Matt Sadler, an Orioles blogger for Baltimore Sports Report, was kind enough to offer to do a Q&A session with Griffin and I as a precursor to the upcoming series between Dumb and Dumber— I mean, the M’s and the O’s.
Matt: The M’s swept the O’s a few weeks ago, what has happened to the team since then?
Griffin: Oh boy, so many things. Felix hasn’t looked good, the offense has completely fallen apart, Mark Lowe has gone to the DL, Milton Bradley has gone to the RL, and Jack Wilson is day-to-day. It’s been an extremely tough week in which seemingly nothing has gone right for this team. The fact that this roster has so many fixable issues hasn’t helped, but man they’ve just looked awful.
Taylor: We haven’t hit or played very good defense. Our pitching has actually been pretty good (minus Ryan Rowland-Smith), but the bullpen has been okay. Having success in only 1 out of the 4 main areas of a baseball team is not a recipe for winning baseball games. We’ve underperformed in most areas, and I don’t expect that to continue much longer — if at all.
Matt: How well does this team play on long road trips?
Griffin: It’s a little bit early to say, but they haven’t looked real good on the road as of yet. Having so many games strung together is tough too, as this team is carrying more than it’s share of injury prone players.
Taylor: Well, so far, not very well. We’ll see once the team has played more road games.
Matt: Can anyone not playing the OF hit the ball?
Griffin: Apparently not! Josh Wilson maybe?
Taylor: Sure, Kotchman has impressed his critics with some monster home runs so far this season, and I have no doubt that Chone Figgins will start to put up his usual numbers eventually (any day now, Chone…). Lopez’s 25 home runs last year was a fluke, but he also shouldn’t be hitting this poorly. And as to our DH tandem — they couldn’t hit the ball if it was the size of a watermelon. As you probably know, we want Sweeney gone and Griffey to either retire or be relegated to the bench. Adam Moore might start producing, but he also might not, whereas Rob Johnson is almost a lock to be an offensive black hole.
Matt: You guys have Cliff Lee and King Felix going against the anemic O’s offense. How does this team not win the series if not sweep it?
Griffin: I’d be shocked if the Mariners somehow managed to lose this series with both Lee and Felix going, but I’m not so sure about a sweep. Ryan Rowland-Smith has looked really bad thus far, and while I’m not convinced yet that anything’s seriously wrong, the O’s might just have a good shot at taking a game.
Taylor: Well, the M’s are 0-2 in games started by Cliff Lee so far this season, so who knows what might happen. But, realistically, the Orioles have a very, very low chance of taking even one of the two games started by Lee and Felix. They’re two 6-win pitchers, and the O’s are the worst team in baseball. Plus, the offense appears to be heating up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the M’s take all three games and move to 15-19 on the season.
Matt: With Adam Jones hitting .220 and Chris Tillman back in the minors, have the fans forgiven the M’s for the Bedard trade yet?
Griffin: I think a lot of us have been able to all but forget about the Bedard trade, for a couple of reasons. First, we have Franklin Gutierrez. Adam Jones is a really good young player, but Franklin Gutierrez is just incredible, and I personally wouldn’t trade him for the world. Secondly, we have a new front office now. Bill Bavasi was an idiot, but finally having a smart GM in Jack Zduriencik has given us some closure.
Taylor: No. Chris Tillman is a stud, Kam Mickolio could still end up a star reliever, Adam Jones won’t keep hitting .220, and George Sherrill is exactly what the M’s need in their bullpen right now. Sure, Franklin Gutierrez is significantly better than Jones, but we lost a huge amount of talent in that deal. Bill Bavasi screwed up our organization so badly that even Jack Zduriencik is having a little trouble fixing it. Our best minor league talent is all clustered in AA right now, most of which has been acquired by Zduriencik.
Matt: Extra Credit – A-Rod used to be so cool as a 19 year old playing for the M’s and now he is arguably the biggest douche in baseball. How does this happen?
Griffin: I personally don’t have anything against A-Rod. He’s made some mistakes, but I feel like a lot of the crap he gets is unwarranted. As for the whole mound-crossing incident, I thought it was a dumb move on A-Rod’s part, but if anyone came off as a douche there, I’d say it was Braden.
Taylor: I don’t know. I like A-Rod. Sure, he cheats on his spouse and whatnot, but a lot of professional athletes do that. He just happens to be a big name and he doesn’t handle the spotlight as maturely as he should.
Griffin/Taylor: OK – here are your questions. To be frank, why are the Orioles so bad?
Matt: It’s mind boggling. I was watching the 1997 divisional series between the M’s and the O’s and was like “What the crap happened?’ It’s really interesting because I believe the starting ERA is around 4 and that’s not bad. For some reason, the O’s can’t score runs this season. I think the loss of Brain Roberts is huge, He gets on base and is disruptive. I think Jones has tried too hard this season and it is backfiring. Who knows, the balance between playing well and poorly is so tedious that it’s not easy to pinpoint the problem.
Griffin/Taylor: Despite being off to an awful start, we know that the O’s have a whole lot of young talent. Which prospect or young player are you the most optimistic about?
Matt: Offensively, it is hard not to love Matt Wieters. The dude is a specimen and can switch hit. He has shown flashes of brilliance at the plate but I think it is only a matter of time before he gets it together. Pitching, it has to be Brian Matusz. He seems to be carrying the weight of the team as a rookie. His numbers have dipped in the past couple starts, but for the most part, he goes deep into games and gives the O’s the chance to win.
Griffin/Taylor: How far in the future do you see the O’s being able to contend?
Matt: The plan was 2011. The O’s have money to spend, and if they spend it right this off season, they could be right there. Then again , all the hot shot prospect hitters seem to be slumping at the same time. If they are not significantly better by the end of 2011, then who know. they may be doomed.
Griffin/Taylor: Would you be interested in trading Luke Scott to the Mariners?
Matt: O’s fans are dying with Luke Scott. He’s a great guy, but when he goes cold, it is freezing. It painful to watch DH’s hit below .200. So I am sure that most fans would love to unload him.
Griffin/Taylor: Why in God’s name is Ty Wigginton allowed to play the field?
Matt: Simple, he has been the most productive bat this season. He really doesn’t hurt them team when he is playing 1st. It’s 2nd and 3rd when it can get a bit dicey. Most O’s fans considered him a frustration until this season came around. I hope for his sake, he can keep it up.