Cleat Geeks

Orioles Bird Feed; Week in Review

Well, let’s get the nasty stuff out of the way, for the week 4/12 to 4/19, 2018

April 12 Off Day

April 13 Lost to Boston 7-3

April 14 Lost to Boston 10-3

April 15 Lost to Boston 3-1

April 16 Postponed for weather

April 17 Lost to Detroit 4-2

April 18 Lost to Detroit 6-5

April 19 Lost to Detroit 13-8

 

 

So, what to say? Sporadic and often missing hitting, spotty and inconsistent pitching, questionable line-ups, primarily leaving Chris Davis in when he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat and bullpen giving up runs by the bunches. I will use the old (and often desperate cliché) “it’s a long season.” At 5-14, it seems a lot longer and more painful.

Until next week, Go O’s ….PLEASE!

 

TK

Orioles Bird Feed; Yanks, Jays & Pitching

The Orioles went into New York (expecting, I believe to be swept) and won 3 of 4. A lot of drama in the series and really, a pleasant and unexpected outcome.

This Week’s Games

April 5th, they beat The Yankees 5-2

April 6th, they won a thriller in 14 innings, thanks to a Pedro Alvarez Grand Slam!

April 7th, they lost 8-3

April 8th, they won another extra inning thriller (in 12) 8-7

3 out of 4 ain’t bad!

They came home to face the Blue Jays, in some rather chilly weather and before very small crowds!

April 9th, The O’s lost 7-1, rough game all around in front of less than 8,000 fans

April 10th, they lost 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel

April 11th, The O’s won 5-3

Injury Updates

Mancini is hitting lasers right at people, his luck will change. Chris Davis is showing some signs of life as is Schoop, Machado and Jones. Trumbo’s rehab assignment was halted due to a flare up of leg issue. We should know more about that next week.

Weekly Updates

The starting pitching has been on and off, as has the bullpen. Both need to improve and offer a more consistent effort for this team will compete.

Now an off day then a four game series starts in Boston. Perhaps Boston is weary after their bench clearing disagreement with The Yankees earlier in the week. Couldn’t happen to two better teams!

Until next week…Go O’s!

 

TK

Orioles Bird Feed-Starving After Opening Day!

All the drama and passion of a late inning Opening Day extra-inning victory in Baltimore has turned to gloom, albeit week 1 of a LONG season!

As the Oriole’s now look at a 5 game losing streak after being swept in Houston, the serious questions have started. They are including, but not limited to, the following:

Is Chris Davis still a MLB hitter, much less a leadoff hitter?

Is the pitching staff really improved (still waiting on Cobb arrival)?

How can we account for the “slow start”?

Image result for schoop orioles

Photo by; NBC Sports

There are a few (very few) early bright spots:

Schoop has 8 hits and is seeing the ball well although just 1 HR and 1 RBI

Machado and Jones have had their moments but are still chasing wild pitches

Those are a few and we will add Bundy on Opening Day!

 

Now, we have Rasmus and Davis at a combined 2 for 35! No need to elaborate on that stat. UGLY!

In the interest of clichés like “a long season” and “there’s still plenty of time”, I won’t continue the onslaught. However, week 1 has caused us to really think! Is this truly a “slow start” or, is this The 2018 Baltimore Orioles?

Until next week! Go O’s (please)!

 

TK

Orioles Bird Feed-Opening Day Drama!

After a long and “extended” Winter, baseball is back in Baltimore!

I was able to attend the game with the fine folks in Section 228.

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Photo by; Boston Herald

Excellent outing by Dylan Bundy. His pitches were “popping” and he seemed to have pretty good control, over all. The Orioles, however, chased one bad curve ball after another in the early innings. The leadoff experiment with Chris Davis goes against all baseball logic and I hope it is short-lived. He still looks at strikes and wildly swings at balls from time to time.

Case in point, he led off game with an out. Machado doubled. That’s a wasted run.

