Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

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Showalter happy to see Schoop receive Opening Day opportunity

Posted on 31 March 2014 by WNST Audio

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Opening Day roster set after Sunday’s deadline

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Opening Day roster set after Sunday’s deadline

Posted on 29 March 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 7:00 a.m. Monday)

The Orioles aren’t required to finalize their 25-man roster for the start of the regular season until Sunday at 3 p.m., but three more cuts were made to officially eliminate any remaining drama.

Baltimore announced pitchers Kevin Gausman and T.J. McFarland and infielder Jemile Weeks were being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, meaning 32 players remained in major league spring training as of Saturday afternoon. However, the remaining seven reductions will come in the form of players being placed on the disabled list and the suspended list.

Of course, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will scan the waiver wire for potential upgrades, which explains why the Opening Day roster has yet to be announced.

Rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop has made the club and is expected to see time at third base against left-handed pitching and second base against right-handed starters. The short-term audition was largely made possible with All-Star third baseman Manny Machado still working his way back to full strength from offseason surgery. Schoop impressed manager Buck Showalter with a strong spring that included a .385 average with two home runs, five doubles, and eight runs batted in over 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Machado (knee), outfielders Nolan Reimold (neck) and Francisco Peguero (wrist), pitchers Johan Santana (shoulder) and Edgmer Escalona (shoulder), and Rule 5 selection Michael Almanzar (knee) are all heading to the disabled list while reliever Troy Patton will begin his 25-game suspension for amphetamine use, accounting for the remaining seven that must be trimmed from the active roster.

Two non-roster invitees have made the club as outfielder and designated hitter Delmon Young and right-handed pitcher Evan Meek will go north to Baltimore. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore for assignment and Escalona was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Here’s a look at where the roster now stands:

PITCHERS
RHP Chris Tillman
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Tommy Hunter
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Ryan Webb
LHP Zach Britton
RHP Josh Stinson
RHP Evan Meek

CATCHERS
Matt Wieters
Steve Clevenger

INFIELDERS
Chris Davis
J.J. Hardy
Ryan Flaherty
Steve Lombardozzi
Jonathan Schoop

OUTFIELDERS
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
David Lough
Nelson Cruz
Steve Pearce
Delmon Young

DISABLED LIST (will not count against 25-man roster)
3B Manny Machado (knee)
OF Nolan Reimold (neck)
OF Francisco Peguero (wrist)
LHP Johan Santana (shoulder)
RHP Edgmer Escalona (shoulder)
INF Michael Almanzar (knee)

SUSPENDED LIST (will not count against 25-man roster)
LHP Troy Patton

 

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Orioles roster taking shape in final days of spring training

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Orioles roster taking shape in final days of spring training

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Luke Jones

As the final days of the Grapefruit League wind down, the Orioles are narrowing their choices in shaping their 25-man roster that will take the field against the Boston Red Sox next Monday at Camden Yards.

Forty players remained in major league camp entering Wednesday’s split-squad doubleheader, but most destinations can already be projected as manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette decide who will come north for Opening Day. Baltimore optioned pitcher Steve Johnson and outfielder Henry Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigned infielder Alexi Casilla and outfielder Quintin Berry to minor league camp prior to Wednesday evening’s game against Tampa Bay.

Of the 36 players left, at least five will begin the year on the disabled list as infielder Manny Machado (knee), outfielders Nolan Reimold (neck) and Francisco Peguero (wrist), and pitchers Johan Santana (shoulder) and Edgmer Escalona (shouldler) are still recovering from ailments. Rule 5 selection Michael Almanzar (knee) could join them, which would give the Orioles more time to decide on his future and whether they want to attempt to keep him on the 25-man roster as they did with pitcher T.J. McFarland and infielder Ryan Flaherty in the last two seasons.

Relief pitcher Troy Patton will begin serving his 25-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamine use and will not count against the Opening Day roster.

Showalter has already announced his Opening Day rotation with Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wei-Yin Chen going to the hill in the opening series and Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris making the following two starts in Detroit. This means McFarland and Kevin Gausman — who’s had a terrific spring and could beat down the door to the starting rotation sooner rather than later — will begin the year in Triple-A Norfolk’s starting rotation.

After that, it comes down to difficult decisions as the Orioles are expected to decide between Alfredo Aceves and Evan Meek for the final spot in the bullpen unless they decide to break camp with 13 pitchers on the Opening Day roster. The rest of the bullpen is projected to be filled out by Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, Ryan Webb, Josh Stinson, and Zach Britton.

The much-heralded middle-infield competition is down to rookie Jonathan Schoop and Jemile Weeks, who was acquired in the offseason trade of Jim Johnson. With Flaherty expected to fill in for Machado at third base, Schoop would give the Orioles a right-handed bat to play third base against left-handed pitching, but the Orioles certainly don’t want the 22-year-old to be sitting on the bench if they decide the newly-acquired Steve Lombardozzi is going to be the starting second baseman for the time being. Showalter could elect to go with Schoop at second and Flaherty at third against right-handed starters with Schoop shifting to third and the switch-hitting Lombardozzi inserted at second base against southpaws.

Steve Clevenger has already won the backup catcher job, so that appeared to leave two more bench spots for the trio of Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, and Reimold before Thursday’s news of Reimold heading to the disabled list. Signed to a minor-league contract this winter, Young’s opt-out clause doesn’t go into effect until June 1 while Reimold and Pearce are both out of options.

Here is a look at the remaining 36 players in major league camp with a line going through names predicted to be left off the 25-man roster to begin the regular season:

PITCHERS
RHP Chris Tillman
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Tommy Hunter
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Ryan Webb
LHP Zach Britton
RHP Josh Stinson
RHP Evan Meek
RHP Kevin Gausman
LHP T.J. McFarland
RHP Alfredo Aceves

CATCHERS
Matt Wieters
Steve Clevenger

INFIELDERS
Chris Davis
J.J. Hardy
Ryan Flaherty
Steve Lombardozzi
Jonathan Schoop
Jemile Weeks

OUTFIELDERS
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
David Lough
Nelson Cruz
Steve Pearce
Delmon Young

DISABLED LIST (not counting against 25-man roster)
3B Manny Machado (knee)
OF Nolan Reimold (neck)
OF Francisco Peguero (wrist)
LHP Johan Santana (shoulder)
RHP Edgmer Escalona (shoulder)
INF Michael Almanzar (knee)

SUSPENDED LIST (not counting against 25-man roster)
LHP Troy Patton

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Schoop deserves major-league audition with Machado sidelined

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Schoop deserves major-league audition with Machado sidelined

Posted on 22 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles haven’t officially ruled out third baseman Manny Machado for Opening Day, but his chances of being ready by March 31 remind you of the Black Knight fighting King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at this point.

The season opener has never been the priority for the 21-year-old in the organization’s eyes as a 100-percent Machado for what will still be a significant portion of the season is preferable to a lesser version being thrown into action before he and his surgically-repaired left knee are ready. Because of the overwhelming success Machado has had in his brief major league career, we easily forget he’s far from a finished product — a .240 average in the second half of 2013 reflects that — so compromising his long-term health and development for a handful of games wouldn’t be a wise gamble.

With Ryan Flaherty expected to move to third base in Machado’s absence, Orioles manager Buck Showalter is faced with the decision of what to do at second, but the combination of spring performancs and long-term potential make for an easy choice among Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks, Alexi Casilla, and Alex Gonzalez.

Weeks, acquired in the Jim Johnson trade this winter, has hit .138 in 29 spring at-bats and has minor-league options remaining.

The non-roster invitee Casilla has been hampered with injuries and didn’t do much to leave a lasting impression as a reserve on last year’s club.

Gonzalez, 37, has hit .440 this spring but has never played second base in the big leagues and hit .177 with Milwaukee in his 15th season a year ago, making him a better fit as a utility infielder than as an everyday player for a couple weeks.

Schoop (pronounced “scope”) has only done everything that’s been asked of him to earn his shot as the Orioles’ starting second baseman against the Boston Red Sox in just over a week. A .406 spring average might be fool’s gold in trying to decide whether the Curacao native is truly ready to be an everyday player in the major leagues, but Machado’s short-term absence provides a convenient window for the Orioles to evaluate what they hope will be an important part of their future.

The 22-year-old added strength in the offseason and has looked solid defensively at second base, a position at which Schoop may not remain because his 6-foot-2, 210-pound listed frame is still evolving. The Orioles would have needed to option him to Triple-A Norfolk anyway had Machado been further along in his recovery, so there appears to be no drawback to rewarding the organization’s top positional prospect with a short-term audition.

