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So Long, Manny Machado

It’s time for the post I hoped to never have to write, but that, in the back of my mind, I was always preparing myself for. We’ve posted these types of “farewell” articles before – for Wei-Yin Chen, for Matt Wieters – and we will again – likely for Zach Britton in the coming days. I’ve also still got one saved in drafts that I put together for Chris Davis, but never got to post. Funny how things work out (or don’t work out, if you want to look at it that way).

But this one…man, this one. To say goodbye prematurely to perhaps the most talented player in the history of the Baltimore Orioles organization is quite a punch in the gut. Once Manny Machado wasn’t locked up to a long-term contract after about the 2015 season or so, most of Birdland made our peace with the fact that this day lay inevitably on the horizon. “Enjoy him while he’s here,” we told ourselves, “because after 2018, that’s all she wrote.” That day is here, Birdland, and we didn’t even get to watch him in an O’s uniform for those final 60+ games.

It’s not official yet, but by all accounts Manny has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he’ll finish out his final days of pre-free agency service time before hitting the market this winter.

Where exactly we O’s fans should direct our ire for this unacceptable, yet sadly predictable, course of events is a topic for another day. We’ll have plenty of time to be angry with the Angelos family, Dan Duquette, Brady Anderson, and whoever else as the stories about the real reasons for the lack of contact between the Birds and Machado’s camp over the past handful of seasons leak out.

Today is a day to look back and celebrate the Orioles career of Manuel Arturo Machado. A guy who was must-see TV, a human highlight reel, a reason to tune in every night even when the Birds were scuffling, or – as they are in 2018 – when they were the worst team in baseball. Every night (especially when he was playing third base), Machado had the potential to do something to make fans gasp.

The corny saying goes like this: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened at all.”

Let’s smile because all of this happened…

 

2012

51 games, .262/.294/.445, 8 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 26 RBI

The playoff drought had reached 14 seasons. The Buckle-Up Birds were in contention in July and showed no signs of letting up. They needed help at third base. Talk radio lines were jammed with callers hoping that the team would trade for San Diego third baseman Chase Headley. The deadline came and went, with no help acquired at the hot corner.

The O’s had a young phenom down in Bowie, but he was a shortstop, and J.J. Hardy had that position on lockdown. Surely they wouldn’t ask Manny Machado to move to third base?

Of course, that’s exactly what the Orioles did. The rest, as they say, is history. He spent a few days learning third base down at AA, and was called up and inserted into the lineup on August 9 against Kansas City.

Just like Wieters before him, Manny’s first career hit was a three-bagger.

The next night, he hit his first – and second – major league home runs.

On September 12, he made what was, to that point, his signature defensive play, one that made O’s fans – and MLB observers in general – look up and say “hey, this guy might be something special.” The famous “Don’t throw it away, DON’T THROW IT AT ALL!” play.

In that doomed 2012 postseason series against the hated Yankees, Machado made his presence known, hitting a home run in that ill-fated Game 3.

2012 gave us just a taste of all the great things to come from number 13.

 

2013

156 games, .283/.314/.432, 51 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 71 RBI, All-Star, Gold Glove, Platinum Glove

manny machado up to bat waiting for pitch

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

In his first full season, Manny introduced the term “MACHADOUBLE” into the O’s fan lexicon, smacking 51 of them.

While he had *mostly* doubles power though, he didn’t JUST have doubles power. He hit 14 home runs, including this memorable one in Boston on April 10, that helped kick off his rocky relationship with Red Sox fans.

With the glove, Manny continued to show us that his month-plus at third in 2012 was no fluke, putting together play after play just like this:

(MLB put together a list of his “Best Barehanded Plays from 2013″…in APRIL.)

On July 7, Manny made the play which remains atop his incredibly impressive career highlight reel, ranging into foul territory to recover and throw out New York’s Luis Cruz from well beyond the third base line.

Gary Thorne: “Whoa, mercy! Gonna see that one for a few years!” (He was right.)

Of course, when you win a Platinum Glove as the game’s best defender, there are plenty of highlights to choose from. Here are just a few more…

Unfortunately, 2013 ended on a sour note for both the Orioles and Manny. On September 23 in Tampa, Manny dislocated his kneecap while stepping awkwardly on first base. It ended his season, and was horrific to watch for O’s fans and baseball fans in general.

Manny had surgery in the offseason, and it was a tough one for Birdland, wondering if we’d see the same player when he took the field again in 2014…whenever that may have been.

 

2014

82 games, .278/.324/.431, 14 2B, 12 HR, 32 RBI

orioles manny machado running bases

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

As it turned out, Manny would miss the first month of 2014, making his debut on May 1, in the second game of a doubleheader against Pittsburgh. Would he be himself?

Yup.

2014 was a magical season for the Orioles, as they captured their first AL East title since 1997, winning 96 games in the process. Manny’s season, though, was a bit uneven. It started a month late, as we’ve discussed, but he also earned himself a bit of a reputation as a hothead for the first time. He sparked two separate bench-clearings in the same series, as he first took exception to a Josh Donaldson tag, and later, appeared to throw his bat intentionally.

It was a very, very strange sequence of events, and was at odds with what we’d seen from Manny up to that point. It’s ancient news now, and there’s no sense re-litigating it, but I’d be remiss to not bring it up at all. It was weird, certainly, and an odd stain on that amazing season.

Just over a month later, the Birds played in Oakland, and Machado was, of course, welcomed with a cascade of boos and rude signs. He responded thusly:

Aside from that weirdness though, Manny just kept on being Manny.

In late July, he robbed Albert Pujols in similar fashion in back-to-back games, reminding many of his play on Luis Cruz from just over a year prior.

On July 29, he hit his first career walk-off home run.

He kept on being Manny right up until August 11 when…sigh. The other kneecap popped out.

It was revealed that Machado had a congenital condition in both knees, which required corrective surgery. Manny’s 2014 season was over. He wouldn’t be able to celebrate the division title with his teammates. More importantly, he (along with Matt Wieters and Chris Davis) would not be available for the postseason, a cruel practical joke from a universe that has just seemed to have it out for us Orioles fans since 1983.

Who knows if things could have been different against Kansas City? Ryan Flaherty certainly held his own that postseason, both in the field and at the plate as Machado’s replacement, but it’s still impossible to not look back and wonder.

 

2015

162 games, .286/.359/.502, 30 2B, 1 3B, 35 HR, 86 RBI, 20 SB, All-Star, Gold Glove

Manny Machado in front of sign at spring training 2015.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Coming off his second consecutive offseason knee surgery and rehab, Manny looked to prove that he could stay healthy for a full season. He did just that, playing all 162 games. While he was smashing 50 doubles in 2013, many fans said to ourselves “man, once he grows up a little, these doubles are going to turn into home runs…then, watch out.” And ye verily, it came to pass. Manny had 66 extra-base-hits, two fewer than he managed in 2013, but 21 fewer doubles, and 21 more home runs. MACHADOUBLES had become MACHADONGS.

He was a bona fide superstar, routinely named with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper among the best young players in the game.

On June 16, the Orioles belted EIGHT home runs against Philadelphia. Manny contributed two of those.

Do you ever get tired of watching these? I certainly do not.

Manny participated in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.

During his timeout, Adam Jones got him some of his signature salsa.

Of course, he was still doing this:

On August 14, he blasted a walk-off homer against Oakland.

On September 22 in D.C., he picked up career hit number 500.

Manny won his second Gold Glove award, but the O’s finished a disappointing 81-81.

 

2016

157 games, .294/.343/.533, 40 2B, 1 3B, 37 HR, 96 RBI, All-Star

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Eager to prove his breakout 2015 was no fluke production or health-wise, Manny was as advertised, playing in 157 games, posting a new career high in home runs, and bashing a career-best 78 extra-base hits and 341 total bases.

After his first dong of the year, Manny danced:

The glove was on full display in an April game against Texas:

On April 28, he hit his first grand slam of the season.

Then on May 8, Mother’s Day, he did it again. With a pink bat.

On May 24, Manny hit one to the train tracks in Houston.

On June 7, Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura (sigh…RIP) came inside to Manny one too many times, and received a nice right haymaker and headlock for his transgressions.

As usual, Manny did what he does at the hot corner…(often against Evan Longoria, apparently.)

Thorne: “Manny, an impossible play…” Now, Gary, you know that’s not true.

During that same series in Los Angeles (grr…enjoy him, Dodgers fans), Manny hit one to the friggin’ moon.

The Orioles (and their past giveaways) celebrated Manny’s birthday with a new garden gnome.

Thanks to Manny’s incredible range and quickness at third, and their matching otherworldly strong arms, Machado and Schoop were perhaps MLB’s best 3B-2B double play duo for several years. In 2016, they seemed to be especially dialed in.

On August 7 in Chicago, Manny hit a home run in each of his first three at-bats, in the first three innings, his first career three-dong game.

On August 14, Schoop hit a clutch three-run, go-ahead, two-out home run in the ninth inning in San Francisco, and Manny was so excited that he knocked his buddy over in celebration.

On August 30, Manny belted career HR number 100.

On September 6…yet another Manny Slam.

The Birds snuck into the playoffs as the second Wild Card, only to lose in Toronto. On the bright side, at least we got this:

Manny Machado smokes a cigar and celebrates the O's 2016 playoff berth.

 

2017

156 games, .259/.310/.471, 33 2B, 1 3B, 33 HR, 95 RBI

Manny Machado trots around the bases.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Manny played for the Dominican Republic, in honor of his grandfather, in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. As a result, we got a play that no O’s fan will ever forget. Manny, for once, found himself on the wrong end of a “web gem,” this time courtesy of Birds teammate Adam Jones, who was repping Team USA.

Back in MLB play, Manny had a rough first half, spawning a hundred “What’s wrong with Machado?” blogs, and a thousand “Manny is just going through some bad luck” response pieces. He did, however, manage this 470-foot blast in New York.

On May 1, just a couple weeks after going through some more pointless drama with Boston thanks to a perceived dirty slide (absolute nonsense, for the record), Manny stole another little piece of Red Sox fans’ souls on a game-ending line drive.

Oh, did I say AFTER the drama? That was a lie. It was DURING the drama, because those Boston fools made sure it carried over into the next time the teams met.

Manny responded with a 466-foot homer over the monstahhhhh.

Manny and Schoop? Yeah, they were still doing the damn thing around the horn.

(Oh hey…Longoria again!)

What, only 465 feet? Manny must have been tired on June 2, when he took Rick Porcello to the damn club level at OPACY.

Throwing from foul territory? Yup, he can still do that too.

How about starting a 5-4-3 triple play? On August 3, Manny did just that.

You want more Manny Slams? I got more Manny Slams.

Ho hum, you say? Alright, how about a walk-off Manny Slam to cap off a three-homer game? That float your boat?

That was Manny’s third grand slam between August 7 and 18, by the way.

There’s an extended highlight of it for some reason, so why not?

On August 23, I took my then five-month old son to the Yard for my birthday. Zach Britton – as he loves to do on my birthday – blew a save in the ninth inning. Nine innings was all a five-month old could handle, so I missed this:

Six days later, he had yet another multi-homer game.

Remember we talked about Manny’s slow start? Yeah, he was named AL Player of the Month for August. He hit .341 with 12 HR and 35 RBI in the month.

