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Cruz maintains lead, Derek Norris closing on Wieters in AL All-Star voting

Posted on 22 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Cespedes, Norris vying to join A’s teammate Donaldson among American League leaders in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter Holding Off Ramirez in Bid to Start His Final Midsummer Classic; Four Different Teams Represented Among Leading Infielders

 

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and catcher Derek Norris of the Oakland Athletics continue to climb the American League rankings in fan balloting for the 85th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The next National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night after local rightsholder broadcasts announce the leaders.

Cespedes and Norris, two players who have filled pivotal roles in leading Oakland to the best record in the Majors at 47-28 (.627), are aiming to join their teammate Josh Donaldson among the A.L. leaders. The Athletics have not had a fan-elected starter since Jason Giambi earned a fan election at first base for the 2000 Midsummer Classic in Atlanta. In addition, Oakland has not featured multiple fan-elected starters since 1992, when first baseman Mark McGwire and outfielder Jose Canseco earned starting assignments. The Athletics have had at least three fan elections in a single season on five occasions since fan balloting began in 1970, including 1975 (Bert Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace); 1988 (Canseco, McGwire, Terry Steinbach); 1989 (Canseco, McGwire, Steinbach); 1990 (Canseco, McGwire, Rickey Henderson); and 1991 (Dave Henderson, R. Henderson, McGwire).

Cespedes has received 1,511,838 votes, which ranks fourth among A.L. outfielders behind leaders Jose Bautista (3,665,208) of the Toronto Blue Jays, Mike Trout (3,286,511) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Melky Cabrera (1,674,232) of the Blue Jays. Cespedes, who won the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field, is attempting to make his first All-Star Game. The Cuban native is batting .325 (25-for-77) in June and has seven home runs and 27 RBI over his last 32 games. Entering Sunday, he was tied for sixth in the A.L. with 36 extra-base hits and three triples, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, ranks 10th with a .509 slugging percentage and is tied for 10th with 19 doubles. In addition, the 28-year-old leads the Majors with nine outfield assists on the season, including eight over his last 23 games in the outfield. Three-time All-Star Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles remains close behind Cespedes in fifth with 1,490,000 votes, while Michael Brantley (1,284,901) of the Cleveland Indians, 2011 All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (1,264,746) of the New York Yankees, Nick Markakis (1,170,304) of the Orioles and eight-time All-Star Carlos Beltran (1,081,686) of the Yankees are all within striking distance.

Norris, also bidding for his first All-Star appearance, surpassed Brian McCann (1,344,076) of the Yankees for second place among A.L. catchers. The 25-year-old backstop, in his third Major League season, trails Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (1,852,770) by less than 400,000 votes. Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last week, batted .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI over 26 games played. Wieters, a two-time All-Star would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election, while Norris would join Steinbach (1987-88) as the only catchers in Athletics history to accomplish the feat. Norris, who is batting .342 (13-for-38) in June, entered play on Sunday tied for first among A.L. catchers on the season with eight home runs and 34 RBI, and ranks second with a .301 batting average. His 34 RBI have already matched his career-best set in 2012 and his eight home runs are one shy of his career-high of nine hit in 2013.

Donaldson, who has hit safely in six of his last seven games, is in line for his first All-Star selection. He has accumulated 2,436,771 votes to hold a comfortable lead over three-time All-Star Adrian Beltre (1,346,957) of the Texas Rangers. Donaldson, who finished fourth in A.L. Most Valuable Player voting in 2013, would become the first Oakland third baseman to earn a fan-elected start. He entered Sunday second in the A.L. with 55 runs scored, is tied for second with 15 go-ahead RBI, tied for fourth with 55 RBI, fifth with 18 home runs, tied for ninth with 142 total bases and tied for 10th with 31 extra-base hits.

Bautista, who remains the A.L.’s top vote-getter, is seeking his fifth All-Star selection and fourth consecutive fan election. The Dominican Republic native, who also led the Majors in fan balloting in 2011 (7,454,753), could become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista would also become the second player in franchise history to earn four fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar (1991-94). Entering play today, Bautista has reached base safely in 71 of his 76 games played this season, and leads the A.L. with a .432 on-base percentage and 59 walks, ranks third with 54 runs scored, seventh with a .524 slugging percentage, tied for eighth with 49 RBI, tied for ninth with 142 total bases, 10th with a .303 batting average and tied for 10th with 15 home runs.