If Schoop can perform at such a high level to force the Orioles’ to revisit Flaherty’s status as the projected starting second baseman upon Machado’s return, it’s a great problem to have for an organization that’s struggled to receive consistent production at second base over the last few seasons.

In truth, there is far more evidence to support Schoop needing more seasoning at Triple A than there is proof of him being ready to thrive in Baltimore. In addition to a stress fracture in his back that cost him two months of the 2013 season, Schoop hit only .256 with a .697 on-base plus slugging percentage in 289 plate appearances for the Tides last season. And his .710 OPS as a 20-year-old at Double-A Bowie in 2012 was respectable for such a young prospect but certainly not an indicator of being on the verge of stardom.

Then again, Machado’s .266 average at Bowie two years ago made his early-August call-up to Baltimore a surprise to nearly everyone at the time. It’s safe to say that decision worked out swimmingly.

Much like there was a need for a better defensive player at third base when they called on a 20-year-old Machado, the Orioles have an opening at second base and no other option appears better than Schoop, who homered in his first major league game last September and has five extra-base hits in 32 Grapefruit League at-bats this spring.

If he’s not ready for the big stage, you send him back to Norfolk where he can play every day when Machado returns and Flaherty shifts back to second base. But rewarding Schoop for his spring performance and potential feels like the right move for the Orioles, who haven’t shied away from promoting their top prospects in recent years.

It may not result in another overnight success story like Machado — nor should Schoop be compared to such an unusual talent as he often is– but writing his name in the lineup on March 31 makes too much sense at this point.

 

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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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Seven Orioles players to watch closely during spring training

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Seven Orioles players to watch closely during spring training

Posted on 11 February 2014 by Luke Jones

The start of spring training will inevitably bring a new batch of clichéd stories about players being in the best shape of their lives or feeling poised for career seasons, but the Orioles will need several players to emerge from the shadows to continue the momentum started over the last two seasons.

After a disappointing offseason that has featured no impact signings or significant acquisitions at this late stage, manager Buck Showalter must look from within the current roster for solutions to hopefully bring the Orioles a third consecutive winning season, a modest achievement they haven’t realized in 20 years (1992 through 1994).

The Orioles face uncertainty in the starting rotation and in the back end of the bullpen as well as at second base, designated hitter, and left field, making this spring’s workouts in Sarasota as important as any in recent memory. However, most answers won’t truly come until the regular season when Baltimore is thrown back into the reality of competing in the heavyweight American League East.

Here are seven players (with their 2013 stats noted in parentheses) to watch closely over the next six weeks before the Orioles break camp ahead of Opening Day on March 31:

7. 2B Ryan Flaherty (.221, 10 HR, 27 RBI, .683 OPS)

The opinions on the 27-year-old Flaherty have been polarizing in his brief major league career with plenty of good (16 home runs in 438 plate appearances and strong defense) and bad (a 12-for-90 start to 2013 that landed him at Triple-A Norfolk in May) over the last two years. However, the former Rule 5 pick appears to be the favorite to replace Brian Roberts as the starting second baseman and hit .276 with an impressive .812 OPS in 156 at-bats after being recalled from the Tides in late May. As we saw early last season, Flaherty’s defense alone gives him a long leash in Showalter’s eyes, but the Orioles hope he finally finds consistency at the plate with no established veteran in the mix as a serious threat.

6. OF/DH Henry Urrutia (.276, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .586 OPS)

The Cuban defector was the toast of the Orioles’ farm system last season as he raked at both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk — hitting .347 with 31 extra-base hits between the two levels — before being called up to the majors in late July. All but one of Urrutia’s 16 hits with the Orioles were singles, but far too many have written off the 27-year-old while overlooking how tumultuous the last couple years were for him in simply trying to get to the United States, let alone immediately thrive in professional baseball. There’s no question that Urrutia needs to hit for more power to stick, but nearly 20 extra pounds and a full offseason to hone his craft make this spring an interesting one for him as the Orioles are still unsettled at the designated hitter spot.

5. LHP Zach Britton (2-3, 4.95 ERA, 1.725 WHIP)

This year is likely to be Britton’s last chance with the Orioles as he’s out of options and coming off his second consecutive underwhelming season in which he pitched poorly in 40 major league innings and posted an unimpressive 4.27 ERA at Norfolk. Britton walked too many hitters and didn’t miss enough bats (striking out just 4.1 per nine innings), but the fifth starter job is open for now and the fact that other contenders such as Kevin Gausman and Steve Johnson have remaining options gives the 26-year-old lefty a slight edge in the race. His 5-1 start as a rookie in 2011 feels like an eternity ago, but Britton has no better chance but this spring to show Showalter and new pitching coach Dave Wallace that he’s finally figured everything out.

