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Monday’s O’s Links: As the Rumor Mill Turns

Zach Britton throws from the mound.

The O’s took two of three in Texas over the weekend, finishing the season at 6-1 against the Rangers. Can’t we play them more often?

In other news, the rumor mill continues to turn, but so far the only trade the O’s have pulled off is Hyun-soo Kim for Jeremy Hellickson. Some fans aren’t too happy about that one.

What else is up?

Despite Hellickson Move, Orioles Aren’t Buyers

Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column, says that the other night’s trade shows that the Orioles are, as many of us feared, neither buying nor selling, but are instead stuck in neutral.

The One Move the Orioles Should Really Make Today

Camden Depot’s Nate DeLong says that the Orioles should really, really, move Zach Britton today. Assuming the deal is right, of course. Here’s hopin’.

Grading Each of Duqeutte’s 14 Summer Trades

Paul Folkemer of Baltimore Baseball runs down all the summer trades Duquette has made as EVP of the Orioles. A fun trip down memory lane, though it would be more fun if it weren’t in damn slideshow form.

10 Rookies Who Deserve Their Due

Some more shine for Trey Mancini.

Lee May Dead at 74

And finally, some sad news over the weekend.

 

3.5 hours until the deadline. Let’s see what happens…

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Week in Review: Fighting to the Trade Deadline

Baltimore Orioles CF Adam Jones flies high over the wall to rob a home run.

Another week has come and gone here in Birdland, and guess what? The Birds are still alive. If you don’t believe it, all you have to do is look at the standings.

Crazy, right? After losing a monumental series down in Tampa before getting drubbed 8-2 in the series opener over in Arlington, the Orioles very well could have been down for the count. The hope was dwindling, and a massive road trip was turning into a disaster in a hurry.

Not so fast.

Instead, these Orioles had another idea in mind and flipped the script on us again. First was the Kevin Gausman-led victory on Saturday, and then it was the bats coming up big to take the series versus the Rangers on Sunday.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but this Orioles squad just never quits, and they never, ever say die. They’ll go out with guns blazing or fall on their own sword before waving the white flag- and I love it. I’d rather see these guys go down swinging than throw in the towel.

After all, there is still more than enough time to chop away in the hopes of reaching the postseason-two full months to be exact. The division is 6.5-games out of reach, and while a Yankees/Red Sox collapse seems unlikely, the wild card is even closer at 5.5-games away. It’s not like we’re talking about erasing a ten-game gap, for crying out loud. If this squad can go on a tear like Kansas City or Cleveland just did, we’re going to be banging on the door before you know it.

I’m not saying that this team will rally and go all the way- I’m just simply stating that they have the talent and the heart to make it interesting down the stretch. And I’m sure it would mean a whole lot to this club if you got behind them a little-momentum is an enchanting mistress after all.

So for all of you that are still with us to this point- buckle up. We’ve still got 58 games to grind it out. This roller coaster ride of a season is far from coming to an end.

Just don’t count them out before the final bell rings, eh?

Now, before we get too carried away, let’s take a peek at the past week of Orioles baseball:

– Believe it or not, the starters carried their weight (for the most part) this week, and they finished the road trip with a decent 4.25 ERA over 36 innings of work. Gausman is in sparkling form at the moment, and if we can get one or two guys to follow his lead, the Orioles will definitely stay in the fight for the home stretch.

– While they didn’t exactly shut it down during the six-game road trip, the Orioles bullpen did decent enough to carry the positive vibes with them going forward. The O’s relievers have now recorded a stellar 2.88 ERA over 81 innings during the past 23 contests and an impressive 3.19 ERA over 113 innings during the last 32 games.

– Just as they seemed to be falling into their cliché “All or nothing” approach during the latest road trip, the Orioles offense exploded to the tune of ten runs on thirteen hits and two homers in the series finale on Sunday.

– Over the last thirteen games, the O’s have recorded a sparkling .290 batting average as a team while scoring 80 total runs (6.2 per game) to go along with 22 homers and a sensational .324 average with runners in scoring position.

– Over the past twenty contests, the Orioles have hit .280 collectively while scoring 117 runs (5.8 per game) on 33 home runs, while also hitting .299 with runners in scoring position. Simply put, the bats are heating up at exactly the right time (for the most part).

Finally, it’s time for our three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

Welington Castillo. After going 3-for-8 with two runs and a pair of RBI versus Tampa Bay, Castillo stayed hot by going 4-for-8 with a home run and four RBI in Arlington. Over his last ten ballgames, Castillo has been on absolute fire, going an incredible 14-for-38 (.368) at the plate with two home runs and seven RBI.

 

Second Star

Jonathan Schoop. After clubbing his 22nd home run of the season in the series finale in Tampa, Schoop stayed red-hot in Arlington and finished the series having gone 4-for-11 at the dish with another two homers and four RBI. He now leads the team in batting average (.305), home runs (24) and RBI (76).

Schoop has been totally ridiculous over the past twelve games, going a superb 19-for-49 (.388) at the plate with six homers and an astonishing 21 RBI. Over his last 27 ballgames, Schoop is hitting a stellar .314 to go along with nine home runs and 27 RBI.

 

First Star

Kevin Gausman. Gausman is smashing the league at the moment. Not only did he cruise over six shutout innings at The Trop earlier this week, he then followed up by dominating the Rangers in Arlington over 8 2/3 shutout innings on Saturday. If you’re keeping track, that’s 14 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in ONE WEEK.

Over his last three starts, the Orioles uber-hot flamethrower has gone 3-0 with a microscopic 0.44 ERA over 20 2/3 innings while racking up 24 strikeouts in the process. Over his last seven outings, Gausman has notched an immaculate 5-0 record to go along with an impressive 3.15 ERA. He’s also held an opponent to one or zero runs in five of seven starts during that span.

Ladies and gentleman, the Gas Man is back!

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Boiling Point: Last Night’s Swap of Hellickson and Kim is Final Straw

Hyun-soo Kim of the Orioles runs the bases.

Last night, the Orioles traded OF Hyun-Soo Kim, minor league LHP Garrett Cleavinger, and international bonus pool money for RHP Jeremy Hellickson and cash considerations in a deadline deal that makes me feel a lot of angry emotions.

I’m not mad that we traded Kim away. I get it; he wasn’t being put to use in Baltimore. I’m also not mad that we acquired a little starting pitching help in order to take some innings away from Dylan Bundy. I get that, too. What frustrates me is the continued incompetence of this organization. I don’t even know where to begin.

The problem with Hellickson is that he is not good. He strikes out 5.21 batters per nine innings, the second worst rate among all pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings. His 35.1% ground ball rate is the seventh worst in baseball. His 5.50 FIP is fifth worst in baseball and his 5.39 xFIP is the second worst mark in the game. He also surrenders the tenth most home runs per nine innings, which will not translate well to hitter-friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

His only redeeming quality, if you can even call it that, is his “ability” to eat innings better than anybody else on the staff and subsequently give Bundy’s arm a break. Hellickson averages 5.2 innings per start, in comparison to Ubaldo’s 5.1 and Wade Miley’s 5.0, but whatever. He’s still technically the best innings-eater in the rotation. My point is that he’s not worth anything, let alone a serviceable outfielder and a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher. Plus, we only have him for two months, as he is a free agent after this season. If we really wanted an extra arm to alleviate Bundy, we have these guys at Norfolk named Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Alec Asher, Jayson Aquino, Logan Verrett…all more than capable of filling that void for a couple months. And you don’t have to give up a damn thing for any of them.

On Cleavinger: sure, maybe he isn’t much of a prospect. After all, his statistics in the minors are not exactly trending in the right direction. That said, he’s still just 23 years old, he was a third-round pick just two seasons ago, and the Orioles have very few quality young arms. I’m not going to pretend I had faith that he would turn things around and become anything decent in our system, but you just never know. It’s dumb to give up on guys like that when you are supposed to be rebuilding your farm system.

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

Switching gears to Kim, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, he was not getting much playing time here. As much as that upsets me, it makes sense. Nobody saw Trey Mancini hitting as well as he has this season. The addition of Seth Smith, in addition to Mancini’s great season, essentially kicked Kim to the curb. Smith is a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who gets on base at a pretty high clip, plays sub-par defense, and generally has trouble against left-handed pitching. Kim is a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who gets on base at a pretty high…well, you get it. They’re basically the same player.

Oh, we also traded away some international bonus money. We should all be used to that by now, but that makes it no less infuriating. Angelos’s/Duquette’s refusal to sign international players makes no sense at all. It’s not like Jonathan Schoop, our only All-Star from this season, was an international signing. Bite me, whoever is making this decision.

Not to mention, this trade happened on a night in which former Orioles farmhand Ariel Miranda set his career high with ten strikeouts while hurling his eighth quality start of the season, and another one that got away, Parker Bridwell, allowed three hits and one run over 7.1 innings, improving his record with the Angels to 5-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.83.

I guess when it’s all said and done, this particular trade is not the root of my frustration. After all, it’s a very meh-for-meh swap. Instead, it pushed me over the edge. It reminded me how awful our general manager is at dumpster-diving for rotation “help.” It reminded me how annoying it is that our organization refuses to spend money internationally. It reminded me how horribly we treated last season’s OBP leader. It reminded me how much our organization sucks at developing promising young pitchers. I guess I could say it reminded me that sports are dumb and baseball is dumb and none of it really matters.

Duquette has to go. He’s received largely unwarranted credit for a team built mostly by Andy MacPhail. Our best hope for the future of this organization is to replace Duquette this offseason, if for no reason other than to bring in somebody who will be invested in the long-term (Duquette’s contract expires after next season) success of this franchise and figure out what the hell to do with Manny Machado. Trade him or sign him. It’s simple. Duquette is going to let him walk and the O’s will get nothing in return.

Sorry, I’m just really frustrated.

As we wait and see how the rest of this trade deadline goes (God help us) and mentally prepare ourselves for “Garrett Cleavinger, 2021 National League Cy Young Award Winner” headlines, please enjoy this thread put together by a friend of mine.

Best of luck in Philly, Hyun-Soo.

 

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#Staturday: Na Na NaNaNa, Good Bye Kim!

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was a so-so week of baseball and it ended Friday night on a sour note. This week’s stats are a tribute to Hyun-Soo Kim.

As you may remember, Kim started 2016 in a fury:

Hyun Soo Kim recorded 42 hits in his first 38 games, the 5th most in Orioles’ history.

Kim also recorded 14 multi-hit games in his first 43 games, tied for 4th most in Orioles’ history.

Hyun Soo Kim ended up having a hell of 2016, outperforming all expectations:

Kim finished 2016 with a .302 batting average and a .382 on-base percentage, both a team high for batters in 50+ games.

Kim is only the 4th rookie in Orioles’ history to finish with a .300+ batting average (min 90 games played).

While we were never in awe of Kim’s fielding ability, he held his own:

Hyun Soo Kim has yet to commit an error in his 133 games in the outfield.

Assuming Kim doesn’t return to Baltimore, here’s how he stacks up on the Orioles’ hit leaderboard:

Kim will finish with 121 hits as an Oriole, the 162nd most in Os history.

It’s been a good run Kim, best of luck in Philadelphia. For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter.

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Orioles Trade Hyun-soo Kim for Jeremy Hellickson

The Orioles made a very puzzling move late tonight. While they were getting pummeled by the Texas Rangers 8-2, Dan Duquette was shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, trading OF Hyun-soo Kim to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jeremy Hellickson.

First and foremost, I’m happy for Kim, as I’m sure most O’s fans are. While I love Buck Showalter, his usage (or lack thereof) of Kim over the last 1.5 years was always a sore spot. Kim proved that he could hit at the MLB level when given the chance, he provided something this lineup sorely needed in a solid OBP guy, and he was genuinely likeable.

So is Ubaldo Jimenez, right? Sure, but Kim was also productive. I hope he grabs a starting spot in Philadelphia, plays well, and earns himself a lucrative free agent deal with a team that will appreciate him.

As for Hellickson…why? He’s 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts, his FIP is an awful 5.50 in the pathetic NL East, and he’s a free agent after the season. So he’s a rental, showing that Duquette is once again doing his half-assed “buying” thing of acquiring a pitcher that’s no better than what the O’s already have.

AA pitcher Garrett Cleavinger was also included in the deal. He’s not much of a prospect at this point, having put up a 6.27 ERA in Bowie so far this year. Baltimore Sports and Life ranked him as the #16 O’s prospect just the other day.

Oh, and that’s not all. Because this is the Orioles, they also had to take the opportunity to give away some more of those damned international bonus slots.

That’s right – Roch Kubatko reports that international signing bonus slotS (plural!) are also going to Philadelphia. This is the third time this month the O’s have parted ways with international slot money. So, it’s not like they were gonna use it anyway?

There are still two days until the non-waiver trade deadline. Duquette has some time to save face here, which he could do, in the minds of many O’s fans, by acquiring some prospects for Brad Brach and/or Zach Britton.

This deal though? It hardly moves the needle, and smacks of a team desperate to do SOMETHING, anything. Not a great look.

Be free, Mr. Kim. All the best, from your friends in Birdland.

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Series Preview: Orioles (48-53) @ Rangers (49-52)

Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles pitches.

After taking just one of three in Tampa, the Orioles will be looking to end their road trip on a high note during a three-night stay in Arlington before returning home to kick off a seven-game home stand versus Kansas City and Detroit.

With the Orioles still on the outside looking in, every single series remaining on the schedule holds a crucial meaning. They can’t afford to drop games and series like they did earlier this week, and with the majority of the teams in playoff contention gaining momentum as we approach the end of July, the margin for error grows smaller and smaller by the day.

Long story short, the window for a playoff push is slamming shut, and the Orioles need to go on a winning tear to force it to stay open. It’s either win or get left out in the cold.

The Orioles (48-53) still find themselves in fourth place in the division and seven games behind the Red Sox at the top of the table, but their slip-up in Tampa has cost them ground in the wild card chase and they now trail the Royals by 5.5-games for the second wild card spot in the AL. The Orioles struggles on the road have proven to be their Achilles heel this season, as evidenced by their 18-32 record away from Camden Yards. They’ve gone a dismal 11-26 while on tour since the start of May. Also, after not getting the results they needed at Tropicana Field, the Orioles have notched just a 9-13 record during the month of July and a 6-7 mark after the All-Star Break.

The Rangers (49-52) have been blown out of the water by the first-place Astros in the AL West, and after taking just one of three at home versus Miami, they’ve also lost ground to KC in the wild card chase and find themselves 4.5-games outside of the playoff picture. The Rangers now own a 26-22 record at home and have posted just a 9-12 record in front of their hometown fans since the start of June. They’ve also gone just 10-16 versus the AL East during the current campaign.

After sweeping the Rangers over a four-game set at Camden Yards just over a week ago, the Orioles will be looking to do a little more of the same this time around while Texas will be looking for a little bit of revenge. As a result of their latest meeting, the Orioles now boast a 19-13 advantage over their current hosts since the start of the 2013 campaign.

Will the Orioles fly home with a few more much-needed W’s under their wings, or will the Rangers execute their vendetta against the Birds?

We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01 ERA) will take on Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman put in a solid effort during his last start versus Houston by allowing three runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, but is still looking for his first notch in the win column since his first start of the season on May 7th. Nonetheless, Tillman seems to be returning close to his top form as he’s posted a rock-solid 3.31 ERA over his last three starts and 16 1/3 innings of work. The Orioles are 5-8 when their veteran leader takes the mound this season. Over eight career starts versus Texas, Tillman owns a 3-2 record and a 4.89 ERA.

Cashner also put in a solid shift during his last start against Tampa Bay by allowing three runs on four hits over six innings, and has really stepped his game up as of late. The former Padre has posted a 2-1 record and a stellar 2.75 ERA over three starts and 19 2/3 innings this month. Cashner has also been superb over six starts at home this season, going 2-2 with an excellent 2.50 ERA.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (7-7, 5.79 ERA) will take the mound against Austin Bibens-Dirx (3-0, 4.53 ERA) on Saturday.

After silencing the Rays to the sound of allowing just five hits over six scoreless innings in his last start, the red-hot Gausman looks to be locked in and ready to go for the home stretch. He’s now recorded a microscopic 0.75 ERA over his last two starts after allowing just a single run over twelve innings of work to go along with sixteen strikeouts. Over his last six outings, the LSU alum has gone a perfect 4-0 while recording a solid 4.02 ERA. He’s also allowed one or zero runs in four of his past six contests. In six career games (five starts) versus Texas, Gausman has gone 2-2 with a 3.58 ERA.

Bibens-Dirx will be making his first start since allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings versus the White Sox on June 30th, but he’s also had a decent bit of success in recent memory. The 32-year-old rookie has notched a 2-0 record and an impressive 3.65 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone seven innings while allowing just a single run in two of his last four starts. He’ll be making his first career start versus the Birds in this match-up.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (4-9, 5.69 ERA) will get the nod against Martin Perez (5-8, 4.67 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Miley was undone by a second-inning nightmare during his last start in Tampa and finished the game having allowed five runs on five hits over six innings. The Orioles southpaw has recorded a 2-6 record and a 9.69 ERA over his last ten outings. He’s also struggled mightily over eleven starts away from Camden Yards this season, going 2-5 with a 6.26 ERA. Over eight career starts against the Rangers, Miley has gone just 1-5 with a 6.11 ERA.

Perez was good enough to win during his last start versus Miami as he allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings, but ended up in the loss column. The Rangers southpaw has gone 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA over his last three outings. Perez has also been inconsistent over twelve starts in Arlington and owns a 4-5 record and a 4.70 ERA in front of the home crowd this season. Over five career starts versus the Birds, the native Venezuelan owns a 2-2 record and a 4.70 ERA.

 

That’s it for now, Birdland!

Enjoy the weekend, and here’s to coming home on a high note!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Market Weak for Zach Britton

Zach Britton looks into home plate.

The O’s get back at it tonight in Texas, where the Rangers will be looking for some revenge. I regret to inform you that we still have no trades to report, so let’s see what else is up…

Trade Retrospective: Wade Miley vs. Ariel Miranda

With no 2017 trades to talk about yet, let’s talk about a 2016 one that’s going, uh…

Is it that bad though? Joe Wantz of Camden Depot investigates.

Ranking the Orioles’ Top 40 Prospects Right Now

Top 40! FORTY! Greg Goldstein digs deeeeeeep for Baltimore Sports & Life. D.J. Stewart at 27 is a damn bummer.

Mountcastle’s Move to 3B Met with Positive Mindset at Bowie

The number one guy on that aforementioned top 40 list, Ryan Mountcastle, was recently promoted to Bowie, where he was also moved from shortstop to third base. He hasn’t started hitting yet in Bowie, but everybody is confident that he will, and soon.

O’s Reportedly Having Trouble Drumming Up Interest in Zach Britton

The Birds are finally ready to move a guy a year too early, rather than too late, and of course things still aren’t falling into place. Say it with me: #ThatsSoOs.

How Orioles Could Trade Zach Britton Despite Injury History

Joel Sherman of the NY Post outlines a way for the O’s to move Britton that involves two different lists of “Players to be Named Later.” I’d certainly never heard of this.

 

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Thursday Thoughts: O’s Deadline Plans Still a Mystery

baltimore maryland orioles player with arms up

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. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. The days leading up to Monday’s trade deadline are going to be interesting, but I also expect them to be fairly quiet for the Orioles.

Based on all of the back and forth we’ve heard out of the front office over the last few weeks, I’d think the O’s are pretty comfortable standing pat at this point. That’s not to say they won’t make a trade before the deadline.

I still think there’s a very good chance they trade Zach Britton. What complicates matters is the way the closer has been pitching of late. He appears to be healthy, but something seems off.

The Orioles are walking the very thin line that is “buyer” and “seller” at the same time. They think they are still in it this season (they aren’t) while they also know they have multiple pieces of value that they could trade away (they do).

It’s a very unique trade deadline for this organization, and as I’ve written many times over the last few weeks, they need to be careful with it. Making the wrong move, or failing to make the right move, could set the franchise back multiple years.

2. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding this year’s trade deadline isn’t the future of certain players on the roster. In my mind, it’s the future of those off the field, mainly Dan Duquette.

Over the last few weeks, I thought we may get some answers about what the future holds for Duquette. Instead, I feel more confused than ever. Beyond next season, no one really knows what is in store for either Duquette or manager Buck Showalter. That’s something that is disconcerting to those who want something to believe in for the future of this team.

If Duquette had actually been given authority to be a “seller” this trade deadline and completed that task (and yes, I suppose there is still time), it would say a lot about the trust ownership places in him to build for the future.

There will also be an opportunity for Duquette to make those types of moves this winter, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of talk about his future beyond 2018.

All of that should concern you, Birdland.

3. There is much happier news that isn’t trade related when it comes to the Orioles.

The All-Star Game hasn’t slowed down Jonathan Schoop one bit. The O’s second baseman was scorching hot in the first half, and has maybe even turned it up a notch thus far in the second half. After hitting his 22nd home run of the season yesterday, Schoop is just three shy of his career high set last year. He’s also now hitting .303/.349/.550 on the season, putting together one of the better offensive years for an Orioles second baseman ever.

Schoop is at least locked up for two more seasons after this, and there’s every reason to believe the Orioles should be attempting to sign to a long-term deal. If they aren’t going to get a deal done for Schoop’s good friend Manny Machado, they should be working on the other side of the infield.

Schoop is going to cost a lot more than he would’ve if the O’s had approached him at the start of the season, but it’s still going to be very doable for the Birds.

4. As you sit back this weekend and watch Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and former Oriole Tim Raines get inducted into the Hall of Fame, remember that there should be another Bird in Cooperstown already. How Mike Mussina has yet to get the call is beyond me. “Moose” received nearly 52% of the vote in his 4th year of eligibility, and needs to bump that number to 75% in order to be enshrined. Mussina’s time will come, but I’m just puzzled as to why it hasn’t already.

There is more youth among the voters nowadays, and more who are inclined to look beyond the raw numbers. Mussina doesn’t have 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. He got a bit unlucky when he left the O’s to join the Yankees, spending his entire tenure in New York in between World Series championship teams.

Mussina will go into the Hall one day soon, and unlike many Orioles fans, I hope he goes in with a Baltimore cap.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: O’s Delusional?

Wade Miley was decent last night, except for that one inning in which he wasn’t. Those five runs Tampa put up in the second inning were enough for them to pull off the 5-4 victory and even the series. The O’s try to take it today at Noon, but Ubaldo is on the bump, so we’re not getting our hopes up.

Still no trades to report, so let’s see what else is up in the Blog O’sphere.

Should the Orioles Buy, Sell, or Stay at the MLB Trade Deadline?

SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee is one of my favorite baseball writers, and it’s a rare treat that he puts out a piece about the Birds, so of course I’m going to link it here. He gives an outsiders perspective on our O’s trade deadline plans.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 210: Time to Change

Jake & Scott took a well-deserved week off after this year’s BEVy awards, but they’re back in studio this week, talking Jonathan Schoop, O’s promotions, and how the Orioles can pull off the type of change that the owner & GM are comfortable with but that will also appease fans.

Roller Coaster Season Making Some Fans Sick

So many ups, so many downs – that’s been the 2017 O’s. At no time was this more on display than immediately after the All-Star break, as the team got swept by the Cubs only to turn around and pull off a four-game sweep of the Rangers. It’s a lot to deal with. Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN column, tries to help us get through it.

Checking in with Trey Mancini

Over at Camden Depot, Patrick Dougherty looks at how Trey Mancini’s rookie season has progressed. Earlier this year, he was lighting the world afire, but many pointed to his HR/FB ratio as unsustainable. They said this was a reason to not get too excited. Fortunately, Pat says Trey has given us plenty of other reasons for optimism as the season has gone on.

Rangers, Orioles Delusions will Decide MLB Trade Market

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the O’s & Rangers are delusional about their playoff chances, which will hinder the abilities of true contenders to pry useful pieces from them. I’m still holding out hope that Brad Brach gets traded, but I’m not very optimistic about Zach Britton anymore.

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Series Preview: Orioles (47-51) @ Rays (51-48)

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

After keeping their playoff hopes alive over a ten-game home stand to kick off the second half of their campaign, the Orioles will now look to keep the good vibes flowing over a six-game, two-legged road trip.

The upcoming road trip will undoubtedly represent the most important six-game stretch away from home of the season for the Orioles. Not only will they start out with a three-game set versus the current co-holders of the second wild card spot in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays, they’ll then travel to Arlington to take on the team that’s right in front of them in the chase for October, the Rangers, over the weekend.

To say that this is a crucial week for the Orioles would be the definition of an understatement. If they can slug their way to a handful of wins, they’re right back on the doorstep of the playoff picture. If things go south this week, well things won’t nearly be as rosy, and our upbeat song will turn into a somber, bluesy ballad in a hurry.

To note that the deadline is exactly a week away gives the upcoming Orioles-Rays match-up more of a “Do-or-Die'” type of feeling. But hey, no pressure.

The fourth-place Orioles (47-51) remain seven games off the pace of the first place Red Sox, but are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture as we approach the century mark of the season. A 5-5 start to the second half could have been better, but it could have easily been worse as well. The Orioles are in the middle of their third straight sub-.500 month with an 8-11 record thus far in July, but most of their struggles have happened while on tour as evidenced by a dismal 17-30 record away from Camden Yards. They’ll need to find a way to win ballgames on the road in the second half to have a legitimate chance of reaching the postseason, and they’ll be looking to reach that goal during their biggest week thus far.

The Tampa Bay Rays (51-48) are still holding down the third spot in the division and find themselves just 3.5-games behind the division-leading Red Sox, but a current four-game losing skid has resulted in the Royals tying them for the AL’s second and final wild card spot as we enter the final week of July. The Rays boast an impressive 27-22 record at Tropicana Field and have gone 9-8 thus far in July.

On the bright side, the Orioles own a 5-4 lead over the Rays in the 2017 season series, which has upped the O’s record versus the Rays to an impressive 40-26 since the start of the 2014 campaign. Baltimore has taken four of the past five season series versus their Floridian foes, and will be looking to inch closer to making it 5-of-6 this week.

Will the Orioles continue to gain ground in the wild card hunt, or will the Rays squash their visitors’ feel-good vibes before they jet out to Arlington? We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) will take on Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Gausman was electric during his last start in which he held the Rangers to just a single run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. The Orioles will need more of the same, and some consistency, from Gausman going forward. He had allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over just seven innings in his previous two starts combined before shutting it down versus Texas. Nonetheless, Gausman has gone 3-0 with a 4.97 ERA over his last five outings. However, his road struggles remain glaring as he’s gone 2-4 with a 7.98 ERA away from OPACY this season. Over twelve career games (ten starts) versus Tampa Bay, Gausman owns a 4-4 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Snell has gone through a nightmare campaign this season, and it didn’t get any brighter after allowing three runs on three hits over just four innings during his last start versus Oakland. He’s now gone 0-3 with a dismal 6.93 ERA over his last five outings, and he remains winless at The Trop this season with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA.

 

Game Two

Wade Miley (4-8, 5.58 ERA) will take the hill versus Jacob Faria (4-1, 2.52 ERA) on Tuesday.

Miley will be aiming to erase the memory of his last start in which he allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings versus Texas. He’s in quite a rut at the moment as he’s recorded an 11.18 ERA over his last two starts. Over his last nine outings, the Orioles southpaw has notched a 2-5 record and a 10.04 ERA. The silver lining here is that over ten career starts versus Tampa Bay, Miley has gone 4-3 with a stellar 2.60 ERA.

Faria is coming off of the worst start of his young career during which he allowed four runs on six hits over five innings versus the Athletics, but has been pure money for the Rays since being called up in June. The rookie stud has gone six-plus innings while allowing two runs or fewer in six of his eight career starts and has allowed one or no runs in five of eight. Faria remains perfect at Tropicana Field with a 2-0 record and a superb 2.45 ERA.

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-6, 7.19 ERA) will get the nod against Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.57 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

After getting tuned up to the sound of allowing six runs on ten hits over 5 1/3 innings versus the Astros, Jimenez has now gone 0-2 while allowing twelve runs on twenty-one hits over just nine innings of work over his last two outings. He’s gone 1-3 with a 9.95 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone 3-4 on the road this season despite owning a 6.39 ERA. Over ten career starts versus the Rays, Jimenez boasts a 5-3 record along with a 4.70 ERA.

Cobb continued his sensational run of form by holding the Rangers to just three runs on five hits over eight innings during his last start, and now boasts a 2-0 record and a stellar 1.54 ERA over his last three outings and 23 1/3 innings of work. He’s gone seven-plus innings while allowing one or no runs in three of his last five starts. Cobb has also been remarkable at home this season and owns a 4-3 record and a 2.75 ERA at The Trop on the year. To make matters worse for the Orioles, Cobb has gone 4-2 with an outstanding 2.69 ERA against them over ten career starts.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Can I get a Let’s go O’s?!?!?

Here’s to heading to Arlington on a high note!

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Monday’s O’s Links: Britton Sets AL Record, but Teams Still Scared?

Zach Britton throws in spring training.

The O’s narrowly avoided the sweep on Sunday, which may be a bit of a double-edged sword. With the nonsense Dan Duquette was spewing at the season-ticket holder event on Saturday afternoon, maybe the Birds NEEDED to be swept. There’s still no selling going on. With every day that remains the case, the chances that the O’s do something really silly just increases.

To the links, where we may have some answers….

How Has Dan Duquette Fared in “Sell” Deals?

Dan Connolly chronicles Dan Duquette’s history of trading away veteran players for prospects. DD has been…surprisingly good!

Zach Britton May Not Be Worth as Much as the Orioles Want

First I hit you with the good news. Here’s the bad.

Britton Sets AL Record with 55th Consecutive Save

THIS guy isn’t worth as much as the O’s want? Seriously? Screw off, other GMs.

Mark Trumbo Made Just the Saddest Baseball Play You Will See Today

Orioles outfielders, everybody!

The End of Round 1 at the Appellate Court

Camden Depot’s Matt Perez, as always, has more details than you could ever want to read about the latest update in the MASN case.

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Week in Review: Heart’s Still Beating

Chris Davis rounds the bases with Rougned Odor in the background.

After getting crushed by the Cubs to start the second half, it would have been easy for the Orioles to throw in the towel on the 2017 season and give in to the pressure of a looming rebuild…

Not just yet. The Orioles had other plans in mind, as evidenced by their impressive four-game sweep of the Rangers. They also held their own against the AL-leading Astros as well, starting with a furious comeback that fell just short on Friday and a hard-fought 9-7 victory on Sunday to avoid the sweep and keep that second wild card spot well within reach.

We should know better than to assume that these Orioles are just going to roll over and give up. They’ve got the heart of a lion, and they never say die.

While a 5-5 home stand could have been a lot sweeter, it’s not all bad considering that it started out on an 0-3 note. And although the division-leading Red Sox are a distant seven games out of sight as we approach the final week of July, the O’s are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture.

What follows will hold a much heavier meaning. They’ve got a massive three-game set down in Tampa against the squad that’s locked into a tie with the Royals for that second and final wild card slot. The Orioles could be banging on the door by the time we reach the weekend if everything goes to plan.

Or we could be diving deeper into the “Buy/Sell/Stand Pat” debate. Only time will tell. But there’s only one thing that’s on this squad’s mind at the moment, and that’s winning ballgames.

As we mentioned earlier this week, get your popcorn ready. The final plot of the Orioles 2017 season still remains unscripted, and we’re not even close to the climax of the action just yet.

Buckle up. We’ve still got 64 games left to grind it out.

Before we get carried away, let’s take a look back at the highlights from the past week of Orioles baseball.

– While Orioles starters shined en route to sweeping the Rangers by posting a rock-solid 3.13 ERA over 23 innings, they fell back into their old ways against the Astros and finished the series with a 9.00 ERA over 16 innings. They’ve now recorded an 8.04 ERA over the first ten games of the second half and an 8.34 ERA over their last seventeen contests.

– After staying in top form with a 2.08 ERA over thirteen innings versus the Rangers, the Orioles bullpen wasn’t iron-clad by any means versus Houston any finished the series with a 4.91 ERA over eleven innings. Nonetheless, the Orioles bullpen has been stellar for quite some time now as evidenced by their sensational 2.59 ERA over the last seventeen contests and their impressive 3.03 ERA over a current 26-game span.

– Ladies and Gentleman, Birdland Power Company is back in business. After hitting a remarkable .353 as a unit versus the Rangers while pushing across 34 runs (8.5 per game) on ten home runs, they followed up by hitting .294 as a team versus the Astros while scoring 20 runs (6.6 per game) on five homers.

– Over that seven-game span, the Orioles are hitting .328 while putting up 7.7 runs per game (54 total) on 14 homers. They’ve also gone a superb 24-for-63 (.381) with runners in scoring position during that span.

– Over the past 14 ballgames, the Orioles are collectively hitting .295 as a unit and have scored 91 runs (6.5 per game) on 25 home runs. They’re also hitting .318 with runners in scoring position during that stretch.

Now, let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

Trey Mancini. After going 5-for-15 with a homer and five RBI versus the Rangers, the Orioles star rookie followed up by going 3-for-11 with a pair of RBI versus Houston. Mancini is now hitting a stellar .308 with eight runs, one home run and nine RBI over his last 17 contests.

 

Second Star

Adam Jones. After destroying the Rangers by going 7-for-17 with eight runs, two homers and five RBI, the captain followed up his phenomenal effort by going 6-for-14 with another homer and another five RBI versus the Astros. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jones has gone a ridiculous 13-for-28 (.464) with ten runs, three homers and ten RBI. Over his last fourteen contests, AJ is hitting a stellar .328 with five home runs and 15 RBI.

 

First Star

Jonathan Schoop. Simply put, he is lighting the world on fire at the moment. After crushing the Rangers by going 7-for-16 with one homer and nine RBI, Schoop followed up by tagging Houston to the tune of 6-for-14 with two home runs and seven RBI. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jonny has gone an amazing 13-for-27 (.481) with three homers and a whopping 15 RBI. Over his last 20 ballgames, Schoop is hitting a superb .325 with 15 runs, six homers and 21 RBI.

 

Now that we’re feeling pretty good, let’s keep the good times rolling, eh?

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#Staturday: O’s Match (& Surpass) Homer Total at Memorial Stadium

aerial view of stadium in 1970

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was a fun week of baseball, producing some fun stats and facts. Let’s dive in!

On Wednesday, Adam Jones began the game with a lead-off home run. Little did he know, it was an historic homer:

After Adam’s bomb on Wednesday, the Orioles had hit the exact same number of home runs at Camden Yards and Memorial Stadium, at 2490 dingers a piece.

