'04 draft woes opened door for O's, Olson

The Baltimore Sun

Here's one for Orioles fans who think their beloved franchise is cursed. The big league debut of left-handed starter Garrett Olson Wednesday brings to mind the inner workings of the 2004 draft, and how a disaster was remedied the next year.

Former Orioles scouting director Tony DeMacio was about to select Georgia high school shortstop Chris Nelson with the eighth overall pick in 2004. Owner Peter Angelos stepped in and required the club to take Rice University pitcher Wade Townsend instead. When the team failed to sign Townsend and he returned to school, terminating the club's negotiating rights, Angelos was hammered for meddling. But this might have a happy ending.

The Orioles received a supplemental first-round pick (48th overall) in 2005 for losing Townsend, and new scouting director Joe Jordan selected Olson out of Cal Poly.

Two years later, Olson, 23, has rushed through the minors and reached the majors after going 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A, a smoother road than either Nelson or Townsend.

Nelson, 21, went to the Colorado Rockies with the ninth pick in 2004 and hasn't progressed as quickly as they would have liked. He is batting .257 with eight homers and 45 RBIs in 81 games at high Single-A Modesto.

Townsend, 24, was selected eighth again in 2005 - this time by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2006. He's 5-7 with a 5.07 ERA in 16 starts at Single-A Columbus.

So, for now, it looks like the Orioles came up golden on this one.

Disappearing Grover

Baseball got a curve when Seattle manager Mike Hargrove abruptly resigned last Sunday while his surprising Mariners were on a seven-game winning streak. He said he had trouble mustering passion for the game and felt he owed more to his players. A surprising reason for a man who maintained passion and perspective while managing some of the worst Orioles teams (2000-2003) in history.

"I don't expect people to understand it. I really don't. Because there's times I don't understand it," said Hargrove, 57. "But I ask everyone to respect it."

Hargrove finishes his 16-season managerial career with a record of 1,188-1,173. He is 36th all time on the wins list.

"Mike's given 35 years in baseball, 100 percent. When he leaves the ballpark, he gives 100 percent to us," his wife, Sharon, said. "It's just gotten harder to do that, harder to let go. We've always said we'd never let baseball take a step above our family, and it was starting to."


Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the Orioles-run broadcasting arm, is promoting its upcoming Cal Ripken Jr. programming with a ubiquitous commercial that celebrates the soon-to-be Hall of Famer's career and his record "2,631" consecutive games played. Um, one problem.

The record is 2,632. Unlike Ripken, guess someone at MASN took a day off.

Just a shelved Unit

Randy Johnson, whose $26 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks extends through 2008, is on the disabled list again with a herniated disc. He said he's "basically pitching on one leg."

But Johnson, 43, vowed he wouldn't retire.

A major dynasty needed

The Philadelphia Phillies are about to become the first club to lose 10,000 games, with 9,998 losses through Friday. They have won 8,807 games during that time. To get back to .500 as a franchise, they'd need to average 100 wins per season for, roughly, the next 32 years.

Quote of the Week

"When I found out C.Y. wasn't on it, my jaw hit the floor. It's ridiculous. Brutal. A mockery. Unbelievable. Pick your word."

- San Diego second baseman Marcus Giles on learning that Padres starter Chris Young (8-3, 2.00 ERA) was an All-Star snub. The slight was rectified online when Young won the fans' vote for the final spot on the National League team.

Quick hits

Chicago White Sox starter Jose Contreras (5-10) has lost 10 games in a season for the first time in his career and is 9-19 since last year's All-Star break. ... The Cleveland Indians' Paul Byrd went 76 consecutive innings, faced 340 batters and threw more than 1,000 pitches between his past two unintentional walks (April 26 to Tuesday).

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad