Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Demotion of Chris Tillman: Only UnTILL He's Ready

Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman, 21, lost out to David Hernandez, 25, for the fifth spot in the Baltimore Orioles opening day rotation. Tillman was long thought to be the leader for the spot because of his youth and rank as one of the best young prospects in the major leagues. Tillman, however, walked nine batters in 16 plus innings to earn his ticket back to the minors.

Tillman has loads of potential, but he needs to learn how to harness it. He has been working on a cutter to go along with his low-90's fastball, change-up, and 12-6 curveball repertoire. Tillman, quite frankly, just needs a little bit more seasoning. It isn't that Hernandez is a much better option; rather he is a little older and can throw his pitches for strikes more consistently than Tillman.

Hernandez throws in the mid-90's and has been haunted a bit by the long ball, but he is also a very good pitcher with men in scoring position. I was surprised that his stats with RISP didn't warrant him a spot in the bullpen as a late-inning reliever.

There was a time not so long ago when the Orioles would bring up their young pitchers because they didn't have much depth and were force feeding the young guns to the best hitters in the world (see Daniel Cabrera, Hayden Penn). Thankfully, this is not the case anymore or Tillman would be working his struggles out in the majors. I predict that Tillman will be back within a month or two at the latest, and he will supplant either Hernandez or veteran Jeremy Guthrie for a spot in the rotation. The minor leagues is where a young pitcher can gain confidence and work on his game, and I believe Tillman will come back even better. If he can add the cutter to his other pitchers, which would create more ground balls and set up other pitches, then he will be very successful for many years.

It was a wise decision for the O's to send Tillman down and let Hernandez start the season with the big club.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Washington Redskins: Same old, Same old?

The Washington Redskins have had a dilemma for the past decade; well, let's face it: they've had many dilemmas. One dilemma sticks out more than the rest. They have had a terrible ability to choose players, whether it be in the draft or free agency. They're evaluation of both people and talent is among the worst I've ever seen.

The Redskins have needed a left tackle through the draft for some time now, everybody knows it; yet everybody ignores it to keep playing fantasy football.

On Saturday, Brian Mitchell and his radio partner were discussing the idea of bringing Denver Bronco bad boy Brandon Marshall to DC. However, not once did they talk about the fact that it would take a first round pick to pry Marshall away because the Broncos laid the first round tender on him. What we would have if the Redskins took Marshall and forfeited their draft pick, is a still mediocre quarterback in Jason Campbell, and still nobody to keep him upright, which is what people have been whining about making excuses about for three or four years.

Can you imagine Brandon Marshall with Jason Campbell? I can. It does not look good.

Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have the reputation for bringing in older players who are washed up, and players through the draft who do not work out. That's a major problem when winning is the main goal. If they fail to ignore the left tackle position or the quarterback position in the first round of the 2010 draft, it will be through pure arrogance on their part. Shanahan was fired after winning two super bowls in the late-1990's because he couldn't do things his way or without Elway. If the Redskins neglect the offensive line in the first few rounds they are making a serious mistake, and will continue to try and sell their fans on their way. I can tell you before it happens: their way does not work.

The Redskins have long tried to sell hope to their fans through offseason moves. Let's be honest here, too. This method has worked brilliantly because the faithful cannot get enough of it. Selling jerseys, making revenue, and putting people in the seats is a lot of fun, but I can tell you another thing. When you win, the winning sells itself. I'm just not sure this organization still has any clue how to do it.

What do you think? Are they on the right track? When they say they will be quiet in free agency (even though they only are because guys didn't want to come here) do you believe them? What say you?

Quick Final Four Preview

The Final Four is set. Duke, West Virginia, Butler, and Michigan State will be convening in Indianapolis, Indiana, next Saturday to decide who plays for the championship on Monday.

Just a few quick thoughts.


