Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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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Old college teammate Oher sold Kendrick Lewis on Ravens

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Old college teammate Oher sold Kendrick Lewis on Ravens

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Free-agent safety Kendrick Lewis knew all about the Ravens’ tradition of defensive excellence, but it was an old college teammate and former Ravens offensive player who sold him on coming to Baltimore.

Reaching out to the man who hosted him on his first college visit to the University of Mississippi years ago, Lewis said it was former Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher who convinced him he was making the right decision. It was quite an endorsement from the 2009 first-round pick, who left the Ravens as a free agent last offseason after an up-and-down five-year run.

The two played together for three seasons at Ole Miss with Oher being drafted a year earlier than the 2010 fifth-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He was just upfront. He poured his heart out in all the great things he had to say about this organization to make my decision what it was,” Lewis said. “With my nature and the type of person I am and how Michael Oher described this place to me, I feel like it’s the best decision I made.”

The Ravens hope Lewis’ five years of starting experience in Kansas City and Houston will bring stability to the safety position that saw five different players receive meaningful snaps in 2014. Finishing 23rd in the NFL in pass defense, Baltimore hopes Lewis will bring stability next to the 25-year-old Will Hill, who emerged as a consistent starter in the second half of last season.

According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks posted a 69.3 passer rating against Lewis in coverage, completing 20 of 33 passes for 252 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions in 2014.

Lewis cited his pride in preparation and watching film as a strong asset in addition to his ball skills at the safety position. He has collected nine interceptions and 28 pass breakups in his five NFL seasons.

“He’s a guy that’s going to come here and solidify our defense, especially on the back end,” new defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt said. “He’s a guy that we’d looked for. We needed a veteran presence back there. He’s a guy that has been starting in this league ever since he has been here.”

Former Ravens safety Darian Stewart — who signed a two-year deal with Denver last week — and rookie Terrence Brooks struggled in deep coverage last season, giving up big plays at inopportune times. Lewis was most successful in Kansas City when playing away from the line of scrimmage and protecting against the deep pass.

His role changed in his one season with the Texans where he frequently played closer to the line of scrimmage. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees prefers being able to use his safeties interchangeably, shying away from the traditional roles of free safety and strong safety.

That will be just fine with Lewis, who enjoyed being able to show off his versatility in Houston.

“I don’t want to just put myself in a box and say I’m just a center fielder,” said Lewis, noting how he led the Texans in tackles last season. “I’m an all-around player. I’m here to do whatever the coaching staff allows me to do or wants me to do.”

Lewis is familiar with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam after the two worked out together in Florida a couple offseasons ago. With a few more years of experience than Elam, Lewis could find himself in a mentoring role for the draft pick whose first two seasons have been a disappointment.

The Ravens could still look to add more safety depth over the course of the offseason, but Lewis will be expected to step into a leadership role at a position that featured plenty of inexperience in 2014. The 6-foot, 198-pound simply hopes to make what he already viewed as a good defense even better.

“When you see the Baltimore Ravens, you see their philosophy,” Lewis said. “You see their team was made up on defense. Me being a defensive guy, me being a safety, that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”

 

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2015 Orioles preview: Travis Snider

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2015 Orioles preview: Travis Snider

Posted on 16 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

OF Travis Snider

Opening Day age: 27

Contract status: Under club control through the 2016 season

Minor-league options remaining: None

2014 stats: .264/.338/.438, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 37 R, 1 SB, 359 PA

Why to be impressed: After years of trying to find his way in the majors, the former first-round pick exploded in the second half of last season, posting an .880 on-base plus slugging percentage to help Pittsburgh to its second straight playoff appearance. Much has been made about the departure of Nick Markakis, but Snider’s .438 slugging percentage last year was much higher than the veteran’s .386 mark.

Why to be concerned: Snider has experienced more failure than success in his major league career and even his breakout 2014 campaign included an underwhelming .660 OPS in the first half. The former Toronto Blue Jays prospect is traditionally a slow starter with a .677 career OPS before the All-Star break, so he’ll need to play good defense to remain in good graces if history repeats itself this year.

2015 outlook: With other outfield options in the mix such as Alejandro De Aza, Steve Pearce, David Lough, and Delmon Young, Snider will need to make the most of his opportunities to become a fixture in the lineup. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette hopes Snider experienced his breakthrough in the second half of 2014, but it’s too difficult to know what to expect from a young player who’s had such highs and lows. The Orioles hope he can match or be an upgrade to Markakis’ production for a fraction of the price, but Snider could also fizzle out yet again after showing positive signs last year.

