Tag Archive | "Baltimore Orioles"

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B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles First Half Awards

Posted on 11 July 2014 by WNST Staff

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

As the All-Star is steadily approaching, it is time to look back of some of the best and worst for the Orioles first half.

MVP (BK): Undoubtedly, Nelson Cruz. The best free agent signing this off season in all of Major League Baseball is paying off in spades, and it seems as if he refuses to come back to Earth. As of Friday morning, Cruz is tied for the most home runs in the majors, and is in sole possession of the RBI category with a whopping 74 prior to the All-Star Break. Coupled with a .291 batting average, and you have yourself a legitimate MVP candidate that is the main reason that the Orioles are in first place in the American League East.

LVP (BK): There are a couple of worthy candidates, but pinch running specialist David Lough takes this award. Acquired from Kansas City for Danny Valencia, all signs in spring pointed to Lough being the starting left fielder and a capable leadoff hitter that would make fans forget about Nate McClouth. Today, he finds himself buried on the Orioles bench, receiving an occasional start in left field when Cruz and Steve Pearce have sore backs from carrying the offense. At this point in the season, Lough has little to no value to a first-place team. The time has come for the Orioles to designate Lough for assignment, and recall Jemile Weeks or Steve Lombardozzi.

Biggest Surprise (BD): This again has to be Nelson Cruz playing at a career level in Baltimore. When signing the one year deal in the off season, he was obliviously trying to prove the MLB that he could bounce back after his 50 game suspension for PED use last season.  No one could have expected this out of Cruz or teams would have been lining up for his services, instead of letting him slip through the cracks until the waning minutes before the season started. He is probably the biggest steal of the off season and in Orioles history, considering he could end up being the league MVP.

Chris DavisBiggest Disappointment (BD): Several players have not lived up to expectations so far this season, but Chris Davis has been the biggest disappointment. After his record-setting 53 home runs for the Orioles in 2013, many expected him to continue to torture opposing pitchers. Though it is not as bad as many are making it out to be, as he does have a good OPS, he is not hitting for any average. His power numbers are also drastically down from last year’s torrid pace.

Best Roster Move (BD): Duh, signing NELSON CRUZ. See MVP and Biggest Surprise

Worst Roster Move (BD): This is a tough one since this team tinkers so much with its MLB roster so regularly. But it has to be the Yo-Yo the organization has played with its top overall prospect and arguably best pitcher on the team in Kevin Gausman.  Let the pitcher get comfortable into a MLB routine and hold down a spot within a below-average rotation. Honorable mention goes out to Steve Lombardozzi wasting away in Triple A, after proving he could be a valuable piece with his versatility and a much better hitter than the likes of Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop.

Best Hitter (BK): This is getting redundant; Nelson Cruz

Zach BrittonBest Pitcher (BK): In whatever role he has been asked to fill, Zach Britton has done it at a very high level. When the season started, Britton was good for 4-6 scoreless innings in relief every week. When Tommy Hunter failed to record clean 9th innings and eventually landed on the disabled list, Britton has become a surprisingly good closer, recording 15 of 17 save opportunities with an earned-run average of 1.33. Going into the season, there were legitimate questions of Britton making the team if he did not earn the fifth starter job. Now, I cannot imagine this season without Britton in the backend of the bullpen, using his newfound velocity on his fastball to mystify hitters from both sides of the plate.

Biggest question for the 2nd half (BK): Can they sustain it?

At 50-41, the Orioles could conceivably play .500 baseball the rest of the way and win the American League East division. With the injury bug greatly affecting the Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie) and the Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda), the Orioles are looking better and better each day. This Orioles team still has ways to improve, but in a game of good health and least flaws, the Orioles are in first place in both categories.

Will Ubaldo continue to frustrate Orioles fans with 5 IP, 5 BB outings? Will Kevin Gausman be in this rotation for good? Will Steve Pearce continue to be the hero that Charm City needs? Or will responsibilities fall to Super Manny?

It should be a fun second half, Baltimore. Buckle Up.

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Eric Davis says Derby concerns for Adam Jones real because event is too long

Posted on 11 July 2014 by WNST Audio

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Former Oriole Powell wonders if Weaver could’ve handled argument-less baseball

Posted on 08 July 2014 by WNST Audio

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Machado Suspension Not Actually A Big Deal

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Machado Suspension Not Actually A Big Deal

Posted on 03 July 2014 by Brandon Sacks

From June 6-8, the Orioles played the Oakland A’s in their first head to head series of the year.  On the sixth, Manny Machado had a bit of a meltdown and threw his helmet after an incident where he felt he was tagged too hard.  Two days later, he “accidentally” threw his bat at A’s pitcher Fernando Abad.  For these two incidents, Manny received a five game suspension from MLB, which was upheld after being appealed.

It seemed like this was going to be the most inopportune time for Machado to be forced out of the lineup, especially with his bat heating up.  The Orioles offense was not explosive as fans know it to be in the games leading up to the suspension.  He also is one of the best defensive players on the Orioles’ roster.  While he has not played to the same quality as when he won the platinum glove award last year, he has still been very dominant at third base this season.  When others were playing at third while Machado was coming back from his knee injury, it was evident that the birds missed number 13.

