The still-tied-for-first Oakland A's take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, who are sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum in the American League East.
It gives me great pleasure to re-introduce "Q&A with the Enemy", though I wouldn't exactly consider Stacey a bitter adversary. Fact is, the self-proclaimed Team Mom at Camden Chat has posted exactly one time on Athletics Nation, and they were rather complimentary words indeed. Which is nothing like the comments that you'll find at CC these days.
For Stacey's questions and 67M's answers, click here. For the state of the Baltimore Orioles according to Stacey, read on:
The Baltimore Orioles are bad at baseball. Do not try to convince me otherwise.
It's like this. The Orioles don't just want to lose. They want to lose in the most painful way possible. So instead of a nice, normal game where they lose in a nice, normal fashion, you know what they do? They conspire together, the lot of them. MacPhail, Trembley, Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins. And they figure out the absolute crappiest way to lose a game, the way that will make you feel the worst you can possibly feel about a baseball game, and that's what they do.
More, after a heartbreaking loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday:
A couple walks and a three run bomb by Carlos Pena later and the Orioles fans will really know pain. Not just the pain of a sucky team, no sirreee. The pain of a team that looks so inept that it will never contend, ever.
Does she fit in with us, or what? Thought I'd ask her a few questions, but you'll have to wait until after the jump.
67M: I think baseball curses are silly, even if they make good copy, but how come no one talks about the Jinx of Jeff (Maier)? Do the O's need another 70 seasons or so of suffering for this to become a story?
Stacey: You're definitely right, baseball curses are silly. I actually can't stand them. We don't believe in curses in Baltimore; we call a spade a spade. The Baltimore Orioles are bad at baseball because they've had a meddling owner who alienates good baseball men like Pat Gillick and Davey Johnson and replaces them with bad baseball men that will operate as yes-men. They're bad at baseball because they spent years wasting draft picks and spending ill advised money on relievers and giving players like Daniel Cabrera more chances than they deserved.
Jeffrey Maier stole that baseball from Tony Tarasco in the 1996 ALCS and while it's true that since then the Orioles have not been to or won a World Series (1983 was the last time for my O's), they did spend every day of the 1997 season in first place and came within two games of the World Series. So if Jeffrey's Jinx did take place, it certainly took its time getting to Orioles.
(To recap, Baltimore has just one winning season since that fateful day, and that came the following year. The O's made it to the ALCS in 1997, lost four one-run games to the underdog Indians, and have spent the last dozen seasons in baseball purgatory; not once during that time did they finish over .500, while averaging a little over 90 losses a season. But hey, their ballpark is kinda nice.)
67M: Am I overstating the obvious to say that things would be a little nicer were the Yankees and Red Sox in a different division? Surely that has to be frustrating for fans of not only the O's, but those that follow the Jays and Rays, too. Is there any reason to believe that better days are ahead for Baltimore?
Stacey: There was a lot of talk of realignment scenarios this off-season, and almost all revolved around getting the Yankees and Red Sox away from the poor, poor, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays. Lots of people agree with them, and while I see their point to an extent, the truth is the Orioles haven't been bad for 12 years because the Yankees and Red Sox have more money, and the Rays have succeeded despite their economic disadvantage. So would it be easier if the Red Sox and Yankees weren't in the same division as the Orioles? Of course it would. The AL Central seems like it would be a fun place to play. But I don't want the Orioles to be in a different division, they've been in the AL East as long as it has existed and it is just as much theirs as it is the Yankees' and Red Sox's.
There is reason for optimism Baltimore. The Orioles have a young core of talented position players in Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Felix Pie, and Matt Wieters, and a future ace in the rotation in 23-year old Brian Matusz, with a number of other young talented pitchers in the minors. GM Andy MacPhail has been building this team from the ground up since taking over in 2007 and hopefully the results will begin to show this year. Right at this moment it's hard to feel hopeful, as the O's have started the season 1-8, but they are getting better.
67M: At first glance it appears the pitching has done well enough to keep the Orioles in some ballgames. Millwood is no secret, but how have the likes of David Hernandez and Jeremy Guthrie- two starters that the A's are slated to face this week- looked so far?