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Who’s left on wide receiver market for Ravens?

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Who’s left on wide receiver market for Ravens?

Posted on 16 March 2015 by Luke Jones

A week after watching Torrey Smith depart to sign a five-year, $40 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens appear no closer to filling the gaping hole left behind at the wide receiver position.

With the only players remaining on the roster with more than 24 receptions last season being the soon-to-be 36-year-old Steve Smith and starting running back Justin Forsett, it would be quite a risk for the Ravens to count solely on this spring’s draft to find help at the wide receiver position. Of course, limited salary cap space has prohibited Baltimore from pursuing more expensive options such as Andre Johnson over the last week.

Below is a look at seven veteran receivers who remain on the open market:

Dwayne Bowe
Age: 30
2014 stats: 60 caches, 754 yards, zero touchdowns
Skinny: Bowe has most recently visited with the Cleveland Browns and would appear to be one of the better options remaining on the market, but he’s also eclipsed the 800-yard receiving mark just once in the last three years. Working with Joe Flacco as opposed to Alex Smith would certainly help his cause, but the Ravens may not want to deal with questions about his work ethic and off-field trouble.

Greg Jennings
Age: 31
2014 stats: 59 catches, 742 yards, six touchdowns
Skinny: Jennings isn’t the deep threat that he was in his early days with the Green Bay Packers, but an unsettled quarterback situation was likely the biggest variable explaining his numbers dipping in Minnesota over the last two years. Considering he wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula since he was released, Jennings would make sense for the Ravens at the right price. 

Michael Crabtree
Age: 27
2014 stats: 68 catches, 698 yards, four touchdowns
Skinny: The market has been unusually quiet for the 2009 first-round pick, making you wonder if his asking price is too high coming off a disappointing final year with San Francisco. Never considered a speedster, Crabtree is less than two years removed from a torn Achilles tendon, which makes you wonder if his 2014 season was his new ceiling or only a stepping stone in regaining his pre-injury form.

Stevie Johnson
Age: 28
2014 stats: 35 catches, 435 yards, three touchdowns
Skinny: There is debate over how much the 6-foot-2 Johnson has left, but he proved to be productive when given opportunities in the San Francisco passing game last season. He had a reputation for being a knucklehead in Buffalo, but Johnson had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Bills and New England and San Diego have shown strong interest in him in recent days.

Denarius Moore
Age: 26
2014 stats: 12 catches, 115 yards, zero touchdowns
Skinny: The ultimate buy-low candidate, Moore showed promise as a vertical threat in the Oakland offense in his first three years, but the speedster was a non-factor for the Raiders last season. If you’re looking to take a flier on a receiver who could stretch the field after the Ravens parted ways with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, Moore wouldn’t be the worst addition to add to the mix.

Nate Washington
Age: 31
2014 stats: 40 catches, 647 yards, two touchdowns
Skinny: Washington has quietly put together a decent NFL career as a complementary receiver, and he has still averaged at least 15.8 yards per catch in each of the last three seasons with Tennessee despite messy quarterback play. He’s no Torrey Smith, but he still has some ability to be a factor in the vertical passing game as a role player.

Hakeem Nicks
Age: 27
2014 stats: 38 catches, 405 yards, four touchdowns
Skinny: Consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the New York Giants must feel like a long time ago for Nicks, who had underwhelming numbers while playing with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis this past season. He’s still young enough to turn around a career that’s trending in the wrong direction, but his disappointing numbers in 2014 will be hard for Nicks to sell to potential suitors.

 

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Orioles make four roster moves on Monday

Posted on 16 March 2015 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Monday that they have optioned infielder Christian Walker to Triple-A Norfolk and right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy to Double-A Bowie. Right-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey has been reassigned to minor-league camp. Left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson has been released.

With these moves, the Orioles now have 45 players at major league spring training, including nine non-roster invitees.

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Orioles musings on starting rotation and more

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Orioles musings on starting rotation and more

Posted on 16 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The debate has continued all winter and spring over what Orioles manager Buck Showalter will do with his starting rotation in 2015.

Ubaldo Jimenez has done little to quell concerns — an 11.05 ERA and five walks in 7 1/3 innings in the Grapefruit League — but his place on the roster is secure with just under $39 million going into his bank account over the next three years. Even if Showalter makes the right baseball decision by sending Jimenez to the bullpen and including both Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman in his rotation — they both have minor-league options remaining — there’s another question that we should be asking.