Not so much anymore.  Three games into the five game suspension, the Orioles are 3-0, outscoring the Rangers by a combined 21-8.  Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty have both played well above average defense at third.  The offensive output from the position, while minimal, has included the go-ahead home run by Flaherty last night.

Is the Machado suspension really the worst thing that has happened to the Orioles this season?  It seems like this season, more than any, the birds have done really well in the face of adversity, from the Machado injury to the Wieters injury to the suspension and more.  No matter what has happened, they have found a way to continue winning, and they have been able to stay in the race for the AL East.  As long as the Orioles continue to connect on offense like they have over the past three games, they will be on the verge of becoming the AL East powerhouse that has been mysteriously absent throughout this entire season.

Now if only we could work on our starting pitching…

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Fangraphs’ Minnix thinks change of scenery reason why ex-Orioles pitchers succeeding

Posted on 21 June 2014 by WNST Audio

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B&B Big Story Banter: If We Were the Orioles…

Posted on 14 June 2014 by WNST Staff

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen 

BK: Another week of Orioles baseball means another set of highs and lows for a team that finds itself fighting for second place in the American League East. The starting pitching has been the team’s bright spot, with Bud Norris, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman combining for just 1 run allowed in 21 innings during the rain-filled series with the Boston Red Sox. Kevin Gausman also had his best week as professional, going 2-0 and out-pitching Sonny Gray and Mark Buehrle against the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays respectively.

Despite the great starting pitching, the week was marred by another poor outing from Ubaldo Jimenez and the antics of 3B Manny Machado during the series with the Athletics. If the Orioles are going to compete for a playoff spot in a very winnable division, the team will need both Jimenez and Machado to regain their 2013 form rather than continuing at the pace that they are on.

The news of Manny Machado’s 5 game suspension (which he has appealed) shocks no one who follows the Orioles. Machado’s helmet-slamming and bat-throwing actions were both immature and inexcusable, providing an already potent Athletics team with more motivating to win a series during a difficult road trip. So Brett, I ask you this: if you were the Orioles, how would you go about handling the Manny Machado incident? Was appealing the suspension the right call?

Manny Machado Josh DonaldsonBD: Barry, knowing this organization, I already knew this would be a PR nightmare; and they didn’t disappoint.  First off, having a MASN exclusive interview with him after the incident is simply a joke. We all know who is signing those checks for the TV network and we have seen this many times in the past. Then nobody in the organization has the balls to sit the young man down.  The players had to take action, since it was clear nobody else was.  Embarrassing.

There was no reason at all he should have played that game on June 7th, after his actions the night before with Oakland A’s 3B Josh Donaldson.  Buck should have realized that he was out of control then and benched him on the spot.  As a 21 year old, sometimes you need to be knocked down a peg or two, before things really get out of hand…like they did two days later.  And by having Chen hit Donaldson that same night, it was just a terrible sign of how this team thinks.  “We like OUR guys” does not mean you have to back them even if they were egregiously wrong.

Now after the episode on June 9th, everyone now sees Machado as a spoiled brat and dirty player.  The organization should have been proactive in this situation and made a point throughout their dugout.  Allowing him to play the night after not only is an embarrassment to the Orioles, but is a sign that Buck Showalter may not be the man for the job.  He proved that he does not have the where with all to stand up to a star player and put him in his place.

Now the appeal is just common practice in the MLB, as their is no repercussions for trying, so why not appeal and hope for a lesser sentence.  As a legal move it makes a lot of sense. As a personal move, if Machado really wanted to prove his sincerity, he just lets this one slide, accepts his punishment as a man and comes back ready to play in five days.

Now on to some good news for the O’s, as they have seen top prospect at least fulfill his expectations for his past two starts, after being called back up to the big leagues.  Thirteen innings, two earned runs and nine strikeouts may be the best two game stretch for any Baltimore pitcher this season (oh by the way the team won both games). If you were the Orioles, what do you do with Kevin Gausman and the starting rotation when Miguel Gonzalez  returns from injury? Is a 6-man rotation still a possibility?

Kevin GausmanBK: I had the privilege of getting a Manny Machado bobblehead (insert joke here) and watching Kevin Gausman in person last Saturday. Prior to the game, I had my doubts about how the evening would play out. Gausman’s first start of the year was against a division leader, with the opponent’s ace taking the mound. Under eerily similar circumstances Gausman rose to the occasion. What made the former LSU product so impressive was the velocity on his fastball (consistently hitting 96-97 mph) and the ability to ramp it up when needed. In the 6th inning, with runners on second and third and one out, Gausman struck out Athletics’ third baseman Josh Donaldson with a phenomenal off-speed pitch, followed by a 99 mph heater to  ring up cleanup hitter Brandon Moss that reminded me of Justin Verlander. By getting out of a jam by striking out the heart of the Athletics’ order, Kevin Gausman had arrived.

