Facebook

Bird Feed

The Rundown: Hess Impressive in Debut, Mountcastle Returns

Ryan Mountcastle prepares to field.

It took almost two months, but the Orioles are actually looking like a decent baseball team, winning five of their last six games. It should be noted that they faced two struggling teams — the Royals and the Rays — but it was fun to watch solid baseball.

A bigger test comes arrives week against the surprising Phillies and the Red Sox.

 

Hess’ Impressive Debut

In recent years watching Ubaldo Jimenez struggle and more recently Chris Tillman, fans have clamored for better options than running out the same struggling pitchers every five days. Even if it was for one game, David Hess’ performance proved fans correct as the young right-hander was extremely effective against the Rays. After allowing a three-run home run in the first inning, Hess settled down and pitched six innings, allowing only those three runs with three strikeouts.

Hess appears to have earned a second start and it looks like it will take place this weekend against the Red Sox. Outside of struggling in 2016, which caused the right-hander to repeat Double-A, Hess has pitched well at every level. It remains to be seen if that will translate to the big leagues, but at the age of 24 and being in the system since 2014, he should get a few opportunities to prove he can stick.

 

Wednesday’s Starting Pitcher

Depending on the weather, the O’s will need a starting pitcher on Wednesday and Miguel Castro could be the favorite to get the spot start. Using Castro would at least allow the team to hold off on a roster move, but it would also knock the right-hander out for a few days, which would impact the Red Sox series. Another potential option would be Baysox starter Keegan Akin, who would be working on normal rest. The left-handed prospect has pitched really well this season with a 2.75 ERA and a very impressive 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

Another alternative is veteran right-hander Tim Melville, who pitched effectively in Triple-A with a 2.97 ERA and a 5-0 record. The organization seems to be impressed with the career minor leaguer and he could be the guy the O’s turn to if they don’t want to burn Castro. Melville will also be working on normal rest, which is another check mark.

 

Mountcastle Returns

After suffering a hairline fracture in his right wrist during spring training, one of the top prospects in the O’s system has returned for the Baysox. In his first four games, Ryan Mountcastle has shown no signs of being limited as he has already collected five hits. We know Mountcastle can hit, but the key will showing he can handle the hot corner. There’s a big void on the big league roster at that position and it doesn’t look like the issue will be resolved any time soon.

I’m hoping the 21-year- old can handle the position as it will solve a lot of issues at that position for the next several seasons. It’s not unrealistic to think Mountcastle will make his debut for the big league team before the end of the season, most likely as a September call-up. If he can’t play third base, the O’s will have another player that is a corner outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter.

Read Full Article

Time for O’s, Tillman to Part Ways

Chris Tillman, Orioles pitcher, wipes his brow with his arm.

I was sitting on the beach on July 4, 2012. The Orioles were playing the Seattle Mariners and had called up Chris Tillman from the minors to make the start against the team that had traded him away in a package with Adam Jones four years prior.

I had seen this scenario before. Tillman gets called up after a strong showing in the minors, does okay, but can’t get out of his own way with elevated pitch counts and ill-placed fastballs when behind in the count. Knowing this, I opted not to pay attention to the game.

As I’m sitting on the beach, I decide to check my phone and notice that Tillman is carrying a one-hitter through six innings. Again, I’ve seen this before.

Who can forget Tillman’s debut a season prior, when he threw six no-hit innings against Tampa Bay but had to be removed because of an elevated pitch count? Or his sparkling no-hitter against Gwinnett in April of 2010? He would tantalize us time and time again, but often times looked like a minor leaguer pitching at the major league level.

This time, however, was different. Tillman lasted 8.1 innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits, with both runs scoring in the ninth inning. While he would get roughed up in his next outing, Tillman was dominant the remainder of the season, winning nine of his 15 starts while posting a 2.93 ERA.

In the following four seasons, Tillman registered ERAs of 3.71, 3.34, and 3.77 while never winning fewer than 11 games, and the only blip came in 2015 when he pitched to a 4.99 ERA that was misleading. An ankle injury sidelined him for two weeks in the midst of 10-start stretch that season that saw him go 6-0 with a 2.97 ERA and seven quality starts, and basically derailed his season.

In August of 2016, Tillman was having arguably the most dominant season of his career when he was placed on the disabled list with the first signs of a shoulder injury that has seemingly set his career off track. He would return three weeks later and even start the Orioles’ lone playoff game, but it was clear that this was not the same pitcher.

The same shoulder acted up the following offseason and kept Tillman out of action until May 7, 2017. He recorded the win against the White Sox that day with five innings of one-run ball. It would be 22 more starts before he recorded another one.

When Chris Tillman was at his peak, he would use a filthy curveball and solid changeup to set up his low-to-mid 90’s fastball up in the zone. He was a pitcher with a plan, and had the ability to execute that plan.

These days, Tillman still has quality secondary stuff, but his fastball sits at 89 MPH, and I’ve only seen him ramp it up to 91 once or twice. Unless he is spotting his secondary pitches, like he did against Detroit in his seven inning one-hitter last month, his upper 80’s fastball simply will get lit up start after start.

The problem is, Tillman isn’t spotting his secondary stuff with any consistency, which allows opposing batters to sit on that pedestrian fastball, hence the 7.84 ERA last season and the 10.46 ERA this season.

At 29-years-old, pitchers don’t just simply forget how to pitch and lose five MPH off their fastball. Tillman claims he is in good health and feels fine. His stat-line would suggest otherwise. Maybe he needs surgery, or maybe he really has lost it. All I know is he cannot, and should not, make another start for the Baltimore Orioles.

What Chris Tillman did for this franchise from 2012-2016 will never be forgotten. He was the staff ace on the winningest franchise in the American League over those five seasons and helped bring the Orioles back from the “Dark Ages.”

In a time when front offices are finally beginning to realize that you can’t judge a player for what he’s done, but rather for what he will do in the future, it’s time the Orioles do the same.

We’ll never forget you, Chris, but you and the Orioles need to move on.

Read Full Article

Thursday’s O’s Links: Who Will Seize Power in the Warehouse?

Brady Anderson and Dan Duquette talk with a microphone.

Guys, the Orioles won a game! A baseball game! Not like, one Oriole beat another Oriole in ping pong in the clubhouse! They actually played another major-league team and had more runs after nine innings. On top of that, Chris Davis has now homered two nights in a row! Mark Trumbo smoked a rocket single to score the two game-winning runs!

One more win to 10. Dare to dream, Birdland.

To the links.

Orioles Game of Thrones and the Way Forward

Orioles Hangout’s Tony Pente has a new 11-page piece on the past, current, and future state of the Orioles. No offense to the beat writers – who I enjoy and appreciate – but this is better than anything you’ll get from them when it comes to the real behind-the-scenes happenings in The Warehouse. When you have an hour or so, I implore EVERY O’s fan to give this piece an attentive read. I’m going to go through it for the second time today.

Bundy Says He’s Healthy, So What’s Going on With His Command?

Buck says Bundy is healthy. Dylan says he feels fine. So what the heck is up?

A Bad Day at Work

I much prefer Jeff Sullivan when he’s writing about how good – not how historically awful – Dylan Bundy is. Still, you know my rule about linking any time Jeff writes about the Birds. Hold your nose and dive in.

