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The Rundown: Tillman Makes Rehab Start, Trey Forces Way Into Lineup

Trey Mancini follows through on a swing.

The Orioles head to Cincinnati for their first interleague series of the season and despite the confusion, Kevin Gausman will be the one to take the mound for the O’s tonight to square off against Bronson Arroyo. It will be interesting to see which player between Mark Trumbo, Hyun-soo Kim and Seth Smith takes a seat tonight.

Due to a left-hander pitching game two, it could be Trumbo. No matter who gets the start, this is a prime spot for the offense to continue to mash the baseball, as Arroyo is sporting a horrendous 9.90 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.

 

Tillman Starts for Bowie

Chris Tillman returned to the mound in a competitive environment as he continues to make progress from a shoulder injury that has plagued him since the 2016 season. The right-hander’s velocity was consistently around 90 MPH which is to be expected as he continues to build arm strength.

It still might be aggressive to expect him to return in early May, but if he responds well from last night’s start in Bowie and gets stronger in his next start, it could be a realistic goal.

We all know how important a healthy Tillman will be so hopefully the good news continues for the staff ace.

 

 

How Long Can Mancini Be a Part-Time Player?

Trey Mancini hasn’t even played 15 games in the big leagues so it’s hard to draw any conclusions of how good he can be. The first baseman-turned-outfielder will struggle at some point. That’s baseball. However, Mancini has hit at every level and he has made an immediate impact with the Orioles. At this point, he should not be limited to games when a left-hander is on the mound.

I could be in the minority as Kim has a lot of support in Birdland, but to me, he’s better than Kim. Right now. Seth Smith is better than Kim. If Buck Showalter decides Mancini’s bat needs to be in the lineup, it would appear this would impact Kim the most.

Mancini can hit righties and lefties and the power is too much to ignore. We have yet to really see if his defense will be a liability, but Kim isn’t winning any Gold Gloves any time soon. This decision probably isn’t iminent, but if Mancini continues to hit like he has, it will be nearly impossible to keep him out of the lineup.

 

Orioles Philosophy on International Spending

Ben Badler of Baseball America did a good job laying out what the Orioles have spent internationally and how that is just not good enough, especially when the farm system is considered one of the worst in baseball.

Ken Rosenthal also wrote about it with comments from Dan Duquette and it appears it’s an ownership decision.

Since the start of the season, the O’s have already traded away money allotted to them for international spending in 2017 for two relief pitchers so it seems it will be more of the same for the organization moving forward.

I tend to side with the organization when it comes to their minor league rankings, as the “experts” appear to have missed out on Trey Mancini and possibly Bowie Baysox outfielder Cedric Mullins. Even though the organization isn’t bare of talent like the experts say, they also don’t have numerous players knocking on the door like the top minor league systems do. So, as with most things, it’s somewhere in the middle.

However, it makes no sense to ignore a demographic that has proven to breed major league players when you are given money to utilize it. Especially when you trade that money for players who are only considered bullpen arms. To their credit, they did trade international money for left-hander Chris Lee in 2015 and he could eventually crack the rotation.

In the end, not using all of your resources to improve your organization is extremely short-sighted, but if they keep winning on the big-league level, none of that will matter.

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Series Preview: Orioles (8-3) @ Reds (8-5)

Nighttime shot of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

After posting a 4-2 record over the first two legs of the road trip in Boston and Toronto, the red-hot Orioles will be looking to keep up the pace going into the last stop of their first road tour of 2017 in Cincinnati.

The Orioles (8-3) will be looking to come home in first place after taking three of four in Toronto, while the first-place Reds (8-5) will be trying to wash away a rough weekend after dropping three of four at home to the Brewers.

The Reds have been impressive over the beginning stages of the 2017 season. After finishing in the cellar of the NL Central in back-to-back seasons for the first time in almost ten years, they’ve engineered the NL’s second-best offense (62 runs) and third-best pitching staff (3.49 ERA) in the early stages of 2017, and the live odds at SportsBetting.ag reflect this.

Are they legit, or will they fade quickly?

 

Probables

Kevin Gausman (1-0, 3.94 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener against Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 9.90 ERA).

After shutting down the Blue Jays last week, Gausman will be looking for win #2 against a team he’s never faced before. Gausman is 2-5 with a 4.53 ERA over nine starts against the NL.

Arroyo is still kicking it at 40 years old, but his return to Cincinnati hasn’t gone quite as planned. Over his first two starts of the season, the part-time rock star has allowed a dreadful 11 runs on 13 hits over just ten innings of work…Maybe it’s finally time for the veteran to focus on his music career.

Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) will take on Reds rising star Amir Garrett (2-0, 1.42 ERA) on Wednesday.

Jimenez has been woeful through his first two starts of the campaign and has allowed ten runs on 15 hits over just eight and 2/3 innings. There’s nowhere to go but up though, right?

Garrett on the other hand, has been sensational over his first two big league starts. He’s allowed just two runs on seven hits over 12 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .163 batting average and a 0.71 WHIP. The Reds #2 prospect seems to have arrived.

Wade Miley (1-0, 2.45 ERA) will take on Scott Feldman (1-1, 2.87 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Miley has been a stud for the Orioles during the opening month of the season, having allowed just three runs on six hits over his first 11 innings of 2017 while racking up 13 K’s in the process. He’ll look to continue his impressive run of form, and maintain his perfect 3-0 career record and impressive 3.44 ERA at Great American Ball Park on Thursday.

Feldman has also gotten off to a nice start this season, having allowed just two runs on eight hits over his first 11 innings of work this year.

 

Notes

J.J. Hardy will be looking forward to reuniting with old foe Arroyo on Tuesday. He boasts a stellar .300 average to go along with five home runs and seven RBI over 30 at-bats against the Reds veteran hurler. Adam Jones may be as well, as he homered against Arroyo the only time he ever faced him in back in 2011.

Manny Machado will be licking his chops at the chance to face Feldman, as he owns a .455 average (5-for-11 with two homers and six RBI lifetime against the 34-year-old veteran. Jones (2-for-23) might not be as upbeat about it.

– Reds shortstop Zach Cozart has been leading the way for the home team with an NL-leading .432 batting average, five runs, two doubles, three triples, one homer, seven RBI and a .488 OBP… To say he’s the danger man would be an understatement.

Jonathan Schoop carries a five-game hitting streak into Cincinnati. During that span, he’s went a robust 9-for-19 at the plate with three doubles, two homers and five RBI.

Trey Mancini will also bring along a four-game hit streak with him to Cincy. The 24-year-old rookie has gone 7-for-14 at the dish during that stretch with four homers and eight RBI.

– Hardy seems to have found his stride and boasts a four-game hitting streak going into Tuesday. He’s 7-for-16 at the plate with two doubles, one homer and four RBI during that span.

– Two cold streaks to note: Machado (3-for-26) has seen a drop off in form over the past week, as has Mark Trumbo (4-for-25) over his last six games. Here’s to hoping for a fireworks show from these two in Cincy…They’re about due.

 

That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Enjoy the series!

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Monday’s O’s Links: Britton to DL, O’s Keep Ignoring Latin American Players

Zach Britton throws in spring training.

The Birds took three of four over the weekend in Toronto, but there was a bit of bad news in there as well, as before Sunday’s game we got word that Zach Britton was headed toward the 10-day DL with left forearm soreness. As we O’s fans know, it’s a very slippery slope from “forearm soreness” to “Dr. Andrews” to “PRP injection” to…well, you can fill in the rest. Hopefully our imaginations are as far as that particular scenario ever makes it.

To the links.

Mancini Has Two-Homer Day, Britton Talks About his Injury

MASN’s Steve Melewski has all sorts of quotes in this column. He talks to Trey Mancini about tying an MLB record for home runs in his first 12 games, Buck Showalter about seeing something the Skipper had never seen before, Dylan Bundy about shutting down the Blue Jays again, and Britton about that damn forearm.

Sunday Notes: Mancini’s Pop

FanGraphs’ Sunday Notes column has quotes from Mancini about Brady Anderson helping him change his swing back in 2015. On your way to scrolling down for that section though, stop by Buck talking about Chris Sale, in which he tosses some shade at our ol’ buddy Rick Peterson (I’m pretty sure).

Bullpen will Have a Different Look as Long as Britton is Out

And now to the nerve-wracking stuff. It was all good on Sunday, as the O’s decided to bash their way out of needing a closer. However, they’ve played a ton of close games already this year, so yesterday is very likely the exception, not the rule. Which means, of course, that they’ll need somebody to work a tight ninth inning very soon, probably before Britton is back. How will they manage that (and the ripples it will send throughout the pen)? Camden Chat’s Mark Brown gives his best guess.

International Reviews: Baltimore Orioles

Ben Badler of Baseball America takes the O’s to task for their continuing neglect of the international free agent market, an example of which was just on display last week when Dan Duquette dealt an international signing slot away (again). It seems that this is more of an edict from ownership than DD’s own choice, but either way, the Birds continue to put themselves at a huge disadvantage by ignoring the Latin American market.

The Orioles Have Positional Depth, Lack Positional DEPTH

Camden Depot’s Nate DeLong says that if any Orioles infielder were to suffer an injury, the team would be in some dire straights as far as replacing them. At least as far as replacing them with a guy who is even replacement level.

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Week in Review: O’s Find Power, Stay Hot in Boston & Toronto

Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles high five after a home run.

Put simply, life is pretty sweet for the Orioles at the moment. After kicking off the season with a bang at home, these O’s have carried their red-hot run of form into the first road trip of the season and find themselves in first place going into the second half of April.

Oh…and they own an MLB-best 72.7% win percentage (8-3) to begin the season. Is that good?

After splitting a two-game set in Boston, the Orioles, backed by tremendous starting pitching and a few power surges, went back to the building where their dream died last season and dished out some payback by taking three of four from the slumping Blue Jays.

Oh, and Birdland Power Company is officially back in business after clubbing five homers in a 12-5 win over the ‘Sox on Wednesday, four homers in a 6-4 win over Toronto on Friday, and then another four in Sunday’s 11-4 drubbing of the Jays.

Not only did the offense come through with a few expected fireworks, but the pitching staff, more specifically the starting rotation, was absolutely spectacular versus Toronto. Now the question is whether their sparkling form is the real deal or a mirage…I guess we’ll see, but enjoy it for the moment!

Here’s hoping that the next 151 games are as good as the first 11.

Now, let’s take a look at a few quick takeaways from the past week on the road:

Dylan Bundy may be becoming the staff ace right in front of our eyes. After allowing just five hits over six scoreless innings in Sunday’s 11-4 win versus Toronto, he now owns a stellar 1.86 ERA to go along with an impressive 0.98 WHIP over his first 19 1/3 innings of the 2017 season. He’s also recorded 17 strikeouts compared to just three walks. Is this the year?

– The Orioles have put together a pure gem of an effort over the past five games (4-1) by pushing 32 runs across the plate and allowing just 16. Not bad, eh?

– I can’t gush about the starting pitching versus Toronto enough. Kevin Gausman recorded his best outing and first win of 2017 by allowing just one run over six innings on Thursday. Wade Miley looked sharp, kept his team in the ballgame and picked up a deserved first win of the season on Friday. Alec Asher was superb in his Orioles debut on Saturday and allowed just a single run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings. Too bad he couldn’t get a single run of support. And then came Bundy’s gem on Sunday. All in all, the quartet posted a stellar 1.85 ERA over 24 1/3 innings versus Toronto. Keep it up, lads!

– After the great weekend series, Orioles starters now own a collective 3.67 ERA. If they can do that all season, you’re looking at a 90-95 win team. And that’s without staff ace Chris Tillman.

– The Orioles’ 32-run, 13-homer outburst over the past five games now sees them ranked second in the AL in home runs (18), with the Texas Rangers (20) in first.

Now, it’s time for the announcement of this week’s “Three Stars:”

 

3rd Star

Dylan Bundy. If you read this column, you already knew that Bundy was going to be on this list…because he’s the real deal. And he’d be higher up on the list if it wasn’t for what the other two guys did this week.

 

2nd Star

Jonathan Schoop. The Orioles’ 25-year-old second baseman caught fire this week and in the midst of a five-game hitting streak, Schoop’s average has jumped from .105 to .289. During that span, Schoop has recorded four multi-hit contests while going 9-for-19 (.474) with five runs, three doubles, two homers and five RBI at the plate. Somebody’s going to need to call the doctor if he gets any hotter than he is right now.

 

1st Star

Trey Mancini. Say hello to the newest member of Birdland Power Company. After burning Steven Wright and the ‘Sox with two long balls last Wednesday, the Notre Dame kid went ahead and burned the Jays with two more on Sunday. Not only does he lead the team in homers (4), RBI (9), batting average (.364), OBP (.417), SLG (.955) and OPS (1.371), he’s only needed seven games and 22 at-bats to do so.

That’s pretty scary. Now, the million-dollar question arises…How do you keep Mancini in the line-up, if possible at all? Only time will tell.

 

That’s it for now, Orioles Nation! Here’s to flying high and staying in first place!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Have You Seen This Man?

Hyun-soo Kim of the Orioles runs the bases.

Happy Friday, Birdland. No action at the Yard this weekend, as the O’s continue their four-game set in Toronto. It started off well, with a 2-1 win, the team’s second straight since losing the opener Tuesday night in Boston. A 6-2 start isn’t quite a 7-0 start (which they managed last year, of course) but it’ll certainly do.

To the links.

Orioles Make a Pair of Moves

The Birds called up Stephan Critchton from Norfolk, trading away Oliver Drake to Milwaukee in the process. For Drake, the O’s get a PTBNL or cash. While Dan was on the phone with the Brew Crew, he traded away their 2016-17 International Signing Bonus Slot number 15 (because of course he did) for a pitcher with a great name: Damien Magnifico. 2015 Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia was DFA’d to make room.

What is Up with Buck Showalter’s Usage of Hyun-soo Kim?

If Kim doesn’t get a start tonight against Aaron Sanchez, O’s Twitter might riot. We were all losing our minds the other night, and all Trey Mancini did was go out and bash two home runs. Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer expands upon the weirdness that continues to be the Kim situation. It’s one that just seems to get muddier, not clearer.

Chris Davis’ Early-Season Approach is Encouraging

Camden Chat’s Nick Cicere takes a look at some video from Crush’s 2016 and compares it to so far this season, concluding that The Big Fella is having a much better go of getting his hands where he wants them during swings. This adds some evidence to the assertion that he was indeed hurt all of last season. So far, so good. Then, of course, Davis goes out and throws up the ol’ Golden Sombrero in Toronto last night. He crushes Aaron Sanchez historically though, so he may well bounce back tonight.

How Do the 2014 Long-Term Contracts Look Now?

O’s Uncensored’s Dillon Atkinson’s MASN guest column this week sparked some debate on Twitter, especially after Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t get through five innings despite being spotted a nine-run lead the night this article came out. Anyway, the other DA O’s blogger used fWAR to examine the contracts of both Ubaldo and J.J. Hardy, which were signed at the start and end of the 2014 season, respectively. I’m with him on Ubie, for the record.

Britton, O’s, Hand Jays Worst Start Ever; Donaldson Hurt

Ain’t that a shame?

Let’s make the 2017 Blue Jays’ start one that they’re really never able to duplicate. 1-11 sounds good to me.

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Series Preview: Orioles (5-2) at Blue Jays (1-7)

Rogers Centre in Toronto with the roof open.

After splitting the two-night stand in Boston, the Orioles will travel across the border for the first time this season to take on the sleeping Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game set.

The Orioles (5-2) will be looking to keep up the pace after clubbing five homers last night at Fenway in a 12-5 win, while the Jays (1-7) will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak.

Kevin Gausman (0-0, 5.40) will take on Francisco Liriano (0-0, 135.00 ERA) in game one tonight.

After putting together a dominant second half of 2016, Gausman hasn’t quite hit the same run of form through his first two starts of 2017. The O’s flamethrower has registered a 2.00 WHIP over his first ten innings of the season along with seven walks to eight strikeouts and a .310 BAA.

Liriano will be hoping to erase the memory of allowing five earned runs over just a third of an inning versus Tampa Bay during his season debut last week.

Wade Miley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the nod versus Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.29 ERA) for Friday’s contest.

Miley had an awkward season debut against the Yankees last week, as he threw five innings of one-hit, zero-run ball but allowed seven walks in the process. Still, the southpaw managed to rack up five K’s and didn’t allow the levee to break. That counts, right?

Sanchez picked up right where he left off last season by holding the Rays to just one run over seven innings in his season debut last week, and carries a perfect 4-0 record over five career starts versus the Orioles along with a 3.00 ERA. The Jays ace has allowed one run or fewer in 14 starts since April 2016, the most in the AL.

Alec Asher (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will be making his season debut versus Marco Estrada (0-1, 5.73 ERA) during Saturday’s matinee.

Asher, 25, was acquired from Philadelphia in March for cash considerations. In five starts for the Phillies last season, Asher put together an excellent line in the form of a 2-1 record, 2.28 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. The Lakeland, Florida native also allowed just four walks to 13 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.

Estrada will be taking the mound for already the second time against the Orioles this season after allowing just two runs over six innings against them on opening day.

Dylan Bundy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will take on J.A. Happ (0-2, 5.40 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Bundy has been outstanding to start the season, and will be looking to make it three straight quality starts to begin his campaign. He ranks first among Orioles starters in wins (1), WHIP (0.98), OBP (.260) and K’s (11). He also has allowed the fewest walks (2).

Happ has recorded an impressive 17 K’s over his first 11 2/3 innings of the 2017 season, but has been hindered by his tendency to give up the long ball. He’s allowed two dingers in each of his first two starts.

 

Notes:

Wellington Castillo has a career line consisting of a .316 batting average, two home runs and five RBI versus Liriano.

Adam Jones has also tagged Liriano to the tune of a .364 average, three homers and five RBI.

Chris Davis hasn’t had a problem tagging Sanchez in the past. He owns a .375 average to go along with three homers and four RBI against Toronto’s ace.

Jonathan Schoop is a career .386 (7-for-19) hitter against Sanchez.

– Castillo has had by far the most success amongst Orioles sluggers against Estrada, as he carries a .308 average along with four homers and eight RBI lifetime against the Jays work horse.

Manny Machado has the best numbers lifetime amongst Orioles batters versus Happ, as he owns a .292 average along with two homers and three RBI against the Jays veteran. Mark Trumbo on the other hand, is 0-for-14.

 

That’s it for now, O’s fans! Enjoy the series!

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Thursday Thoughts: Short Starts, Tillman’s Return, and Buck’s Shade

Chris Tillman of the Orioles prepares to 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. A friend sent me a text message last night, immediately after the Orioles took a 9-0 lead in Boston. It read, “Bundy loses, Ubaldo wins in Boston. What do we know about the Orioles? Nothing.”

I chuckled at the notion that my pal was handing Ubaldo Jimenez a victory with a 9-0 lead, having only seen him throw two innings to that point. Sure enough, it wasn’t Jimenez that got the “win” after allowing five runs in 4.1 innings.

Mychal Givens mopped things up for Jimenez and improved to 2-0.

What baffled me even more than my friend’s assumption that Jimenez wouldn’t “Ubaldo” it up, was this notion of getting the “win.” I honestly thought we were over that stat. I thought fans didn’t really care, I thought broadcasters didn’t care, and I surely hoped Buck Showalter didn’t care.

I found it strange, however, that as he struggled through the fifth inning last night at Fenway Park, Jimenez remained on the mound while Showalter sat in the dugout. Eventually, after his starter loaded the bases, the skipper made his way out to the hill. Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer on the MASN broadcast continually talked about the notion that Jimenez was trying to get through that fifth inning to qualify for the win.

Meanwhile as I watched, all I could think about was the fact that the O’s were a swing away from having to worry about a team win.

