"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Baltimore Orioles

The last team to beat out the Atlanta Braves for a division title was the wire-to-wire World Champion 1990 Cincinnati Reds. The last team to beat out the New York Yankees for a division title? The 1997 Baltimore Orioles. In the eight seasons since then, the Orioles have finished above fourth place exactly once (2004, thanks to the collapse of the Blue Jays), finished within fewer than 20 games of first place once (2000, when the Yankees finished the season with a dreadful 3-15 slump capped by dropping the final three games of the season to the O’s by a combined score of 29-6), and not won 80 games in any single season. For all the attention heaped on the Pirates, Royals, Tigers and Brewers, Kansas City and Milwaukee have been at or above .500 more recently than Baltimore, and the Tigers appear to be more likely to do so in the near future than the Orioles. Quite simply, the Orioles are one of the worst franchises in baseball, giving locals a feast of famine with the newly imported Natspos. (Seriously, is it that abhorrent to be a Phillies fan? With their new ballpark and annual runs at the wild card, the Phillies are the pick of the litter in the mid-Atlantic region, but they barely outdrew Baltimore last year. Sorry. Where was I?)

The O’s have shuffled the deck chairs by bringing in yet another collection of over the hill, overrated and overexposed veterans to compliment . . . nothing. The Orioles are horrible. There’s no budding future here. Just because they’re able to float slightly higher in the water than the Royals doesn’t make them anything but an affront to their fans.

But I’m getting carried away. Let’s find some positives here: They’ve finally dumped the Big Ponson Toad. Tonight’s starter Kris Benson is nothing special, but he’s a huge upgrade over Sir Sidney. Letting J.P Riccardi overpay B.J. Ryan and giving the closer’s job to Chris Ray represents both solid baseball economics and highlights one of the few young bright spots in the organization. Luis Matos recent injury just might clear room for Nick Markakis, who broke camp with the club despite having just a half season at double-A under his belt, to Wally Pip him, which would rid the O’s of yet another home grown disaster.

I couldn’t understand the decision to bring back Sam Perlozzo as manager as the team’s winning percentage under him down the stretch was nearly 40 points lower than it was under Lee Mazzilli last year and it was a widely reported story that the Orioles appeared to collectively throw I in the towel by the end of August. But I must say, I like his line-up construction. Putting the slow-footed, but high-on-base-percentage Jeff Conine in the two-hole suggests progressive thinking, and burying big-name 2004 free agent Javy Lopez and new pick-up Kevin Millar in the seventh and eighth spots suggests a true meritocracy that refuses to allow name recognition or salary to determine playing time. In addition, Perlozzo has just two lefties in his line-up and he has them separated by no fewer than three righies in both directions. Part of that is a side-effect of one of them being the rookie Markakis, who of course hits ninth, and of having just two lefties to begin with, but Joe Torre—who started the season with his four lefties paired up in two different spots in his line-up, continues to write Bernie Williams’ name into the line-up, and has buried last year’s AL OBP leader Jason Giambi in the fifth spot—would be wise to take notes.

Speaking of Giambi, swelling in his right forearm resulting from being hit by a pitch on Wednesday (Bernie Williams pinch hit for him in his final at-bat of that game in Toronto) might keep him on the bench tonight. Meanwhile, Tanyon Sturtze was reportedly available on Wednesday and, having had another 48 hours to rest his balky back, should definitely be in the mix tonight. I needn’t tell you, neither of these things is good news, though with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound looking to repeat his fantastic start in Minnesota last weekend, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to at the very least put Giambi at DH and allow someone other than Miguel Cairo to man first base.

Baltimore Orioles

2005 Record:
2005 Pythagorean Record:

Manager: Sam Perlozzo
General Manager: Mike Flanagan

Home Ballpark (2005 Park Factors): Oriole Park at Camden Yards (94/95)

Who’s Replacing Whom?

  • Kevin Millar replaces Rafael Palmeiro
  • Jeff Conine replaces Sammy Sosa
  • Ramon Hernandez replaces Larry Bigbie and B.J. Surhoff by pushing Javy Lopez to DH, thus pushing Millar to 1B, thus pushing Jay Gibbons into the outfield
  • Corey Patterson replaces Eric Byrnes and David Newhan (DL)
  • Raul Chavez replaces Sal Fasano and Geronimo Gil
  • Luis Terrero replaces Luis Matos (DL)
  • Kris Benson replaces Sidney Ponson
  • LaTroy Hawkins replaces B.J. Ryan while Chris Ray takes over the closer job
  • John Halama replaces Steve Kline
  • Jim Brower replaces Jorge Julio
  • Sendy Rleal replaces John Maine and James Baldwin
  • Chris Britton replaces Eric DuBose and Jason Grimsley
  • Endy Rodriguez replaces Todd Williams (DL)

Current Roster

1B – Kevin Millar (R)
2B – Brian Roberts (S)
SS – Miguel Tejada (R)
3B – Melvin Mora (R)
C – Ramon Hernandez (R)
RF – Jay Gibbons (L)
CF – Nick Markakis (L)
LF – Jeff Conine (R)
DH – Javy Lopez (R)


L – Corey Patterson (OF)
R – Chris Gomez (IF)
R – Luis Terrero (OF)
R – Raul Chavez (C)


R – Rodrigo Lopez
L – Erik Bedard
R – Kris Benson
R – Daniel Cabrera
L – Bruce Chen


R – Chris Ray
R – LaTroy Hawkins
R – Jim Brower
L – John Halama
R – Sendy Rleal
R – Chris Britton
R – Eddy Rodriguez

15-day DL: OF – Luis Matos (R), R – Todd Williams, L – John Parrish
60-day DL: R – Aaron Rakers, L – Tim Byrdak, UT – David Newhan (L)

Typical Lineup

S – Brian Roberts (2B)
R – Jeff Conine (LF)
R – Melvin Mora (3B)
R – Miguel Tejada (SS)
L – Jay Gibbons (RF)
R – Ramon Hernandez (C)
R – Javy Lopez (DH)
R – Kevin Millar (1B)
L – Nick Markakis (CF)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver