Not that there’s ever a shortage of that or anything, but today we got two especially silly stories, so I’m sharing those now as a preview to tonight’s game against the Red Sox (which would be really nice to win, don’t you think?).
That’s pretty much it. I know Duquette said we had some trades in the works, but it seems like none of them got done, so here we are. This is what we’re stuck with for the rest of the year unless we go through waivers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using this All-Star Break to get things done. I’ve been buying new furniture, catching up on my art commissions, and doing other stuff that I’m generally too busy to do most of the time. The Orioles are just as busy as me. Well, maybe not as busy as me, but pretty busy.
Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in Birdland whilst we’ve been away:
No, really, he did. See this quote from the article? Look:
What markets are the Orioles in now that they weren’t a year ago?
“We have scouts in Korea. We’ve been active in the Cuban market. We have some recommendations from Europe.”
Oops. Yeah, not in Korea anymore, Duquette. Whoops.
Now we just have to wait on one big nugget of news: Kevin Gausman. There’s a good chance he could return to LSU for his senior season, which would be a huge blow for the Orioles (and for Hostess, who would lose a big sponsorship opportunity this year). We don’t know exactly what’s going on, and there are conflicting reports on the matter, but we’ll know by the end of the week – the signing deadline is this Friday.
Let’s wait and see if the Orioles figure this out. Until then, enjoy your break!
This was one of those games where everyone plays super-well and the Orioles are the lucky ones who scored one more run than the other team.
Jordan Zimmermann, who started tonight for the Nationals, is an extremely unlucky man: he’s 3-6 on the year now, but he has a 2.89 ERA. He gets absolutely no run support from his team, and tonight was no different – they scored a total of one run, which came in the fifth when Mark Reynolds made a throwing error. The Orioles tacked on two of their own, one in the second, a homer by Mark Reynolds, and one in the fifth (J.J. Hardy drove in Nick Johnson, of all people).
Jason Hammel, though, is my hero. He went eight innings tonight, threw less than 100 pitches (96, to be exact, with 69 of them being strikes), and only gave up the one unearned run. He’s been incredible this year and although I was sad to see Gutz go in the trade for him, he’s making Dan Duquette look like a genius right now.
Unfortunately, Bartolo Colon's last name is spelled like a part of the large intestine, which means you get this picture of the giant colon from the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.
Things learned during this game:
Nolan Reimold’s name is pronounced ‘Reimhold’ by Mike Bordick and possibly Dan Duquette. There is a German bakery a few towns away from my hometown called Reinhold’s, which is only one letter off. They make lovely cake. I wonder if Bordick’s been to Reinhold’s Bakery in Waldwick.
Mark Reynolds knows how to stop, drop and roll at first base. This is useful if the base ever catches on fire.
Mark Reynolds plays disturbingly well at first base, actually.
Nick Markakis can still throw out runners at second after balls reach him in the outfield. This is reassuring.
Nolan Reimold can rob home runs even when fans are trying to rob him.
Robert Andino is good at baseball.
So is Matt Wieters.
On the days we finally field well, we can’t win…until late.
Bartolo Colon simply outpitched the Orioles today, and there’s really nothing you can say about that. He made some mistakes that the Orioles should have capitalized on and didn’t. It had to come on a day when the Orioles were actually able to defend and pitch well – it always seems like one or two parts of the equation are there, but there’s always something missing. Today it was offense…until the 9th.
Matt Wieters tied the game up by delivering a two-run double with only one out. He was lifted for pinch runner Endy Chavez (who wouldn’t be needed). Chris Davis was intentionally walked to get to struggling Wilson Betemit…who promptly dumped a ball in the seats. 5-2 Orioles.
(I should really stop cribbing game recaps from Top Gear, but it just works all too well.)
Basically, this team does far better when I don’t watch them, so that might be the way to go from now on. Granted, I was unable to watch this because my Asperger’s social skills therapy is on Tuesday nights, but for whatever reason I didn’t watch the game and the Orioles won, and this has happened before this year, so it obviously works. The starting pitcher (Tommy Hunter) even got the win. I mean, that never happens.
So let’s talk a little bit about Dontrelle Willis before I go to bed, okay? Because there’s some news there that emerged fairly recently.
Pitcher Dontrelle Willis is filing a grievance against the Baltimore Orioles, alleging the club placed him on the restricted list and is preventing him from signing with another organization even though he left the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate with the consent of a team official.
Willis received permission from Tripp Norton, Baltimore’s director of baseball administration, before leaving the Norfolk Tides last Wednesday, said agent Matt Sosnick.