There’s no question that the starting pitching (minus Bundy) has been the largest concern in this early part of the season. It’s a small sample size, but it’s a worry. The bullpen can’t continue to pull mop up duty, especially when the offense is clicking. Not only does it wear on the relievers, it makes for four-hour games which are no fun for anyone.

2. One thing that could, and I emphasize the word “could,” help some of the O’s rotation troubles is the return of Chris Tillman. That’s on track now as he’s set for his first rehab start Monday at Bowie. Tillman hasn’t felt any discomfort in his shoulder after throwing a bullpen session and making a start in extended spring training.

The fact that the Orioles now have a plan for Tillman, scheduling him tentatively for an outing with Frederick after Monday’s start at Bowie, means he’s on the right track. He still has to clear the hurdles before rejoining the big club in early May, but there could at least be light at the end of the tunnel.

The biggest trick is going to be making sure he returns to the rotation and is actually good. Thus far, the Orioles have two good starts through their first seven games, and they both came from Bundy. That’s not a very good percentage.

Having Tillman come back and contribute while also seeing improvement out of Kevin Gausman is going to be key to righting the ship that is this rotation.

3. There was quite a bit of outrage in the Twittersphere after the announcement of yesterday’s lineup. Everyone assumed, as did I, that with right-hander Steven Wright on the mound, left-handers Hyun-Soo Kim and Seth Smith would man the corner outfield spots. Instead, it was Trey Mancini starting over Kim in left field. It’s the third straight game Kim has sat on the bench with lefties on the mound for the previous two.

You can likely count on Kim sitting once again tonight as lefty J.A. Happ takes the bump for Toronto.

During the offseason, we heard Kim should expect a bigger role, but that also came before players like Smith, Mancini and Craig Gentry emerged as options in the corner outfield. With all that went into Kim’s rough start with the O’s last season, it would be nice to see him receive more opportunities to play.

It’s getting frustrating to see him sit, knowing that he has great capability to get on base. I’d at least like to see a bit of the “sink or swim” mentality take place over the next few weeks.

4. I’m already sick of “flu-gate” or whatever we are calling the latest spat between Buck Showalter and opponents. Showalter can claim he’s not taking a dig at the Red Sox with his recent comments about Boston’s flu outbreak, but I’m not going to believe it.

And guess what? That’s fine. I honestly have never minded Showalter taking those slight digs at other teams. He does it all the time when it comes to the Red Sox and Yankees about playing in big markets. The fact that Boston manager John Farrell said the comments didn’t surprise him should tell you all you need to know.

I don’t think Showalter was being malicious with his words, I think he was just pointing out that the Red Sox, like any other team, aren’t going to make excuses. The Orioles certainly aren’t going to be the team that counts a win over a depleted team as anything less than a victory.

During his time in Baltimore, Showalter has (whether he realizes it or not) taken on the mindset of the city in some ways. Baltimore is always that underdog that is overlooked. It’s just a stop between New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Showalter loves to play that up with his team. No one ever picks them to contend, and all the attention goes to Boston and New York within the AL East.

That’s all this is. That’s all it ever is.

<a rel=Manny Machado in front of sign at spring training 2015.” width=”728″ height=”485″ />

5. Manny Machado isn’t off to the quickest start with his bat this season (.200/.310/.400 with 1 HR), but he sure did do some work with his words this week. Speaking to the “New York Post” while the Yankees were in Baltimore, Machado addressed the elephant in the room by discussing his impending free agency at the end of 2018.

Machado’s comments seemed to imply that he was totally open to the idea of joining the (gulp) Yankees for 2019, perhaps even bringing Bryce Harper along with him.

I’m not freaking out about all of this just yet. At least that’s what I’m continually telling myself as I cry myself to sleep each night. The Machado-Harper free agencies are going to be the hottest topic in all of baseball over the next 18 months, so they might as well be discussed. You’re going to grow tired of hearing about it, if you aren’t already.

It’s important to know though, that the Yankees aren’t going to be the only possible destination for Machado. Matt Gelb of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” joined ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” podcast with Buster Olney this week and seemed to think Machado was ripe to join the Phillies in 2019. There are also many that believe Machado could return “home” to Miami and play for the Marlins.

Until he signs on the dotted line elsewhere, I’ll believe Machado is with the Orioles. Call that foolish, tell me I have blinders on, whatever you want to do. I refuse to live the next 18 months fearing where Machado may go next rather than enjoying and embracing that he’s in Baltimore during that time.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: 1st Week Conclusions, Rushing Stewart Along

baseball player at bat right before hitting baseball

The O’s fell in Boston last night in quite ugly fashion. Dylan Bundy was very good, if not as dominant as he was in his first start, limiting the Red Sox to just two runs over 6.1 innings. He was already the only O’s starter to go 7 innings, and now he’s the only one to go 6, as well. The final score was much worse, of course, thanks to a comedy of errors and misplays after Dylan exited. The Birds’ bats are still quiet, though we can excuse that just a bit given the fact that they’ve had three off days already, and hitters need to get into a groove.

Here’s to splitting the two-game set tonight. Let’s see what’s up in the world of links.

Machado in Pinstripes? A Worse Possible Outcome Exists

Baltimore Sports and Life’s Chris Stoner writes that, while Manny playing in New York remains nightmare #1 for Orioles fans, it might not be the absolute worst possible outcome. There’s a way that the front office could handle Machado’s contract situation that nets them absolutely nothing for losing one of the best players in baseball, and that would be as unforgivable as the fact of letting him go.

Aggressive Minor-League Assignment for D.J. Stewart Makes Sense

D.J. Stewart has been a disappointment in the minor leagues since the O’s drafted him in the first round of 2015. He was drafted for his bat, and he’s shown very little power thus far. He is starting this year at AA Bowie despite all this, and Nate DeLong of Camden Depot says it makes perfect sense for the organization to nudge the 24-year-old 23-year-old along, instead of allowing him to develop (or not) at his own pace.

Should You Trust Dan Duquette?

MLB Daily Dish’s Mike Bates reignites the ol’ “Are the Orioles successful because of Dan Duquette or in spite of him?” debate. Personally, I think it’s a bit ridiculous, and that fans don’t give Dan enough credit. That said, I recognize that he’s done absolutely nothing to set the team up for longer-term success once the current “window” closes.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 196: Tell Me What You See

Jake & Scott recap the first week of O’s baseball, which was a good one. Listen up.

Drawing Big Conclusions from One Week

Still haven’t gotten enough knee-jerk reactions to five games of baseball? Lucky for you, our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column, can help you get your fix. About that whole, “defense is a constant” thing though…yeah, let’s just forget last night ever happened.

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Series Preview: Orioles (4-1) @ Red Sox (3-3)

A shot from inside Fenway Park during a game.

