About this blog:

About This Blog:
I'm Denim. I cover all things sports, in particular Baseball, Football, College Football, & Hockey, especially the Baltimore Orioles, Penn State Nittany Lions, NY Giants, Colorado Avalanche, & Vancouver Canucks.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pre-Season MLB Picks

American League:
AL East
Tampa Bay
Baltimore (WC)
New York

AL Central
Kansas City (WC)

AL West
Los Angeles

National League:
NL East
Atlanta (WC)
New York

NL Central
St. Louis

NL West
Los Angeles
Arizona (WC)
San Francisco
San Diego

World Series Pick:
Tampa Bay over St. Louis

AL- Chris Davis
NL- Paul Goldschmidt

Cy Youngs:
AL- Max Scherzer

NL- Stephen Strasburg

©2014 Denim McDemus

Opening Day is here!

There is no better feeling for a baseball fan than Opening Day. Every team is undefeated. Every team has chance. Every player has a shot at a great year. All the waiting and transaction watching is over, and the games that count are about to begin. Enjoy it, America, this is your national pastime.

The Baltimore Orioles open up at home against division rival and defending World Series champs the Boston Red Sox at 3:05pm ET. 

As expected, the Orioles have named Tommy Hunter as their closer. Josh Stinson will be the primary long man. Chris Tillman will make the Opening Day start vs. Boston's Jon Lester. Orioles top position prospect Jonathan Schoop will get the start at 2B. 

Today's Orioles' lineup depends on whether or not RF Nick Markakis plays (neck spasms). The decision will be made based on how he feels during batting practice. The batting order will depend on Markakis' status, but the lineup positionally will be:

1B Chris Davis
2B Jonathan Schoop
3B Ryan Flaherty
SS JJ Hardy
C Matt Wieters
LF Nelson Cruz
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Delmon Young

If Markakis can't play, David Lough will start in RF.  

Boston's lineup: Nava RF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Napoli 1B, Carp LF, Sizemore CF, Bogaerts SS, Pierzynski C, Middlebrooks 3B.

I'm anxious to hear the umpire yell, "Play Ball!" I'm ready for regular season baseball. Are you?

Update: Orioles RF Nick Markakis will play in today's game and bat leadoff followed by Hardy, Jones, Davis, Cruz, Wieters, Young, Flaherty, Schoop.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sports Notes 3/29/14

Baltimore Orioles top position player prospect 2B Jonathan Schoop made the Opening Day roster over Jemile Weeks. He certainly earned it.

Evan Meek also received a well-deserved bullpen spot.

Steve Pearce and Delmon Young won the Bench OF/DH spots as expected.

Catcher Matt Wieters homered in the Orioles 4-3 exhibition game against their AAA team, the Norfolk Tides. 

The Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 4 years with their win over the San Jose Sharks. Semyon Varlamov had a season-high 47 saves. Colorado's goals were scored by Paul Stastny, Cody McLeod, and John Mitchell.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Friday, March 28, 2014

Avs vs. Canucks

My two favorite hockey teams played each other tonight, the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks. I wasn't sure who to root for, so I guess it's fitting that they were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation time.

The Avs needed the points. They went into the game being 3 points behind the Chicago Blackhaws for the NHL's Western Conference 4th seed and home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago had already lost to the Eastern Conference #1 seed Boston, so Colorado really needed to come away with 2 points.

The Canucks needed the points too. Vancouver is still holding out hope for clinching a playoff spot, coming into the game in 10th place in the West with 78 points (8th seed Phoenix has 84).

It was tied 1-1 after the 1st period, on goals by Vancouver's Yannick Webber (PP) and Colorado's Matt Duchene. After 2 periods, the game was tied 2-2, after goals by Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog and Vancouver's Zack Kassian. The 3rd period was scoreless, taking the game to overtime.

Colorado's Tyson Barrie scored the game winner 55 seconds into overtime, to give the Avs the win and 2 points. Vancouver gained 1 point for the OT loss. The Avalanche improved to 13-6 in OT. Vancouver fell to 11-11.

The game was close all the way through. Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov saved 29 of 31. Vancouver's Eddie Lack saved 25 of 28.