Trout, who has the league’s second-highest balloting total, has reached base safely in 37 of his last 39 games and has 33 RBI in his last 33 contests. Trout has played in 405 career games and is the first player in Major League history to record at least 300 runs scored, 75 home runs and 75 stolen bases in his first 400 career games played. The two-time All-Star, who was a fan-elected starter in 2013, is bidding to become the fifth player in Angels history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1979-84) and Jackson (1982-84), as well as Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Guerrero (2004-07). At 21 years old last year, Trout became the youngest A.L. position player to start a Midsummer Classic since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. Over his last 24 games, Trout is batting .393 batting average (35-for-89). On the season, he ranks fourth in the A.L. with a .595 slugging percentage and 157 total bases, seventh with 54 RBI and tied for seventh with 16 home runs.

Cabrera, who represented the N.L. at the 2012 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City, ranks second in the Majors with 94 hits on the season and he is tied for sixth in the A.L. with 26 multi-hit games. He is aiming to become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Along with Bautista, the teammates are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera also ranks among A.L. leaders with five outfield assists (T-5th), 149 total bases (T-5th) and 47 runs scored (8th).

Thirteen-time American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, bidding for his ninth career fan election, has totaled 2,353,336 votes to remain ahead of Alexei Ramirez (1,933,117) of the Chicago White Sox. Jeter, who is hitting .271 with 16 RBI and 24 runs scored in his final season, would become the seventh player in A.L. history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey (10 with Seattle); teammate Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Over his last 11 games, Jeter is batting .356 (16-for-45) with three doubles, four RBI, seven runs scored and a .388 on-base percentage. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,385 hits, is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Henderson. Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, is tied for the A.L. lead with 26 multi-hit games, is tied for fifth with 84 hits and ranks eighth with a .311 batting average.

Forming a familiar tandem, Jeter is joined up the middle of the infield by second baseman and former teammate Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, a five-time All-Star, who has been elected the starting second baseman in each of the last four years, has received 2,007,055 votes as he remains in front of three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (1,338,272) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (1,264,329) of the Boston Red Sox. Over his last 31 games, Cano is batting .373 (44-for-118) with three home runs, 20 RBI, eight doubles and 19 runs scored. The stretch has propelled Cano to a .332 batting average, which ranks second in the A.L. on the season. With a fan election this year, he would become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). In addition, Cano would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history, and he could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Cano is tied for second in the A.L. with 28 multi-hit games, ranks third with a .392 on-base percentage and is tied for third with 91 hits.

Joining Cano on the right side of the infield is Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has garnered 2,645,000 votes to remain ahead of White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (1,420,294). Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star, leads the A.L. with a .403 batting average with runners in scoring position and 26 doubles, while he is third with 58 RBI and 38 extra-base hits, tied for fifth with a .320 batting average and 149 total bases, and sixth with a .548 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. Most Valuable Player is seeking his second fan election after earning his first career fan-elected start in 2013 as a third baseman. He would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, aiming for his first fan-elected starting assignment, has received 2,457,349 as he continues to hold off Boston’s David Ortiz (1,652,470), a nine-time All-Star who has earned each of the last three fan elections at designated hitter. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, is tied for first in the Majors with 23 home runs and ranks second with 60 RBI. He would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010). Along with Wieters, who currently leads at catcher, the duo would give the Orioles multiple fan elections in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow. The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTE LEADERS

FIRST BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — 2,645,000
Jose Abreu, White Sox — 1,420,294
Chris Davis, Orioles — 1,087,112
Albert Pujols, Angels — 1,040,316
Mark Teixeira, Yankees — 718,367

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Mariners — 2,007,055
Ian Kinsler, Tigers — 1,338,272
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox — 1,264,329
Jose Altuve, Astros — 932,978
Brian Dozier, Twins — 841,980

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees — 2,353,336
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox — 1,933,117
J.J. Hardy, Orioles — 1,259,268
Jose Reyes, Blue Jays — 871,633
Jed Lowrie, Athletics — 629,686

THIRD BASE
Josh Donaldson, Athletics — 2,436,771
Adrian Beltre, Rangers — 1,346,957
Manny Machado, Orioles — 1,182,098
Evan Longoria, Rays — 1,118,453
Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays — 758,043

