To me, Alfredo Simon has the look of a pitcher who is clearly running out of gas. His arm-angle appears to have dropped significantly, his pitches lack the crispness that they had earlier in the season and his command certainly hasn't been good. In his last two outings, Simon has allowed 21 hits and three walks in just 10 1/3 innings. I know that he has only pitched 62 innings this season so you may scoff at the suggestion that he could be tired, but keep in mind that Simon didn't exactly have standard preparation for this season. Simon spent two months in a Dominican Republic prison as the chief suspect in a fatal New Year's Day shooting. The Orioles didn't know if they'd get anything out of Simon this year, and he's actually logged some valuable innings. Now, it might be time for him to go to the bullpen and help take some of the pressure off of the middle-inning guys.
I tweeted this last night while watching another strong all-around performance by shortstop J.J. Hardy, but it's certainly worth mentioning here. This season, Hardy is batting .277 with 23 home runs and 58 RBIs in 86 games. The shortstops from the Minnesota Twins, the team that traded Hardy in December for two minor league relievers, are batting .236 with three homers and 37 RBIs in 117 games. Hardy has also made just five errors, while Twins shortstops have made 18. The two guys the Orioles traded to the Twins for Hardy by the way are Jim Hoey (1-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 appearances for Triple-A Rochester and 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in 17 games for the Twins), and Brett Jacobson (4-5 with a 4.97 ERA in 31 appearances for Double-A New Britain).
I've tried to stay away from commenting much on second baseman Brian Roberts because I haven't seen or talked to him much, the team has been mum about his issues and concussions are not something to be cavalier about. But I feel pretty confident in saying that Roberts didn't cancel his annual Brian's Bash because his health wouldn't have allowed him to be present. That event, which has raised a lot of money for the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, is quite an undertaking. Roberts has plenty of help, but he also does a lot on his own, like getting items for the auction and helping with sponsors and promotions. Obviously, he hasn't been in town or around the team to do a lot of that stuff. Plus, the success of the event – and the sale of tickets - depends heavily on Roberts playing regularly and being visible in the community. Neither has happened so unfortunately, it's kind of like out of sight, out of mind. I totally understand the fan's frustration with how little he has played since signing the big contract, but I think suggesting that he is using his concussion issues to dodge an important event to him and his family is ridiculously unfair and unfortunate.
It will be a big night tonight for head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and former Orioles infielder and current bullpen coach Mike Bordick, who both will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame. Davey Johnson will be managing the Washington Nationals about an hour and a half north in Philadelphia, but he'll be applauding one of his former players from afar. "I love Mike Bordick," Johnson said to Nationals' reporters last night. "He's a foxhole guy. He loves to play the game and he was the reason that we were able to move Cal Ripken to third and he was also very instrumental in us going wire-to-wire and beating the Yankees. I think it's very well deserved and I even voted for him."
The Orioles made some of the best defensive plays that they have made all season last night and probably none were prettier than right fielder Nick Markakis throwing out the speedy Austin Jackson trying to tag up and score on Magglio Ordonez's flyball. Markakis' throw was good, but Wieters' pick-up of that short hop was one of the best plays that you'll see a catcher make. However, the night wouldn't have been complete without an Oriole outfielder overthrowing a cutoff man and the intended target and putting the team in jeopardy of giving up another run. Jones did it last night, and Markakis did it a night earlier. It's becoming almost a nightly ritual for an Orioles' outfielder and you'd think they'd learn by now. It's bad enough that the pitching staff gives up hits at an alarming frequently. Other teams don't need the help getting extra bases.