June 2010

Down on the farm

Nolan Reimold is starting at first base tonight for Triple-A Norfolk. He has a five-game hitting streak, and is heating up as of late. Still, I’m told his strikeouts are still a concern within the organization.

Robert Andino
has been playing second base exclusively at the Orioles request, which is an interesting move. He’s not on the team’s 40-man roster, but getting Andino some work at second could signify a number of things.

Could the Orioles DFA Julio Lugo? More likely they’d try to deal him, since Lugo’s had a nice few games on the West Coast and has been mentioned (along with Cesar Izturis) in various trade rumors. Could it spell the end of Ty Wigginton, another trade chip ? I don’t know. It could be as simple as them wanting him to be more versatile. Still, it’s an interesting situation to keep tabs on as trade talks start to heat up. FYI, the deadline is July 31.  

What now with Atkins?

It’s the million-dollar question lately. Acquiring Jake Fox via today’s trade is pretty much the nail in the coffin on Garrett Atkins’ already-depleted playing time. 

This is purely speculation, but Atkins could be designated for assignment when the Orioles make a roster move for Saturday and recall Brad Bergesen. They could try to get him a few more at-bats this week at home (now back with the DH) in a last-ditch effort. But, to me, getting Fox pretty much signals that the O’s have given up on Atkins and are willing to absorb the $5 million mistake.


Os/Marlins lineups

*Michael Gonzalez threw an inning of a Gulf Coast League game today, and interim manager Juan Samuel said his velocity was clocked in the 90-91 mph range. That’s the best it’s been since Gonzalez was placed on the disabled list.

*Jim Johnson threw 25 pitches off a mound on Monday in Sarasota, Fla. He said in a text message that the outing “went well” and will throw 30 pitches on Wednesday.

*Koji Uehara threw 30 pitches off flat ground with no reported problems.

*Felix Pie went 0-for-4 in his rehab debut with the Gulf Coast League yesterday.

*I have no clue who the Orioles will move for Brad Bergesen come Saturday. It could be a number of relievers (Matt Albers, Frank Mata) a position player (Lou Montanez, Scott Moore) or they could DFA Garrett Atkins. Like I said, no clue which way they are leaning.

Corey Patterson LF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Scott Moore 2B
Cesar Izturis SS
Jeremy Guthrie RHP

Chris Coghlan LF
Gaby Sanchez 1B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Jorge Cantu DH
Dan Uggla 2B
Cody Ross CF
Mike Stanton RF
Wes Helms 3B
Ronny Paulino C
Anibal Sanchez RHP

Bergesen for Saturday

Brad Bergesen will make Saturday’s start against the Washington Nationals, according to a team source. With Chris Tillman being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, making room for Jake Fox, the O’s will make another move to recall Bergesen this weekend.

More on Fox

When he was designated for assignment on June 13, Oakland’s Jake Fox told MLB.com’s Jane Lee he expected the move.

“I never showed them what I can do,” said Fox, who hit .214 with a .264 OBP in 106 at-bats.

Now Fox will  get another shot, likely at first base, as the Orioles enter Tuesday the only team in the Majors without a homer by their first baseman. The move is expected to be made official later this afternoon, but let’s look at Fox’s numbers and see where that puts him right now on the O’s.

His two homers and 14 RBIs are more than a struggling Garrett Atkins, who has gone yard just once and has nine RBIs in 43 games, which is more games played than Fox.

His average isn’t great (you don’t get DFA’ed hitting .300) but his .327 slugging is better than Atkins, Matt Wieters, Cesar Izturis and Julio Lugo, as well as rarely-used Lou Montanez. At the very least, it gives interim manager Juan Samuel another (versatile) option.

In 2009, Fox hit 11 homes with 44 RBIs in 82 games with the Cubs. He was a third-round pick in the ’03 Draft by Chicago.

Os get Fox-y

BALTIMORE– The Orioles landed Oakland outfielder Jake Fox on Tuesday morning, in a trade that is yet to be made official.

Fox was designated for assignment on June 12, meaning the A’s had 10 days to trade him, grant him his outright release or hope he cleared through waivers. Given that the O’s (19-50) expressed some interest, it became clear that the latter option wouldn’t be possible.

Fox was batting .214 with a .264 on-base percentage through 106 plate appearances when the A’s designated him for assignment. He will provide corner infield, outfield and catcher depth for O’s, but could bat his way into the lineup on an everyday basis given the team’s offensive struggles.

While the trade isn’t official, it is believed to be for a Minor League pitcher. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles will send right-hander Ross Wolf to Oakland in exchange for Fox. The 27-year-old Wolf was 0-2 with a with a 2.11 ERA in 25 games for Triple-A Norfolk. I’m still working on getting that confirmed.