As previously mentioned on Eutaw Street Report, Trey Mancini is having an awesome rookie season and if he keeps his batting average up, he’ll make Orioles’ history:

Trey Mancini could become the first Oriole rookie to hit 15+ home runs and 50+ RBIs with a .300+ batting average.

On Thursday, the ball was flying as the Orioles smashed four home runs:

The Orioles have a league leading ten games with 4+ home runs.

While it hasn’t all been pretty the past few weeks, the Orioles are still playing well at the Yard.

The Orioles are 29-20 at home, winning 59% of their games. This is the sixth best home winning percentage in the league.

That’ll do it for this week! For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter!

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Series Preview: Orioles (46-49) vs. Astros (63-32)

The Astros' Jose Altuve watches after swinging.

After bursting back to life with a four-game sweep of the Rangers, the Orioles will look to keep the good vibes flowing over the weekend versus the Houston Astros.

The Orioles will also be looking to conclude their ten-game home stand on a high note before hitting the road for a six-game road swing. While they looked to be in vintage form over their current four-game win streak, they’ll have their work cut out in replicating that form against the AL’s best and the second-best team in the bigs this weekend.

The Orioles’ (46-49) current tear has taken them from nine games off the pace of the division-leading Red Sox to seven, while they’ve also closed the gap on the Yankees for the second wild card spot from 5.5 games to 3.5 games. With 67 games still left to play on the schedule, the Orioles are still very much alive but can’t afford to go backwards. Their margin for error is so small that this current hot streak could go for naught if they can’t do the same this weekend, or next week, or the week after that. You get the point. Now that they’re feeling good, they need to keep it going.

And as for all the trade speculation around Birdland, well that isn’t going away anytime soon. The next week or so should determine whether the Orioles make just a few deals to revamp the current squad or whether they enter the beginning phases of a total overhaul. In the words of Terrell Owens, get your popcorn ready.

The Astros (63-32) have been in sparkling form all season long and as a result, they own the #1 ranking in the American League and a remarkable 16-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the division. They’ve been especially amazing on the road this season with a 33-11 record on tour and have posted a sensational 24-6 record away from Minute Maid Park since May 11th. They haven’t slowed down a bit with a 9-5 record thus far in July and to make it even tougher on the Orioles, they’ve gone an impressive 13-7 versus the AL East this season.

The real kicker is the Astros’ recent domination of their hosts. The Orioles were swept over a three-game set in Houston back in May and as a result, they’ve gone just 1-9 versus their current visitors since the start of last season. The Astros also own a commanding 13-4 advantage over the Orioles since the start of the 2015 season.

Can the Orioles flip the script and keep their postseason hopes alive, or will Houston hand the Orioles another problem to deal with?

We’re about to find out. Until then, let’s take a peek at the starters.

Game One

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5, 7.01 ERA) will take the mound versus Mike Fiers (6-4, 3.75 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Jimenez will be looking to shake off his last outing in which he allowed six runs on eleven hits over just 3 2/3 innings versus the Cubs. His latest implosion results in Jimenez carrying a 9.88 ERA over his last three outings and a 7.55 ERA over his last six into Friday’s contest. The good news is that over thirteen career games (eleven starts) versus Houston, Jimenez has gone 4-1 with a glittering 2.87 ERA.

Fiers has been in sparkling form for quite some time now. After holding the Twins to just two runs on four hits over seven innings during his last start, Fiers boasts a 2.65 ERA over his last three starts. He also owns a 3-2 record and a stellar 2.30 ERA over his last seven contests. He held the Orioles to just one run over seven innings in a winning effort during his only career start versus the Birds last August.

 

Game Two

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.20 ERA) will get the nod versus Collin McHugh in Saturday night’s match-up.

After silencing the Rangers to the tune of just a single run on two hits over six innings during his last start, Tillman will look for more of the same. He’s posted an impressive 2.45 ERA over his last two starts and eleven innings of work, but doesn’t have a win to show for it. On the year, Tillman has gone 1-3 with a 5.22 ERA at Camden Yards. Over six career starts versus the Astros, Tillman has posted a 2-3 record to go along with a solid 3.89 ERA.

The Astros will welcome McHugh back with open arms after their stud missed the entire first half of the season with an impingement in his right elbow. He’s gone 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA over 90 starts since joining the Astros in 2014. However, McHugh has gone 1-0 over five career starts versus Baltimore despite owning a 6.18 ERA.

 

Game Three

Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.18 ERA) will take the hill against Lance McCullers Jr (7-2, 3.28 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Bundy kicked off his second half of the season in superb fashion by holding the Rangers to just one run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. He’ll look to keep that going and improve upon his 7.18 ERA over his last five outings. On the year, Bundy has gone 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA at Camden Yards. He’ll be making his first career start versus Houston on Sunday as well.

McCullers will be looking to bounce back from his latest outing in which he allowed four runs on six hits over just 4 2/3 innings versus the Mariners. He’s winless over his first two starts of July and owns a 9.00 ERA over nine innings of work during that span. However, McCullers has gone 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA on the road this season and has gone 3-0 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA over his first three career starts versus the Birds. He’ll be looking to keep that 1.000 winning percentage going on Sunday.

 

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Bidding War Emerging for Britton?

orioles pitcher with arm back and about to throw ball

A four-game sweep! Who saw that coming? Not many of us, that’s for darn sure. The buzzsaw that is the Houston Astros come to town now though, so we’ll see how the hot Birds can stack up against a true contender. The bet here is that we’ll all by screaming “SELL!” again by Monday. That’s probably not a bad thing, because…

Bidding War Emerging for Zach Britton

Buster Olney says teams are bidding against each other for Zach. This is good news.

Caleb Joseph has Recovered Nicely

Matt Kremnitzer on Caleb’s bounce-back from his no-RBI season. Unfortunately, I don’t think the O’s can get much in return for Welington Castillo. I’d be fine with a Caleb/Francisco Pena/Chance Sisco backstop situation for the rest of 2017.

Chris Davis Continues to Hit for Power and Not Much Else

Hey, that’s why he’s here, right?

Dylan Bundy on Preparing for a Start

One doesn’t simply show up and start dealin’.

Last Time the Orioles Needed to Rebuild, they Refused to Do So for a Decade

Has Peter Angelos changed his stripes this late in life? We can hope, but O’s fans are damn sure nervous. O’s Uncensored’s L.E. Miller runs through the ugly history of why we have every reason to be.

That’s it for today…root for the O’s this weekend! But kinda don’t?

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Does Trey Mancini Have a Rookie of the Year Case?

Trey Mancini of the Orioles leans forward in sunglasses.

Yesterday, our friends over at @BirdlandStats (check out their work on ESR here) tweeted out some interesting facts about Trey Mancini and past Rookie of the Year award winners:

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I can say I quite realized how remarkable “Boom Boom” has been for a rookie this season.

Now, he of course will need to keep it up – to prove he can adjust to the adjustments that pitchers will make, to show that he can endure the dog days of summer, the full 162-game grind of an MLB season – to finish the year in such elite company.