CATCHER
Matt Wieters, Orioles — 1,852,770
Derek Norris, Athletics — 1,486,850
Brian McCann, Yankees — 1,344,076
Kurt Suzuki, Twins — 812,865
A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox — 810,050

DESIGNATED HITTER
Nelson Cruz, Orioles — 2,457,349
David Ortiz, Red Sox — 1,652,470
Victor Martinez, Tigers — 1,418,509
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays — 1,276,851
Brandon Moss, Athletics — 796,159

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays — 3,665,208
Mike Trout, Angels — 3,286,511
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays — 1,674,232
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics — 1,511,838
Adam Jones, Orioles — 1,490,000
Michael Brantley, Indians — 1,284,901
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees — 1,264,746
Nick Markakis, Orioles — 1,170,304
Carlos Beltran, Yankees — 1,081,686
Torii Hunter, Tigers — 989,715
Coco Crisp, Athletics — 748,013
Alex Rios, Rangers — 742,780
Brett Gardner, Yankees — 737,736
Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers — 699,751
Josh Hamilton, Angels — 696,991

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The theme of the 2014 season has begun taking shape through the first 68 games as the Orioles stand at 35-33 and 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East.

It could be worse. 

A 5-5 homestand doesn’t sound too devastating when acknowledging seven of those contests came against the two best teams in the AL, but it feels very underwhelming when the Orioles’ normally-maligned rotation provided nine quality starts against Oakland, Boston, and Toronto. A 5-2 loss on Sunday prevented Baltimore from taking three of four from the first-place Blue Jays despite a fourth straight quality start against an offense entering Sunday ranked second in runs and first in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) in the league.

No, they didn’t lose any ground to the first-place club in the division and remain firmly in the race in an underwhelming AL East, but the weekend and the homestand could have been better. The Orioles were electing to focus on the positive after Sunday’s loss.

“Not frustrating,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “They’re a good team. We could have gotten swept; we could have swept them. Look at the bright side — we got two out of four. Now, let’s go on the road and start the series off right [Monday] in Tampa.”

The loss came at the hands of Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who entered Sunday with a 4.37 ERA after giving up 12 earned runs in his previous three starts. The Orioles were held to a meager 29 runs over these last 10 games, with the high point of frustration coming in the Red Sox series when they allowed just one run total but still couldn’t complete a three-game sweep.

Any offense will go through its peaks and valleys over the course of a 162-game schedule, but the Orioles just haven’t been able to put it together. When they’re clicking offensively, the pitching has gone down the tubes, and the Orioles’ better stretches of pitching have come when the lineup struggles as it did during the second-longest homestand of the year.

Of course, the pitching issues were expected this season, but the Orioles entered Sunday ranked ninth in the AL in runs scored. The offensive inconsistency is that much more frustrating when they enter a rare stretch in which the starting pitching thrives.

“If you go through a little spell and you’re not swinging the bats well, your pitching allows you to stay competitive to that point,” manager Buck Showalter said. “So, it just depends how you want to look at it, but you’d like to have both of them clicking. But we haven’t been able to do that consistently yet.”

The silver lining in Sunday’s loss was the performance of right-hander Chris Tillman, who turned in his second straight quality start after a disastrous one-inning start in Texas on June 4 that had everyone questioning his status in the rotation. Both Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez have disappointed through the first 2 1/2 months of the season, but the rest of the rotation has pitched well recently, including 23-year-old Kevin Gausman after his latest promotion.

Even with others pitching well, the Orioles need Tillman to regain his 2013 All-Star form and can only hope his 13 innings of work during the homestand are steps in the right direction despite the two losses. Against Toronto on Sunday, he allowed three earned runs over seven innings, his longest outing since his complete-game shutout in Kansas City on May 16.

“We’re getting somewhere. Starting to feel like my old self,” said Tillman, who didn’t record any strikeouts or walks against the Blue Jays. “Making better pitches and feeling confident in the ability to make a pitch. Command the strike zone, that’s big. Made some big pitches at times, but also left some balls up.”

The Orioles’ long list of issues and misfortunes have been repeated over and over this year.

Catcher Matt Wieters will visit Dr. James Andrews for a second time on Monday and may officially learn he will need season-ending elbow surgery.

