Saturday, August 16, 2008

Free Kicks

Well everyone, Free Kicks is coming a day late today; I hope y’all can excuse my absence. Life called, and apparently I am behind on my payments. I had to get something in before the end of the week, so perhaps you can enjoy some bonus weekend coverage on ATH. As the Ravens get ready for tonight’s game, let’s line up for the kick.

Waters Down the Drain?

We didn’t expect Chris Waters to one-hit every team through 8 innings, but we didn’t exactly expect this either after his gem against the Angels. In his last two starts, Waters has allowed a total of 8 runs in 8 2/3 innings against the Tigers and Rangers. Even if we can give him a pass against those electric bats of Texas, it still must give us pause to consider that it took Waters 90 and 98 pitches to get through 4 and 4 2/3 innings. As has been the problem all year, Orioles starters just can’t seem to stay in the game. I am tired of seeing Lance Cormier, the last of the true middle relievers, come out for 2-3 innings every other day. As of now he is still the best available option to Dave Trembley, but that isn’t saying much. The bullpen ERA continues to balloon (4th worst in the AL), and the starters are doing very little to give them any break.

Feeling a Draft

For the second straight year, it took to the final day before the Orioles signed their top pick, though at least this time it didn’t go until 11:50 PM. Around 3 PM, Brian Matusz and the Orioles agreed to a 4-year deal that will be worth at least $3.47 million. Matusz, 21, could see action in Baltimore late next season as he was considered the most major league-ready pitcher in the draft. Our resident prospect guru raves about Matusz, who joins 13 of the other top 15 Orioles draft picks in signing before the deadline. The lone exception was 11th round selection Nathan Moreau. Every time I begin to doubt this staff they put something incredible together and get things done. When was the last time you were excited about the Orioles draft? Yea, I can’t remember either.

Man of Troy

Troy Smith will get the nod tonight for the Ravens against the Vikings, and don’t think it is just to balance out the start Coach Harbaugh gave to Kyle Boller last week. Troy Smith entered training camp as the favorite to win the starting job, and he has somewhat disappointed this month in camp. However, where Smith excels is when plays break down, when he is forced to make split second decisions to save a first down. Behind this inexperienced and, frankly, poor offensive line, Smith’s skills will be far more valuable than Boller’s arm or his experience. With players like Boller and Joe Flacco in camp there will be a natural tendency to dissuade their QBs from running, and the coaching staff needs to be careful to tailor their teaching to each quarterback’s individual skills.

We will see tonight whether Troy Smith can turn in a Heisman-like performance against the Vikings. His attitude has been exceptional, helping him become a popular signal caller with the other players, Bart Scott referring to him as “Willie Beaman,” Jamie Foxx’s character from “Any Given Sunday.” He may be a Buckeye at heart, but if he can win I want him as my quarterback. Flacco might be waiting in the wings, but I’d rather see the Blue Hen on the sidelines.

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