After opening up the season with a bang in front of the Camden Yards faithful, the Orioles will now jet out of town on a nine-game, three-legged road trip.

The first stop is a two-night stay in Boston for a set against the reigning AL East champions.

The Orioles (4-1) will be looking to remain in first place in the early goings of the season, while the Red Sox (3-3) will be looking to bounce back after dropping three of four in Detroit over the weekend.

Dylan Bundy (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the mound tonight against southpaw Drew Pomeranz, who will be making his season debut.

Bundy was magnificent in his effort to shut down the Blue Jays last Wednesday and looks to take that momentum into a game against a club that hasn’t treated him so nicely so far in his young career. Bundy owns a 1-2 record along with a 6.53 ERA in seven games (three starts) versus Boston.

Pomeranz can relate, as he also owns dreadful numbers versus Baltimore in the form of an 0-2 record and an 8.10 ERA over four career games.

Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38) will look to shake off his brutal season debut against the Yankees tomorrow night against Steven Wright (0-0, 5.40 ERA), but it won’t be easy against a team that has owned him in the past. Over 14 career starts against the Red Sox, Jimenez has posted a 2-6 mark with a 6.82 ERA.

On the other hand, Wright owns a perfect 2-0 record and a 2.45 ERA over four games against the Birds, while the current Orioles squad owns a paltry .129 batting average (8-for-62) against the knuckleballer.

The Orioles should be up and ready to go for this match-up, as after a few years of having the upper hand over the Red Sox, Boston took the 2016 series 11-8.

Here’s to a little bit of payback at Camden North.

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The Rundown: Big Day for Chris Tillman’s Recovery

Chris Tillman winds up to pitch.

The Orioles kick off the second week of their season by heading to Boston, currently sitting in first place in the American League East. After having three off days already to start the year, the O’s will finally get into a routine, playing 15 games in the next 16 days.

Bundy Makes His Second Start of Season

It was nearly impossible to not get excited watching Dylan Bundy carve up the Blue Jays in his first start of the year. Bundy brought back his slider/cutter into his repertoire and it immediately paid off in a big way, making many Toronto hitters look silly. That pitch is what launched the right-hander up the prospect list and it is also what led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery and eventually having a setback before the Orioles scrapped that pitch until this season.

It will be interesting to see how much he uses that pitch tonight. The Red Sox will have more left-handed hitters than the Blue Jays did, but they are still a prominent righty lineup. Bundy will get Toronto again in his third start and that may be a true indicator of what to expect moving forward, as we will see if the Blue Jays hitters make any adjustments and if Bundy attacks them differently.

Regardless, it’s hard not to think about the season Bundy can have by bringing back a pitch that was considered his best and adding that to an already impressive arsenal.

 

Big Day for Tillman

The Orioles ace is scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches in Sarasota this afternoon and if all goes well, Chris Tillman will head out on a rehab assignment as he continues to progress from his shoulder injury.

The O’s can’t afford a setback. Outside of Bundy, the starting pitching staff has been a disaster through the first five games. I’m not worried about Kevin Gausman and still believe he’s in for a big season. However, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley will always be inconsistent.

There will be a need for a fifth starter very soon, but no one in the minors has stepped up which is concerning, especially if Tillman isn’t ready to return by early May.

Birdland will be focused on tonight’s game in Boston, but the biggest news of the day will be what happens in Sarasota.

 

O’Day’s Struggles

Have we seen the best of Darren O’Day? We all obviously hope not, but after battling injuries last year, the right-hander has started the 2017 season poorly, highlighted by his awful outing in the series finale against the Yankees.

Buck Showalter blames it on his lack of strength as he continues to recover from the flu, but O’Day says he is completely healthy.

Whatever the reason is, the O’s need to figure it out quick and get one of the most reliable relievers in all of baseball over the last five years back to his old self.

I have to trust O’Day’s track record, but the reality is, Showalter can’t put the veteran in any high-pressure situations until he shows he is back to his pre-2016 form. Depending on the situation, Showalter will more than likely look to Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart before he turns to O’Day.

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A Look Back on a Successful First Week in Birdland

Zach Britton and Welington Castillo of the Baltimore Orioles high five after a win.

It seems as though the sunshine has finally broken through and spring is here to stay. Which means…you guessed it!

Baseball is back in Birdland! After a long, long offseason to ponder things, the O’s have started their 2017 campaign the same way they started off 2016.

By racking up a bunch of notches on the good side of the hash mark.

After Mark Trumbo‘s electrifying opening day walk-off and Dylan Bundy‘s dominant 2017 debut sent the Blue Jays out of Camden Yards with a zero in the win column, these cardiac O’s were back at it again versus the infamous New York Yankees over the weekend.

Not only did the O’s manage to come back once, but they came back TWICE to steal a pair of wins away from their long-time rivals. Sure, the ninth inning on Sunday didn’t go as planned, but take nothing away from the Orioles in what was an otherwise excellent team showing for the first week of the season.

Can I get an O Yeah?!?!

But what did we learn, and what can we take away from just the first week of baseball? Let’s dive into a few key observations:

– One thing that stands out already about this Orioles squad is that their heart and toughness seems to continue to grow year by year. Erasing a 5-1 deficit and a 4-1 deficit past the half-way point of a game is easier said than done on the MLB level, and they did it twice in two days.

– A huge mark to put in the ”pro” category is that the Orioles boast a 3-0 record in one-run games to start the season. A true mark of a playoff baseball club.

– Despite the implosion on Sunday starring Darren O’Day, the Orioles bullpen looks to be as solid as ever and will continue to be the team’s secret back bone. What’s new? Before Sunday’s series finale versus the Yankees, Orioles relievers had posted 16 2/3 straight scoreless innings. These guys are probably too close to mid-season form already….

– But other than Dylan Bundy’s fantastic season debut against Toronto in which he held the potent Blue Jays offense to just one run on four hits over seven innings while walking zero and striking out eight in a 3-1 win, the Orioles starting pitching has been worrisome yet again. Kevin Gausman looks nervous. Chris Tillman is still on the shelf. And Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley are up to their usual routines. The starters have a respectable ERA of 4.10 through the first week of the season, but averaging five innings per start as a unit will not cut it.

– And while the Orioles aren’t putting up the best numbers with a .227 team batting average (22nd in MLB), and a .284 team OBP (26th in MLB) while scoring 20 runs (4.0 per game) on five homers (t-20th in MLB)…who cares when you’re 4-1? Situational offense is better than a high-octane offense sometimes, and the O’s have gotten their share of clutch hits from the likes of Mark Trumbo, Manny Machado, Seth Smith, Mark Trumbo (again) and Hyun-soo Kim. More of the same, please!