He wasn’t done just because the calendar flipped though. On September 5, the Birds were down to their last out against the Yankees. Dellin Betances was on the bump. There was a man on. Manny’s second home run of the game won it.

2017, of course, ended on quite a sour note for the O’s. That sour note has, unfortunately, carried on over into…

 

2018

96 games, .315/.387/.575, 21 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 65 RBI, All-Star (with Baltimore)

Manny Machado jogs the bases.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Heading into the season, Manny made it known that he wanted to move to shortstop. While this rubbed a lot of O’s fans the wrong way, the fact remains that Manny came up as a shortstop. He deferred to J.J. Hardy while the veteran was here, but once Hardy was gone, Machado saw the shortstop spot as his. Why would the game’s best (arguably) third baseman, a Gold Glover winner in two of his four full seasons, want to move?

It caused a lot of hand-wringing among fans. The results have been…uneven, to put it mildly. The defensive metrics are not kind. He’s going to play short in LA though, so they obviously don’t hate what they’ve seen.

Also on the minds of fans? All the rumors that Machado was perhaps going to be traded last winter. It all proved to be Mach-ado about nothing, as the Orioles ultimately decided to make one last go at it with their core group of players who had seen so much success since 2012.

We saw our new regular 6-4-3 combo during the first series of the year.

He showed some nice range in Houston on April 2.

On April 6, Manny continued to own CC Sabathia, homering twice for the first time in 2018.

I tell you what…when I watch plays like these, I have a hard time believing those defensive metrics that say Manny has been AWFUL at short.

On April 19, Manny homered twice…again.

April 22…yep, you guessed it. Two more dongs, these both coming off oh no big deal…Corey Kluber.

May 11, two more homers, including a Manny Slam.

Remember when I said I took my son to his first game in August of 2017, and Britton blew the save, and I missed Manny’s walk-off? Well, last month, I took Jr. to his first ROAD O’s game, in Atlanta. The Birds had a four-run lead headed into the bottom of the ninth. Britton blew it AGAIN. Nine innings was, again, all a one-year old could handle. So, thanks to Zach, Brooks and I both missed an O’s win in person, which came in the 15th inning courtesy of…

On July 10, Manny went yard twice yet again.

During all this Manny-Being-Awesome, the guys around him were, sadly, awful. The Birds are neck-and-neck with Kansas City in the battle for the 2019 first-overall draft pick, and they are on pace to challenge the 1988 O’s for worst record in team history.

And so then, on Sunday…Manny hit his final home run as an Oriole (barring a return some future day that none of us are banking on).

Perhaps Machado will move back to third base with whatever team he signs with as a free agent this winter. Maybe he’ll stay at short, and as the sample size grows, those defensive metrics will be more generous to him.

The sad part is it’s really no longer our concern as O’s fans.

All we can do is…keep looking back at these highlights, wistfully. And wish him luck. And curse endlessly the inept ownership/front office (take your pick; arguing who should get the lion’s share of the blame is a game for another day…or many more days) that allowed such an extremely talented home-grown player to ever put on another jersey.

So long, Manny. Thank you for everything. Go win a ring with Los Angeles. And then sign with some National League team this winter…just not the Yankees. Or Red Sox. Please?

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Mullins Stays Hot, but Tides Drop Three of Four

Cedric Mullins gets ready in the OF.

The Norfolk Tides (47-44, 2nd place in the IL South through Sunday) stumbled to three losses in four games against the Gwinnett Stripers during the team’s first series since the AAA All-Star break. Center fielder Cedric Mullins, the No. 5 prospect in Baltimore’s minor league system, collected six hits in the series while extending his hitting streak to 15 games. Starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski was another bright spot, tossing eight innings of one-run ball during Friday’s game.

 

Gwinnett 4, Norfolk 1

Gwinnett shortstop Luis Marte went 3-for-4 at the plate, helping the Stripers hold on to an early lead and take the first game of the second half by a score of 4-1. Tides starter Matt Wotherspoon took the loss after allowing three runs in four and two-thirds innings pitched.

D.J. Snelton, Joely Rodriguez, and Tim Melville yielded just one run over five and a third combined innings out of the Tides bullpen. Left fielder Mike Yastrzemski had two hits, including a double, to pace the Norfolk offense.

 

Tides 5, Gwinnett 4

The Tides fought off a ninth-inning Gwinnett rally with a rally of their own, ultimately needing ten innings to take game two of the series by a 5-4 score. Starter Wojciechowski yielded one run through eight strong innings while Yastrzemski went 3-for-3 at the plate.

Wojciechowski struck out eight hitters while walking none. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tides’ offense used an RBI groundout from Ruben Tejada and a sacrifice fly from Mullins to stake their pitcher out to a 2-0 lead. Stripers catcher Jonathan Morales cut the lead in half in the top of the seventh after an RBI groundout of his own.

Things got dicey for Norfolk in the top of the ninth after manager Ron Johnson opted to bring in Tim Melville to try to close out the game with a 2-1 lead. After Austin Riley singled to lead off the inning, Dustin Peterson launched a two-run homer to give the Stripers a sudden 3-2 lead. Xavier Avery followed Peterson with a double, later coming around to score on an error by Garabez Rosa and pushing the lead to 4-2.

The Tides refused to go quietly in the bottom of the ninth. Drew Dosch led off the inning with a bunt single to beat the shift and advanced to third on a two-out double by Yastrzemski. With the Tides down to their final out, Tejada sliced a line drive into center field to tie the game at four.

Per the new minor league pace-of-play rules, each team starts extra innings with a runner on second base. Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa was able to prevent Gwinnett from scoring in the top half of the tenth, while D.J. Stewart led off the bottom of the inning by grounding a ball into center field to score Luis Sardinas from second base and give the Tides the victory.

 

Gwinnett 4, Norfolk 3

Tides starter John Means threw six innings while giving up three runs, but it wasn’t enough as Norfolk dropped game three. Mullins and Tejada each had a pair of hits in the losing effort.

The Stripers opened the scoring in the third inning after Michael Reed lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Sean Kazmar. They pushed across two more runs in the following inning on an RBI groundout and another sacrifice fly to widen the lead to 3-0.

The Tides battled back in the bottom of the fifth, pushing across a run on Renato Nunez’s sacrifice fly. The bottom of the sixth produced two more Tides runs on an error by Kazmar and a Tejada double, knotting the score at three apiece.

Rio Ruiz’s RBI single in the top of the seventh gave the Stripers a 4-3 lead that they would hold on to for the win. Reliever Francisco Jimenez took the loss for Norfolk, though the run he allowed was unearned.

 

Gwinnett 9, Tides 2

Chris Tillman battled through five and a third innings of work in another rehab start and Tejada and Stuart Levy hit a pair of home runs, but Norfolk dropped the series finale after the bullpen struggled in the late innings.

Tillman struck out three hitters while giving up a pair of runs on eight hits and a walk. His fastball sat in the upper 80’s for the majority of his outing, though it briefly touched 92 in the sixth inning.

Gwinnett jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning after Michael Reed hit a long home run into the visitor’s bullpen in left center field. The Stripers tacked on another run in the fourth on an RBI double.

Norfolk came roaring back to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth on a pair of solo homers by Ruben Tejada and Stuart Levy. Tillman returned to the mound in the top of the sixth but was relieved after allowing a double and reaching 100 pitches for the afternoon. Lefty D.J. Snelten recorded the final two outs to end the top of the sixth inning still tied at 2.

Four straight Gwinnett singles to open the seventh gave the Stripers the lead again. Gamboa entered the game with one run already in and two runners on base with no outs but managed to wiggle out of the jam with the score remaining 3-2. The Stripers added four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to push the score to 9-2.

Gwinnett relievers Andres Santiago, Chad Bell, and Jason Hursh each threw a scoreless inning to close out the game.

Mullins extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a bunt single in the third inning. The switch-hitting outfielder is batting .379 (25-for-66) with ten extra-base hits over that stretch.

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What are These Guys Still Doing Here?

O, how I love thee, let me count the ways. By love, I mean hate, and by thee I mean the 2018 Baltimore Orioles. This year has been so lacking in enjoyable baseball that I have been unable to muster the courage to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) these last couple of months.

Alas I have returned to offer you some thoughts as we near the halfway point of 2018.

 

Manny and Co.

Someone explain to me why NO ONE has been traded yet? I want to hear no more about “it’s too early” or “the orioles are fielding several offers yet but haven’t had their asking price met.”

My favorite is, “you must not understand how trades work.”

I am not talking about Manny Machado, Zach Britton or even Adam Jones. The importance of successfully navigating those deals is obvious, and I understand (agree) with taking the time to make sure the deals are done right. However, there are numerous minor trade pieces that the Orioles should have long moved, such as Brad Brach, Mark Trumbo and Danny Valencia.

It’s particularly unfortunate that the O’s waited to move Valencia, as his slash line has dipped to .252/.314/.431, but he is still hitting LHP exceptionally well (.284/.363/.534), and would be valuable as a platoon option for any playoff team.

The Orioles should move him, and it’s inexplicable they haven’t’ done so already.

 

Whiff Davis

How is Chris Davis still in the big leagues? Seriously, I’m asking.

Davis’ BA is up to a gentleman’s .159, well-complemented by a .233 OBP and nine HR. Through 74 games he has 107 strikeouts, and if he continues to play regularly will most likely obliterate the single season K record set by Mark Reynolds in 2009.

Oh, and his defensive decline puts him into a potentially below-average first baseman category. Cut this man and eat the salary OR find an “injury” that leads to an extended rehab assignment. If the O’s refuse to break ties with him due to the financial investment that makes Enron look like Apple, then they must get him down in the minors and invest in fixing him.

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GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

 

Quittin’ Colby

I wrote a piece the day the Orioles signed Colby Rasmus, that examined the head-scratching decision to bring him in, so this is not a “hindsight is 20/20 situation.” Instead of Rasmus, the Orioles should/could have signed Jon Jay, who fit more of the team need (remember when the O’s were trying to win this year?) and has a line .287/.356/.361. His .356 OBP would put him second on the Orioles behind Manny, and possibly move Trey Mancini or (insert random out of position player name here) out of RF.

Would replacing Rasmus with Jay have changed the Orioles 2018 fate? Absolutely not, however it would have provided a cheap (savvy) move to acquire some additional prospects just as the Royals did when they flipped him to the Diamondbacks.

Organizational Structure

More and more information continues to leak out about the goings on inside the Warehouse, and none of it seems to answer the question of “who is in charge?”

Is it Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter, Angelos and Sons, or Hand of the King Brady Anderson? I surely don’t know, and despite the hard-hitting investigative efforts by the beat crew that covers this team, it doesn’t seem like we will be getting an in-depth look anytime soon.

One thing is clear, however: with the continued blurred lines of power that seemingly exist for the front office (that I can only assume includes The Oriole Bird and Richie Bancells in some bizarre capacity), this “rebuild” is going to be quite the process, and I fear I may see my two-year-old driving before the Orioles return to the playoffs.

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The Rundown: O’s Fans Should Welcome NYY to Manny Talks

While we continue to wait for the Orioles to tear down their roster and embrace a full rebuild, we still have to watch players like Joey Rickard play on a nightly basis. There are a lot of aspects of this season that are extremely frustrating, but the lack of change on any level may rank at the top. I really hope that the All-Star break and/or the trade deadline is when there is a mass exodus and we start seeing players who we all hope will have a future on the next wave of good teams in Baltimore.