With the win, the Avs have 98 points, only one behind Chicago. The Canucks are now tied with the Dallas Stars for 9th place in the Western Conference with 79 points, 5 points out of the final playoff spot.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Orioles/MLB Notes 3/27/14

Orioles LF/DH Nelson Cruz was hit in the head with a pitch by Tampa's Alex Cobb near his left ear. His CT scan came back fine, and he doesn't have any concussion symptoms.

RHP Alfredo Aceves decided to take his opt-out clause after finding out he won't be making the Orioles roster.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan doesn't seem to think very highly of the Baltimore Orioles. I can't wait to laugh at him when they prove him wrong this season.

Sports Illustrated’s American League team by team scouting report only has 1 advertisement in the whole section, right before the last team listed, the Houston Astros. Was this to symbolize the talent gap between the rest of the league and the Stros, or did they almost forget Houston is in the AL now?

Orioles 25 Man Roster?

After their recent moves, the Baltimore Orioles have 36 players left in Major League camp. They have until Sunday to weed it down to the 25 who will be on the Opening Day roster.

Here’s how the roster seems to be shaking out:

Starting Lineup:
1B Chris Davis
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Ryan Flaherty (while Manny Machado is on the DL)
C Matt Wieters
LF David Lough/Nelson Cruz
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Nelson Cruz/Delmon Young

C Steve Clevenger
OF/1B Steve Pearce
INF/PR Jemile Weeks

Starting Rotation:
RHP Chris Tillman
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Bud Norris

RHP Tommy Hunter (Closer)
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Ryan Webb
LHP Zach Britton
RHP Josh Stinson
RHP Evan Meek
(LHP Troy Patton is suspended for 25 games)

When Manny Machado returns from the DL and a possible rehab assignment, he’ll take over at 3B, which means either Flaherty, Weeks, or Lombardozzi will be headed to AAA Norfolk. Weeks would probably be the odd man out, although he has value as a pinch runner, so it may be Flaherty, although he is a favorite with management. All three are just placeholders for youngsters Machado and Jonathan Schoop.

Top position player prospect, 2B Jonathan Schoop, will most likely start the season in AAA Norfolk to gain more seasoning, despite having a terrific spring. Spring Training stats are what they are, facing pitchers who may not even see the major leagues. Regardless, Schoop definitely needs to work on his defensive decisions. He won’t be used as a utility INF, because he needs at bats, and those are at Norfolk right now. Look for Schoop to show up in Baltimore by midseason at the latest.

Lefty Troy Patton is suspended for the first 25 games of the season for violating the league’s banned substances policy. He will most likely need some game action in the minors before being up to speed. Then the Orioles will have another roster decision to make, deciding if they have a spot for him, since fellow lefty Zach Britton is out of options and had a nice spring.

Expect to see pitchers Brock Huntzinger, Eddie Gamboa, Steve Johnson, Brad Brach, and Kelvin De La Cruz, C Johnny Monell and OF Henry Urrutia at some point in the season.

The Orioles will take time to see what South Korean RHP Suk-min Yoon brings to the table, as he starts off the season at AAA Norfolk, after being delayed in Spring Training by visa issues. He could be used as a starter or reliever, but is coming off of a bad year pitching in relief, after an injury kept him from starting. His contract stipulates that he cannot be sent to the minors after the first year, so this is the window for sorting it all out. He was a bargain though, so it’s a low-risk situation for Baltimore.

The O’s are also eagerly waiting to see if two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana has anything left in the tank once he’s at full-strength.

All in all, I think it’s a pretty solid team, especially when Jonathan Schoop takes over 2B at some point in the season, and 3B Manny Machado gets back to full health.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Orioles Roster Moves and Possible Trickery

Baltimore Orioles OF Nolan Reimold will start the season in his usual spot, on the DL. Honestly, why is this guy still employed? He plays even less often than walking wounded Brian Roberts.
Reimold is still being bothered by his neck, which he's had 2 surgeries to repair, which kept him out most of the past 2 seasons. He last played on July 13, 2013.
Reimold has been a problem child for the Orioles, showing flashes of power, but never fully reaching his potential, while struggling to stay healthy. This is likely his last chance with the club, as he is out of options, meaning he would have to make it through waivers to be sent to AAA Norfolk.  