Should he do that though, his case for the Rookie of the Year award is quite strong indeed:

Let’s see how Trey’s numbers compare to how those four guys, all ROY winners – Corey Seager, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu – in their respective rookie campaigns.

Seager (2016): .308/.365/.512, 137 wRC+, 26 HR, 7.5 fWAR

Trout (2012): .326/.399/.564, 167 wRC+, 30 HR, 10.3 fWAR (did you guys know that Mike Trout is really good? Mike trout is really good.)

Pujols (2001): .329/.403/.610, 159 wRC+, 37 HR, 7.2 fWAR

Abreu (2014): .317/.383/.581, 167 wRC+, 5.3 fWAR

And Mancini, through last night’s game:

.305/.351/.530, 131 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR

The low fWAR can be chalked up to the fact that, compared some of those other guys, Trey doesn’t do much with the glove. To be fair, he is also not playing his natural position, aside from the time Chris Davis spent on the disabled list.

Of course, it’s just Trey’s (and our) luck that he is doing all of this while being overshadowed by that Man Mountain playing in New York (of course!), the force of nature who just destroyed all comers at the Home Run Derby like they were toddlers with wiffle ball bats, Aaron Judge.

There may be a glimmer of hope though – Judge is just 4-for-29 since the All-Star Break, without an extra-base hit. His numbers are, of course, still insane, at .312/.434/.642, with 30 HR and 68 RBI. But Judge needs to do all of those things that we said about Mancini above, for the rest of the season as well. While his home run lead is likely insurmountable, should that average and OBP continue to plummet, Mancini may have a puncher’s chance.

Take out Judge, and Mancini would lead AL rookies in wOBA, wRC+ and slugging percentage, and rank third in fWAR.

Naturally, we can’t just “take out” Judge. He’s out ahead of the pack in the Rookie of the Year race by a good 10 lengths. The fact that he plays in New York pushes that lead out to 15.

Trey Mancini very likely won’t win the AL Rookie of the Year this season. That doesn’t mean we should overlook what he’s doing.

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Thursday Thoughts: Winning Streak Shouldn’t Change “Selling” Mindset

side profile of orioles player britton holding glove by face before pitch

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. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. I figure this should be a pretty mellow version of the “Thursday Thoughts” this week.

Nothing really happened in the world of Orioles baseball that I can recall, right?

Okay, at least that’s what I was hoping for. Instead, everything happened. It all happened.

Sunday’s bombshell report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about the Orioles being ready to sell, followed by his subsequent report that indicated ownership was approving that idea, has thrown Baltimore into a frenzy. It’s important to realize that even though the Orioles have won three straight games, there’s a reason there was a discussion about selling earlier this week. Winning a few games doesn’t change the fact that this team should be prepared to sell. A few more won’t mean that either.

This team is in a position to sell, despite being just 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

It’s important to remember that.

2. The biggest mystery to me surrounding the idea of the O’s “selling” is why Manny Machado would be completely off the table. Frankly, the Birds should be at least “listening” on any player. But Machado is the player they should be most intent on listening about considering he’s the most valuable trade chip they have.

I don’t think the Orioles are forced to trade Machado before the end of the month. They could very well make it happen this winter. But they shouldn’t be hanging up the phone if Machado’s name is brought up.

Unless they have some kind of handshake agreement that they will be able to re-sign Machado after next season (they don’t), it would be foolish to lose him for nothing.

3. Perhaps the most likely player to be traded away is Zach Britton, and that’s the right move as well. Britton’s value will perhaps be suppressed a bit by his injury-plagued season, but he’s still incredibly treasured in baseball circles and will be by the team that he ends up on.

There’s a lot of talk about Britton perhaps being the “Andrew Miller” of this deadline, and I believe he can bring back every bit of the return Miller did last season. Whether it’s the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros or some other team, there’s nothing stopping the O’s from dealing Britton. While Machado doesn’t actually have to be traded, the story is a bit different when it comes to the closer.

Things have escalated to a point where dealing some of the bullpen arms should be a certainty at this point, not just speculation.

4. The two buzzwords that are really bugging me this week are “re-tool” and “re-build.” There frankly shouldn’t be much of a difference between the two, but there’s some belief that the O’s can trade away some pieces and still be competitive next season with players like Machado on the roster.

I don’t believe the Orioles are just a player or two away from being serious World Series contenders. There’s a much greater deficit within the organization right now. The only way to truly restock the system and build for a long-term future is to tear things down and flush the pipes.

The other large factor that looms over a re-tool versus re-build mindset is the future of Dan Duquette. If the GM really does have the authority to trade away some players on this roster, it must mean that owner Peter Angelos trusts him to be around for this rebuild.

The future of both Duquette and manager Buck Showalter should be under an intense microscope during these next few weeks as trades are, or aren’t made.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: Rockies Interested in Gausman & Bundy

Dylan Bundy jogs in Spring Training.

The last two nights have been a nice little reminder that baseball can indeed be fun. Now the worry is, of course, that they’ll also fool the owner into thinking this team has the potential to keep winning games every night for the next two-plus months, which is, of course, not the case.

Let’s see what everybody else is saying.

Orioles Score Six Runs Before Recording an Out

Like I said, that was fun.

Four Possible Trade Packages for Zach Britton

The O’s could get a lot for Zach Britton. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello looks at the prospects that four contenders – Houston, Tampa, Washington, and Los Angeles – could give up to get Zach.

Is Zach Britton the Andrew Miller of the 2017 Trade Deadline?

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wonders if Zach is this year’s Andrew Miller – the closer who gets traded for a big haul at the deadline and then goes on to help put a contender over the top. Only if Pete allows it…

Orioles Can’t Hit Breaking Pitches to Save Their Lives

Everyone loves when the numbers back up what our eyes tell us, right? And our eyes have been telling us all year that the O’s can’t hit junkballers – specifically, they can’t hit junk from ANYBODY. Camden Depot’s Matthew Cassidy has the stats that confirm that sentiment.

Rockies Have Reached Out to Orioles About Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman

Death, taxes, and the Rockies being interested in Kevin Gausman. Dylan Bundy had better not be eating Rocky Mountain Oysters at any point in the foreseeable future though, I’ll tell ya that much.

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Series Preview: Orioles (42-49) vs. Rangers (45-46)

Cole Hamels of the Rangers sets to pitch.

After getting swept and embarrassed by the Cubs in their own house over the weekend, the Orioles will be looking to shrug it off and quickly bounce back over their upcoming four-game set versus the Texas Rangers this week.

Quite frankly, their season and the fate of this current Orioles squad depends on it. No pressure, but it’s time to put up or shut up if they want to remain in the hunt for a wild card spot down the stretch.

The Orioles (42-49) will start the week nine games off the pace of the division-leading Red Sox and 5.5-games out of the wild card picture. They haven’t helped their cause by going 3-9 thus far in July and 5-11 over their last sixteen contests. To make matters worse, they’ve gone just 8-11 in their own ballpark since the beginning of June after starting the season with a sparkling 17-8 record at Camden Yards.