 

Yankees Enter Manny Sweepstakes

This should come as no surprise, but the Yankees want Manny Machado for the stretch run, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic.

Also no surprise, O’s fans aren’t happy about this. Taking off our orange-colored glasses, the Yankees may be the only team that can provide what the O’s organization needs: infield depth and major league-ready starting pitching. I also think they are the only team that would pull the trigger on a “fair” deal, as they only care about winning a World Series.

Do the Milwaukee Brewers? Arizona Diamondbacks? I’m not sure. Maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they proved last year with Justin Verlander that they won’t do everything necessary to win a title. If the Yankees are willing to give up Miguel Andujar and/or Justus Sheffield, we have a starting point in discussions and one of those players alone is better than any prospect the other teams would be willing to part with.

If the rumors are true that the Orioles could package Zach Britton in a deal then that will only increase the talent level that comes back.

I know it would be extremely painful seeing Machado and/or Britton in pinstripes in October, but this is the exact team we need to be in trade discussions if we want this rebuild to be accelerated.

 

Other Trade Candidates

Since we really don’t know who is making decisions, we also don’t know how capable the organization is when it comes to multi-tasking. Machado is priority one so who knows if the front office is talking to other teams about Britton, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones and Danny Valencia? I’m not even mentioning Brad Brach as I don’t see how a contender would want to acquire him.

Packaging Britton with Machado would at least knock off two of the big names, but it needs to happen sooner than later so they can focus on the other trade chips. Even though he has been in a slump, I still believe Valencia has value to a playoff contender as a guy off the bench or a starter against lefties. We know what Jones can mean to a playoff team and he is still an offensive contributor.

As for Trumbo, he ranks seventh in baseball in average exit velocity and is looking more like the player from 2016 than 2017. He is another player that can help a contender down the stretch.

Unless they have a postgame ritual that he gets mad about and puts the organization in a tailspin that they have to recover from…but I digress.

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Series Preview: Orioles (24-65) vs Yankees (58-29)

After getting swept out of Minnesota, the Orioles close out the first half of the season with an eight-game homestand beginning today with a doubleheader against the Yankees.

The Orioles (24-65) are hoping to snap yet another lengthy losing streak before the Al-Star break. Their current six-game skid marks the eighth time that they’ve lost five or more games in a row. To make matters worse, they’ve only won once in their last 14 contests.

The Yankees (58-29) are still rolling steady after taking two of three on the road from the Blue Jays and will look to stay right on Boston’s heels in the two-horse race for the division title. They’ve won five of their seven games in July and eight of their last 12 coming into Camden Yards.

The Orioles and Yankees will start the series by playing a classic day/night double-header. Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 8.53 ERA) will take on CC Sabathia (6-3, 3.02 ERA) in game one.

Yacabonis is making just his second start of the season. The converted closer received no decision after giving up two runs on six hits over four innings in his first start of the season against the Mariners, but he has the trust of Buck Showalter after a valiant display.

Sabathia picked up his sixth win of the season after holding the Braves to just two runs over six innings.
The Yankees long-time standout has been in sparkling form over his last six starts with a 4-2 record and
a superb 2.10 ERA over his last 38 2/3 innings.

Yefry Ramirez (0-2, 2.51 ERA) will get the nod against Luis Cessa (0-1, 5.00 ERA) in game two. Ramirez took the loss despite giving up just one run on one hit over five innings against the Phillies. The Orioles’ promising rookie has allowed just one run on four hits over 10 innings during his last two appearances.

Cessa is making just his second start of 2018 against the Orioles. He took the loss in his first start
against the Braves after allowing three runs on five hits over just three innings. Still just 25 years old, Cessa is trying to make his mark at the big-league level after a disappointing 2017 season.

Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.39 ERA) will match-up against Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.58 ERA) on Tuesday.
Cashner took the loss in his last start against the Twins despite allowing just two runs over six innings. He will try to stay in-form against the Yankees. Luck has not been on Cashner’s side. He’s posted a stout 3.18 ERA over his last six starts, but has gone 0-3 during that span because of little run support.

Tanaka will be making his return from the DL in this match-up. The Yankees hurler was in fine form before going down. He held the Mets to one run over five innings during his last start back in June. Tanaka remains undefeated over his last nine starts and hasn’t ended up in the loss column since April 17.

Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA) will go head-to-head with Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA) in Wednesday’s
series finale. Bundy struggled in his first start off the DL and allowed five runs on nine hits over just 3 1/3 innings in Minneapolis en route to his eighth loss of the season. He still owns a 3-1 record and a 3.23 ERA over his last five outings.

Gray’s nightmare campaign continued in Toronto after he allowed five runs on six hits over just two innings in his last start. He must be wondering when the rough patch will end at this point. Over his last three starts, Gray has gone 0-3 with a woeful 12.27 ERA and has pitched just 11 innings combined during that span. A former All-Star in Oakland, Gray has yet to carry that form into the Bronx Bombers pinstripes.

That’s all for now, folks!

Here’s to ending the losing skid.

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Chris Davis Set to Break Orioles Strikeout Record

He just tied a franchise record previously held by Orioles’ great, the Iron Man, Cal Ripken.

He tied the record with 8,027 FEWER at bats than Cal.

He tied the record with 2,029 FEWER games than Cal.

That’s the equivalent of 12 ½ FULL seasons.

Impressed?

He adds to his amazing feat at the rate of once every 2.7 plate appearances.

If he continues his torrid pace for the balance of his contract, he will rank 5th in Major League Baseball history, one notch ahead of Alex Rodriquez, who took 22 seasons to reach that level. This Oriole could reach such lofty numbers in just 15 seasons.

Last season he earned $885,000 per home run. This season he’s on pace to earn a whopping $1.64M per home run

Tonight… if he plays, he will set the Orioles club record.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve known him as The Crusher (thanks to Mike Bordick). Now you know him as the Orioles strikeout king. Let’s give a warm round of applause to Christopher Lyn Davis.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/davisch02.shtml

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/SO_career.shtml

[Related Article: Chris Davis Deal Will Set The Orioles Back For Years]

Bonus Content: Chris Davis is a Strong Man!

2013

2016

2018

At least he can crush something?

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Our 2018 BEVy Categories

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

The All-Star Break approaches. Though this season has seemed to go on forever, it’s somehow just over half finished. Ah, the joys of cheering for a (checks notes) 24-59 baseball team.

Jake & Scott over at Bird’s Eye View are soldiering on though, bringing us the SIXTH annual BEVy Awards show. We’re happy to do our small part here at ESR, so please vote on the categories below!

Our categories have been the same since 2013 – The Forgotten Man Award and the “Why Are You Breaking My Heart Like This, Just Let Me Love You!” Award.

Our previous winners:

Forgotten Man

Remember these guys? Probably not! That’s kinda the idea.

2013 – Alex Burnett

2014 – Ramon Ramirez

2015 – Cesar Cabral

2016 – Francisco Pena

2017 – David Washington

“Why Are You Breaking My Heart Like This, Just Let Me Love You!”

Some of these players have turned things around – either in the season they won the award or the one after. Others – looking at you, Chrises – have…not.

2013 – Jim Johnson

2014 – Chris Davis

2015 – Chris Tillman

2016 – Kevin Gausman

2017 – Manny Machado

We always name this year’s award after the previous winner. With that in mind, your nominees are…

 

David Washington Memorial Forgotten Man Award

In a year that’s gone off the rails as far as this one, there should be no dearth of eligible candidates for this award. However, the Birds have seemed to be a bit less DFA-happy than they were in recent years. Still, the following players fit the bill nicely.

Corban Joseph – Caleb’s little brother was called up on June 15, had a neat/gimmicky little historical footnote when he and Caleb became the only non-Ripken siblings to appear in the same game for the Birds, was optioned on June 20, DFA’d on June 29, and cleared waivers and was sent back to Bowie July 1.

Andrew Susac – Speaking of Caleb, as he wasn’t really getting it done, the O’s gave Andrew Susac a chance. He was called up on May 17, hit .115/.115/.154 in nine games, then was sent back down on June 2. Seems doubtful, barring injury, we’ll see him on the big club again.

Engelb Vielma – The utility infielder hit .143/.250/.143 in six games (just seven plate appearances), then was optioned on May 8. Two days later, he had a very unfortunate crash chasing a ball in Durham then was scheduled for surgery to repair a fractured kneecap sustained in the fall. Twitter isn’t sure if he ever had the surgery though…this is the last update:

Ominous…

Nestor Cortes – One of the Birds’ THREE Rule V picks on the Opening Day roster, Cortes pitched 4.2 innings out of the ‘pen, posting a 7.71 ERA (4 ER, 10 H) and looking quite overwhelmed before being DFA’d on April 10 and returned to the Yankees on April 13.

The Manny Machado “Why Are You Breaking My Heart Like This, Just Let Me Love You!” Award

Yup, Manny Machado actually won this award last year (remember his awful first half?), so it’s fitting that one of this season’s nominees is his bestie. This honor, remember, is for the player who is good (or who we think/hope is good, anyway – Chris Davis has won this award before, which doesn’t make him ineligible. Instead, he’s ineligible because we’ve given up all hope that he’s good any more), but who is having a dreadful first few months of the season. This year, the trouble was narrowing it down to just three or four. Good times.

Jonathan Schoop – What can you even say about Schoop? The 2017 MVO is following up his All-Star .293/.338/.503 32 HR/105 RBI 2017 campaign with a dreadful .202/.245/.350 effort so far, and just eight home runs. Not dope.

Trey Mancini – Boom Boom or Bust Bust? Trey put up 2.2 bWAR in 2017. So far this season? He’s at -1.2. He hasn’t looked the same at the dish since running into the wall at OPACY on April 20, and while his defense was passable last year, it’s been a bit rougher out in LF this season.

Alex Cobb – Ugh. The guy who was supposed to be the Birds’ missing piece, who would launch them into being a true wild-card contender instead looks like the second coming of Ubaldo Jimenez. At this rate, the Orioles will seriously never sign another free agent pitcher again. Cobb is just 2-10, but on this team we can’t really hold that against him. What we CAN hold against him is his 4.98 FIP, 12.0 H/9, and career-worst 6.1 K/9. Every time he looks to be turning the corner, he blows up the next time out.

Mychal Givens – “Untouchable” in trade talks a year ago, Givens has fallen back to earth in 2018. His FIP suggests some bad luck when compared to his ERA (2.89 vs. 4.81), but his career-high 4.8 BB/9 are getting him in trouble. Givens hasn’t been THAT awful, but he’s given up some runs on a team where a run or two is usually enough to result in a loss, as evidenced by his 0-6 record.

 

 

Thanks for voting! Be sure to tune into the BEVys over the All-Star break on BirdsEyeViewBaltimore.com.

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A Sinking Ship Named The Baltimore Orioles

A Sinking Ship Named The Baltimore Orioles

It’s been said regularly throughout the history of the great game of baseball, that regardless of what you do, you will win a third of your games and lose a third.

It’s what a team does with that other third that will make the difference between a successful season or a bad season.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the Orioles should at least finish with 54 wins.

Unfortunately for Buck Showalter & Co., the O’s are on pace to win just 46 games.

FORTY. SIX. GAMES.

