Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Jacksonville claims ex-Raven Pierce off waivers

Posted on 19 March 2015 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Jaguars were awarded fourth-year running back Bernard Pierce off waivers from Baltimore, the club announced today.

Pierce, 6-0, 230 pounds, has appeared in 45 career games with three starts and has rushed for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns on 353 carries (3.8 rush avg.) and 29 receptions for 164 yards. In 2014, Pierce had 93 carries for 366 yards (3.9 rush avg.) and two touchdowns. As a rookie in 2012, Pierce posted a career-high 532 rushing yards on 108 carries (4.9 rush avg.). Pierce has appeared in six career postseason games and was a member of the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl winning team.

A native of Ardmore, Penn., Pierce attended Temple University, where he started 27 of 34 career games and rushed 663 times for 3,570 yards and 53 touchdowns. His 54 total touchdowns, 53 rushing touchdowns and 324 points scored are all school records. He rushed for 1,000-plus yards in each of his three seasons with the Owls and was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-MAC honoree in 2011.

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Potential Matusz trade makes bullpen sense for long run

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Potential Matusz trade makes bullpen sense for long run

Posted on 19 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Even after the free-agent departure of imposing left-hander Andrew Miller, the Orioles should feel good about their back end of the bullpen.

The trio of closer Zach Britton, submariner Darren O’Day, and right-hander Tommy Hunter is better than many late-inning combinations you’ll find in the majors. The 28-year-old Brad Brach — who is now out of options — was a pleasant surprise in his first year in Baltimore as his peers have complimented him for having some of the best stuff of anyone in the bullpen.

The free-agent addition of southpaw Wesley Wright was savvy for only $1.7 million as he held left-handed bats to a .594 on-base plus slugging percentage last season and pitched adequately against right-handed hitters (.719 OPS). Wright doesn’t have options, but the Orioles signed the 30-year-old with every intention of him being a part of their 25-man roster anyway.

The bullpen picture becomes blurry after that due to a lack of roster flexibility.

Right-hander Ryan Webb pitched solidly last year (3.83 ERA), but Miller’s late-July arrival squeezed him out of the bullpen down the stretch and in the postseason. However, unlike last season, Webb is out of minor-league options.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette made two Rule 5 acquisitions in the offseason in right-handers Logan Verrett and Jason Garcia. Verrett, the former New York Mets prospect, is more polished and experienced after making 28 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas last year. Meanwhile, a shift to the bullpen last season saw the 22-year-old Garcia’s stock rise due to a high-90s fastball despite him not having an inning above Single A under his belt while pitching in the Boston Red Sox system.

Both would need to be on the 25-man roster all season to remain with the organization, which is, of course, unlikely to occur.

We haven’t even discussed the logjam that currently exists in the starting rotation due to the albatross of a contract held by Ubaldo Jimenez. Even if Jimenez is able to right himself in 2015, you’d hate to waste the talent of Kevin Gausman or Miguel Gonzalez in the minors simply because they both own an option. And if Jimenez’s struggles continue, the Orioles would likely need to stash him in the bullpen because they’re not eating the $38.75 million he’s owed in the final three years of his contract.

The starter situation alone is likely to squeeze out left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland, who pitched well in 2014 but has two minor-league options remaining.

And that brings us to left-handed reliever Brian Matusz, who many thought wouldn’t be tendered a contract in the offseason before he agreed to a $3.2 million deal for the 2015 season. The 2008 first-round pick has been a good situational lefty over the last few years, but his inability to defend himself against right-handed hitters — who posted an .876 OPS against him in 2014 — makes him an expensive and limited option in the bullpen.

The winter signing of Wright should be viewed more as a potential replacement for Matusz than Miller, who is a unique talent and received lucrative compensation for it in free agency. And a trade of Matusz would provide some breathing room as the Orioles try to figure out how to accommodate so many arms while still competing for the American League East title.

It’s no secret that Matusz has been the subject of trade rumors all winter as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Wednesday that the Orioles are actively shopping him. The Mets are viewed as a potential suitor, especially in light of lefty reliever Josh Edgin needing Tommy John surgery.

Matusz has pitched well this spring as the Orioles have stretched him out as a starter like they did in the last couple springs, which could create a little more appeal to potential trade partners. In 6 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, Matusz has allowed one earned run and five hits while striking out eight and walking none. Improvement in his changeup has also been noted in several reports.

