Results tagged ‘ Kevin Millwood ’

Welcome to the Offseason

The San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions. I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet. Anyways, as soon as the last pitch was recorded 142 players filed for free agency. Here are the Orioles names, including Mark Hendrickson who has a club option that will be declined.

Of the names, Cesar Izturis and Ty Wigginton have the best chance of coming back although that depends on where the O’s find that big power bat. Even so, the team is not expected to sign any of their free agents in the newly-shortened five-day window. That means come Sunday the free agent market will really get going with other clubs allowed to negotiate. Here are the former Orioles who will hit the market…..

Cesar Izturis, SS
Julio Lugo, 2B BA
Kevin Millwood, SP
Corey Patterson OF
Koji Uehara  RP
Ty Wigginton, INF

Mark Hendrickson, RP

First and foremost the Orioles need a power bat, preferably one who plays a corner infield spot. Here are the 2011 first base free agents, with their age, according to the wonderful website MLB Trade Rumors:

Garrett Atkins (31)
Lance Berkman (35) – Type B
Russell Branyan (35) – $5MM mutual option
Jorge Cantu (29)
Adam Dunn (31) – Type A
Troy Glaus (34)
Eric Hinske (33)
Aubrey Huff (34) – Type B
Nick Johnson (32)
Paul Konerko (35) – Type A
Mark Kotsay (35)
Adam LaRoche (31) – $7.5MM mutual option with a $1.5MM buyout -Type B
Derrek Lee (35) – Type A
Melvin Mora (39)
Xavier Nady (32)
Lyle Overbay (34)
Carlos Pena (33) – Type B
Robb Quinlan (34)
Fernando Tatis (36)
Mike Sweeney (37)

*First and foremost, not a lot of power jumps off on this list. It’s not the Orioles only option (we’ll spend time looking at third base and shortstop options as well), but it’s a pretty uninspiring group given that the O’s want a middle-of-the-order bat. Do you take a gamble of Pena, who had a career-low year and struggled to bat .200? I’ve been told that Adam Dunn has no interest in coming here –he also prefers to play the field–, and according to ESPNChicago.com, the Diamondbacks will make signing Konerko an “offseason priority”. Huff was dealt away once, I’d be shocked if president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail made a serious effort to bring him back.  Berkman and Johnson struggled with injuries and declining numbers.
 
*Wigginton is also on this list, but resigning him hardly feels like a free agent acquisition so I took him off. He’s always an option, especially given that manager Buck Showalter loves hard-nosed players like Wiggy. 

*You can also note the line through Garrett Atkins’ name. No, he’s not retiring, but the Orioles definitely won’t gamble on him again. Look for Atkins who said he is open to signing a Minor League deal, to go back to the National League and hope to revive his career much like a Pat Burrell case.

*This blog is by no means meant to be exhaustive, just thought I’d get the Hot Stove talk started. I’m working on an inbox for later this week, so feel free to send your Orioles offseason questions my way. The Orioles Free Agent preview will be up later on the site and should help get the discussions going. Should be an interesting winter…

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More Millwood

In what is likely Kevin Millwood’s final start in an Orioles uniform, he turned in one of his best outings of the season, holding the Rays to two hits over seven scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 2-0 series win.

Brought to Baltimore in an offseason trade with Texas, Millwood was always professional and upbeat despite turning the worst statistical season of his career. You could tell it was important to him, manager Buck Showalter –who he has been friends with since his Rangers days — and the rest of the team to send off Millwood with a win.

“I don’t think I’ve ever pulled for anybody in my life as much as I did [Millwod] in that seventh inning with [BJ} Upton at the plate,” said pitching coach Rick Kranitz. “He really deserved that. He gave everything he had. He emptied his tank right there. He threw the ball extremely well tonight. He mixed speeds well, he was down. It was a good win for him and for the club.”

“I really feel good for Kevin. He’s had his challenges this year,” Showalter said of Millwood’s career-high and American League-leading 16 losses. “That was the right way to end it. Very quietly, this guy pitched 190-plus innings this year.”

