The Sun and Jeff Zrebiec had this idea, and they did it with a photo gallery and tiny, barely-viewable short comments about all the pitchers. I liked the idea so much that I'm stealing it and hoping to add a little more in terms of commentary. What can I say? I like to talk.
Matt Albers, RH
Albers put up a 3.49 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 49 innings for the O's last season before coming up injured (like fellow former Astro Troy Patton) and deciding to forgo surgery in favor of rehabbing, which often leads to...surgery. But he wasn't a blue chip guy to begin with. His three starts were tolerable last season but he looked better out of the bullpen, which is where he probably projects long-term. Likely not a real factor in 2009, but here's hoping we see Fat Albers back on the field at some point.
If you want to be a super sleuth and dig around the site, you'll be able to find out I was jacked, geeked, psyched and pumped when the O's opened up their wallets to sign Arrieta as a fifth round draft pick out of TCU. Arrieta and Wieters in the same class? Zwaaa!
In fact, I might be one of Arrieta's biggest fans. His W-L record means nothing and isn't impressive (6-5 at Frederick), but he was outstanding in his first pro season, posting a 2.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 9.56 K/9 rate for the Keys. I currently rate Arrieta as our third-best prospect behind Wieters and Tillman, but readily admit Matusz should probably be No. 2 or at least No. 3.
Still, we're talking about three guys that could be long-term parts of the rotation relatively soon. Arrieta has college polish, as does Matusz, and Tillman is rocketing through the minors. Dude still can't drink legally.
I don't want to get all Four Aces or Generation K about it (since those didn't turn out so hot), but man...MAN!
(And because you have to have it.)
More important than all the good numbers and promise re: Arrieta is the fact that Stacey thinks he's hot.
Danys Baez, RH
Let's cut the crap: Danys Baez was a rotten signing when the Orioles got him and he's turned out even worse than you could have imagined. 2007 was a disaster, and in 2008 he did the fans a favor and didn't pitch. That might sound mean, and it's not like I want him to be injured, but in the long run I probably lost less hair for it, so thanks, Danys. Talks of him starting have gone by the wayside. I really don't think we're going to see much at all of Baez this season. If he stinks, they're just going to get rid of him.
Brian Bass, RH
One of a million dudes who might win a rotation spot. Bass, now 27, has been in pro ball since 2000. He made it to The Show in 2008 with the Twins, appearing as a reliever on 44 occasions, and then was traded to the O's where he started four games because that was the state of the '08 Orioles. "Got an arm?" "Like, a good one?" "No, just an arm! We need it!" Bass' career minor league ERA is 4.32 and he doesn't strike anyone out. He does have good control, so that's something. At least he'll throw strikes.
Brad Bergesen, RH
Bergesen's '08 cracked a lot of O's prospect lists, including ours at No. 14. He went 15-6 with a 3.22/1.15 line at Bowie. He lives on a ridiculously fine line, though, with his 4.38 K/9. He has to kind of be perfect. In a perfect world he could be our Justin Duchscherer.
Alberto Castillo, LH
Strengths: Throws with left hand. Once a third round draft choice of the Giants.
Weaknesses: That draft was in 1994. Castillo's career:
June 2, 1994: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 3rd round of the 1994 amateur draft.
November 11, 1997: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Chris Singleton to the New York Yankees for Charlie Hayes and cash.
January 26, 1999: Released by the New York Yankees.
February 16, 1999: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago White Sox.
March 28, 1999: Released by the Chicago White Sox.
February 29, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres.
March 31, 2000: Released by the San Diego Padres.
December 17, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
January 7, 2002: Released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
January 15, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the St. Louis Cardinals.
March 30, 2003: Released by the St. Louis Cardinals.
January 28, 2008: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
So, y'know. He's "32," which in Cuban years could mean he's 41, and it took him almost 15 years to reach the majors. His ERA (3.81) is a mirage. If they're relying on him, bad things gon' happen. They likely are not.
Scott Chiasson, RH
Chiasson is 31 now, a Connecticut native that played college ball at Eastern Connecticut State, whatever in the hell that is. Being from a large state, I can't imagine really considering the road trip that takes one from "eastern" Connecticut to "western" Connecticut. Eastern to western Michigan is a three and a half hour trip by interstate.
