Tag Archive | "Baseball"

Orioles still waiting for early return on $50 million investment

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Orioles still waiting for early return on $50 million investment

Posted on 13 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Even after investing a franchise-record amount of money for a free-agent starting pitcher, the Orioles knew they weren’t getting a sure-fire ace when they signed right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million contract in February.

His career has been consistently inconsistent, looking every bit the part of an ace at times and appearing more like a fringe fifth starter in other stretches of his major league career.

But the Orioles need much better than what they’ve gotten through three starts as Jimenez surrendered five earned runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in Sunday’s 11-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards. He gave up two more home runs and saw his record fall to 0-3 to accompany a 7.31 earned run average and 2.06 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).

Whether giving up homers (four in 16 innings) or walks (10) in his first three outings — all against American League East opponents — the root of Jimenez’s struggles are simple to identify but more complicated to fix with unorthodox mechanics that require plenty of maintenance over the course of a six-month season.

“His command,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If you look at his history, he gets better as the year goes on. He’s actually pitched competitively for us. He’s real close to keeping us there.”

The Baltimore skipper was being generous in referencing Sunday’s deficit only being 3-1 entering the top of the sixth inning, but Jimenez started the game with a career 5.10 ERA in April, easily his worst month throughout his eight-year career. Last season, it was even worse as Jimenez posted a 7.13 ERA over his first five starts before rebounding to post a 3.30 ERA and help Cleveland qualify for the postseason.

But history doesn’t make Jimenez — or the Orioles — feel any better as he tries to make a strong impression to justify the long-term investment paid to him. Of course, three starts — good or bad — will not determine whether executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette made a wise addition this winter, but the Orioles added Jimenez with thoughts of the high ceiling he possesses when he’s right on the mound.

So far, he hasn’t been able to climb out of the basement as he gave up a Eutaw Street homer to Colby Rasmus in the first inning and a home run to Brett Lawrie with one out in the sixth before being lifted a batter later. Jimenez only gave up 16 home runs all last season and is a quarter of the way to that mark before Easter Sunday.

“Tough one, really bad one,” Jimenez said. “I couldn’t be there for the team once again. I’m missing right down the middle of the plate. I’ve been making too many mistakes right down the middle.”

It’s too soon to panic as Jimenez’s track record suggests he’ll be much better than what he’s shown, but the Orioles are counting on him to be a top-half-of-the-rotation starter to go along with Chris Tillman. Improved starting pitching is a must for Baltimore to get back to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

In fairness, Jimenez is just one of several problems to plague the Orioles in their 5-7 start as an underperforming offense was limited to just five runs over the weekend and the defense has been shaky with Gold Glove winners Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy missing time. The Orioles have no choice but to be patient with their free-agent prize, hoping the good Jimenez will surface sooner rather than later and provide the quality pitching he’s capable of for significant stretches.

It hasn’t been there in the first half of April, but Showalter expressed confidence after Sunday’s outing that Jimenez is “better than that.”

“He’s got the right mentality. He’s been through tough times before, but he wants it to end now,” Showalter said. “I guarantee you. I understand what the numbers say, but you guys have seen it. It’s very close to there being some quality outings, but at this level and against this competition, close sometimes gets you in trouble.”

And close isn’t good enough in the AL East.

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles lineup finally broke out in a 14-5 win on Tuesday and received good news about the status of shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Though the 31-year-old was sidelined for the fourth time in five games while dealing with lower back spasms, manager Buck Showalter said prior to Tuesday’s game that Hardy would have been available to come off the bench if necessary. Of course, the convincing win over the New York Yankees made Hardy’s use unnecessary as the Orioles provided more than enough offense to support a shaky outing from starter Wei-Yin Chen.

“A lot better, much more available,” Showalter told reporters of Hardy’s status prior to Tuesday’s win. “I’m optimistic he’d be an option [Tuesday]. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. I wouldn’t have said that [Monday]. He’s improved, very close to being ready to start. … You can tell just by his face. So that’s good.”

