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thefitzman1

Rotation Analysis

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Courtesy of Spencer Fordin at MLB.com

 

http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070130&content_id=1789423&vkey=news_bal&fext=.jsp&c_id=bal

 

BALTIMORE -- Potential can be a dirty word in baseball, particularly when it provides an excuse for current frailties with the promise of future production. The Orioles won't call themselves a rebuilding team, but they're counting on a mostly homegrown rotation to help end a nine-season streak of losing records.

 

Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen are a huge part of Baltimore's next step forward -- whenever that might occur. Both Cabrera and Bedard have spent the past few seasons adjusting to the big leagues, with varying degrees of success. Loewen got his first taste of the Majors in 2006, and he is still in a fragile stage of development.

 

O's pitching coach Leo Mazzone will be closely monitoring their progress all spring and throughout the season. The veteran loves the young arms on his staff, but he knows it may take time to coax better results. In fact, one of his late-season comments about Cabrera could apply to his entire rotation.

 

"It's not completely lit, but it's turning on. There's no coach in the world smart enough to predict anything like that," Mazzone said, speaking about when the switch would turn in Cabrera's career. "Like we've told Daniel, he doesn't need to be taught any more pitches. He's got a good fastball, a good breaking ball and a good changeup. We don't have to mess with his mechanics anymore -- they're solid now. He just has to go out and execute.

 

"Sometimes, guys try too hard to be great. All we want him to do is be good."

 

Like many young pitchers, Cabrera was alternately good and bad last season. The 25-year-old struggled with his command for most of the early going, with a nine-walk and 10-strikeout start summing up the first half. He finished strong, though, and ended his season with a complete-game one-hitter in venerable Yankee Stadium.

 

Loewen, like Cabrera, had his share of success and struggles. The former first-round pick's first four big-league starts were all against former Cy Young Award winners, handily illustrating his lack of experience. But Loewen fared well for a pitcher who all but skipped Triple-A, and the Orioles are bullish on his immediate future.

 

"And the light switch is going on for Adam, too -- with still more to burn," Mazzone said in September. "You have to look at where both those young men are in their careers and think of a lot of good things happening for us. Then you have Erik Bedard, who's still young, and he's developed into one of the top young left-handers in the league."

 

With their rotation largely intact, the Orioles spent the winter stockpiling relievers to help hold potential leads. They also added veteran Jaret Wright, who worked with Mazzone in Atlanta, as their fifth starter. Wright and Kris Benson are the veterans who will be counted on to help balance out any youthful inconsistency.

 

Wright, a former phenom himself, came over from the Yankees in a trade for young reliever Chris Britton. Wright has had a host of arm injuries, but the Orioles think they can keep the right-hander healthy throughout the season. O's vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette said Wright was a key acquisition.

 

"We weren't sure what was going to happen with him, but we liked him for a lot of reasons. And one of the biggest factors was his relationship with Leo," Duquette said right after the trade. "We think he's a definite upgrade to the rotation. He was hitting 93-95 [mph] at the end of the year. He's a proven veteran.

 

"He's won, he's pitched in the playoffs and he's a winner in terms of what he brings to the clubhouse."

 

Bedard was the unquestioned bright spot for Baltimore last season, when he set career highs in starts (33), wins (15), innings (196 1/3) and strikeouts (171). From early June to mid-September, the southpaw pitched five innings or more in 19 straight starts. That might not sound like much, but with Baltimore's shaky bullpen, it meant a lot.

 

Benson also worked deep in the game a lot, but his success was masked by some bullpen struggles. Benson worked at least seven innings and allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of his 27 starts, but he racked up a 6-3 record with three no-decisions in those outings. The Orioles, to a man, think he pitched better than his 11-12 record.

 

Now, Baltimore needs to find a way to convert that late work into winning on a more consistent basis.

 

"I think the key is getting our starters deeper to where you match up better," Mazzone said. "When we won our games last year, I think somebody said our ERA was 3.02. When we lost, it was 7.20. That's quite a gap, and you'd think in the American League that when you're winning it's 3.80 or 3.90, and when you're losing it's 5.80 or 5.90.

 

"In other words, we either dominated or we got blown out."

