• Orioles Provide Hope for the Hopeless

    The Baltimore Orioles celebrate after a victoryMany believe there's no way the Twins can possibly turn things around quickly enough to be a competitive team next season. They're on their way to a second straight 90-plus loss season, their starting rotation is an absolute mess and their best prospects are still probably a couple years away from making an impact.

    To those people, I present the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.

    A year ago, the O's finished last in the AL East for a fourth straight season, and their 4.89 team ERA was the worst mark in the majors.

    Now, they find themselves in the thick of the postseason race,tied with the Yankees for first place in what is routinely baseball's toughest division. Their 4.09 team ERA is exactly on par with the American League average. With three weeks left in the season, they've already posted their highest win total since 1998.

    It's a pretty remarkable story, and one that should provide a spark of hope for despondent Twins fans. For while Baltimore's shocking rise has been heavily influenced by good luck (they're 17 games over .500 despite being outscored by opponents this season), their circumstances are also far more daunting than the Twins. The Orioles had been in the gutter for the better part of two decades, rather than two years, and they play in the treacherous AL East rather than the perpetually mediocre AL Central.

    The most relevant ingredient in Baltimore's turnaround is their pitching staff's rise from worst-in-the-world to middle-of-the-pack. If the Twins, who currently rank 28th out of 30 MLB teams in ERA, could simply move to the middle in 2013, there's no reason why they couldn't take a shot at the Central division with some good breaks (and after the last two years, it definitely seems like they'll be due for some good breaks).

    How has Baltimore done it? To quote Terry Ryan, they've done it by exploring every avenue.

    You've got your unconventional free agent signing in Wei-Yin Chen, who's come over from Japan with great success.

    You've got your savvy trade acquisition in Jason Hammel, brought over from the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie (who fell apart in Colorado).

    You've got your out-of-nowhere unheralded minor-league free agent in Miguel Gonzalez.

    You've got young players who have previously struggled, like Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, taking steps forward.

    And you've got a lights-out relief corps. The O's rank fourth in the AL with a 3.17 bullpen ERA.

    Baltimore didn't go on a spending spree to repair a broken pitching staff. They got creative, showed patience with young arms and benefited from some good fortune. There's no reason to rule out a similar scenario for the Twins, especially when you consider that the GM Ryan has made numerous good moves since retaking the helm (even if that's not reflected in the team's record) and he figures to have a decent chunk of money to spend this winter.

    "Be like Baltimore." For many years it would have been an insane model for success, but for the Twins and Terry Ryan, it will make for a great offseason formula.
    This article was originally published in blog: Orioles Provide Hope for the Hopeless started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 52 Comments
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Do you really think the Sox and Tigers are going to get significantly better next season? Neither one has much in the minors and IIRC, neither will have much money to spend, either.

      Injuries can't be predicted but on paper, the Twins can easily compete if they shore up the rotation.

      It's a tough thing to do but if it's possible, there is no reason the Twins can't compete in 2013.
      Neither of us know what's gonna happen with either teams roster. Maybe Mike Ilitch loses his mind again and signs everyone, who knows what to expect outta the Sox and Kenny WIlliams.

      The point is I don't see how bringing up 2003, 2009 seasons or current stats has to do with this. Do I think it's impossible...no, but do I see it happen...**** no!!
      If I read your logic correctly I would assume the following. Nothing that anybody does before makes any difference going forward. Don't pay any attention whatsoever to what was done before because you can't replicate those conditions. Past performance and history makes no difference for the future. It is not a well managed team of mediocre talent playing well, it is blind luck that the Orioles will win about 20 more games than last year.
      For the Twins going forward then it would not pay for them to sign a stopgap free agent like Willingham to bridge until the next wave of outfielders come up, nor would it have made sense to sign a Floriman or a Deduno to a contract. I don't think a team you would run would be very successful
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Tough crowd here. Nick writes a generally positive article giving us hope, showing us an example of a team that went from very poor to contending, and he gets a bunch of negative comments.