“He’s proud from the standpoint where he doesn’t have to [have outings like Wednesday] for people to have respect for him in the game and in this clubhouse,” Showaler added. “You see the way he has handled adversity individually and from a group standpoint. That’s probably the baseball Gods shining on him at the end of the season, I think. Like I said earlier this guy threw 190 innings this year and about two weeks ago I thought he had a pretty good shot of getting his ERA under 5. He got pretty close tonight [with a 5.10].

“[He was] the same guy every day regardless of what’s happening. There’s a lot of stuff going on inside for a guy to do what he’s done through the course of his career. I hope the rest of his career treats him as well as he’s treated the game.”

Millwood has maintained that he would like to pitch again next year if someone wants him. The 35-year-old had an rocky year, but he still can get by on guts and gumption, putting together seven quality starts in his last 10 outings.

“He had us off balance,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We just had bad swings at him. I looked at the quality of the swing and the quality of the at-bat, a lot of off-speed pitches. Change-ups, sliders, back-door breaking balls. You know this guy doesn’t have the same stuff he used to have but he’s got the same mind. He knows how to pitch. And he out pitched us. He out-thought us, he out performed us tonight. He was very good.”

A free agent this offseason, Millwood would prefer to go somewhere where he has a chance to win and play in October. Whether he would accept a Minor League deal somewhere remains to be seen.

 

More pregame notes

*The Orioles have not received Dr. Lewis Yocum’s opinion on Jake Arrieta’s bone spur, so right now the surgical procedure remains on hold. As a quick recap, Arrieta has a spur in his right elbow area that he’s hesitant to remove given that he hasn’t been bothered by it in the past.The O’s have taken the approach that they’d rather be safe and get the procedure done, instead of worrying about it down the road. Yocum is providing a second opinion on Arrieta’s MRI.
*Kevin Millwood will make his final start Wednesday with Thursday and Friday’s starters up in the air. One of those will be Jeremy Guthrie but if the O’s tab Chris Tillman to start, they will give him Thursday. If they go Rick VandenHurk, he will go Friday and Guthrie will go Thursday since VandenHurk pitched on Sunday in Toronto. Tillman will not pitch out of the bullpen if the Os elect to give VandenHurk another start.
*Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen will be the last two games, with Bergesen finishing up the season.
*Jim Johnson is not campaigning to start. He was asked if he liked starting better than relieving, which is a fairly obvious answer for most pitchers. Who wouldn’t like to get four days off and pitch one day? But he is not going to approach manager Buck Showalter about wanting to start. It’s also important to keep in mind Johnson has elbow issues and was available to avoid surgery with rehab. Having him serve as a bridge in the bullpen instead of a starter throwing over 100 pitches an outing, is probably best for the O’s – and JJ – long term.

Orioles/Red Sox lineups and pregame tidbits

*Jake Arrieta may avoid surgery after all.

*Julio Lugo has been cleared to return to baseball activities
and will rejoin the team for Tuesday’s game in Boston. He was given the green light today after being examined in Baltimore.

*Kevin Millwood will start Wednesday’s game with Jeremy
Guthrie tentatively scheduled for Friday’s opener in Toronto. That would leave
Rick VandenHurk as the likely choice for Saturday’s game with Chris Tillman
moving back to Sunday. But nothing is final for the Blue Jays series.


ORIOLES LINEUP:

Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Cesar Izturis SS
Josh Bell 3B

LHP Brian Matusz

RED SOX LINEUP:
Marco Scutaro 2B
Darnell Mcdonald RF
Victor Martinez 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Mike Lowell DH
Jed Lowrie SS
Bill Hall LF
Jason Varitek C
 Ryan Kalish CF

RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Millwood on the fireworks

Orioles starter Kevin Millwood was not a fan of the premature firework that went off after he allowed a leadoff homer to Alex Rodriguez in the second-inning of Friday’s 4-3 loss. The usually reserved Millwood had no problems airing his opinion, twice, post-game.

“It was a little shocking that we shot off fireworks for an opposing team’s home run. That wasn’t the best thing in the world,” he said. 

“{The Yankees] were a lot more aggressive tonight than they normally are,” said Millwood, who held New York to one run over seven innings and took a no-decision. “I guess it was a good thing that  I was throwing my fastball where I wanted to for the most part except for right before the fireworks.

Second Guessing

The Orioles gave the Yankees their third win in 11 games -two of which have come from closer Koji Uehara’s arm – and the O’s clubhouse afterward were left wondering what might have been, questioning the pitch that came prior to Alex Rodriguez’s homer.

