Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

Flaherty comes to agreement with Orioles

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Flaherty comes to agreement with Orioles

Posted on 26 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have come to an agreement on a one-year contract with infielder Ryan Flaherty.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the sides agreed to a deal worth $1.075 million that includes a $25,000 bonus for reaching 400 plate appearances. The Orioles have five remaining arbitration cases to address: starting pitchers Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez, closer Zach Britton, and outfielders Steve Pearce and Alejandro De Aza.

Serving as the primary replacement for Manny Machado after the Gold Glove third baseman suffered a season-ending knee injury in August, Flaherty hit .221 with seven home runs and 32 runs batted in in a career-high 312 plate appearances in 2014. The 28-year-old hit .286 with a home run and four RBIs in the postseason.

When the Orioles and arbitration-eligible players exchanged figures earlier this month, Flaherty was asking for a $1.5 million salary while the organization came back with a $900,000 offer.

Serving as the primary utility infielder over the last couple years, Flaherty played six positions for the Orioles during the 2014 season.

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Toronto reportedly ends pursuit of Duquette

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Toronto reportedly ends pursuit of Duquette

Posted on 25 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Has the Dan Duquette saga finally reached its end?

According to a report from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, the Toronto Blue Jays have ended their pursuit of the executive vice president of baseball operations after the Orioles wouldn’t budge on their demand for 2014 first-round pitcher Jeff Hoffman and two other top prospects as compensation in a deal. News first broke of Toronto’s interest in Duquette becoming their chief executive officer and president seven weeks ago, but owner Peter Angelos had repeatedly stated that he expected his top front office man to fulfill his contractual obligation with the Orioles.

There had been conflicting reports in recent days that the sides were moving closer to an agreement, but the Orioles’ demands were quite lucrative in comparison to the modest deals involving executives in recent history. Of course, the organization didn’t take too kindly to a division rival attempting to poach Duquette in the middle of a critical offseason in which the Orioles are attempting to build on their 2014 American League East title.

Duquette remains under contract with the Orioles through the 2018 season, but his silence over the last several weeks made it clear that he was interested in accepting the promotion with the Blue Jays. With the story having stretched out for so long, it’s fair to question if Duquette remaining with the Orioles is really what’s best for the organization at this point if his heart is in another job.

Of course, nothing would appear to be stopping the Blue Jays from re-engaging in talks, at least until we hear from any of the involved parties publicly.

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Ripken issues statement on passing of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks

Posted on 24 January 2015 by WNST Staff

Hall of Fame shortstop and third baseman Cal Ripken issued the following statement Saturday on the death of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks:

“He was Mr. Cub and that spoke to both his play on the field and how beloved he was to the people of Chicago. Ernie was the first to make people view shortstop as a position of power and he was one of the all-time greats but what I will remember is his happiness and his love of the game. He will be missed by baseball fans everywhere.”

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Marcus Peters

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Ravens 2015 Mock Draft 1.0 +

Posted on 24 January 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

It’s never too early and it’s always fun to project an NFL mock draft, particularly on a day when the Senior Bowl will be broadcasting live from Mobile, Alabama. Draftniks such a myself simply live for this kind of stuff, and will keep a close eye on this game at 3:00 p.m. on the NFL Network. We’ll look for rising and falling players, to see who would look good in a Ravens uniform on April 30, 2015.

The Ravens has 6 picks in the 2015 draft, one in rounds 1 – 4, and 2 in the 7th. They got the extra 7th when they traded away Bryant McKinnie. The Ravens don’t have a 5th because they used it to acquire center Jeremy Zuttah, and they also gave up a 6th for a 7th rounder in a trade with the Browns in last year’s draft to acquire Michael Campanero.

The Ravens should get 3 compensatory picks due to the loss of Arthur Jones, Michael Oher, Corey Graham, and James Ihedigbo. Plus the Ravens should receive a 6th round draft pick from the Dallas Cowboys for the Rolando McClain trade. That should give the Ravens a total of 10 picks in this year’s draft. Since 1994 when the league started handing out compensatory draft picks, the Ravens have acquired 41. The next closest teams are the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers with 33. The Ravens have done a great job – easily the best in the league – in restocking their roster with compensatory draft picks.