4. OF/DH Delmon Young (.260, 11 HR, 38 RBI, .715 OPS combined with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay)

One of the few players the Orioles signed this offseason who has significant major league experience, the 28-year-old Young agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training and figures to have a good chance to make the club as the right-handed designated hitter. He carries off-field baggage to go along with uneven performance over the last three years, but the No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 draft is a career .303 hitter with an .812 OPS against left-handed pitchers in his career. It was only 2010 when Young had a career season by hitting .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBIs, but the Orioles simply hope he can be part of the answer in a possible DH platoon situation.

3. LF David Lough (.286, 5 HR, 33 RBI, .724 OPS with Kansas City)

The Orioles spent much of the winter talking up Lough’s potential and there’s no doubting his above-average defensive ability, but whether he can handle the starting job in left field remains to be seen. A younger and cheaper version of Nate McLouth, Lough slugged a decent .413 but walked only 10 times in 335 plate appearances with the Royals last season, which isn’t something you’d like to see given the Orioles’ poor on-base percentage as a team in 2013. The 28-year-old hit .292 against southpaw pitchers last season, which bodes well for his chances to play every day, but the Orioles really would have benefited from a substantial upgrade at the position instead of a poor man’s version of McLouth, who wasn’t exactly a world-beater in 2013.

2. 3B Manny Machado (.283, 14 HR, 71 RBI, .746 OPS)

It remains to be seen how much the 21-year-old will play this spring — if at all — as he continues his rehabilitation from knee surgery, but his recovery is critical to not just the 2014 season but the future of the franchise. The Orioles need to be careful in easing Machado back to baseball, but it will be interesting to see if the winter disrupts his progress as a player after some of his flaws at the plate were exposed late last season. As good as he is at such a young age, Machado needs to show more patience at the plate (only 38 walks in 912 career plate appearances) and hit only .239 in the final three months of last season, making his late-season knee injury that much more frustrating in robbing him of the ability to simply hone his craft this winter.

1. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-5, 5.66 ERA, 1.343 WHIP)

For all the discussion about the Orioles failing to land an established veteran starter to anchor the rotation, the 2012 first-round pick taking a giant step forward would be a major shot in the arm to the back end of the rotation. Gausman’s blazing fastball and split-change are plus pitches, but the 23-year-old needs a better feel for a third pitch to give himself the best chance to succeed as a starter. Regardless of where he’s playing, Gausman needs to be pitching every fifth day to develop and should not be in the bullpen as he was in the second half last season. Baltimore hopes that some added bulk to his 6-foot-3 frame will put the righty over the top physically and allow him to put things together quickly at the major league level.

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Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

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Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

Posted on 10 February 2014 by Luke Jones

As Orioles pitchers and catchers prepare to hold their first workout in Sarasota on Friday, much of the attention will begin to shift from an abysmal offseason to the daily happenings of spring training.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and ownership have yet to deliver on stated goals of adding a veteran starting pitcher as well as significantly addressing a number of other needs, but the roster isn’t devoid of talent either as manager Buck Showalter attempts to guide the Orioles to their third consecutive winning season.

With 13 players out of options on the 40-man roster, Duquette and Showalter will face some difficult decisions while fans will justifiably continue to clamor for some impact additions between now and Opening Day.

Here’s a glance at the current 40-man roster — left-handed pitcher Troy Patton will not count during his 25-game suspension to begin the regular season — with a preview of non-roster spring training invitees coming later in the week:

PITCHERS (22)

LHP Mike Belfiore
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: two
Musing: The southpaw reliever had a few call-ups to Baltimore last season — appearing in one game — but his 1.441 WHIP at Triple-A Norfolk suggests he’ll start the season with the Tides once again.

LHP Tim Berry
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: three
Musing: Added to the 40-man roster after a strong 2013 campaign for Frederick, the 2009 50th-round pick can firmly put himself on the club’s radar if he can duplicate or better his 2013 ERA of 3.85 at Double-A Bowie.