Okay. Firstly, Tripp Norton sounds like the name of somebody who should be a NASCAR driver. That out of the way, let’s look at this article a little more closely.
Dan Duquette, Baltimore’s executive vice president of baseball operations, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call or email. But Duquette told CBSSports.com on Monday that Willis left Norfolk without the organization’s permission. Duquette added that the Orioles would welcome Willis’ return and think he can be a successful reliever in the big leagues.
As long as Willis remains on the restricted list, he can’t sign with another club without Baltimore receiving compensation. Sosnick said Duquette has not returned his phone calls, and that the Orioles are holding Willis “hostage” by refusing to discuss the matter.
“Dan has said nobody gave Dontrelle permission,” Sosnick told ESPN.com. “Dan knows that’s not true. I can’t imagine making this kind of deal over something so trivial. We’re talking about a minor league player that Baltimore has relatively no financial investment in whatsoever. It’s the dumbest thing ever and a waste of everybody’s time. Dan has had a thousand chances to ratchet this down a notch, and all he’s done is ratchet it up.”
It’s interesting, because I really don’t know who to believe here. Sosnick has been particularly outspoken about the issue, but that’s an agent’s job. You’re supposed to be outspoken and pushy as an agent so your client’s wants and needs are met. On the flip side, Duquette really shouldn’t put too much stock in a player like Willis, so the fact that he’s just been quiet and denying the claims is interesting – either he’s telling the truth, or there’s more to this story that hasn’t come out yet.
Also, apparently Willis is “being held hostage” by the Orioles. Um. Is the team looking for a ransom?
Willis, 30, is 72-69 with a 4.17 ERA in parts of nine major league seasons. After capturing the Rookie of the Year award with Florida in 2003 and winning 22 games in 2005, he went to Detroit with Miguel Cabrera as part of an eight-player trade in December 2007. Willis has since struggled with injuries, anxiety-related issues and a decline in velocity, and he’s had limited success in stops with Arizona, San Francisco and Cincinnati.
Willis signed with Baltimore in late March after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies late in spring training. The Orioles said they planned to use Willis out of the bullpen, and the pitcher appeared to be on board with the idea. But Willis later had second thoughts because his arm wasn’t responding well to relieving and he did not feel comfortable in the role. He expressed a desire to start in a conversation with Norton last week.
“Tripp told Dontrelle, ‘If Dan isn’t open to him starting, of course we’ll give him his release. We don’t want a player doing something he doesn’t want to do,’ ” Sosnick said. “I’ve known Tripp Norton for 15 years and had good, direct, honest dealings with him time after time. I’m disappointed for Tripp that he’s been placed in the middle of this.”
Maybe Tripp should stick to NASCAR.
In all seriousness, I’m wondering if Willis’s decision to leave goes back to his anxiety issues. Perhaps something’s going on in his brain or in his private life right now that nobody wants to discuss in public. If that’s the case, he could be on the restricted list until he’s able to recover, which would make perfect sense.
On the other hand, the fact that Tripp Norton was the one giving the orders here is interesting, as I’m not seeing any input from Duquette whatsoever. I kind of think Duquette would have had to have been involved in any decisions made regarding players being released, so if Duquette’s opinion isn’t being mentioned at all, it makes it look like Norton just went ahead without his GM’s permission. That generally doesn’t look too good.
Willis went home after meeting with Duquette, Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin and failing to reach agreement with the Orioles over whether he would start or relieve for the Tides. Willis told MASNSports.com that he was “dumbfounded” when the Orioles placed him on the restricted list, because he thought he had clearance to leave Norfolk.
“I thought it was a mutual parting of ways,” Willis said. “It’s one of those things where, if he had told me he was putting me on the restricted list, I wouldn’t have left. I didn’t grab my book bag and run out of the class. I’m almost dumbfounded. I’m not even upset. I don’t know if it’s personal because I don’t know Dan.”
Okay, so Willis talked to Duquette personally. Basically, he sounds like he’s just really, really confused, just like the rest of us are.
According to Baseball-reference.com, “A team can request that a player be placed on the restricted list if that player has left the team without a valid reason, or has announced his intention to retire but is still of an age or level of skill that could allow him to return to professional baseball in the future. In effect, the team states that it retains rights to the player if and when he becomes active again.”
Wow, the Orioles actually didn’t break the rules this time. That’s interesting.
Several players with legal or off-field issues have been placed on the restricted list in recent months. The Cleveland Indians placed pitcher Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) on the list in January after he was arrested on charges of using a false identity. The Tampa Bay Rays did the same with minor league pitcher Matt Bush after he was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident in March.