Stacey: The starting pitching has actually been the only successful thing about the Orioles so far this year. With the exception of Brad Bergesen, who has had two rough outings, the entire rotation has been solid. David Hernandez, who starts game one of the O's-A's series, was a long shot to make the rotation out of spring training but impressed the Orioles enough that they sent Chris Tillman back to AAA. Hernandez made 19 starts for the Orioles in 2009 and wasn't very good. He gave up 27 HR in just 101 innings and walked 4.1 batters per 9 innings. His first outing of 2010 was impressive, however, as he pitched 6 innings and allowed just 2 runs. If he can keep the ball down in the zone and limit his HR, Hernandez could have a chance to stick in the rotation. More likely, however, his long term home is in the bullpen.
Jeremy Guthrie had a very disappointing 2009 season as he led the league in HR allowed. After two solid seasons in 2007 and 2008, he allowed more hits than ever before and his fly ball % went through the roof (hence the HR allowed). In two starts so far in 2010, Guthrie has looked better. He hasn't dominated, but has kept the Orioles in the game, allowing 3 ER in each start and looking solid but not spectacular. Should he keep his fly ball % down, Guthrie should have success in 2010.
(At the time my questions were sent, it was not known who Baltimore's fourth starter would be in this series. But if I have done my baseball math correctly, we should see Brian Matusz opposite Brett Anderson on Sunday.)
67M: The O's re-acquired an old friend in the form of Miguel Tejada this off-season. See any changes the second time around? Is Miggy's bat slow? Can we have him back? How has he adapted to the hot corner?
Stacey: You may remember from Miggi's time in Oakland that he wasn't really one to take a walk. Well, that's only gotten worse. His walk rate has dropped every year, bottoming out at 2.8% in 2009. He has yet to take a walk in 2010. His power is also down, he'll be lucky to hit 15 HR in 2010, but he can still hit. He hasn't had much luck this season but he's hit a number of balls hard that just didn't fall in. He's certainly not the offensive threat he was the first time he signed with the Orioles, but he's still a steady bat and should hold down 3B nicely while the Orioles wait for prospect Josh Bell to prove he's ready. Defensively, Miggi has made two errors so far on the year, and unfortunately, both were costly and led to runs. But he's made a number of great defensive plays that wowed us, and he still has a gun of an arm. If you want him back, I'm sure we could work something out. Give Andy MacPhail a call; he'll take care of you.
(At CC, Miggy is spelled with an "i", not a "y", so put down those red pens, please.)
67M: That kid Wieters seems to know a thing or two about hitting, hmm?
Stacey: That he does. After a successful (although over-hyped) rookie season, Matt Wieters has gotten off to a good start in 2010 with 4 walks and 10 hits in his first 8 games. He's also taken a liking to throwing out base runners, catching 5 out of 6 who have tried to run on him so far. We love him.
67M: What have been some of the other bright spots during a not-so-bright start?
Stacey: Well I already mentioned the starting pitching. Millwood, Matusz, and Guthrie have all had two good starts, Hernandez has had one. Miggi's relatively strong defense has been another bright spot considering it was such an uncertainty before the season started. On offense, Felix Pie is slowly turning everyone in Baltimore into a believer. He came to Baltimore in 2009 a failed prospect and didn't win anyone over with his abysmal hitting and mental mistakes early on, but after some hard work, emerged a new man. He finished the 2009 season on fire and has picked up right where he left off. Definitely a pleasant surprise.
67M: We, at AN are an eclectic lot. So in a few words, can I get your opinion on zombies, squirrels, sock puppets, bacon, and, um, bloggers who reply to themselves?
Stacey: I don't know much about zombies, although we do have a resident zombie expert at Camden Chat, daveh873. Please direct all zombie inquiries to him. Squirrels like to act cute but really they're disgusting, sock puppets are only cool if they have red button eyes, bacon is nature's perfect food, and bloggers who reply to themselves are probably kind of lonely.
(Well, come on, who really replies to themselves? That's just...I know, right?)
Thank you Stacey! Here's to four more games of misery. Oh, I kid (cough).
See you tonight for a Sluggie-filled game.