Flying beneath the radar

It must have been easy to be a baseball fan 50 years ago. I mean, except for no Internet, no Extra Innings TV package, no Baseball Tonight, and no Baseball Encyclopedia. Otherwise it must have been easy, because there were only 16 teams, and roughly half as many players as there are today. Does anybody except Peter Gammons really know something about all 750 players currently on 25-man rosters? Throw in the 75-odd players on the disabled list and the hundred-some top prospects, and we're talking about more than 900 players who would, if there were time, be known to all of us.

Nearly 20 pitchers, most of whom have good arms, pitched well enough for a month in Arizona or Florida this spring and will spend most of this season back in the minors. The Rockies must lead the majors in these guys, with four. And they've also got four non-pitchers who were, and perhaps still are, unknown to nearly every baseball fan who doesn't breathe thin air. And I feel bad about being one of those fans.

I should also probably feel bad about never having heard of Peter Orr. After all, last year he batted .320 in the International League. On the other hand, 1) in John Sickels' book, he doesn't rank Orr among the Braves' 34 best prospects, 2) in its book, Baseball America didn't list Orr among the Braves' 30 best prospects (though BA did rank him third on the minor-league depth chart at second base, behind J.C. Holt and Martin Prado), and 3) the 2005 (print) edition of Baseball Prospectus didn't include Orr among 26 notable non-pitchers in the organization. So I can hardly be faulted for ignoring Orr when all the experts did, too. And yet, here he his, manning second base for the Braves while Marcus Giles heals.