Defensively, Gentry’s catch early in the game basically stole a home run. Beautiful to watch.

Bundy threw 7 scoreless innings allowing 5 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 7.

There are plenty of reasons to be excited and some to still be anxious about. The bullpen made things interesting, but, when all was said and done, Adam Jones walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 11th gave The Orioles the win, and a 1-0 start.

Until next week, Go O’s!

TK

Baltimore Bird Feed; Contend Or Frustration in 2018?

For many Orioles fans, this has been a painful year plus. With a fizzle to the end of 2017 to a relatively dormant off-season from Front Office, many were left to wonder what the future would hold?

In the last few weeks and months, there have been some signs of “improvement.” The recent addition of Alex Cobb was a pivotal move in a rotation that desperately needs help. If he can muster 12-13 wins, that could be the difference between contention and frustration.

Image result for alex cobb

Photo by; MLB.com

There are many bright spots on this team, some short term and some potentially long term. The addition of Andrew Cashner certainly bolsters the rotation, though contrarians question his true value. Gausman and Bundy need to keep progressing and Tillman simply needs to return to form. If all that happens, this staff will keep the team competitive!

On the offensive side, Beckham gave the team a spark last season and is a dynamic talent, when in prime form. Schoop is one of the best at his position, Machado is obviously a marquee talent and will likely end his tenure this season in Baltimore. Mancini, Jones, Trumbo, Davis, the addition of Rasmus (although Walker would have been my choice) and others make for a solid line-up.

We are in a division that added both Stanton (NYY) and Martinez (Red Sox) and those teams continue with solid pitching. So, factoring in the changes these teams made, can The Orioles compete?

I will say this. I have doubted the Orioles for three straight seasons. I will not do that in 2018.

 

We’ll talk next week. Until then, Go O’s!

TK

SABERmetrics Sunday: Neil Walker’s Value

The New York Yankees had agreed to a one-year deal with switch-hitting second baseman Neil Walker. A veteran who has played in the majors with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers, Walker (32) is an underrated player that can bring some solid value to the Yankees. He has always been a decently productive guy who flies under the radar going back to his days in Pittsburgh.

Most of his value comes from his bat, he does not really light the world on fire with his defense. He has power capability solid on-base abilities. Lets look at what Walker did last year and some career batting numbers.

Image result for neil walker

Photo by; AOL.com

2017 (Mets/Brewers):

.362 OBP (career-high) / .439 SLG / .801 OPS / 17.2% K / 12.3% BB (career-high) / 14 HR / 0.8 UBR / 114 wRC+ / 2.1 fWAR in 111 games 

Career:

.341 OBP / .437 SLG / .778 OPS / 17.4% K / 8.7% BB / 130 HR (14 HR average per-season) / 10.8 UBR / 115 wRC+ / 21.1 fWAR (2.3 average per season)

Image result for neil walker pittsburgh pirates

Photo by; CBS Pittsburgh

Walker is a solid player overall. His best season arguably was 2016 with the Mets when he posted a 3.7 fWAR and career-high 9.3 Ultimate Zone Rating defensively. He averages 14 home runs a year, but he has hit 20+ twice in 2014 and 2016. Last year’s career-high on base was greatly attributed to his career-high walk rate. The .341 career on-base is not incredible, but above average.

Neil Walker is the perfect bridge for Gleyber Torres, who will start in the minors this season. Walker can not only fill a gap, but be an offensive force on the team. With him playing at Yankee Stadium, surrounded by the lineup he has around him, it would not be surprising to see him put up some more career-best numbers with the bat. Walker tends to finish a season with a 40%-44% pull-percentage on batted balls, and the short porches can help him increase the home run numbers.

Watch out for the Yankees, they will be scary this year.

The Pinstripe Post: The Grapefruit League Leaders

Who really cares about spring training games? It’s just a tune-up for the regular season where players prep and play meaningless games, right?

