The big baseball news of the day is that Sam Perlozzo, formerly the manager of the Orioles, got the ax this morning. Bullpen coach Dave Trembley takes over in the interim as the O's try to find a replacement. Joe Girardi's name has come up in a number of places, though some say he's more interested in a high-profile job such as the Cubs or the Yankees. He appears to be the O's #1 target; if he rejects their offer, I don't know which direction they will go.
I really don't know if Perlozzo deserved to be fired or not. The Orioles have not done well under Perlozzo's watch, and they don't really have that much hope for the future. They just aren't very talented, and they don't get enough out of the talent they do have. The biggest problem this year has been the bullpen, although that is one area in which the manager does have some control. Still, there are just no competent arms out there, which is very surprising given the amount of money and time the Orioles spent trying to improve it over this past offseason. They really don't have any hope at this point, so firing Perlozzo certainly doesn't do any harm, but I'm not sure a lot of good is coming out of it, either. There are major problems in this organization, starting at the top with Peter Angelos. I have a tough time seeing this team being competitive under Angelos's watch.
One thing that I do know is that one of the reasons pitching coach Leo Mazzone came to Baltimore was that he was very good friends with Perlozzo. I'm not sure, but I think I read that Mazzone's contract expires after this season. He certainly hasn't had the same success in Baltimore as he did in Atlanta, but I would imagine there would still be quite a few teams who would want Mazzone as their pitching coach.
The other news seems to be dominated by trade talk. On Mike and Mike this morning, Buster Olney mentioned a possible trade between the White Sox and Mets: Mark Buerhle for Lastings Milledge. Buerhle becomes a free agent after the season, but he fills the Mets' immediate need for starting pitching. Milledge still seems poised to be a major-league outfielder in the near future, though he doesn't seem as likely to be a star as he used to be. This does look like a good deal for both teams, though I can't help but think the White Sox might ask for a bit more in return; Buerhle isn't really any more than a #3 starter right now, even in the NL, but they might be able to get more value for him than Milledge, whose stock has dropped a lot since this time last year.
Apparently the Yankees are interested in Shea Hillenbrand, though this doesn't really make sense to anybody. For one thing, Hillenbrand is one of the more flammable personalities in the game, as he is possibly most notable for being cut by the Blue Jays last year for criticizing the front office. For another thing, they already have someone just like Hillenbrand.
Hillenbrand's three-year (2004-2006) splits:
vs LHP: .328/.363/.514 (BA/OBP/SLG)
vs RHP: .280/.323/.433
Josh Phelps's three-year splits:
vs LHP: .288/.343/.551
vs RHP: .236/.293/.378
Hillenbrand would be a bit of an upgrade against righties, but still not very good. A better option for the Yankees would be someone like Carlos Pena or Rich Aurilia.
A follow-up on Justin Verlander and some info on Brewers phenom Yovani Gallardo tomorrow...