With All-Star third baseman Manny Machado still on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from offseason knee surgery, the Orioles have been without a pair of Gold Glove defenders on the left side of the infield.

Left with a short bench, Showalter has been forced to use Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, and Jonathan Schoop at three infield positions, but the trio combined to go 8-for-15 with four runs scored on Tuesday to ease concerns about the bottom of the order.

With the Orioles scheduled to play a night game Thursday to conclude their three-game set with New York before an off-day, Showalter could elect to keep Hardy on the bench for one more game to be on the safe side before the Orioles return to Camden Yards to begin a six-game homestand.

Chen struggles again

Lost in the offensive explosion occurring in Tuesday’s win was another lackluster effort by Chen, who earned the win despite allowing four earned runs and nine hits in five innings of work.

In two starts, Chen has allowed eight earned runs and 21 hits over 10 2/3 innings. The Taiwanese lefty has yet to issue a walk this season, but he’s often been up in the strike zone while catching too much of the plate.

The Yankees and Red Sox did have their share of hits that weren’t exactly clobbered against Chen — suggesting he’s been unlucky on top of his overall ineffectiveness — but his start to the 2014 season continues a disturbing trend from the end of last season. Over his last nine starts dating back to Aug. 27, 2013, Chen has allowed 72 hits over 46 innings of work while posting a 6.65 earned run average and a 1.85 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Of course, Chen’s track record over the first two-plus seasons of his career suggests he’s much better than what he’s shown recently, but his lack of command within the strike zone has been alarming.

Bats finally wake up

After being held to just 22 runs in their first seven contests, the Orioles plated 14 runs and bashed 20 hits to quell premature panic about the offense. The last time the Orioles collected 20 hits was May 10, 2011.

All nine starters collected at least one hit and all but one (Matt Wieters) had multi-hit games. Wieters, Adam Jones, and Delmon Young each hit home runs to match the Orioles’ total of three long balls in the first seven contests of the year.

Wieters and Young each collected three runs batted in against Yankees pitching.

 

 

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Orioles minor league recap – 4/7

Posted on 08 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Here’s what happened down in the Orioles’ farm system on Monday…

* Triple-A Norfolk’s game against Gwinnett was postponed due to rain

* Double-A Bowie’s game scheduled against Richmond was postponed due to rain

* Single-A Frederick was off on Monday

* Single-A Delmarva saw its game at Hagerstown postponed due to rain

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction 2014 MLB Predictions

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction 2014 MLB Predictions

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles scheduled to begin the 2014 season on Monday, The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction offered its Major League Baseball predictions on Friday morning.

For a full breakdown of what Drew Forrester and Luke Jones had to say, click HERE.

LUKE JONES

AL East
Tampa Bay 93-69
*Boston 92-70
*Baltimore 90-72
New York 83-79
Toronto 74-88

AL Central
Detroit
Kansas City
Cleveland
Minnesota
Chicago

AL West
Texas
Oakland
Los Angeles
Seattle
Houston

NL East
Washington
Atlanta
Philadelphia
New York
Miami

NL Central
St. Louis
*Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Milwaukee
Chicago

NL West
Los Angeles
*San Francisco
Arizona
San Diego
Colorado

* = Wild Card berth

AL MVP: OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
NL MVP: C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
AL Cy Young: David Price, Tampa Bay
NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco
AL Rookie of the Year: SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston
NL Rookie of the Year: OF Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati

ALCS: Detroit over Tampa Bay
NLCS: Los Angeles over Washington
World Series: Los Angeles over Detroit, 4-2

See Drew Forrester’s predictions on the next page >>>>>

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#WNSTSweet16 Orioles Who Didn’t Live Up To The Hype

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#WNSTSweet16 Orioles Who Didn’t Live Up To The Hype

Posted on 25 February 2014 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles celebrate their 60th anniversary in Baltimore this season, there’s no shortage of players who have failed to live up to inflated expectations over the years.

Whether watching young talent drafted to be the next franchise player fall flat or acquiring veterans via trade or free agency who suddenly looked like shells of their former selves, the Orioles have whiffed with greater frequency over the last 30 years, but that doesn’t mean they were immune to players failing to live up to hype in the earlier days of the organization.