Would the Orioles be willing to send Matusz and some cash to the Mets in exchange for a low-level prospect and the permanent rights to Verrett in order to option the right-hander to Triple-A Norfolk and keep him in the organization?

Such a move would not only eliminate Verrett from the roster crunch, but it would create a clear opening in the bullpen for Webb or Garcia while keeping a slot open for a true long reliever. It wouldn’t solve all of the Orioles’ roster woes, but the current climate of the bullpen includes plenty of talent with nowhere to go.

Even if the Mets pass, Duquette should do everything he can to find a trade partner for the situational lefty. The Orioles aren’t going to fetch a ransom for Matusz — who never lived up to expectations as a former first-round pick — but they shouldn’t be afraid to pull the trigger on any deal that provides even a modest return.

It’s the best move for both short-term roster flexibility and potential long-term gain.

 

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2015 Orioles preview: Alejandro De Aza

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2015 Orioles preview: Alejandro De Aza

Posted on 18 March 2015 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day just less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.

March 9 – Adam Jones
March 10 – Chris Tillman
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Zach Britton
March 13 – Chris Davis
March 14 – Wei-Yin Chen
March 15 – Jonathan Schoop
March 16 – Travis Snider
March 17 – Kevin Gausman

OF Alejandro De Aza

Opening Day age: 30

Contract status: Under club control through the 2015 season

Minor-league options remaining: Need player permission to option due to five years of major league experience

2014 stats: .252/.314/.386, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 56 R, 17 SB, 528 PA

Why to be impressed: The left-handed hitter provided a spark for the Orioles down the stretch after coming over from the White Sox, posting an .877 on-base plus slugging percentage in 89 plate appearances. His speed can be an asset as he’s expected by many to take over the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching and has stolen 79 bases in his career.

Why to be concerned: De Aza’s overall OPS has declined steadily from .920 in 2011 to just .700 last season, and he walked just 39 times a year ago, which isn’t exactly what manager Buck Showalter is looking for at the top of the order. His defense is better at the corner outfield spots than in center, but De Aza has profiled as a below-average defensive player in his career.

2015 outlook: De Aza was a good starting outfielder in 2011 and 2012, but his career path has been declining ever since, making it concerning if the Orioles entrust him with a near-everyday role. He’ll provide some speed and reach double digits in homers, but an OPS in the low .700s, mediocre defense, and struggles against left-handed pitching aren’t qualities you’re looking for in a starting outfielder on a contending club.

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Ravens re-sign defensive end Guy to two-year deal

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Ravens re-sign defensive end Guy to two-year deal

Posted on 18 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Hours after agreeing to a two-year deal to bring back veteran Chris Canty, the Ravens added further depth to their defensive line by re-signing defensive end Lawrence Guy to a two-year contract.

The 25-year-old was acquired off waivers from the San Diego Chargers early last season and appeared in 11 games, collecting 16 tackles, a pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. Guy surpassed DeAngelo Tyson on the depth chart to emerge as the primary reserve behind Canty at the 5-technique spot in the second half of last season.

With young defensive ends Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore both coming back from serious injuries, the Ravens now have plenty of veteran depth to act as insurance as they revamp a defensive line that no longer includes five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata.

In his NFL career, the 6-foot-4, 318-pound Guy has totaled 54 tackles, one sack, five pass breakups, and one fumble recovery in 35 games split among Baltimore, San Diego, and Indianapolis.

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Wieters shut down with elbow tendinitis

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Wieters shut down with elbow tendinitis

Posted on 18 March 2015 by Luke Jones

A day after making his Grapefruit League debut behind the plate, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters has been shut down due to elbow tendinitis.

The three-time All-Star selection will be shut down from catching duties for a week after manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Florida Wednesday that Wieters experienced soreness the morning after his spring debut. No runners attempted to steal against him in Tuesday’s game, but Wieters made a wide throw to first base on a roller in front of the plate in the 10-9 loss.

Tuesday was the nine-month anniversary of his Tommy John surgery.

It’s not unusual to experience tendinitis when building up strength in a surgically-repaired elbow, but this development certainly doesn’t help Wieters’ chances of being ready to catch in the season opener on April 6. Showalter told reporters that Opening Day is not yet off the table, but it would be difficult envisioning the veteran catcher having enough time to strengthen the elbow adequately considering he didn’t respond favorably to only one game behind the plate.