Not this year in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field and opposition venues. The New York Yankees are 8-2,leading the Grapefruit League by a half game over the second place Astros who post a 8-3 record.

Who cares. It’s only spring ball.

If you’re a fanatical fan of the NY Yankees, you do. This has been such a fun spring training to witness. To walk off wins, consecutive homers off first pitches, to a Super Bowl champion quarterback in the batter’s box. And we’re only 9 games in. What will we see next?

Image result for george m steinbrenner field

Rookie manager Aaron Boone hasn’t even loaded the line-up. We’re seeing this magic mostly from players who are competing for spots on the regular season line-up. If this is what we see now, what’s to come?

The feeling as you watch these men practice (the first BP of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton was televised by MLB Network) is that there is something very special brewing.

The players competing for starting positions are giving it their all and overachieving. The offense has been absolutely unbelievable with walk offs and homers flying out of the park in what it seems like relative ease.

As it is very early, pitching has been a mix of veterans and younger arms. CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have been the headliners with Chance Adams and others spotlighted. The corps have been impressive as well as evidenced by the Yankees record.

If this is spring training, imagine what the regular season will bring. And we’re only briefly seeing this team and the potential they bring. Records could be shattered. A new level of baseball seen.

Spring training boring? Not with the 2018 Yankees. No matter where the players end up. I’m watching. And rooting for every player on what will become a very special team indeed.

I suggest you tune in whenever possible.

What the Padres Got, & The Rays Did

The Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays both made moves over the weekend. Personally, if I ran either clubs I would not have done either move. I would not have paid Hosmer nor would I have released Dickerson. But before we look at the individual moves, I want to point out how similar the two player actually are. Since the start of 2014 (so we have a large sample size) batting average goes to Hosmer .289 to .282, home runs goes to Dickerson 85 to 77, OPS goes to Dickerson as well .835 to .799 with fWAR going to Hosmer 7.5 to 7.1. They were also both All-Stars last year and are both 28 years old. But the big difference of course is that one was just paid $144 million for 8 years, while the other one was released by his current team even-though he is only making about $5.5 million. My big takeaway here and big prediction is that whoever trades for Dickerson will get a really good player for a very reasonable price.

What Do The Royals Do At First Base Now?

Image result for eric hosmer padres

What The Padres Got

Although he only has limited experience at Petco Park in his career, the first baseman has absolutely raked. In 12 games between the regular season, World Baseball Classic and the 2016 All-Star Game, he has hit .458/.481/.813 with five homers and 19 RBIs. Hosmer is a nice player, he is in my opinion a complementary piece. He is not a superstar or a guy you build a franchise around. He is the guy you get that puts you over the top after you have built your franchise. He is that one final piece of the puzzle, not a 4 corner piece. The Padres obviously don’t see him that way, or they would not pay him like a superstar for 8 years. Lastly, to give him an opt out after 5 years in not good for the Padres at all. The Padres acknowledge and realize that they will not contend for a World Series title for a few more years. They have said they are rebuilding and they expect to contend in the 2019-2022 time frame, yet you pay big money today for a supposed building block of your team and give him an opt out in the middle of the time frame you think your club can compete. This deal gives every advantage to Hosmer and none to the Padres, Boras did it again.

Image result for corey dickerson rays

What The Rays Did

They picked up a hitter in C.J. Cron who really had no place in Anaheim with Pujols and Otani. He never was really a full time player in Anaheim in his four year career anyway and now that he will be in Tampa, the Rays are crossing their fingers for more consistent production. In those four years he has a batting average of .262 with an on base of .307 producing 213 RBI’s and 59 home runs. But he also has a k/bb walk rate of 314/73. I understand the Rays thinking as they gave up a player to be named later, and he is relatively cheap at $2.3 million this season and under club control until 2021. The part of the transaction that I don’t understand and was shocked about when a writer for this site called me at work and told me about the transaction was the Rays essentially dumping Corey Dickerson. If you look at the numbers overall of Cron’s 4 year career and Dickerson’s 5 year MLB career they look similar. But the big difference is Cron has been consistent in his four years while Dickerson has drastically improved over the last two years. Last year he had career numbers in hits (166), home runs (27) and runs (84). While also not having a drop-off in doubles (33) and batting average (.282). I understand that the Rays look at Dickerson today and see him with an almost $6 million price tag. But last year in his 4th year of service he only made basically $3 million and Cron in his forth year is making $2.3 million. If he improves on his numbers with a starting role his year 5 monetary value and Dickerson’s will not be far off. But Dickerson’s defense is much stronger at his position than Cron at his.

