Friday, February 27, 2009

Flashback Friday: Spring Training 1989

Ripken to third? Worthington as the next Brooks Robinson?

"I'm on record as saying I'll do whatever is best for the ball club. At this time, this is what the club feels is best."

-Cal Ripken Jr.
, on his move back to shortstop

As the O's work to get into regular season form, Roar from 34 is doing the same with the first "Flashback Friday" of the 2009 season. Given that it's the 20th anniversary of the "Why Not" season, this week's edition revisits the O's 1989 spring training camp, where new acquisition Juan Bell, obtained in the trade that sent Eddie Murray to the Dodgers, was struggling at short, and the Orioles were lauding rookie Craig Worthington as their best defensive third baseman since Brooks Robinson.

Here's an excerpt from the article "Orioles Send Down Bell, Return Ripken to Short," which ran in The Washington Post on March 21, 1989:
"Cal Ripken Jr. accepted his shift back to shortstop today by again emphasizing, 'I'm on record as saying I'll do whatever is best for the ball club. At this time, this is what the club feels is best.'

Thus ends one of the biggest decisions the Baltimore Orioles must make this spring. They announced that rookie shortstop Juan Bell was being sent to the minor leagues, that rookie Craig Worthington had won the third-base job and that Ripken, a six-time all-star at shortstop, was getting back his old position.

In the end, it was an easy call. Bell, 20, showed glimpses of defensive brilliance and his .278 batting average surprised almost everyone. But while he showed the ability to make difficult plays look easy, he made six errors in 14 games, many of them on what should have been routine infield outs.

The Orioles believe that with such a young pitching staff, the one thing they don't need is a shaky defense. One thing the Orioles know about Ripken is that he'll make almost all the routine plays, and they believe Worthington will be their best defensive third baseman since Brooks Robinson (35 players have been used there since he retired in 1977).


When that will be isn't clear because the Orioles also believe that Worthington at third and Ripken at short could be their alignment for seasons to come.

Worthington turns 24 next month and comes with an impressive resume. He became the Orioles' brightest young star when he hit .300 with 105 RBI at Class A Hagerstown in 1986. He was jumped -- probably too quickly -- to Rochester in 1987, and last year was the International League's most valuable player with 16 homers and 73 RBI.

The negatives were that he batted only .244 and struck out 93 times, leading the Orioles to believe he might be a Sal Bando-type hitter: one with a low batting average but a tough out with men on base.


In making the announcement, Robinson went out of his way to thank Ripken for agreeing to the experiment, and indicated that he could be asked to move there again depending on the development of Worthington and Bell.


Ripken agreed, sort of, saying: 'I have mixed feelings about it. I've enjoyed shortstop over the years. I've enjoyed the responsibility, being in the middle of the diamond. I liked it a lot last year, the familiarity between myself and Billy [Ripken] at second base. There are a lot of things shortstop has to offer. I was excited going back to third base this spring. It was fun.'

Of the move back, he said, 'I've never done it before so I don't know how long it's going to take to feel comfortable again. I assume it'll come pretty easily. I'm glad I have the luxury of going back and playing a few games before we go north. The positions are very different. In some respects, spring training is starting all over today.'

He refused to speculate over a future move back to third, saying both positions had pluses.

'I'm not going to get ahead of myself too much and worry about what could happen or what might happen,' he said. 'Just as I took the approach that I made the move to third base as if I were going to play there and this is what I'm preparing for opening day. I knew it could change, but you have to prepare for position your asked to play. I haven't taken one ground ball at short all spring. If something happens, I'll deal with it when it happens.'

Bell played 113 games for the Orioles over the course of three seasons before being traded to the Phillies in August 1992 for infielder Steve Scarsone, who played 11 games for the Orioles before being traded to the Giants in March 1993 for outfielder Mark Leonard, who played 10 games with the team in 1993 before being released in the offseason.

