"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Orioles Revisited

I’ve been fairly convinced that the Yankees are and will remain a .500 team this year ever since they were swept by the then AL-worst Royals four weeks ago. Still, streaks such as their 6-0 opening to the just-completed home stand and apparent breakthroughs by men such as Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi, and especially Hideki Matsui combined with the continued impressive performances of Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang have kept me from saying so at print. But after the Yanks dropped 3 of 4 to the Devil Rays for the second time this year (falling to 3-7 against them on the season) and needed a last-gasp ninth-inning rally to avoid a sweep at the hands of the scuffling Mets, I’m finally ready to put it in black and white. That said, I’m optimistic about the team’s prospects heading in the three-game series with the Orioles that will kick off in Baltimore tonight.

After the Yanks took those first six home games from the Pirates and Cubs, the hope was that they could keep their momentum through the inferior D-Rays and Mets and get within three games of the division leading O’s in time to have a chance to take the division lead with a sweep of this series. Oh how things have changed. Not only did the Yanks finish their home stand with a 2-5 record against the Rays and Mets, but the Orioles have also fallen on hard times, droping six of their last seven to the Blue Jays and Braves (admittedly stronger competition), and relinquishing their division lead to the surging Red Sox (who, having won 12 of their last 13, appear to be on their way to running away with the east).

So not only did the Yankees fail to get within three games of the O’s (they’re four games behind them going into tonight), the Orioles are no longer the team to beat in the east as they trail the Sox by 2.5 and enter this series on a five-game losing streak. With that in mind, the Yankees are still in a position to tighten things between themselves and the second-place O’s, who also happen to be the Wild Card leaders of the moment, with the Twins also having hit hard times (5-11 in their last 16 games–in fact, the O’s, Twins and Yankees have nearly identical records in June: 11-13 for the O’s and Yanks, 11-12 for the Twins).

Taking a quick look at the pitching match-ups, the Yankees are in good shape: Pavano pitching on the road (2.49 ERA) against the volatile Daniel Cabrera (5.54 ERA, 5.91 in June), The Anchor Chien-Ming Wang taking on that giant ball of suck Sir Sidney Ponson (5.42 ERA), and Mike Mussina, a near-Hall of Fame veteran who has pitched several hundred games in Camden Yards, facing reeling rookie Hayden Penn (6.07 ERA, one quality start in six tries). I’m not making any predictions, but I have a good feeling about this.

Who On Earth Is Kevin Reese

Before I get to the Oriole roster, a quick note on Kevin Reese, who made his major league debut last night as the Yankees’ starting left fielder in the season finale of the Subway Series in Yankee Stadium as the Yankees attempted to avoid a sweep (no pressure or nothin’).

Reese is a 27-year-old, lefty-hitting corner outfielder who, at least according to this scouting report is supperior to Bubba Crosby in just about every way. He’s younger (by more than a year and a half), faster (109 minor league steals in five season to Bubba’s 97 in seven seasons–though Bubba has a better success rate), has a better glove, a better arm, and is a superior hitter (career minor league numbers: Reese-.305/.380/.447, Bubba-.285/.350/.425).

Based on his minor league numbers and his two Sunday at-bats (a five-pitch walk and a six-pitch strike out), Reese is a Russ Johnson type, a short (both are less than six feet tall) doubles hitter, who will work deep into counts and provide a solid-at-bat regardless of the outcome, a welcome addition to a bench that, with Hideki Matsui still nursing his ankle in the DH spot, counted Ruben Sierra as the team’s fourth outfielder.

The Yankees acquired Reese from the Padres for minor league second baseman Bernie Castro following the 2001 season. He was called up prior to yesterday’s game when Sean Henn was sent back to Columbus. The Yankees will need a fifth starter just one more time (July 5) prior to the All-Star break. To make room for Reese on the 40-man roster, Jaret Wright, who has already spent 62 days on the disabled list, was moved to the 60-day DL.

Right, now for the Orioles:

Baltimore Orioles

2005 Record: 42-33 (.560)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 41-34 (.552)

Manager: Lee Mazzilli
General Manager: Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Oriole Park at Camden Yards (104/103)

Who has replaced whom?

Sal Fasano has replaced Javy Lopez (DL)
Eli Marrero has replaced B.J. Surhoff (DL)
Hayden Penn has replaced Eric Bedard (DL)
James Baldwin has replaced John Parrish (minors)
Chris Ryan has replaced Rick Bauer (minors)

Current Roster:

1B – Rafael Palmeiro
2B – Brian Roberts
SS – Miguel Tejada
3B – Melvin Mora
C – Geronimo Gil
RF – Sammy Sosa
CF – Luis Matos
LF – Larry Bigbie
DH – Jay Gibbons


R – Eli Marrero (OF)
L – David Newhan (UT)
R – Chris Gomez (IF)
R – Sal Fasano (C)


R – Rodrigo Lopez
R – Daniel Cabrera
R – Sidney Ponson
R – Hayden Penn
L – Bruce Chen


L – B.J. Ryan
R – Jorge Julio
L – Steve Kline
R – Steve Reed
R – Todd Williams
R – James Baldwin
R – Chris Ray


L – Erik Bedard
R – Javy Lopez (C)
L – B.J. Surhoff (OF)
R – Jason Grimsley (60-day)
R – Kurt Ainsworth (60-day)
L – Val Majewski (OF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

S – Brian Roberts (2B)
R – Melvin Mora (3B)
R – Miguel Tejada (SS)
L – Rafael Palmeiro (DH)
R – Sammy Sosa (RF)
L – Jay Gibbons (1B)
R – Luis Matos (CF)
L – Larry Bigbie (LF)
R – Geronimo Gil (C)

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1 tocho   ~  Jun 27, 2005 2:59 pm

1.  Its nice to bring up Reese who looks much better than any of our starting outfielders today (Matsui, injured; Sierra, is unable to run carrying a 3-month-old baby under his uniform; Womack, don't get me started) just to have him as an extra cheerleader. This is amazing. Is there any explanation. Please, I just can't live with the "they're dumb and we are not" answer.

Any thoughts?

2 Fred Vincy   ~  Jun 27, 2005 3:32 pm

2.  Sounds like Reese is your classic replacement level outfielder, which certainly makes him better than Womack. Let's hope he gets hot for a stretch and Womack becomes pinch runner extraordinaire.

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