 

Perhaps the most important factor for the Orioles is who won't be starting in 2007. Baltimore cleared out Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen and Russ Ortiz, who combined for a 9-28 record and a 6.50 ERA. That struggling trio worked 328 innings for the O's last season, which worked out to more than a fifth of the team's entire output.

 

Top pitching prospect Hayden Penn is on hand as the swingman and likely contingency option if anyone gets hurt. Penn had a disappointing September last season, but he still figures into Baltimore's rotation of the future.

 

The Orioles have a lot at stake in their young starters, and Perlozzo will be graded on how well they progress. For his part, Perlozzo can look at the starting staff and see trouble for the rest of the American League.

 

"Kris Benson and Erik Bedard were pretty steady giving us later-in-the-game innings," Perlozzo said at the Winter Meetings. "We think Daniel's hopefully turning a corner [and] can go deep into the game for us. Adam Loewen, and I've said this before, wasn't even on the radar screen [last] year, and he has turned into one of our young kids who everybody loves.

 

"So just the fact that we have some depth going later in the game, where maybe I don't have to stretch somebody out an inning longer than he should [may help]."

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The author seems to think the major factor between success and failure is the performance of Daniel Cabera. I too think he is the single most important individual who needs to improve drastically from last year.

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The author seems to think the major factor between success and failure is the performance of Daniel Cabera. I too think he is the single most important individual who needs to improve drastically from last year.

 

I concur. If Bedard performs like the ace he was last year and Cabrera can elevate himself to a solid #2/#3 guy, then this team can go far.

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I am actually pretty excited about our rotation. I think Bedard will continue to step up and might be the second best pitcher in the division (behind Halladay). I'm bullish on Cabrera and Loewen as well. I think both will struggle with control, but not as bad as last year. Wright and Benson are in their free agent walk years, hopefully both will be traded at the trading deadline for some good young hitters.

 

I'm looking forward to Penn emerging this year and I'm certain I'm in the minority on that one. I'd like him to be in the major league rotation in April, but that probably won't happen. Still though, Bedard, Cabrera, Loewen and Penn are 4 young, cheap and talented pitchers.

 

Even though I'm excited about the rotation, I'm not looking forward to watching this team struggle to score runs.

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I think the starters are going to be pretty solid. I like Bedard and Loewen and I think this is make or break for Cabrera.

Benson is solid and Wright can be a tough pitcher who out of the limelight of NY could be a nice pickup. And Penn is in the wings.

 

If Cabrera matures this year and the rest stay healthy, they could be fun to watch all season.

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I think the starters are going to be pretty solid. I like Bedard and Loewen and I think this is make or break for Cabrera.

Benson is solid and Wright can be a tough pitcher who out of the limelight of NY could be a nice pickup. And Penn is in the wings.

 

If Cabrera matures this year and the rest stay healthy, they could be fun to watch all season.

Rikman, if you check out Wright's ERA's; his ERA's have predominately been stratospheric except for his year in Atlanta. I don't think the limelight of NY is that much of a factor - he has been lit up everywhere more or less. I am not expecting much from him as an Oriole. (I don't say "I am not expecting much from him in Baltimore." because I don't know if that is politically correct or not.)

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You would be amazed at the big name players the O's were offered if either Bedard or Cabrera were involved....

That is how much they are regarded by those who know.

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You would be amazed at the big name players the O's were offered if either Bedard or Cabrera were involved....

That is how much they are regarded by those who know.

As some well noted Posters would Post: (I might as well try it too - not that I am well noted though.) Source please?:eek:

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Still though, Bedard, Cabrera, Loewen and Penn are 4 young, cheap and talented pitchers.

 

 

My concern is that if the rest of the team can't be improved around those arms and Tejada, then those arms will cease to be cheap. They'll also cease to wear Baltimore uniforms.

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My concern is that if the rest of the team can't be improved around those arms and Tejada, then those arms will cease to be cheap. They'll also cease to wear Baltimore uniforms.

 

I really think this is why you have to trade Tejada and either Benson or Wright. Then, you write of 2007 in hopes for 2008/2009.

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I really think this is why you have to trade Tejada and either Benson or Wright. Then, you write of 2007 in hopes for 2008/2009.