And of course, that would mean 116 losses. The Orioles couldn’t make a bigger mess of 2018 if they tried. It’s just a sad, pathetic situation that frighteningly has no end in sight.

Let us review the depth of their ineptitude …

  • From September 1, 2017 through October 1, 2017 the Orioles were 6-21 (.222)
  • A team batting average of .227, an MLB worst
  • Ranked 29th (of 30) in runs scored and RBIs
  • Ranked 30th in on-base-percentage
  • Ranked 30th in defensive efficiency ratio
  • Ranked 28th in team ERA (4.82)
  • Ranked 30th in successful save opportunities
  • Ranked 30th with a WHIP of 1.49
  • Ranked 28th in batting average against

In summary, the Orioles can’t hit, can’t pitch and they can’t field.

That’s the mess on the field.

Off the field, it’s arguably worse.

Peter Angelos is said to be in failing health yet is reluctant to release the stranglehold he’s had on the team. Neither of his sons are capable of providing direction. The club is involved in a legal entanglement over MASN and the Washington Nationals that has them currently on icy terms with MLB and is the underlying reason why the All-Star Game has snubbed Baltimore, despite one of the most beautiful parks in the league.

There’s more …

Brady Anderson is rumored to be the primary influencer in “The Warehouse.” His resume suggests he should be anything but. Dan Duquette is a lame duck EVP of Baseball Operations. Buck Showalter, who according to a source, lost the team during their last playoff appearance when he opted to bring on Ubaldo Jimenez in relief instead of Zach Britton – he’s also a lame duck.

Showalter, a big proponent of the Chris Davis albatross contract, has essentially lost the team – one that is fundamentally bankrupt or doesn’t care enough about the game’s finer nuances that contribute to winning. Either way, the responsibility of the team’s cavalier approach to detail has to fall at least in part, at Showalter’s cleats. And the way he’s handled Manny Machado, who obviously is using the 2018 season as a campaign to riches, demanding a move to shortstop, is just flat-out embarrassing.

There’s STILL more …

The Orioles scouting staff is said to be among the thinnest in all of MLB and they’ve dedicated just two scouts to the burgeoning Latin American market. Comparatively speaking, a team that should be a benchmark in how to turn a floundering franchise around, the Houston Astros – they employ 15 such scouts. Instead of harvesting a talent crop that attracts the game’s best franchise, the Orioles pawn off their international positions for fringe prospects who regularly end up as minor league fodder.

Today, the big question surrounding the team is how they will leverage the MLB trade deadline to replenish their system with young, promising talent. Are they even capable of making good trades to provide hope for the future? Will the lame ducks Duquette and Showalter have any influence or will they rely upon the inexperienced Anderson to pull off a successful trade? And now that teams know that the Orioles need to be sellers, has that weakened their bargaining power?

How will fans respond if the Orioles are taken to the cleaners?

What will the fans say when players like Machado, Britton and Brad Brach don’t yield the talent crop that they could have produced a season ago when they were so much more valuable?

What if the Orioles do nothing?

Would it shock you?

Currently the Orioles are ranked 23rd in paid attendance with an average of 20,736 paying customers. Of course, that is NOT the turnstile count. Trust your eyeballs. Ask the concession vendors or Boog Powell.

What will the Orioles sell next season when Machado, Britton, Jones and Trumbo are all gone? Who could they attract in free agency? What worthy front office exec will willingly walk into that situation? And for that matter, what decent managerial prospect will want to deal with any of this mess when Showalter heads back to ESPN or MLB Network?

Seriously, could the Orioles possibly make this any worse? They’ve essentially created a blueprint for the demise of a franchise.

The good news for the Orioles, who have won just one of their last eight series, is that the schedule brings some reprieve with the Twins on tap next. The Twinkies have lost four straight series, themselves, to fall 13 games below .500.

The bad news for Baltimore is that they’ll be on the road, where they have an MLB-worst 12-31 record, and game-one starter Andrew Cashner has a career 1.013 opponent OPS against Twins batters. Even with rookie Aaron Slegers on the mound for the Twins, whose World Series odds have plummeted from 30/1 in May to 125/1 basically straight across the board. At least at most of these sports betting sites, the O’s will be sizable underdogs in not just game one, but the four-game series as a whole.

Shocker, right?

It’s a sad and disgusting situation for Orioles fans, rooting for a dysfunctional organization – a rudderless ship.

One that is sinking fast.

The Edmund Fitzgerald has got nothing on the SS Angelos.

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Taking Stock of the Farm System (Pre-Trades Edition)

Ryan Mountcastle prepares to field.

This Orioles franchise is a pivotal point, with a lame duck GM and an uncertain future. They don’t spend internationally, so they bank on nailing the draft each and every year. That’s not the best practice in my opinion – or anyone’s opinion for that matter.

In fact, Jim Palmer seems to agree.

I’m here today to talk the O’s farm system as it sits now, before the trades that will – hopefully – be made in July to improve the franchise’s outlook. So let’s go level by level to evaluate.

 

Triple-A Norfolk Tides

Cedric Mullins in the batter's box.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): Cedric Mullins #5, D.J. Stewart #10, Chris Lee #11, Yefry Ramirez (currently on Orioles) #15, Austin Wynns #20

Mullins is clearly the star of this group with the most tools overall. He has great speed and a tremendous outfield glove. Mullins could be Adam Jones’ replacement if the team chooses to go that route. Although he’s faced some struggles since being promoted to Triple-A, Mullins has rebounded nicely, hitting .393 in his last eight games. Mullins also has shown some pop with the ability to get on base (.338 OBP at Norfolk and .362 at Bowie). He should be up to the big-league club at some point this year.

The other outfielder to take note of on this roster is Stewart, the 1st-Round Pick from 2015. Stewart basically disappointed his first two professional years, but last year started to show some of that 1st Round promise. A 20-20 guy, Stewart began showing speed and power, with a .859 OPS. Since college, Stewart has amended his batting stance from an extreme crouch to a more upright stance, resulting in a fluid swinging motion. What I personally like about Stewart is his keen eye at the plate. Stewart can work counts, and once he gets on the base paths, has the ability to wreak havoc.

A few other notable names include: Chris Lee, Austin Wynns, Joely Rodriguez, Drew Dosch, Mike Yastrzemski, Jimmy Yacabonis, and John Means.

I like the squad as a whole, but there isn’t that one breakout prospect, or one with a super high ceiling.

Overall Grade: C+

 

Double-A Bowie Baysox

Austin Hays follows through on his swing.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): Ryan Mountcastle #1, Austin Hays #2, Hunter Harvey #3, Keegan Akin #6, Luis Gonzalez #21, Ademar Rifaela #22, Branden Kline #26, Ryan McKenna #27, Brian Gonzalez #28, Zach Muckenhirn #30

Bowie is clearly the most top-heavy team in the system with the Top 3 prospects in the organization. However, I’d like to focus on three prospects: Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin, and Ryan McKenna.

Mountcastle has been highly touted since he was drafted as a 1st-Rounder. For the most part, he’s met expectations and is off to a great start with the Baysox. His hit tool is unquestionably his best, but he’s also shown power. Mountcastle hit 18 bombs last year, and seven so far on the 2018 campaign. Mountcastle’s biggest issue is his defense and specifically his arm. Currently at third, Mountcastle may have to be moved around the infield until he finds a suitable defensive position.

Keegan Akin, the highest quality arm on the team (until Hunter Harvey can prove that he can stay healthy), was the afterthought of the 2016 Orioles Draft Class. 1st Round Pick Cody Sedlock has yet to show he can get out hitters consistently, but Akin has done just that. What’s most encouraging is that hitters hit under the Mendoza line against Akin. In college, Akin set Western Michigan’s single-season strikeout record as he impressed scouts as a junior. Akin’s fastball sits 91-94, but along with a wipeout slider and changeup, he could continue to move through the ranks and conceivably be a serviceable big-league starter.

Ryan McKenna was the Orioles Player of the Month for June. McKenna’s breakout season is here after being drafted in the 4th Round of 2015. McKenna hit .337/.467/.556 at Frederick (that’s a 1.023 OPS, folks) before being moved up to Double-A. Scouts give McKenna a 60 speed on the 20-80 scale, and as most cold-weather players do (drafted out of New Hampshire) McKenna may have just needed some time to develop.

Some other Baysox noteworthy players: Austin Hays is underperforming this year, and has been hurt for the majority of the season. Luiz Gonzalez has quietly been one of the best Orioles minor league relievers. O’s Rule-5 pick Anthony Santander continues his development.

This Baysox team is really good and probably their best since 2015. They have a pretty decent balance of pitching and offense and we could see a few of these players on the Orioles this year or next.

Overall Grade: B+

 

Single-A Frederick Keys

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): Alex Wells #8, Cody Sedlock #9, Michael Baumann #12, Zac Lowther #14, Jomar Reyes #17, Matthias Dietz #24, Randolph Gassaway #25, Preston Palmeiro #29

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Frederick has a few names Orioles fans may want know, in Alex Wells, Michael Baumann, and Zac Lowther. Wells was awarded Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2017 and both Baumann and Lowther have established that they can dominate the lower levels of the minors. Wells was known last year for his masterful control, but this year has been a slightly different story. He has issued 24 walks in 80 innings, which isn’t horrendous, but coupled with 93 hits and a .292 batting average against, he is definitely experiencing a sophomore slumps of sorts. The changeup is his best pitch, with his fastball only topping out at about 90.

The O’s went with a University of Jacksonville player in the 3rd Round in consecutive drafts in 2016 and 2017, and the latter was Michael Baumann. Baumann is said to have a durable frame with a fastball that has touched 97. Meeting just a few struggles since he’s hit High-A ball, Baumann should be just fine moving forward.

Zac Lowther may be the prospect that intrigues me most. Lowther has had strikingly similar numbers moving from Delmarva to Frederick. However, at Delmarva, Lowther held a 14.8 K/9, and at Frederick the strikeout numbers aren’t quite as dominant (8.4). Lowther, though, was a college pitcher and has a chance to not only move up the Orioles prospect rankings, but has a good chance to move through the system fairly quickly if he continues this dominance.

Frederick has some promise on the pitching side, but their offensive prospects aren’t near the cream of the crop of the organization.

Overall Grade: B-

 

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): DL Hall #4, Brenan Hanifee #7, Cameron Bishop #13, Mason McCoy #23, *Cadyn Greiner NR

Even more pitching….Delmarva has last year’s 1st Rounder DL Hall, who has impressed so far and other pitchers Brenan Hanifee and Cameron Bishop. Recent College World Series champion and elite defensive shortstop Cadyn Greiner will report directly to Delmarva, forgoing both the GCL and Aberdeen. The Shorebirds recently graduated Dietz, Baumann, Zac Lowther, or they would have gotten my first A grade.

The Shorebirds also have a few other notable names: Kirvin Moesquit, Ryan Ripken, and Zach Jarrett (son of NASCAR’s Dale). This squad is also coached by Zach Britton’s brother, Buck. Overall, this team has promise and reinforcements coming from this year’s draft.