RHP Brad Brach
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: one
Musing: Acquired from San Diego in exchange for Devin Jones, Brach has a career 3.70 ERA and has averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in three major league seasons but might be squeezed out of the Baltimore bullpen to start the season since he has an option year remaining.

LHP Zach Britton
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: none
Musing: We’ll see if new pitching coach Dave Wallace can work any magic with Britton, who is coming off a poor 2013 season and no longer has age or options on his side in finally realizing his once-impressive potential.

RHP Dylan Bundy
Opening Day age: 21
Options remaining: two
Musing: His Tommy John surgery was one of the more disappointing developments of the 2013 season, but his rehabilitation progress suggests a late-season return to live-game action is realistic and he still has his entire career in front of him at such a young age.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: three
Musing: Entering the final season of a three-year, $11.09 million contract that includes a team option for 2015, the Taiwanese southpaw can show the Orioles he’s capable of reaching another level after pitching to a solid 4.04 ERA in his first two seasons despite missing two months with an oblique injury in 2013.

LHP Kelvin De La Cruz
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: none
Musing: De La Cruz has never pitched in the majors and has control issues (4.7 walks per nine innings), but his strikeout numbers (11.3 per nine innings at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2013) are impressive and he’s had success against lefties, which made him a viable project in Duquette’s mind.

RHP Edgmer Escalona
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The Rockies product posted ERAs of 6.04 and 5.67 in 2012 and 2013 respectively — making the Orioles’ interest in him puzzling — and he figures to face an uphill battle to carve out a spot in the Orioles bullpen but would likely clear waivers to be outrighted to Norfolk.

RHP Kevin Gausman
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: two
Musing: Vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation after spending time in the bullpen during his rookie season, the 2012 first-round pick gained 12 pounds in the winter and hopes his developing slider has improved enough to land him a stable job with the major league club.

RHP Miguel Gonzalez
Opening Day age: 29
Options remaining: two
Musing: His stamina often comes into question with only a 170-pound frame, but Gonzalez has gone 20-12 with a 3.58 in 43 starts in his first two seasons and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the stability he’s added to the starting rotation after being one of the best stories of the surprising 2012 playoff season.

RHP Liam Hendriks
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: one
Musing: The Australian was selected off waivers in December and figures to be a good bet for Norfolk’s starting rotation in 2014 after posting a 6.06 ERA and making 28 starts for the Minnesota Twins over the last three seasons.

RHP Tommy Hunter
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The favorite to be the new closer, Hunter has the makeup for the ninth, but a tendency to give up the long ball (11 in 86 1/3 innings in 2013) and shaky numbers against left-handed hitters (.294 against him last year) won’t make Showalter comfortable until Hunter proves himself in his new role.

RHP Steve Johnson
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: one
Musing: An injury-plagued 2013 was a lost season for the local product, but Johnson remains a candidate for the fifth starter job and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 54 major league innings despite underwhelming velocity that often leaves critics doubting him.

LHP Chris Jones
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: three
Musing: Acquired from Atlanta in the Luis Ayala trade early last season, Jones went 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 31 appearances with Norfolk and is a name to keep an eye on if the Orioles need left-handed bullpen help later in the season.

LHP Brian Matusz
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The 2008 first-round pick still has visions of starting in the big leagues, but it appears that ship has sailed as he’s found a niche as a situational reliever and will be even more valuable with Patton suspended for the first 25 games of the season.

LHP T.J. McFarland
Opening Day age: 24
Options remaining: three
Musing: After being stashed in the bullpen as a Rule 5 pick last year, McFarland figures to be a member of Norfolk’s rotation where he can continue to develop and hopefully justify the Orioles’ choice to hinder their roster flexibility last season.

RHP Bud Norris
Opening Day age: 29
Options remaining: three
Musing: His control issues and 4.80 ERA were a disappointment upon being acquired from Houston last July, but Norris is an excellent bet to win a starting rotation spot and has a career 4.36 ERA in five major league seasons.

RHP Darren O’Day
Opening Day age: 31
Options remaining: player permission only
Musing: The bullpen struggled down the stretch last year with O’Day limited to just two appearances from Aug. 29 through Sept. 18 while dealing with numbness in two fingers, so his return to full strength is critical for a group already needing to fill the void of departed closer Jim Johnson.

LHP Troy Patton
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: none
Musing: His suspension for Adderall use would likely have him on shaky footing had it not been for the solid 3.70 ERA he posted last season, but Patton must deal with the reality of how he’ll prepare for the season with Showalter already saying he won’t pitch in many spring games.