As you all know, I have hockey deeply embedded in my DNA, so to pay homage to my first love, we’re going to do a ”three stars” at the end of each week for your Orioles. Here are the first week’s results:

 

3rd star

Manny Machado. A massive home run against the Yankees and a slew of excellent defensive plays at the hot corner? Welcome back, Manny!

 

2nd star

Dylan Bundy. He was really that good against the Jays. A pure gem of a start, and hopefully a sign of things to come for the Orioles’ future ace.

 

1st star

Mark Trumbo.  After the opening day walk-off homer versus Toronto, Trumbo remained the catalyst of good vibes in the series versus New York and ended the first week of the season hitting .263 with a double, one home run and a team-leading five RBI.

Zach Britton, who went 3/3 in save opportunities, gets an honorable mention nod here.

Well, that’s it for now Birdland…It’s great to be back!

Next, the Orioles will kick off their first road trip of the season with two games in Boston before jetting to Toronto for a four-game set and then back down to Cincinnati for a three-game set.

Tonight, Bundy (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will look to build onto his phenomenal first start against the Red Sox and southpaw Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Tomorrow, Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) will take the mound versus knuckleballer Steven Wright (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in the series finale.

Here’s to staying in first place.

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Orioles Starters Letting the Team Down Already

Ubaldo Jimenez pitches as Chris Davis gets ready in the background.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Baltimore Orioles starters need to pitch deeper into ballgames.

Shocking, I know.

Yet, just five games into the season, here we are already, talking about the starters’ short outings taking a toll on the bullpen.

Five MLB teams have only played five games so far. Here are the total number of innings pitched by starters for those five teams:

Boston Red Sox: 31.0
Chicago White Sox: 29.0 (and that includes a 6.0-inning start by Miguel Gonzalez, in case you were curious)
Pittsburgh Pirates: 29.0
Detroit Tigers: 27.0 (a 2 1/3-inning start is dragging down their total)

And finally:

Baltimore Orioles: 26 1/3

I didn’t dig into the numbers for teams that have played more games, but I’d imagine it paints a similarly ugly picture as far as O’s pitching goes. Other than Dylan Bundy‘s 7.0-inning gem in game two against Toronto, only two other O’s starters have even gone deep enough to qualify for a win (Kevin Gausman on Opening Day, and Wade Miley on Sunday). Twice, pitchers have exited in the fifth inning (Gausman on Saturday, Ubaldo Jimenez on Friday).

With Chris Tillman still at least a few weeks away from returning, there’s no help on the immediate horizon. The guys who are here need to be better, especially Gausman, whom the team is relying on to build upon his strong 2016 second half to have any hopes of contending in 2017. The 26-year-old is struggling to throw strikes, having walked three batters in each of his first two starts, something he did just three times total in 30 starts a season ago.

Miley was ridiculously wild on Sunday, leading to his short outing. He matched a career-high with seven free passes in just five innings of work. He allowed no runs on just one hit in that time, adding insult to injury, since he was in a position to go much deeper into the game, had those walks not elevated his pitch count.

So yes, the Birds got off to a hot start, and sit atop the AL East at 4-1. The bad news is that we’re already wading into the familiar territory of “umm…guys, this isn’t sustainable.”

Bundy takes the mound again on Tuesday at Fenway Park against the potent lineup of the Red Sox, with a bullpen behind him that already desperately needs a rest.

No pressure, young fella.

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Monday’s O’s Links: Taxed Bullpen Finally Falters

Darren O'Day of the Orioles enters his windup.

So the O’s won’t go 162-0. They were the final MLB team to lose in 2017 though, finally falling to the New York Yankees on Sunday, 7-3, despite building a 3-0 lead early. It was a bit of revenge on the part of the Bombers, who blew 5-1 and 4-1 leads en route to losing the first two games of the series.

The Birds have – ugh – another off day today, before kicking off a two-game set at Fenway Park, followed by four in Toronto.

To the links.

Bullpen Implosion was Inevitable – Starters Must Pitch Deeper

Yup! Five games in, and we’re already talking about taxing the bullpen. That doesn’t seem to bode well. Kevin Gausman throwing 97 pitches in 4 2/3 innings on Saturday was particularly inexcusable. Wade Miley going five innings isn’t ideal, but it *could* be fine, if the guys in front of him in the rotation were turning in six or seven. Hurry back, Tilly.

The AL East is Off to a Chaotic Start

We’re ONE WEEK into the season, and these writers are already shocked that the Red Sox haven’t ran away and hid with the AL East title. Of course, they’re at the ready with excuses, the first of which is that Boston has the flu.

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Bird’s Eye View’s Jake English wrote some words about Friday’s win over New York, which was Orioles baseball in a nutshell. From up-and-down Ubaldo, to the heroic dingers, to the lights-out bullpen, the Birds followed their preferred recipe to the letter.

O’Day on his Struggles in the Ninth, Plus More Bullpen Quotes

The O’s bullpen was perfect through the season’s first four games. On Sunday, Mychal Givens gave up a game-tying home run to Aaron Judge, and then the flood gates opened. Darren O’Day was unable to get any close calls from the home plate ump, and was thus unable to stop the bleeding  as New York hung five runs on the Birds’ pen. The guys talk about the rough afternoon.

Could Manny Machado be One of the All-Time Great Third Basemen?

Ken Rosenthal, full-time Fox Sports reporter, part-time O’s shit-stirrer, asked Manny Machado about moving to shortstop as part of Fox’s pre-game show before Saturday’s game. Manny said that he still thinks about it, and Rosenthal muses about how it could affect the O’s and/or Manny’s upcoming free agency. If you’re like me, and would rather just live in the damn present, I’d understand if this was a link that you skipped today.

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GIF: Manny & Schoop Didn’t Look Too Worried About Britton

Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop horse around as Zach Britton warms up.

Let’s be honest: we all want the Bromance that Manny Machado & Jonathan Schoop have with each other.

During last night’s game against the New York Yankees, Zach Britton was taking warm-up pitches after rolling his ankle fielding a ground ball for the second out in the ninth inning. Birdland was holding our collective breath at that moment, but it seemed that Manny & Jon weren’t very worried.

In fact, they were adding another item to their entertaining Bromance list: ball tapping.

See, they’re just like us! Only one is a Brooks Robinson protégé & the other is a linebacker-sized man playing second base. Other than that…just like us!

And as our friends at Bird’s Eye View put it: “I love that Hardy is all ‘boys, don’t make me turn this car around.”

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#Staturday: Opening Day Walk-Offs Rare, Hot Starts Not (Under Buck)

Chris Davis of the Orioles watches a ball fly after swinging.

Baseball is back and so is Staturday! If it’s your first time to Staturday, you can find these and other stats on Twitter: @BirdlandStats. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

The Orioles opened the season with a bang, winning on an historic walk-off dinger:

Mark Trumbo became the first Oriole with a walk-off home run on Opening Day.