Overall Grade: B-

 

Single-A Aberdeen Ironbirds

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): Adam Hall #16, Gray Fenter #19

ITCHY XU IS ON THIS TEAM! My apologies for my excitement, but I root for guys like him. Not too many names of note on this team besides those Top 30 prospects in Hall and Fenter. I fully expect 2018 1st Round Pick Grayson Rodriguez to be there in a couple of weeks, but not quite yet. Blaine Knight, their 3rd Rounder, may be there too once he signs. But as of right now, not a wealth of talent.

Overall Grade: D

 

GCL Orioles

Top 30 Prospects (according to mlb.com): Lamar Sparks #18, *Grayson Rodriguez NR

The GCL is the rookie ball affiliate, used for young players just drafted and for others requiring more development. O’s 1st Round Pick Grayson Rodriguez is on this team along with draft picks Drew Rom and Yeancarlos Lleras. Dariel Alvarez is rehabbing there as a pitcher…remember him?

Overall Grade: C (considering the talent level for Rookie Ball)

 

In general, I actually like the Orioles system more than the industry consensus. With that being said, I would not consider it even a Top 15 system. As the July trades trickle in, and if the Orioles decide to go full rebuild, that may change. The Orioles actually have a good amount of young arms, and like they say, “Have 10 good pitching prospects, produce two.” In Duquette….we trust?

*Neither Cadyn Greiner nor Grayson Rodriguez are ranked, but when the prospect rankings are updated, I fully expect them to be in the Orioles Top 30

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Tuesday’s O’s Links: Undefeated in July!

Manny Machado in front of sign at spring training 2015.

(That’s one of my favorite pictures of Manny Machado, via our awesome photographer Craig Landefeld. It’s old, but I don’t know how many more chances I’ll get to use it. So enjoy it with me one last time.)

It’s July 3, and the Orioles haven’t lost a game yet this month. They’ve only played one, sure, but we’ll take literally any tiny victory we can get these days.

The international signing period began yesterday, and you won’t believe this, but…the Orioles are the only eligible* team that has yet to sign a single international prospect.

(* – the Braves aren’t allowed to.)

You can do the same at this link.

Will Orioles Invest More in International Market?

Let’s start there, shall we? Here’s the money quote from the above article, written by The Sun’s Eddie Encina: “The decision to pass on investing in the international market, specifically the robust Latin American market, has been a long-established decree from managing partner Peter G. Angelos, a decision made because past investments internationally didn’t bear fruit.”

Please remember that as you break out the pitchforks for Dan Duquette over the lack of international spending.

The July 2018 Panic Index

Guess who’s the only team under “Level 5: A Potential Historic Embarassement?”

#Birdland

Pace of Manny Trade Talks Accelerates

This piece, from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, is behind a paywall. However, you can read the first few paragraphs for a glimpse into the continuing dysfunction of the Baltimore Orioles.

To whit:

“A team that reaches a tentative agreement with Dan Duquette…might be at only step one of the process. One industry person familiar with the Orioles’ operation says any club negotiating with Duquette will also need to be in contact with Brady Anderson…”

This is the Team That Should Get Machado

Mike Petriello of MLB.com says that the Arizona Diamondbacks should go all in and get Manny. That is, of course, if they can navigate the obstacle course that getting a deal done with the Orioles entails.

Kevin Gausman is Doing Second-Half Things in the First Half

Here’s let’s try to end on somewhat of a high note. Kevin Gausman has been his second-half self in the first half this season. That’s a good thing! Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot explains how Gausman has seemingly especially picked things up since altering his windup in May.

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O’s Salvage Game Against Angels

On a blistering Sunday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles’ bats were just as hot and snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Mark Trumbo powered the offense, hitting two of the team’s four home runs. Manny Machado and Trey Mancini also homered for the Orioles, who won for just the second time in 19 games at Camden Yards.

Kevin Gausman continued to build on his last four outings where he had allowed 8 earned runs in 24.1 IP (2.96 ERA) to drop his season ERA to 4.20. He was stellar against the Angels, allowing two runs and six hits with two strikeouts and no walks over eight innings. Gausman threw 73 of 104 pitches for strikes in a dominating performance.

The Orioles knocked around former first round pick Deck McGuire, who was making his first start of the season in his seventh game (third with Angels), and just the third big league start of his career. McGuire allowed five runs and five hits with four strikeouts and two walks over just 3 1/3 innings.

McGuire found some success in the Cincinnati Red’s minor league system in 2017, going 9-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 28 appearances (27 starts). That success led the McGuire’s Major League debut, after which he put up solid numbers for the Reds, albeit a small sample size, going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six games (two starts) covering 13.2 IP.

McGuire was granted free agency in the offseason and spent time in the organizations of both Texas and Toronto before catching on with the Angels in June.

The Angels started quickly against Gausman when Kole Calhoun led off the game with a double down the right field line. After Mike Trout popped to short, Calhoun advanced to third on a fly ball to centerfield off the bat of Justin Upton before scoring on a two-out single by Albert Pujols.

Gausman then settled down, throwing just seven pitches to get through the second inning.

The Orioles’ offense was quiet until the fourth inning. Adam Jones led the inning off with an infield single after Kinsler lost a pop-up in the sun. Machado then hit a 398-foot missile into the stands to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Trumbo followed Machado to the plate and promptly homered to right, barely clearing the out-of-town scoreboard in the process after the ball caromed off the railing on top of the wall. McGuire, visibly shaken after allowing back-to-back home runs, fell behind Chris Davis 3-0 before Davis got the green light on a 94 MPH fastball and doubled off the wall in right.

After a wild pitch moved Davis over the third, Chance Sisco walked and Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to make a pitching change in favor of Hansel Robles, who then allowed an RBI double to Steve Wilkerson and an two-run single to Tim Beckham. Adam Jones, the inning’s tenth batter, struck out to end the frame, but not before six runs had crossed to leave the Orioles with a 6-1 lead.

Gausman’s efficiency continued in the fifth inning as the righty needed just nine pitches to retire the Angels offense in order. Machado led off the bottom half of the inning with a ground ball into the five-hole that shortstop Simmons made a fine backhanded play and throw on to retire Machado by half a step.

Then the fireworks started back up.

Trumbo got ahead in the count 3-1 and then dropped an absolute bomb to left-centerfield for his second home run of the game, this one traveling an estimated 444 feet. Davis followed with a deep fly out to left which Upton caught up against the fence before Mancini hit his 11th home run of the season into left-center that provided an 8-1 margin.
Gausman allowed a two-out home run to Calhoun in the top of the 8th inning before striking out Mike Trout to end the inning.

Miguel Castro closed out the ninth and the Orioles salvages what otherwise would have been a winless home stand. The team starts a brief two-game series in Philadelphia on Monday before heading to Minnesota for a four-game series.

The Birds return home on July 9 to begin an eight-game home stand with a doubleheader against the Yankees that will take them into the All-Star break.

Game Notes
— INF Corbin Joseph cleared waivers and was outrighted to Double-A Bowie prior to the game.

— Machado’s and Trumbo’s back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning marked the fifth such occurrence on the season for the Orioles, and the first since Trumbo and Danny Valencia did it on June 17.

— When Trumbo homered in the fifth inning, it marked his 13 th career multi-homer game, and his first this season.

— The Oriole scored six runs in the fourth inning after scoring five runs in their previous three games. As MASN’s Steve Melewski noted on Twitter, the Orioles had scored six runs in a game just five times the previous 32 games.

–After going winless against the American League in June and 0-for-the-season against the AL West, the Orioles picked up a win in both categories on July 1.

— Paid Attendance: 18,351

— Time of Game: 2:29

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The O’s Woes Won’t Get Me Down

Trey Mancini catches a ball at first base.

The Orioles got swept by the Seattle Mariners. Their 4-2 loss on Thursday is their 57th to-date, and the Os have secured themselves a nice cozy spot at the very bottom of the well that is the AL East. Buck and the crew are laying at the bottom, looking up. But the well is so deep that they don’t even see a ring of light at the top, and there is no Lassie to alert rescuers of their plight.

 

A Disappointing Season

To say that the Orioles’ 2018 campaign has been disappointing is an understatement. I had high hopes for Baltimore this season. Not to win the pennant, but to fight for a playoff spot; to be in the mix. At this point in the season, it is safe to say that they might be the most disappointing team in the league.

And news abounds on Adam Jones potentially leaving. Manny Machado is on the trading block as well. Zach Britton could go, but his stock is plummeting, so how much can we get? Then, to keep in mind with all of this is that there is a silver lining. From here, especially if the Os have a Marlins-like fire-sale, the only place to go is up.

 

So What Can We Do?

For starters, Chris Davis needs to pull out of his slump. The Orioles organization is so heavily invested in him that they can’t just throw him out. How does this happen? The squad was projected to have one of the most powerful hitting seasons in history, yet we’ve only managed 94 ding-dongs. Is it Scott Coolbaugh’s fault? Do we fire him? I mean, it isn’t just Chris Davis who isn’t producing; it’s the entire team. We are at the bottom of the league in just about every offensive category that you don’t want to be bottom in.

Do we continue to pull our hair out at what seems to be poor management decisions? No, we turn lemons into lemonade and have a little fun … especially now that it is sweltering hot.

 

A Little Bit of Fun

When we check top sites like Heritage Sports, we see that the Os are +500,000 to win the AL. Ok, so that is 5000 to 1 and totally worth a 1 dollar bet that would pay you $5000 if the Orioles just happened to have the most glorious comeback in sports history.

And if the Orioles’ Slide continues, we can make a little bit of money at their expense. If we are going to be bummed out about our team, we might as well make a few bucks in the meantime. For example, the Angles are -140 to win the weekend series against the Orioles. Those are surprisingly good odds, considering the Orioles have not beaten an AL team in how long … over a month?

We can also make the Orioles games more interesting by picking Run Line spots to spice things up. Like, on Wednesday. The Orioles put forth a valiant 8-7 effort against the Mariners. If we had taken the Orioles on the Run Line, which is to keep the game within 1.5 runs, the Orioles would have been winners in our eyes on that day.

We’ll have plenty more to worry about during the trade deadline and the offseason, so for now, let’s just do whatever we can to make this bearable. And not let the Os’ woes get us down.

 

submitted by Juan Andrade

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I Don’t “Like Our Guys” Anymore

I have a T-shirt. It was a freebie that I picked up on arrival at Camden Yards. Many of you probably have it as well.

It says, “We Like Our Guys”. You know what? I don’t anymore, no matter the insistence of The Warehouse. Let’s break it down.

Chris Davis – The worst player in MLB

Jonathan Schoop – Amazingly almost as bad as Chris Davis. He’s really bad.

Manny Machado – Awesome but his value is completely tied up in what he can bring back in a trade. If the dysfunctional Front Office can figure that out. Otherwise he’s just leaving in free agency for nothing. I’m getting pissed off now.

Third base – Now I’m going to start getting really angry.

Corner OF – Trumbo? Mancini? I mean you know the Orioles are starting two DH’s who are not really good hitters at the corner OF spots? Right?

CF – Adam Jones has been a great representative of the team and the city. He isn’t a center fielder anymore. He’s still a productive major leaguer (though he’s having quite a power outage recently). He is playing hard. He’s trying. But here we are.

C – Yeah. A disaster.

SP – Dylan Bundy is actually good. Kevin Gausman? He could be good. Otherwise it’s a tire fire.

RP – Here’s the thing. Other than the freaks, relief pitchers have a short shelf life and the Orioles have sat too long on their assets.