Worthington was with the Birds for four seasons, finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1989. He recorded 20 errors in 1989, 18 in 1990. The O's traded Worthington to the Padres in February 1992 along with Tom Martin for Jim Lewis and Steve Martin (the player, not the comedian). The Padres released Worthington one month later. Worthington played for the Indians, Reds, and Rangers, but never tallied more than 36 games in any one season after 1990.

As for Ripken, things turned out pretty well for him at shortstop, and again when he moved to third base, briefly for the Manny Alexander experiment in 1996, and permanently following the acquisition of Mike Bordick in 1997.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Whoa, Canada

Millar, Loewen, and Bordick make a new home in the Great White North

Despite the headline, this post has nothing to do with Alex Rodriguez homering in the Yankees' spring training opener against the Blue Jays. Instead, the focus here is on former Orioles who are now with the Blue Jays. Somebody needs to tell the Jays that we haven't been very good lately (Woe, Canada?). If nothing else, at least it makes for some compelling storylines.

First, there's the obvious, the Jays' acquisition of "Orioles Magic, The Sequel" star Kevin Millar, who has parlayed his "veteran player who won a World Series and can therefore be a clubhouse leader" reputation to extend what otherwise might have been a very brief twilight to his career.

Then there's the "on the contrary, there are second acts in (baseball) life" story of Adam Loewen, an aspiring outfielder in the Jays' system. As Rick Ankiel demonstrated in 2007, this pitcher-turned-position player comeback story is compelling enough on its own, especially when said player goes on a home run binge (pre-HGH revelations). However, those crafty Canadian writers are doing one better by talking Little League World Series heroics.

"Long before the Baltimore Orioles selected him fourth overall in the 2002 draft, the Surrey, B. C., native stepped to the plate at the 1996 Little League World Series and drove a pitch onto the iconic outfield berm of the tournament's long-time home in Williamsport, Pa.

'It was off Saudi Arabia, ended up beating them 3-2,' said Loewen. 'It was the only game we won, so that was a highlight.'"

Bonus points for the Saudia Arabia reference.

Finally, there's Mike Bordick, fresh off his "esteemed" placement on Maine's Mt. Rushmore of Sports, who has been hired as the Jays' minor-league roving infield instructor.

It's hard not to like Mike Bordick, by which of course I mean that I liked him so you should, too. You can't argue with the most consecutive error-less games (110) and chances(543) by a shortstop, although neither was apparently worth mentioning in the Blue Jays' press release, nor was it enough to earn him a gold glove when he set the record with the Orioles in 2002. Boys' Latin's loss is Toronto's gain. Good for Bordick.

Other O's: There's probably no need to remind you of BJ Ryan's continuing role with the Jays, but I did overlook recent Toronto acquisition Brian Burres, who tossed a shutout inning yesterday against the Yankees. (Tip of the cap to Dustin Parkes for the reminder).

Blue Jays flashback: April 14 will mark the one-year anniversary of the team's Two-Dollar Tuesday fiasco. Whoa, Canada indeed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Birdland Stimulus Package

Current events make for good promotions (see, for example, last season's Tanks from the Twins effort). The O's are now on board with the new Birdland Stimulus Package.

"The Baltimore Orioles hope to bring more families to Camden Yards in spite of the economic downturn.

The 'Birdland Stimulus Package,' a new promotional offer unveiled Wednesday, includes a kids night, where children ages 10 and under can attend all Thursday home games this season for free when accompanied by a paying adult. The offer will be valid for up to two children per paid adult.

'In 2009, we have made an even more concentrated effort to keep Orioles baseball affordable for everyone who follows the team,' spokesman Greg Bader said in a statement."

The Controversial Billy Ripken

Hugging Harold Reynolds passes along a Page Six rant about MLB Network hiring former Oriole Billy Ripken as a commentator.