RHP Josh Stinson
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: none
Musing: Liked by Showalter, Stinson will compete to win a long-relief spot in the bullpen and pitched very well in that capacity late last season, posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 1/3 innings of relief after a less-than-impressive spot start made early in 2013.

RHP Chris Tillman
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: none
Musing: The 2013 All-Star righty became the ace of the staff last season and was very consistent after a rocky April, but his next goal will be to pitch deeper into games all season like he did late in the year when he completed seven or more innings in six of his final eight starts.

RHP Ryan Webb
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: one
Musing: Webb being the Orioles’ best free-agent signing to this point speaks volumes about a miserable winter, but he’s the dark-horse candidate to close out games — if Hunter falters — due to his impressive splits against right-handed and lefty hitters (both hit .244 against him in 2013).

Continue to next page for position players >>>>>

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You can’t possibly be surprised the Orioles signed Delmon Young

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You can’t possibly be surprised the Orioles signed Delmon Young

Posted on 14 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

If ever a player was a natural signing for the Orioles, it’s Delmon Young.

Honestly, once I looked over his career yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, “what took them so long?”

Young was a former #1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays who was going to be the next great thing.  He could do it all — back then.  Baseball people like to identify players with the “tools” they possess…hitting, hitting for power, fielding, running, etc. They’re then known as 3-tool, 4-tool, 5-tool, etc.  With Young, they once thought they had a 7-tool player.

It didn’t work out that way, of course, which is why he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday.

A player who once commanded a salary of nearly $7 million a year, Young is the perfect off-season catch for the Birds based mainly on the salary he’ll require in ’14 when he makes the team.  Last year, he made $750,000 in a split season with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.  That means he should come in at under $1 million for the Birds.

Young also some brings some extra baggage with him when he arrives in Sarasota next month.  Back in 2006, Young was suspended from minor league baseball for 50 games after throwing a bat at an umpire during an on-field incident.  Two seasons ago while playing with the Tigers, Young was involved in a hate-crime after a conflict with patrons of a New York bar/restaurant.  He was accused of shouting anti-Semitic slurs to a group of people while he was intoxicated, later pleaded guilty, and performed 10 hours of community service.

That, of course, is in the past.

And the world is literally his oyster here in Baltimore, where Dan Duquette and the Orioles have been pursuing a right handed bat all off-season but couldn’t convince one of the quality free agents to take $800,000 for the season.

If Delmon Young stays healthy and keeps his nose clean — and just makes occasional contact in spring training – it’s likely he’ll show up on March 31 and be part of the opening day twenty five who make the trip down the orange carpet from centerfield to second base in pre-game ceremonies.

It’s not the kind of signing any of us wanted, but it’s most certainly the kind of signing we all knew we’d see.  Duquette tried a similar tact with Travis Ishikawa last winter and he turned into what we all expected — a dud.  We jokingly refer to it around here as “dumpster diving”, the on-going search for a needle in a haystack.

Delmon Young is certainly in the haystack.  A once decent player with a solid pedigree, down on his luck after a handful of unproductive years, willing to play for baseball’s version of Ramen Noodles — that’s the sort of reclamation project Dan Duquette believes in.

And that’s what we get these days in Baltimore.

That said — he IS right handed.  It’s a start, at least.

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How are the Ravens and Orioles different?  You’ll see today at 10:00 am

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How are the Ravens and Orioles different? You’ll see today at 10:00 am

Posted on 08 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

Of all the days that separate the two professional sports teams in Baltimore, today is the one that stands out the most.

No games get played.

No one wins.  No one loses.

No players signed.  No money spent.

Today is the day that tells you everything you need to know about the Ravens — and at the same time, reminds you of what you already knew about the Orioles.

Some might also consider that today shows why one of the teams is a perennial winner and the other isn’t.

This morning at 10:00 am, the football team will hold its annual “State of the Ravens” press conference at their facility in Owings Mills.  They don’t do this occasionally.  They don’t do it only after a successful season.  Since Steve Bisciotti assumed full control of the team, they’ve hosted this event every year a week or two after the season concludes.

It’s called, in a word, “accountability”.

The Ravens ooze it.

The Orioles need a transfusion of it.

