More roster moves

Jo-Jo Reyes is expected to join the team today and will likely take the roster spot of Troy Patton, who is expected to leave the team to tend to a court hearing stemming from a drunken driving arrest in Texas this winter.

It makes sense for Reyes –a lefty who will go into the bullpen — to take the spot of another lefty reliever in Patton (who would be optioned to Triple-A). The Orioles will almost certainly put Jake Arrieta on the disabled list (which can be backdated to his start on Sunday) and use that injury scenario to call up basically whoever they want. You don’t have to wait the minimum of 10 days to call someone back if it’s an injury situation.

Chris Tillman, who threw Saturday afternoon before being optioned,  is a candidate to make that start. The Orioles were impressed with the 23-year-old Tillman’s improved velocity and first two innings. He’ll need to continue to work on keeping it together. Brad Bergesen is another option, and Zach Phillips (who was acquired in a minor trade for Nick Green earlier this year) is another name that’s been floated around.

Arrieta wasn’t terribly upset about yesterday’s news that he’s probably done for the season, which –to me — means the issue has been bothering him more than he let on. Should he have gotten it done last year? Probably. But he said yesterday he didn’t have pain in the area last season and he didn’t have such a dropoff in terms of command and velocity either. The concern when operating on the elbow area is whether the mass being removed will give him more flexibility and lead to overextention and problems down the road, (read: Tommy John).

Arrieta did his best to explain what’s going on with the bone spur, which is being called a “fibrous mass” because it’s softer than a spur.

“On a more simplistic level, it’s a pretty good size mass of bone in my elbow and every time the joint tries to close, that bone just jams,” said Arrieta, who did his best to illustrate it. “So trying to throw 95, 96 miles an hour makes it very difficult.”

“It’s not in a typical spot where most guys have their bone spur, [it's higher up],” Arrieta said of the mass. “[Surgery would be] a lot less risk with where mine’s at and I feel pretty good about it. I know that if I do have it done, I’m going to have a normal offseason, normal throwing program, normal workout schedule and be back in Spring Training ready to toe the rubber just like I was this year.”

Right now, he plans on staying with the team for the rest of the road trip, which ends Thursday night.

*Thought about this last night in the press box and talked about it with my lone traveling companion on the road, the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly, who has tolerated me quite well in these hectic last few days.  Remember this spring’s projected rotation? It went like this:

Jeremy Guthrie, Justin Duchscherer, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, who snuck in for the final spot over Brad Bergesen (who made the team as a longman/swingman).

We all know what happened to that. Duchscherer never left spring training, Matusz got hurt before making a start (and is now in Triple-A) and Zach Britton was recalled.  Britton and Bergesen have both spent  time in the Minors this season with Matusz and Tillman in Triple-A right now.  Arrieta is probably done for the season. Even Guthrie has missed a start (he was hospitalized with pneumonia), although he was able to stay pretty much on track after dealing with a back issue in Toronto.

I don’t know the stats, but I’d love to know when the last time a team had not one member of their projected rotation make every start, with four of those five names currently not available to throw (Arrieta), in the Minors (Matusz/Tillman) or released (Duchscherer.)

This is where the team’s lack of depth –which has haunted them for years — has come to the forefront.

This is why they had to trade for Tommy Hunter, and why they claimed Reyes off waivers. It’s why the Orioles will take an extended look at Alfredo Simon and see what they have in reliever Jim Johnson as a starting pitcher. I don’t know who they use as a setup man, but if your starters aren’t giving you a chance to win, what’s to set up? This is where the injury to top pitching prospect Dan Klein (who has a torn labrum and is probably done for the season) really hurts. Had Klein, the former closer for UCLA, been healthy he’d undoubtedly be in the bullpen. Heck, Johnson would probably already be in the rotation.

This is also why the Orioles didn’t pull the trigger and trade Guthrie at the deadline. They need pitching back, and if they don’t get a nice little haul (which apparently they didn’t), they  will continue to use him as a stabilizing force. They’ll continue to listen to offer and try to dangle him this winter, where there will be more suitors and a free-agent pitching class that is shaping up to be pretty underwhelming.

I’ve been asked a bunch of times if Reyes will get a look as a starter. My gut tells me yes, and it will be sooner rather than later. The opportunity is wide open for the Orioles right now and they are struggling to find arms (other than Simon) to step up and take it.

*Finally, I’ll close this with some positive news from Double-A Bowie where infielder L.J. Hoes –who has actually been playing mostly left field since being promoted earlier this season — has been a monster at the plate.

Hoes, who was named Eastern League Player of the Week last week, hit two three-run home runs to lead the Baysox to a doubleheader sweep of the Portland Sea Dogs at home Tuesday evening. He led the team with three RBIs and two hits and has hit six home runs in the past nine games.

“I have kept the same swing, but I have changed my approach,” Hoes said in a press release. “I’m trying to drive more balls and trying to hit the ball out in front instead of letting it get deep like I used to. Instead of trying to hit balls down the right field line, I’m trying to drive balls and drive guys in.”

1 Comment

Good info, thanks Britt. I feel sorry for Buck and the everyday major league position players like Jones and Markakis that could be part of something special if it weren’t essentially for a staff full of minor leaguers. It’s a long way from Palmer, McNally, Dobson, and Cuellar.

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