Rule 5 INF Michael Almanzar is also likely headed to the DL with tendinitis in his left knee. He had a good spring and definitely has talent, but isn't really ready to be in the major leagues. The Orioles claimed him from division rival Boston in the Rule 5 Draft, but he was a long shot to make the roster in the Orioles crowded infield.  

I have to wonder though, if this is a slick way to keep both Reimold and Almanzar around longer, in case roster spots open up, since they are both players the O's will lose if they aren't on the 25 man roster (Reimold is out of options. Almanzar would have to be sent back to Boston)? Putting them on the disabled list gives the Orioles more time to decide what to do with them. 

In other roster notes:
Bullpen candidates Brad Brach, Steve Johnson, and Kelvin De La Cruz, and OF/DH Henry Urrutia were optioned to AAA Norfolk, further weeding down the Orioles' roster. 

The Orioles signed free agent and former Houston Astro 1B Brett Wallace to a minor league deal.

Opening Day starter Chris Tillman threw 79 pitches in his last Spring Training start, getting the Orioles ace ready for the 3/31 opener. 

OF/DH Delmon Young and RHP Josh Stinson continue to prove they have earned roster spots. Young is almost assured to make the team now that Urrutia, Reimold, and Almanzar are no longer in the running. Stinson is out of options and has had a dominant spring, so he likely has won a bullpen spot.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where Is That?

The Big "Ten" Conference now having 14 teams makes me once again cringe at all the conference shifting that has gone on around college football in recent years. I don't mind expansion, when conferences add teams which make sense geographically.

Maryland and Rutgers moving to the Big Ten makes sense for Penn State, but they aren't close to the rest of the conference, which is midwestern other than Penn State, which was a stretch add itself, not being in the midwest, and being much closer to the former Big East Conference, which had most of the teams PSU played when they were an independent.
Nebraska made slightly more geographic sense in the Big 12 than the Big 10. Sure, they are close to Iowa, but they are too far west for the Big 10, just like Penn State is too far east.

TCU joining the Big 12 made a lot of sense. They now play schools close to them, instead of Mountain Region teams. They also are proof that a "small school" can play with the big boys in a "major" conference. But West Virginia moving to the Big 12 made no sense at all. The state isn't adjacent to the states of any other Big 12 teams. They are closer to the SEC, or even the new eastern Big Ten teams. And Iowa State would definitely make more sense in the Big 10.

Virginia Tech moving to the ACC made sense, but Pittsburg, Syracuse, and Boston College? Huh?! They are no where near the other teams. Plus the ACC stands for Atlantic Coast Conference, so what's with these new landlocked schools? The implosion of the Big East cause a lot of the geographical mess we now have in college football. Pitt lies in between Penn State and the Big Ten. Perhaps we need a northeastern conference, much better constructed than the Big East, including Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, BC, etc, but without Big East geographic oddballs like Miami and VA Tech?

Then we get to the SEC. Texas A&M and maybe even Missouri should be in the Big 12. Arkansas is borderline to go either way. Florida should be in the ACC, since I'd love to have the 3 big Florida teams (Florida, Florida State, and Miami) in the same conference.

All of the NCAA Football teams jumping conferences lately has made a jumbled mess of random opponents. I think the NCAA should completely scrap the current conferences and start from scratch, making regional conferences where you play the teams closest to you.

Sure, there are some longtime bitter rivalries (such as Ohio State vs. Michigan) that should be kept intact, but most of them are geographically close already, so they wouldn't be impacted. And the longtime members of most conferences are geographically close to each other, because that was the original point of the conferences. Plus, I'd have the non-conference games of each conference be against a nearby conference, so that is another way to ensure established rivalry games if the two teams didn't end up in the same geographically based conference.

Think of the new or renewed rivalries: Penn State vs. Pitt vs. West VA, Miami vs. Florida vs. Florida State, Texas vs. Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech vs. TCU vs. Rice vs. Baylor, Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, Iowa vs. Iowa State, maybe Pitt vs. Ohio State. 