"February 25, 2009 --

MAJOR League Baseball hates scandal, yet two on- air personalities on its new MLB Network were once caught up in controversy. Three years ago, former Se attle Mariner Harold Reynolds was canned from ESPN after alleged sexual harassment. Reynolds called the charge 'a total misunderstanding . . . I gave a woman a hug, and I felt like it was misin terpreted,' and he won a seven-figure, wrongful termination suit. Still, veteran radio sports pro ducer Tom Somach told Page Six he was sur prised by the hiring, asking, 'What kind of message does that send?' And working as a guest analyst is Baltimore Oriole Billy Rip ken, whose 1989 baseball card showed him holding a bat with '[bleep] face' written on the knob. The card was yanked and re vised. MLB flack Matt Bourne called Reynolds 'an exemplary employee in every way' and said Ripkin's card flap was 'a very minor incident and what I would term as seemingly a prank.'"

I guess it's fair to say that Richard Johnson won't be buying one of these T-shirts any time soon.

Declaring a Moratorium on Pastry References

Play on words is officially overplayed

Surely Jeff Zrebiec winced when he saw the headline that was selected for his article about new Oriole Felix Pie:
How big a slice for O's Pie?

Zrebiec, unlike the editor who likely wrote the headline for the story, must know that, actual pronunciation of the player's last name be damned, pastry references have been overused in relation to young Felix, which is why Roar from 34 is calling for a moratorium on any and all "slice of pie" comments.

Check it out for yourself. Type the words "Felix Pie" and "slice" into Google, and here's what you get:

Not Their Slice of "Pie," Cubs Trade Former Top Prospect Felix Pie (Bleacher Report)

Why a Slice of This Pie? (Bleacher Report)

Time to Slice Pie to AAA (Clark-Addison Cubs Fan Blog)

A Slice of Baltimore Pie (Goat Riders of the Apocalypse)

A Slice of Pie (Baltimore Birds Nest)

Olson Out, Orioles Get a Slice of Pie (Dempsey's Army)

O's Get Slice of Pie; Will Cubs Eat Crow? (Fan Graphs)

Ravens and a Slice of Pie (Bob Haynie's Blog/WNST)

Then again, perhaps the O's should just concede to the, ahem, feeding frenzy on pastry references and use it as a marketing opportunity for the player and the team.

Have Jason Biggs of
American Pie fame throw out a first pitch at Camden Yards.

Make it
Felix Pie T-Shirt Tuesday.

Sell ... you guessed it ... slices of pie at the concession stands.

Just imagine the headlines that would generate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Iron Man

Tuesday's Boston Globe carries the obit for Jack Vallely, an Iron Man of a coach at Division III Curry College. Fittingly, Vallely had ties to Baltimore's Iron Man.
"From 1948 through 1998, Jack Vallely never missed a game or a practice as head baseball coach at Curry College on his way to setting an NCAA record of 51 consecutive baseball seasons at one school.


Mr. Vallely made many friends through baseball, including the late Baltimore Orioles coach Cal Ripken Sr. Mr. Vallely was especially touched when Ripken's son, Cal Jr., called him after his Major League record streak of 2,632 consecutive games played ended in 1998.

'My dad knew Cal Jr. since he was a youngster, and we arranged a meeting with him, my dad, and Ken Quigley at Fenway Park,' said Mr. Vallely's son. 'They talked about their streaks, and Ripken signed a photo of the two of them that reads: 'Jack, your streak was amazing. Nice going, Iron Man' ...."

Orioles - Pirates, Take Five

Another writer - KJ of Nothing But Balls Sports - has commented on the similarities between the Birds and the Pirates.
"Being a Pirates fan has allowed me to see this occur in Pittsburgh but I have not seen it anywhere else. While I was reading my copy of Baseball Prospectus I was taken aback when I saw similar characteristics in the Baltimore Orioles chapter of the book. Baltimore is under a similar overhaul to the Pirates understanding they will not be in contention for a few seasons. Last season, general manager Andy MacPhail took over. MacPhail is known for his time as GM for the Minnesota Twins in the early nineties when they won a World Series. He did an excellent job of trading high on Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. However he did fail to trade Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and Brian Roberts."
The topic has been something of a recurring theme on Roar from 34: Quick hits, Another Optimistic Story About a Struggling Franchise, Just Don't Compare Natty Boh to Iron City Beer, We're Not Alone, O's Fans.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Alligator Tales

Former Oriole David Dellucci is having some fun with reporters in Cleveland's camp.