The only person who faces the media regularly for the Orioles is Buck Showalter, and that’s typically only in pre-game or post-game form.  Buck hasn’t had any sort of pre-season en-masse sitdown with the Baltimore media since he took the job and, likewise, hasn’t had a post-season presser for the media in town to pepper him with questions about the season.  That said, I bet you anything you want that Showalter would gladly sit down with the media if presented the option of doing so without the natural interference provided by the stuffed suits at OPACY.

Dan Duquette hasn’t had a press conference – other than when he was hired – in…well…ummm…forever.

Hilarious, right?

Repeat this to yourself at least once to completely absorb the amazing lack of responsibility on behalf of Orioles management: Dan Duquette is entering his third season with the Orioles and he’s never, once, faced the Baltimore press corps for a “bring it on” press conference where we’re all allowed to ask questions about the way the baseball franchise is run.

Go ahead, read that again.  Unreal.  Right?

This, of course, is in direct contrast to the Ravens, who will welcome any and all media members into their house today and allow questions to be thrown at Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh.

None of the questions will be dodged, unless some goof in the room says something like, “Yeah, this is for Ozzie.  Are you guys interested in trading for Justin Blackmon of the Jaguars?  He’s really good you know.”  Ozzie, of course, can’t answer any question about a player currently under contract with another team.  But he’ll answer any other REAL questions thrown his way today.

There’s no list of “off-limits-topics” distributed beforehand.  And, unlike the Orioles, who specialize in not allowing their critics to question them, the Ravens don’t “hand-pick” who is allowed in the room and who asks questions and who doesn’t.

The Orioles are so afraid of their critics they take away their press credentials and display a picture of the suspect at the main entrance behind home plate the same way the FBI posts pictures of their Most Wanted List in post offices.

The Ravens say, “Come on in, everyone, and ask whatever you want.”

The Orioles say, “You — you, right there.  You can come in.  You, though, you can’t come in.”

Accountability.  It’s what fuels today’s “State of the Ravens” gathering.

As long time Ravens P.R. Vice President Kevin Byrne said to me once, “We like this sort of review.  We appreciate the questions and the challenges.  We constantly evaluate ourselves.  We’re not worried about having people ask us why we do what we do.”

After the press conference, all four of the men will routinely hang around for some “off-the-record” discussions in the event you wanted to press an issue that was touched upon during the “open” portion of the event.

Yes, it’s true.  Steve Bisciotti simply stands in the corner and you ask him whatever you want.  One year, I asked him, simply, “How much money did the team make this past season?”  And, he stood right there and answered it.

Can you imagine asking Peter Angelos that question?

Wait — can you imagine Peter making himself AVAILABLE, first of all?  Then, what if that question got posed to him?  You can only imagine the result.

(Please see next page)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In honor of the first Tuesday Top 7 of 2014, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction selected their top seven local sports figures to watch in 2014.

Some of the names are predictable while others may just be establishing themselves on the local sports scene, but each is worth following closely in 2014 for different reasons.

To listen to Jones’ full explanation for his list, click HERE. Forrester’s breakdown of his seven names can be found HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014 …

7. Towson running back and NFL Draft prospect Terrance West
west
Skinny: Not only will the FCS record-breaking back be drafted, but it will be fun to watch his progress and to see how his skills translate to the next level.

6. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs
diggs
Skinny: Questions will linger about the Terps’ ability to compete in the Big Ten, but a breakout 2014 campaign would likely have the offensive playmaker thinking carefully about the NFL.

5. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
gausman
Skinny: Assuming the Orioles’ offseason continues at its current pace, the 23-year-old right-hander’s development will be critical in determining whether the club remains in contention.

4. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
suggs
Skinny: The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year may have already played his final game in Baltimore if he’s not willing to adjust his $12.4 million salary cap number for the 2014 season.

3. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado
machado
Skinny: Coming off knee surgery and entering just his second full season in the majors, the 21-year-old will be counted on to not only be healthy but to take his already-impressive game to the next level.

2. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
flacco
Skinny: The spotlight on the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player will be brighter than ever after a disappointing 2013 season and considering his cap number balloons to $14.8 million in 2014.

1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter
buck
Skinny: After two poor offseasons in a row, does the Baltimore skipper reach his breaking point with an organization lacking the commitment to build on its recent success?

CONTINUE FOR DREW FORRESTER’S TOP 7 LOCAL SPORTS FIGURES TO WATCH IN 2014 >>>>>

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