Monday, August 3, 2009

"4M" News of the Weekend: Mora, Mason, Matusz, and More

What a weekend for Baltimore, wouldn't you say? Lots of Orioles news plus Derrick Mason returning all in the long weekend. Let's get to the news and my opinions on it:

Derrick Mason Unretires, Returns to the Ravens

Derrick Mason has returned to the Ravens after retiring after a few weeks ago. After he left the team, the front office tried out a number of wide receivers in hope of finding a temporary replacement, but after Drew Bennett's retirement the Ravens were short of options. But their #1 wide receiver has returned to training camp and will be playing for the Ravens again this season.

I'm not sure what happened to change Mason's mind or if he was serious about retiring in the first place. Maybe he wanted a new contract, maybe he was still upset about the recent murder of Steve McNair, or maybe he felt that it was his time to leave. But whatever the reason, he has returned and he is ready to play again. So I don't consider this to be a big deal, and with his great career and recent injuries, it would have been reasonable if he had retired. But he is back and that will ease some concerns at receiver.

But only some. Keep in mind that the talk around the draft and free agency was that the current pair was not enough for the Ravens offense. The wide receiver corps is still a problem, but at least now the Ravens have two reliable targets at receiver plus two good tight ends. And I still say trading for Brandon Marshall would be a huge mistake for the Ravens; some issues are not worth dealing with like that.

Melvin Mora Feels "Disrespected" by Dave Trembley

This was getting hot around the weekend, with Mora, the most senior Oriole who was benched for the third time in four games, saying that he feels "disrespected" by Trembley. Trembley says he is disappointed to hear that. Rumor is even going around that the Orioles may release him due to this.

Mora has been here nine years and has been a solid third baseman for most of the time. This season has been rough, hitting just .256 with just three home runs and 27 RBI in 79 games, his worst year since 2002 (.233, 19 HR, 64 RBI). He has only seven errors at third, which is about normal pace for him at third.

On the one hand, I understand that Mora is frustrated. It has been a tough year and he wants to play, and at 37, he may not have many years left. And he has done a lot for this organization in his time here, including nearly getting a batting title. On the other hand, Trembley is trying to win games plus prepare for the future. All signs point to Mora not returning next year, plus the fact that Ty Wigginton is doing pretty well right now. It is perfectly reasonable that Mora loses his spot at third, and although Trembley does not want to upset Mora, he needs to do his best to win right now.

I personally hope the Orioles do not release Mora. It would seem like a quick judgement based on recent events, plus it is unclear who in the short run would replace him.

Brian Matusz Called Up to Start Tuesday?

This comes as quite the surprise to many. In wake of Brad Bergeson's injury and another bad start by Jason Berken, the Orioles may send up their 2008 1st Round Pick Brian Matusz to the mound from the Bowie Baysox for Tuesday's start. Matsuz would be the second of the big three to come up; Chris Tillman is already with the Orioles and will have his second start today, while Jake Arrieta remains with the Norfolk Tides.

First off, Matsuz is tearing up his double-A competition. In eight starts he has a 7-0 record with a 1.55 ERA and 46 Ks to just 11 BB. No doubt he is ready to go up to the next level. Plus, chances are this is only a temporary move until the return of Bergeson, and because he is already on the 40-man roster his clock has already begun. The Orioles will not be worrying about options with Matsuz, as he will be in the orange and black permanently by next year.

But this still worries me to a degree. Normally it is not a good thing to rush a player up, and the Orioles especially have a bad history of rushing people too quickly. Jeff Fiorentino, Jim Hoey and Daniel Cabrera are prime examples. Brian Matsuz is a prospect the Orioles can not screw up with, as he is the most highly touted pitcher in the farm system. Why risk Matsuz when there are a few other players in triple-A that can go with no penalty? Players like Chris Waters and David Pauley would not be that solid in the majors based on their triple-A faring, but wouldn't they be safer options right now? The Orioles will not have Pauley or Waters as part of the future, but let's see if they can go with causing issues with the premier prospects.

I wish Matsuz well against Detroit, I just hope that this is not a mistake the Orioles will regret.

Other news:
--Darrius Heyward-Bey, former Maryland receiver and 7th overall pick by the Oakland Raiders, has signed five-year deal with $23.5 million guaranteed and a base salary of $38.5 million. (Facts courtesy of the Baltimore Sun)
--The trade deadline passed on Friday with no dealing from the Orioles after the Sherrill trade. George Sherrill has appeared in two games for the Dodgers, going 1.1 scoreless innings combined with three strikeouts and a walk with no hits.
--Michael Phelps earned five golds and a silver in Rome, continuing his dominance in swimming.

(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun (Matsuz), The Examiner (Mason)

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