It’s going to be a long cold lonely winter. The Orioles have no leadership and no assets. They are 23-57 which is historically bad.

A few months ago, I said that it’s really hard to only win 60 games.

Now I’m wondering how the Orioles even get to that level.

I don’t like our guys. Not one bit.

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Series Preview: Orioles (23-57) vs Angels (41-41)


sunset view of oriole park at camden yards

After getting swept by the Mariners for the first time in a four-game series, the Orioles will conclude their home stand by hosting the Angels for a three-game set over the weekend.

The Orioles (23-57) are trying to snap another five-game losing streak in tonight’s series opener. It’s the seventh time they’ve lost five in a row during the first half of 2018. With a 6-18 record during the month of June, the O’s will also be looking to avoid their second 20-loss month.

The Angels (41-41) come into town on a six-game losing streak after getting swept by the Red Sox at Fenway. As a result, Los Angeles will be looking to get their season back on track after hitting a lengthy rough patch. They’ve gone just 4-13 over their last 17 ball games and find themselves 10 games out of the wild card picture.

David Hess (2-4, 5.44 ERA) will take on Felix Pena (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Hess took the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits over just four innings in his last start against the Braves, and he will be looking to find his rhythm against the Halos. He’s allowed 15 runs over his last 12 innings pitched and owns an 8.00 ERA through four starts in June.

Pena did not get a decision in his last start against Toronto after allowing three runs on eight hits over five innings. The former Cubs prospect will be looking for his first win of the season in just his third start on the year against the Orioles. Pena was thrust into the rotation after Garrett Richards went on the DL with a hamstring injury.

Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.70 ERA) will match-up against Tyler Skaggs (6-5, 2.69 ERA) on Saturday.

Cashner pitched well enough to win yet again after allowing three runs on four hits over six innings against the Mariners, but took the no-decision in the Orioles eventual loss. Cashner owns an impressive 3.68 ERA over 22 innings combined through his four starts in June, but doesn’t have a win to show for it.

Skaggs took a tough-luck loss during his last outing in Kansas City after allowing just a single run over seven innings, but will look to stay in red-hot form at Camden Yards. Over his last seven starts, he’s gone 3-3 with an outstanding 2.30 ERA over 43 innings. Through four starts in June, he’s went 3-1 with a microscopic 0.67 ERA over 27 innings combined.

Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.20 ERA) will go up against Deck McGuire (0-0, 6.08 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.

Gausman took the no-decision despite allowing just one run over six innings in his last start against the Mariners, and has been steadily returning to form. He’s posted a sparkling 2.96 ERA over 24 1/3 innings combined during his last four outings, but doesn’t have a win to show for all of his hard work.

Acquired on June 19 from the Rangers, McGuire will be making his first start as an Angel on Sunday. The former Blue Jays prospect allowed three runs over four innings during his last appearance as a reliever in Boston on June 26, and will be hoping for a better result against the Orioles.

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to ending the losing streak.

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Thursday’s O’s Links: The O’s Haven’t Beaten An AL Team in a Month

Zach Britton gets up after making a tag on the first base line, as Chris Davis Watches.

I dunno, guys. I keep saying there’s no bottom, and the Orioles just keep proving me right. Did you know that they have now lost 14 straight games against American League teams, and haven’t beaten an AL team since May 25, over a calendar month ago? Seems impossible right? I assure you, it’s not…not for these Birds.

These Birds, who have now managed to surpass even the 1988 Orioles in ineptitude!

To some depressing links, I suppose…

Meet Chris Davis 2.0, Same as the Old Chris Davis

Chris Davis was good in his first game back from his benching, walking and hitting a home run. The next game, he hit a bases-loaded double. After that, he was awful again. But last night, he hit the go-ahead three-run home run onto Eutaw Street in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was awesome!

Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to have ANY FUN this season, so Zach Britton got exactly zero outs before the Mariners tied the game in the ninth with a homer of their own.

Davis & Britton Storylines Combined, and the Negative Won Out

Dan Connolly has more on those three minutes of ecstasy and misery that transpired between the eighth and ninth innings at OPACY last night.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 243: Anger Translator

Last week, Scott was out. This week, Jake is sittin’ on a sack of beans, sittin’ down in the New Orleans, so @Gwodzilla joined Scott to wallow in misery.

Dodgers Favorites to Acquire Manny Machado

Bob Nightengale says the Los Angeles Dodgers are the frontrunners for Manny Machado. Perhaps the Anaheim Angels will enter the bidding, as Zach Cozart just hit the DL for an extended period. The guess here is that Pete wants Manny representing the Birds at the All-Star Game, so nothing will happen until at least then, if not longer.

The Orioles Stink, but There Are Still Reasons to Go to Camden Yards

I’ll take “Darkest Timeline Headlines for 500, Alex.”

 

Maybe the Orioles won’t get swept again (they will)?

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Bullpen Arms Lead Tides to Four-Game Sweep of Stripers

A trio of pitchers who normally pitch out of the Tides bullpen combined for 12 strong innings during a four-game series against the Gwinnett Stripers, helping Norfolk kick off what could be the most important homestand of the year by sweeping all four games. Pedro Alvarez had five RBIs in three games, including a walk-off two run double in the tenth inning of the series finale.

TIDES SEASON TO DATE

The Tides (40-35, 2nd in the IL South through Wednesday) returned home on Monday after stumbling their way through a six-game road trip with a record of 1-5. On Wednesday morning, three Tides – outfielder D.J. Stewart, third baseman Drew Dosch, and pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis – were selected for July 11th’s AAA All-Star Game in Columbus, OH.

The four-game set against the Stripers began a grueling homestand in which Norfolk will play ten games over nine days, including four against the division-leading Durham Bulls.

 

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: GWINNETT STRIPERS

MLB Affiliate: Atlanta Braves

Record: 34-43, 4th place in the IL South

Top 30 Prospects: LHP Luiz Gohara (No. 4), LHP Kolby Allard (6), LHP Max Fried (8), OF Dustin Peterson (15)

TOP TIDES PLAYERS OF THE SERIES

Pitchers Matt Wotherspoon, Joely Rodriguez, and Reid Love: 12.0 IP, 2 R, 13 K, 2 BB

Wotherspoon, Rodriguez, and Love each threw four innings and allowed a total of two runs while striking out thirteen Stripers hitters. Wotherspoon and Rodriguez started the second and third games of the series, respectively, – even though both traditionally pitch out of Norfolk’s bullpen. Love, a 26-year-old lefty, recorded the win on Tuesday night in relief after being called up to AAA for the first time in his career.

INDIVIDUAL GAME RECAPS

Tides 4, Gwinnett 1 (7 innings, game 1 of a doubleheader)

Asher Wojciechowski battled through five innings – allowing baserunners in each frame but managing to hold the Stripers to just one run – as the Tides took game one of Monday’s doubleheader by a 4-1 score.

The Norfolk offense played small ball to push across the first run of the evening in the bottom of the third. Adrian Marin doubled to lead off the inning, slapping a ground ball down the third base line and into left field. Cedric Mullins then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move him to third and Steve Wilkerson lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Marin.

Gwinnett tied the game in the top of the fourth when former mega-prospect Ronald Acuna (playing with the Stripers as part of his major-league rehab assignment) lined a two-out RBI single to left field. He has been sidelined from the major leagues since May 27 with a sprained ACL.

The Tides retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning after Joey Rickard’s one-out single sparked a rally. Garabez Rosa followed Rickard with a line drive double to put runners at second and third and Andrew Susac walked to load the bases. The next hitter, Ruben Tejada, hit a chopper back to the mound that pitcher Miguel Socolovich couldn’t handle, allowing Rickard to score.

A bases-loaded walk from Mullins and another sacrifice fly by Wilkerson added two important insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, pushing the score to 4-1.

Ryan Meisenger pitched a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Wojciechowski and Jhan Marinez worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh for his ninth save.

Tides 7, Gwinnett 4 (7 innings, game 2 of a doubleheader)

A terrific start by Matt Wotherspoon and three first-inning runs helped propel the Tides to a doubleheader sweep on Monday night.

Mullins singled to left field to open the bottom of the first and eventually came around to score the game’s first run on a passed ball. Drew Dosch followed with a two-run double to give the Tides an early 3-0 lead.

The Tides added another run to their lead in the second inning after yet another sacrifice fly from Wilkerson and made it a 5-0 game in the fourth-inning on a home run by D.J. Stewart.

Wotherspoon, making just his third start of the season, struck out seven hitters and yielded one hit in four scoreless innings.

Andrew Faulkner threw a scoreless fifth inning in relief but ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing the first four hitters of the inning to reach while walking in a run. Paul Fry entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs and would surrender three runs, all credited to Faulkner, before tight roping out of danger with a one-run lead.

Interestingly, Gwinnett summoned catcher Rob Brantly to pitch the sixth inning with the score still 5-4 Tides. Brantley gave up two runs on RBI hits from Alvarez and Chance Sisco while throwing the majority of his pitches within the 55-60 mph range.

Lefty D.J. Snelten tossed a scoreless seventh to seal the win for Norfolk.

Tides 3, Gwinnett 2

For the second straight game, the Tides received a strong pitching performance from a spot starter and used it to squeak past Gwinnett by a 3-2 score on Tuesday night.

Joely Rodriguez – making his first start since 2015 on account of the Orioles’ promotion of the evening’s scheduled starter, Jimmy Yacabonis – tossed four innings of one run ball.

Wilkerson blasted a solo home run into the bullpen in right field in the bottom of the first to give the Tides a 1-0 lead.

Rodriguez allowed just one hit through the first three innings, but got into trouble in the top of the fourth after Rio Ruiz floated a bloop single into left field to score Michael Reed, who had doubled to lead off the inning. He finished the fourth inning having struck out three while walking none.

Reed came back to haunt the Tides again in the sixth when he lifted a fastball from newly-promoted lefty Reid Love that barely cleared the right field wall for a home run. Love managed to escape the inning without any further damage.

Wilkerson led off the bottom half of the sixth with a double and Stewart followed with a walk. With two outs, Alvarez hit a fly ball to right field that Gwinnett’s Dustin Peterson appeared to lose in the lights (though it was scored a double). Alvarez’s hit plated both Wilkerson and Stewart and allowed the Tides to retake the lead.

Love remained on to pitch the seventh and eighth innings and retired all six hitters he faced. He finished his AAA debut having thrown four innings out of the bullpen while striking out three and allowing only one run en route to earning the win. Meisenger pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season.

Pedro Alvarez in the batter's box.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Tides 6, Gwinnett 5 (10 innings)

Alvarez emerged as the hero of the series finale by belting a walk-off, two-run double with two outs in the tenth inning as the Tides swept Gwinnett on Wednesday afternoon.

Means retired the first six batters he faced in order, but the Stripers offense used four hits in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Tides answered immediately in the bottom half of the third, using a pair of doubles by Ruben Tejada and Mullins as well as a seeing-eye single from Rickard to close the deficit to 3-2.

Means and Gwinnett’s Michael Mader each put up zeroes on the mound in the fourth and fifth innings before Alvarez lined a base hit to right field in the bottom of the sixth to score Mullins and tie the game at 3.

