It's been a rough 2011 for the Orioles' Brian Matusz. He's followed up a solid rookie campaign with one of the worst performances in the history of the game. In one way, that nightmare is now over. Manager Buck Showalter has removed Matusz from the Baltimore rotation, citing Matusz's inability to "defend himself properly," meaning Matusz can't get hitters out, and there is no sense in having him face hitters while in that condition.
Matusz has a 9.64 ERA after 10 starts and 43 innings. Unless things drastically change for the lefty out of the bullpen over the next few weeks, he's going to hold an inglorious record: at this point, Matusz is the only pitcher ever with 10 or more starts and more than three home runs allowed per nine innings.
I can't think of a player that has had a bigger swing in his performance from very good to very bad quite as dramatically as Brian Matusz.
Over his last eight starts last year, he went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA. In 10 starts this year, he is 1-7 with a 9.84 ERA. His ERA is 11.42 over his past four starts since he returned from the minor leagues.
The question that doesn't seem to have a clear and definitive answer is this: What the heck happened to Matusz?
Maybe it's one mass of a combination of a lack of proper conditioning along with too much tinkering with his delivery along with an injury along with a lack of command along with perhaps a lack of confidence.
Ask the Baltimore Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie if he's concerned about the possibility of becoming only the second pitcher in the past 30 years to be saddled with a 20-loss season, and he emphatically replies, "No, I'm not.''
Really? Why not?
As an answer, Guthrie pulls a book from his locker in the home clubhouse at Camden Yards and reads a quote from John Wooden's My Personal Best, which explains that the legendary UCLA basketball coach thinks the definition of success should be measured by effort, not results.
"I've memorized it, but not word-for-word,'' Guthrie says.
Scouts are buzzing about the possibility of Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings or Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava becoming the Orioles' next GM, but no one should get too excited over either name — at least not yet.
If, as expected, Andy MacPhail departs as president of baseball operations, owner Peter Angelos will prefer someone with whom he is familiar, or at the very least, someone who comes highly recommended by a person he trusts.
That is Angelos' pattern — he knew MacPhail from their work together in the 2002 and '06 labor negotiations. And, according to one source, Angelos is not especially well-versed with the current crop of GM candidates. When asked about former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes and Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, Angelos essentially replied, "Who?" the source said.
[Compiled by Matt Vensel. If you enjoy reading these posts about the Orioles, Ravens and other Baltimore sports, check out Matt Vensel's Coffee Companion posts every morning, Monday-Friday.]