniuses. Do I think that will happen? No. But it could.

  • dan the man

    Good little post by Melewski on the old stats vs. intangibles debate in regards to our boy Bergesen.

    http://masnsports.com/2010/03/not-everyone-is-on-the-bergese.html

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – Don’t get me started on that Dan. I paced in my apartment for a while before I couldn’t resist responding to Melewski (who I generally like, even though he breaks a very, very good rule I picked up a couple of weeks ago – the guy is always like 100% optimistic on every single player. Which is fine, I guess, but he never has even a whit of downside to talk about. It’s not my bag. That said, I still like the guy and his blog).

    Anyway: counter argument from The Greatest Sportswriter On Earth:

    http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2010/03/25/heart-of-the-matter/

    On Spring Training, I haven’t really been surprised by anything. Guys are rounding into form, and I don’t really expect any established player to suddenly break their established curve dramatically (which means Andino will be lucky to get a .300 OBP, which is putrid, and I seriously doubt Atkins sticks around much beyond the ASG)

    I’m definitely getting optimistic for the opening month of devastating schedule work, though. I’d rather do it out of the gate when everyone’s fresh and healthy than otherwise.

  • ryan97ou

    i’m too busy today to do this, but i am wondering what our starting 5 of 09 looked like at this point in spring training. rich hill isn’t even gonna make the st. louis squad this year it looks like.

    atkins has me worried. he hasn’t shown anything but errors at 1st base.

    also – not trying to jinx or anything, but if a starter of ours goes down…who are our fallback options? *knocking on wood till my knuckles bleed*

  • dan the man

    @ryan97ou – Fallback options I guess would be Berken, Hernandez, Arrieta, Erbe, Hendrickson. Not bad. Erbe and Arrieta would have to be dominating though before they ever got a shot over Hernandez, I would think. Still, it’s solid depth.

  • dan the man

    @Andrew – The point remains, though, that if Bergesen doesn’t put up those nice K rates, it doesn’t mean he can’t be a top notch pitcher. It does mean there’s little room for error, but there’s really no reason he shouldn’t be considered a top prospect at this point. Jury is out for his sophomore year, but it looked like last year’s Bergesen yesterday, that’s for sure. Dude knows how to pitch and he doesn’t implode after struggling. No specific stat for that, but how can we say a pitcher with similar stuff and less mental fortitude wouldn’t have worse stats?

  • dan the man

    Anyway, the funny thing is that when people speak of “the Big 3″, it now includes Matusz, Tillman, and Bergesen. I see Bergesen’s success as sort of a bonus. We kept hoping for Tillriettusz, and still may get that, but in the meantime we’ve got unassuming Bradley Bergesen doing his best Roy Halladay impersonation in the AL East. Well, ok, we’ll take it.

  • ryan97ou

    i heard bergy talk yesterday afternoon on the radio about just this: “the skeptics who say batters get too much wood on his balls” (pfffft i just said wood on balls)

    his response was very bergesen-esque, basically “that’s the pitcher i am, i am not gonna go out and try to change everything that got me here to get strike outs, or limit people hitting the ball. That’s what got me here and i’m gonna keep doing it and keep working on it getting better. i’ll pitch and if the ball gets in play i’ll trust my defense.”

    i’m paraphrasing, but you can’t really discredit him on his points there.

  • dan the man

    I think the one thing that has people, including me, still a little skeptical on Bergesen is that he actually seemed to get better upon making it to the big leagues. It’s like he turned up his game. You can view that in a positive and negative light, I guess. On hand, he figured out what to do to be successful in the big leagues. On the other hand, maybe he’s pitching above his head and the league hasn’t caught up to him yet. It’s a big year for the Cookie, but again, yesterday’s performance against mostly Yankee regulars at this point in Spring Training did a lot to assuage most of my fears.

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – So many things. Firstly, don’t forget about Troy Patton. He’s still lurking down in the minors. Now, onto 3E1N.

    1) The Halladay comp is insanity. It does though, make me wonder briefly why we always compare our guys to the absolute best possible outcome – Bergesen is Halladay. Berken is Glavine. Cabrera is Randy Johnson. Steve Johnson is Greg Maddux. It’s optimistic, yes, and fun – but sometimes we forget that we’re even making such absurd comparisons.

    2) I think that you’re mistaking a SABR-oriented guy for someone who thinks the only way of succeeding is the strikeout, and that’s simply not true. Bergesen specifically succeeded last year because of good defense/luck, lots of ground balls, and limiting the walks. And any SABR guy can tell you that that’s a pretty good formula for success – if you can sustain it.

    3) Which is why 3E will never be on a top prospect list (never mind that he isn’t a prospect). Like Hernandez, there was always the big question of “will this translate to the major leagues?” And that question still holds. Young finesse pitchers are never going to have the same potential as power pitchers because they walk such a fine line. Even now, does anyone really honestly believe that Bergesen has more potential than Chris Tillman?