"On Saturday morning, a sullen Dellucci gathered three reporters at his locker to explain why he would miss Cleveland's first three spring training games.

'Right before I came here on Feb. 1,' Dellucci said dejectedly, 'I was fishing on the side of my lake, and I heard a little boy screaming. I ran over and an alligator had him by the leg. I jumped on the gator, poked him in the eyes, freed the kid, but he (the gator) got me in my thumb. I got stitched and had surgery.'

As the reporters dutifully took notes, Dellucci kept a straight face as long as he could. Finally, he came clean on his heroic fib.

'Just kidding,' he said, smiling.

Dellucci got bit by a gator all right — a tailgater.

While packing for spring training, he slammed his thumb in a trailer tailgate at his home in Baton Rouge, La. Dellucci, who throws left-handed, will miss the start of the Cactus League season. But he is expected to get the stitches taken out on Monday and should be up to speed within a week. He threw on Friday and took batting practice without any trouble."

Dellucci batted .222 with one home run and 3 RBIs in 17 games for the 1997 Orioles. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Dellucci in the 1998 MLB Expansion Draft.

[Image source: Baseball Almanac (click photo for original)]

Projecting Big Numbers, Mora or Less

Looks like Melvin Mora has amended the bold 130-RBI projection he made during the November ceremony unveiling the O's uniform changes. Said Mora in Monday's edition of The Sun: ".340, 20-plus, and 100-plus ...."

A .340 average would match Mora's career high from 2004, the same year he set a career high in RBIs with, ahem, 104. It's all in fun with Mora.

Heath of Dempsey's Army is decidedly less optimistic when he looks into his crystal ball to predict Mora's 2009 numbers. Either way, Wayward O will surely keep tabs on MelmOsity throughout the season.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Roenicke and Martinez sons follow in baseball footsteps

by Matthew Taylor

Take a look at the weekend's
baseball transactions page, and some familiar names might stand out.

Would you rather be an ex-Oriole or an ex-IronPig?

The most obvious name with an O's connection on the transactions page is that of Kris Benson, a non-roster invitee of the Texas Rangers who has inked a minor-league deal with the team. As much as any Pirate, Met, or Oriole fans may want to claim Benson, I'd much prefer that all future headlines read like this one from The Morning Call:
Texas signs ex-IronPigs pitcher Benson.

Benson played 11 games for the
Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, in 2008.

A part-time player, but for different reasons

Buried among the 11 names included in the list of transactions made by the Cincinnatti Reds is that of Baltimore-native Josh Roenicke, son of John Lowenstein's former platoon mate in left field, Gary Roenicke. The younger Roenicke is a promising pitching prospect for the Reds, with a fastball that tops out around 98 MPH, but that didn't keep Mark Sheldon of from making a mistake while detailing the family lineage in a 2008 minor league report:
"Not only will Roenicke be asked often about where he resides, but his father and uncle are likely to come up in conversation. His father is Ron Roenicke, a former Major League outfielder and now the Angels' bench coach. His uncle, Gary Roenicke, was also an outfielder, spending most of his career with the Orioles." (emphases added)
A certain O's blogger will never forget Gary Roenicke after getting a picture with the player many years ago during a baseball clinic at Memorial Stadium (see photo to the left).


This final item relates to Memorial Stadium, Roar from 34's favorite part-time players from the past, and father-son baseball connections; however, it doesn't come off of the transaction wire. Rather, an anonymous tipster mentioned on a previous posting that Chito Martinez's son, Drew, is currently an outfielder for the Memphis Tigers.

Chito was a minor leaguer with the Memphis Chicks, and Drew played his high school ball for Christian Brothers in Memphis.
"University of Memphis Head Coach Daron Schoenrock got the early signing period underway by signing one of the Memphis area's top outfield prospects--Christian Brothers High School's Drew Martinez--to a National Letter of Intent.