Chiasson is one of a million former Cubs from the MacPhail era that has managed a way into the O's system. He was originally drafted by the Royals in 1998, then traded to the A's as a PTBNL for Jay Witasick (former Oriole, sort of). The Cubs nabbed him in the Rule 5 draft in December 2000 and he got cups of coffee in '01 and '02. He's just a body.
Fredy Deza, RH
6'2" and stick-thin. The Sun lists his 2.25 ERA at Norfolk, which came over a grand eight innings of work. He turned 26 in December and has been pitching Orioles A-ball forever. They seem to have officially given up on him as a starter the last few years.
Jeremy Guthrie, RH
He's the ace. He's not the world's best ace, but he's our ace, damn it. Truthfully, the world will be awesome if Guthrie is the fourth starter in 2010 or 2011. I say that with all love for Guts. When I did the Hardball Times preview, I noted that Guthrie is a guy who's always going to be projected to tail off from numbers like he's put up the last two years, and I really believe he's got more of the last two years in him, and that it's not really a fluke. He's just a good, solid pitcher.
During the NBA All-Star Weekend, I watched the three-point contest, which was horrendous because Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller are like having Tim McCarver and Thom Brennaman in the same booth. When Danny Granger was up, Kenny must have said "he's a scorer not a shooter" 17 times. Guthrie's a pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower. A pitcher not a thrower.
Kenny later predicted that none of the three remaining guys in the tournament could win.
Mark Hendrickson, LH
Hendo hasn't even thrown a pitch as a Baltimore Oriole and he's been ripped here plenty. Not by me -- I'm all for letting him stink first. And he will stink. Speaking of basketball, this dude's a failed basketball player. He's 6'9" and can't strike anyone out. The good news is he also doesn't walk many guys and does have minor value as a swingman. The bad news is he's 35 and was horrible last season in Florida.
Once, long ago, Hennessey was a Giants prospect. He's now a failed Giants prospect on board with the Orioles, and he'll be starting the first game of the spring against the Mets. That happens TODAY! WOO!
Hennessey is a Toledo native that attended Youngstown State (the penguin school where that damned Jim Tressel coached before he took over at Vomit State).
He was pretty effective in 2007 as a fill-in closer for the Giants, saving 19 games and putting up a 3.42 ERA. But the fact is the Giants lost all faith in him a while ago. At 29, time's a-wastin' and it's either on the train or off. The Orioles are going to give him a shot, and they have no reason to not. It's a noble move. Former prospect, has shown he can pitch in the majors (if briefly), and still young enough to wring some good years. If he doesn't make it, big whoop. If he does, he could be Guthrie Part II, a super cheap pickup that flamed out elsewhere and latched on here. No harm no foul either way.
David Hernandez, RH
Now univerally considered one of our ten best prospects, and yet still sort of a sleeper guy thanks to his surroundings in the arms department. Common sense says that eventually bats catch up to his fastball-slider combo since he's not Randy Johnson or anything, and that a relief role may best suit him. I mean, that's said basically all the time, but it bears repeating just because it's true. It's logic. It's hard to get by on two pitches as a major league starter. Still, he was excellent at Bowie last season and surpassed expectations.
Rich Hill, LH
MacPhail Salvation Project No. 39. If Rich Hill needed a change of scenery, he's got it. If his physical problems are corrected, there's a LOT of upside. If it's mental, that's a tough game to win. He's wilder than all hell, but now there's almost no pressure on him. I think we as O's fans do deserve credit for patience. It took a long time for most of y'all to start railing on Daniel Cabrera as hard as I did from 2006 on, and he'd damn sure earned it.
I don't think any of us expect the moon of Hill, and I assure him should he happen to ever somehow stumble upon it, we're all rootin' for ya, dude. Welcome to Baltimore. Feel free to get comfortable and relax.
Jim Hoey, RH
Have never been a fan. Knew dudes that looked like Jim Hoey in high school. They were all goobers. Straight-up goobers. That's not really his fault. I shouldn't be mean. Maybe he's not a goober.