Again, I really hope Willis’s anxiety issues aren’t coming back and hurting him right now. That would be horrible.
Sosnick denied speculation that Willis has received interest from a club in Japan or Korea. He said he would be happy to reach a financial accommodation with the Orioles should Willis pursue opportunities in Asia.
So that’s the situation now. What do you folks think? Who’s right? What’s really going on here that we’re not hearing? Sound off in the comments section with any and all conspiracy theories you might have!
Signed to a Minor League deal by Baltimore after being released this spring by the Phillies, the plan from the get-go was to have Willis learn to become a lefty specialist. He suffered a left forearm strain April 12 and was placed on the restricted list — with no specific reasoning for the move — on Sunday night.
So now we’ve got a mystery on our hands. Mysteries need solving, so I guess it’s time to put on our deerstalker caps and use our consulting detective skills. Let’s come up with some theories, shall we?
There are some serious theories, such as things going on in Willis’s family. He could have an ill family member and hasn’t had the time to talk to Duquette since leaving the team. However, with his agent using the term ‘difference of opinion,’ this is unlikely, so I don’t think we have to worry too much about him on that front. Since that’s covered, that means we can be a little more silly.
Here are some cooler ideas.
Dontrelle Willis is actually a spy and had to leave because he’s on a mission right now.
Apparently, Orioles scouting thought he was pretty fantastic for whatever reason, so they decided that there was plenty of competition to get him and cranked up the price tag, then even risked international relations with South Korea and signed him illegally. Yup.
To sum this up, here’s a quote from the article I just linked to by Ben Badler of Baseball America:
However, Baseball America surveyed 11 other teams that scout Asia (two of which did not have a report on him on file) and could not find any organization that had interest in signing Kim or had a similarly glowing scouting report. While scouts often disagree about the futures of international teenage prospects, most of the other teams’ reports on Kim’s present ability and future potential were consistent with each other.
According to the other teams, Kim’s fastball ranged from 78-85 mph. The maximum velocity another team had on Kim was 87 mph. Other scouts called his breaking ball a slurvy curveball in the mid- to high 60s and graded it from 20-30 on the 20-80 scouting scale, which rates as well below average. Scouts say he’s likely an inch or two shorter than his listed height of 5-feet-11, has little projection and some funkiness in his arm action. Scouts were mixed on his command, though some said he was generally around the plate and would be able to pitch in the KBO.
Many believed the Orioles were the only team interested in Kim. Several teams turned him in as a non-prospect.
“Where was the competition,” asked one international scouting director, “to drive the bonus to $575,000 when they could have signed him for $5,000?”
Yeeeeaaaah. About that. See, the Orioles are kind of stupid, so things like this are inevitable and kind of normal here in Birdland.
By the way, I’m convinced the anonymous international scouting director looks like this:
Anyway, let’s move on here.
Let’s look at the next thing Badler is telling us:
Duquette said he never personally had seen Kim pitch and was going off the team’s internal scouting reports, though he declined to identify the scouts who had seen him or what other teams they believed were interested in Kim.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Duquette said. “I don’t have to answer for the integrity of our scouts (from people) outside the organization. We’ve signed players based upon their ability and their capability to help the team, period.”
After hiring Duquette in November, the Orioles announced the hiring of Ray Poitevint as their new executive director of international baseball in a Jan. 9 press release. Poitevint has extensive experience signing players in Asia, including during Duquette’s tenure as Red Sox GM from 1994-2001. The two have worked together since Duquette began his career in baseball with the Brewers in 1981. Poitevint said in an interview that Duquette started out as his assistant, and the two were together in Milwaukee until Duquette left to join the Expos after the 1987 season.
Poitevint said he scouted Kim for two and a half years, and that he and an associate he has known for 30 years—whom he declined to name—evaluated Kim for the Orioles. When asked who else was interested in signing Kim, Poitevint said, “Everybody,” adding, “This is the type of guy who draws scouts.”
“What he has is difficult to come by as a scout,” Poitevint said. “He has mental toughness and emotional control. Those are a couple of things that are hard to find. He’s advanced in his composure and things of that nature. He’s a little advanced in his physical tools, but what’s really going to get him over the top is his mental toughness and the way he can control himself.
I really can’t find Dan Duquette at fault here. He’s just taken on the GM role for this team and he’s got a lot of things to get done, so he doesn’t have the time to personally see every single player the team scouts. He certainly doesn’t have the time to fly out to South Korea right now. Additionally, he’s known Ray Poitevint for a very long time and apparently trusts his opinon, so it’s really not Duquette’s fault that this happened – except the signing bit kind of being against the KBO and KBA’s rules, which he should have probably pointed out to his scouts in Korea.
