Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Joe Janish on why the Baltimore Orioles are a team to watch

Baltimore Orioles Bird
(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

I enjoy reading Joe Janish‘s take on the New York Mets and baseball in general over at

Today he wrote about why the Baltimore Orioles are still playing, while some of the supposed “best teams in baseball” will be able to watch the rest of the post-season on TV.

Manager Buck Showalter instituted a winning program in 2010. There wasn’t a “rebuilding.” There wasn’t any talk about payroll flexibility nor fiscal responsibility. There wasn’t an expectation of losing seasons while they got their s*it together. There wasn’t any yakkety-yak about building from within nor over-hype of prospects to placate the fan base. Rather, Buck Showalter joined Baltimore and changed the focus of the organization. It was not unlike Vince Lombardi’s influence on the Green Bay Packers way back when — winning was the goal, and winning isn’t an outcome, it’s a process, it’s a habit. Yes, the Orioles had one rough year in 2011 while making the conversion from whatever was happening before to winning. Now, though, they’re a juggernaut, despite a cast of characters that changes every year, every month, and every week. Parts are interchangeable because everyone knows the goal, knows what they need to do, and are put into situations in which they can succeed. Pitchers make pitches, fielders execute, batters put the ball in play. It’s baseball at its simplest, much like we witnessed in Atlanta during the Bobby Cox years.

Don’t you want to see that kind of culture-change take hold in Queens?

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Scratch one shortstop off the list of available free agents

JJ Hardy
The Baltimore Orioles have re-signed shortstop J.J. Hardy (Photo credit: Bob James)

The Baltimore Orioles have re-signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million deal that also includes a fourth year vesting option based on plate appearances. (MLB Trade Rumors)

I viewed Hardy as the best available shortstop on the free agent market this winter. With him gone, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie now head a relatively lackluster group. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is one of the premier players available this winter, but I don’t really see him as a shortstop at this stage of his career – a position change is coming soon for him.)

Cabrera, currently the second baseman for the Washington Nationals, may not be a shortstop for much longer either. He told reporters that he’s willing to remain at second to stay with the Nats as long as they make the right offer. (NatsInsider)

I don’t think Hardy was coming to the Mets — it’s tough to imagine another eight-figure salary fitting into Sandy Alderson‘s budget. I did think Hardy might be a good fit for the Yankees, who still need someone to replace Derek Jeter.

It’s a good time to be a team that has a shortstop or a major league-ready shortstop prospect to deal. It’s a bad time to be a team that needs one.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Somerset Patriots, Uncategorized

Autograph of the Week: Lou Montanez

Autograph 2010 Upper Deck Luis Montanez baseball card from my collection
Autographed 2010 Upper Deck Luis Montanez baseball card from my collection

Today I’m sharing what might be the final baseball card I got signed during the 2014 season: Lou Montanez‘s 2010 Upper Deck card.

Montanez and the rest of his Somerset Patriots teammates opened their first-round Atlantic League playoff series against the Lancaster Barnstormers.

Montanez, 32, had a solid season for the Patriots – in 130 games, he hit .289 with an .821 OPS, 17 home runs and 74 RBI.

A one-time top prospect, Montanez was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the third overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft. It would be years before he ever played for them. After leaving the Cubs’ organization as a free agent in 2006, Montanez signed with the Baltimore Orioles. He finally made his major league debut in 2008 as a defensive replacement for Luke Scott in a 3-0 Orioles victory over the Angels.

Continue reading “Autograph of the Week: Lou Montanez”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Mets baseball card of the week: 2011 Bowman Johan Santana gold version

(If you are seeing this card with rounded corners, it's because of how my blog's theme displays photos.)
(If you are seeing this card with rounded corners, it’s because of how my blog’s theme displays photos.)

Johan Santana signed a one-year minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles last week. He missed all of last season after having shoulder surgery, and isn’t expected to pitch again until June. There is some speculation that the Orioles may try to use Santana as a reliever when he does return, but I’m hoping that things work out whatever his role may be.

I spent part of Saturday afternoon cleaning up the piles of baseball cards that had been accumulating on my desk since last summer. This 2011 Bowman Johan Santana card was among them. I don’t remember where or why I got it – it may have been a throw-in from a trade package or gift, or I may have picked it up because Santana is one of my favorite recent Mets players. (I may even have had thoughts about putting together the gold version Mets team set.)

Whatever the reason, I  like the card. The horizontal design makes me think of the classic 1955 Bowman set, which showed the players inside of a border intended to resemble a television set. The 2011 Bowman design makes me think of the Star Trek bridge viewscreen more than a television set, but it’s a similar principle.

I miss the hybrid black Mets cap with the blue bill that Santana is wearing, even though it’s only been out of use for a couple of years. Five years ago, if you told me I’d miss any part of black Mets uniforms, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Two questions for you today:

  1. Do you think Johan Santana will find success with the Baltimore Orioles?
  2. Did you like the Mets’ predominantly black uniforms, and do you miss them now that they’re out of use?

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