The game remained tied until the tenth inning, when the Stripers scored twice off Tides reliever D.J. Snelten on a walk and a wild pitch. Not to be outdone, however, the Tides’ Adrian Marin doubled home Renato Nunez to begin the inning (thanks to the new MiLB rule that starts every extra inning with a runner at second base). After Mullins and Rickard were retired, things began to look bleak with two outs and Marin, the would-be tying run, still stranded on second base.

A walk by Stewart extended the inning for Pedro Alvarez, who then smashed a line drive to center field for a double that scored both Marin and Stewart and somehow sent the Tides home with a wild 6-5 victory, a series sweep, and the club’s fourth straight win.

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Thursday Thoughts: Buck Showalter On the Way Out of the Dugout?

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. When I woke up this past Sunday morning and heard about a weekend column by The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck, my eyes glazed over. Schmuck took to writing about rumors that the Orioles could be relocated, and it made me very skeptical at first.

Let’s be clear that there is no validity to these rumors, and Schmuck does a good job of dispelling them throughout the piece. But anytime you talk about a team moving in the city of Baltimore, ears perk up. The largest issue surrounding these rumors, and I hesitate even giving them the validity to call them that, remains the ongoing MASN dispute with the Washington Nationals. No one knows how that is going to turn out. But if it turns out poorly for the Orioles, it really would reshape how the franchise looks and operates.

Many want to blame the Orioles for being cheap despite raking in a ton of money through their network, but the franchise has been far from frugal in recent years. This season, they rank 14th in MLB payroll and just over $5-million above the league average. While that’s down from the past few years, the O’s were up in the top-ten in spending just last season. They haven’t been cheap, they’ve just spent their money poorly.

The other slightly eyebrow-raising factor in all of this is the team’s lease at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is up in a few years. The city is going to do everything it needs to keep the team in one of the most pristine ballparks in the game. But how long that next lease runs for will be something I pay attention to. Fans will probably want to hear something from Peter Angelos’ sons about these rumors, but that likely isn’t coming soon.

Schmuck’s piece cited a “no comment” from ownership, so right now, that’s all we have to go on.

2. Elsewhere on the non-Manny Machado rumor mill, we have managerial candidates galore. Remember that Buck Showalter is still in place as the O’s skipper, but there are still plenty of names being thrown out there as potential replacements. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports this week threw out a few names that got fans all twisted. The one that seems to have generated the most fervor is Bill Ripken. Heyman shot down the notion of Ripken leaving MLB Network to take the job, and also shut down speculation around Rick Dempsey and Mike Bordick as well. In fact, Bordick himself shot down the rumors in an interview with Glenn Clark Radio earlier this week.

I think one thing is pretty safe to say – Showalter is sticking around for now. If the Orioles are going to make a change in the dugout, or in the front office for that matter, they are going to wait until the offseason. That gives them a much wider pool of potential replacements to choose from. Fans will be uncomfortable with Dan Duquette being in charge of the front office leading up to the trade deadline in about a month, but truthfully Brady Anderson is going to be heavily involved there. In fact, in a separate interview with Pressbox’s Clark, Heyman noted that he wouldn’t rule out one of Showalter or Duquette coming back but it would be “up to Brady and the (Angelos) brothers.”

That’s very telling to me as to how much of an influence Anderson has, and how much he’ll have going forward. When it comes to Ripken, I don’t really know what to make of speculation that he could be in the mix. We’ve also heard rumors in the past that Showalter wants more of a front office role, so perhaps a Ripken/Showalter duo could work in some way.

Regardless, I don’t see any of this being resolved for a few months. Until then, it’s just a matter of getting through the trade deadline and getting as much return as possible on current assets.

3. Dylan Bundy is on the disabled list because of a sprained ankle he suffered running the bases last weekend in Atlanta. That’s right, running the bases in an interleague game. Buck Showalter isn’t happy about it, and I can’t imagine anyone wishing to watch Bundy pitch this week is either. In the long run, this doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Bundy is expected back next week at some point, missing only one start or so.

But make no mistake that the designated hitter is going to plow its way into the National League soon. In fact, ESPN’s Buster Olney said this week he believes it’ll happen within the next 3-5 years. Growing up watching the Orioles, I am obviously more keen to the idea of the DH. But I also like the strategy of the NL game. The double switch, pinch hitting, and even bunting in the right situation is and has always been part of the game. I don’t mind it. It evokes more strategy and even gets the ball put in play a bit more in this day and age of the three true outcomes.

But it’s also completely silly that MLB has two different leagues that play by two different sets of rules. Can you imagine if in the NFL, teams in the AFC got three points for a field goal while teams in the NFC only got two? Or if the rim was at a different height in the NBA’s Western Conference compared to the Eastern Conference? These examples may seem a bit extreme to some, but it really is a different game with a different set of rules.

Interleague play has been going on since 1997, and frankly, the idea of a pitcher hitting should’ve died at the same time. This isn’t even about Bundy, either. He wants to continue hitting in NL parks, and honestly he’ll have to until this rule is changed.

My best guess is that once MLB expands to 32 teams (another thing that is coming in the near future), they’ll adopt a universal DH as well. It’s time for the game to get a little more universal.

4. I feel like it has to be a part of one of these columns each year, so let’s do it here. Heck, it’ll probably be the last time I have to do it. Manny Machado isn’t a good baserunner, and that’s okay. Machado dogged it on Tuesday night on a double-play groundout, and eventually apologized for it. He got a wrist slap of a tongue-lashing in the media from his manager, and that’s that.

I’ve heard everything under the sun about Machado’s baserunning. I’ve actually had people tell me that they are happy he won’t be with the Orioles much longer because of it. They say they wouldn’t pay him a lot of money in a long-term contract because of it. Folks tell me it’s plays like the one Machado made (or didn’t make) the other night that is the reason the Orioles are so awful.

All of those folks are insane and should be checked on immediately.

Machado can be a great player and not a great baserunner. It’s possible. Whenever Machado departs (and if “USA Today’s” Bob Nightengale is right, it looks like that may be to the Dodgers, some Orioles fans are sure to boo him whenever he makes his way back to Baltimore. It’s the same thing they did when Mike Mussina left for a big contract with the Yankees. It’s all foolish.

People who think Machado won’t be a huge loss for the O’s are forgetting that this 23-56 team would likely have half that number of wins without him.

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Gary Thorne: Orioles “are Within Shi***ng Distance”

Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer in the O's booth, Gary wearing a mother's day giveaway hat.

Orioles fans have grown to love Gary Thorne and all his goofy exclamations in the broadcast booth (most of us, anyway – I still come across the random fan here or there who despises Gary). There’s even a Twitter account in his honor, @DrunkGaryThorne.

In Monday night’s loss to the Seattle Mariners, Gary may have finally reached his zenith. He was, I assume, trying to say that the Orioles were within striking distance of Seattle headed to the bottom of the ninth inning. (Shocker: they did not strike).

He, instead, said something else.

Behold (don’t play this if you’re around someone you don’t want to hear a curse word):

The Orioles, seemingly, have been within shitting distance all season long, no?

Never change, Gary.

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Let’s Change – and Hopefully Fix! – the Orioles, Starting Now

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore

Last week in this space, we talked about how one of the biggest frustrations for Orioles fans is the lack of transparency within the organization and an unwillingness–to this point–to make any changes to a ballclub that finds itself with the worst record in baseball at 23-54.

[Related: The Worst Part of All This? O’s Seem Fine with Status Quo]

On a regular basis, the Orioles trot out failing hitters and faltering pitchers as the team descends below mediocrity into what can only be described as a laughing stock.

In the offseason, the team addressed its biggest weakness by signing Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner (or Yovanni Gallardo 2.0). Yes, the moves needed to be made and the starting rotation was the weakest link on a last place ballclub in 2017.

What we didn’t expect was for the offense to be as bad as it has been in 2018.

After a sizzling August where the Orioles averaged 6.03 runs per game, the club stumbled in September, averaging just 2.96 R/GM in the season’s final month (if you count a 6-0 loss on October 1st to end the season), a stretch that saw the team go 7-21 and fall out of playoff contention.

The thinking upon signing Cobb and Cashner was that with a now formidable rotation, the offense would have some of the pressure taken off to do what it does best: slug opponents into submission.

Unfortunately for all of Baltimore, that hasn’t happened. Through 77 games, the offense is averaging 3.68 R/GM and has been held to three runs or fewer 47 times, including two runs or fewer 31 times.

[Related: Orioles Offense Has Been Mostly Bad for A Long Time]

Of the Orioles’ 89 home runs (14th in the majors), a whopping 62 of them have been of the solo variety.

Basically, a team that has been known for its mashing has been mashing at a very pedestrian rate while doing so mostly with nobody on base (because once again the Orioles are dead last in MLB with a .293 OBP).

Rather than continue to lament the Orioles’ shortcomings in 2018, I think it’s high time the team figures out what to do about them. And since we have no idea who’s running the show or when whoever that may be will be making any moves, perhaps I should take it upon myself to get the ball rolling.

Now, before I save the Baltimore Orioles from another 14-year stretch of losing, I would like to reiterate for the umpteenth time that I firmly believe the best course of action is signing Manny Machado long-term and building around him.

But since nobody (myself included) thinks that’s a likely scenario, I’ll leave it out of this piece.

 

1. Relieve Dan Duquette of His Duties

A man in an Orioles uniform and a man in a business suit stand side by side.

Dan Duquette, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles, is in the final year of his contract with the ballclub, a final year that is about three years too late.

After winning Executive of the Year in 2014, Duquette was courted by the Toronto Blue Jays to become their President of Baseball Operations. The move most certainly would have been a promotion with a higher salary, and Duquette was rumored to be extremely interested in the position despite the four years remaining on his contract with the Orioles.

Not only that, but the rumors were leaked to the public the Sunday before the Winter Meetings were set to begin; not exactly the ideal time for your de facto general manager to be taking meetings with a division rival.

Peter Angelos, a staunch and savvy lawyer and businessman, refused to let Duquette out of his contract without proper compensation, namely Jeff Hoffman, Max Pentecost, and Mitch Nay, all of whom were top prospects for Toronto at the time. Unsurprisingly, the Blue Jays balked at the idea and Duquette stayed in Baltimore.

What the Orioles should have done was either trade or fire Duquette on the spot and find an immediate replacement. That brings back the issue of the timing. The team couldn’t very well enter any Winter Meetings in such disarray, let alone the Winter Meetings following an appearance in the ALCS.

We all know what happened next. Nelson Cruz signed with Seattle, Nick Markakis signed with Atlanta, the Orioles tried to sell Baltimore on Duquette crush Travis Snider, and the team needed a five-game winning streak at season’s end to finish .500 at 81-81.

My point? The time has come for the Orioles to rid themselves of Duquette. Rumors are again swirling, this time that the Orioles have interest in Ned Colletti, who is currently serving as the senior adviser to the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they have reportedly already interviewed him.

Colletti served as the Dodgers’ general manager from 2006-2014. In those nine seasons, the Dodgers made the playoffs five times and won 14 playoff games. For comparative purposes, the Orioles have won 16 playoff games in the last 35 seasons (assuming they don’t make the greatest run in the history of professional sports this season).

There is no telling just how serious these rumors are, and even if they are true, Colletti would likely want to be the President of Baseball Operations. Furthermore, I can’t imagine he’d agree to take a job with Brady Anderson meddling in the background. My speculation is that he’d want assurances that the club is his to run how he sees fit, and Anderson would have to take a diminished role.