 

No you don't! I've said it time and time again, there are two directions this team can take - moves to contend, or complete rebuilding. Trading Tejada means a complete rebuilding process, which means you're writing off 2007, 2008, 2009 and maybe 2010.

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No you don't! I've said it time and time again, there are two directions this team can take - moves to contend, or complete rebuilding. Trading Tejada means a complete rebuilding process, which means you're writing off 2007, 2008, 2009 and maybe 2010.

 

Yep. The O's have, I believe, a 3 year window to compete right now. After that, Tejada will be gone, along with Roberts, Bedard, Mora...

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Rikman, if you check out Wright's ERA's; his ERA's have predominately been stratospheric except for his year in Atlanta. I don't think the limelight of NY is that much of a factor - he has been lit up everywhere more or less. I am not expecting much from him as an Oriole. (I don't say "I am not expecting much from him in Baltimore." because I don't know if that is politically correct or not.)

 

I'm not disagreeing that Wright is a huge gamble for anyone's rotation. However, when healthy, he's a decent pitcher. Much like Jay Gibbons, it's the "when healthy" part that's the problem.

 

He pitched well for the Yankees last year and with Atlanta 2 years prior. I'm thinking he may be decent as a number #5 and could surprise. Perhaps he's an extremely late bloomer.

 

Should he falter, Penn is in the wings.

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No you don't! I've said it time and time again, there are two directions this team can take - moves to contend, or complete rebuilding. Trading Tejada means a complete rebuilding process, which means you're writing off 2007, 2008, 2009 and maybe 2010.

 

I don't really think that's true. Sure, if they flipped Tejada for an equivalent package of Rowell and Erbe, then yeah. But if they flip Tejada for Wood, Kotchman and Aybar, then those guys could all contribute in 2008. It's really just about the right package. I mean, look at the Glenn Davis deal. IIRC, Finley and Harnisch were able to contribute right away, though Schilling didn't become dominant until after the Astros dumped him to the Phillies. Trading Tejada could be "re-tooling" and not "re-building."

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Yep. The O's have, I believe, a 3 year window to compete right now. After that, Tejada will be gone, along with Roberts, Bedard, Mora...

 

If everything goes right this year, we'll get average production at first, third, left and DH. I fail to see how we have 3 year window right now beyond a window to be a 500 team.

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If everything goes right this year, we'll get average production at first, third, left and DH. I fail to see how we have 3 year window right now beyond a window to be a 500 team.

 

If they added another piece or two, they could. Right now. Of course, the pieces they need are the kind of high $$$ players Angelos won't pay for, so...

 

You think the O's have holes at present ? Just wait 3 years when 3/4th of the infield is gone, along with their best pitcher.

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I don't really think that's true. Sure, if they flipped Tejada for an equivalent package of Rowell and Erbe, then yeah. But if they flip Tejada for Wood, Kotchman and Aybar, then those guys could all contribute in 2008. It's really just about the right package. I mean, look at the Glenn Davis deal. IIRC, Finley and Harnisch were able to contribute right away, though Schilling didn't become dominant until after the Astros dumped him to the Phillies. Trading Tejada could be "re-tooling" and not "re-building."

 

Wood, Kotchman, and Aybar are PROSPECTS. Not MLB-proven players, PROSPECTS. If you make a trade for PROSPECTS, you can't just insert them in the lineup and assume that things will work out. Trading Tejada is essentially giving up, as would be trading Roberts, Bedard, Mora, Gibbons, Hernandez, etc. unless you are trading them for equivalent MAJOR LEAGUE players who can make an immediate impact. Or better yet, you can sign major league players during the next offseason after having an above .500 team this year.

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If they added another piece or two, they could. Right now. Of course, the pieces they need are the kind of high $$$ players Angelos won't pay for, so...

 

You think the O's have holes at present ? Just wait 3 years when 3/4th of the infield is gone, along with their best pitcher.

 

And that's why I believe the Orioles should trade Tejada and Benson for young hitters.

 

BTW, fun fact about the Glenn Davis deal...the Astros traded Schilling after one year to the Phillies. The player the Astros received? Jason Grimsley. Man, I love irony.