    4) I have faith that Bergesen can continue to walk that line, but there is some large risk that his control (his greatest asset) will tick down at some point and he’ll fall apart. I think it’s reckless to ignore the risks in the face of “he knows how to pitch”, “he’s clutch”, or “he’s got a lot of heart that can’t be measured”.

    5) Yesterday looked pretty good, but he still has some tweaking of the ground ball rate. He won’t survive against New York with that kind of fly ball ratio in the regular season. Which again, it goes back to “can he sustain it?”

  • ryan97ou

    @andrew good points, and fair ones.

    as for the comparisons, i don’t think we honestly believe them…just some, like you said, fun. that’s all.

    did i mention i think wieters is bound to be the next babe ruth? or at the very least Joe Mauer!

  • dan the man

    Yup all very good points.

    Only thing I might take some exception with is the question of “does Bergesen have more potential than Tillman”? Well, I mean, I guess that throws out results at the big league level. Because obviously Bergesen has been more successful, while Tillman has has a flat fastball, and lacks a fourth pitch. What are we basing potential on? Scouts? Radar gun? Minor league results? I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as: Chris Tillman has been labeled a top prospect with a higher K rate and Bergesen has not. Tillman has that nasty curveball, but all of Bergesen’s pitches have above average movement.

  • neal s

    There’s a part of me that wants to wade into the stats debate again…which is crazy. I don’t know where that’s coming from.

    Regarding prospects and projections, answer this: who do you want on the mound if you need to win a game today, Bergesen or Tillman?

    Bergesen is, for now, the better big league pitcher. It might not stay that way for long, or it might stay that way forever. We obviously have no way of knowing for sure, but right now one guy is clearly better than the other in terms of big league track record.

    Does the fact that it’s the wrong guy (the unheralded one) really matter? I don’t mean that in a smart ass way, I’m genuinely curious. How much weight is the right amount to give to “prospect status” versus “getting it done”?

  • Andrew

    @neal s – Guys come out from left field all the time to be solid major leaguers. It certainly doesn’t diminish what Bergesen accomplished last year that he wasn’t a top prospect.

    And I don’t think you can really find fault in not putting him as a top prospect. This isn’t an argument about statistics. The argument is whether or not high-contact high-ground ball pitchers are terribly underrated. And I think maybe they are, with Nick Blackburn, Aaron Cook, and Brad Bergesen (to name three) finding some good success with low-4ish ERAs.

    But maybe that’s as good as it gets for that kind of pitcher – and you have to wonder why there aren’t more of them. Maybe its just an over-appreciation for the radar gun, but maybe its more than that, and maybe a big piece of it is that pitching that way is incredibly difficult and likely to end badly.

    That doesn’t mean Bergesen is going to fail – I think he’ll be quite good as long as he stays healthy and doesn’t lose his mechanics. But if another guy were doing what he did in high-A ball, I doubt that I’d put much faith in that guy going forward either.

  • dan the man

    After thinking about it, it kind of all comes down to age.

    The fact that Tillman is as young as he is and A)has had at least average success at the big leagues and B)does not implode when he doesn’t have a great game (Penn comes to mind) are, I think, two of the biggest things that give him his “upside” aside from his obviously good stuff.

    Brad Bergesen was definitely not as advanced at as young an age as Tillman. We can say that much. Because Tillman is so young, it would seem that his potential is still through the roof right now. I don’t think he’s the pitcher Bergesen is, but he’s certainly got as much potential as Bergesen ever had.

  • dan the man

    I really dig this lineup that DT has been going with yesterday and now today. Miggles 2nd, Markakis 3rd, Wieters 4th, Jones 5th. I just dig that. Also if B-Rob gets on base and there’s some speed out there, maybe Miggles hits into a few less DPs. Maybe not, but I like Jones 5th because it’s like an extra cleanup hitter after Wieters. That’s a damn good 1-5.

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – I don’t personally like Miggi in the two hole, but if this is the opening day lineup (but with Pie) I’d be pretty happy. It’s way better than the Andino/Izturis top of the lineups we’ve been seeing a lot of.

  • dan the man

    Man, Tillman is laaaaaboring. Like 70 pitches through 2 2/3 so far. Not gonna cut it, kid.

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – According to Britt Ghiroli, Tillman’s already wrapped up the fifth spot in the rotation (which is neither shocking nor, in my opinion, particularly arguable). Though you do wonder how long of a leash Tillman will get if he can’t get to the 6th inning in the regular season.

    It ought to be all season long unless he completely falls apart, but ought to and will be aren’t always the same.

  • Kevin

    @Andrew – Berken and Hernandez kept getting shot after shot last year, so why shouldn’t Tillman?