Duke showed that they are better than people think in winning the last four games using senior leadership, toughness, and a combination of good low post players and seasoned guards. Senior Guard Jon Scheyer is one of the most underrated players to play at Duke since Carlos Boozer, and junior guard Nolan Smith provides timely scoring along with nasty defensive lockdown. Brian Zoubek is not much, but he is a fiery leader who rebounds and defends the way many Duke big men have in the past. Duke is a solid team that deserves to be in the final four once again.

West Virginia:

John Denver's mythic squad has been one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. They beat Kentucky to advance to the final four on Saturday night, and Da'Sean Butler showed America why he is one of the best players in the country. His silky smooth long range game and inside game are extremely tough to defend for anybody. Dub-V does not have many "name" guys, but they all fit perfect roles. Coach Bob Huggins provides a tough 1-3-1 zone that gives opposing offenses problems, and the game against Duke this Saturday should be stellar.

On the other side of the bracket, Michigan State will play hometown team Butler.

Michigan State:

Head coach Tom Izzo has now taken Sparty to 6 Final Four's in 12 years. The Spartans have relied on players like Durrell Summers and Draymond Green to make up for the absence of the injured guard Kalin Lucas to roll into the Final Four. Their win over Tennessee showed heart and toughness, and when Izzo is directing the troops he is worth eight points a game by himself. These Spartans have exceeded everybody's expectations.


Butler is playing the Final Four only seven miles away from their campus. They should have a major following the crowd on Saturday night, and that can play a major role in the game. Head coach Brad Stevens is only 33, but he is leading a mid-major into the Final Four for the first time since 2006. His guards have been playing spectacular basketball as of late, and the grit and toughness they showed against Syracuse and Kansas State showed me they can beat Michigan State.

We are looking at two great match-ups on Saturday night. I believe we will see West Virginia play Butler in the least rated NCAA Championship game ever. That's a shame because it should be one hell of a show to watch.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Baltimore Ravens 2010 First Round Draft Outlook

The NFL draft is less than a month away, and it's getting to the point where players are starting to be pegged to certain teams. Me? I'm just glad the Ravens are no longer associated with drafting a quarterback high in the draft. Thank you, Joe Flacco.

The Ravens are a stacked team going into the 2010 campaign and only have a few needs. None of the needs are too glaring, however; but they could use some players at tight end, defensive line, cornerback, and wide receiver.

Tight End: The preference for the Ravens at pick #25 is to take Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham was the nation's top tight end prospect heading into the 2009 season, but he suffered a torn ACL before it all started. He showed at the combine that he is back to being the physical specimen he was before, and the Ravens would love to take him with their first round pick. He represents youth, good blocking, solid hands, and fine speed at a position where the Ravens are getting older with Todd Heap. Heap is no longer what he once was, but he is still a very dependable player with the same sure hands he's had since becoming a first round pick in his own right back in 2001.

Gresham would make a fine pick here at 25 both in terms of value and long term for the Ravens.

Cornerback: Let's just throw top corner prospect Joe Haden of Florida out of the mix for now because he will be long gone by the time the 25th pick rolls around. The Ravens are said to like Boise State's Kyle Wilson and Rutgers' Devin McCourty. Both players are fast, have good hip movement, and can play the ball. I think if Grisham is gone by 25, the Ravens will try and trade down to acquire one of these two corners.

McCourty is my preference because of his size and skill set. I like corners who are a little bigger that can run and play the ball in the air. He has the ability to return kicks, too, which increases his value to the team. McCourty can be paired with Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb when Webb returns from ACL surgery.

Defensive Line: Let's be honest here, too. The two dominant tackles in the draft will be gone at 25 as well. Brandon Graham of Michigan is an intriguing option here because he can play defensive end and outside linebacker. I would prefer him at this spot, and he certainly could be available at 25. Another option would be Everson Griffen of USC. Griffen needs to show a better motor at this point, but the Ravens are known to squeeze everything they have on defense out of a player. There isn't too much of a read on this position as far as who the Ravens like at this point.