Manny also made some Opening Day history:

On Monday, Manny Machado recorded his 700th hit, becoming the 34th Oriole to do so.

In their second game of the season, Chris Davis launched the long ball, reaching a major milestone:

On Wednesday, Chris Davis launched his 200th home run in an Orioles’ uniform, becoming the 8th Oriole to do so.

Games (with the Orioles) to reach 200 home runs:

Robinson 1909
Anderson 1625
Ripken 1277
Jones 1217
Powell 1095
Murray 1057
Palmeiro 872
Chris Davis 776

Zach Britton started the season in a dominant fashion, picking up right where he left off:

On Friday, Zach Britton successfully converted his 51st consecutive save opportunity.

The Orioles have yet to lose a game in 2017. As it turns out, ever since Buck took the reins, hot starts are the norm:

The Orioles have started the season 3-0 in four of their seven seasons with Buck at the helm.

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Zach Britton’s Shaky Early Outings No Cause for Concern

Zach Britton looks into home plate.

The other day, I wrote a post titled “Let’s Draw a Bunch of Conclusions from One Game.” It was fun, but it was also, of course, a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Certainly, we can’t draw any meaningful conclusions from one baseball game, whether it’s the first game of the year or the 101st. Still, we baseball-starved fans needed something to talk about, and I was far from the only blogger to publish a post on what the Birds showed us on Monday. Full disclosure: I stole the idea from a San Francisco Giants writer, Grant Brisbee, (whom you should be reading).

One of my “conclusions” was that Zach Britton is Zach Britton. He allowed a couple hits Monday, sure, but they were on ground balls, and he still got the outs that he needed to.

However, Britton’s second outing of the year made Birdland even more uneasy. He again allowed two base hits, and as Mark Viviano pointed out on Twitter, at no point in all of 2016 did he give up multiple hits in consecutive outings.

He again got the ground ball he needed at the exact moment he desperately needed it, when Toronto had loaded the bases with just one out. But twice in a row, he played with fire. That’s not something we saw very often from Great Britton last season.

Zach has allowed seven baserunners – on five hits and two walks – in three innings pitched.

Queasy yet?

Fortunately, you shouldn’t be. Britton warned us about this before the season started, after he was only able to rack up five innings of work down in Sarasota, about half as many as he’d like to feel comfortable. Now he’s at eight innings of work this spring, so he should be getting more into the rhythm of things.

He was mostly missing below the zone, and one of the hits off him came on a pitch at the bottom corner of the rectangle, as we can see thanks to BrooksBaseball.net:

Zach Britton's strike zone plot vs. the Jays from game 2 of 2017.

He left a couple pitches up though, but thankfully his stuff is so good that the Jays weren’t able to do anything with them.

Just like you can’t draw *real* conclusions from one game, you can’t draw them from two. At this point, it’s just a little blip on the radar that we’re likely to not even remember in a week’s time.

Britton still owns baseball’s nastiest pitch. We aren’t likely to see many more bases-loaded or multiple-hit outings from him going forward.

Still, we’ll all be just a bit more nervous the next time AC/DC cranks up. Here’s to Zach quickly assuaging our fears.

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Friday’s O’s Links: Can Ubaldo Put it Together in his Contract Year?

Ubaldo JImenez prepares to wind up.

The O’s finally get into their real schedule starting tonight, with no more of this on-a-day, off-a-day nonsense. It looks like a chilly and windy night at the Yards this evening, so bundle up if you’re headed down. The weather looks much nicer for the final two games against the Bombers.

Let’s see what’s up in the Blog O’sphere today.

Why I think Ubaldo Jimenez is Going to Have a Good Season

Ubaldo makes his season debut against the Yankees tonight, hoping to carry over some of the momentum he managed to put together during his September surge last season. This is the final year of his four-year deal, and the first where, if he’s awful again, it might not be complete silliness from a financial standpoint for the team to just outright let him go. Hopefully, that won’t happen. Dan Connolly tries to convince us that it won’t.

Dylan Bundy Made the Blue Jays Look Silly

Nicolas Stellini of FanGraphs describes what we all witnessed the other night, which was Dylan Bundy completely goofing the Toronto Blue Jays’ potent lineup. Click over for the sweet 30-second clip of Bundy’s night, stay for lots of words articulating his particular brand of filth.

How to Enjoy Baseball

ESPN.com’s Sam Miller wrote a neat piece about ways to better enjoy baseball. The audience is folks who are only casual baseball fans, but even us diehards can pick up a thing or two here. Sage advice, Mr. Miller.

How Dylan Bundy Won: He Brought Back an Old Friend

We double-dip on both Dylan Bundy and ESPN this morning. Mark Simon has more on Bundy’s dominant outing against the Blue Jays. There’s a tidbit in there on Jose Bautista’s “efforts” that is sure to bring a smile to the faces of O’s fans.

Orioles Acquire Daniel Faulkner from Rangers; Release Dariel Alvarez

A bad week for Dariel Alvarez just got worse. After finding out that he’d probably need Tommy John Surgery just a couple days ago, last night he discovered that he didn’t even have a job any more, as the O’s let him go to make room for lefty reliever Daniel Faulker. They acquired Faulker from the Texas Rangers for the ol’ PTBNL and/or cash.

 

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Statcast Info Bogging Down MASN Broadcasts Already

A Manny Machado home run with Statcast data.

I tweeted a tweet that wasn’t met with the love I thought it would be, so I’m going to write about it.

My simple social media post:

The comment was panned a bit by the folks here at ESR, despite the fact they already knew I am a 90-year-old man when it comes to baseball. I despise SABRmetrics and the novelty of “Statcast” hasn’t worn off for me because it never wore on.

That being said ESR had a point when they said that it’s all about presentation. Unfortunately, because it’s new, the content is being overused and has become tedious at times. Perhaps, just perhaps, I don’t mind the stuff as much as I think I do.

Broadcasters these days already struggle to help fans understand why/how certain stats matter. Adding MORE of them seems like a bad idea.

I really like Gary Thorne, but I thought he was off his game in the opener.  He was spouting off every stat he had in front of him. Everybody preps for games and you have a myriad of stuff at your fingertips for a broadcast, but from experience I can tell you that you may never (and probably shouldn’t) mention two thirds of it.

Fans don’t need to know and don’t care that Joey Rickard once got licked in the face by a wayward dog while playing in Australia, unless a wayward animal gets on the field at Camden Yards. Similarly, show me the route efficiency of an outfielder on a fantastic catch or on a ball that seems like it should have been caught, but wasn’t. You’d find out if an outfielder is simply slow or if he doesn’t track the ball very well. Great info. However, I don’t need to see a guy catch a can of corn and the TV broadcast tell me there was a 99.4% probability that the ball would be caught.