"Drew has what it takes to step in and impact this program as a true freshman," Schoenrock said. "That is a rare occurrence at the Division I level, but Drew's instincts, skills and desire make him one of the top high school centerfielder's in the country. "


Martinez's father, Chito Martinez, spent three seasons in the Major Leagues with the Baltimore Orioles after being drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 1984 amateur draft. Martinez's baseball career landed him in Memphis with the AA Chicks. Known as the first Major League player ever to be born in the Central American country of Belize, Martinez hit 13 home runs as a rookie in 1991."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fun

If you manage to land Opening Day tickets, will you follow the lead of The BooooogPows and "Boo Teixeira"?

I'm not sure what it is about Mark Teixeira, but the guy clearly inspires people to song.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nice Guys Finish Last

But hopefully that will change soon

by Matthew Taylor

Luke Scott quickly became a fan favorite in Baltimore last season, and it's easy to see why. From consistently tipping his cap to cheering fans in left field to helping the bat boy pick up gum off the grass after a George Sherrill meltdown, Scott showed himself to be a rare class act, which suggests that his recent, even-tempered comments about serving as the team's DH may be more than just insincere public platitudes.
"If I believed I was getting the shaft, there might be a problem because anybody would have a problem with getting lied to or getting the runaround," Scott said. "But it's not like that here. Dave's door is always open. It's open communication."

Anything can happen in six weeks, but if the season opens with Scott in the DH role, he says he'll be on board.

"When the time comes to be a team player, you have to put your individual desires aside and do what's best for the team," he said.
Scott doesn't want to DH, but ultimately he'll do what's best for the team. His comments reflect well on the player and the manager. It's a difficult thing to measure as a fan, but the O's are giving off the impression of a team that possesses a decidedly more positive clubhouse culture than it has had in recent years.

Speaking of nice guys, it looks like the team will extend Brian Roberts' contract and keep the homegrown talent at second base through 2013. I never argued against the possibility of trading Roberts for the right young talent if it fit the O's long-term plans, but it's hard to be disappointed with the decision to keep the steady second baseman in the fold. Roberts deserves to play for a winner, and hopefully he will do just that prior to the end of his new contract.

Roberts age has always been the obvious question, but for the leadoff hitter who has made his mark stealing bases and stroking doubles, there's plenty of precedent to suggest he can be effective at age 35. Consider some numbers that have been posted by 35-year-old players: Edgar Martinez (46 doubles in 1998), Mark Grace (44 doubles in 1999 with a .390 OBP), Bill Buckner (46 doubles in 1985), Brett Butler (41 stolen bases in 1992), and Brady Anderson (36 stolen bases in 1999 with a .404 OBP).

Roberts' lowest stolen base totals in the last five years (29 in 2004, 27 in 2005) still would put him in the
AL's Top 10 in the category. He has dedicated more attention in recent years to the craft of stealing bases and will continue to be a threat to get into scoring position for the foreseeable future. The O's have done well to keep him.

With Markakis and Roberts as the faces of the franchise, and players like Jones, Wieters, and Matsutz offering additional promise, the O's are giving fans reason to hold out hope for the future. The team's rebuilding effort follows the emerging small-to-middle-market baseball model, which focuses on locking up young talent and trading for prospects rather than competing with the wealthier franchises for free agents. Think less Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, and Angels and more Devil Rays. Some wise maneuvering at the trade deadline could continue the Birds' journey down a seemingly promising path.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dempsey in Delmarva

The former World Series MVP continues to make the minor league rounds

by Matthew Taylor

Question: What does Rick Dempsey have in common with the likes of Sgt. Slaughter and Gary Coleman?

Answer: He'll be the featured attraction at a minor league baseball game, specifically the Delmarva Shorebirds' Opening Night festivities on April 16.

This isn't the first time that Dempsey has served as a team ambassador for the O's at a minor league game. He did so in June 2007 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

100 Words or Less About ... The O's Off-Season

A (very) brief rundown of off-season happenings in Birdland

by Matthew Taylor

Special thanks to Jay Trucker for mentioning Roar from 34 in his column, "All the news that's fit to upload: Where to get your O's fix in the post-print millenium."