The Rangers (45-46) will roll into town tied for second in the AL West, but they can forget about catching the uber-hot Houston Astros (62-30), who own a ridiculous 16.5-game lead over them and the Seattle Mariners. On the other hand, the Rangers trail the Tampa Bay Rays by just three games for the final wild card spot. They come into Camden Yards with a subpar 20-26 record while on tour, and they’ve gone just 7-12 against the AL East. However, the Rangers seem to be heating back up as they’ve won five of their last seven contests.

This will mark the first meeting of the season between the cross-country ballclubs. The Orioles used to handle the Rangers well by going 11-3 versus their Texan foes from 2013-2014, but the Rangers have flipped the script in recent times. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, they own a commanding 10-4 advantage over the Birds.

Will the Orioles pick themselves up after a heartbreaking weekend, or will the Rangers continue to revitalize their playoff hopes?

Only time will reveal the answer to that million-dollar question. For now, let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) will take the mound versus Andrew Cashner (4-7, 3.54 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman turned in a decent outing in his last start of the first half by holding the Rays to just two runs on seven hits over five innings. The Orioles will need more of the same from their veteran leader going forward if they have any chance of turning things around. Tillman has gone 0-5 with a 9.89 ERA over his last eight outings, and he’s posted an 11.25 ERA over his last five. In seven career starts versus Texas, he’s gone 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA.

Cashner was impressive in his last start, allowing two unearned runs on three hits over seven solid innings versus the Red Sox, and has gone seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer in two of his last four contests. The only time Cashner has faced the Orioles was in May of 2013 with the Padres, and he held the O’s to just two runs (one earned) on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

 

Game Two

Dylan Bundy (8-8, 4.33 ERA) will make his second half debut versus Tyson Ross (2-1, 5.33 ERA) on Tuesday.

After allowing six runs on five hits over five innings in his first half finale versus the Twins, Bundy sports a sobering 2-5 record and a 7.18 ERA over his last seven starts. Over his last four starts, he’s gone 1-3 with an 8.85 ERA. The bright spot for Bundy is that in three games (one start) versus the Rangers, he’s gone 1-0 while giving up just two hits over eleven shutout innings.

After holding the Angels to just one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings, Ross seems to have fully recovered from an injury-riddled first half and owns a solid 3.24 ERA over his last 16 2/3 innings of work. The bad news for Ross is that he’s allowed nineteen runs on nineteen hits over ten innings of work versus the Birds in his career. That folks, is good for a 17.10 ERA spread out over seven games (one start).

 

Game Three

Kevin Gausman (5-7, 6.39 ERA) will get the nod against southpaw Martin Perez (5-6, 4.55 ERA) on Wednesday.

Gausman was dismantled to the tune of eight runs on seven hits (four homers) over just three innings of work during his last start versus the Cubs. As a result, he’s now allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over his last seven innings on the mound (two starts), which results in a horrid 16.71 ERA. His back-to-back shutout starts that preceded his current rut now seem like a distant memory. Over five games (four starts) versus the Rangers, Gausman has gone 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA.

Perez is another Texas starter that’s returning to form, holding the Royals to three runs on eight hits over seven innings during his last outing. Over his last three starts, the native Venezuelan has gone 2-0 while recording a solid 3.86 ERA over 18 2/3 innings. In four career starts versus the Orioles, Perez has gone 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA.

 

Game Four

Wade Miley (4-8, 5.40 ERA) will take the hill versus Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.05 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Miley was roughed up to the tune of seven runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings during his last outing versus the Cubs, and now owns a 2-5 record and a 10.20 ERA over his last eight starts. Over his last ten starts, Miley has gone 3-6 with an 8.46 ERA. As if that didn’t get you excited, he’s also posted a 1-5 record along with a 5.75 ERA over seven career starts versus the Rangers.

After missing two full months with an oblique injury, Hamels has returned to his amazing self. After silencing the Royals by allowing just four hits over 7 2/3 shutout innings during his last start, Hamels has now racked up 15 1/3 straight scoreless innings. Over his last three starts, he’s gone 2-0 with a microscopic 0.82 ERA over 22 innings of work. However, he has gone just 1-3 with a 4.32 ERA over five career starts versus Baltimore.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Here’s to a better result than last weekend….

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The Rundown: What Can the O’s Get for their Relievers?

orioles pitcher with arm back and about to throw ball

After being swept over the weekend by the Chicago Cubs and another series in which their starting pitching was embarrassed, it appears the Orioles are one step closer to throwing in the towel for the 2017 season.

 

Re-Tool or Rebuild?

Fellow writer Joe Polek did a great job outlining what the Orioles should do at the deadline and he suggests a re-tooling instead of a full rebuild which I completely agree with.

The O’s still have a quality core and don’t need to blow everything up. The Manny Machado decision can be made this time next year as I’m a strong believer that teams can still get a strong crop of players in a trade even if the acquiring squad is just getting a two-month rental. You think a contender wouldn’t pay out the nose for Manny next July?

No matter how the next two weeks go, I’ll be disappointed if Seth Smith, Hyun-Soo Kim and Welington Castillo remain on the roster when August 1st hits. Smith and Kim definitely won’t be back next year and Castillo more than likely will want to test free agency again.

Smith and Kim won’t bring much in return, but Castillo could net something if there’s a team that feels they need a catcher.

However, the biggest chance to get a strong crop of players that will help in a re-tool is by trading Zach Britton and/or Brad Brach.

 

What are reasonable expectations if Britton or Brach are traded?

Let’s take a look at some recent trades involving relievers:

The Oakland Athletics traded Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals for two prospects and reliever Blake Treinen. Baseball America has the two prospects the Nationals traded – Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo – as top 20 players in the Nationals organization. However, there are other publications that are more optimistic on those prospects. The bottom line is the Nationals gave up two above average prospects for two relievers that I consider worse than Darren O’Day.

Here are more comparable trades to the talent level of Britton and Brach:

The New York Yankees acquired prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Andrew Miller last July. Baseball America’s midseason prospect rankings at that time had Frazier as the 21st prospect in all of baseball and Sheffield as the 69th. In their latest mid-season report, Frazier ranks 49th and Sheffield 73rd. It should be noted that Frazier is in the big leagues now and is playing well.

The Yankees again acquired prospects when they traded Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs knew this was a rental, but still decided to give up the 27th prospect in baseball at that time in shortstop Gleyber Torres. Despite being out for the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Torres is currently ranked as the third best prospect in baseball.

The Yanks also acquired outfield prospect Billy McKinney who cracked top 100 lists early in his career and at the age of 22 has recently been promoted to Triple-A and is off to a nice start.

So what does this mean for the Orioles?

It appears Britton is the hottest name, with the Los Angeles Dodgers being the most serious bidders. The Dodgers currently have four players in Baseball America’s top 100 midseason prospects list with two of those players being pitchers. I’d imagine at least one, maybe two players would come from those four if a trade is made.

Whoever is traded – and this will come as no shock – the Orioles need to target pitching in return. If they are truly in re-tool mode, the core hitters they have now along with a few in the minors will help them stay competitive. The regression of Kevin Gausman along with no immediate help in the minors means they need to not only find pitchers, but pitchers that are on the verge of being in the big leagues.

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