After another impressive start from Gausman on Thursday against yet another first place team, it is time for him to become a full-time member of the rotation. Of all of the Orioles starting pitchers, Gausman has already drawn three of the most difficult matchups on the season. By challenging him early, the team is preparing Gausman well for tough division games in August and September. With two straight quality starts, sending the 23-year old back to Norfolk or placing him in the bullpen would be misguided.

The idea of a six-man rotation was first brought up when Johan Santana was added to the roster. The idea was short lived, as Santana tore his Achilles during a start at extended spring training, ending his season. Although Buck Showalter has said that he does not want to go to a six-man rotation to sacrifice an arm in the bullpen, the team has the arms to do so. The extra day of rest for starting pitchers would benefit Chen and Gausman the most, while also giving the team more time to work with Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez on their early inning struggles. The Orioles also have four bullpen members who have starting experience (Tommy Hunter, T.J. McFarland, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz) that are capable of throwing two-plus innings if needed. This would require the team to make Darren O’ Day the closer, or a by committee approach.

The most likely scenario is for Gausman to stay in the rotation, while Miguel Gonzalez moves to the bullpen. Prior to the oblique injury, Gonzalez had put together a string of nice starts in May. The Orioles have a need for a right-handed reliever to work the 6th and 7th innings when starters like Jimenez and Chen produce high pitch counts, and Gonzalez has experience coming out the bullpen. There is room for both pitchers in a six-man rotation, but the Orioles don’t value the risk-reward as much as others.




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Orioles Sox

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Orioles Still Not Getting National Respect They Deserve

Posted on 12 June 2014 by Brandon Sacks

Last night, the Orioles finished up their series against the Boston Red Sox on national television.  Wei-Yin Chen pitched seven innings of shutout baseball on the way to a 6-0 victory over the Sox.  The entire country got to watch the pitchers shut down the defending champions for the second time in three days.  The Orioles allowed one run in the series and, had the birds been able to hit during the second game, could have easily swept the Sox.

After this past game, the question rises about how often the birds play on national television.  It seems like every time the Orioles make an appearance on ESPN or FOX that they are playing either the Red Sox or the Yankees, which is slightly ridiculous.  The Orioles are scheduled to make 12 national appearances over the course of the 2014 season, five of which will not be against Boston or New York.  Three of these five games will be against the division opponent Rays, who were expected to be much better than they are showing to be.  In other words, the Orioles will appear nationally in two games they do not play divisional foes.  Only the FOX corporation (once against Oakland on FOX, once against St. Louis on Fox Sports 1.

It seems like the national media, especially ESPN, does not respect the Orioles as much as they should.  It’s nice to see the birds once again playing in the national spotlight, but it would be nice to see them playing games outside the AL East.  Over the past two years, the Orioles have a winning record against Boston and have played very well against New York.  If this is the case, then why do the Orioles continue to play these two teams almost exclusively?  It doesn’t make sense at all.

Over the past two and a half seasons, the birds have worked to throw away all memories of the terrible play that lasted over a decade.  The birds have done their jobs, so why is the national media not responding by giving them playing time to the rest of the country?  The Orioles finally have made appearances on ESPN, even hosting games in the national spotlight, but this little reintroduction is not enough.  The national media does not respect the Orioles.  That seems like the only logical explanation.  Why else would the Orioles play the majority of their nationally televised games within their division?

The Orioles have proven time and time again that they are able to play outside of their own division and do it well.  While the respect seems to be returning slowly, it isn’t coming back fast enough.  It’s a shame to see this, especially from a team that just allowed one run over an entire series against the defending World Series champions.

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Orioles Nation’s Blair fearful Orioles putting P Gausman in bad position

Posted on 07 June 2014 by WNST Audio

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A’s PBP voice Korach thinks bad luck factor in former Oriole Johnson’s struggles

Posted on 06 June 2014 by WNST Audio

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Cruz Homers In Return To Arlington, Orioles Take Series Opener

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Cruz Homers In Return To Arlington, Orioles Take Series Opener

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Brandon Sacks

The third of June was the day that was probably circled on the calendar of Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz.  This was the day that he finally returned to his former team, the Texas Rangers, to play for his new team.  Many wondered if the Rangers fans would give him a warm welcome back or if they would boo him.

That question was answered in the first inning, as Cruz was batting third in the lineup.  When he walked up to the plate for his first appearance of the night, the fans all applauded.  After the game, Cruz told reporters that it felt good that everyone was happy to see him.

They probably weren’t happy to see that he has not changed at all.  Cruz drove in his league leading 21st home run in the top of the 8th inning to put the Orioles out of reach.  His 3-run homer was part of a six run inning that led to the Orioles’ eventual 8-3 victory in the series opener against the Rangers.  Even though Cruz went 1-4 at the plate, his three run bomb made the game quite the homecoming for Cruz.

Let’s hope that his run production continues.  The birds will need two more high scoring performances if they want to keep beating the Rangers in Texas.

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