Going Yard Episode 6: Bill Swaggerty, A Talk with a World Series Champion

We’ve seemingly moved on from the Golden Years of not only Buck’s Birds, but from O’s Podcasts. A few years ago, there were a half-dozen or more shows putting out great content on a near-weekly basis. These days, that number has unfortunately dwindled to a handful, so I’m always looking for new ones to pop up and replace the dearly departed members of the O’s Podcast-o-Sphere (RIP Orioles Spastics & Baltimorons). The Going Yard show is only on episode 6. This was the first one I listened to, and I enjoyed it. Though it seems that they’ll have a lot of general MLB talk, they’re O’s fans, so I’ll give them a few episodes – embrace the homerism, fellas! Anyway, give Dan & Tyler a listen.

God Help the Orioles, Who Must Trade Manny Machado and Blow It Up

Sports Illustrated on how everything has gone so very wrong for the Birds this season, and – as we all know – how they must immediately start selling.

Read Full Article

Thursday Thoughts: O’s Need a Plan for Front Office Future – Now!

Manny Machado & Jonathan Schoop.

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. It took me a minute to grasp, but I figured out that since April 21, there have been the same number of no-hitters in Major League Baseball as there have been Orioles wins (three). That’s how it’s been going for the Birds.

The Orioles are going to realize soon that it just isn’t in the cards for them this season. Everyone else in the world has known this for quite some time, but they’ll come around. By Memorial Day, which is when Dan Duquette said evaluation would really start, the O’s will start making it known that they are shopping certain players.

The problem is, this franchise moves at a snail’s pace. I wouldn’t expect any big trades in the month of May, but by mid-June there could very well be some action with some of the bigger names. The biggest issue for this team isn’t that they have underperformed or came into the season with a lack of talent needed to compete. It’s that they don’t have a plan or vision.

I say that I trust the Orioles will come around to realizing they aren’t competing this season, but truthfully no one knows who is making that call and for what reason. Duquette and Buck Showalter are both on expiring contracts. There is literally no plan in place for next season’s leadership from within the team. Before anything happens in terms of a trade or plan for the future, the O’s need to make clear that they know who will be making the plan for the future.

That’s the most important step for them to take, no matter how many games they fail to win.

2. Darren O’Day’s latest injury provides another dent in an already thin bullpen. The Norfolk shuttle continues to get work because of it. O’Day has now made four trips to the disabled list since signing his new deal in the winter of 2015. If he’s able to get back and provide any kind of capable relief work before the trade deadline, the O’s should absolutely be shopping him.

<a rel=

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Frankly, we could be saying that about any player currently on the 25-man roster. O’Day still has one year of team control after this one, but the Birds may have to agree to eat some of his $9-million salary in order to make a trade work. Frankly, that’s how the Orioles are going to get anything in return on any trade they make this season. Eating money will help the return.

They should be doing everything they can to completely blow up the bullpen, which has been a strength in years past.

3. Dylan Bundy’s historically bad outing on Tuesday night was a stark reminder of how cruel baseball can be. But it’s not going to stop me from believing that Bundy can be a really good pitcher. He’s had three absolutely abysmal starts after opening the year with five very good starts. He’s also still just 25 years old and in his second full season as a starter. There’s no white flag when it comes to his ability or talent.

That said, he’s like everyone else on this roster. He’s expendable, and should be treated as such. The reason Bundy’s struggles are so difficult to stomach is that they lower his value to any other club. Though I highly doubt the Orioles would dare think of trading him, they should be. They should be thinking about trading any and every player with any kind of value.

Bundy has to pitch better to regain that value, but it’s in there somewhere.

4. Speaking of value, the Orioles need to be reminded that they won’t be getting much for anyone that they decide to trade. That includes Manny Machado and Zach Britton. My big fear, and this is a very real possibility, is that the Orioles don’t see a match with a team for many of their players because they don’t think they are getting enough. They have to know that they will be accepting pennies on the dollar for any player at this point.

Whether it’s Machado and Britton, who both have expiring contracts, or Jonathan Schoop, who is limited in what he can do, the O’s aren’t getting the haul they expect. It’s just not happening.

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (8-26) vs. Royals (11-23)

sunset view of oriole park at camden yards

After going winless during their six-game stay on the West Coast, the Orioles will now return home to take on the Royals over a three-game set.

The Orioles (8-26) will also be hoping that their upcoming nine-game home stand can help them climb out of the darkness. They’ve now dropped ten of their last twelve contests and have ended up in the win column just four times over their last 24 games. As a result, the O’s now dwell in the cellar of both the division and the American League.

The Royals (11-23) also started out on a miserable note by going 5-20 through the first 25 games of 2018, but have rebounded as of late by winning six of their last nine contests. Now fully healthy for the first time all season, the Royals should be confident coming into town after taking three of four against Detroit over the weekend.

Dylan Bundy (1-4, 3.76 ERA) will take on Danny Duffy (0-4, 5.63 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Bundy was rocked during his outing in Los Angeles and exited the game after allowing seven runs (five earned) over just 4 1/3 innings. The Orioles ace has seen a drop-off in form as of late, and as a result of two consecutive subpar starts in which he’s allowed twelve earned runs over a combined nine innings, his ERA has jumped from 1.42 to 3.76.

Duffy saw his rough start to the 2018 campaign continue after allowing five runs on ten hits over six innings in his last start versus Boston. He’s now turned in a quality start just twice in seven attempts and has allowed four or more runs on four of those occasions.

Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.89 ERA) will take the mound against Eric Skoglund (1-2, 6.84 ERA) on Wednesday.

Cashner allowed three runs on six hits over just 4 2/3 innings during his last start in Oakland, but took the no-decision in the O’s 6-4 loss. Cashner has also seen his form trend in the wrong direction as of late and has allowed thirteen runs over his last 14 2/3 innings.

Skoglund coughed up five runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings during his last start against the Tigers, but took the no-decision. Skoglund hasn’t had the best of starts to his rookie campaign and has recorded just one quality start on the year while allowing four-plus runs in four of his five contests.

Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA) will match-up with Ian Kennedy (1-3, 2.92 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Update 3:45 PM:

Gausman turned in an incredible performance en route to holding the Athletics to just two hits over nine stellar shutout innings during his last start, but the O’s stagnant offense couldn’t put up a single run in order to give him the complete-game shutout that he deserved in an eventual 2-0 Orioles loss.

Gausman has been in sparkling form as of late and after his gem in the Bay Area, he has now allowed just five runs over his last 28 2/3 innings of work. In addition, after allowing six runs over four innings during his season debut, the Orioles flamethrower has posted a spectacular 2.27 ERA over 39 2/3 innings in his six starts since.

Kennedy also took a tough no-decision in his last start despite throwing six shutout innings versus Detroit. The former Yankee has been pretty outstanding in the early goings this season by notching five quality starts in seven attempts while allowing one run or less on four separate occasions.

 

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to getting back in the win column.

Read Full Article

Tuesday’s O’s Links: 0-Tel California

Pedro Araujo walks off the mound as the A's celebrate behind him.

After another winless road trip (their second already this season), and with a day off, many folks thought the Orioles would make some sort of management or front office shake-up yesterday. HA! Those people haven’t been following the Orioles for very long. We know better.

To those oh, so uplifting links.