      Just like any forum, you start getting recognized for the quality, or lack of, in your posts. Time to start ignoring the constant bitchers and moaners.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      If I read your logic correctly I would assume the following. Nothing that anybody does before makes any difference going forward. Don't pay any attention whatsoever to what was done before because you can't replicate those conditions. Past performance and history makes no difference for the future. It is not a well managed team of mediocre talent playing well, it is blind luck that the Orioles will win about 20 more games than last year.
      For the Twins going forward then it would not pay for them to sign a stopgap free agent like Willingham to bridge until the next wave of outfielders come up, nor would it have made sense to sign a Floriman or a Deduno to a contract. I don't think a team you would run would be very successful

      What in the hell are you talking about?

      Bringing up a few random seasons from the past have no bearing on what's gonna happen in 2013. We don't know what the rosters will look like, the strength of the division, injuries, trades, signings...hell everything. I even said it could happen, but I think it has little to no chance of happening.

      Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
      Tough crowd here. Nick writes a generally positive article giving us hope, showing us an example of a team that went from very poor to contending, and he gets a bunch of negative comments.
      Who's being negative? If he never would have mentioned the word contend, I would have no problem with the article. If he just would have made an article that said "here's how the O's improved there pitching staff" I wouldn't have said a thing.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Dont believe the teams can be compared as BALT operates differently.
      They actually have their #3 hitter (Markakis) hitting leadoff since its the best baseball move.....MN wont even hit Mauer 2nd.
      They will call up hotshot 20 yr old prospects if it helps them win games.....not shot that Rosario/Sano will see any action next yr (bein saved for Futures Gm @ Target Fld)
      Understand that you need quality players in middle infield is something MN has never grasped.
      Balt takes its star C & actually plays him at his most optimum position where he's won a Gold Glove....MN knows Mauer cant do it anymore.
      Balt went out & acquired MLB starters....MN will stay inhouse with Deduno, DeVries, Pavano
    1. mnjon's Avatar
      mnjon -
      Bringing up a few random seasons from the past have no bearing on what's gonna happen in 2013. We don't know what the rosters will look like, the strength of the division, injuries, trades, signings...hell everything. I even said it could happen, but I think it has little to no chance of happening.
      So you're saying that basically every team will

      have a chance based off nothing more then blind ass backwards luck.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      Bringing up a few random seasons from the past have no bearing on what's gonna happen in 2013. We don't know what the rosters will look like, the strength of the division, injuries, trades, signings...hell everything. I even said it could happen, but I think it has little to no chance of happening.
      So you're saying that basically every team will

      have a chance based off nothing more then blind ass backwards luck.
      No, not at all.

      There's a certain amount of luck that goes into every sport, a fluke play winning a big game etc. Being outscored by 20+ runs and somehow being tied with a team that's outscored its opponents by 92 runs. Well that's the very definition of blind-ass luck
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      @DPJ



      Your flawed thinking is what I am talking about. You do not seem able to observe that history repeats itself. Teams have won in the past with less than perfect teams. Baltimore this year, the 1987, 2003, and 2009 Twins are examples of that. Baltimore patchedworked a staff this year that allows them the chance to win, just as the Twins have done in those years. In terms of what the other teams do, it is a variable you can't control. They could add like Detroit did last year. It is not working, Did Chicago find stability finally? Don't know. Just as you don't know if the Twins make astute additions that they can't contend. Short term fix while they figure out how to rebuild a pitching pipeline.

      a potential 20 plus improvement in games won is a little more than luck.
    1. mnjon's Avatar
      mnjon -
      No, not at all.

      There's a certain amount of luck that goes into every sport, a fluke play winning a big game etc. Being outscored by 20+ runs and somehow being tied with a team that's outscored its opponents by 92 runs. Well that's the very definition of blind-ass luck
      That makes literally no sense.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      No, not at all.

      There's a certain amount of luck that goes into every sport, a fluke play winning a big game etc. Being outscored by 20+ runs and somehow being tied with a team that's outscored its opponents by 92 runs. Well that's the very definition of blind-ass luck
      That makes literally no sense.
      Then you're literally a moron.

