Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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2017 Orioles preview: Mark Trumbo

Posted on 23 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty
Brad Brach
J.J. Hardy
Ubaldo Jimenez

OF Mark Trumbo

Opening Day age: 31

Contract status: Under contract through the 2019 season

2016 stats: .256/.316/.533, 47 HR, 108 RBI, 94 R, 2 SB, 667 PA

Why to be impressed: The slugger had the best season of his career at the plate, setting new highs in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, runs scored, extra-base hits, OPS, and offensive wins above replacement. A big reason for this improvement was better plate discipline as Trumbo swung at fewer pitches outside the zone and had his lowest swinging-strike percentage since 2011.

Why to be concerned: After earning his first invitation to the All-Star Game since 2012, Trumbo struggled with a .214 batting average and .754 OPS in the second half of the season. He entered 2016 with fairly similar career numbers against right-handed pitching and left-handers, but he managed just a .173 average and .608 OPS against southpaws, which is something to keep an eye on this season. 

2017 outlook: Expecting Trumbo to repeat what he did in the first half of 2016 would be asking a ton, but his .216 batting average on balls in play after the All-Star break indicates some bad luck being at work. He may not flirt with 50 home runs again and needs to serve primarily as the designated hitter to maximize his value, but his ideal fit at Camden Yards will keep his power numbers at an impressive level.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .249/.308/.494, 35 HR, 92 RBI, 87 R, 1 SB, 634 PA

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jimenez

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2017 Orioles preview: Ubaldo Jimenez

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty
Brad Brach
J.J. Hardy

SP Ubaldo Jimenez

Opening Day age: 33

Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season

2016 stats: 8-12, 5.44 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 16 HR, 142 1/3 innings

Why to be impressed: Rebounding from a miserable first half that saw him temporarily lose his spot in the rotation, Jimenez rebounded dramatically down the stretch with a 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts covering 47 2/3 innings to help Baltimore secure a wild card. The right-hander was also able to harness his two-seam fastball, finishing with a 49.0 percent ground-ball rate to lead all Baltimore starters.

Why to be concerned: A 7.06 ERA through late July led to Jimenez being sent to the bullpen for the second time in three seasons, which sums up how disappointing the return has been on a four-year, $50 million deal. The right-hander’s average fastball velocity was the lowest of his career and his strikeout rate was his worst since 2012, concerning signs for a pitcher who already struggles with command.

2017 outlook: Expecting a consistent season from Jimenez is begging for disappointment, but you hope he can put together a nice stretch or two of quality starts while minimizing the lows as he did in 2015. If he can command his two-seamer, Jimenez has a chance to be a league-average starter, but diminishing velocity and inconsistent command make for a lower ceiling than he enjoyed earlier in his career.

2017 not-so-scientific projections: 11-11, 4.79 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 18 HR, 162 innings

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brady

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Twelve Orioles thoughts as spring training winds down

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in the midst of their final two weeks in Sarasota, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ken Rosenthal fairly laid out positives and concerns related to Brady Anderson’s organizational role, but the big question is the future. With Dan Duquette’s contract expiring after 2018, is Anderson viewed as his successor and, if so, is he adequately preparing for that while still wearing so many other hats?

2. Anderson’s criticism of the handling of Jake Arrieta coincides with Baseball Prospectus’ latest look at the Orioles’ track record with pitching prospects. More scrutiny for both their talent evaluation and development remains in order from top to bottom despite the club’s success over the last five years.

3. Count me as a new World Baseball Classic fan. It’s refreshing seeing outward emotion without it leading to World War III. Cultivating more of this mindset in the majors would better grow the sport than obsessing over shaving 10 minutes from the time of game. Joy isn’t a four-letter word.

4. With baseball being a regional sport in terms of fan interest and player popularity, it’s been fun seeing Adam Jones shine in the WBC spotlight. In the process of pointing out what he isn’t, too many overlook just how important he’s been to the Orioles’ turnaround. He deserves this.

5. As the club counts down to Chris Tillman attempting a long-toss session this Sunday, you have to wonder what’s next if he again experiences shoulder discomfort after a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and a cortisone shot earlier this month. Plenty of folks have to be holding their breath.

6. You shouldn’t read too much into any spring numbers, but Trey Mancini is doing everything he can to make the club. In addition to posting a .926 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Grapefruit League, he is also learning the outfield. Finding a role for him is the obvious problem.