As WNST.net’s Glenn Clark laid out, players must have made it to Baltimore — thus disqualifying the incredible legend of minor-league pitcher Steve Dalkowski and former top prospects never to play for the Orioles such as outfielder Alex Ochoa — and qualified “based on just how much ‘hype’ they actually received or based on just how spectacularly they failed to live up to said ‘hype.’” This provides flexibility to potentially include players who performed admirably despite not living up to overwhelming expectations as well as individuals whose play was inexplicably poor despite reasonable visions of success.

To clarify, this isn’t a list of the 16 worst players in franchise history as not living up to the hype doesn’t necessarily mean failure as you’ll see with at least a few selections on the list. Of course, that doesn’t mean some of the names appearing here weren’t downright awful in their time with the Orioles.

Without further ado, I present the WNST Sweet 16 Orioles Who Didn’t Live Up To The Hype:

Continue to next page for No. 16

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Looking at the Orioles’ non-roster invitees in Sarasota

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Looking at the Orioles’ non-roster invitees in Sarasota

Posted on 14 February 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles officially began spring training with their first official workout on Friday as they look for a number of answers over the next six weeks leading up to Opening Day on March 31.

After examining the players on the 40-man roster earlier in the week, it’s time to take a look at the 19 non-roster invitees who will join the club in Sarasota and try to leave the kind of impression with manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette that warrants a spot on the major league roster.

Few likely have a real chance of migrating to Baltimore in late March, but many will be looking for a spot in the minor-league system in hopes of getting the call to join the Orioles at some point this season.

PITCHERS (8)

RHP Alfredo Aceves
Opening Day age: 31
Musing: His experience pitching for both the Yankees and Red Sox over the last six years gives him a better chance than most non-roster arms to crack the Baltimore bullpen, but his personality clashes in Boston and a 1.73 WHIP last season are red flags that contrast his 3.69 career earned run average in the big leagues.

LHP Nick Additon
Opening Day age: 26
Musing: The southpaw spent the last seven years as a starter in the St. Louis Cardinals organization but has never pitched in the majors and signed as a minor-league free agent after posting a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings in Triple-A Memphis last season.

RHP Tim Alderson
Opening Day age: 25
Musing: A former first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2007, Alderson was acquired from Pittsburgh in exchange for Russ Canzler last July and went 1-2 with a 6.27 ERA in 33 innings with Triple-A Norfolk to finish the 2013 season, primarily pitching in relief.

RHP Fabio Castillo
Opening Day age: 25
Musing: The Dominican minor-league free agent posted a 5.34 ERA in 89 1/3 innings starting and relieving for the Giants’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season and will be entering his ninth season of professional baseball.

RHP Eddie Gamboa
Opening Day age: 29
Musing: After five previous seasons pitching in the Orioles system, he became a knuckleball hurler last year and was re-signed to a minor-league contract after going 6-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 25 starts split between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk.

RHP Brock Huntzinger
Opening Day age: 25
Musing: A 2007 third-round pick of the Red Sox, Huntzinger spent the last seven seasons pitching in the Boston organization and went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 49 relief appearances split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels last year before signing with Baltimore as a minor-league free agent.

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
Opening Day age: 20
Musing: The Venezuelan product is one of the top prospects in the Baltimore system and went an impressive 10-7 with a 3.41 ERA split between Single-A Frederick and Bowie last season, which has made him a target of other organizations in trade talks but a piece the Orioles don’t want to give up.

RHP Mike Wright
Opening Day age: 24
Musing: Named the Orioles’ minor league pitcher of the year last season, the 2011 third-round pick went 11-3 with a 3.11 ERA primarily with Bowie before a late-season promotion to Norfolk and has a reasonable chance to arrive in Baltimore at some point before the 2014 season comes to an end.