Feels Like the Perfect “Fall” Day in Baltimore

Like I said, many expected someone to get the axe yesterday. Most normal organizations would fire somebody if the team got off to the awful start the O’s did. The Orioles are not most, or normal, or even that organized. Dan Connolly runs down the list of potential sacrificial lambs, saying each would maybe – but probably wouldn’t – be fired.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 236: Cellar Notes

Jake and Scott treat us to perhaps the most depressing Bird’s Eye View twisted tune to date, go through an inspired segment appropriately titled “Cellar Notes” in trying to figure out how in the hell THIS is the worst O’s team they’ve ever seen, and more.

Richard Bleier’s Run Continues

Let’s break up the awful with a speck of good, shall we? Richard Bleier has continued to be ridiculously reliable. Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot just can’t get enough of ol’ Rich, and it’s hard to blame him. Especially right now.

Are the Orioles Closer to a Manny Machado Trade?

Britt Ghiroli answers some questions, including the one that’s on everyone’s mind. I thought this was an interesting point, by Mike Petriello:

They’ll get MORE for Manny right now than they will at the end of July. Just do it, man. Rip off the damn band-aid.

Bundy and Gausman Continue to Impress

Let’s end on a high(ish) note, since we’re not total masochists (though you’d never know it from the choices we make – like what MLB team to cheer for). Our own Andrew Stetka, in his weekly MASN guest column, praises Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, who at least give us some small reason to tune in two out of every five nights.

 

A little housekeeping note: Unless things turn around, we’ll probably do these links on Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward, rather than on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It works better with my schedule anyway, and throw in the fact that finding ~15 things about these Orioles that fans actually WANT to read per week is getting harder and harder? Continuing the current schedule made about as much sense as well…keeping the current front office and coaching staff on hand. Luckily for you, ESR isn’t the Orioles. We let our editorial folks actually make editorial decisions.

Read Full Article

Orioles Losers of 101 of 162 Games

cartoon of sad orioles bird face

We all remember when the Orioles started 2017 with a 22-10 record, right? Does that seem like a million years ago or what? Little did we know, that would be the best that we Birds fans would feel about ourselves for the foreseeable future.

I bring up that hot start not to further depress you – though that could easily be a side effect…sorry – but because, if you were to start a “season” with the game after that 22-10 start, then it would have ended last night in Oakland.

It’s been 161 games since Matt Wieters walked off the O’s at Nationals Park, capping off a Brad Brach blown save that moved the 2017 O’s to 22-11. Over the final 130 games of last season, the Birds were a woeful 53-77. That’s 130 games of .408 baseball, a 66-win pace.

A lot of that was exacerbated by an uncharacteristically awful September, in which the O’s were just 7-21. That month was the exception, not the rule – both to 2017 and moreover, to Buck Showalter‘s tenure. With an offseason to reset, gather some much-needed pieces, and start with a brand new slate, the Orioles were sure to be back in the thick of things and playing the kind of winning baseball to which we’ve become accustomed since 2012, right?

They would at least be, to use Dan Duquette’s favorite word, “competitive,” surely.

Yeah, not so much.

The 2018 Orioles look a whole lot like the September 2017 Orioles. Though some of the faces have changed, the results have not…8-24 looks eerily like 7-21.

So, back to the 162-game idea. Add up those final 130 games of 2017 and the first 32 games of 2018, and the Orioles are now a disgusting 61-101 over their last “full season” of baseball.

Did you realize, that during the “Dark Years” of Orioles baseball, from 1998-2011, the team never lost 100 games in a season? The closest they came was 63-98 (not 162 – I’m aware) in 2001. That’s not to say that they didn’t lose 100 games over any 162-game stretch, of course. If we did a similar exercise to the one I’m proposing at the moment, I’m sure we’d find several such instances.

However, that’s not quite the point. Those Dark Years O’s were characterized by some truly awful baseball teams. Interchangeable AAAA players, over-the-hill superstars, and managers nobody had heard of before or ever would again (with a couple exceptions).

These Orioles? They have good players! They have a manager that’s a World Series short of being a shoo-in Hall of Famer! It’s unfathomable that they’ve been THIS bad for THIS long.

That’s what makes this season so frustrating, and why though it’s still “early” as far as baseball seasons go, it feels like it’s not only over, but that it’s been that way ever since the Birds lost the final two games of their first series. We’ve been watching bad, bad baseball for a full season now.

At 8-24, the Orioles would need to win 55 of their final 130 games to avoid 100 losses in 2018. That’s 55-65, a .423 winning clip, which seems an insurmountable hill to climb given their current .250 pace.

And when you consider that they’re likely to trade several of their best players over the next couple months, things begin to look even more bleak.

 

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (8-23) at Athletics (15-16)

Andrew Cashner pitches.

After getting swept by the Los Angeles Angels, the Orioles will look to salvage something from a West Coast trip in their upcoming three-game series in Oakland.

The Orioles (8-23) must be wondering when the tide will turn for them. A brutal start to the season has left them in the cellar of the American League East. They’ve now won just three contests over their last 18 games, and their woes are magnified away from Camden Yards. The O’s have lost nine straight games on the road and have been swept in each of their last three series away from Camden Yards.

The Athletics (15-16) have cooled down a bit over the past week and dropped four of their last five contests. Prior to their current mini-slump, they reeled off nine wins in an 11-game span and trail the division-leading Angels by four games.

Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.76 ERA) will take on Daniel Mengden (2-3, 4.68 ERA) in tonight’s series opener. Cashner was tagged for seven runs (six earned) over just four innings during his last start against Detroit. He will be looking to notch his first victory since April 5. Over his last three outings, the native Texan has gone 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA.

Mengden is looking to bounce back from his rough outing against Houston when he allowed five runs (four earned) over just 2 1/3 innings. Prior to those struggles, Mengden was in excellent form and had allowed just two runs over a 14 1/3 inning span during his previous two starts.

Kevin Gausman (2-2, 4.15 ERA) will look to continue his recent surge against Trevor Cahill (1-1, 3.00 ERA) on Saturday. Gausman earned the win after holding the Tigers to a single run over 5 2/3 innings during his last start.

Over his last three starts, Gausman has allowed just five runs over 19 2/3 innings. He’s also allowed two runs or less in four of his last five contests.

Cahill took the loss during his last start after allowing three runs over six innings against Houston. However, he has been rock solid for the A’s in the early part of this season. Cahill has allowed three runs or less in each of his three outings so far and has allowed just six runs over his first 18 innings of 2018.

Alex Cobb (0-3, 9.68 ERA) will take the mound against Andrew Triggs (2-1, 5.20 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Cobb turned in his best outing as an Oriole after allowing just two runs over six innings against the Angels, but took the no-decision in the Orioles eventual 3-2 loss. Prior to that, Cobb had allowed 17 runs over 11 2/3 innings.

Triggs was hit hard during his last start against the Mariners and allowed four runs over just 4 2/3 innings. However, Triggs has been a lot better than his stats suggest this season. Aside from two rough outings, he’s allowed two runs or less in four of his six starts on the year.

 

Notes

— After going 4-for- 12 with two doubles and five RBI in Los Angeles, Manny Machado remains in red-hot form for the Orioles. He’s recorded multi-hit games in six of his last ten contests and has notched five multi-RBI games over the same span. On the year, Machado is hitting an incredible .358 at the plate with nine home runs and 27 RBI.

— Like Machado, Jed Lowrie has been the shining star in Oakland this season. The A’s star second baseman is hitting .346 with eight doubles, eight home runs and 30 RBI on the year. And it’s only May 4 .

— Athletics super utility man Mark Canha is also in fine form at the moment. He’s gone 11-for- 36 at the plate with three homers and six RBI over his last 10 games while recording a base hit eight times over that stretch.