First baseman Chris Davis is on pace to hit roughly half the number of home runs he hit last year and shortstop J.J. Hardy is still looking for his first long ball of the season in the middle of June.

Third baseman Manny Machado has been a mess at the plate and fetched a five-game suspension for his embarrassing bat-throwing incident last weekend.

And Tillman and Jimenez have been the rotation’s worst two pitchers after being identified as the duo to lead the staff back to the postseason. The Orioles entered Sunday ranking 11th in starter ERA and sixth in bullpen ERA in the AL.

Still, the Orioles remain within striking distance and show no evidence of dropping out of the race anytime soon in such an underwhelming division. The problem is they’re not displaying any signs of being on the verge of snapping off an extended winning streak to stake their claim to the top of the division, either.

As we enter the second half of June, the Orioles have offered a vibe similar to last season — three steps forward, two steps back, two steps forward, three steps back.

Decent, but not good enough.

“It’s the game of baseball. Frustration is every day,” Jones said. “But that’s how the cookie crumbles. You can’t dwell on things. If you’re put in the situation, try and succeed. If you don’t, wait for another opportunity.”

Other opportunities will come, but you can’t help but feel the Orioles missed one over these last 10 games.

Yes, it could’ve been worse.

But it could have been better.

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles Lineup Makeover

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles Lineup Makeover

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Brett Dickinson

The week in Orioles baseball has been a memorable one, for better and for worse. After last week’s difficult 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals in which Adam Jones and Chris Davis stranded the tying run at third, questions surrounded manager Buck Showalter’s stubbornness with his everyday lineup. With Manny Machado playing every day and batting second, the Orioles most consistent hitter, Nelson Cruz, has now been moved down to the fifth spot.

After a week in which the Orioles have actually put runs on the board with Showalter’s “stubborn” lineup, the team has won just once. Cruz continues to impress, while it appears that Jones has settled in to the three hole with 8 hits in his last 4 games. Which begs the question: Should the Orioles make major changes to their lineup? 

 

FOR By: Brett Dickinson 

Though the Orioles had a decent week at the plate, that does not change the long-term reality for some “stars” in this current lineup.  At the top, Nick Markasis has been steady getting on base as needed with some many run producers batting behind him.  Manny Machado has struggled through his first several weeks, coming off a serious knee injury and missing out on the entire off season.  It may be hindering the team now, but getting the young superstar comfortable is much more important for this team’s success later on.  Hopes are he can start to turn things around and be the same type of player that filled the two hole for the Orioles last season.

But the heart of the lineup is where I see Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter really struggling with his inner demons.  He is consistently not putting his best hitters in the best situations to succeed at their highest level.  Nelson Cruz is certainly an extremely early MVP candidate, yet is left batting in the fifth spot.  Showalter has been loyal to a fault in his tenure with the organization; clearly evident with his handling of Jim Johnson and the closer role last season. The same can be said with the team’s highest paid player (and supposed team leader) center fielder Adam Jones.

When everyone watching the game knows the scouting report on a player (including my own wife, who knows baseball, but doesn’t follow it as intently as most fans), then there is a problem. Just the other night Adam Jones came to the plate; her exact quote as a slider was thrown to the outside corner, into the dirt:

“I’m surprised he didn’t swing at that one…”

Adam JonesJones plate discipline this season has been down right despicable.  Yet he still bats third in a lineup that has struggled to consistently score runs all season.  Buck needs to stop worrying about hurting his feelings and tell the young man he is moving down a couple spots.  It should not matter that he is the “face of the franchise;” if that were true, he should do what’s best for the team without hesitation.  Ideally, Chris Davis should move into his slot, because though he does not have the massive power numbers of 2013, he is getting on base at an alarmingly high rate, taking an massive amount of walks in the process.

This would lead to Nelson Cruz batting cleanup, where he has the potential to come to the plate with runners on base each and every time.  Doesn’t that seem like the smart decision for a guy that among the tops in the entire MLB in home runs and RBI? Moving the free swinging Jones down to the fifth spot should not hurt his approach either, because he really doesn’t have one at this point.  Whether he bats third, fifth or ninth, he is going to swing and swing a lot.

Time to stop being loyal to a player’s past performance and looking at his current contributions Buck!