      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      @DPJ



      Your flawed thinking is what I am talking about. You do not seem able to observe that history repeats itself. Teams have won in the past with less than perfect teams. Baltimore this year, the 1987, 2003, and 2009 Twins are examples of that. Baltimore patchedworked a staff this year that allows them the chance to win, just as the Twins have done in those years. In terms of what the other teams do, it is a variable you can't control. They could add like Detroit did last year. It is not working, Did Chicago find stability finally? Don't know. Just as you don't know if the Twins make astute additions that they can't contend. Short term fix while they figure out how to rebuild a pitching pipeline.
      What the hell is going on here. I don't care if the O's win the World Series or history repeating it'self. This is a simple thing...the O's are contending with luck. They're a better team then a year ago, but in way should a team that's been outscored by 20 runs being contending for a division. If they win it all, good for them, but they're gonna do it on the heels on one of the luckiest teams ever.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Teams have won in the past with less than perfect teams. The question is whether you rely on that?

      Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I thought this was a great article. I had mentioned in another thread that I would take the Orioles blueprint and use it for 2013 because I felt it was the closest route to possible contention. Obviously there is some luck involved but I think the Orioles have a sound blueprint. They do two things very well. They shorten games with their bullpen and they hit the ball out of the park. The reason they have a negative run differential is because they have an inconsistent rotation which causes them to get blown out, Like we did to them 19-7 earlier this year. They will obviously also try to improve their rotation this offseason.

      Couple stats I wanted to bring up. The 4 division leaders (with the Orioles and Yankees being tied) are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the AL in home runs. They are 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th in team ERA in the AL. 4 of the 5 worst records in the AL (Twins, Royals, Indians and Mariners) have hit the least home runs in the AL (significant margin).

      I think our bullpen is pretty close but we need to have more power in the lineup. The fact that 4-5 spots in the lineup for most of the season showed zero to little power hurt the team almost as much as the pitching did.
    1. mnjon's Avatar
      mnjon -
      DPJ - You're clearly very good at conveying your thoughts and you are very understanding of others opinions. Good job not being negative.
      You can't say that luck is a one-time event that can only happen under specific circumstances and then apply that same logic to 140+ games on a team with 25+ players. It's not just luck. Say what you want to convince yourself otherwise but not everyone on the Orioles is having a career year and winning all games by the slimmest of margins.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnjon View Post
      DPJ - You're clearly very good at conveying your thoughts and you are very understanding of others opinions. Good job not being negative.
      You can't say that luck is a one-time event that can only happen under specific circumstances and then apply that same logic to 140+ games on a team with 25+ players. It's not just luck. Say what you want to convince yourself otherwise but not everyone on the Orioles is having a career year and winning all games by the slimmest of margins.
      You really don't get this do you? You understand that being outscored by your opponents is bad, being outscored by your opponents over 140 games is very bad. If you are somehow winning or contending for a division with that bad a run differential...that means your team is very very lucky.It's not about career years or whatever garbage you're spewing.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      You lose on Monday 12 to 1 and you win Tuesday and Wednesday 3 to 2 both nights. You are Negative 10 in run differential and 2 and 1.


      If anyone is looking at run differential and saying that proves luck. I'd say it proves nothing. To me it says that they got pounded every once in awhile.

      A win is a win and a loss is a loss. Luck is a factor for teams like the Orioles and luck is a factor for Teams like the Yankees. Both teams also contend with elements of bad luck from time to time.

      I agree with Nick 100 Percent... The Orioles do indeed give me hope and so do the Pirates. The 2011 D-Backs give me hope. The 2010 Padres give me hope. The 2009 Rockies give me hope. The 2008 Astros Give me Hope. The 2007 Indians give me hope... I Could keep going... But it's safe to say... That no one is going to take that hope from me because I watched every one of those teams defy the odds.

      We all like to play the game on Paper but it is always played on the field. We have access to the dollar figures and we have access to the metrics and we all like to try and add the pieces together but the game is always played on the field. You can take your WAR and try to make it all make sense but every once in awhile, a guy hitting .196 ropes one into the Gap and clears the bases with two outs in the 9th.

      That's the beauty of baseball.

      In the end... The Difference between Ben Revere .304 Average and Trevor Plouffe .234 Average is 50 hits over 100 games.

      One hit every two games and that's the thesis that makes teams looks good "on paper". An extra hit every two games and that thesis is blown out the window.

      It's the freeking little things and the timing of when you make that play (hit, catch, throw) that determines if you are a contending baseball team.

      If you are good enough to make a major league roster... You are good enough to help your team win and contend. This includes Taylor Teagarden... Everyone has a chance and teams like the Orioles should inspire all of us. Writing it off as luck is just bad form.