What Are These Clubs Thinking?

I don’t understand what either club is thinking with these moves. The Padres are not going to get the value of the largest contract given to a player in Padre history, and the largest this off-season. The real dumb part is that they give him an opt out when they think they as a club can compete. The Rays are just mismanaged if they can’t afford a player of Dickerson’s quality for a $6 million price tag. I am calling my shot right now and saying that which ever team picks him up for the 2018 will be very glad they did.

 

Pinstripe Post; Is The Evil Empire Back?


We have all seen the magic that Brian Cashman has worked for the 2018 Yankees so far. We have sacrificed the likes of Starlin Castro, a couple prospects and… WE GOT 30 MILLION BACK…

Ummmmm in return the NL MVP will be on the Yankees roster. That would be Giancarlo Stanton if you didn’t know already. Being a Derek Jeter fan, I don’t really care what transpired behind the scenes. Derek is being touted as a Yankees conspirator among things.

If you bought a business, which was failing to the tune of being in debt $400 million what would you do? The obvious relief would be to dump payroll. Cut expenses. Logical. And that dump being to the benefit of the Yankees?

Derek Jeter may be many things but conspirator isn’t one. He paid out $25 million of his own money to be involved in the Marlins acquisition. His interest now is in his team, the Marlins. Sorry Yankee fans and Jeter worshippers. He doesn’t care about the team he played 20 years for in the Bronx.

Image result for Derek Jeter marlinsI’d dump salary too. $400 million in debt. And Stanton would be number one on the list. The fact that Jeter was outplayed by the experience of Brian Cashman. The desperation and inexperience of Jeter screams in this deal. Not collusion.

So what happens now?

The Yankees have landed the NL MVP however they did. Now the team has a plethora of outfielders. We add to the mix the AL ROY in Aaron Judge and Hicks who has been proclaimed the starter according to Cashman. Brett Gardner has been the starter in left field.

As much as I love Cashman now, the Yankees have obvious concerns. Who will start at second and third now that Castro and Headley are gone? Can we rely on rookies to do a man’s job? Have Brian and his scouts made the right decision? It was reported yesterday that Cashman is content with Andujar and Torres going forward.

Because of that decision, and the fact that Todd Frazier doesn’t seem to be sold on coming back on a one year deal, we may see some growing pains on the hot corner and at second base. But I remind you of a certain shortstop who had a very rocky beginning at his position.

Brian Cashman has built up this team. By adding a MVP and/or cutting salary to get to the goal. They have a reported $16-21 million remaining under the luxury tax threshold. The Yankees have one of the best farm systems that will no doubt be drawn on in the future.

Much has been made of the thought of Manny Machado. Sorry again, Yankees fans. No way will he be seen in pinstripes in 2018. Maybe never. No way will the Orioles deal him to the team north of them that they despise.

WHEN Machado becomes a Free Agent, would he be worth the king’s ransom he’ll demand? How many players, and their salaries would the Yankees have to sacrifice to remain under the threshold to support the monster contract he’ll undoubtedly get? Would it be worth it?

I say go forward, accept the fact that the kids are our future, knowing there may be a price to pay as they learn their craft at the major league level. The line-up that manager Aaron Boone has available should more than compensate for any miscues.