I expect the Ravens to get a 4th, 5th, and 6th round compensatory pick from the league in the 2015 draft. Here is the direction that I think the Ravens are going to in the draft:

1. CB Marcus Peters – Washington.  The 6′ 198 pound junior was suspended from his team November 6, due to arguments with the coaching staff.  He’s not a bad guy, just very immature. The Ravens have a history of drafting immature prospects such as Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith.  Peters is arguably a top 15 prospect, and would certainly represent a “boom or bust” pick for Ozzie Newsome and company. The Ravens like to draft “red star” players, particularly this early in the draft. They also like to draft senior captains, and  Peters is neither a captain (obviously) nor a senior.  However, the Ravens were a shutdown corner away from advancing to the AFC Conference Championship, something that is not lost upon Newsome/DeCosta and company.  The much less riskier pick – Trae Waynes  - will be off of the board way before the Ravens pick, and the best of the rest (Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, PJ Williams) are undersized and have a future at nickel back in the NFL, and don’t make sense for what the Ravens are looking for in this spot. The Ravens could pick Ekpre-Olomu here (he’s a senior captain), but to me it would be a bit of a stretch.

2. WR Justin Hardy – East Carolina. He comes in at just under 5’11 and 190 pounds. He is the FBS career leader in receptions, he is a senior and a team captain. Hands like glue, great instincts, and feisty competitor. In the Senior Bowl practices this past week he’s displayed another gear while the ball is in the air. He has also shown the ability to gain separation, particularly when he is getting in and out of his breaks. The only weakness I’ve seen is that he’s about 50/50 on jump balls, where his (lack of) height is a bit of a hinderance. Other than that, Ozzie Newsome turns in his draft card quickly if Hardy is still there at #56 in round 2.

3. DE Nate Orchard – Utah. A 6’3″ 252 pound senior, Orchard signed with Utah as a wide receiver. That was obviously before his growth spurt, but it also shows the type of athlete that he is. With Dumervil and Suggs getting up there in age, and with the probable loss of Pernell McPhee to free agency, this pick makes sense here. He’s had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, and has really helped his draft status. Another name that we could possibly see here is Owamagde Obdighizuwa, a 6’4″ 266 senior DE from UCLA.

4. TE Maxx Williams – Minnesota. Only a redshirt sophomore, the 6’4″ 250 Williams looks an awful lot like Jason Whitten when your roll the tape. He is a bruising TE that does everything well. If he is gone by the time the Ravens pick, I still think they go TE in this slot, and take Jeff Heuerman, the 6’5″ 255 pound senior TE out of Ohio State. Heurman can flat out play, as his biggest problem in college was that the ball wasn’t thrown much in his direction.

4. RB David Cobb – Minnesota. A 5’11″ 229 pound senior, Cobb has been another Senior Bowl standout during practices. He has good vision, and he is a downhill runner – traits that will endear him to coach John Harbaugh. He doesn’t do anything particularly great, but does everything well, including pass blocking. With uncertainty at the running back position (Forsett, Pierce), this pick makes sense here.

5. DT Marcus Hardison – Arizona State. 6’3″ 311 pound senior, is a very active and agile player. With uncertainty with age and cap space consideration along the defensive line (Ngata, Canty) coupled with injury concerns (Lewis-Moore, Urban), the Ravens could use some young moldable clay here.

6. CB Nick Marshall – Auburn. The Ravens take a shot here with Marshall, Auburn’s starting QB who’s attempting to make the transition to CB at the pro level. At 6′ 2″ 205, he has desirable length for the position. He’s also a very good athlete, and is a worthy gamble. Plus the Ravens need corners you know.

6. ILB Taiwan Jones – Michigan State. 6’3″ 258 pound senior, he’s an “old school” linebacker who has been the most physical player at the East-West Shrine Bowl practices. He’s also proving that he can be a 3 down linebacker, and with Daryl Smith approaching the end of his career, Jones is a fit here.

7. CB Byron Jones – Connecticut. The 6’1″ 196 pound senior missed the entire 2014 senior with shoulder surgeries. His career has been plagued by injuries, but when healthy Jones has shown the ability to play. Good size and speed, he tackles like a safety and he was also a senior captain.

7. P Kyle Loomis – Portland State. At 6’2″ 222 pounds, the senior punter absolutely booms the ball. The Ravens can save $2.5 million dollars by cutting Sam Koch, and would only absorb a $600k cap hit. Koch is a heck of a punter, but Ravens make a business move here.