 

AGAINST By: Barry Kamen 

In the month of May, it is very easy to overreact to things that happen during the course of an entire baseball season. Sure, no Oriole fan likes to see the middle of the order fall flat in a close game. But every fan LOVES it when 3 Orange Crushes leave PNC Park. There are ebbs and flows to every season. The goal of the Orioles in May is consistency, ensuring that the peaks and the valleys are not drastically far away from each other.

Manny MachadoOne way to ensure is consistency is with the lineup. The criticism surrounding Adam Jones is largely unwarranted. The free-swinger is what he is; a .280 hitter with above-average home run and RBI numbers for his position. Jones doesn’t walk, and he is going to strike out more than he should. Fan frustration should not be with Jones, but with the injuries that have plagued the team all season. With Manny Machado’s bat starting to come around after joining the team at the beginning of May, the entire lineup has produced as a result. Assuming no other injuries occur, the Orioles have one of the best 1-5 lineups in all of Major League Baseball. Not only is the top and middle of the order talented, but there are very few mysteries associated with each player. The biggest question mark could very well be Chris Davis, as he works to ensure that last year’s production was not a fluke.

Rather than tinker with the lineup, depth becomes the next issue for Showalter to deal with. David Lough has played himself out of the lineup, and the end might be nearing for the former Royal. With Delmon Young and Steve Pearce in the fold, there is very little reason to keep Lough. It will not be long before Steve Lombardozzi returns to the majors, and could make a significant impact at the bottom of the order. Until then, tread water in May, and prepare for the high tide in September.

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Tuesday night’s Orioles-Rays game postponed due to rain

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Tuesday night’s Orioles-Rays game postponed due to rain

Posted on 15 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Dealing with significant rain and falling temperatures throughout the day, the second game of a three-game set between the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays was postponed on Tuesday night.

No makeup date was immediately announced by the Orioles, but fans were encouraged to keep tickets and parking passes until more information was made available at a later time. Prior to the postponement, manager Buck Showalter suggested in his pre-game press conference that the possibility existed of playing a straight doubleheader on Wednesday, but the decision was made not to play a twin bill.

The Orioles and Rays will meet for a 12:35 p.m. game on Wednesday to conclude their series. Tuesday’s scheduled starter, Miguel Gonzalez, will start on Wednesday while Chris Tillman will be pushed back to Friday when the Orioles begin a four-game set in Boston. Gonzalez will be opposed by Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi.

The club also announced that the commemorative Jackie Robinson No. 42 jerseys players were scheduled to wear during Tuesday’s game would be used on a later date.

Jones, Meek sent home with illness

Before Tuesday’s game was postponed, the Orioles were preparing to play the Rays without the services of center fielder Adam Jones, who was sent home earlier in the day with an illness.

A nasty bug has made its way through the Baltimore clubhouse and has stricken others such as pitcher Brian Matusz and hitting coach Jim Presley. Relief pitcher Evan Meek was also sent home on Tuesday even though he wasn’t available to pitch anyway after he threw 1 2/3 innings in Monday night’s win.

The Rays had also changed their starting pitcher Tuesday afternoon as reliever Brandon Gomes would have filled in for Odorizzi, who was also dealing with an illness.

Machado update

Third baseman Manny Machado sprinted three times from 90 feet and three times from 180 feet and also took five at-bats in a simulated game played at the Orioles’ spring training complex in Sarasota on Tuesday.

According to Showalter, the 21-year-old was scheduled to run the bases on Wednesday in what represents the last major test before he prepares to start a minor league rehab assignment.

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles lineup finally broke out in a 14-5 win on Tuesday and received good news about the status of shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Though the 31-year-old was sidelined for the fourth time in five games while dealing with lower back spasms, manager Buck Showalter said prior to Tuesday’s game that Hardy would have been available to come off the bench if necessary. Of course, the convincing win over the New York Yankees made Hardy’s use unnecessary as the Orioles provided more than enough offense to support a shaky outing from starter Wei-Yin Chen.

“A lot better, much more available,” Showalter told reporters of Hardy’s status prior to Tuesday’s win. “I’m optimistic he’d be an option [Tuesday]. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. I wouldn’t have said that [Monday]. He’s improved, very close to being ready to start. … You can tell just by his face. So that’s good.”