With spring training underway, it's a perfect time to debut the first "100 Words or Less
" column of the 2009 season. This edition of 100 Words or Less focuses on the O's off-season using the theme of that whole steroid issue in baseball. Perhaps you've heard a thing or two about it? Look for memorable names and quotes and, of course, lots of double meaning.

Here are your 100 Words or Less:

I’m not here to talk about the past. Or am I

MacPhail injects hope, signs Markakis.

Wild West culture
gives way to Far East. Welcome, Koji.

Cabrera to D.C. but not to testify.

Jones bulks up. Which is larger: bench or bullpen? Size still matters in baseball.

We hope Pie’s not
a fraud. Luke's unhappy, but not in rage.

Hail Cesar! Help us
misremember last season’s carousel.

juiced about Wieters, Matusz; will their loyalty be vindicated?

There’s no denying – unless it’s Congressional testimony – that O’s won’t contend.

I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that.

Final Word Count: 100 even.

Previous editions of "100 Words or Less"

-100 Words or Less About ... The Yankees Series

100 Words or Less About ... The Off-Season

Friday, February 13, 2009

Worth Quoting

The best statement Andy MacPhail made during his Q&A with The Sun: "Philosophically, we believe that you should grow the arms and buy the bats."

Mapping out O's territory

Just don't call it "Orioles Nation"

by Matthew Taylor

The Birds'
Opening Day Sweepstakes offers fans the opportunity to win two Lower Box tickets to the April 6 game. A look at the contest guidelines offers fans a better understanding of what the organization considers to be "O's territory."

According to the team's official website, "The Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina or the District of Columbia who are 18 or older at time of entry."

So O's territory is essentially an eight-state region, including some areas more obvious than others.

Maryland is a given, and I don't think anyone honestly thought that returning "Baltimore" to the road unis functioned as a white flag of surrender to the Nationals in the battle for the hearts and minds (more accurately, dollars) of D.C. and Virginia fans.

West Virginia and portions of Pennsylvania are fertile marketing territory given the Pirates' continuing struggles (yes, there is a fan base that has it worse than we do).

North Carolina, a state MLB has designated as "home territory" for the O's and Nats, must be worth fighting for, as witnessed by the ongoing dispute between MASN and Time Warner in Tar Heel country.

Which leaves the curious case of New Jersey.

New Jersey is schizophrenic about its sports loyalties, but it stretches credibility to argue that we're in the mix with the Yankees, Mets, and Phillies for the Garden State's baseball bucks. That is, unless the Yankees are visiting Camden Yards, in which case we take in lots of Confederate money.

It just so happens that the Yankees are visiting Camden Yards on Opening Day. Here's hoping that the only reason that the lucky winners of the Opening Day Sweepstakes might wear pinstripes is for their slimming quality, because we know how Peter Angelos feels about Yankee fans sitting in box seats.

[Did I leave out Delaware? Apologies to the First State. Go Blue Rocks!]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Looking for a Long Shot to Root For?

Fred-y, Fred-y, Fred-y

by Matthew Taylor

As spring training approaches, it's time to choose a long-shot candidate for a roster spot and root him on his way through the otherwise meaningless games of February and March. Try Fredy Deza, who's already made the rounds of O's affiliates, pitching for the Gulf Coast League Orioles, Delmarva Shorebirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Frederick Keys, Bowie Baysox, and Norfolk Tides.

Here's the rundown on Deza:

Jinxed from the start?
Baseball America
April 13, 2005

Perhaps it wasn't quite as bad of a comparison back in 2005, but Daniel Cabrera is not the name you want placed near yours in a sentence unless it's to say "Fredy Deza doesn't have the same control problems as Daniel Cabrera."
"Orioles righthander Fredy Deza was impressive in his 2005 debut for high Class A Frederick, allowing three earned runs over seven innings of work. This is the third stint in the Carolina League for the 22-year-old Dominican, but some scouts have compared him to Daniel Cabrera, and he could be poised for a breakout year this season. The O's have taken it slowly with Deza, whose repertoire includes an easy 92-94 mph fastball, quick slider and developing changeup. He has the tendency to let his fastball up in the zone at times, however, and that was evident last night when he gave up two homers to Salem outfielders Adam Seuss and John Fagan in a 4-1 Avalanche win."
Shades of Armando Benitez
Washington Post
March 2, 2007