That’s all for now, folks!

Here’s to coming home on a high note.

Read Full Article

Thursday Thoughts: Defending the Davis Contract (Kinda!)

Chris Davis prepares to defend at first base.

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. Another week, another bit of time spent by me in this space explaining something I wrote on another website. I take the time this week because my piece over at MASNSports.com on Chris Davis has generated a ton of response, more than I would typically get. It’s also generated a lot of what I like to call, “headline readers.” Those are the folks that read a headline on a piece, offer their comment or rebuke, and then move along.

My attempt, and I say attempt because I don’t think it was successful, was to defend the Davis contract in one specific aspect. There’s no defending the way he’s played since signing the deal. He’s been unequivocally awful. But that signing, at that time, was meaningful.

As I write in the piece, the O’s could’ve easily used the Ubaldo Jimenez deal as an excuse not to spend more money on baseball players. Instead, they spent more than they ever had on one single player.

I’ve also gotten a lot of feedback saying the O’s could’ve taken the money spent on Davis and used it to sign Machado. Except that’s not how it works.

It takes two to tango, and if you really believe Machado would’ve been willing to sign right up for $161-million while forfeiting his chance at getting to free agency, I’d like to know what you’re smoking.

2. Speaking of Manny Machado, there are tons of rumors of him being traded to the Dodgers this week following the season-ending injury to Los Angeles shortstop Corey Seager. Even ESPN’s “PTI” had Machado’s photo next to a Dodgers logo on Tuesday following the news.

The 24-year-old Seager will have Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season, so there’s certainly a need for the depleted Dodgers. They are not only off to a slow start, but have also been without Justin Turner at third base. But the Dodgers are also not going to hand over the farm for Machado, who is obviously just a rental. They wouldn’t be looking to him long-term, knowing they have Seager and Turner there. For the Dodgers, it would be a short-term thing and a way to inject their roster for this season and give it another go at an NL pennant.

There’s no question that Machado is doing his part to up his value in the early going. He’s absolutely tearing the cover off the ball and there will definitely be suitors this summer. In fact, there may be an even better fit within the Dodgers division. The Arizona Diamondbacks could use more from the shortstop position and would benefit greatly from holding off the Dodgers in the division race. They also have shown the willingness to go out and trade for a rental after doing so with J.D. Martinez last season.

I think there’s going to be a lot of Machado trade talks in the coming days and weeks, but I also don’t expect anything to happen before Memorial Day.

3. The Orioles are involved in a strange little triangle right now of relief pitchers who currently or once wore their uniform. If you haven’t paid attention, former Old Mill High School pitcher and Oriole draft pick Josh Hader has been tearing it up for the Milwaukee Brewers. The other night, he recorded eight strikeouts in 2.2 innings (all of his outs) to get a save. He was of course, traded by the O’s in 2013 to the Astros for Bud Norris. Now, Norris is the closer for the Cardinals. Norris also served as the closer for the Angels last season after bouncing around for a few years following his departure from the Orioles.

Here’s the big issue – the Orioles traded Hader away, then made no attempt to use Norris in any way he’s being used now. Norris wanted to be a starter, but is doing just fine now as a cheaper reliever. Instead, the Orioles were using Brad Brach in the closer’s role this season (in Zach Britton’s absence). Brach is now, like Britton, going to be a free agent at the end of the season and is a likely candidate to be traded.

No one knew Hader would be come the arm he’s become today, but there was always a chance. And no one knew Norris would be able to resurrect himself after failing as a starter into the type of reliever he is now. But there was also a chance of that.

Instead the Orioles are going to be left without any of these players, and have instead invested in Darren O’Day and many other unproven arms in the bullpen. It just struck me that this week, two players who were once traded for one another in a deal involving the Orioles, are in the news for positive things.

Yet neither remain with the team.

4. If you haven’t been paying close attention to what Kevin Gausman has done this season, you’re missing something. Even I didn’t really realize it until I checked. Following his first start of the season, it’d be understandable why you weren’t really focused on him. He gave up six runs in four innings while allowing three homers in a loss to the Twins.

Since then, he’s been pretty darn good. In the five starts since, Gausman is pitching to a 2.93 ERA across 30.2 innings with a 25/8 K/BB ratio. He’s still averaging a home run allowed per start, but he’s been extremely respectable if you remove that opening clunker.

This is the thing with Gausman. He has five seasons under his belt now and is no longer developing. He basically is the pitcher he’s going to be for the rest of his career, however long that lasts. He’s going to have pretty good outings where he looks like the guy who wowed everyone in 2014 when he became a regular starter. He’s also going to have clunkers like the one he did to start this season.

Much of the disappointment with Gausman probably comes from the fact that he lit the world on fire at the start of his career and hasn’t kept up those expectations. I’m going to do my best to give Gausman the benefit of the doubt the rest of the season.

If and when he has another bad outing like he did against the Twins, the hope will remain that they come few and far between the five he’s had since.

Read Full Article

Wednesday’s O’s Links: Orioles Top Trade Chips…Sad Yet?

Dylan Bundy jogs in Spring Training.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (actually, don’t, because I’m going to finish anyway): The Orioles couldn’t muster up any offense and wasted a good starting pitching performance.

The Birds had just one hit – a Manny Machado double, of course – until the ninth inning in their opener in Anaheim. They put together three in the ninth to tie the game at 2-2, but Brad Brach was Bad Brach and he let the Halos walk it off just a half-inning later.

Alex Cobb finally remembered how to pitch, and went 6+ innings, allowing just two runs. They were both earned, but Machado throwing the ball into the stands for no reason at all on an Andrelton Simmons double in the sixth inning that allowed him to score with two outs certainly didn’t help matters.

The O’s will always find a new and exciting way to lose.

To the links…

Bird’s Eye View Episode 235: Fifty Dongs Darker

West Coast baseball means it’s time again for #DongsAfterDark. Listen in as Jake & Scott add a chapter to this always-hilarious annual bit.

Ranking the Orioles’ Top Trade Chips

Over at the Depot, Matt K. (not to be confused with Matt P., who floated the terrible idea of trading Dylan Bundy earlier this week) ranks the Birds trade chips. Number one makes me sad. Number two makes me said. Everything about talk of “trade chips” on May 2 in what was supposed to be the final year of “going for it” makes me sad, as a matter of fact.

Adam Jones is Mr. Baltimore, but Will he Be an Oriole for Life?

Speaking of sadness…Jerry Crasnick has a long piece on Adam Jones & what he’s meant to Baltimore since coming over more than a decade ago. With his time in Baltimore likely coming to a close, rival GMs seem to agree that no team will value Jones the way the Orioles & Baltimore do.

Chris Tillman Has Lost Velocity, but has Become Craftier

Tillman’s last two starts have been “meh,” and “good!,” respectively. That’s a huge jump up from the batting tee he was to start the season. How’s he doing it? Kyle Andrews takes a look for Camden Chat.

Manny Machado Says He’s Focused on Orioles, not Dodgers

The O’s are playing the Angels just as the other LA team finds itself in desperate need of a shortstop, so of course the LA beat writers were on hand and ready to ask Manny about Dodger blue.

 

Maybe tonight we’ll actually get some #DongsAfterDark?

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (8-20) @ Angels (16-12)

Manny Machado and Mike Trout sie-by-side.

