Results tagged ‘ Ryan Adams ’
In the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, there were several infielders who became known primarily for drawing a tremendous number of walks. For some reason, they were all named “Eddie” — Eddie Lake, Eddie Stanky, Eddie Joost, and Eddie Yost. (Yost, in fact, became known as “the Walking Man.”) These men didn’t hit for a very high average, weren’t very fast, and had mid-range power. Defensively, they were more reliable than anything else.
The 2012 Norfolk Tides have a successor to the Eddies in Matt Antonelli; I’ve suggested that we give him the nickname “Eddie”. (Mike, the official scorer for the Tides, seconds me in this; he even thinks “Eddie Antonelli” has a mellifluous ring.) However, an even better sobriquet would be “The Taking Man”. For Matt Antonelli seems to swing at fewer pitches than just about anyone I can remember.
I’ve scored four Tides home games so far this season. Antonelli has played in all four and has seen 74 pitches. He’s swung at 17, or just under 23%. (That includes foul balls, swinging strikes, and balls put in play.) In comparison, Ryan Adams has seen 84 pitches and swung at 43, just under 52%.
Antonelli is effective with his take-all-pitches strategy; he draws a lot of walks and has an on-base percentage close to .500. It remains to be seen if pitchers will adjust by throwing more pitches over the plate and, more specifically, throwing pitches less close to the corners. And if they do, it will be interesting to see if Antonelli adjusts. I’ll be monitoring The Taking Man throughout the season.
I scored for BIS two of the games in the Tides four-game series against Charlotte, and both ended in 4-3 walkoff Tides wins. While Friday night’s game lasted just over four hours and fourteen innings before John Hester’s home run ended it, Sunday’s game was completed in the regulation nine. And the Tides won it in the bottom of the ninth on a Ryan Adams walkoff single.
I score games for BIS from a seat just to the third-base side of home plate, and noticed something today that I hadn’t really noticed before. In Harbor Park, there is a “party deck” in right field that shortens the right-field foul line to 318 feet. Moving over toward center field, the outfield wall juts out pretty sharply after the party deck en route to a monstrously distant power alley of 390+ feet. What I noticed today is that the right fielders play well off the right-field foul line, probably as much as 75 to 90 feet. I assume they do so because balls hit down the line will be stopped at 318 feet, limiting all but the fastest runners to doubles. Balls hit to right-center field will roll to 370 or 380 feet, making it more important to cut the ball off.
The Tides took advantage of the defensive positioning to score their first run. Ryan Adams hit a ground ball down the right-field line and reached second before the Knights’ right fielder Conor Jackson could retrieve it. Jamie Hoffmann immediately followed with a fly ball that dropped a few feet from the right-field line, just before Jackson could reach it. It went for a run-scoring double.
There’s an interesting set of philosophical dynamics at work here. It almost certainly makes sense for teams to play their right-fielders so far off the foul line. And if minor-league baseball was primarily concerned with winning, it would obviously make sense for Tides’ hitters, right-handed hitters in particular, to shoot for that open space as much as possible. However, what works for the Tides’ interest would work against the Baltimore Orioles’ interest in developing players. Most major-league teams don’t play their right fielders so far off the foul line, so there’s less of an advantage in being able to hit balls down the line. It’s a skill of no use and developing that skill hinders the development of other, more useful skills.
It is interesting to speculate on baseball with “free minor leagues”, in which farm system affiliations are eliminated and each team at each level is responsible for acquiring their own players. Would the Tides be more successful if they could win games by teaching their hitters to hit down the foul line? Or would better players, looking for the big contracts in the National and American leagues, skip the Tides to play in more standard ballparks? Would the Tides then develop their own players who’ll spend their careers in Norfolk? I just don’t know.
Yesterday, the Orioles optioned three players to Norfolk, reassigned five others to the minor-league camp, and essentially placed two other players on the disabled list. With just over a week to go before the Tides’ season opener, I can make some guesses about who will be on the Tides when they play at Charlotte on April 5.
The Orioles optioned pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken to Norfolk, and announced that both will be used as starting pitchers. I expected both to be with the Tides, and Bergesen to be a starter. I am surprised that Berken will be used as a starter, as his only major league success was as a relief pitcher. This tells me that Berken isn’t really in the Orioles future plans, and that they’re just hoping that lightning will strike.
The Orioles also sent Dontrelle Willis and Armando Gallaraga to minor-league camp. I’d be surprised if Gallaraga is in the organization and not with the Tides, and in the Tides’ starting rotation. He has 518 innings of major-league experience and hasn’t been below AAA since 2007. Willis, on the other hand, is being groomed as a left-handed spot reliever. The Orioles may want to stash him at Bowie so he can be more easily available for a quick call-up.