Wide Receiver: The Ravens brought in two wide receivers this offseason to compliment the incumbent Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. Anqaun Boldin and Donte Stallworth were brought in to help put the team over the hump, and I believe they can. Both players will compliment each other very well. Boldin works the middle better than almost anybody in the league, Mason can work the sideline better than almost anybody in the league, and Stallworth can run the deeper patterns as well as most. In football, much is made about what a player cannot do. Well, that's why it's a team game, and you have other players compliment what others cannot do. What you have is a beautiful mix of blending what everybody does well onto the field with team concepts.

As far as the draft goes, I can see the Ravens taking Demaryius Thomas from Georgia Tech. Thomas is a big, strong, and fast receiver who can stretch the field, yet make the tough catches. He could use a little development, but he won't be called on to do much with the Ravens in 2010, and he will have two of the best mentors anyone could ask for in Boldin and Mason.

Another receiver option would be Golden Tate out of Notre Dame. Tate is not a very tall guy, but he's strong as an ox and makes tough catches over the middle and on the sidelines. Tate has been compared to Hines Ward, and for a guy to be compared like that is high praise. Ward showed 4.3 speed at the combine and has shown great open field ability, too.

I would be okay if the Ravens took either of these two receivers.

The Ravens are in the fortunate position of being a great drafting team. Their scouting department led by GM Ozzie Newsome and his top assistant Eric DeCosta have brought in some of the most talented players in all of football over the past decade. Whatever they decide to do usually works, or works at a very high percentage relative to other teams in the league.

Who do you think the Ravens will take in the first round?????

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Orioles vs Nationals

Over the past five years, there has been a division of hate between Nationals fans (all 20 of them) and Orioles fans. The Nationals fans have complained that Orioles owner Peter Angelos did all he could to keep the Expos from moving to DC in 2005. My response? Okay. Sorry. I would have done the same thing. Remember when the Redskins tried to keep Baltimore from having a team for 13 years? I do. Do the Ravens fans whine about the Redskins now? No. Anytime a team comes into your territory it's a big deal. This isn't Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles. The market isn't as big, nor does it fit as many people.

Let's be honest: There are 10 times as many Orioles fans than Nationals fans in the area. The Orioles outdraw the Nationals in television ratings---IN WASHINGTON DC! I'm sick and tired of Nationals fans blaming everything on the Orioles, and whining that it's their fault. The Orioles own the rights to Nationals televised games. Well, that was part of the deal of them coming here. Deal with it. It really shouldn't have an impact on whether people like the Nats or not.

The whining and pining about the Orioles is incredible. Almost everything I read from Nats fans has something to do with the Orioles. Memo to the Nats fans: The Orioles do not care about you. You are not a threat. Your team is terrible, there is no fan base, and there won't be one. For 33 years you all wanted a team, yet one was not given to you. When a team was given to you, it was not the one you wanted. What did you expect? The Dodgers to move here from LA? DC is/has never been a baseball town. Two teams have bounced from the DC area in the past 50 years. The only reason this one is staying is because the owners are from the area, and the ballpark was just built (In a dump of an area). Which reminds me. You guys don't have to slam Camden Yards. It's not a valid argument towards anything. OPACY is recognized as one of the best in baseball, and one that revolutionized how stadiums and ballparks were built in the country. Save me that ridiculous argument.

All of this comes from an article in the Washington Post today by solid baseball writer Dave Sheinin. You can read the article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/22/AR2010032201730.html. Going through the comments section of the article is amazing because it's about half the people praising the Post for covering the O's, and half the comments about the Orioles getting love instead of the Nationals. Keep in mind that the Orioles were dropped from the Posts daily beat. The sensitive nature is incredible from Nats fans. Boohoo, wo is us. You know what? Win more than 60 damn games a season, then come back to me and we'll talk.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mike Mussina's Shadow

Most Baltimore Orioles fans are aware that the club has turned to growing pitching arms over the past few seasons under club general manager Andy MacPhail. The club has promoted their young pitchers, but has let it be known that they will be careful with their young arms, and not promote them get to the big leagues until they are absolutely ready to compete at the highest level.