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Wood, Kotchman, and Aybar are PROSPECTS. Not MLB-proven players, PROSPECTS. If you make a trade for PROSPECTS, you can't just insert them in the lineup and assume that things will work out. Trading Tejada is essentially giving up, as would be trading Roberts, Bedard, Mora, Gibbons, Hernandez, etc. unless you are trading them for equivalent MAJOR LEAGUE players who can make an immediate impact. Or better yet, you can sign major league players during the next offseason after having an above .500 team this year.

 

What exactly are we giving up? A shot at being 500 this year?

 

The question that I think you have to consider is the level of talent that you could get for Tejada. I think there are 3 philosophies:

 

- Trading for a mix of major league players and prospects. They are likely surer bets to be major league players, but they have lower ceilings.

 

- Trading for higher level prospects who have better ceilings but are not as sure bets to ever be major leaguers

 

- Trading for lower level prospects who have the highest ceilings but also lower chances to be major leaguers.

 

I'd take option 2 if I were in the front office because the young pitching should gel in 2008 (if all goes well). I'd also lock up Bedard long term yesterday.

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The author seems to think the major factor between success and failure is the performance of Daniel Cabera. I too think he is the single most important individual who needs to improve drastically from last year.

 

If he can capture those dominating flashes we saw and be more consistant in the strike zone. He will be special.

 

TM

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I'd also lock up Bedard long term yesterday.

 

But yet you advocate trading Tejada, which will make it far more difficult to convince Bedard that the team is committed to winning. It's simple - this team CANNOT trade Tejada and still win in the next five or six years.

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But yet you advocate trading Tejada, which will make it far more difficult to convince Bedard that the team is committed to winning. It's simple - this team CANNOT trade Tejada and still win in the next five or six years.

 

Why? Was that true for the Astros when they traded Glenn Davis? Look at the numbers Finley and Harnish put in 1991. Look at what those players did in 1992 and 1993.

 

For another example, look at the success the Mariners had when they traded Randy Johnson? Think the Marlins are happy they traded Josh Beckett? Anibel Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez were two prime contributors to a team that was in contention in September. It's about the players you acquire, it's not an automatic deathknell.

 

Is trading your team's best player a risk? No doubt. But I think you have to consider the risk of not trading him as well. And, if you agree that we likely won't be able to compete this year or likely next, then it makes sense to trade Tejada for the long term interests of the ball club. And I really don't get the logic that rebuilding takes five or six years. That's not true every time a blockbuster trade occurs...

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Yep. The O's have, I believe, a 3 year window to compete right now. After that, Tejada will be gone, along with Roberts, Bedard, Mora...

 

Mora will be gone after three seasons, I agree with you there...however I feel that Bedard and Roberts will be wearing an Orioles uniform.

 

Tejada: IMO the O's are going to win 85 games this year, and they will be contenders for postseason play the following two...if that plays out Tejada will want to finish his career in Baltimore. I also feel that he'll be playing third base for the O's during the final year (09) of his initial 6 year contract...

 

Tejada stays beyond his contract if the O's are winning, and if he's getting the "love" he needs from the fans. The O's have the resource$ to win, and they have the resources to create even greater resource$ in the future.

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Mora will be gone after three seasons, I agree with you there...however I feel that Bedard and Roberts will be wearing an Orioles uniform.

 

Tejada: IMO the O's are going to win 85 games this year, and they will be contenders for postseason play the following two...if that plays out Tejada will want to finish his career in Baltimore. I also feel that he'll be playing third base for the O's during the final year (09) of his initial 6 year contract...

 

Tejada stays beyond his contract if the O's are winning, and if he's getting the "love" he needs from the fans. The O's have the resource$ to win, and they have the resources to create even greater resource$ in the future.

 

Mora's actually the least of my concerns. In three years he'll probably be approaching the end of his effectiveness.

 

Tejada will likely still have something left in the tank though, and Roberts will be in his prime. As will Bedard.

 

I have no confidence in the O's ability and desire to retain their own top players. They act like they're scared to death of possibly ending up overpaying a guy.

 

Winning would indeed help keep these players in Baltimore. But I see them as an ~80 win team right now - still needing to make some big moves to be a contender.

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