The Orioles will need to make a corresponding move on their 25-man roster in order to activate Wolf. Since the team is currently using a four-man rotation, sending young right-hander Chris Tillman to Norfolk is an option, as is placing the underperforming Garrett Atkins on waivers. The Orioles could also elect to give Fox the bench spot of Scott Moore or rarely-used Lou Montanez.

Bergesen's start and things to watch for…

Brad Bergesen threw for Triple-A Norfolk tonight, and yielded two runs over five solid innings against Lehigh Valley. He allowed five hits and a walk and struck out four. Pitching on three days rest –which puts him in line for Saturday’s start in Baltimore if needed — Bergesen threw 58 of his 85 pitches for strikes.

Interim manager Juan Samuel said last week that Bergesen had to show he had returned to his mechanics, while pitching coach Rick Kranitz wasn’t ready to just hand Bergesen Saturday’s start. Kranitz didn’t say what it would take for Bergesen to earn the promotion, so I’m not sure if tonight’s effort was good enough. As I blogged yesterday, the decision isn’t just Bergesen or Chris Tillman. The Orioles have given thought to using long man Mark Hendrickson or even Jason Berken. (Although Berken has done so well it’d be hard to justify moving him out of the ‘pen, even if it is just a spot start.)

Monday is an off day so they could feasibly let Bergesen get another outing in Norfolk and go with a four-man rotation next week, following Saturday’s spot start.

Either way, there could be some changes coming this week to the roster. If Tillman doesn’t get Saturday’s start, he will likely be optioned back to Norfolk since the organization has made it clear they won’t let him just sit in the bullpen. If Bergesen earns the spot they could call up a reliever or a position player to have for the next few days before making the starter move official. 

Another thing to watch for is the Orioles interest in Jake Fox, which could cost Garrett Atkins his roster spot.

In unrelated, but positive news, Felix Pie’s first day on rehab in the Gulf Coast League went off without a hitch. He could be back at the end of the homestand, which, of course, would cause some more shuffling.

Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold is starting to heat up in Norfolk with a five-game hitting streak entering Tuesday. Since going 0-for-3 on June 15, he is 9-for-20 with two doubles and three RBIs.   

Orioles off, but Bergy will pitch

The Orioles will watch Brad Bergesen’s outing in Triple-A Norfolk very closely on Monday, as a solid performance will most likely result in Bergesen making Saturday’s start against the Nationals. To clarify on a few emails I got, Stephen Stasburg will not pitch in that series against the Os this weekend.

It’s likely Chris Tillman won’t either, but it’s still an option. If the O’s elect to go with Bergesen there will likely be a roster move on Tuesday. since they don’t want Tillman sitting in the ‘pen. They will want to get him a start at Norfolk and perhaps call up an extra arm for a few days before naming Saturday’s starer.

I know Mark Hendrickson was a possibility for Saturday’s start, but he hasn’t looked that great in his last few outings. Jason Berken has done so well in the ‘pen, I’d have to think they’d be hesitant to call on him for a spot start.

Stay tuned.

50 losses

With Sunday’s loss, the Orioles have a Major League-worst 50 losses and are the only team in baseball without at least 25 wins.

Last season, it took them 90 games to lose their 50th contest, which came on July 18. In ’08 it took them 98 games –until July 21 — to hit that mark.

This year’s Orioles are right on pace with the ’62 Mets, who dropped to 19-50 and went on to lose 120 games that season. Yes, that’s right. The Orioles aren’t just bad. They could be historically bad.

Orioles Odds and Ends…

A few notes from the press box at Petco Park…

*Brandon Waring hit a walk off homer earlier this afternoon to give Bowie a 5-4 win in 11 innings.

*Triple-A Norfolk’s Brandon Snyder was placed on the disabled list Saturday, retroactive to June 18, with a right shoulder strain. Snyder is considered one of the Orioles top position prospects and was batting .255 in 64 games.

*Nolan Reimold went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in last night’s game and has put up three straight multi-hit games for Norfolk heading into Sunday. He is hitting .313 over his last 10 Triple-A games.

*As first reported by the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles do have interest in Jake Fox, who the As DFA’ed last week. Oakland has 10 days to trade Fox, release him or hope he clears waivers. Given that the last-place Os have interest and their pick of the waiver wire, a deal could be made before Thursday- which is the 10-day deadline.

*Matt Wieters snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a bases-clearing double in the first inning. It was his first three-RBI game since May 1 against Boston, when he homered.

*The Delmarva Shorebirds saw a six-game winning streak snapped with a 6-3 loss to Lexington. They finished the first half with a 32-38 record.