Speaking of bad comparisons, Deza not only hails from the same country as Armando Benitez, he sometimes pitches like him as well. (Beware Tino Martinez, wherever you are.) Here's hoping Fredy's 2009 spring training experience is different from the one he had in 2007.
"Ninth-Inning Letdown The Orioles lost their opener in the ninth inning when rookie Fredy Deza gave up a two-run homer to Marlins infielder Jason Wood."
Long shot
Baltimore Sun

Need proof that Deza is a long-shot candidate and therefore worth rooting for? Just visit The Sun's photo gallery of 2009 pitchers and check out Jeff Zrebiec's caption for Deza:
"Will make his third appearance at major league spring training, though he isn't a huge threat for a roster spot."

The Scout(.com)ing breakdown
Dec. 5, 2007

Inside the Warehouse/ projected Deza as a potential middle reliever on the big club by the end of the last season:

"Deza's role as a starter, at times, is more a reflection that the Orioles want him to get more innings and work on his change-up. He profiles more as a reliever at the highest level. He has solid command, but occasionally grooves a fastball and can become predictable. His inclusion on the 40-man roster is indicative of the fact that there was a very real chance he would be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. He'll head to triple-A Norfolk in 2008 and could be a reliable middle relief option by September."
A "go-to" minor league story

The minor-league affiliates are reliably good about claiming their own.

"The Orioles announced their major league spring training invitations last week. Every player on the 40 man roster was invited, as well as 23 non-roster players. Of the 63 players that will attend the O's major league camp at spring training in Fort Lauderdale, 24 are former Baysox players. ... Former Baysox starters Hayden Penn, Radhames Liz and Andy Mitchell will also be in big league camp, as will relievers Jim Hoey, Bob McCrory and Fredy Deza."
"The Baltimore Orioles have extended invitations to six former Frederick Keys who are not a part of their 40-man roster for spring training which will begin February 15th in Fort Lauderdale, FL. SS Blake Davis (2007), RHP Fredy Deza (2003-06, 2008), RHP Ryan Keefer (2004), RHP Andy Mitchell (2003), 1B Brandon Snyder (2008) and C Matt Wieters (2008) comprise the list of invitees."

Take a look at Deza's minor-league stats and a game-action shot from Flickr's Throwing Bull.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Twenty Years Later, Why Not?

Celebrating a fairy tale season, minus the happy ending

by Matthew Taylor

One year after the Birds celebrated the 25th anniversary of their last World Series, the team will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1989 "Why Not?" run.

Why Not?
"The Orioles today announced that they will kick off the 20th anniversary of their 1989 'Why Not' season with a reunion event at ESPNZone at the Inner Harbor next Tuesday, February 10. All fans are invited to attend the free event, which will begin at 7:00 p.m.

1989 team members LARRY SHEETS, MIKE DEVEREAUX and DAVE JOHNSON reminisce about that memorable year in a question and answer session led by emcee TOM DAVIS. An autograph session and showing of the 'Why Not?' video that chronicled the year will follow.

ESPNZone is located at 601 East Pratt St. in downtown Baltimore."
To some, celebrating the "Why Not?" season may be anniversary overload. The uninitiated killjoys will scoff that the team didn't even make the playoffs that year and wouldn't have done so even had the Wild Card system been in place. But to longtime O's fans, the 1989 season will always stand out in the mind's eye, a refreshing historical marker along the cobblestone roadway of life among the faithful. Just one season after spiraling downward to the wrong end of history, we went from laughing stock to laughing last ... almost. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating.

Here's an old Roar from 34 effort about one of the iconic moments of the '89 season. The real reading is at Birds in the Belfry and its comprehensive review of Why Not?.