Most geographic areas have big schools, small schools, and schools somewhere in between. This would eliminate the current problem of smaller schools struggling to gain revenue and exposure, and being lowballed in the rankings and bowl selection, simply because they play in a "small school" "non-BCS" conference with an "easy" schedule. If they played in a regional conference with school of varying size, they would garner more respect in the overall college football picture. And the many upsets in recent years prove the talent gap has lessened, and the smaller schools would be able to compete better than you think.

Do I think this makes sense? Yes. Do I think it will happen? No, not wide scale anyway. But I do think there will be some major changes in NCAA football conferences the not too distant future.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thanks For Stopping By

The Orioles traded veteran INF Alex Gonzalez for 25 year-old INF Steve Lombardozzi.

The Tigers are going to start Gonzalez at SS. That's right, a top tier team thinks he's starter quality. After a great spring, I don't blame them.

The O's are going to use Lombardozzi to fill in at 2B or 3B until Manny Machado comes off the DL, the exact same way they could have used the more experienced Gonzalez. They are talking Flaherty at 3B and Lombardozzi at 2B, which pushes top position prospect Jonathan Schoop to AAA, and Jemile Weeks to the bench, if not AAA himself.

In order to make room for Lombardozzi on the 40 man roster, the Orioles DFAed catcher Johnny Monell, who also had a great spring.

Apparently the Tigers, and I, see much more value in Alex Gonzalez than the Orioles do...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Some Baltimore Orioles roster notes

OF hopeful Francisco Peguero will start the season on the DL with a right wrist injury.

LF David Lough will return to the lineup tonight. C Matt Wieters returned yesterday.

OF Xavier Paul has been reassigned. Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon (who was delayed by visa problems) and C Johnny Monell have been optioned to minor league camp. The Monell move most likely cements Steve Clevenger as the backup C, although the two put up similar numbers. The roster is now down to 43 (for 25 spots).

Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, and former Cy Young winner Johan Santana have been making progress throwing off the rehab mound, and should be eventual options for the Orioles.

Bullpen hopeful non-roster invitee Evan Meek hasn't given up a run in 6 spring innings over 5 games, and is 2 for 2 in save opportunities.

Take Spring Training stats for what they are, but it's a good feeling when your team's slugger, Chris Davis, leads the team in RBI (9).

The Orioles are in "win now" mode, with the uncertain contract status of SS J.J. Hardy, C Matt Wieters, and 1B Chris Davis. That being said, I don't know why they are still up in the air about 2B and top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop starting the season in the majors. The time is now. This team isn't playing for the future anymore.

Bullpen candidates Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland, and Alfredo Aceves are all scheduled to follow projected 5th starter Bud Norris tonight vs. the Pirates.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Roster Surgery

Ugh. The Baltimore Orioles have had an exciting spring, with many players outperforming expectations. But a lot of the upcoming roster decisions seem to be headed horribly wrong.

Alex Gonzalez is a much better option to fill in at 3rd than Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty has minor league options, so he can get more seasoning at AAA Norfolk, without hurting his longterm place on the team, if he has one. Keeping him on the roster just because he's been on the team for 2 years doesn't change the fact that he was an automatic out his entire Orioles career, other then a brief period right before Brian Roberts came off the DL. Jemile Weeks seems to be a bust, other than freeing up FA money from trading Jim Johnson, but at least he has speed.

Kelvin De La Cruz and Evan Meek have had way better springs than the pitchers being mentioned above them for the last bullpen spot, as did Eddie Gamboa and Brock Huntzinger, who have already been sent down. Britton and Stinson will be there since they are out of options, but give the last spot (if there is one) to someone deserving.

They are considering bringing in someone from the outside to backup C Matt Wieters. Picking a backup catcher who can field but can't hit is a problem that seems to plague the O's every year, giving them an automatic out in the lineup whenever they rest Wieters. Clevenger and Monell are both having good springs, so give one a chance, with the other on standby.

Why in the world is Nolan Reimold considered a frontrunner to make the team in a bench/OF/DH position? HUH?! He is terrible, and always hurt. He is behind in his spring progress. He is a bust.

The O's almost have to go with Delmon Young to DH when Cruz plays LF, and Berry as a pinch runner. Steve Pearce, Reimold, and Flaherty are never going to be more than bench players. It's time to accept that.