Perhaps no Oriole youngster is as good as left-hander Brian Matusz.

Matusz, 23, was drafted out of the University of San Diego in the first round, fourth overall, in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft. He was known for his three above average pitches, with the fourth pitch being a slider that he was still working to perfect.

Matusz started his professional career in high single-A Frederick, and he didn't disappoint the Orioles. Matusz went 4-2 with a 2.16 era in a little over 60 innings pitched. With his success came a promotion to double-A Bowie, where he thrived even more. He went 7-0 with a 1.55 era. When the Orioles ran out of pitchers because of injuries in August, MacPhail didn't have too many other options other than Matusz. Matusz struggled for his first few starts, but then started figuring it out. His alst three starts he went seven innings and allowed three or less runs.

Matusz was shut down in September to avoid wearing down the way many young pitchers do when they go over a certain amount of innings. He has picked up right where he left off in spring training 2010.

Known for his cool demeanor and pitching savvy, Matusz has been nothing short of impressive this spring. He has a 2.51 ERA, 18 k's, and has allowed seven hits in 14 and 1/3 innings. Matusz has always missed a lot of bats with his stuff, but it's the way he thinks through at-bat's that impresses me the most. He is the left-handed version of Mike Mussina, and he hits the black with regularity, and he knows what to thrown, when to throw it, and to whom he is throwing it to.

I've heard comparisons of Matusz to future hall of famer and former Atlanta Brave and New York Met Tom Glavine. Glavine was a very good pitcher during the 1980's and 1990's, but I don't believe he had the complete package that Matusz has. Am I saying that Matusz will win over 300 games and win multiple Cy Young Awards? No. Those feats are very rare, and most of the time it takes a lot of good fortune to reach those milestones. I do, however, believe that Matusz has the ability to be the ace of the Orioles staff and win between 15-20 games each season for the next decade barring injury.

The Orioles preaching of growing arms is bound to pay off. They are stockpiling the arms the way good pitching teams need to, especially those who cannot buy pitching like other teams.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful time.....of the Spring

Ladies and Gentlemen....THE SPRING HAS BEGUN. Well, the sports calendar of the spring, anyways.

March madness has started with a bang. Murray State defeated Vanderbilt on a buzzer shot, and Old Dominion defeated Notre Dame. Robert Morris took Villanova to overtime before running out of gas in the extra session. The games will get even better as the weekend progresses as Maryland will take the court Friday night in Spokane, Alaska; or Washington. It's so far away from Maryland it's ridiculous.

The Major League Baseball season is just around the corner. Hope springs eternal at this time for the 30 teams in Arizona and Florida who are just itching to get back to their cities to get this thing going. There are several questions for the area teams. Will the Orioles finally contend? Will the Nationals finally win more than 60 games while occupying their new ballpark? Will Stephen Strasburg be the star he is made out to be? All of those questions will be answered within the next few months, but today is the start.

The NFL Draft is about a month away, and the speculation as to who is going where and who is picking who is picking up at a rapid pace. Tim Tebow's workout yesterday in Florida was more like a rock concert than workout. It was highly attended, and the stadium's concession stands opened because of the high volume of fans in attendance. I'll be doing a mock draft in about two weeks, as well as an article about who I believe the Ravens should take in the first round. Who do you think the Ravens should take in the first round?

It's the most wonderful time of the year. The start of March Madness is the start of the baseball season, which leads to the NFL season. The MLB opening day is typically on the same Monday as the NCAA Championship game, and so we really do just roll from sport to sport. It's a great time to be a sports enthusiast.

