6/5/13

Newest PED Scandal, and Why I hate Ryan Braun

by Terry Cook
@OccupyEutawSt


Ryan Braun, Photo: Rubenstein, Flickr.com

The newest battle lines are being drawn in the war (not WAR) on PED use in Major League Baseball.   This case is going to drag on for a long time.  It’s also going to attempt to set precedence for future PED violations.  I’m sure most of you have read the allegations against the 20+ MLB players associated with the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami…but what many don’t realize is that MLB is going after many of these players based on association with the clinic…NOT positive test results (though a few: Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera have tested positive and served a suspension).


5/13/13

You Still Don’t Believe In The Orioles? Why Not?

By Terry Cook
Orioles Beat Writer
@OccupyEutawSt



Well Orioles fans, we’re almost ¼ of the way through the 2013 season, and the impossibly resilient Orioles are atop the AL East yet again.  If you haven’t been paying attention, one would think everything has come together for the team this year, right?  Well not exactly.

While last year’s wild ride consisted of a barrage of one run wins 
(where they went 29-9), the O’s are only 6-5 this year, regressing to the mean like they should have.  They are also 2-2 in extra inning games, where they went 16-2 all of last year.  The starting pitching hasn’t been great; only twice has a starter gone 7 innings for the Orioles all year.  Brian Roberts, of course went on the DL almost immediately after the season started, and just had surgery on his hamstring.  He’s scheduled to come back in August (that was tough to write as I laugh).  The combination of Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce, and Nolan Reimold are covering the 2B and DH positions and are a combined .126/6/19.  None are playing at even close to a major league level.  

So what gives?  How in the (insert profanity laced Earl Weaver-ism here) are these guys doing it? Smoke and mirrors?  No.  

A white hot start by Chris Davis led this team in the first week or so, but since then it’s been a team effort, with seemingly a new hero every night (with the exception of Flaherty).  Nate McLouth has continued his resurgence in Baltimore, posting a .299/3/10, with 11 stolen bases.  He’s been the catalyst at the top of the lineup the Orioles have needed every since Roberts went down seemingly 8 years ago.  McLouth still isn’t playing every day, but he should be given the chance to hit against lefties soon.  Another spot in the order the Orioles have needed help in is the 2 hole.  JJ Hardy had been clogging up this productive slot for the last couple of years.  The problem in the 2 hole has now been fixed by the young phenom Manny Machado.  The 20 year old kid has been nothing short of the best 3B in the league…defensively and at the plate.  He’s made it known that there is no one better at the charging barehanded throw.  This season, his bat has caught up with his stellar defense.  Machado put together an 11 game hit streak in April and May and shows flashes of power. Again…he’s only 20!  

The bullpen, every so tweeked, has been phenomenal again.  Currently 3rd in the AL with an ERA of 2.82, the bullpen has found ways to pick each other up like the rest of the team.  Pedro Strop was lights out in the WBC, but has been utterly hittable, and wild to start the year.  Tommy Hunter has clearly adjusted to his bullpen role, going 7 straight appearances without giving up a run after having a rocky start.  Jim Johnson has been no “Pretender” thus far, going 12-12 in save chances and locking down the backend of the bullpen with off and on setup man Darren O’Day (1.59 ERA, 1.00 WHIP).  

Where do they go from here?  Will this last?

The success this team has had this year should be sustained.  There aren’t any glaring statistics that jump out at you to make you say, “Lucky” like last year (with the exception of Flaherty).  Truthfully speaking, I think this team could be a lot better with a couple minor tweaks…and that’s scary!  While the Orioles are tied with two other teams for tops in the league in fielding percentage (.991), there have been miscues by Chris Davis and Adam Jones that have cost the Orioles at least 2 games.  If these guys improve, and they should (Davis is in his first full year at 1B and Jones is a Gold Glove winner), the defense could be even better.  

Let’s also consider the fact that the O’s basically have 2 NEGATIVE value spots in the lineup every day at 2B and DH.  The Orioles can’t possibly continue to trot these dead horses out all summer and hope they get better.  We’ve got enough of a sample size now to know Flaherty/Casilla/Reimold/Pearce aren’t the answers anywhere.  Of course Wilson Betemit is slated to come back at some point, but he has yet to resume baseball activities, and he’s not an everyday player anyway.

Eventually, the merry-go-round of starting pitchers has to stop, one would think.  Already the Orioles have used Jason Hammel, Wei Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Josh Stinson, Freddie Garcia, Steve Johnson, and Jake Arrieta as starters. A veteran starter atop the rotation has the potential to settle things down.

If Duquette keeps the grinding attitude he had last year, he will do something to correct these flaws.  Rumors are swirling daily about a possible trade for Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, or both from the Phillies, but you always have to consider the fact that Peter Angelos is the deciding factor and hates spending more money to upgrade talent…certainly on a pitcher the only plays every 5 days, and another oft-injured 2B. 

I haven’t changed my prediction from earlier in the year, but if any moves are made soon, there will be an All-Star Break revision for sure.  


#Orioles #AnybodyButFlaherty 

Follow @OccupyEutawSt on Twitter and Facebook for honest and insightful Orioles talk.

5/1/13

Phillies Weekly

by Cakes Fisher
Phillies Beat Reporter


Roy Halladay/lehighvalleylive.com


The Week of April 22nd - 29th


The Phillies had a winning week. They even had their first sweep of the year. Their record was 4 wins and 3 defeats.