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Duquette story moving closer to its conclusion?

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Duquette story moving closer to its conclusion?

Posted on 24 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Opinions and reports vary on the future of Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, but this much has become abundantly clear about the story that’s now seven weeks old.

It needs to end.

There appears to be growing optimism about a deal being consummated with the Toronto Blue Jays that would allow Duquette to become their new president and chief executive officer. But we’ve heard this before and reports in recent days have painted different pictures of how imminent an agreement might be.

Of course, a deal won’t be official until we see Duquette formally introduced as the new boss in Toronto as compensation continues to be the biggest obstacle. According to ESPN, Toronto’s 2014 first-round pick and right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman has been discussed and would be a lucrative return in exchange for an executive compared to similar transactions completed in recent years.

But would one top prospect be enough for the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos? And are the Blue Jays willing to part with premium talent simply to hire a front office man, albeit a successful one?

There is some speculation that the Blue Jays could — and should — walk away from Duquette, but you wonder if that would be the best outcome for the Orioles at this point as the 56-year-old’s silence on the situation speaks volumes about his desire to go to Toronto. Trust will undoubtedly be a concern should Duquette remain with the Orioles.

Whatever the outcome, the Orioles would be wise to have a resolution in time for next Saturday’s FanFest in which Duquette has annually participated in fan forums. The saga has been disruptive for an organization trying to build on its 2014 American League East title this offseason, but it would be embarrassing for Duquette’s uncertain future to be out in the open for fans to see — and question.

It isn’t over until it’s over, but the developments of the last few days create hope that this matter will be closed sooner rather than later.

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Ravens to terminate defensive tackle Cody’s contract after Super Bowl

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Ravens to terminate defensive tackle Cody’s contract after Super Bowl

Posted on 23 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens announced Friday their intentions to terminate the contract of veteran defensive tackle Terrence Cody after the Super Bowl.

The timing of the move was unusual with Cody scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March anyway, but news of him being investigated for animal cruelty brought context as the 2010 second-round pick was already unlikely to return in 2015. According to The Sun, no charges have been filed yet and the case involves a dog.

Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged at his season-ending press conference earlier this month that the organization’s tolerance level has changed following an embarrassing offseason a year ago that included the Ray Rice saga and four other player arrests.

“It’s a privilege to play in the National Football League. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Ravens,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a standard to uphold there, and we expect them to. We’ve always expected them to do that. But I would think that it will be a little bit shorter leeway maybe than it’s been in the past.”

Re-signed to a one-year, $730,000 contract in early April, Cody was a non-factor for the Ravens in 2014 as he began the season on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason hip surgery. Activated in early November, Cody played in just one game as younger players passed him on the depth chart.

His termination brings a disappointing five-year run with the Ravens to an end as the Alabama standout never lived up to expectations. His best season came in 2011 when he started 16 games at nose tackle and made 34 tackles, but he was supplanted by veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu the following year and saw his playing time steadily decrease over the last three seasons.

Though not nearly as disappointing as fellow 2010 second-round pick Sergio Kindle, Cody will forever be remembered as a member of one of the forgettable draft classes in franchise history as only fourth-round tight end Dennis Pitta and fifth-round defensive tackle Arthur Jones went on to become reliable starters. Pitta is the only member of that class remaining with the organization, but his future remains unclear after suffering two serious hip injuries in 14 months.

In 57 career games, Cody has collected 87 tackles and two pass breakups.

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Orioles reach agreement with pitcher Steve Johnson on minor-league deal

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Orioles reach agreement with pitcher Steve Johnson on minor-league deal

Posted on 22 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles reached a minor-league agreement with right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson that keeps the Baltimore native home in addition to giving him an invitation to spring training.

The 27-year-old had surgery in September to remove a bone spur from his shoulder that limited him to just 13 appearances at Triple-A Norfolk during the 2014 season. The St. Paul’s product also had four combined appearances for Single-A Aberdeen and the Gulf Coast Orioles as he worked his way back from shoulder problems.

Johnson went 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA in 47 2/3 innings that included 40 strikeouts and 38 walks in 2014 as he did not appear in the major leagues after separate stints with the Orioles in 2012 and 2013.