Thanks Derek. I have no doubt that your intentions are good. Thanks Brian. You’ve done an amazing job. It was nice being the good guys of MLB last season. Frankly, I’m enjoying being hated again. Hate away, the rest of baseball. The #evilempirereturns!

What Athlete Would You Invite “2” Christmas Dinner?

 

When the editor of this site asked me to write about having Christmas dinner with one athlete of my choosing…it took my all of 1.12 seconds to choose.

Being a Yankees fan who would you choose? Ummm DEREK JETER!!! What would you ask Derek if he was seated at your Christmas dinner table, set with your best china, crystal and silver?

I have been a fanatical Yankees fan since 1995. Sorry that I could be said by as some as “buying” my championships. But it happened as it did.

First… The reports that Derek cried to his parents when he was away from home prior to his debut in 1995. He wanted to give it all up and go home. If he was at my home I’d ask him about the down times. How he overcame them. His perspective when he was struggling. How he was able to right the ship after having a very rocky beginning at shortstop. What advice he’d give the kids that the Yankees are looking at starting now. How a prospect can rise to his level. Or any really because we all know that there was only one Derek Jeter.

Next… His rise to rookie of the year in 1995…we all saw it. How did it not get into his head as a rookie from Michigan on the biggest stage in MLB? I want to cook Nebraska beef (what else would a Nebraskan cook?) with the Christmas music playing softly in the background as I ask about this. 1995…the prelude to possibly the greatest run ever. I want details. I’ll pour the wine to make him stay.

The flip. My favorite Jeter play ever. WHY WAS HE ON THE FIRST BASELINE KNOWING HE’D BE A CUT OFF MAN? WHAT WAS A SHORTSTOP DOING THERE? That was my question all those years ago and what I’d ask him. If Giambi scored that run, things may have been very different for the Yankees.

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The dive. How much did it hurt to make that play? I remember Derek being battered and bruised as he rose up from among the stunned fans in the left field seats. But in true Jeterian style, he kept on playing.

The unbelievable playoff run. Derek Jeter played in almost as many post season games as a major league Season contains. My question to him would be… which one he cherished the most. Were any more special? The 1998 team with 125 wins was possibly the greatest team of the modern era. Did it feel different? What distinguished it from the other championship teams? Have another glass of wine, please, Derek.

Personally the most special was his 3000th hit. My daughters and I had just returned from laying to rest my husband and their father out of state. Lymphoma. 21 years of marriage. We needed something to be happy about at that time. As soon as we walked into the house, put down our bags, and congregated in front of the television to watch the first Yankee game we’d seen in weeks, Derek hit #3000. Of course in true Jeter style, a home run. My girls and I jumped and rejoiced. He brought happiness to our lives after such gloom and despair. I’d say thank you for that, Derek.

Thank you also for being a true team player and staying in pinstripes for your entire 20 year MLB career.

I wrote this after researching like the good writer I try to be. Now my heart shows through. Too many stats, too little time. How can you sum up what he did in a 500 word article? The only thing that really needs to be said is FIVE RINGS. TWENTY YEARS.

Another one of my favorite memories was the 2000 ticker rape parade which my husband had I attended. I’ll never forget seeing Jeter and his teammates on that float, taking in the moment and reveling in the success that was the New York Yankees. Having fun and celebrating the hard work that brought them to that moment.

And Jeter is staying for dessert to tell me about 2009. How was it different? How was it the same?

Then lastly I need to hear about Mother’s Day of 2017 which he chose to celebrate mothers everywhere in addition to a little ceremony in the Bronx. What was it like to return to New York and the hallowed ground where he had so many cherished memories, walk out in front of the fans that adore him, see his previous teammates, coaches, media and have his number 2 retired, a plaque placed in Monument Park and number hung up among the other Yankee immortals? Can words express how that felt? But I’d ask him to explain.

As Derek Jeter turned to leave I’d have one word as he parts that to me describes his career as a New York YANKEE. R E 2 P E C T. That’s all that would need to be said as he drove off into the night.

GET YOUR  ON!

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