I'd love for once to see them go north with the best 25, but that's not how baseball works these days.

©2014 Denim McDemus

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3/12/14 Sports News

Some quick hits for today:

In NFL Free Agency, so far the NY Giants resigned RB Peyton Hillis, CB Trumaine McBride, S Stevie Brown, K Josh Brown, & LB Mark Herzlich.
They signed Oakland RB Rashad Jennings, & Seattle LB O'Brien Schofield.
They lost DT Linval Joseph, & S Ryan Mundy.
The Giants really need to stock up on wide receivers and offensive linemen.

Orioles vs Phillies today at 1:05pm ET. The O's won 15-4 last week with similar lineups.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters tweaked his ankle rounding the bases yesterday, but says he won't get x-rays, just sit out an extra day. He plans to play again on Saturday. 

Korean FA pitcher Suk-min Yoon is expected to make his Orioles debut on Saturday.

The Orioles sent reliever Brock Huntzinger down to AAA Norfolk, despite an impressive spring. Seems to be to accommodate out of options pitchers such as Britton and Stinson.

FA pitcher Ervin Santana finally signed, surprisingly not with the Orioles or Jays, but with the Atlanta Braves.

Huge game tonight in the Central Division, Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks at 9:30pm ET. The 2 teams are only separated by 1 point. The Avs have 4 more wins, but Chicago has 14 points from OT losses...

The Vancouver Canucks take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight at 7:30pm ET.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Orioles Springing Through Spring

The Baltimore Orioles still have 53 players in their Major League camp, obviously for 25 Opening Day spots. 2B, backup C, backup INF, backup OF, and several bullpen spots are the positions with multiple players making the decisions hard, which is a good problem for any team to have. Even better for the Orioles, is that most of the spots still in question are for backups to their stacked everyday lineup.

Second Base:
Once again, 2B is wide open for the Orioles, as it has been since Brian Roberts' last full season in 2009.

Underachieving former Rule 5 Draft pick Ryan Flaherty is often mentioned as the favorite, after being a part of the team all of 2012 (only because he had to be to remain with the organization) and most of 2013. Flaherty's defense is overrated, and his hitting has been streaky. In 2012 and the first half of 2013, he was an automatic out. Later in 2013, Ryan seemed to finally find his offensive groove, but then his new-found momentum was pushed aside by the return of the prodigal son, Brian Roberts (now a rival NY Yankee). Flaherty may never be more than a utility infielder and stopgap.

Streaky Jemile Weeks was brought in from Oakland in the Jim Johnson trade to compete with Flaherty. Weeks was up and down with the A's,  but down more than up. He has plus speed, but hasn't really mastered consistent big league hitting. His bat has not been impressive so far this spring.

Orioles top position player prospect, 22 year-old Jonathan Schoop, was projected to start this season at AAA Norfolk, and be a mid-season call-up. So far this spring, Schoop is doing his best to derail that plan. Jonathan is hitting .529 with 1 HR, 3 doubles, and 5 RBI. He also hit a homer in each of Baltimore's 2 intra-squad games. Schoop is making it awfuly hard for the Orioles to keep him in the minors to start the season, especially since 2B is open, and he is the heir apparent.

If Schoop is sent down, both Flaherty and Weeks will most likely make the team, Flaherty as the starter, Weeks as a utility infielder, depending on how the rest of the bench shakes out. If Schoop wins the job, Flaherty may start at Norfolk, since Weeks also has value as a pinch runner, although Flaherty has the proven versatility to serviceably play any position other than catcher.

Backup Catcher:
Here is a definite bench spot. Every MLB team carries a backup catcher. The Orioles plan to rest starter Matt Wieters more often this year. After having a revolving door at backup catcher the past few years, the Orioles have two solid candidates in camp this year: local product Steve Clevenger, who came over from the Cubs last season along with the departed Scott Feldman, and former San Francisco Giant Johnny Monell. Both are hitting well and playing well, Clevenger at .429, 1 HR, 5 RBI, Monell at .417, 1 HR, 1 RBI. The pitching staff has fared well this spring with either player behind the plate.
Baring injury, this competition will go until the end of spring training, and the Orioles can't lose either way.