John Hester was sent to minor-league camp, which can’t have been much of a surprise after going 0-for-14 in spring games. I’d have to say he’s headed for Norfolk. Even if Caleb Joseph is heading for Norfolk, there’s still a need for another catcher. Taylor Teagarden is recovering from injury and Ronny Paulino is the only other backup catcher in camp, so there won’t be another catcher coming down. That means Hester should be here.
Matt Antonelli was optioned to Norfolk, and Steve Tolleson and Scott Beerer were sent to minor-league camp. That makes for some interesting possibilities. Antonelli, Ryan Adams, Josh Barfield, and Josh Bell have all been second basemen or third basemen in their careers. There’s no way you can get all four players into the lineup at second, third, and DH. Even assuming that Jai Miller and Scott Beerer end up in Norfolk, that still leaves the third outfield spot uncertain. I still think L.J. Hoes will start the season in Bowie, so that might mean that either Adams or Bell will get a look as a corner outfielder. Tolleson is a career utility player who would be welcome in Norfolk, playing six games a week at five positions.
Brian Roberts was put on the Disabled List, which means that Robert Andino will start the season as the Orioles’ second baseman and that Ryan Flaherty will make the Orioles as the utility infielder. Zach Britton was also put on the Disabled List, which probably slots Brian Matusz into the Orioles rotation but doesn’t really clarify Chris Tillman’s status.
This past weekend, the Orioles made their first “cuts” from major-league spring training. Most of the players were minor-leaguers who received invitations to major-league spring training, and they were assigned to minor-league spring training. The Orioles will decide where they’ll play at the end of spring training. Two of the players were players on the 40-man roster, and were optioned to Norfolk. While it’s not guaranteed that Ryan Adams and Josh Bell will be on the Tides opening-day roster, it’s likely. I’m surprised that Adams and Bell were optioned so soon.
In Adams’ case, I really thought that the Orioles would want to give him a better look. It’s becoming apparent that presumptive Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts isn’t coming back from his injuries soon, and I think Adams is a viable candidate for second base. I know that a lot of scouts and others don’t think he can handle it defensively, but I disagree with them — I think he’s a passable second baseman. And Adams is hitting 1-for-11 in six spring training games. I think the real reason is that Robert Andino had an apparently good 2011 as Roberts’ replacement. Adams isn’t a potential star, and I can understand why you don’t want to replace a player after a good year with someone who’s not clearly superior. Adams will probably play in Norfolk as insurance in case Andino reverts to his norms.
In Bell’s case, I thought that Bell would stay in major-league camp because it doesn’t appear that he fits in the Orioles’ plans, and it would make more sense to keep him in major-league camp to see if another team might be interested him. The Orioles don’t have a short-term answer at third base. They were dissatisfied with Mark Reynolds’ defense at third in 2011, and talked about moving him to first base with Chris Davis playing third. However, in spring training, Reynolds is playing third base, which is inconsistent at the least. The other options are Wilson Betemit, signed as a free agent this offseason, and Ryan Flaherty, selected from the Cubs in the Rule V draft. The opportunity is there for Josh Bell, but he’s failed to seize it and he’s doesn’t appear to be in the Orioles’ plans. In 2011, the Orioles drafted and signed Jason Esposito and Nicky Delmonico, both who project as third basemen. So why the Orioles still want Josh Bell is something of a mystery.
Can he be a major-league regular? Will he?
Ryan Adams almost certainly can be a major-league regular at second base, but he probably won’t be. Adams has been a consistent .290-level hitter with line-drive power in the upper minor leagues, and I expect that he’d hit 35-40 doubles and 8-10 home runs in a full major-league season. In his major-league time, he hit .281 in 96 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he doesn’t walk as often and strikes out more often than most teams would like.
The real problem is that most scouts are convinced that he can’t play second base. They’re wrong. It’s true that Adams doesn’t look spectacular at second base and that it may be a reach for him to be even an average second baseman. But after a full season of watching Adams play (mainly) second base, I am convinced that Adams can at least be an adequate defensive second baseman. He’s reliable and I don’t remember a large number of plays in which I thought “a real second baseman should be able to make that play.” The major leagues aren’t Lake Wobegon; all the second baseman can’t be above average.
The scouts said the same thing about Jeff Keppinger, David Eckstein, Mike Fontenot, and probably others. Keppinger, Eckstein, and Fontenot all proved that they could handle the defensive responsibilities of second base. If you want to argue that Adams’ bat isn’t good enough to make him a net positive, that’s another question. But the notion that Adams is unplayable at second base is absurd.
Is he a good bench player?
He’s a .280-level hitter who can play second, third, and corner outfield. He’d be a great bench player.