I hate the way exit velocity is being used right now. It’s interesting, but for crying out loud it is not a statistic. If I hear “it’s the 14th hardest hit ball in the Statcast era,” I’m going to pull an Elvis and shoot my TV.

That being said, it CAN be used properly. Great info in a game last year when a player hit a home run and Statcast revealed that no ball hit with that low an exit velocity and trajectory had ever made it over the fence at that ballpark.

What a great time to declare Oriole Magic!

So, the folks at ESR are sorta right. The Statcast and metrics stuff comes down to presentation, but it also needs to add perspective. The MASN booth suddenly has a boatload more data to fill broadcast time with, and I fear that, at least for a while, they’ll misuse it and have the majority of their viewers – not just the “90-year-old” curmudgeons like me – rolling their eyes.

What do you think of the new Statcast data?
Love it. The more info the better!
Hate it. Give me AVG, RBI, HR!
In between. Announcers need to present it properly.
View Result

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Thursday Thoughts: Gausman, Mancini, and an Opening Day Homecoming

Trey Mancini of the Orioles leans forward in sunglasses.

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 was fortunate enough to attend my first O’s Opening Day in nearly a decade this past week. I flew out from Arizona over the weekend and got the whole experience of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and it was just as good as my first time. Twenty-five years later, she still has all the charm and majesty that she started with.

Opening Day was not only great because it was another victory, but it was a win over the Blue Jays. Fans treated our neighbors to the north with all of the welcoming spirit you’d expect. The boos for Jose Bautista were wonderful, and his zero in the box score under “hits” was even better. The warm welcome for Steve Pearce was also great, though his three-hit game not as much.

For all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game, the coolest moment for me was seeing longtime O’s radio voice Fred Manfra stroll out to throw a ceremonial first pitch. Sure, the orange carpet was cool and the win is great, but seeing Manfra toss one over the plate was heartwarming.

2. Aside from all of the surrounding distractions of Opening Day, a pretty good baseball game was actually played. It came with something, however, that concerned me a bit. Kevin Gausman was quite obviously amped up, and it showed in his lack of control. A total of 103 pitches over 5.1 innings isn’t going to get it done, but especially when only 57 of those pitches are strikes.

As our own Derek Arnold pointed out earlier this week, some of that had to do with poor pitch receiving from Welington Castillo. Some of it also could have to do with extra movement on Gausman’s pitches. Either way, he looked especially excited by the moment. After all, it was his first OD start.

Let’s just hope the flow of the season gets rolling and he gets into a better, more controlled groove.

3. News on the injury front continues to get a little better, day by day. Wade Miley is on board to make his first start Sunday while Darren O’Day has recovered from the flu. Chris Tillman is progressing slowly and has had no further setbacks as he continues to build up his arm with a target return of early May. He’s headed back to Sarasota for live batting practice soon.

There is however, a bit of a yellow light on that front after the O’s reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with Edwin Jackson last night. Perhaps the 33-year-old is just being brought on as an insurance policy. His numbers in recent years certainly don’t indicate he’s stepping right in and helping, but it’s nice to have options I suppose.

On the opposite end of the injury spectrum, the bad news for Dariel Alvarez hit yesterday. The former outfielder, who was converting into a pitcher, has the dreaded elbow injury and is likely heading for Tommy John surgery. Alvarez was slated for Single-A Delmarva, but is now sitting on the shelf as part of the 60-day disabled list.

I was very interested to see if Alvarez could develop as an arm for the O’s, something they were able to do previously with Mychal Givens, a former shortstop. That development will now be put on hold.

4. I was only slightly surprised to see Trey Mancini getting the start in right field last night. Many expected to see Craig Gentry in that spot against left-hander J.A. Happ, but Mancini is up in the big leagues for a reason. Buck Showalter obviously wants his bat in the lineup as regularly as he can get it there.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when moves are needed to get pitchers on the roster down the road. Will it be Mancini who is optioned, or perhaps Joey Rickard? Gentry would have to be passed through waivers, something I’m sure they organization doesn’t want to risk.

The one thing I would be willing to bet on is that the move comes from the outfield. There are so many options there for so few spots.

5. While it may seem like there’s jumping to a lot of conclusions after just two games, that’s the last type of person I am. A 162-game season is long and takes a while to play out. Conclusions take a long time to be resolved. I’m not going to fret too much over Gausman’s short outing in the same way that I’ll do my best not to get too hyped over Dylan Bundy’s brilliance. I also won’t fret over Mychal Givens’ continued inability to get left-handers out or the offensive stretches where the lights seem to go out.

I’m just happy baseball (that counts) is back. I think we all sit on the same side of the fence when it comes to that.

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Another O’pening Day, Another O’s Win

Oriole Park at Camden Yards from the right field corner.

Another Orioles Opening Day is in the books, and more importantly, another Opening Day in the win column is in the books. Were you one of the 45,667 fans there or were you one of the many who took pregaming to extreme lengths & can barely remember watching the game? I’m thinking there were definitely some folks with hangovers in the stands by the time the 11th inning rolled around.

Either way, the “O” during the National Anthem was loud & proud and the boos for Jose Bautista were quite impressive.

Opening Day 2017 had some awesome memorable moments. Of course, Manny was being Manny, throwing runners out from his knees. But let’s not look past Davis’ scoops! Color me impressed with those plays. Maybe we should call him Scoop Davis instead of Crush Davis?

For the sake of our love for the long ball, I can only hope he reminds us this season why we call him Crush.

Oh yeah, remember when half the stadium booed Hyun-soo Kim on Opening Day last year? Not a single boo this year, and I hope everyone who booed last year learned their lesson. Personally, I’m not one to boo my own player, but to each their own. Those boos should be saved for players like Bautista. I’ll boo him until I’m blue in the face.

The Orioles wouldn’t be the Orioles if they didn’t make us stressed out, frustrated & push us to the edges of our seats with extra innings. Of course they would go into extra innings on Opening Day, but thank the baseball gods for re-signing Mark Trumbo.

The first walk-off home run on Opening Day in Orioles history, on the 25th anniversary of Camden Yards. Storybook.

I mean, how else would we have wanted to win this game?

One more game against the Blue Jays & then it’s a weekend series against the New York Yankees, who started their season with an L, a wonderful L. It’s always a good time playing the Yankees, but I’m not going to lie: I will truly miss booing Mark Teixeira this year.

And rumor has it, Zach Britton is just two saves away from save number 122 in an Orioles uniform. Save number 122 would tie him with Jim Johnson (cue The Pretender) for the second most saves in club history.

No pressure, Zach. Birdland has your back.

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