He missed all of 2008 with a shoulder surgery, and that hardly helps his case. Even before that there were a lot of issues.
I used to be a massive pro wrestling fan, which we've been over a bunch. I still like the old stuff. I don't remember ever NOT being a pro wrestling fan. I do remember being five years old and begging my grandparents to order WrestleMania III. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that pay-per-view just was not available in our area at the time. On I went with life.
Anyway, signs in the crowd became a big deal in the late 1990s, and one of my favorite signs ever was very simple: "STING YOUR COOL." If I ever went to see Jim Johnson, I'd take a sign that said, "JIM YOUR COOL."
My favorite sign ever, by the way, was "RAY TRAYLOR IS MY FAVORITE PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER." Either that or "I LIKE CURT HENNIG."
Jim is cool. Projections have a hard time taking into account sinkerballers sometimes, plus Jim's track record is short. But he was excellent setting up Sherrill last year and there's really no reason he shouldn't be competing for a rotation spot or the closer's role. I've got nothing against George Sherrill or Chris Ray, but I think I can say that at this moment, I'd be more comfortable with Big Jim in the ninth.
Ryan Keefer, RH
Instead of assessing Keefer's chances, I'll just post the Sun's stock photo of him, because he looks so gosh darn happy:
Radhames Liz, RH
Liz, like the departed Garrett Olson, crashed and burned in a trial by fire last season in the Orioles rotation. Chances are strong he'll be in the Opening Day starting five because the Orioles have put a lot of stock into him over the last few years, and because he went out and took his lumps like a man last year. I've been saying for about three years he looks like a reliever (and not a particularly great one) to me, but there's more value if he starts, and until he proves he absolutely cannot start in the majors, it's better to start him if he's going to pitch at all at this age. Liz has very mild breakout potential in 2009.
Brian Matusz, LH
The Wieters of pitchers. That's grossly overstating Matusz's prospectdom, but I don't care. I'm rolling with it. You got a problem, dude, meet me after class and we'll hash this s**t out. I don't even care. Let's go!
Bob McCrory, RH
Bob McCrory is the goober that hung around with goobers like Jim Hoey in high school. Jim might've started a couple fights, but Bob usually got in there and took it for him and socked someone in the nose. Bob McCrory looks like he enjoys a good PBR on a warm summer's eve. I like Bob McCrory more than I do Jim Hoey, but I still don't want to hang out with them too often, if you know what I'm sayin'.
Kam Mickolio, RH
Mickolio's biggest obstacle is experience. Real experience. Experience in playing baseball. Not a ton of organized baseball in Montana, where he grew up. He's still a baby in this game. I don't think he'll be amazing, but I do think he'll cut out a regular role for himself in the bullpen by July. He has the best heat in the system, and he also looks like the subject of Honey, I Blew Up Nomar Garciaparra:
Jim Miller, RH
Came over in the Roddy Lopez trade with the Rockies. Anything positive he can do is gravy on top of not having Rodrigo Lopez on the team.
Andy Mitchell, RH
Mitchell's been in the O's system since turning pro in 2001, and he's 30 years old now. He started strictly as a relief pitcher, but the last two seasons has gone swingman in Norfolk, where he'll stay as long as he's employed by the Orioles. In an organization with as many horrible staffs as this one has had since he's been around, Andy's never even gotten an inning for the O's despite a career ERA of 3.59 in 650+ minor league innings. That kind of says it all.
John Parrish, LH
I know I'm half-halfassed analyst and half-doofy fan in this thing, but if you believe one thing I'm saying is genuine, believe this: Pass.
Troy Patton, LH
From the guy I'm furious is back to the guy I'm still stoked to see suit up for our Birds. Patton missed all of 2008 with the dreaded fabrum bear, but he's ready to sling this spring, and I like this dude's attitude. He's like the 13-3 football team that just won the conference championship. "No one said we could do dis! They all said we couldn't do dis!" Nah, dude, I think you can do dis. Go do dat.