“The pitch before the home run, the fastball inside, I didn’t get that call,” Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang of his 1-2 offering, which home plate umpire Ted Barrett ruled a ball. “[I'm] a little disappointed.”

Said A-Rod: “I didn’t think it was close. I thought it was a good no-call.

“From where I was looking, I could see  [the Orioles] whole dugout. And their whole dugout literally jumped like out of the dugout hoping or expecting that to be strike three. So they laughed at me and I laughed at them a little. It was over the white line. I thought the first pitch was borderline, and he called it a strike. Every pitch after I thought was worse than that.”

Manager Buck Showalter was in agreement with Koji and said the pitch “was close. It was obviously a better pitch than strike one to [Matt] Wieters [in the ninth inning],”said Showalter. “I’ll tell you that.”

“It was a good pitch,” Orioles starter Kevin Millwood said of Uehara’s 1-2 offering.”I mean, it was a ball. But it was a good pitch. You can’t fault the umpire for calling a ball a ball.”

“Well I can’t change the results,” said Uehara, who declined to talk about if the non-call affected him.

“It’s not that I’m going to die from it. So just start all over tomorrow.”

Os Reax to Showalter hiring

With the news that Buck Showalter has been named the Orioles manager, here are some reactions from inside the clubhouse today.

KEVIN MILLWOOD (who played under Showalter in Texas and remains in close contact with him)

[on his reaction to the hiring] “It’s going to take a lot more than a manager to get a team going in the right direction. I think Buck’s going to do a good job for us, he’s done a good job every where he’s been. It’s just going to be coming down to the simple point of guys buying into what he preaches.”
 
[on Showalter's no nonsense approach] “I think cutting back on some nonsense wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe just new blood around here, maybe that will help. Obviously, something needs to change and I think  [interim manager Juan Samuel] did a good job, but sometimes you got to take someone from the outside coming in to really make the kind of change that they need.”

It will definitely be nice to know who is going to be here for however long, and not worried about whether he’s getting fired at the end of the season and in the offseason. This season you are going to end up with him and you are going to go into Spring Training with him and probably have him for a while after that. So, a little stability goes a long way.”

MATT WIETERS

[on his initial reaction to the hiring of Showalter] “We’ve been hearing about it a lot over the last month or so we were certainly aware that the situation might happen. It’s something that it doesn’t really matter who the manager is, the players are going to have to play better and we’re all going to have to pull together and play better as a team. Maybe this will give us a more continuous face at the head.

I’ve loved both managers [Dave Trembley and Samuel] that I’ve had since I’ve been here, but now that I know that this guy is going to probably be here for a while. I never met the guy so I’m definitely going to be coming in with eyes wide open and see what he’s all about. It will be good that you’ll have a manager that’s probably going to be here for a long time.”

[on what he's heard about Showalter]: “He goes into places and he commands respect and he’s going to sort of preach his ways and the places that he’s been, he’s been able to turn around some teams and be successful. Everybody in this clubhouse wants to turn things around.”

BRIAN ROBERTS

[on his reaction] “First and foremost, you feel bad for the guys that came before him. I think we still feel bad for Dave and Juan’s done a great job filling in. I think always, the guys that have been around for a while, and the ones that have been here, you hope that they have a chance. We know now that it’s going to be Buck. I’ve heard good things. I heard he’s very prepared and certainly his reputation over the years is very good. He’s managed winning teams. Hopefully, it will be something good for us.”

[on Buck bringing some changes to the organization] “I’m sure he’s going to change some things. I think every manager is a little bit different. I don’t know how much can be changed. I don’t think any of us really know that at this point. I guess Millwood could give us a little bit of an idea of what’s coming. I think it’s just going to be something that we’re going to have to experience and see where he takes us.

[on finally knowing what's going to happen] “Direction, I think stability is always a good thing. I don’t think any organization, any company wants to be in an unstable place. Hopefully, this will bring some stability and hopefully this will be something that will be a lasting decision, and it will maybe go even beyond that. I think it’s a good starting point. When he gets here on Tuesday, we’ll see where we’re at.”