After taking two of three from the Tigers over the weekend, the Orioles are set to hit the West Coast and take on the Los Angeles Angels for a three-game set before heading up to the Bay Area for a three-game stay in Oakland.

The Orioles (8-20) will be feeling good after notching their first home series win of the season against Detroit, but will be looking for their first series win on the road since they took three of four from the Yankees during the first weekend of April. They’ve been swept in back-to-back series on the road since and carry a six-game road losing streak into sunny California as a result.

The Angels (16-12) haven’t been in the best of form since posting a franchise-best 13-3 mark over the first sixteen games of 2018. They’ve gone just 3-9 over their last twelve contests and will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak after getting swept at home versus the visiting Yankees.  On the year, the Angels have gone just 5-10 at home and have lost eight of their last nine games at Angel Stadium.

Alex Cobb (0-3, 13.11 ERA) will take the mound against Nick Tropeano (1-2, 4.67 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Cobb was tagged again during his home debut against the Rays and allowed five runs on ten hits over just 4 2/3 innings en route to his third straight loss. Cobb hasn’t been at it to begin his tenure as an Oriole and has allowed five-plus runs on ten-plus hits while failing to go five innings in each of his first three starts.

Tropeano took the loss after giving up four runs over 5 1/3 innings versus Houston in his latest outing, and will be looking to avoid a third straight subpar start. After shutting out the Royals over 6 2/3 innings during his season debut, he’s allowed nine runs over 10 2/3 innings since.

Dylan Bundy (1-3, 2.97 ERA) will take on Andrew Heany (0-1, 6.91 ERA) in Saturday’s contest.

Bundy was drilled for a career-high eight runs (seven earned) over 4 2/3 innings during his latest outing against the Rays, and will be looking to bounce back in California. Bundy had allowed just five earned runs over 31 2/3 innings prior to his last start. He finished the month of April with a 1-3 record and a 3.68 ERA over five starts (remember, he had a start in March).

Heany was impressive during his last outing and allowed just one run on five hits over five innings against the Yankees while striking out nine. He’ll be looking for more of the same against the Orioles after previously allowing ten runs over his first 9 1/3 innings this season.

The Angels haven’t announced who will take on Chris Tillman (1-4, 7.03 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale, but it will not be Shohei Ohtani, who is dealing with a minor ankle sprain and will miss his next scheduled start on Friday. However, he is expected to be in the line-up this weekend.

Tillman was excellent against the Tigers and allowed just one hit over seven sparkling shutout innings en route to his first win since May 7th, 2017. The streak of 22 straight starts without a win is finally over for the Orioles veteran hurler.

Notes:

— Manny Machado remains the only Orioles hitter in-form through the first month of the season. The O’s star shortstop has gone 7-for-15 with a homer and five RBI during his current four-game hitting streak, and is hitting a phenomenal .444 (16-for-36) with six home runs and twelve RBI over his last ten games.

— Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (.312, 3 HR, 15 RBI) comes into the weekend in fine form and has gone 6-for-15 with two home runs and seven RBI over the course of his four-game hit streak.

— Angels superstar Mike Trout (.291, 10 HR, 18 RBI) is on fire at the moment, and on top of owning an AL-best ten home runs this season, he’s also hitting .345 with four homers and five RBI over his last nine games.

— Future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols is in-line to become the 32nd member of the ‘’ 3,000 hit club’’ against the Orioles. He is currently just four hits shy of hitting the legendary mark, so hopefully we get to witness history this weekend. When it happens, Pujols will also join Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Alex Rodriguez as the fourth member of the ‘’3,000 hit/ 600 Home Run’’ club. Simply incredible.

 

That’s all for now, folks!

Here’s to a few in the win column.

Read Full Article

Time to Trade Manny … and Davis

Baltimore Oriole Manny Machado laughs as he rounds the bases.

The baseball gods bestowed a miracle upon the Orioles yesterday, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Old Testament. The scenario revolved around the Orioles’ 8-20 record, Manny Machado on a walk year and a World Series contender — the Los Angeles Dodgers — with more money than the Vatican and in desperate need of a shortstop.

NOT EVEN THE ORIOLES COULD RUIN THIS.

Right?

I read an article this morning by an Orioles beat reporter postulating whether the Orioles would be willing to begin trade talks with Machado. Why is this a question at this juncture? There is no reason to not begin this process immediately with the Dodgers, who served up this possibility on a silver platter to Baltimore.

The Dodgers sit at 12-16, already 8 games back of the Diamondbacks and 4.5 back of the Wild Card. There will never be a better suitor for Machado that checks all of the boxes (financially gifted, deep farm system, not in the American League) and there is nothing to gain by waiting.

What if the Dodgers continue to struggle, and find themselves 10+ back of the division/wild card by the end of the month?

Hope springs eternal on May 1, 2018, and it’s time for the Orioles to strike while the iron is hot. However, I have a significantly more grandiose plan than simply trading Machado to the Dodgers.

There is another layer to this trade that would not only provide the O’s with a return on investment from Machado, but also remove one of the worst contracts in the history of professional sports from their books.

I suggest the O’s trade Manny to the Dodgers with the stipulation they take Chris Davis along with him! It sounds like folly, but hear me out.

The problems facing the Orioles over the next several years (15+) are numerous, and trading Manny obviously helps the rebuild process. However, dumping Davis’ salary would be an equally important step and the Dodgers are just the team to do it.

Remember 2012?

The Dodgers took on over a quarter billion dollars in salary from the Red Sox in a deal that involved the acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. Gonzalez was the prize in that deal, and they were willing to pay big to get him.

Who knows, maybe Davis gets out to a sunny and warm climate and has a bit of a renaissance.

Quite frankly, I don’t care.

The Dodgers not only want Manny, they now NEED him. The O’s would have to take less in return for Manny (clearly), but it doesn’t matter. Trading Davis and his .167/.257/.256 line and $120 million that the O’s will be paying him until the year 3010 is as valuable as the prospects they would receive in return for Machado.

Truthfully, it will likely never happen.

No one could possibly be dumb enough to pay Davis again, and if the Orioles can make the layup and facilitate a trade for Machado that’d be the first positive thing to happen this season.

But, I can always dream.

Read Full Article

The Rundown: Davis Gets a Rest, Gausman Learns to Pitch

Kevin Gausman pitches in Sarasota.

The Orioles finally won their first home series of the season and now head to the west coast in hopes of turning their season around. I always try to be optimistic, but the month of April has taken its toll after the team lost 20 games. My optimistic take is if the O’s can somehow creep back to .500 by the All-Star break then they will have a chance to make a run at the second Wild Card.

 

Davis Takes a Mental Break

It worked out perfectly for Buck Showalter to bench Chris Davis two games in a row with the team facing left-handers back to back. As Showalter pointed out, the team has tried a lot of things to get Davis back on track, but it just hasn’t worked. We all hope it happens as the organization is stuck with the first baseman for years to come. When it becomes mental, there is no way of knowing if a player will ever break out of his funk.

To make things more difficult, Pedro Alvarez is on fire and Mark Trumbo is returning. There’s no way Alvarez can be benched in favor of Davis. Does Showalter start Trumbo in right field and have Alvarez at designated hitter with Davis back at first base? This team is already horrendous defensively and using Trumbo in right field will only add to it.

I have a feeling that is the route they will go with the potential of Danny Valencia playing third base. That’s as ugly as it gets and I’m sure this is keeping Showalter up at night thinking about the putrid defense and not a lot of options to fix it.