      You make your own luck sometimes. The harder you work... The Luckier you Get...

      Sidenote... On Paper... I would feel luckier if we improved our pitching!!!
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      You really don't get this do you?
      I think you're the one that doesn't get it. Your diatribes are tiring and completely off-topic.

      Getting outscored by your opponents is not a great recipe for fielding a winning team. We got it. Thank you for that spectacular piece of baseball wisdom. No one is suggesting that to be the case. Contrary to what you believe, the Orioles have done some good things to improve their club, things that the Twins should take note of moving forward.

      If the Twins can move to the middle of the pack in pitching while maintaining a productive lineup, they'll have a chance to contend next year. Countless teams have made the playoffs or come close despite lacking upper-echelon offenses & pitching staffs. Getting caught up in the Orioles' run differential is pointless, and derailing the potential for a quality discussion.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post

      You really don't get this do you? You understand that being outscored by your opponents is bad, being outscored by your opponents over 140 games is very bad. If you are somehow winning or contending for a division with that bad a run differential...that means your team is very very lucky.It's not about career years or whatever garbage you're spewing.
      As I mentioned above, there is a reason for their run differential, but I'll add to it. They had inconsistent starting pitching for much of the year when they had Arrietta, Hunter and Matusz in the rotation. That's why they called up Gonzalez, Britton, and Tillman as the article mentioned. Their blueprint makes perfect sense, they win close games due to their ability to shorten the game or keep it close and hit timely home runs. They win close games and lose blow outs and that makes their run differential look bad.

      Let me give you an easy example of why run differential can be deceiving. Last night in a 4-0 game we put in Perdomo and Burnett. This caused the game to end 9-1, an additional -4 to our run differential. If Gardy put in Burton and Perkins instead or even Fien and Duensing, wouldn't the game have ended more likely in the 4-1 or 5-1 range?

      Instead of just looking at numbers and saying it's luck why not actually understand why it's happening.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      There us a pretty good correlation between run differential and win loss record.....putting that aside, the twins should not plan for luck. Their strategy should be about getting 2 good to very good pitchers by trade or free agency. The twins minor league and major league pitchers are not likely to get them to the middle of the pack at this point.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I just joined the thread--skimmed the 30plus comments--looking for 3 names that I never saw. I live in MD (closer to Nats than Os). Os improvement is more than luck. It is built around middle of the diamond nucleus that will be around for years. The three names are Adam Jones (stolen from Seattle--if memory is correct for Bedard) who is the Os Morneau of a couple of years ago, JJ Hardy (who the Twins should have kept) and their Mauer (Wieters) who finally developed. Jones is a better OF than anybody the Twins have, Wieters may or may not stay healthy enough to be a star C for the next 10 years. throw in Markakis who I rate highly mainly cause I was at the game he hit three taters vs the Twins...its a fairly young nucleus who could (and would in the AL Central) contend for the next few years.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      I think that comparing the O's and Twins potentialwise is very logical on the surface. But if you look closer you will notice a major impediment to the Twins following the O's tracks. The Orioles had a field staff overhaul a couple yrs ago. I'm a huge Gardenhire fan. My opinion, based on results and reports from the players, is he is every bit as good, if not better than, Showwalter. But there needs to be either a field staff overhaul or a player roster overhaul. For various reasons it's infinitely easier to replace the coaching staff.

      Here's my logic on why personnel has to change. History shows us that payroll matters. But it also shows us it's not the only, or even the most important, factor. There needs to be a synergy for a BB team to rise to the top. Without that synergy the warts really show. In 2010 the 94 win Twins had that synergy. In 2011 the 99 loss Twins didn't. It seemed to me that the team had a much greater mercenary attitude in 2011 than 2010. It stands to reason that the firing of Hardy coupled with the hiring of Nishioka most likely invoked player comments and questions. I think Gardenhire was a good enough people person to placate the players. But Smith was not, and probably retorted something along the lines of "This is a business, you do your job and I'll do mine." I think the clubhouse was too far gone by the time they showed Smith the door. And I think it's too far gone to be repairable with the status quo.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I tend to think there's a cause-and-effect dynamic at play. Did the 2011 Twins lose because they lacked synergy, or did they lack synergy because they lost?
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