I was watching the Yankee Stadium radar gun very closely yesterday and I'm not sure one of Brian Matusz's pitches was clocked at 90 miles an hour or above. That just makes what he was able to do that much more impressive. The reason most baseball pundits predicted that Matusz would contend for American League Rookie of the Year is because he knows how to pitch and he competes. Both those qualities were evident yesterday. I know that Matusz hasn't overwhelmed at times this year, but I think you have to still be excited about the kid's future. He has faced the Yankees five times now and he's allowed three earned runs or fewer in all of those starts. That says something right there as does the fact that he appears to be getting better as the season goes on.
It’s obvious that the Orioles could use a couple of bats and at least one veteran starting pitcher, but one area going forward that Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter have to feel pretty good about is the bullpen. Between Jim Johnson, Michael Gonzalez, Alfredo Simon and David Hernandez, the Orioles have four power arms at the back end of the bullpen. They resign closer Koji Uehara and maybe add another left-hander that they you could use earlier in the game, and that group would appear to be one of the team’s strengths heading into the 2010 season.
It's funny how things sometimes turn out the opposite of what you hear. I had only seen Josh Bell play in spring training, but all I heard was he struggles hitting right-handed and he needs work with his footwork and range at third base. Well, he's hit all three of his homers from the right side of the plate and he's gotten to a lot of balls at third that I thought he had no chance on. However, his arm has been extremely erratic. He forced first baseman Ty Wigginton to scoop three different balls out of the dirt yesterday. His arm is clearly strong, but accuracy remains elusive.
Speaking of Wigginton, I agree with a couple of posters who suggested that the burly infielder would benefit from a day off. Wigginton plays with great energy and effort and that hasn't changed, but he does look a little sluggish lately. It would be good time to give Brandon Snyder his first big league start at first base. However, I doubt that comes against CC Sabathia tonight.
A lot of people earlier this season felt that the Orioles leaned too much on the absence of leadoff man Brian Roberts as an explanation for their awful start. However, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter yesterday became the latest opponent to point out how different the Orioles are with Roberts in the lineup. He even called Roberts a "pain," which I'm sure he meant as a compliment because of Roberts' ability to foul off pitches, work counts and cause some havoc on the basepaths. The Orioles still could use two impact bats to be an offense that could slug it out with the American League heavyweights. But as they are presently constructed, they still can be dangerous as long as Roberts is at the top of the order.
And just a few other things ... Barring an injury or a sudden need on the Orioles big league roster, the activation of reliever David Hernandez and the promotion of reliever Pedro Viola will be the final two call-ups. That means no Troy Patton, Scott Moore, Matt Angle, Dennis Sarfate or anybody else who has been speculated. I guess the feeling is that the Orioles already have enough guys they are struggling to find innings for so why add even more.
Also, the Orioles find out today whether outfielder Lou Montanez, who was designated for assignment last week, clears waivers, but the result couldn't be any less significant for them. At season's end, Montanez will be a six-year minor league free agent and he can sign with any team that he wants to go to for 2011. I highly doubt that will be the Orioles, who already have a glut of outfielders and no plans to call up Montanez. So whether he clears or not, he isn't expected to be in the organization next year anyway. Montanez, of course, is hoping he doesn't clear so he gets on another 40-man roster.
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