7. There’s much debate about whether Hyun Soo Kim is capable of hitting left-handed pitching, but he entered Wednesday just 2-for-5 with two strikeouts against southpaws in the Grapefruit League. It’d be tough to argue that Buck Showalter is committed to finding out if Kim can be an everyday player.

8. After Francisco Pena and Audry Perez were sent to minor-league camp on Tuesday, Chance Sisco remained as the only non-roster catcher in major league spring training. The 22-year-old isn’t making the club, but the Orioles wanting to take a longer look at him is a good sign.

9. Robert Andino will always be remembered for the final game of the 2011 season, but he’s appeared in only 13 major league games since 2013 and is just 4-for-39 with 11 strikeouts this spring. You have to wonder if the 32-year-old will be given a place in Baltimore’s minor-league system.

10. Perhaps Seth Smith doesn’t need a slew of at-bats to get ready for Opening Day, but he hasn’t played in two weeks because of a slow-healing hamstring injury. That’s an unsettling development for a 34-year-old right fielder who will likely be playing in cool conditions in April.

11. Despite his early success at the plate since re-signing, Pedro Alvarez going to the minors to learn the outfield should remain the plan. The corner outfield defense clearly hasn’t been prioritized recently, but run prevention needs to matter — at least somewhat — with a pitch-to-contact rotation.

12. After enduring headaches with fringe roster players being out of options in recent seasons, the Orioles’ only decision in that department is reliever Oliver Drake. The 30-year-old has had some limited major league success over the last two seasons, but he isn’t helping his cause with a 10.61 spring ERA.

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hardy

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2017 Orioles preview: J.J. Hardy

Posted on 21 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty
Brad Brach

SS J.J. Hardy

Opening Day age: 34

Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season

2016 stats: .269/.309/.407, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 43 R, 0 SB, 438 PA

Why to be impressed: Hardy rebounded from a miserable 2015 in a big way, thanks in large part to the best hard-contact percentage of his major league career that led to 16 more extra-base hits in virtually the same number of plate appearances as 2015. His percentage of contact to the opposite field didn’t deviate from his career mark, but he hit it the other much more successfully, posting a .368 average.

Why to be concerned: The shortstop will be 35 in August and missed much of the spring with a cranky back, which also hindered him a great deal during the 2014 season. It’s also worth noting that manager Buck Showalter has remained reluctant to give Hardy regular days off despite the luxury of being able to slide Manny Machado over from third base to play short in those instances.

2017 outlook: The former All-Star infielder deserves credit for 2016 after his career looked to be falling off a cliff, but he will need to continue his revamped approach to hit more line drives rather than going for the long ball. With Hardy not having more than 438 plate appearances in a season since 2014, the Orioles need to keep him fresh and healthy to keep his defense at a high level and his bat respectable.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .251/.293/.382, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 55 R, 0 SB, 503 PA

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Carr’s reliability made him easy choice for Ravens

Posted on 21 March 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You can hardly blame the Ravens for being drawn to cornerback Brandon Carr.

After starting no fewer than four different players at cornerback in each of the last three seasons — including a whopping seven in 2014 — the Ravens needed more dependability at a position high in demand and limited in quality. The 30-year-old Carr may not have lived up to the high expectations that accompanied a $50 million contract with Dallas five years ago, but he’s been a reliable cornerback who’s started all 16 games in each of his nine NFL seasons.

Carr needs to show he can still play at a high level in 2017, but just being there means more than you might think for a team that’s started the likes of Rashaan Melvin and Shareece Wright in meaningful games over the last few years. Perhaps that’s why the Ravens signed Carr over former Dallas teammate Morris Claiborne, a talented former first-round pick who’s missed more than 40 percent of games in his career.

“There were different guys that had different histories,” said head coach John Harbaugh about the durability of others on the free-agent market. “You know you cannot do any better than Brandon has done. There’s a reason for that. Sure, luck comes into it and you do knock on wood and laugh about those kind of things.”

That durability is something the Ravens hope will continue with No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith missing 22 games over his six-year career and most of last December when their once-mighty defense fell apart. Some drop-off is inevitable whenever a team loses one of its best players, but performance can’t fall off a cliff in the way the Baltimore defense’s did at the end of last season without addressing the problem.