NICK MARKAKIS

“With the situation we are in, it is nice to know that we are going to have a permanent solution as far as the manager goes. It’s been tough, Juan’s been doing a good job, but the organization feels that we needed to have a long-term manager. And I think for the team and the organization it’s the right decision.”

[on what he knows about Showalter] “Nothing, never met him.  You hear what you hear but you don’t know what you are going to get until he talks to us, Tuesday. And we will go from there.”

JEREMY GUTHRIE

“I really don’t know anything about Buck other than I’ve heard a few players say they enjoyed playing for him. He expects a lot of his players, pays attention to details. That’s about the extent I’ve heard of him as a manager. I’m eager to see his knowledge of the game, just watching baseball tonight and ESPN programs. He has a tremendous track record, it’s probably one of the things that was most appealing to us in our situation is a guy who has been there and had a ton of success in his career.”

[on possible changes coming with Showalter as manager] “Yes I think he’s definitely here to change things. It makes sense for them to bring in fresh perspective, bring in a different attitude, someone who hasn’t necessarily been part of the orioles but has seen what we have gone through the past years. And try that approach. In the four years I’ve been here that’s an approach we haven’t taken yet. I can’t speak for [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] but I’m sure that’s part of what went into the decision making to bring Buck on board.”

[on finally having a long-term manager in place] “It will certainly provide stability and give us a foundation to start building off. As it is it feels like maybe we’ve been building kind of on a temporary foundation. But now Buck will arrive next week and he will begin his project of getting this team back where it should be.”

It starts with the starters

Orioles rookie Jake Arrieta became the latest promising young arm to labor through an ineffective and entirely too short start on Sunday, a one-time anomaly that has become a cause for increasing concern.

During the 65-minute rain delay, I got a little bored and was combing through stats and compiling numbers and sharing them with my fellow reporters. Here are a few stats that stand out.

*Excluding Jeremy Guthrie -who has posted two quality starts on the homestand – the Orioles starters have worked just 36 1/3 innings over eight games, allowing 41 earned runs on 54  hits for a 10.10 ERA.

*The starting staff has pitched  a combined 50 innings on the homestand, just six more than the bullpen, and only the 4-10 Guthrie has an ERA under 5 at this point of the season.

*This is why I have a hard time pinning the blame of guys like Jason Berken, Mark Hendrickson and Matt Albers - they are all in the top 8 in the American League as far as innings pitched out of the bullpen. When speaking to pitching coach Rick Kranitz the other day, I asked him if it was a concern that these guys were being used so much, in particular Berken and David Hernandez. Kranitz said they would try to start limiting those guys, but honestly when your starters are averaging 5 innings a game, it’s impossible to do that.

*Here are the ERAs for each starter in the second half. The O’s just wrapped a 2-8 homestand so each starter has had two outings, except for Kevin Millwood who came off the DL to replace Chris Tillman.

Jeremy Guthrie (1-0):
13 2/3 IP, 13 H, 3 ER, 1.98 ERA
Brian Matusz (0-2): 6 2/3 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 12.15 ERA
Brad Bergesen (0-2): 11 1/3 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 7.15 ERA
Jake Arrieta (0-1): 9 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 ER, 9.64
Kevin Millwood (0-1) (one start): 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 5.77

*Including Tillman’s loss on Monday, the starters are 1-7 to start the second-half and continue to rank last in the Majors in total staff wins with 17. Yes, they should have more wins but they have posted a AL-low 42 quality starts in 98 games, so they aren’t helping their cause quite as often as other teams.

*And to continue to “beat a dead horse” as Samuel put it when asked about the team’s woeful productive hitting here’s a final stat for you. The Orioles two hits with runners in scoring position in the ninth inning on Sunday matched their total for the entire four-game set against the Twins

*In their two wins this homestand, they went 6-for-19 (.316) with RISP. In their 8 losses they were 8-for-69 (.116).

Orioles roster mania

BALTIMORE– The expected flurry of Orioles roster moves this week continued on Tuesday, with the news that right-hander Chris Tillman had been taken out of the rotation and optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk for the second time this season.

Interim Orioles manager Juan Samuel also confirmed that veteran Kevin Millwood will be activated from the 15-day disabled list (right forearm strain) and start Thursday’s game with the rest of the O’s rotation sliding back a day.