It should be noted that Trumbo is a much better hitter when he is in the field than being used as a designated hitter so if the team does go this route, hopefully Trumbo can provide a boost offensively that will overshadow his deficiencies as a fielder.

 

Gausman Pitching Well

Kevin Gausman made it a point to start the season better than he has in the previous two years and thus far, he is living up to it. It looked like the same Gausman after he allowed six earned runs in his first start of the season, but the right-hander has not allowed more than three runs in his last five.

There are a few differences with Gausman this year as his fastball velocity is down almost three miles per hour compared to his career average of 95.7, and his slider percentage is at a career high of 18 percent.

Gausman has said he is throwing more two seam fastballs so that explains why his velocity is down, but he has also learned less is more and is able to control the fastball better because he isn’t throwing max velocity on every pitch.

The biggest factor is the usage of the slider as it is giving hitters another pitch to worry about, which has made his other pitches more effective. I think Gausman is still learning how to pitch with less velocity on the fastball as there have been times that hitters have put good swings on if he misses his location. Still, it’s only going to be a positive moving forward, as he is no longer just a two-pitch guy.

Read Full Article

Monday’s O’s Links: A Series Win!

Trey Mancini and Jace Peterson high five.

Don’t look now, but the Orioles actually won a series! I say that not in the “hey, the O’s may be ready to make a run!” sense, but rather in the “you may want to double check and make sure the sun still rose in the east this morning” sense. It was the Birds’ first home series win of the year, and just their second overall. The other, of course, was when they took three of four in the Bronx, fooling us all. The Yankees have won more games in a row (nine) than the O’s have all year (eight).

But hey, it’s gotta start somewhere. Nice to end the disappointing homestand on a high note. To the links.

Why the Orioles Should Trade Adam Jones

ESR’s Paul Valle joined Justin McGuire on the Locked On Orioles podcast to discuss his piece from last week.

Is Bundy the Next Bedard?

The way Matt Perez of Camden Depot means this question is in the “Will he be the piece that brings back huge parts of a rebuild in a trade?” Ugh. I hate that we’re here, but he makes some decent points.

Showalter Talks Chris Davis, Believes Talent/Ability “Are There”

Detroit pitched two lefties over the weekend, and Chris Davis found himself glued to the bench for both games. Buck Showalter discussed why in his pre-game comments on Sunday. Davis & Scott Coolbaugh (ugh) are working on some adjustments, apparently. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.

MLB Network Looks Back at 1988 Orioles

The O’s infamous 0-21 1988 start was 30 years ago, and this year’s team has honored them by putting together the SECOND worst start in franchise history. Cool. MLB Network aired a video on the ’88 squad last night – I know you’re disappointed if you missed it.

Two-Strike Approach Fueling Machado’s Hot Start

Manny Machado is hitting well above the league average with two strikes this year, as The Sun’s Jon Meoli notes here. It’s great to see Manny stop swinging for the moon all the time, certainly. The results have been quite positive so far, as he leads the AL in hitting with his .361 average.

 

The O’s are off today, then they begin a six-game West Coast swing in LA and Oakland. The Angels just got swept by the Yankees, so they’ll be playing angry, and the A’s have one of the league’s best offenses.

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (6-19) vs. Tigers (10-13)

A panoramic shot of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

After dropping both games in their rain-shortened two-game set against the Rays, the Orioles will wrap up their homestand by taking on the Detroit Tigers for a three-game set over the weekend.

Despite their brutal month of April so far, the Orioles (6-19) will be trying to enter May feeling a little bit better about things to say the least. On top of a current five-game losing skid, they’ve now won just once over their last twelve ballgames. The end result is the worst start to a season since the infamous 1988 Orioles squad went 0-21 and didn’t win a game until April 29th.

The Tigers (10-13) come to town in decent form with six wins in their last ten ballgames, but have dropped four of their last six. Still, they trail the Indians by just three games for first place in the division as we approach the end of April.

Chris Tillman (0-4, 9.87 ERA) will take the mound against Mike Fiers (2-1, 3.71 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman took his fourth straight loss after allowing four runs on eight hits over six innings during his last start against the Tribe, and will be looking for his first quality start of the season against the Tigers.

Fiers allowed just two runs over 5 1/3 innings despite giving up ten hits versus Kansas City in his last time out, and will be looking to avoid getting hit hard for the third straight start against the Orioles. He’s allowed seven runs on eighteen hits over his last eleven innings pitched vs. the O’s.

Andrew Cashner (1-3, 3.60 ERA) is set to take on Francisco Liriano (2-1, 3.13 ERA) in Saturday’s match-up.

Cashner took the loss after giving up four runs over six innings against Cleveland, but will be looking to notch his fourth quality start of the season versus the Tigers. In the three starts prior to his last, Cashner was in stellar form and had allowed just four runs over a nineteen-inning span.

Liriano gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings against Kansas City his last time out, snapping a streak of three straight quality starts. Liriano has been impressive for the Tigers in the early goings this season and owns a stellar .177 BAA and a stout 1.13 WHIP over his first four starts.

Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.66 ERA) will get the nod against Daniel Norris (0-1, 4.85 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Gausman was incredible during his last start against Cleveland, but took a cruel loss despite giving up just two runs on four hits over eight innings. After his rough 2018 debut against the Twins, Gausman has now recorded four straight quality starts and has allowed just nine runs over his last 25 innings pitched.

Norris will make his second start of the season after holding the Royals to one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings on April 20th. The Tigers southpaw has also shown an increased strikeout ability with sixteen strikeouts in thirteen innings pitched so far this season.

 

Notes:

After going 2-for-5 with an RBI against the Rays yesterday, Manny Machado remains in top form coming into the weekend series. Over his last ten games, Machado has gone 15-for-37 at the plate with three doubles, five home runs and ten RBI.

Adam Jones comes into Friday’s game on a four-game hit streak, and has gone 7-for-17 with three doubles, one homer and three RBI during that span. Over his last ten contests, the O’s captain is hitting .317 with seven doubles, one homer and seven RBI.

Nicholas Castellanos (.330, 2 HR, 16 RBI) has been on fire throughout the first month of the season for the Tigers, but he is on another planet at the moment. Over the course of his current five-game hit streak, he’s gone 12-for-22 at the dish with two home runs and ten RBI while recording three hits or more on three separate occasions.

Miguel Cabrera (.325, 2 HR, 16 RBI) has returned to his All-Star form as of late, and comes into Baltimore on a five-game hitting tear. During that span, he’s gone 9-for-18 with six runs, three doubles and six RBI. He’s also recorded multi-hit games in five of his last ten.

Jeimer Candelario (.290, 4 HR, 11 RBI) has been outstanding to begin his rookie season with the Tigers, and comes into Baltimore in red-hot form. Over his last ten, Candelario has gone 16-for-38 at the plate with ten runs, two doubles, two triples, three homers and eight RBI.

Leonys Martin (.287, 4 HR, 11 RBI) is enjoying a nice start to his debut season in the Motor City, and has been crushing the ball as of late. Over his last seven games, the native Cuban has gone 10-for-31 with eight runs, three home runs and eight RBI. He’s also posted multi-hit games in five of his last nine.

 

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to ending the losing streak.

Read Full Article

Thursday Thoughts: Where Would Bullpen Be Without…Richard Bleier?!

Richard Bleier of the Orioles pitches.

