Wednesday, March 21, 2007

O's over Cards 4-1 and Other Related Things

If a baseball game is played in Florida, and no one can see or hear it, did it happen?

The answer of course is yes, even if details are sketchy the Orioles DID in fact play a game today against defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and the good guys won 4-1 today. Adam Loewen started today, went 5 innings of 4 hit shut-out ball with 5 Ks and 2 walks. The offensive heroes today Included Aubrey Huff with a 3-4 day with an RBI double and PAUL BAKO, that's right PAUL BAKO! Bako had an RBI double raising his batting average this spring to a robust .385! Well slap my butt and call me Sally if that ain't a surprise.

I have actually heard people say they wish Bako would have played terrible so he wouldn't make the team. You know what would be MUCH better than that little scenario? Him keeping this pace up and having a productive season at bat as well as behind the plate. Face it guys, Bako has earned the back-up catcher role with his play. House is not a catcher, he does not have the arm or defensive abilities of Bako who, from all reports, calls a very good game. He has earned the spot so lets get off his back already.

Another Oriole that many have sent out to pasture is Melvin Mora. Its funny how one bad summer can make all those chants of "PAY THE MAN" fade away. But he is not having a bad spring either. Mora is batting a solid .297 in the two hole so far and is among the team leaders in RBIs. I think it is safe to say that if he can translate that into the regular season we would be very happy with Melvin this year.

Still though the Orioles offense has been something of a concern this spring. Before today the birds have scored the second fewest runs with 74 ahead of, you guessed it, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But I think it is same to say that the Orioles will be at very least an average offensive squad this year. but will that be enough to compete in the AL East? I don't know.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we will go as far as Cabrera and Loewen take us. And they have looked fairly solid so far this spring, so indications are they have the potential to take us a long way.

Speaking of that, recently Baseball Prospectus came out with their PECOTA rankings of the various divisions. They have the Orioles coming in LAST place, that's right behind the Devil Rays, with the offense only scoring less than 750 runs this year. Now many people that are way better at math than I swear by the unholy alliance of baseball and calculus that is sabermetrics. But being a student, and teacher, of the humanities I take a more anecdotal approach to it. PECOTA has almost every starter in the Orioles lineup declining and Markakis remaining stagnant. To me this is another example of numbers not telling the whole story. Take Roberts for example. When PECOTA looks at Roberts, they don't see his injury. It only sees numbers; it sees a guy who never really performed, then had one huge year, then a bad year. So for 07 it sees a consistent decline and reason to think Roberts will be worse. The soulless PECOTA algorithm doesn't know that Brian's right arm was basically ripped out of it's socket at the end of that gut-wrenching 05 season and that he was lucky to even be PLAYING in 06. Even with my skepticism PECOTA has the damndable ability to be pretty accurate most of the time, but I sincerely believe that this is one time where the numbers will be proven wrong.

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