A Star-crossed Misfit: Nationals waive Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes represents everything the Washington Nationals USED to be. They were run by disgraced buffoon Jim Bowden and had total misfits. Not only were some of their players just not major league quality; they were also taken from other teams because their former teams didn't feel like dealing with their off-field issues. No player embodied the old way quite like Elijah Dukes.

Dukes came from the Tampa Bay Rays in a late 2007 trade. It was thought that this very talented individual needed a change of scenery from Tampa, where he got arrested multiple times for several different reasons.

Dukes certainly looks the part. He is a gigantic human being with muscles bigger than most people's heads, and athletic ability most can only dream of. I heard the Bo Jackson comparison athletically to Dukes multiple times. Dukes' two biggest problems during his time in DC were that he couldn't stay on the field because of injury, and that he couldn't hit baseballs classic pitch: the curveball.

Dukes struggled mightily at the plate. Writers like Washington Post Columnist Tom Boswell kept throwing out stats that were potential based. Boswell once estimated that Dukes had the potential to hit over 35 home runs with 130 rbi's. Okay, that's all well and great, but if you can't hit a curveball it really doesn't matter. Dukes is a career .242 hitter, and that just doesn't cut in the major leagues as a starter. Throw in the rest of the baggage Dukes comes with and there is really no point in having him around.

General manager Mike Rizzo has made it a point to get players on the Nationals who are good people as well as good players. Dukes and former outfielder Lastings Milledge represent Bowden's buffoonery in bringing in head cases and "me" players. Dukes may not necessarily be a "me" guy, but when you can't hit a breaking pitch at the big league level, you have no reason to be a "me" guy. I wish Dukes nothing but success in his life and for his baseball career, but the juice on him is definitey not worth the squeeze.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Questions continued

Earlier today, I took some relevant questions about the Orioles that people have been asking, and answered them to the best of my knowledge and opinion.

Here is part two with regard to the position players.

Question: Is Brian Roberts going to be ready for opening day? Will he struggle with his back all season?

Answer: I believe Roberts will be ready for opening day on April 6. He just went to see a back specialist at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to get an epidural and to make sure everything was all right with his herniated disk. People forget Roberts needed only 10 days of spring training in 2006 after his horrific elbow injury at Yankee Stadium in 2005. Roberts is a true professional in every sense of the word, and I have no doubt he'll be ready to go.

As far as if he will struggle with his back all season long. I can imagine he'll be playing through pain occasionally, but pro athletes these days get the best treatment with the best doctors and the best medicines to help them play through pain. Roberts should be fine, though I don't expect to see him steal 50 bases again this season.

Question: Will Nolan Reimold be ready to start the season?

Answer: This is a tricky question. Reimold is coming off of achilles tendon surgery in September, and all reports are that he is still being slowed by it. I wouldn't be surprised to see Reimold start the season either on the DL or as the DH. If he starts the season in either of these two scenarios, I would fully expect to see Felix Pie getting the most time in left field until Reimold is ready.

I think this can be a breakout year for Reimold. He is a very patient hitter with a solid OBP over .350 in 2009. His 15 home runs in 4 1/2 months is impressive, too. I can see 2010 being a 20 home run season for Reimold, but that's assuming he plays in over 145 games.

Question: Will the Orioles outfield combine for over 60 home runs?

Answer: Yes, Adam Jones, Reimold, Pie, and Nick Markakis will combine to hit over 60 home runs. In fact, I will say they will hit 75 home runs. Give Jones 25, Reimold 20, Pie 10, and Markakis 20. That's 75 home runs right there, and I can see Markakis having a breakout season with close to 30 home runs. 2010 will be the start of the discussion on whether the Orioles outfield is the best in the major leagues for many, many years to come.

Question: Can Miguel Tejada handle third base?