He appeared on the verge of gaining a bullpen role for the Orioles in 2013 before injuries caught up to him the last two years. Not blessed with overwhelming stuff, Johnson hides the ball well in his delivery, leading to more strikeouts than you’d expect. However, he’s had control problems at various times throughout his career.

In 21 career major league appearances including five starts, Johnson owns a 5-1 record with a 3.67 ERA in 54 innings. He’s struck out 66 while walking 31.

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Report: Ravens alerted Indianapolis about Patriots’ deflated footballs

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Report: Ravens alerted Indianapolis about Patriots’ deflated footballs

Posted on 22 January 2015 by Luke Jones

With the eyes of the sports world staring a hole through the New England Patriots as reports of “Deflategate” dominate the countdown to Super Bowl XLIX, the Ravens continue to come up in the conversation.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Ravens were the ones who tipped off Indianapolis about the possibility of the Patriots using footballs that weren’t properly inflated. ESPN reported Tuesday night that 11 of 12 balls used by New England were discovered at halftime of the AFC Championship to be underinflated by two pounds per square inch.

Given the Ravens’ strong relationship with former defensive coordinator and current Colts coach Chuck Pagano, it wouldn’t be surprising for someone to have tipped off Indianapolis if there were legitimate gripes.

Head coach John Harbaugh downplayed any concerns about the Patriots using illegal footballs during their 35-31 win that ended the Ravens’ season in the divisional round two weeks ago. A CBS Sports report earlier this week indicated some Ravens players believed kicking balls were underinflated during their playoff game in Foxborough.

“It’s really not something that’s in the forefront of our mind. I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said. “The NFL is doing an investigation. They did call some of our people about it, and as far as I know — I didn’t know exactly what the conversations were — they answered honestly.

“We did not notice anything. We never had a ball that they were using on offense, so we don’t know anything about that in our game. We didn’t have a chance to handle any of their offensive footballs. As far as the kicking balls, it was 20 degrees outside. The balls were softer. Our guys told us during the game, and I just chalked that up to the fact that it was cold. Both teams were kicking the same kicking balls, so I didn’t really think anything of it during the game. Other than that, it’s not something that I’ve really given any thought to at all.”

Harbaugh may have felt awkward commenting publicly about the investigation as he enjoys a solid relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who endorsed the former Philadelphia Eagles special teams coach as an excellent candidate to coach the Ravens back in 2008. However, it’s possible that others in the organization expressed concerns and Harbaugh simply didn’t feel compelled to speak for anyone but himself on the matter.

Asked if the current allegations would cause the Ravens to wonder if similar shenanigans had taken place in the past, Harbaugh had no interest in discussing the hypothetical question.

“As far as in the past, I don’t really want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t have any comment on that.”

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon that he hadn’t spoken to anyone with the “NFL, NFL Security, or media” about the footballs not being properly inflated in the game against New England.

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Orioles spring training tickets on sale Saturday

Posted on 21 January 2015 by WNST Staff

Individual tickets for all 16 of the Orioles’ spring training games at Ed Smith Stadium will go on sale this Saturday, January 24 at 10:00 a.m. It is recommended that fans purchase tickets online or by phone.

Fans interested in season tickets, five-game flex-plans, or group tickets, or those wishing to receive additional spring training ticket information may call the Orioles spring training office at 941-893-6300.

Spring training tickets for Orioles home games at Ed Smith Stadium may be purchased in the following ways:

INTERNET: Tickets can be purchased at the Orioles’ official website, www.orioles.com/spring.

PHONE: Individual game tickets can be purchased by phone by calling 877-222-2802. Season, five-game flex-plans, group tickets, suites, and other specialty areas are available by calling 941-893-6300.

AT THE PARK: Individual game tickets can be purchased in person at Ed Smith Stadium in the Left Field Ticket Office, located at 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue. The box office will be open on January 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and will then be open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., from January 26 until February 13. From February 16 to April 3, the box office will be open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Parking is available in the East Lot, located on 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue.

TRAVEL PACKAGE: The Orioles are offering the official Spring Training Travel Package that includes hotel accommodations, rental car, game tickets, an exclusive pregame brunch with select Orioles team personnel, and a custom Orioles Spring Training merchandise package. For more information or to order travel packages, fans should visit www.orioles.com/springtravel or call 1-800-892-7687.