Continue to non-roster position players >>>>>

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Orioles sign veteran Delmon Young to minor-league deal

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Orioles sign veteran Delmon Young to minor-league deal

Posted on 13 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Looking to add another designated hitter option, the Orioles announced Monday they’ve reached a minor-league agreement with veteran outfielder Delmon Young that includes an invitation to spring training.

The 28-year-old is a career .303 hitter against left-handed pitching and split time between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay last season, hitting .260 with 11 home runs and 38 runs batted in. In eight major league seasons, Young has hit .282 with 100 home runs and 520 RBIs in 3,692 career at-bats.

Young will compete with the likes of Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce, and Rule 5 selection Michael Almanzar for the right-handed DH job previously held by Danny Valencia, who was dealt to Kansas City for left fielder David Lough earlier this winter.

Former Oriole Jack Cust also contacted the organization about a tryout and is expected to work out at the club’s minicamp in Sarasota on Tuesday. The soon-to-be 35-year-old hasn’t played in the majors since 2011.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported Monday the Orioles have also shown interest in a reunion with power hitting infielder Mark Reynolds.

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Orioles’ two-year deal with Balfour falls apart due to shoulder concerns

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Orioles’ two-year deal with Balfour falls apart due to shoulder concerns

Posted on 20 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Instead of preparing to introduce their new closer and first impact acquisition of the offseason Friday, the Orioles will now restart their search for a ninth-inning option.

A two-year, $15 million agreement with former Oakland closer Grant Balfour is dead after concerns arose about the state of his right shoulder during his physical. Baltimore had planned to hold a press conference to introduce the new closer on Friday, but those plans never came to fruition.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette confirmed to local media in a conference call Friday that the Orioles would be moving on.

The Orioles will now be forced to look elsewhere on the free-agent market despite Balfour converting 62 of 67 save opportunities for the Athletics over the last two seasons. The options are dwindling with Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez topping the list of established closers who are still available.

Balfour had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2005, and he had surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder four months later, costing him the entire 2006 campaign. However, his track record since then has been relatively injury-free as he will be 36 at the end of the month.

The Orioles have a history of striking deals with free agents, only to have the physical hit a snag. Aaron Sele, Jeromy Burnitz, and Xavier Hernandez are among the notable names over the years, and the club had to restructure an agreement with right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens last offseason after lingering concerns over his knee.

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Orioles select contract of outfielder Dickerson

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Friday that they have selected the contract of outfielder Chris Dickerson from Triple-A Norfolk. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, infielder Alex Liddi has been designated for assignment.

Dickerson, 31, batted .245/.274/.412 in 46 games with the Orioles earlier this season.

Liddi, 25, batted .222/.269/.378 in 49 games for the Tides after being acquired from Seattle on July 6.

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Orioles recall four prior to Tuesday’s game in Cleveland

Posted on 03 September 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have recalled INF JONATHAN SCHOOP, OF HENRY URRUTIA and RHP JOSH STINSON from Triple-A Norfolk, and INF RYAN FLAHERTY from High-A Frederick.

Schoop, 21, will make his major league debut when he first appears in a game. He batted .256/.301/.396 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 289 plate appearances while playing second base and shortstop for the Tides this season. Schoop also batted .214/.313/.464 with two home runs in eight games for Team Netherlands in this year’s World Baseball Classic. He will wear #6.

Urrutia, 26, batted .316/.358/.430 in 29 games for the Tides this season after hitting .365/.433/.550 in 52 games with Double-A Bowie. He batted .269/.269/.308 in 21 games with the Orioles earlier this season.

Stinson, 25, went 7-6 with a 3.78 ERA (131.0IP, 55ER) in 23 starts for the Tides this season. He posted a 2.95 ERA (36.2IP, 12ER) in his final seven starts. Stinson made three appearances (one start) for the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 6.53 ERA (8.0IP, 5ER).

Flaherty, 27, has batted .218/.280/.364 in 75 games for the Orioles this season. He hit a combined .265/.280/.490 in 12 games with Frederick (two games), Class-A Delmarva (two) and Triple-A Norfolk (eight).

With these moves, the Orioles now have 32 players on the active roster.

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