Answer: Absolutely. Tejada is one of the most athletically gifted baseball players there are. Shortstop is a demanding position, and not many 35 year old players can handle it. That's why Tejada knew that in order to extend his career he needed to go to the hot corner. So far, Tejada has not disappointed. He has reportedly been working very hard to ensure that he is the best third basemen he can be when opening day rolls around. The toughest play he may have to perfect is the bunt. It's hard to know when to come in for the bunt, how to make the throw on the run from awkward angles, and to cover the bag when necessary. Only practice and game experience will prep tejada for the demands of third base. I believe he will be successful.

Tomorrow I will look at the possibility of the Orioles breaking their 12 year losing streak, and winning 81 or more games. Can it be done?

Three weeks until Opening Day!

That's right. We are three weeks away from the season opener in Tampa Bay on April 6, 2010. The Baltimore Orioles are in the middle of spring training, and there are still a few questions to be answered.


The Orioles have a few questions regarding their pitchers. Kevin Millwood has been hammered the past two outings, and he figures to be the club ace and opening day starter. Is it time to be worried about him?

Answer: No. Millwood has been pitching in the big leagues for over 12 years, so I can't worry about a guy who probably is just going through a normal routine to get ready.

Question: Are Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman going to step up and take the staff to new heights?

Answer: Yes and No. Brian Matusz, 23, is absolutely the real deal. He has the total package. His makeup matches his talent, and his talent includes four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. Tillman, 21, is still a young pitcher trying to find his way. He is much further along than most pitchers his age usually are. Tillman has a solid curve to go along with his low-mid 90's heater, but his control can sometimes be off. In my opinion, Tillman can be a very quality two or three starter in a year or two.

Question: Is Brad Bergesen going to be ready for the season?

Answer: It appears so. Bergesen suffered a horrific leg injury last July when Billy Butler of Kansas City drove a fastball up the middle and hit him. Then, as he recovered from the leg injury during the offseason, Bergesen hurt his shoulder while filming a MASN commercial. It does appear from his last two starts that Bergesen is pain free and ready to go. Will he have the same sinking fastball and pinpoint control that earned him a 3.43 era last summer? That is the big question. I believe he will. The guy works hard enough and has shown the ability to bounce back before.

Question: Who is the closer?

Answer: The Orioles signed Mike Gonzalez away from the Atlanta Braves to be the full-time closer. Gonzalez is a left-hander known for his funky delivery and dominance over left-handed batters. Gonzalez is a sure upgrade over Jim Johnson, but it remains to be seen if he is an upgrade over George Sherrill. Sherrill, of course, was traded last July to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and while he provided heart attacks before getting the last out of the game, he was usually successful at picking up the save. I can see Gonzalez struggling early as he gets adjusted to the American League, but I think he will find his way and save 20 or more games.

Later today I'll give some questions about the position players and try to answer them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Big East from the Big Apple

This past weekend, I was able to attend the Big East Tournament semi-final and championship from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Attending the Big East tourney has been on my bucket list for many years, and I was finally able to obtain tickets with my family through a family friend.

The games on friday were the Georgetown Hoyas vs Marquette and the Notre Dame vs. West Virginia. The Hoyas and Mountaineers advanced to the championship game, but I will get to that game in a second.

Madison Square Garden is the mecca of indoor sporting events in the United States. The history of that building, between being the site of so many title boxing bouts, including the famous "Fight of the Century" on March 8, 1971 between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The Garden has hosted Stanley Cups, NBA championships, and numerous other famous events. It is generally considered the "world's most famous arena." Just walking into that building brings a certain level of mystique. Throw in the fact that the seats are set up like a theatre, where they gradually ascend to the rafters, and you have somewhat of a play happening on the court.

And let's not forget: New York crowds, especially for high-level basketball, are incomparable in terms of passion and enthusiasm.

To the games

I came away feeling that Georgetown's Chris Wright and West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler were the two best players on the floor. Butler scored from all over the court, and made the game winning shot on a great drive. He showed strength and toughness in going into traffic and scoring such a big shot. Chris Wright missed the last shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but he was superb throughout the game. Wright was hitting big shot after big shot, and had a thunderous breakaway dunk at the end of the first half that brought the Hoya fans back into the game.