With All-Star third baseman Manny Machado still on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from offseason knee surgery, the Orioles have been without a pair of Gold Glove defenders on the left side of the infield.

Left with a short bench, Showalter has been forced to use Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, and Jonathan Schoop at three infield positions, but the trio combined to go 8-for-15 with four runs scored on Tuesday to ease concerns about the bottom of the order.

With the Orioles scheduled to play a night game Thursday to conclude their three-game set with New York before an off-day, Showalter could elect to keep Hardy on the bench for one more game to be on the safe side before the Orioles return to Camden Yards to begin a six-game homestand.

Chen struggles again

Lost in the offensive explosion occurring in Tuesday’s win was another lackluster effort by Chen, who earned the win despite allowing four earned runs and nine hits in five innings of work.

In two starts, Chen has allowed eight earned runs and 21 hits over 10 2/3 innings. The Taiwanese lefty has yet to issue a walk this season, but he’s often been up in the strike zone while catching too much of the plate.

The Yankees and Red Sox did have their share of hits that weren’t exactly clobbered against Chen — suggesting he’s been unlucky on top of his overall ineffectiveness — but his start to the 2014 season continues a disturbing trend from the end of last season. Over his last nine starts dating back to Aug. 27, 2013, Chen has allowed 72 hits over 46 innings of work while posting a 6.65 earned run average and a 1.85 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Of course, Chen’s track record over the first two-plus seasons of his career suggests he’s much better than what he’s shown recently, but his lack of command within the strike zone has been alarming.

Bats finally wake up

After being held to just 22 runs in their first seven contests, the Orioles plated 14 runs and bashed 20 hits to quell premature panic about the offense. The last time the Orioles collected 20 hits was May 10, 2011.

All nine starters collected at least one hit and all but one (Matt Wieters) had multi-hit games. Wieters, Adam Jones, and Delmon Young each hit home runs to match the Orioles’ total of three long balls in the first seven contests of the year.

Wieters and Young each collected three runs batted in against Yankees pitching.

 

 

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Bovada sets Chris Davis 2014 home run total at 39.5

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV). Here are some of the more interesting player stats.

Baltimore Orioles

Chris Davis – Total HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season   

Over/Under                   39½

 

Chris Davis – Total RBI’s in the 2014 Regular Season  

Over/Under                   113½

 

Adam Jones – Total HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season  

Over/Under                   30½

 

Adam Jones – Total RBI’s in the 2014 Regular Season 

Over/Under                   95½

 

Nelson Cruz – Total HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season  

Over/Under                   25½

 

Matt Wieters – Total HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season  

Over/Under                   23½

 

J.J. Hardy – Total HR’s in the 2014 Regular Season      

Over/Under                   24½

 

Nick Markakis – BA in the 2014 Regular Season           

Over/Under                   .285

 

Ubaldo Jimenez – Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season       

Over/Under                   12½

 

Chris Tillman – Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                   11½

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Strawberry says Adam Jones should speak up to O’s front office about improving

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Strawberry says Adam Jones should speak up to O’s front office about improving

Posted on 28 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Should Adam Jones, others be more vocal about Orioles’ offseason?

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Should Adam Jones, others be more vocal about Orioles’ offseason?

Posted on 23 January 2014 by Luke Jones

A pair of All-Star players recently provided differing takes on the Orioles’ offseason that spark an interesting debate with the start of spring training less than a month away.

First baseman Chris Davis expressed concern last week that the club has yet to add a veteran starting pitcher to help anchor the rotation while center fielder Adam Jones offered a softer stance to MLB.com this week in saying that the Orioles don’t need high-profile names to contend this season.

“My expectations, personally, are always with the team,” said Jones, who signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract in the spring of 2012. “I know one thing about us – we’re going to be ready to grind and show up ready to play. We don’t need the bigger names on the jerseys. We don’t need all that. We just need 25 men who are ready and willing. We’re all for the common goal. Right now, I know that [manager Buck] Showalter is going to pick the best 25 for Opening Day to ride into the sunset with.”

It’s no secret that disenchantment reigns supreme among fans with the acquisitions of 28-year-old left fielder David Lough, relief pitcher Ryan Webb, and right-handed designated hitter candidate Delmon Young highlighting an underwhelming winter that follows the Orioles’ second consecutive winning season — but one that did not include a second straight postseason berth. Baltimore’s projected payroll for the 2014 season currently sits in the neighborhood of $83 million, down almost $10 million from where it was at the start of 2013.