Utility Infielder:
The Orioles core infield is the best in baseball, with 1B Chris Davis, SS J.J. Hardy, 3B Manny Machado, and C Matt Wieters, with only 2B in question (insert Schoop here). How many bench spots the Orioles have will depend on how many pitchers they decide to carry.

Along with Flaherty and Weeks, veteran Alex Gonzalez is another infielder with a shot at making the Orioles Opening Day roster. Gonzalez could be the Orioles utility infielder, having played SS, 1B, and 3B in his career. The Orioles have given him a lot of playing time this spring, mostly at 3B, and Alex has responded by batting .353 with 1 double, 1 HR, and 4 RBI. He is almost a shoe-in to start at 3B if Manny Machado isn't ready by Opening Day.

Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar has a lot of promise, and Baltimore would love to keep him out of Boston's system, but he is a long shot to make the team. As much as the Orioles like him, they just don't have a spot for him, unless he beats out Alex Gonzalez for 3B if Machado isn't ready for Opening Day. Being solely a corner infielder, it wouldn't be practical to make him the utility man.  

With Adam Jones and Nick Markakis entrenched in CF and RF respectively, the Orioles have replaced last year's LF, Nate McClouth, with a platoon of newcomers: David Lough, acquired from the Royals for Danny Valencia, and free agent slugger Nelson Cruz. The plan is to start Cruz at DH and Lough in LF against RHP, with Cruz in LF and possibly Delmon Young playing DH against LHP.
Henry Urrutia and Steve Pearce both have an outside shot of securing backup OF/DH roles.

Speedster Quintin Berry, has a shot at being the bench outfielder if the Orioles carry one, but Lough, Cruz, and Young take the total to 5 already, and it all depends on how many pitchers the team carries. Xavier Paul and Francisco Peguero are also somewhat in the running. Cuban product Henry Urrutia needs more at bats in AAA. Briefly successful, often injured, long-time prospect Nolan Reimold is out of options and out of favor. Expect to see him in a different uniform soon, one way or another.

Barring another free agent signing (Ervin Santana anyone?), the Orioles starting rotation is pretty well set as: Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris.

Bullpen sure-things are: Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz, and Ryan Webb (Lefty Troy Patton is suspended for the first 25 games). That leaves 3-4 bullpen spots, depending of how many bench players the team carries.

Non-roster invitees Evan Meek, Brock Huntzinger, and Eddie Gamboa have been impressive so far this spring, as has out of options LHP Kelvin De La Cruz. Former San Diego Padre Brad Brach has an outside chance of making the Orioles bullpen.

The Orioles will need another Lefty alongside Matusz in the bullpen during Patton's 25 game suspension. De La Cruz, Zach Britton, and T.J. McFarland are the best options, with De La Cruz pitching the best currently. They also need a long man in the pen, with Britton, Josh Stinson, and Steve Johnson as the prime candidates. All three have struggled to pitch consistently at the Major League level, with Britton failing as a starter several times. Britton and Stinson are both out of options, and would be claimed on waivers if DFAed, most likely pushing Johnson aside for now. The O's will have a hard time keeping both Britton and Stinson. Bud Norris would move to the long man role if the Orioles signed Ervin Santana.  

Expect to see top prospect Kevin Gausman and former Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland start the season in AAA Norfolk's starting rotation. Due to work visa delays, Korean free agent Suk-min Yoon will get a late start to Spring Training, and may be kept in Florida for extended Spring Training, before beginning is US career at AAA Norfolk or AA Bowie. Former 2-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana was a no risk gamble on a Minor League contract, and the Orioles won't know what they have in him until mid-season.

Outside Looking In:
This spring is the last Orioles chance for underachievers Zach Britton and Nolan Reimold. Potential only goes so far before it must be replaced by performance. You can't be a prospect your entire career. It's put up or shut up for these two out of options players, and Reimold isn't playing the right tune. Britton has to prove he can go beyond Spring Training and succeed in the Major League regular season. If they don't make the Opening Day roster, and the Orioles can't work out a trade for either of these players, they most likely will be designated for assignment, and snatched up on waivers by a team which hasn't yet been disappointed by them.