Who’s next after that?

The Orioles were one of 10 teams in the majors last season to have at least four starters make 25 or more starts, but it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to get away with simply stashing Jimenez in the bullpen all season without any worries. Last season, only two clubs had five starters make 25 or more starts — Washington and Kansas City — and just 36 teams have accomplished that feat since 2000 with 23 of them making the postseason.

Even considering Jimenez’s struggles, Baltimore was fortunate to use only seven starting pitchers last season with lefty long reliever T.J. McFarland making one spot start. In their previous five years, the Orioles used an average of just under 12 starting pitchers per season. Of course, that time frame includes some poor clubs with rotations in a state of flux, but even the 2013 Boston Red Sox used 11 starting pitchers on their way to a World Series title, showing that it’s not a rule that only affects poor clubs.

This is why executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is so reluctant to trade away any of his starting pitchers as the odds suggest the Orioles will need to look beyond those first six for help at various points in 2015 due to health concerns or poor performance. In fact, there’s a 65 percent likelihood they will have two starting pitchers ailing at the same time, per FanGraphs.

So while we continue to monitor Jimenez’s progress — or lack thereof — and wonder what it means for Gonzalez and Gausman over the next few weeks, we should probably be paying more attention to how the likes of T.J. McFarland, Mike Wright, Dylan Bundy, Steve Johnson, Tyler Wilson, Tim Berry, and even the 20-year-old Hunter Harvey are performing this spring. The odds suggest we’ll see some combination of them take the hill at some point in 2015 for at least a start or two.

Wieters taking off training wheels

Matt Wieters is set to crouch behind the plate for the first time in Grapefruit League action on Tuesday, which represents his biggest test yet after catching several times in controlled settings where runners were instructed not to steal.

It will be the first time Wieters is allowed to “cut it loose” in a live-game setting as he’s essentially completed his throwing progression and rehabilitation. The early indications from Sarasota have been positive with the Orioles timing Wieters’ throws in recent days, but seeing how he responds in a regular game will go a long way in determining whether he’s behind the plate for the April 6 opener.

This timetable will give Wieters more than two weeks of spring games in which he could catch to gauge his progress before the club makes a decision on his status for the start of the season. He’d also like to get himself on track at the plate as he’s hitless in 20 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Who’s in right?

Upon being acquired in late January, Travis Snider was considered by many to be the favorite to replace Nick Markakis as the regular right fielder, but you wouldn’t know it based on how the spring has gone.

That isn’t to say Snider won’t have a meaningful role with the Orioles this season, but the former Pittsburgh and Toronto outfielder hasn’t started in right since an intrasquad game played on March 1. Since then, he’s started six games in left field and once as the designated hitter, making you wonder if Showalter views him as a better option at the other corner outfield position.

Snider collected three hits in Sunday’s loss to the Pirates and is 7-for-22 this spring.

Over the last 10 days or so, it’s been a steady trend of Steve Pearce and Chris Davis alternating between first base and right field, which isn’t shocking considering Showalter has regularly complimented Pearce’s work at first base and Davis’ ability to play the outfield since the end of last season. Both figure to be in the lineup nearly every day, but where each will be playing in April could be interesting.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Showalter is prone to using many different alignments based on the matchup any given night, so we can’t read too much into there trends with more than two weeks of spring games remaining.

Spring woes

The Orioles entered Monday holding a 3-11 record, the worst mark of any club in the Grapefruit League or the Cactus League.

This has led some to ask whether this is cause for concern for a club that lost Markakis, Nelson Cruz, and Andrew Miller and didn’t make a big-name acquisition over the winter. The Orioles have managed just 39 runs in those 14 games.

There are obvious question marks with the Orioles — just like any major league club — but I just can’t put much stock into anything we’re seeing this spring when players are simply preparing for the season and many hurlers are using games as times to experiment with certain pitches. When you look at the daily box scores, you’ll see there are too many players involved in these games who won’t be with the club once the season starts.

Beyond unique cases like Jimenez and individuals coming back from serious injuries like Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, what happens in Florida is of little consequence in terms of projecting what will happen over a 162-game marathon. I’ll take the last seven seasons of evidence from Adam Jones over his current .174 average in 23 spring at-bats to determine what to expect from him in 2015.

Showalter always says you can’t be fooled by what you see in March — good or bad. And I believe him.

 

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