“With all the time we have left, we thought it would be prudent to just try to get ahead of it,” Showalter told media in Florida. “He’s been doing a lot of things on the half field and throwing program. He’s been doing things that he didn’t do when he was healthy. There’s been a lot there. His legs feel great, though. I don’t think it puts anything in jeopardy, but we’ll see.”

Wieters could return to action as a designated hitter as early as Sunday.

Though the possibility of Wieters opening the season as the club’s DH has been discussed throughout the winter, Showalter again told reporters it’s unlikely that the Orioles would keep him on the 25-man roster if he’s not ready to catch. The club would likely choose two catchers among Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger, J.P Arencibia, and Ryan Lavarnway if Wieters begins the regular season on the 15-day disabled list.

Serving strictly as a DH before Tuesday, Wieters is hitless in 23 spring at-bats.

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Ravens bring back veteran defensive end Canty on two-year deal

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Ravens bring back veteran defensive end Canty on two-year deal

Posted on 18 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Less than three weeks after releasing Chris Canty, the Ravens re-signed the veteran defensive end on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old was cut on February 27 to save $2.66 million in salary cap space, but general manager Ozzie Newsome said at the time that the Ravens wouldn’t close the door on a potential reunion. Canty was scheduled to visit the Seattle Seahawks this week before agreeing to a two-year deal that reportedly includes a team option for the 2016 season.

“We talked weeks ago about the possibility of Chris coming back,” Newsome said in a team release, “and we are happy he is.”

His new deal is worth a total of $4.65 million and includes a $1.5 million signing bonus and $1 million base salary for the 2015 season, according to The Sun. This would create a $1.75 million cap figure for this season.

Canty spent the last two seasons with the Ravens and appeared in 26 games, collecting 63 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. Though Canty didn’t make a huge impact on the field, Baltimore will welcome back his veteran leadership on a young defensive line after five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was traded to the Detroit Lions last week.

With veteran Lawrence Guy currently an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens would have been leaning heavily on the returns of injured defensive linemen Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore at the 5-technique defensive end spot with neither having taken an NFL snap in their respective careers. Second-year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is expected to step into Ngata’s spot on the starting defensive line.

Canty missed five games during the 2014 season while recovering from a staph infection in his wrist in October and an ankle injury at the end of the regular season. In his 10-year career, he has also played for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, serving as a member of the Super Bowl XLVI championship team.

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Ravens release running back Bernard Pierce after DUI arrest

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Ravens release running back Bernard Pierce after DUI arrest

Posted on 18 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens running back Bernard Pierce was arrested early Wednesday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was released by the organization less than 24 hours later.

Pierce was stopped by a Baltimore County police officer after he was allegedly driving 55 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone on Dulaney Valley Road. The 24-year-old was reportedly cooperative with police but was arrested after failing field sobriety tests.

According to the police report, Pierce predicted his demise with the Ravens after being arrested.

“Do you know what happened the last time a Ravens player got a DUI?” he allegedly said while riding to the precinct. “I’m getting cut tomorrow, not like you care.”

The 2012 third-round pick is the third Ravens player to be arrested this offseason, joining defensive tackle Terrence Cody and cornerback Victor Hampton. All three players were released promptly after their legal troubles came to light.

Baltimore is sending a clear message that off-field misconduct will not be tolerated, but Cody was already unlikely to be back as a free agent, Hampton was a long shot to make the roster, and Pierce had fallen to third on the depth chart by the end of last season. The Ravens hope they won’t need to face another arrest, but the real test would come if a star player finds himself in trouble with the law.

Pierce entered the 2014 season as the starting running back in place of the suspended and eventually-released Ray Rice, but poor play resulted in him falling behind veteran Justin Forsett and even rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro at times. The Temple product averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season after gaining a career-worst 2.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2013.

Once considered the potential running back of the future in Baltimore, Pierce hadn’t come close to matching his impressive numbers as a rookie in 2012 when he averaged 4.9 yards per carry and rushed for 532 yards as Rice’s understudy. His struggles over the last two seasons had led many to wonder if he’d even make the 53-man roster in 2015.

The Ravens issued a simple statement saying they were aware of the situation Wednesday morning before announcing Pierce’s release in the afternoon.

At the end of the 2012 season, Rice and Pierce appeared to be forming one of the better running back duos in the NFL, but both are gone less than three years later. Pierce’s departure increases the likelihood of the Ravens taking a running back at some point during this spring’s draft.