Baltimore is expecting to activate closer Michael Gonzalez -either following Wednesday’s game or early on Thursday – and the O’s could also add another arm prior to Wednesday’s game to take the spot vacated by Tillman. Matt Wieters (strained right hamstring) is expected to slide right into the lineup on Sunday, and Brian Roberts, who started a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Monday, could also be activated in the next few days, although the team is leaning toward having Roberts wait. Rookie infielder Josh Bell is expected to be a roster casualty and the team will have to make a few more to clear space.

Although the Orioles roster is in upheaval, president of baseball operations MacPhail said there is “nothing that would indicate” a trade in the next several days, to help free up some space. Beyond that, the Orioles are always discussing possibilities around this time of the year, particularly with veterans like Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada.

“We’re still trying to make the decision which way we’re going to go, whether it’s going to be a pitcher or a position player when all these guys come back,” Samuel said of the roster juggling. “I think Andy has got his hands full trying to figure out which way we’re going to go.”

With Roberts, he could possibly begin next week’s road series with the Orioles, but given his injury, a herniated disc in his lower back, Roberts would have to be used sparingly on Toronto’s artificial turf.

While MacPhail acknowledged that “Brian’s rather keen on getting it going,” the organization will reevaluate him on Thursday, when he takes a day off of rehab. Having Roberts play at the Rogers Centre surface -which is similar to the three straight games he started in Tampa Bay prior to reinjuring himself on the Orioles home opener – is hardly ideal and it could push him back another series.

“For me, the ideal place for [Roberts] is Kansas City,” Samuel said. “We have to be smart. We do not want to see him have a major setback. I’m sure he’s going to push his way into playing in Toronto, so we have to be smart with this.”

The Orioles also had to weigh the possibilities concerning sending Tillman back to Norfolk, in what is becoming a yo-yo year for the young righty. With Samuel and MacPhail both against a six-man rotation, Tillman -who allowed eight runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings in Monday’s loss – proved to be the odd man. The 22-year-old has struggled to find consistency at the Major League level -nearly pitching a no-hitter in his previous start at Texas-but given that he wasn’t going to throw again for five days, it was an easy choice to make room in the rotation. 

Millwood has been on the disabled list since July 6 with a strained right forearm and has seen a strong-first half collapse into a 10.20 ERA over his previous seven starts. Samuel said he was confident Millwood could return to his early-season form, and Millwood has attested since the All-Star break that his arm has felt much better.
 
The Orioles are equally optimistic about Gonzalez, who was placed on the 60-day DL (left shoulder strain) and used his full rehab assignment, which expires on Wednesday.

While Gonzalez has struggled in the Minor Leagues, Samuel thinks his concentration and focus will help improve his location -and results -when he rejoins the O’s.  Signed to a two-year deal this offseason to close games, Gonzalez appeared in just three games -including two blown saves – before landing on the DL and will be eased back into the later innings.

Orioles/Blue Jays lineups and pregame tidbits

*Josh Bell is in the starting lineup today in what will likely be his last game for the O’s. Luke Scott is expected to be activated tomorrow, and Bell is the obvious choice to go in his place.

*Corey Patterson was a late scratch from today’s game with a bruised left heel suffered while trying to beat out a bunt in the fourth inning. Felix Pie is playing instead and Patterson said it won’t be more than a day or two, max. The team may do an X-ray later today on his heel just to make sure.

*Matt Wieters (right hamstring strain) is feeling much better and said that he will be ready to come off the DL as soon as he is eligible. Wieters spent the All-Star break coming in for treatment every morning and is now just getting back into running and other baseball-related activities to test his hammy.

*Kevin Millwood is looking like he will be ready when eligible off the DL as well. Millwood has thrown a side and a bullpen with no pain and pitching coach Rick Kranitz said the team would evaluate Millwood following Sunday’s ‘pen. Millwood can come off the shelf on Wednesday and interim manager Juan Samuel said the team has not talked about going to a six-man rotation. It’s not looking like a favorable option because Samuel doesn’t like to keep “backing guys up”, so someone will have to go. Brad Bergesen is Wednesday’s starter.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Felix Pie LF
Miguel Tejada DH
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Adam Jones CF
Jake Fox C
Scott Moore 2B
Josh Bell 3B
Cesar Izturis SS

Brian Matusz LHP

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