Those realities raise the question of what place standout players such as Jones and Davis hold in voicing their concerns over the direction of the club. While they’re obviously employees who want to remain in good standing — specifically Davis, who just received a $7.05 million raise and isn’t scheduled for free agency until after the 2015 season — it’s also human nature as competitors to become frustrated watching the organization trade closer Jim Johnson in a salary dump and allow others to depart without adding any significant names to augment an 85-win club from a year ago.

Veteran right fielder Nick Markakis famously questioned the direction of the Orioles in the summer of 2010 after a horrendous 18-48 start to the season, but those comments came under far bleaker circumstances.

If you’re Jones, Davis, or any other notable player, is there an appropriate way to hold your employer accountable without damaging your working relationship beyond repair?

Is it too big of a risk to make critical remarks that could be interpreted the wrong way by current teammates and potentially damage the clubhouse culture?

Since he’s signed through the 2018 season, does Jones hold a longer leash than any other teammate to question whether the club is sincerely trying to get better? If so, should he use that freedom to voice concerns as the leader of the team and as one who’s never shied away from speaking his mind?

Most importantly, does it even really matter if he does?

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Is Adam Jones’ Contract Bad for the Orioles?

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Is Adam Jones’ Contract Bad for the Orioles?

Posted on 02 January 2014 by Thyrl Nelson

 

I wonder what it would be like to be a fly on the wall of the Adam Jones house this off-season. Jones, the unquestioned leader of the Orioles has never been shy about voicing his opinion. He’s lashed out at his critics, at critics of the team, at the media from time to time and even at fans who may have left games too early for his liking. In an off-season where the organization has done nothing to appease its fans, those fans have begun to sound off about their displeasure. If Jones is the leader that he claims to be, the leader that he seems to be, the leader that we need him to be, then it’s time he lashed out at this organization with the same spirit, pride and vitriol that he’s been willing to exercise on those outside of it. The Orioles aren’t listening to our concerns, maybe they’ll respond to his.

If we’re not happy, then Jones can’t be happy. He just finished up the first year of a 6-year contract extension, He earned less in 2013 than he would have gotten in arbitration had he not taken a leap of faith on the Orioles, and the 5-years and $77 million that he has remaining on that deal are laughable in comparison to the deals that older and arguably less valuable players have been handed in this, the off-season in which Jones would have been a free agent himself.

It’s a fair bet that Jones in free agency could have gotten $25-$50 million more over the next 5-years than he’s due to make under his current deal. It’s feasible he could have gotten 2 or 3 more years on a deal this off-season than he has on his current one too. And what are the Orioles doing with the savings? How is the club rewarding its leader for the hometown discount he’s given them? Maybe they’re saving up for his next contract.

The off-season isn’t over yet, but the Orioles are looking more and more like the organization we’ve been accustomed to over the last decade and a half than the one that we’d hoped they were becoming. And it looks like Jones will have plenty of opportunity to understand the fans whose frustration he was unable to understand or empathize with before. Jones will find out what the fans are feeling, the same way that Brian Roberts, and Miguel Tejada, and Nick Markakis and so many others forced (or tricked) into giving the best years of their careers and the best years of their lives to an organization that’s not committed to winning.

Old habits die hard, and old dogs don’t learn new tricks. We’d hoped otherwise but little has changed in Baltimore since the dismantling of the 1997 team and reluctantly we’re all accepting that it won’t change anytime soon. And Adam Jones will learn to accept it as well…like it or not.

Jones has been the Orioles best and most natural leader and “face of the franchise” since Cal Ripken. As fans we can appreciate that even if Jones can’t appreciate the reasons for our pessimism. I wonder how much Jones really knows about the history of Ripken and the Orioles. I wonder if he knows about the “Ripken Cap” or the artificial salary ceiling that the Orioles had when nobody was allowed to earn more than “the face of the franchise”. It’s a safe bet that rather than using the savings Jones has given the Orioles, they’ll instead use his salary as a reason (or excuse) not to pay anyone more than his heavily discounted, highly team friendly, well below market annual salary.That won’t bode well for keeping talent like Chris Davis or Matt Wieters around or for adding future talent through free-agency. Leave it to the Orioles to make one of the better value deals in baseball today into a detriment to the team.

