Birds go into hibernation early … again

For the fifth consecutive season, the Orioles have managed to play roughly .500 ball for the first two months of the season, only to collapse thereafter.  This year’s collapse, though not as dramatic as the 2002 season’s 4-32 finish, has to be more disappointing, based on the .600 start through the latter part of June.

Explanations for this phenomenon?  Ya’ got me … but most likely lack of depth, especially in their starting pitching.

Anyway, here is the breakdown of the "breakdown" in each of the last 5 years.

  Collapse Before After
Year Date W L Pct. W L Pct.
2005 6/22/2005 42 28 .600 29 58 .333
2004 6/1/2004 24 23 .511 54 61 .470
2003 6/2/2003 28 27 .509 43 64 .402
2002 8/24/2002 63 63 .500 4 32 .111
2001 5/28/2001 24 24 .500 39 74 .345
  totals 181 165 .523 169 289 .369

2 Comments

You’re looking for explanations for the early hibernation of the Baltimore Orioles. Well, I can’t explain all five years. I’m from Oakland, and I didn’t start paying attention to the Orioles until they got Eric Byrnes.

But just off the top of my head, I can think of a lot of things that went wrong with them, and a lot of it has to do with pitching, as your post suggests.

1) Erik Beddard started the season well, but later needed knee surgery and wasn’t the same afterwards.

2) Sidney Ponson proved to be a head case with drinking- and-driving problems. He ended up being dismissed from the team. All I can say there is that I hope he gets his life back together.

3) Reliever Jason Grimsley came back early from Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t expected back until September. I think that it is always a bad idea to try to come back early from TJS. It’s like stopping a course of medication early because you feel better. The rehab is that long for a reason.

4) Reliever Steve Kline had surgery on a finger and hasn’t been the same since.

5) Jorge Julio. What can we say about him? He was last year’s closer. Lost the position to B.J. Ryan, and I’ve seen him giving up gopher balls at an appalling rate. He complained that he does’t know his role anymore. On my own blog, I wrote an entry called, “What’s My Motivation in this Scene?” which addressed Julio’s concern about lack of a role. I said it was his role to 1) throw strikes, 2) induce outs, and 3) not to give up home runs. Seems obvious enough.

6) Inconsistency on the part of starters Rodgrigo Lopez and Daniel Cabrera have not helped.

Then, of course there are the position players. They lost Javy Lopez for 6 weeks when he broke a finger trying to bunt. Sosa and Palmeiro were busts. All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts cooled off significantly at the plate in the second half. He recently came up with a very serious elbow injury that will take at least six months to heal, so who knows what he’s going to be like for the beginning of next season. And outfielders David Newhan and my guy, Eric Byrnes, are having completely abysmal seasons at the plate. Check their homes. Are there pods in their basements? (More on Byrnes in my own blog). Miggy Tejada is having what would be a good year for most people, but an off-year compared to last year. Maybe it’s not fair to expect a shortstop to bat in 150 runs a year. (And he certainly can’t do that if the other guys don’t get on base enough).

Defensively, it seems that every time I look, Tejada and Mora are making errors. And there is talk of making a DH or first baseman of Javy Lopez, so that they can get a better defensive catcher.

Then there are the atmospherics. Again, the Sidney Ponson matter. Is Tejada really coming to terms with being the team leader? The whole Palmeiro-Steroids matter, including a rumor, now dismissed, that it was Tejada who gave Raffy a syringe of steroid. The report said it turned out to be pure Vitamin B-12, but what’s one teammate doing giving another a shot of anything? Don’t they have trainers and doctors over there for that?

Baltimore has 2(?) GMs, both of whose contracts are now up, and one interim manager. Lee Mazilli apparently lost the confidence of the team. He got fired in early August and was replaced by a coach who has been passed up for the top job at a few other places. (Considering his refusal to let Bruce Chen go out for the 9th to finish a two-hit shut out, but his leaving Jorge Julio in a few weeks later after the guy threw 5 consecutive balls, and was looking to the dugout expecting a hook he didn’t get in time, I am beginning to think those who passed up Sam P. for the top job at other places may have known what they were doing.

Players don’t like to point to these matters as excuses for poor performance, but too much distract in the clubhouse has to affect performance. That’s true of any business. I know, I’ve seen in places where I’ve worked.

Payroll, or lack thereof, also factors in. The Orioles seem to be resigned to losing their closer, B.J. Ryan to free agency. Dumping Sosa and Palmeiro should give the Orioles the leeway to make Ryan a competitive offer. But are they committed enough to winning to do that?

They need an Extreme Makeover: Team Edition.

But to be honest about it, what I really care about is a resurgence for Eric Byrnes in 2006. More on that in my blog: Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes.

Love your Caption Time stuff!

Kellia

Kellia,
I think you’ve gotten the analysis right on all counts. Good job!

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