Q&A with Peter Schmuck

The Sun's baseball writer answers readers' questions

July 14, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

Peter Schmuck has been at The Sun since 1990. He is in his 25th year of covering major league baseball and has been a Hall of Fame voter for 15 years. During his newspaper career, he has covered the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles as well as writing a weekly column on national baseball.

Greg Luckenbaugh, Queensbury, N.Y.: I have the misfortune of being an O's fan trapped in Yankeeland. But considering the way baseball is structured, I'm starting to think that America is Yankeeland. Is there any reason to believe that a small-market team like Baltimore - even without getting squeezed by a team in DC - can ever consistently compete with the likes of the Yankees? Or are the Orioles simply a franchise that has seen its better days? Is extinction of the O's something that may not be avoidable in the next 20 years?

Peter Schmuck: I feel your pain. The Yankees definitely have a huge economic advantage over the Orioles right now and probably will for years to come. But that doesn't mean that the Orioles can't develop players and spend wisely and become a competitive team. The Marlins, Angels and Diamondbacks have won the last three world titles. Doesn't sound like Yankeeland to me.

Billy Campbell, Hagerstown: If you had to lay down odds, what are the chances that Lee Mazzilli will be fired at season's end? Who could replace him?

Peter Schmuck: Billy, I can't put a percentage on it, but I'm pretty sure if the Orioles finish more than 10 games under .500 this year, they will have a new manager for the 2005 season. It could be Sam Perlozzo or Rich Dauer or somebody nobody is focused on right now (like Mazzilli last winter). But I believe the pitching will be better in the second half, which improves the odds that Mazzilli will survive to manage another year.

Don Rau, Severn: Do you expect the Orioles to be active before the trade deadline?

Peter Schmuck: They have to be. They still need a starting pitcher and they have to move one of the second basemen (probably Jerry Hairston). Don't think it will be Randy Johnson, but the Orioles will be buyers more than sellers.

Danny, Las Vegas, Nev.: The trade for Grimsley really bothers me. Was there something about Denny Bautista the Orioles didn't like?

Peter Schmuck: The Orioles felt that Bautista lost a lot of value when it was learned in the spring that he was two years older than previously thought. It's one thing for a 20-year-old kid to have shaky mechanics. It's another thing for a 22-year-old, since it is harder to correct a long-standing problem the longer it goes on. The Orioles needed Grimsley and believe that it will take four more years to develop Bautista. They aren't saying he will never become a good pitcher, however.

Curt Southard, Louisville, Kent.: Obviously the Orioles need pitching. Who do you see them targeting this winter? Will we be able to entice them to Baltimore ? Seems in the past our money was no good.

Peter Schmuck: I would expect them to look at Derek Lowe if he is available, but just about anyone who can pitch 200 innings and stay around until the sixth on a regular basis will be in play. The notion that no one wants to come to Baltimore is overblown, especially since the O's signed Miguel Tejada.

Rell, Baltimore: With the recent developments of Matt Riley, do you think the Orioles are now looking to trade him? If so, is there a market for him? I know it is reported the Dodgers were interested, but this was probably before they knew of his recent off-the-field issues. He has let down the fans and most importantly his teammates. How can the Orioles keep him around?

Peter Schmuck: The Orioles are pretty fed up with Matt Riley, even though they think he's a nice enough kid. He's basically just an immature guy who acts like a knucklehead, and he put the team in a very bad position in Philadelphia when he came to the ballpark unprepared to pitch a pretty important game. He's on his way out and the Dodgers are a possibility.

Dave, E. Longmeadow, Mass.: What has been the mood of the players and of the front office management in this stretch of play that has dropped the team into last place? Is there a sense that this is a reasonable (if unsavory) part of "The Plan", or will there be a dramatic mid-course adjustment?

Peter Schmuck: Dave: I believe that the front office is stunned by how badly things have gone, but are not ready to give up on the plan. The club will try to get some help over the next couple of weeks, then attempt to battle back into the middle of the division standings.

Bill, Center Valley, Penn.: Is David Newhan the real deal, or just a reincarnation of Jim Traber?

Peter Schmuck: Hitting coach Terry Crowley has been very impressed with David Newhan, but I think it's fair to say that the jury is still out. He has to go around the league and adjust to the changing strategies of pitchers who are going to try to adjust to him. So far, so good. He has really been a breath of fresh air for a struggling team.

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