The Ravens feel confident about the trio of Smith, Carr, and 2016 fourth-round pick Tavon Young to go along with starting safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, but Harbaugh said they will continue to look for more secondary depth with this year’s draft deep in cornerback talent.

How has Carr been able to stay on the field at a position involving so much lateral movement and speed?

“I do not even know how I do it myself with the injuries that I won’t even talk about,” said Carr, who cited his work with outside trainers and his focus on nutrition as factors that have kept him healthy. “I just keep playing through them. Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw, and sometimes it is just being stupid and playing through whatever is going on.

“Alongside of that, my preparation throughout the offseason taking care of my body [and] just keeping a balance in my life with family, friends, football, and my faith. I just try to stay on top of injuries.”

Holding the longest active streak for consecutive games (144) started by a cornerback, Carr isn’t guaranteed to continue being an iron man who’s never missed a game as he turns 31 in May. But the Ravens figured they would take their chances.

“I think the biggest indicator of future behavior and success is past behavior and success,” Harbaugh said. “He has proven that already.”

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aiken

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Aiken agrees to one-year deal with Indianapolis

Posted on 21 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Kamar Aiken became the latest Ravens offensive player to exit this offseason after agreeing to a one-year deal with Indianapolis on Tuesday.

The wide receiver was coming off a 2016 season in which he struggled and the Ravens did little to get him involved. Aiken caught 29 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown while playing 342 fewer offensive snaps than he did the previous season. This came after the 27-year-old excelled in place of an injured Steve Smith in 2015, finishing with a career-high 75 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdown catches while playing with four different starting quarterbacks.

Aiken had made it clear that he was looking to move on this offseason after slipping to fourth on the wide receiver depth chart behind Smith, Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman.

“It was one of the most frustrating years I’ve had since I’ve been in the league,” said Aiken on Jan. 2. “I would say I was proud of how I handled it. I handled it the best way I could. I’m alright with it.”

His departure leaves another offensive hole for general manager Ozzie Newsome to fill as the Ravens have now lost two of their top four wide receivers, their starting right tackle, their starting center, and their starting fullback. The only notable addition on offense has been running back Danny Woodhead, who is 32 and coming off major knee surgery.

Most of the organization’s salary-cap resources have been exhausted on improving the defense, a group that finished seventh in the NFL in total yards and ninths in points allowed last season. The Baltimore offense ranked 17th in total yards and 21st in points per game after replacing offensive coordinator Marc Trestman with Marty Mornhinweg in October.

Newsome has said he’d like to add a “complementary” receiver to go along with the speedy combination of Wallace and Perriman, but the Ravens refrained from signing any notable free-agent wideouts in a cooler-than-expected market for the position.

Aiken’s agreement with the Colts was first reported by NFL Network and later confirmed by agent David Canter.

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brach

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2017 Orioles preview: Brad Brach

Posted on 20 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty

RP Brad Brach

Opening Day age: 30

Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season

2016 stats: 10-4, 2 saves, 2.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 7 HR, 79 IP

Why to be impressed: The right-hander earned his first invitation to the All-Star Game in the process of setting career-best marks in ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate, walk rate, and wins above replacement (2.6). Making that even more impressive was Brach throwing a whopping 49 1/3 innings and posting a 0.91 ERA before the All-Star break, picking up the slack in the Baltimore bullpen for an injured Darren O’Day.

Why to be concerned: That workload took its toll on Brach as he posted an underwhelming 3.94 ERA in the second half as manager Buck Showalter tried to give him extra rest when possible. Known for his ability to get superb results against hitters from either side of the plate, he surrendered a .784 OPS against lefties, which was significant with the Orioles lacking a lefty specialist for much of the season.

2017 outlook: Expecting Brach to duplicate his 2016 first half would be unfair as opponents owned a .211 batting average on balls in play over that time, but his 2.61 ERA over his three years with Baltimore speaks for itself. Striking out more than a batter per inning and four years younger than O’Day, Brach makes a strong case to be the club’s top setup man in 2017.

2017 not-so-scientific projections: 6-4, 3 saves, 2.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7 HR, 73 IP

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stanley

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Ravens own seven selections in first 186 picks of 2017 draft

Posted on 17 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Having completed the Jeremy Zuttah trade with San Francisco that included the exchange of 2017 sixth-round picks, the Ravens now own seven selections in the first 186 picks of April’s draft.