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. I was very much hoping to see Alex Cobb make his Orioles debut last night. The guy who wore #17 and pitched two previous games for the Orioles was obviously not Alex Cobb. He was instead a guy that was still building up his arm strength and preparing for the season.

For the first few innings of last night’s game, I think we did see the real Cobb, but then, things unraveled. It’s still too early to write off Cobb, but the O’s could use a lot more from him in the near future if there’s any hope of salvaging this season. I do have faith that Cobb will resolve what’s going on and turn in somewhat of a decent season, but the fact that he’s not missing bats is concerning. Virtually everything hit last night was pulled firmly.

Cobb was an important signing for the Orioles this offseason, they just made it late. It’s going to take some time for him to get going, if he does indeed get anything going.

2. Kevin Gausman delivered baseball’s first “immaculate inning” of 2018 earlier this week, and it continued his slow but steady progression this season. If you look at his game log, through each of his first five starts this year, things get a little bit better each time out. Gausman was a complete disaster in the first half of last season, and it looked like it was going to be more of the same after his first start this year.

I think Gausman is pretty much who we’ve seen over the last year. He’s going to be really great sometimes (like he was on Monday night) and he’s going to be awful other times. I wouldn’t ever expect him to become a Cy Young candidate, but he’s good enough to be in a major league rotation. This is where we are with him. He’s done developing and has shown who he is and will be going forward as a pitcher.

The Orioles should at least be satisfied that they developed anyone who can stick in this rotation at this point. He’s not going to be as good as Dylan Bundy, but he’s also not as bad as any of the failed starters the O’s have tossed out on the mound over a number of years.

3. Tim Beckham certainly has not been a productive member of the Orioles this season. He’s miles away from his red-hot start with the team last August. Now, he’s set to miss a pretty significant bit of time with a groin injury. But no matter how poorly Beckham has been to this point, there’s no way to paint this as a positive for the O’s.

Beckham’s absence will only further stretch an infield that is already down Jonathan Schoop. The Orioles also don’t have a promising answer in the minor leagues. That’s why they went out and acquired Jace Peterson to play immediately. Luis Sardinas has already been pressed into duty, and the only other options in waiting are Ruben Tejada or Engelb Vielma. Beckham’s injury also means we’ll likely see a lot more of Danny Valencia in the lineup. Valencia wasn’t brought to the team to be an everyday third baseman; he is meant to be a platoon bat to hit against left-handers.

4. The great Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot posted this on Twitter yesterday and I had to read it three times to make sure I fully comprehended it.

Yes, that Richard Bleier is in the same category as Craig Kimbrel and Mariano Rivera. Bleier has been nothing short of spectacular this season, and that stat shows it. It’s a small sample size, yes. But without Bleier in the Orioles bullpen this year, could you imagine where it would be?

Zach Britton is obviously missing, and there have been missteps elsewhere. The bullpen alone has an ERA of around 4.50, and that would be miles worse without Bleier’s microscopic 0.57 ERA. But he’s also logged the most innings of any reliever.

There’s obviously no way the left-hander will be able to keep up what he’s done to this point, but it has at least been nice to see so far.

Read Full Article

Time to Plan the Future & Trade a Veteran Leader

Manny Machado & Jonathan Schoop.

The Orioles are already eleven games below .500 after losing the final three games of a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians. By the grace of God, they were granted a reprieve Tuesday with a rainout against Tampa Bay.

With the losses piling up, trade speculation is beginning to surround the Orioles and Manny Machado once again. The Orioles, already 11.5 games behind division leading Boston, should certainly entertain the idea of making a trade. Just not for Machado.

Look at the Orioles objectively. They have a prospect catching at the major league level in Chance Sisco. He’s 23 years old. Machado is 25, playing shortstop. Jonathan Schoop 26 at second, and Tim Beckham is 28 at third. Then you have Chris Davis playing first base at the age of 32.

In the outfield, Trey Mancini is turning into a stud right before our eyes. He’s 26 years old. There is no true everyday right fielder on this roster, and Adam Jones is playing centerfield at the age of 32. So what’s the point of all this? I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it.

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

The Baltimore Orioles need to trade Adam Jones and build this team around Manny Machado. They simply can’t keep them both, and Machado is the younger, better, and more impactful player.

This is not meant as a slight to Adam Jones. He has been monumental to this city and this franchise. A strong argument can be made that Jones is the greatest Orioles outfielder to ever play for the franchise, and what he means to that clubhouse is immeasurable. But his time has come and the Orioles need to move on.

Again, I urge the readers to look at this objectively. The Orioles have a starting rotation anchored by 25-year-old Dylan Bundy that will most certainly continue to improve, and four of the starters are locked in through next season at a minimum, with Hunter Harvey coming down the pike before we know it.

They have two All-Star middle infielders in their mid-20s who give the team one of the top-two double-play combinations in the game, not to mention they hit in the middle of the lineup. Combined with Mancini, the Orioles have a solid–dare I say it–core.

In my opinion, Machado is a player you simply don’t let go, no matter the cost. The Orioles should give Dan Lozano (Machado’s agent) a pen and an open checkbook and say, “Write down a number.”

With Chris Davis’ contract, the Orioles are simply stuck at first base – figuratively and literally – as it would take a miracle to trade the perennially slumping first baseman, so that leaves Jones, and when you really look at it, it makes sense.

The Orioles would have to pay Jones anywhere from $12-$15 million annually to retain his services beyond 2018. That’s simply too much money for an aging outfielder who doesn’t walk, is losing speed, and had -12 DRS in 2017.

In the minor leagues, outfielders like Austin Hays (the Orioles minor league player of the year in 2017), D.J. Stewart, and Cedric Mullins banging down the door. This is where the Orioles have the most wiggle room contractually.

Machado is going to set a record with his new contract. We’re talking potentially north of ten years, $300 million (though last winter’s free agent freeze adds a modicum of doubt). On top of that, Schoop is going to command $20+ million annually.

If the Orioles are going to spend a minimum of $50 million dollars on their middle infield, as well as potential extensions for pitchers Kevin Gausman and Harvey along with Bundy, they are going to need to save money somewhere.

By 2023, Trey Mancini will be just entering free agency and if all goes according to plan, the trio of Hays, Stewart, and Mullins will be in their second or third years of arbitration. Not to mention Davis’ contract will be off the books, aside from deferred money.

If Hays, Stewart, and Mullins produce the way the Orioles expect them to, they are certain to make hefty raises through the arbitration process. Still, it is likely that the Orioles will be able to get two for the price of one, as any centerfield/right field combination will probably make less than what Jones is likely seeking annually.

For Jones, his mindset is on winning a championship at this point in his career. The Orioles should do right by him and send him to a team with a legitimate shot at a World Series.

With that in mind, the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals are all teams with legitimate championship aspirations that could be seeking outfield help down the stretch.

Jones’ veteran leadership and clubhouse presence could be what any contending team needs to push them over the top. Plus, Jones deserves an opportunity to play for a ring. The cost wouldn’t be too high as he is 32 years old with an expiring contract. If the Orioles can get a fringe major league player and a mid-to-low level prospect, I say they pull the trigger and get it done.

An ego is sure to come with all the talent Machado possesses. If the Orioles trade Jones, they are sending the message that Manny is the face of the franchise. They’ve already begun the process by moving him back to shortstop. If he wants the spotlight, give him the spotlight.