Obviously, it is too early to hand out any of the contested jobs yet. Spring Training stats are what they are, when facing many batters and pitchers who won't be in the Major Leagues this season or even ever. Injuries and further signings are always possible.
Competition is a great motivating factor, and having many answers for each question is an enviable position in professional sports.
The Baltimore Orioles currently have a Grapefruit League best 9-2 record, nice stats, and a lot of promising players. Their last-minute moves sured up the holes on their team. A lot of the "second chance" type guys are rewarding the team for taking a chance on them. Hopefully it all will translate into a successful Orioles regular season and a trip back to the postseason.      

©2014 Denim McDemus

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why Not?

The Orioles starting rotation is for real.

Chris Tillman is a legitimate ace. Miguel Gonzalez is a legit 2 or 3 and owns the Yankees, Wei-Yin Chen is a legit 3, Bud Norris is a legit 3 or 4. Now throw Ubaldo Jimenez in at the 2 spot behind Tillman, and you have one of the better starting staffs in the AL.

The Orioles signing Johan Santana to a minor league contract is a no brainer. There is no risk, and if he can be even a shell of his former self, he'll be a valuable injury replacement or a bullpen arm, maybe even given a shot at closer if Tommy Hunter falters down the line?

If the Orioles do end up singing Ervin Santana too, why not? That pushes Norris into the bullpen as a long man and spot starter.

But even without signing either Santana, the Orioles staff is looking pretty solid, combined with a potent offense, promising bullpen, and the best defense in the history of baseball.

The Orioles in 2014? Why not?

©2014 Denim McDemus

NHL Overtime Rules

I agree that there should not be ties in professional sports. Every game should be won and lost. But I hate how the NHL currently handles overtime. Here's why:

1. I hate that OT is 4 on 4 hockey. I don't think this makes it easier for teams to score. In my opinion, it makes it harder to score. Plus it is a perversion of the game. The winner should be the best team at 5 on 5 hockey. The rest of the game was 5 on 5, so why allow the winner to be chose by a different format?

Also, 5 minutes isn't very long for a period that is supposed to decide the game's winner.

2. No hockey game should be won or lost by a shootout. That is not the game. The game is 5 on 5 hockey. The team who wins a shootout isn't necessarily the better team. Both teams will send their best shooters, and if there was a great disparity between the teams, the game wouldn't still be tied after regulation and OT. Sure, there is some skill involved in a shootout, but it's a lot more luck than anything. Why should the game be decided by luck in a non-game situation?

Yes, sudden death OT periods could go on all night, but that's the beauty of professional sports, keep playing until someone wins.

3. My biggest problem with the NHL's OT rules is teams gaining a point for an OT loss. A loss is a loss, it doesn't matter how long it too to happen. Teams shouldn't be rewarded for losing.

And if the winning team is competing for a playoff spot in the same conference, they are being punished for winning by their opponent gaining an undeserved point. Playoff spots and seeding are based on points, not wins as it is in other major sports. This made sense back when there were ties, although as I said, I am not advocating bring ties back.

This causes a problem if teams get a point for OT losses. This means a team with fewer wins can have more points than a team who actually earned theirs through victories. Teams with less wins can beat out teams with more wins for playoff spots and in playoff seeding, simply because they LOST more games in OT. Say what?!

Want an example? Based on their 86 points, the Chicago Blackhawks are tied for first place in the Central Division, and would be the number 3 seed in the Western Conference. But they have 14 overtime losses. That means 14 of their 86 points are from games they lost!!! Say what?! Without being rewarded for losing, the Hawks would only have 72 points, knocking them down to 4th place in the Central Division, and making them the 7th seed in the Western Conference. Is this fair to the other teams in their division and conference?

If you take the OT loss points away from their rivals, none of which even come close to exploiting this rule as much as Chicago, the Blackhawks would still only be 3rd in their division, and 5th in the conference.

The NHL is an exciting league for an exciting game, which unfortunately doesn't receive enough respect or exposure in the US. I don't think rewarding teams for losing games has any place in professional sports, and should be reserved for pee wee leagues.