After an encouraging early return from his 2016 draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome hopes to find similar success this year to help Baltimore return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. The Ravens own only one compensatory pick — a third-round selection — but this is the first year in which those picks may be traded.

Their original 2017 seventh-round pick belongs to Los Angeles as a result of the trade for wide receiver Chris Givens two years ago. Barring any maneuvering, the Ravens’ seven selections would be their fewest in a draft since 2010.

Below is a look at where the Ravens are scheduled to pick:

Round 1: 16th overall
Round 2: 47th overall
Round 3: 78th overall
Round 3: 99th overall (compensatory)
Round 4: 122nd overall
Round 5: 159th overall
Round 6: 186th overall (from San Francisco)

Just for fun, here’s a look at past players selected by the Ravens at each of those slots (or as close as possible) over the years:

16th overall: LB C.J. Mosley (17th), 2014
47th overall: DT Timmy Jernigan (48th), 2014
78th overall: RB Musa Smith (77th), 2003
99th overall: OL Oniel Cousins, 2008
122nd overall: LB Za’Darius Smith, 2015
159th overall: FB Justin Green (158th), 2005
186th overall: LB Adalius Thomas, 2000

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2017 Orioles preview: Ryan Flaherty

Posted on 16 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens

INF Ryan Flaherty

Opening Day age: 30

Contract status: Under club control through the 2017 season

2016 stats: .217/.291/.318, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 16 R, 2 SB, 176 PA

Why to be impressed: Always known for his ability to play multiple positions at a solid level, Flaherty was particularly impressive at third base with six defensive runs saved as Manny Machado filled in for the injured J.J. Hardy quite a bit at shortstop. The light-hitting utility man also posted a career-high walk rate of 9.7 percent, which helps offset some of his limitations at the plate.

Why to be concerned: It’s no secret that Flaherty’s offense has always lagged behind his defense, but the modest power he once showed all but evaporated in 2016 with career lows in home runs and slugging percentage. He also received a cortisone injection for a sore right shoulder this spring, which isn’t exactly encouraging news for a player whose already-limited value comes from his defense.

2017 outlook: Flaherty’s contact rate hasn’t declined, but his increasing strikeout rate and declining power aren’t encouraging signs for a player scheduled to become a free agent next offseason. However, his above-average defense at third base gives Buck Showalter more confidence to move Machado to shortstop when Hardy either needs rest or misses time because of physical concerns.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .221/.288/.334, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 18 R, 1 SB, 186 PA

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carr

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Ravens add veteran cornerback Brandon Carr to secondary

Posted on 16 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Having stated the goal of improving their secondary this offseason, the Ravens have made their second significant addition to that group by agreeing to a four-year deal with cornerback Brandon Carr.

The former Dallas Cowboy and Kansas City Chief has started every game of his nine-year career and has never missed a contest, a level of durability that the Ravens likely value after countless injuries in the secondary in recent years. The six-foot, 210-pound cornerback will turn 31 in May and is likely to serve as an outside corner opposite Jimmy Smith with Tavon Young defending the slot in the nickel package.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Carr will be signing a one-year contract with a subsequent options that could make the deal worth $24 million over four seasons. Such a structure makes sense when signing a player entering his 10th year in the NFL.

The 2008 fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State collected 61 tackles, one interception, and nine pass breakups for the Cowboys last season. He has intercepted 15 passes in his career.

“This is a good football player,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “We got better today.”

The move comes after the Ravens had shown interest in Carr’s former teammate, Morris Claiborne, who agreed to terms with the New York Jets on Thursday. A disappointing former first-round pick from LSU, the 27-year-old Claiborne appeared to finally put it together from a performance standpoint last season, but he has never been able to stay healthy and has missed 33 games in five professional seasons. Claiborne is four years younger and has a higher ceiling, but Carr has the higher floor with his dependability over the years.

Carr was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 51st-best cornerback in the NFL and ranked 44th in Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 system last season. He’s never made the Pro Bowl in his long career, but Carr had the reputation for being a great teammate and a solid player in Dallas.

With his signing, the Ravens continue to make defense their top priority this offseason after signing Arizona safety Tony Jefferson to a four-year, $34 million contract and re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year, $52.5 million deal last week.

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