I sent a few questions out to Stacey from Camden Chat, SB Nation's great Oriole site and she was nice enough to send some answers back. The Orioles are not doing great, he says as an understatement. They are having the season our detractors figured we would. I still think they are heading in the right direction, they have a lot of good young players, it's just not happening as quick as we thought it would for them.
The Orioles have had a rough start to the season, but even when things aren't going great, there is some good. Which Orioles have been positive surprises?
Hmm....well, Kevin Millwood has been pretty good. Much better than expected actually. Not that he has a win to show for it. Ty Wigginton has been a very pleasant surprise, filling in more than adequately for Brian Roberts at 2B (not defensively, but it's hard to argue with his bat). Jeremy Guthrie has also had a very nice season so far after looking terrible for most of 2009, so that's helped quite a bit.
Matt Wieters had a great start to the year but hasn't been as good since. What's happening with him?
Who knows. What is happening with any of the Orioles young players? Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Nolan Reimold, they've all been garbage. How much of it is just young players still learning (they are all still very young other than Nolan Reimold), how much of it is poor coaching, and how much of it is them just not being as good as we thought still remains to be seen. I haven't thrown in the towel on any of these guys but it's very hard to watch. And it's very discouraging that the only good things I could list above involve players who don't have a future on this team.
Could you give us a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers the Jays will see?
Kevin Millwood - As I mentioned, Millwood has been a pleasant surprise for the O's this year. Millwood has faced each team in the AL East once so far and has yet to allow more than two earned runs to any of them (he did allow 3 HR and 3 unearned runs to the Jays the first time he saw them). His walk rate is as low as it's ever been in his career at 2.12 per 9 IP, and that's helped him a lot. He pitches deep into the game, he doesn't give out free passes, and he keeps the team in the game. That's as much as the Orioles could ask of him, really.
Chris Tillman - Tillman was slated to be the Orioles' fifth starter going into the season but lost the job in Spring Training to David Hernandez. After 3 rough starts to the AAA season, Tillman settled down and pretty much dominated in his next seven starts. Now that David Hernandez has proven that he is who we think he is, he has been moved to the bullpen to make room for Tillman. Tillman made 12 starts for the Orioles last year and while he showed instances of brilliance, he tended to leave his fastball right out over the plate, leading to 15 HR in just 65 innings. He has allowed 4 HR in 58 innings so far in AAA Norfolk, so hopefully that will translate with his promotion.
Jeremy Guthrie - After a very poor 2009 season, Guthrie has reverted back to the pitcher we knew from 2007 and 2008. His walk and home run rates are back down to pre-2009 levels and he's become one of the most consistent pitchers on the team. His 3.64 ERA is a little deceiving as both his FIP and xFIP are both over 4, but so far he's gotten results. His K rate is a little low but between the drop in his BB rate and the fewer number of hits he's allowing it's working out. After a rough patch a few weeks ago where he faced the Yankees in back-to-back starts, Guthrie is now coming off three consecutive starts where he has allowed only 1 run.
Is manager Dave Trembley's likely to be fired?
I hope so. There is only so much a manager can do to contribute to a team's wins and losses, but Trembley has done everything he can to hurt this team. He's always been a bit of an over-manager, but lately he's been completely over the top. He pinch runs for the best hitter on the team in a tie ball game, he is obsessed with changing pitchers for reasons evident to no one but himself (he can't adequately explain his position either), and he's managing scared. It is brutal to watch, frankly. This team wouldn't be a contender with Earl Weaver at the helm, but it's time to face the facts that Dave Trembley is not a competent major league manager. It's a shame because I like him and it would have been a great story.
Is there anything else Jay fans should know about the Orioles?
Look, if the Orioles are winning in the 7th, 8th innings, don't sweat it. The Jays still have an awesome chance to win the game, because this is the worst team I've ever seen. And believe me, I've seen some stinkers.
Thanks Stacey, I'd wish your team best of luck, but I'll save it for after they leave Toronto.