Austin Freeman of Georgetown is another very good player, as is Greg Monroe. However, Monroe has some things to work on. He cannot defend anybody. He probably couldn't even defend New York superfan Spike Lee. He is stiff in the hips, and lacks strength to match up with big bodied forwards.

Going to the Big East tournament was a great experience, and the event did not disappoint. The Garden always holds great events, and I would recommend anybody to go. I will post video of the event, as well as pictures, and the video of the last nine seconds of the final. Da'Sean Butler's winning shot, and the subsequent miss by Chris Wright at the buzzer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Super Talent: Adam Jones

There are certain days and times when you can feel something change. In sports, when you look back on a team, you can see when and where it all changed. The New York Yankees drafting Derek Jeter in the first round with the 6th overall pick in 1992. The Mets drafting Darryl Strawberry number one overall. The Nationals taking Stephen Strasburg first overall in 2009; well, that remains to be seen. For the Baltimore Orioles, their change in philosophy became clear when they traded ace pitcher Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherril, and two other players.

Adam Jones has certainly been the centerpiece of that deal, and he has become the Orioles center fielder for the next decade plus as long as he is willing to stay in Baltimore. Jones came over in 2008 and has grown up before our very eyes. Jones is the prototypical "5 tool" athletic talent that scouts drool over. He is becoming much more of a baseball player, and that has Oriole fans clamoring to see him get even better in 2010.

Jones hit .270 in 2008 with nine home runs. In 2009, Jones hit .277 with 19 home runs in 119 games. His defense took a bit of a dip in 2009, but I attribute that to his trying to play more shallow than most centerfielders play. He still was good enough to win the American League outfielders Gold Glove award for 2009. I'd like to see Jones take the next step in center, and possibly play a tad deeper if he still is unable to get to the wall fast enough. However, he is definitely one of the best center fielders in the game already, and he figures to get even better. He can play where he wants to play.

Jones has shown a knack for swinging at bad pitches, though not nearly as many as when he first got the ball club. When Jones is hitting to all fields, he is a .310 hitter in the big leagues. When he chases pitches, he will go around .280. If Jones can learn to take a few more walks, he'll be around .300 every season for the next decade.


Jones is one of the most talented baseball players to come to the Orioles in years. His defense, along with his superior throwing arm make him one of the best outfielders in the game. I can see Jones easily hitting 25 home runs if he plays in 150 plus games, but that will be the key. Jones has not shown the ability to play healthy through an entire season. Though he got hurt by fluke injuries, he'll still need to show he can handle a season. Jones will be arbitration eligible after the season, and if he puts together a solid campaign, I can easily see the Orioles giving him a new contract. I look forward to seeing what Jones will do this 2010 season.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Change in Flight: Ravens trade for Anquan Boldin

The Baltimore Ravens finally solved their seemingly endless problem of finding a top wide receiver to go with their developing offense. The Ravens acquired veteran wideout Anquan Boldin and a 5th round pick in the 2010 draft from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a 3rd and 4th round pick.

The Ravens have been looking for a top wide receiver for years, and finally believe they have found their man. Boldin, 29, has been one of the best producing receivers of the past decade. His career stats speak for their self, and his hard work-ethic, toughness, and grit should fit perfectly with the Ravens style of play. Boldin is known for his physical abilities, and his desire to make tough catches over the middle and yards after catch ability.

This is a tremendous coupe for the Ravens. Boldin will bring instant toughness to a receiving core that is going through a bit of a makeover. With speedster Donte Stallworth already on board, the Ravens hope they can start winning games by scoring points of they need to, rather than just stopping the other team.

The Ravens will hold a press conference on March 8 at 3 PM to officially welcome Boldin to Baltimore.

This is a big move for the team, and a welcome addition to the city.

I will have more analysis on the trade as we go along