Down the Stretch (Sept. 12)

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[Down the stretch is a daily Orioles Insider blog that will set up the coming night for the O's and their American League competition as the push for the postseason continues.]

About last night

Hammel re-injures right knee in 9-2 win over Tampa Bay
Schmuck: Nobody will feel sorry for O's, so they shouldn't
Notebook: Orioles call up L.J. Hoes, Endy Chavez
O's designate Kevin Gregg for assignment
Showalter praises Triple-A Norfolk's for its flexibility
Tuesday's full scoreboard
MLB power rankings

AL East Standings

BAL       79-62     --
NYY       79-62     --
TB         77-64     2

AL Wild-Card Standings

OAK        81-60     --
BAL/NYY  79-62       --
TB          77-64      2
LAA         77-65     2.5
DET        74-67      5

Tonight's game

Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m.

RHP Alex Cobb (9-8, 4.28 ERA) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.62 ERA)


Key matchup

Ryan Roberts went 1-for-3 with a homer in Gonzalez's only start against the Rays on Aug. 5. It was Roberts' only hit in 20 career at-bats against the Orioles heading into Tuesday, when he homered off Jason Hammel.


Other games that matter

Yankees (Phelps) at Red Sox (Cook), 7:10 p.m.

Indians (Gomez) at Rangers (Dempster), 8:05 p.m.

Tigers (Scherzer) at White Sox (Floyd), 8:10 p.m.

Athletics (Griffin) at Angels (Santana), 10:05 p.m.

Thought of the day

Yesterday I stumbled upon an interesting Bloomberg Businessweek graphic, which broke down the "smartest spenders in sports."

Basically, their complicated formula determined which teams across the four major sports had the most success per dollar spent over the past five years, and unsurprisingly, the Tampa Bay Rays were first overall.


The Orioles ranked 23rd in baseball and 97th of the 122 teams overall, which shouldn't be too shocking when you consider the O's had almost no success in that time frame.

With all due respect to Billy Beane (and Brad Pitt), the Rays have become the prototypical small-market success story. If you look at the raw numbers, they entered this season with the fifth-lowest payroll in baseball ($63,431,999, according to USA Today) and yet have always been a smart bet to stay in the postseason chase.

By comparison, the Orioles ranked 19th of the 30 teams at $81,428,999 at the start of the year.

So, while the O's are hardly in the same league as the Yankees ($197,962,289), they aren't exactly the biggest fiscal underdog in this year's playoff race when you compare them to teams like Tampa and Oakland ($55,372,500, 29th in the league).

That is, until you consider this list of the Orioles' 10 highest-paid players at the start of the season (again, per USA Today):

Nick Markakis    $ 12,350,000


Brian Roberts     $ 10,000,000

Mark Reynolds   $ 7,833,333

J.J. Hardy          $ 7,416,666

Adam Jones       $ 6,150,000

Kevin Gregg       $ 5,200,000

Jason Hammel   $ 4,750,000


Tsuyoshi Wada  $ 4,075,000

Matt Lindstrom   $ 3,600,000

Wei-Yin Chen     $ 3,072,000

Of those 10, only four players are still on the roster and healthy (I'm not counting Hammel as healthy at the moment).

Yes, Adam Jones is in a whole new tax bracket and will move to the top of the list next year after signing a six-year, $85.5 million extension in May. And Joe Saunders is making $6 million this year (although most of that isn't being paid by the Orioles), so you can add him to that list to replace Lindstrom if you'd like.

But still, there's a huge chunk of payroll assigned to players who won't be in an Orioles uniform down the stretch.

With most of these being injury cases, my point isn't that the team made a bunch of misfires with its high-salary players. The takeaway is that these Orioles truly have done more with less from a financial standpoint -- almost to the extent of the benchmark-setting Rays and A's.


All that said, nobody will be counting up the pennies on the last day of the season. It's the Ws, not the dollars, that will determine who plays on.

Baltimore Orioles Insider


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Tweet of the night

: Special thanks to my Father to getting to this point and to my Granpa I miss but we did it. R.I.P I love you.

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