Poitevint’s opinion suddenly looks questionable, however, in light of this new report. If he’s the only one saying Kim is this incredible pitcher, do we believe him considering that everyone else says otherwise? Then again, there are certainly times when someone with a minority opinion does end up changing the minds of many people and becoming influential (numerous figures in early Christianity and Islam come to mind for me). In this case, though, Poitevint’s not trying to convert anyone to a new religion – he’s just trying to convince people that the pitcher everyone else agrees isn’t very good is incredible.
Basically, here’s what we’ve got here: Ray Poitevint is either delusional or a Barnum-style salesman (“there’s a sucker born every minute”), and Duquette either trusts him blindly or…well, trusts him blindly, I guess. Duquette doesn’t really have access to other teams’ scouting reports, since teams generally don’t share that information, so how was he supposed to know that what Poitevint was sharing wasn’t really the truth according to the eleven other teams in South Korea?
In short, don’t blame Duquette for this – this one’s not on him. Poitevint, you’re either an excellent spin doctor or blind as a bat, and if you’re the former, maybe you can convince people my cartoons are actually good. Please.
It’s only a 25% chance that we’ll lose that many games, but that’s still one in every four scenarios. It’s not too encouraging. On the flip side, the Orioles only have to win more than sixty-three games to overcome that fate, and they did pull that off last season. The article where this percentage came from is speculation based on numbers, and it’s actually a really great read. It makes an interesting point – can a team even afford to rebuild completely in this day and age, or should they try doing so whilst remaining a competitive force? For the Orioles, mired in the AL East, any form of rebuilding requires the team to…well, not be competitive. They don’t have the money the other clubs do (especially the Big Three, the Sox, Yankees and Rays) and they don’t have a very expansive fanbase. (We’re loyal, but there aren’t too many of us.)
How are the Orioles supposed to find success if they don’t have the resources the Big Three have? It’s definitely going to take a lot more than just pure GM genius. Duquette’s good, definitely. He’s doing the best he can with the scant resources we have. The problem is that even if Duquette’s playing it smart, the team will probably still suck for some time. Fans don’t like that. Fans always want the quick fix, the immediate solution. As we get more and more used to immediacy in this highly technological world, we assume that everything should come right away. We’ve forgotten how to wait.
Here’s a really nerdy way to look at this. Remember the ending of Return of the Jedi, when Luke redeems Vader and Lando and Wedge blow up the second Death Star? The original trilogy ends there, with the death of the Emperor. However, all that really does, when you think about it, is create a power vacuum for the Empire. There’s millions of Imperials out there who could step into the Emperor’s place. People realized this and the Star Wars Expanded Universe was born, with authors filling in the gaps left by the movies. It takes a long time for the New Republic to truly establish itself. It doesn’t happen when they defeat Emperor Palpatine. There’s a lot of books explaining the post-Endor universe.
Dan Duquette is in a similar situation to Mon Mothma after the Battle of Endor.
Let’s say Dan Duquette is Mon Mothma and his troops have just blown up the second Death Star, with many Bothan scouts dying to get him this information so he could do so. He now has to work to permanently establish the Orioles as if they are the New Republic. This is a much more difficult task than it sounds. Duquette has to court the fans, the citizens of the New Republic, and convince them to work with him and support him as he rebuilds the Orioles into a consistent winner. Establishing a team, just like establishing a new government, takes time, and the fans need to accept that.
Welcome to the Baltimore Orioles Expanded Universe, folks. There’s plenty of stories here, so you won’t be in need of entertainment. All you need to do is stay loyal and stay patient. Good things will come to pass.
Dan Duquette made good on his promise, and we’ve got a few deals in place.
First, I’ll start with the Rule 5 Draft, since that was this morning. The Orioles made one pick at each level and have now acquired 3B/OF Ryan Flaherty, RHP Marty Popham, and INF Matt Sweeney. Not a bad haul. Of course, if they don’t play up to par, we can always send them back if they don’t work out. That’s the nice thing about the Rule 5 Draft – there’s a return policy. Duquette seems pleased with Flaherty.
Then we pulled off the trade of the century, which came as the Angels were signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Okay, not really, but we acquired Dana Eveland from the Dodgers for LHP Jarret Martin and OF Tyler Henson. Willie Eyre was DFA’d to make room on the 40-man. Eveland, as I have been told by San Francisco Giants writer Mac, is…well, interesting. She linked me to this. This should tell you all you need to know personality-wise.
As far as strategy goes, I’m not sure how this move itself will pan out, but Eveland might be able to compete for a bullpen role in Spring Training.