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2015 Orioles preview: Kevin Gausman

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2015 Orioles preview: Kevin Gausman

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day just over three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.

March 9 – Adam Jones
March 10 – Chris Tillman
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Zach Britton
March 13 – Chris Davis
March 14 – Wei-Yin Chen
March 15 – Jonathan Schoop
March 16 – Travis Snider

RHP Kevin Gausman

Opening Day age: 24

Contract status: Under club control through the 2020 season

Minor-league options remaining: One

2014 stats: 7-7, 3.57 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 7.0 K/IP, 7 HR, 113 1/3 innings

Why to be impressed: Despite having less than a full year of major league service time under his belt, Gausman was one of the Orioles’ most consistent starting pitchers in the second half of 2014 and led the rotation with a 3.41 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). The right-hander allowed only seven home runs in 20 starts after allowing eight in 65 2/3 fewer innings in 2013.

Why to be concerned: Gausman has a remaining minor-league option, which could push him to Triple-A Norfolk as the Orioles try to see if Ubaldo Jimenez can start the 2015 season on the right foot. The 2012 first-round pick has shown plenty of resilience, but you do wonder if the shuffling back and forth between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk could hinder his development, especially as he tries to refine his slider to go along with a high-90s fastball and split-changeup.

2015 outlook: The sky is the limit for Gausman as he has the best chance of any of the Baltimore starters to take a gigantic leap forward in 2015. His performance out of the bullpen in the postseason displayed his impressive poise at a young age, and the reports on his slider during spring training indicate some progress. If the Orioles allow Gausman to remain in the majors, he could easily establish himself as the club’s second-best starter behind Tillman with an ERA below 3.50.

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Webb reportedly restructures deal with Ravens

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Webb reportedly restructures deal with Ravens

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Luke Jones

A week after the Ravens traded one of the best players in franchise history because of a negotiating impasse, veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb is reportedly staying put.

According to CBS Sports, the sides agreed to renegotiate what remains of a six-year, $50 million contract signed in 2012. Originally scheduled to make $8 million in base salary in 2015, Webb will instead receive $6 million, which would appear to lower his cap figure from $12 million to $10 million for the coming season if no other maneuvering was done.

Armed with less than $8 million in cap space before the signing of veteran safety Kendrick Lewis to a three-year deal, the Ravens knew they would need to clear more cap room to make further additions this offseason. Webb can now make roughly $18 million over the final three years of his deal if playing-time incentives are reached, according to The Sun. This would indicate Webb’s scheduled base salaries of $8 million in 2016 and $8.5 million in 2017 were also reduced.

The restructuring appears to be a reasonable compromise after the sides had been negotiating for weeks. Coming off a disappointing 2014 campaign even by his own admission, Webb will still receive a $6 million base salary, which would currently be the 13th-highest in the NFL for 2015. However, a look at the bloated contracts a number of cornerbacks have received in free agency indicated there would have been a good market for Webb despite his underwhelming play.

Had the Ravens cut Webb, they would have received only $2 million in cap savings, which is what they’ll pick up with the adjusted contract while still retaining the 29-year-old defensive back’s services. A release with a post-June 1 designation would have saved the Ravens $8 million in space, but those resources would not have been available until long after most free agents of any substance had already found homes.

General manager Ozzie Newsome traded five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions last week after the sides failed to agree to a contract extension to reduce a $16 million cap hit for the 2015 season.

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Ravens announce deals for long snapper Cox, defensive tackle Bilukidi

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Ravens announce deals for long snapper Cox, defensive tackle Bilukidi

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens announced a pair of re-signings on Tuesday, coming to terms with long snapper Morgan Cox and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi.

General manager Ozzie Newsome reportedly struck a deal with Bilukidi a couple weeks ago, but the signing had yet to be announced. The defensive tackle had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

Cox has served as the Baltimore long snapper for the last five seasons, but the second anterior cruciate ligament tear of his career limited him to just seven games in 2014. It was unclear whether the Ravens would re-sign the unrestricted free agent after tendering a contract to exclusive-rights free agent Patrick Scales.

Because the 28-year-old suffered the season-ending knee injury in Week 7 of last season and has already been rehabbing for several months, he will likely be ready for training camp, but the presence of Scales does provide insurance as well as competition while Cox works his way back to 100 percent.

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