The Orioles will play their first of 16 home spring training games in 2015 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Wednesday, March 4 at 1:05 p.m. against the Detroit Tigers. 2015 marks the sixth consecutive spring training for the Orioles in Sarasota, and the fifth in the renovated ballpark.

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New Ravens coordinator Trestman eases concerns with first impression

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New Ravens coordinator Trestman eases concerns with first impression

Posted on 21 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The most frustrating aspect of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s departure was a fear that the Ravens would be forced to fix something that wasn’t broken.

After a 2014 season in which Baltimore set franchise records in points scored and total yards, head coach John Harbaugh knew he wouldn’t have to start from scratch like he did a year ago in his search for a new offensive coordinator and system, but the Ravens needed someone to keep the offense moving in the same direction. Former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman has been entrusted with the job, and the 59-year-old made it clear Wednesday that he doesn’t intend to bring sweeping changes to Kubiak’s version of the West Coast offense.

“My idea would be, ‘Why would I have 40-some guys learn a new offense when I’m just one person?’” Trestman said. “Isn’t it easier for me to learn it than to start over with everybody else including coaches? I think the formula going in is certainly to learn the language and the nuances of the offense and what has been established there with the coaching staff and with the players, and then move forward from there.”

This isn’t the first time in Trestman’s career that he’s followed in the footsteps of a successful offense as he replaced Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak as defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco’s offensive coordinator and quarterback in 1995, making him familiar with their version of the West Coast offense. Perhaps the biggest question had been how a new coordinator would impact the zone-blocking schemes the Ravens finally appeared to master under Kubiak last season and whether that style would continue.

Harbaugh made it clear he was looking for a coordinator to fit the vision that will remain for the Ravens’ running game even as Kubiak, quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani join the Broncos.

“I thought that Gary and Rick and Brian along with [offensive line coach Juan Castillo] really took that to another level as far as the nuance, the scheme,” Harbaugh said. “Because that’s something they’ve been doing all those years in Houston and in Denver, and they’re probably the four most guys around the stretch-zone. We’ve learned from that, and that’s a part of us now going forward, and we’ll keep it.”

With two decades of NFL coaching experience, Trestman has a good reputation working with quarterbacks, but many have pointed to his pass-happy tendencies as a potential conflict with the Ravens’ offensive identity. The Bears ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing attempts (355) while Baltimore rushed 448 times to finish 11th in 2014. Chicago ranked 19th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.1).

After being asked about using the shotgun formation in Chicago, Trestman reminded everyone that he’s worked in a variety of fashions, pointing out that he rarely ever used the shotgun in his years with Rich Gannon in Oakland. It’s all about adaptation for the new offensive coordinator while adding some wrinkles along the way.

Harbaugh made it clear that the new-found commitment to the running game established last season will not change, and he feels comfortable with his new coordinator buying into the same philosophy.

“It’s never going to be my offense. It’s always going to be the Ravens’ offense,” Trestman said. “John has a vision of playing continuity football and complementary football, and I think that’s what has allowed the Ravens to be so successful. They’re not just an offense, defense and special teams, but they play complementary football. That’s something that I’ve paid attention to and will certainly have in mind each and every day as we work within the framework of the offense.”

Of course, saying the right things in a January conference call is a far cry from executing a successful offense on Sundays in the fall. More critical to the Ravens’ fate than Trestman will be what general manager Ozzie Newsome does to address the running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions that all feature key free agents this offseason.

The NFL is more about talent than it is coaching with few secrets among the 32 teams in how the game is played. Trestman has an exceptional foundation with a 30-year-old quarterback — who shares a similarly calm demeanor — and a strong offensive line on which to build, but the other skill positions are filled with question marks as the statuses of Justin Forsett, Torrey Smith, Owen Daniels, and even Dennis Pitta remain unclear for 2015.

As was the case when Kubiak agreed to become the offensive coordinator a year ago, the Ravens have much work ahead to keep the league’s 12th-ranked offense from a year ago moving in the right direction.

“I think Ozzie and John, the way they handle the personnel, it’s really in their hands,” Trestman said. “Certainly, I’ll be the one to be flexible enough that when we bring in good players that we’ll develop them and get them ready to play. Don’t go in there with any pre-existing ideas of who’s there, who’s not there, what we need to do. There’s a tremendous personnel department here. I’m sure we’ll talk about different types of players, but ultimately it’s our job to coach the guys that Ozzie and John and our personnel department bring in.”

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