Still, a move needs to be made here, whether Colletti or someone else, and it needs to be made soon. The trade deadline is just five weeks away and the Orioles need people who will be with the club beyond this season calling the shots.

Dan Duquette should not be one of those people.

 

2. Trade Adam Jones and Zach Britton to the Cleveland Indians

Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles prepares to swing.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

I have been on record as saying the Orioles need to trade Adam Jones. He, along with Zach Britton, is in the final year of his contract and a player of his caliber with his veteran leadership could yield a solid return from a contending team trying to make a playoff push. That is where Britton and the Cleveland Indians come into play.

The Indians were eight games up on the second place Minnesota Twins entering play on Monday despite a bullpen ERA of 5.21 and getting next to nothing from any outfielder not named Michael Brantley.

A package of Jones and Britton solves both of those problems. Britton would alleviate some of the pressure put on a rotation that is second in all of baseball in ERA (3.29). Jones would provide veteran leadership and protection to a top-heavy lineup. Plus, it would be nice of the Orioles to give the greatest outfielder in team history an opportunity to chase a World Series ring before he enters the twilight of his career.

In return, the Orioles should center any deal on Indians prospect Nolan Jones. The number five prospect in the organization, Jones is a big third baseman, standing 6’4” and weighing 185 pounds. Though a natural righty, Jones, 20, bats left-handed and should pack on some weight as he matures.

Drafted out of high school in the second round in 2016, Jones has a quick swing that should generate more and more power as his career progresses. In addition, Jones has a keen eye at the plate. In three professional seasons, he has amassed a career OBP of .405, including .387 this season.

Lastly, Jones would appear to be blocked within the organization. The left side of the infield is off limits as perennial MVP candidates Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are manning shortstop and third base.

If the thought is to move Jones to first, Edwin Encarnacion and his big contract are over there, and the Indians have a powerful top prospect in Bobby Bradley waiting to take over once Encarnacion is off the books.

Yes, the Indians could move Ramirez back to second to create room for Jones, but I doubt the organization chasing their first World Series victory since 1948 would nix a deal that could land them Adam Jones and Britton because of a player who is in high-A ball at the moment.

 

3. This One is Going to Sting

Manny Machado jogs the bases.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Trade Manny Machado to whatever team offers the absolute best package.

Machado is arguably the greatest home grown talent the Orioles have ever had (apologies to Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, Jr.). He is also never going to play in an Orioles uniform again after 2018.

While trading Machado will be a gut punch to a fan base that has not seen a World Series in 35 years, it is the one move that could conceivably get a franchise that has zero chance to sign the superstar back into contention. And that gut punch of trading Machado would be nothing compared to the blow of letting him leave at season’s end for nothing more than two compensatory picks.

The most popular teams linked to Machado are, in no particular order, the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Philadelphia Phillies. If the Phillies put Sixto Sanchez on the table, they will become the front runner. Otherwise, the Orioles could watch those teams get into a bidding war and then have their pick of the best offer.

At 25-years-old with his best baseball still in front of him, Machado leaving is a sickening thought to those in Baltimore. But it is a move that must be done if they have no shot of re-signing him. A deal involving Machado could hasten the rebuilding of this franchise by multiple years, which is also another reason why the Orioles need to get their front office in order.

They simply cannot afford to screw this up.

 

4. Extend Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop

Dylan Bundy throwing a pitch.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Like so much in life, losing is contagious. Dylan Bundy, despite a terrible three-start-stretch in May, seems to have the vaccine. Jonathan Schoop, on the other hand, does not. Still, everybody not named Bundy, Jones, or Machado is struggling in 2018. A fresh start in 2019 could cure what ails some of them, especially Schoop.

After three consecutive solid seasons from 2015-17, Schoop has regressed quite a bit in 2018. Voted the Most Valuable Oriole in 2017, Schoop looked to be establishing himself as a $20+ million annual player before the plague that is 2018 took over.

With his value dropping at the moment, the time is now for the Orioles to buy out Schoop’s final year of arbitration and lock him up long term before he re-establishes himself and prices himself out of Baltimore.

Bundy, 25, is under team control through 2021 and is what every team dreams of: a young, workhorse pitcher that gives you innings and a chance to win every fifth day.

I’ve seen a number of people on social media suggest that the Orioles trade Bundy. To me he is as close to untouchable as they come. What would they be trading him for? Younger, less established pitching with loads of potential? Why trade a young, controllable pitcher when that is what you and everybody else is desperately searching for?

The Orioles should be doing everything in their power to keep Dylan Bundy and anchor their staff, not get rid of him.

 

5. DFA Chris Davis, Craig Gentry, and Colby Rasmus, place Trey Mancini on the DL

 

Chris Davis swings his bat

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

I firmly believe that Colby Rasmus’ days are numbered in Baltimore. It just doesn’t make sense for the Orioles to keep a guy who strikes out more than he does anything else, especially when they have capable replacements at the minor league level knocking at the door.

Chris Davis, on the other hand, would be a huge financial blow. The Orioles have invested $161 million over seven seasons in Davis only to watch a steep decline year after year in every major offensive category.

The team gave Davis eight games off in a row to try to coach him back into the player he once was. Upon his return, he homered in his first game and doubled in his second while collecting five RBI. But that was it. Davis has gone 2-15 with seven strikeouts in four games since returning to the lineup despite his claims that he feels like a completely different player than the one he was prior to his benching (he’s not).

The Orioles need to swallow their pride and cut the fallen slugger. They’re paying him regardless. It truly is addition by subtraction to just eat the contract and move on. His replacement is already on the team (Mancini) and won’t cost them much more than they’re already paying.

Craig Gentry is simply a victim of a roster squeeze. No rebuilding team should employ a 34-year-old fourth outfielder. It doesn’t make any sense. Cut the man and let him see if he can catch on with a contending team that could use the depth.

Mancini was batting .284 when he bashed his knee into the wall against the Indians back in late April. Since then, he’s batting an even .200 in 52 games. It would behoove the Orioles and Mancini to give the man time to rest and regroup. If he comes back from a rehab assignment and still struggles, then it might be time to demote him.

6. Let the Dominoes Fall

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GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

If the Orioles make the preceding moves, then a number of corresponding moves will need to be made. If I’m Buck Showalter, Cedric Mullins and D.J. Stewart would almost assuredly make their Major League debuts, with Jaycob Brugman and Joey Rickard being recalled along with them. No Anthony Santander just yet; he still needs seasoning in the minor leagues.

Mullins becomes the everyday centerfielder with Stewart manning left and Brugman in right. Rickard becomes the fourth outfielder. In the infield, I’d move Tim Beckham back to shortstop, play Danny Valencia at third, and make Mark Trumbo my everyday first baseman until Mancini returns, at which point Trumbo goes back to DH.

The Orioles should also recall Chance Sisco and Steve Wilkerson. For Sisco, there is nothing more for him to prove offensively at the minor league level. In four games with Norfolk, he’s 6-14. I get that he has only caught three attempted base stealers since May 1st, but come on already, this team is 23-54.

Caleb Joseph is a 32-year-old career backup who can’t hit. He has no future with the Orioles unless it’s as a coach. Austin Wynns and Sisco should be the catching tandem at this point in the season.

As for Wilkerson, he would become the utility infielder with the rest of 2018 serving as an audition to see if he can stick with the club and possibly even earn an everyday role in 2019 and beyond.

In the bullpen, Tanner Scott should never see the shuttle again, and Jimmy Yacabonis should also be in Baltimore. To get Yacabonis in the fold, the team would likely have to DFA Mike Wright, a move one could argue should have happened weeks ago. Still, Wright has been decent lately, so a move might not be in the cards there just yet.

I don’t know how much the Orioles could get for Brad Brach at this point, so it’s conceivable that he could spend the full season in Baltimore and leave as a free agent at season’s end. He also would seem to have the highest re-signability of any free agent the Orioles have, given his struggles this season.

All-in-all, it’s time for the Orioles to make some drastic changes. Nothing they do will make them better in 2018 as this season is already lost. But the time is now to see what they have in players like Mullins, Stewart, Brugman, Wilkerson, Scott, and Yacabonis.

Fans are clamoring for any reason to watch this team at this point, and an infusion of young talent could be just what the doctor ordered.

Honestly, they couldn’t get much worse.

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Series Preview: Orioles (23-53) vs. Mariners (47-31)

Seattle Mariners players celebrate during their win.

After surprisingly winning two of three in Atlanta, the Orioles will now return home to take on the Mariners for a three-game set.

The Orioles (23-53) have been playing much better in recent times by winning four of their last seven contests. The bats also seem to be heating up as they’ve scored an average of six runs a game during that span, and they’ll be looking for more of the same during their upcoming seven-game home stand.

The Mariners (47-31) head into town in second place in the AL West and currently hold a six-game advantage over the Angels for the second wild card slot in the American League. Despite going just 1-6 over their last seven games, they’ll be confident that the minor snag in the road will come to pass after going 12-3 over the first fifteen games in June.

Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.72 ERA) will take on Felix Hernandez (6-6, 5.14 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Cashner blanked the Nationals over four innings before a lengthy rain delay ended his night in his last outing, but he will be looking to pick up where he left off against the Mariners. He’s allowed just six runs over his last sixteen innings combined over three starts.

Hernandez was no-decisioned despite holding the Yankees to one run over five innings in his last start, and has been steadily returning to form as of late. He owns a stout 3.13 ERA over 23 innings pitched through four starts in June.

Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.38 ERA) will get the nod against James Paxton (6-2, 3.72 ERA) on Tuesday.
Gausman turned in a solid performance by allowing just two runs over six innings against the Nationals during his last outing, and will be looking to keep the ball rolling versus Seattle. Gausman has gone winless over his last seven starts while going 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA during that span.

Paxton took just his second loss of the season after allowing four runs over five innings versus the Yankees, and will be looking for a bounce back at Camden Yards. After going 3-0 with a sparkling 1.67 ERA over six starts in May, Paxton owns a 5.73 ERA through four starts in June.

Alex Cobb (2-9, 6.56 ERA) will take the mound against Wade Leblanc (3-0, 3.26 ERA) on Wednesday.
Cobb was denied a deserved win after silencing the Braves to just one run on four hits over seven innings in his last start, but will be looking for a repeat performance against the Mariners. He’s gone 1-2 with a 6.08 ERA through four starts in June.

Leblanc was lit up for six runs on eleven hits over just 4 2/3 innings during his last start in Boston, and will be looking to avoid the same fate against the Orioles. After going 1-0 with a stellar 1.72 ERA over six starts in May, Leblanc has posted a 4.64 ERA through four starts in June.

Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75 ERA) will match up (ed note: maybe not) against Mike Leake (8-4, 4.11 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Bundy earned his sixth win of the season after holding the Braves to two runs over 6 1/3 innings in his last start, and will be looking to stay red-hot against Seattle. Over his last seven starts, Bundy has gone 4-2 with a stellar 2.98 ERA while striking out 53 over 48 1/3 innings.

Leake picked up his eighth win of the season after shutting down the Red Sox to the tune of three hits over eight shutout innings in his last start, and will be looking to continue his current run of excellence against the O’s. Over his last seven starts, Leake has posted a 4-1 record and a phenomenal 2.17 ERA over 49 2/3 innings.

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to a few more in the win column.

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