Restoring the rosters: No. 26 – Baltimore

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
Sure, there are just four teams below them here, but the Orioles’ list now is a lot stronger than it would have been a couple of years ago, and if I do a similar set of rankings in 2011, there’s a good chance they’ll rank somewhere in the middle of the pack or perhaps higher.
Rotation
Erik Bedard
Brad Bergesen
John Maine
David Hernandez
Brian Matusz
Bullpen
Jim Johnson
Arthur Rhodes
Chris Ray
Koji Uehara
Kevin Hart
D.J. Carrasco
Garrett Olson
A year ago, the rotation would have been Bedard, Maine, Olson, Hart and Josh Towers. Now there’s actual legitimate depth. Bergesen is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, and Hernandez has a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts since debuting. Matusz gets the last spot over Uehara and Chris Tillman.
There may not be a legitimate closer here, but because the youngsters can slide into the rotation, the bullpen has a lot more depth with Uehara and Hart. Carrasco and Olson get the last spots over Tillman, Hayden Penn, Radhames Liz and John Parrish.
Lineup
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
CF Jayson Werth
C Matt Wieters
DH Nolan Reimold
LF Willie Harris
SS Jerry Hairston Jr.
3B Mike Fontenot
1B Brandon Snyder
Bench
OF David Dellucci
OF Jeff Fiorentino
C Gregg Zaun
INF Augie Ojeda
Werth’s presence may surprise a few. He was a first-round pick as a catcher in 1997. The Orioles, though, soured on him when they figured out he was a long shot to last behind the plate, and they traded him to the Blue Jays for John Bale after 2000.
The lineup is decent, though the Orioles’ utter inability to develop a legitimate corner infielder is a problem. Fontenot belongs at second, not third, and first base came down to Snyder, who is hitting .275/.332/.376 in 178 at-bats since moving up to Triple-A, or Calvin Pickering.
There also weren’t many options at DH, so Reimold moves there and Harris improves the outfield defense. DHing Dellucci and playing Reimold in left was the other possibility.
The bottom of the lineup would look better if there were any possible platoonmates for Harris or Fontenot. However, Dellucci and Fiorentino are also left-handed hitters and Ojeda, a switch-hitter, is awful against southpaws.
Summary
The Orioles still have more young pitching on the way, and while the position player talent in the system doesn’t measure up, key players like Wieters, Markakis and Reimold should only improve. In two years time, Matusz and Tillman may be the aces of the staff. The organization is in better position now than at any point within the last 10 to 15 years, and it shows here.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.