What Adam Jones has done for the city of Baltimore and for the Orioles can’t be quantified, and he is certain to go down as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. But Machado is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and the Orioles’ best home-grown position player since Cal Ripken, Jr. You build a team around players like him, Jonathan Schoop, and Dylan Bundy.

The Orioles have an opportunity to rebuild while keeping their biggest stars.

Unfortunately, that means trading away Adam Jones. They need to do it.

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (6-17) vs. Rays (8-13)

Chris Archer of the Rays prepares to pitch.

After dropping three of four to the Cleveland Indians to kick off their ten-game homestand, the Orioles will look to turn things around over their upcoming rain-shortened two-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays. The originally-scheduled third game will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader on May 12.

The Orioles (6-17) will also be looking to put and end to their nightmare start and begin their climb out of the massive early-season hole that they find themselves in. However, it remains easier said than done after dropping nine of their last ten ballgames and twelve of their last fifteen.

If the Orioles have any shot of a resurgence, they’ll need their offense to wake up sooner rather than later. Through the first 23 games of the season, the Orioles are tied for dead last in the majors in batting average (.215) and OBP (.284) while scoring an AL-worst 3.2 runs per game.

The Rays (8-13) also dug themselves into an early season hole by beginning the season with a 3-12 record, but have won five of their last six since and come into Baltimore on a four-game winning streak.

The Rays also come into town swinging red-hot bats, and after putting up 26 runs over their three-game sweep of the Twins, they’ve now pushed 40 runs across the plate over their last six contests. In contrast, the O’s have scored just 29 runs over their last ten.

Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43 ERA) will take the mound at Camden Yards for the first time as an Oriole against his former club and teammate, Jacob Faria (1-1, 5.82 ERA), in tonight’s series opener.

Cobb was drilled for five runs on ten hits over just 3 1/3 innings during his last start in Detroit, and will be looking to shake off a rough start to his tenure in Baltimore during his home debut.

Faria notched his first win of the season after holding the Rangers to just one run over six innings in his latest outing, and will be looking for his third straight quality start. After getting tagged for eight runs over 1 2/3 innings against Boston on April 7th, he’s now allowed just two runs over his last 11 1/3 innings.

Dylan Bundy (1-2, 1.42 ERA) will take on Chris Archer (1-1, 6.59 ERA) in Thursday’s match-up.

Bundy was finally rewarded with a notch in the win column, allowing one run on five hits over six solid innings against the Tribe, and will be looking for his sixth straight quality start against the Rays. Over his first five amazing starts of 2018, Bundy has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all five outings and one or zero in three of five.

Archer recorded his long-awaited first quality start of the campaign, holding the Twins to two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings, but took the no-decision in the Rays eventual 8-7 win. Prior to his latest outing, Archer had allowed four runs or more in each of his first four starts.

 

Notes

-Manny Machado remains the only Orioles hitter in-form, and will look to extend his current eleven-game hitting streak against the Rays. During that span, Machado has gone 17-for-41 (.415) at the plate with five doubles, five home runs and eleven RBI.

– The Rays on the other hand, have an entire line-up that seems to be hitting top gear, but first basman C.J. Cron, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and left fielder Denard Span have really sparked the fire as of late.

– Cron (.273, 5 HR, 13 RBI) has gone 10-for-26 (.385) with three home runs and eight RBI over his last six games. He’s also posted multi-hit performances in five of those six.

– Hechavarria (.275, 1 HR, 11 RBI) has gone 10-for-22 (.455) with one homer and six RBI over his current six-game hit streak.

– Span (.259, 1 HR, 17 RBI) has gone 8-for-22 (.364) at the plate with one home run and nine RBI during his current five-game hitting tear.

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to a few in the win column.

Read Full Article

Wednesday’s O’s Links: Stages of Grief, Tearing it Down, & More

Tim Beckham looks through his sunglasses.

Mother Nature was sick of watching the Orioles play baseball too, so she drenched Baltimore yesterday evening, precluding the O’s and Rays from kicking off their three-game set until tonight. It’s now a two-game set, and yesterday’s game will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader on May 12.

The Birds have lost 11 of 13 games in a span of 15 days. There was one scheduled off-day in there, plus another rainout in Boston. Those other off days…didn’t help. Perhaps this one will be different.

To the links.

Beckham to Undergo MRI

Tim Beckham was injured in Monday night’s game, and looks to be headed to the DL. While Tim has been quite a disappointment this season at the plate (continuing what we saw from him in his second month in Baltimore in 2017, following his blistering first four weeks), the O’s miserable depth is just brought into even more glaring focus with this injury.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 234: Pain is a Flat Circle

It’s a depressing and booze-soaked episode of BEV this week, as Jake & Scott hop in the Delorean and go back to 2011, since that seems to be what the O’s want to do anyway.

The Five Stages of Grief About the 2018 Orioles

Camden Chat’s Mark Brown goes through the five stages of grief as they relate to the 2018 Orioles. At what stage do you find yourself at the moment? I’m still in denial, I think.

At Least Manny Machado is Hitting

We knew it would probably be a good idea to watch every game this year, even if the team wasn’t so good, just for one last chance to watch Manny in orange and black. We didn’t, of course, expect everything around him to be quite THIS awful.

Time to Tear it Down, Orioles

Will Leitch joined Justin McGuire on the Locked on Orioles podcast yesterday to talk about why the O’s need to get to rebuilding. Will is a Cardinals fan, so excuse me if I don’t quite think he understands the position we Birds fans are in – what without a World Series appearance in 35 years, and with a front office that nobody trusts to correctly perform a rebuild.

 

Maybe Alex Cobb can remember how to pitch when he sees Rays uniforms lined up against him. We’ll find out tonight.

Read Full Article

Monday’s O’s Links – Manny & Dylan Try to Do it All, Can’t

Manny Machado trots around the bases.

The weekend started off nicely, as Dylan Bundy dealt, Manny Machado hit a home run, and the Birds beat Cleveland 3-1. Machado added another two-homer game on Sunday, but that wasn’t enough, as the O’s lost on both Saturday and Sunday.

These two can’t do it all, OTHER GUYS. Basically, the Birds have two of the best players in MLB…and nothing else.

To the links.

The Disgrace of Minor League Baseball

It really is ridiculous how little minor-league baseball players are paid, especially when you compare them to other “minor” league players around professional sports. The owners can afford to pay them more, but have no incentive to, as Michael Baumann of The Ringer explains.

Farm System Leaves O’s Future in Doubt

Andrew Stetka isn’t happy with the farm system Dan Duquette will (presumably) leave behind when he departs after the 2018 season, and he articulates that dissatisfaction in his weekly MASN guest column.

Orioles are Bad, but Things Look Better Down on the Farm

Counterpoint! Luke Siler watches a lot of O’s MiLB games. He joined Justin McGuire on the Locked On Orioles podcast Friday and gives a much sunnier review than did Andrew in that previous link.

Chris Davis is in Trouble

Just as I had started to convince myself that maybe Chris Davis had started to remember how to use that giant piece of lumber in his hands, Camden Depot’s Matt Perez comes along to throw cold water on that idea.

Tillman’s Start, Sisco’s Police Work, & Mancini’s Knee

Sean Naylor of Baltimore Baseball discusses Chris Tillman’s Saturday start, which was, shockingly, not all that awful. Of course, Tilly still uncorked a wild pitch and gave up three home runs. Sad what constitutes “progress” around here, but well, there you are.

 

Here’s to a series split? Sigh.

Read Full Article