Enjoy your stay in Baltimore Adam…this is how we reward loyalty.

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Markakis GG 2013

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GOLD GLOVE AWARD COMMITS ERRORS

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Tom Federline

The Orioles became the best defensive club in a major league season this past year. They were “charged” with 54 errors – pretty impressive. At times during the year, the Orioles fielding prowess was the only thing worth watching when tuning into the O’s. But did they really establish a new record? How many full games or parts of games did you see this year? I’ll say, I saw parts of 50%. Of that 50%, I saw at least 15+ errors that were never charged (not all on the Orioles). Whatever happened to – “If it hits the glove and you do not make a play – it’s an error”? Whatever happened to – “If you throw the ball and it is not within 5 feet of the intended player – it is a throwing error”? You have to wonder who or what entity controls the “official scorer”.

The Orioles were awarded 3 Gold Gloves for 2013. In my book, the total number of 3 was right. It’s just that I thought 2 out of the 3 were wrong. Those awarded: a) Machado – a no brainer, he deserved it. b) JJ Hardy – solid and reliable, shades of Cal – when the ball is hit to him, 98% of the time a guaranteed out. Quite refreshing. c) Adam Jones – one of the best. Two things benefited Jones this past year: 1. No one else really came close to playing as many games in centerfield this year, thus he had the most chances and 2. Jones fell into the category of “not being charged with” errors when I saw at least 5 errors he committed early in the year. A few rebuttals here were that Yunel Escober of the Tampa Bay Rays committed the least amount of errors at SS and had close to the same amount of chances as Hardy. Mike Trout (LA Angels), 1 error in center (not as many chances as Jones though) And the Tampa Bay Rays in general – they ended up with the second best defensive stats in the Major League but were awarded no gold glove winners.

The 2 obvious Orioles that were overlooked were Chris Davis and Nick Markakis. Wieters also proved a nice case for himself. Chris Davis committed fewer errors than Eric Hosmer (winner with KC), while tallying approximately the same number of games played and chances. The glaring atrocity of the GG Awards this past year was that the best right fielder in baseball (American and National Leagues) was spurned again. Nick Markakis played the most games of any right fielder (AL), had the most chances of any right fielder (AL) and was charged with ZERO errors. That’s right people, a 1.000 fielding percentage and he does not win the Gold Glove. Can you say “fix”? The GG Award is supposedly voted on by managers and coaches……are they blind, ignorant or bought? Wait-a-minute, they did add another supposed measurable component this year – Sabermetrics (SABR). In our misguided world of Information Technology and everything must be measured by numbers – a group of geek numbnuts who have probably never stepped onto a baseball field, came up with some sort of indexing of defensive stats. SABR this! Once again, no “Respect” – (Aretha Franklin) for Nick. It’s wrong, man. Just all wrong.

Shane Victorino (Boston – need I say more), was the recipient of the tainted
GG glove in right field for the American League. I am not going to go through every position in the American League – I do not have to. There is enough evidence with just the Oriole players that have been mentioned. The Gold Glove Award became a joke when Cal Jr. was spurned many a time throughout his career due to the “flashy” Omar Vizquel. And then of course there was the infamous Rafeal Palmeiro incident of 1999, when he played 28 games at first base and WON the Gold Glove. Paleease people, was the selection committee also on steroids?

The Gold Glove Award – an award that you hope a true dedicated baseball player would covet. An award that should be the reflection of an acquired high skill level that all started with a glove, a ball and a wall. An award you hope could not be tainted. Unfortunately it has been. It is a shame that the selection committee for a prestigious award commits obvious errors when near perfection should be rewarded.

Enough, let’s end on a positive…….. at least the Baltimore Orioles were recognized. Kudos to Machado, Hardy and Jones – they earned it. They are in the upper echelon in fielding at their position. The Baltimore Orioles are blessed with great defensive talent at almost every position. We the fans are the beneficiaries. The past few years it has seemed like old school – glimpses of the Oriole way.
GO O’s. T-minus around 106 days until the beginning of Preseason baseball. Lookout Sarasota.

D.I.Y.
FEDMAN

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