David Pauley, RH
Pauley's been workmanlike in the systems of both San Diego and Boston since '01, and last year went 14-4 with Pawtucket. He also pitched 12 1/3 innings for the Red Sox and was lit the hell up for 23 hits and 16 earned runs (11.68 ERA). Oops! Pauley has an outside shot at the rotation, but it's more outside than it might seem given his AAA record last year. He's really nothing special at all, but I quite like the Orioles giving him a shot.
True story: I always wanted to name a son Hayden, mostly because of my love for Coach, and also because I didn't think I could convince any woman to let me name a son Luther. My fiancee may allow me to someday name a son Magic Johnson Christ, which I think is kind of awesome. (And before anyone starts, I know she's just humoring me. Let me have my dreams.)
Penn's had one of the damnedest careers you'll ever see, including being impaled, and while it's worth noting that he's not all that old still (he turned 24 last October), I think this is sort of a case of a guy being older than his age, like in boxing when Erik Morales got really old at 28. Too many things happened. Too many wars. I think maybe Penn doesn't just "seem" older, he might figuratively be older than 24.
Wilfrido Perez, RH
A 24-year old relief prospect, Perez put up some nice K-rates in the low levels before tapering off to just under 9 K/9 at Bowie in 23 innings. He absolutely dominated in 81 innings at Delmarva in 2007, posting a 1.67 ERA and striking out 101 batters. He's generally had so-so (at best) WHIP numbers because he doesn't have the best control (it's also not awful) and he's hittable (7 H/9 career).
Chris Ray, RH
Sugar Ray is back in action and will have a shot at taking the closer's job he left behind when he missed all of 2008. He deserves it if he can handle it, because even though he was not dominant, he's going to be better in the role than Sherrill. Again, Johnson might be a much better option than either of them, but he's "never closed before." Not like super veteran Ray or All-Star George.
Dennis Sarfate, RH
He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher. He's a thrower not a pitcher.
George Sherrill, LH
My favorite part of the 2008 Orioles Magic DVD "making of" is when Millar and Sherrill obviously set up an "impromptu" "quick-witted" joke where Millar goes, "George, you look like Vin Diesel," and then Sherrill goes, "Let'sgetsomethinstraight. VinDiesellookslikeme." And it's like, OHHH!
Alfredo Simon, RH
Another guy inching toward 30 with bad minor league numbers that got ripped up in a short stint last year. He's horrible. He has no business on the team. Zrebiec's comment is, "That he managed to stay on the 40-man roster all offseason says something." What? The Orioles forgot about him?
Chorye Spoone, RH
Still rehabbing and won't be healthy to start the year, but in camp anyway. I forget which one of you likes Spoone way more than I do. Show yourself! If he was Tim Spooneybarger's brother, I'd like him more. He was down-and-up even before the injury.
Chris Tillman, RH
Dear Old Seattle Mariners Front Office,
In times of trouble where you've been fired and all that, sometimes it helps to hear from the people whose lives you've touched in a very positive manner. When you traded Chris Tillman, Adam Jones, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler for Erik Bedard, you did something great for us, and we're going to be thankful for many years to come.
We know that Mr. Bedard didn't work out so great for you in 2008 and at least partially led to you all getting thrown out on your behinds, but we Orioles fans wanted you to know that we still have a soft spot for you.
And if you see Eric O'Flaherty, tell him we said hello.
Koji Uehara, RH
He is not going to be Daisuke Matsuzaka. The best we can really hope for is he isn't Kei Igawa either. The latter is far, far, far more likely than the former.
Chris Waters, LH
Zrebiec actually pulled the "no one thinks he can do dis!" card in his Waters comment. That's because he probably can't. He had two exceptional starts for the Orioles and treaded on thin ice otherwise.
Jamie Walker, LH
Jamie Waker, Boy, could star as Will Ferrell's impersonation of George W. Bush in a movie:
Walker is so close to the end of his line that it might be really painful to watch him unless he's pulled some rabbit out of the hat after last year. When guys whose fastballs are offspeed pitches start to fail, it's usually pretty gruesome. He was lobbing BP last year.
Ross Wolf, RH
Former Marlin. Probably here because Kranitz knows him.