Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

Anyone have a place in Aruba and a hammock for Dan Duquette?

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Anyone have a place in Aruba and a hammock for Dan Duquette?

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

I’m sure Dan Duquette needs a nap now after that flurry of activity over the last week or so of the hot stove season.

Last Friday, the Birds snatched away some guy named Mike something-or-other from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft.  He’ll need to hang around all year – like Flaherty (’12) and McFarland (’13) did – on the 25-man roster or else be offered back to Boston.  I’m sure Buck Showalter is just thrilled with only having a 24-man club to work with from April until September 1.

Yesterday, Duquette filled a hole he created two weeks ago when he brought Grant Balfour into the fold for two years to serve as the team’s closer.

Poor Dan.  He probably needs a massage and a follow-up appointment to make sure he’s not overheated.

So, it’s nearly Christmas.  The “new year” is just around the corner.  January quickly turns into February around here, particularly when the days and weeks are filled with furious discussion about the Ravens and their next playoff game.  Before you know it, the players start flowing into Sarasota for spring training.

In other words — the baseball season will be here soon.

Where are all the players who will help the Orioles win in 2014?

Balfour will help, we all assume.  Yes, he’s 36.  Yes, his numbers away from Oakland Coliseum spiked a bit, as expected.  And, yes, he’ll be closing games against the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees instead of the Mariners and Astros.  That said, Balfour is a much better option than Tommy Hunter would have been for the upcoming season.

So, we’ll check off on Balfour.

Next?

Ryan Flaherty and perhaps some guy you’ve never heard of named Jemile Weeks will likely compete for the starting second base job.  If Jonathan Schoop can get healthy and stay that way, he might get his hands dirty at 2B as well.  Make no mistake about it, though, this isn’t necessarily a position of strength for the Birds heading into 2014, despite the fact I personally believe Flaherty has the tools to be a “decent” everyday player.

Duquette publicly stated his off-season efforts would focus on a left-handed bat (a real one, presumably) and a left-fielder (again, I’m figuring he wanted a real one) to help produce more runs with players who understand the value of on-base percentage.

Nothing’s been done there yet.  On either account.

Yes, yes, yes, I know, the off-season haul DID include the signing of Francisco Peguero, a cast-off for the Giants who scorched the National League with a .200 batting average in his 35 career games over there.

Oh, and Nolan Reimold is back.

There’s no left-handed bat yet.

Plenty were available, but all of them make too much money for the Orioles in this “limited market” they supposedly occupy.

Are you ready for the return of Luke Scott?

You better be.

So, the off-season rolls on in Baltimore the way it usually does.  With promises, hopes and expectations — and nothing much to show for it once the presents have been unwrapped and the sunshine of Florida beckons in the not-so-distant-future.

Ticket prices increased, though.  And, the Orioles got about $30 million more in TV money to spend on players this year.  They’re not spending it, mind you, but they have it at their disposal.  So, they have that going for them, which is nice.

Things could change over the next 4-6 weeks.  Duquette could make a trade of some sort that fills one or two of the needs he stressed he was trying to fill earlier this month.  A free-agent still hanging around without a team might wind up saying “yes” to the Orioles in the days before spring training begins.

Yes, things COULD change.

But, they won’t.

Some things never change with the Orioles.

They aren’t willing to do what it takes to be a championship organization.

A fact, they’ve been proving – again – over the last six weeks since free agency began and teams who are trying to win took steps to do just that.

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Orioles linked to Hammel, Cruz at baseball’s Winter Meetings

Posted on 09 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista are underway, and with the Orioles still looking to add a big bat or starting pitcher to their 25-man roster, Orioles VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette is already hard at work making some calls to agents of the game’s best players.

FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal and NBCSports’ Craig Calcaterra report that Duquette has met with agent Mitch Frankel, who represents former Rangers OF Nelson Cruz as well as free agent starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Cruz, a two-time All-Star with 157 career home runs, hit .266 with 27 HRs and 86 RBIs in 109 games in 2013 before being accused of buying performance-enhancing drugs from a clinic in Miami during the BioGenesis scandal.

Colon, 40, went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA for the A’s this season and owns a 189-128 record in his 18-year MLB career.

The Orioles also talked to former A’s closer Grant Balfour’s agent.

ESPN and SiriusXM’s Jim Bowden says that in a conversation he had with Duquette on his radio show, the Orioles have been zoning in on trying to find starting pitching, a LF, and a left-handed DH if possible.

One name that could fix their SP need would be Jason Hammel, who spent the last two seasons with the Orioles after coming over in a trade with the Colorado Rockies before the 2012 season.

Hammel, 31, has also drawn interest from the Cleveland Indians. Hammel had a spectacular season in his first season in Baltimore, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA before knee problems ended his season.

He was unable to rebound from the injury in 2013 and lost fastball command, finishing the season 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA.

The Yankees talked with former Orioles 2B Brian Roberts about a possible return to the AL East, after the Yankees saw their All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano sign a deal with the Mariners last week.

 

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore.  Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman,  Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.  What a difference a year makes.

Jim JohnsonIf the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams.  What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”

The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production.  Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season.  For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.

Jemile WeeksAs for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point).  After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013.  Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.

But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million?  Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.

Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely.  If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form.  But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.

Jim JohnsonThe same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade.  As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.

Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.

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Machado expected to be ready for spring after suffering minor ligament tear

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Machado expected to be ready for spring after suffering minor ligament tear

Posted on 24 September 2013 by WNST Staff

The Orioles and their fans breathed a collective sigh of relief Tuesday as it appears that 21-year-old third baseman Manny Machado has avoided a catastrophic injury to his knee.

Though the young infielder will receive a second opinion, the diagnosis by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens was that Machado suffered only a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee when he stepped awkwardly on first base in the seventh inning of the series finale against the Rays on Monday. A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed no damage to the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments despite fears that suggested otherwise upon witnessing the gruesome-looking injury.

It is believed that Machado will not need surgery and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks before he can begin light running. That timetable would put him on track to be ready for spring training in February, which is excellent news for the All-Star third baseman and the Orioles, who have all but been eliminated from postseason consideration but entered Tuesday only one victory away from their second consecutive winning season.

The third overall pick in the 2010 draft, Machado hit .283 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, and 71 runs batted in in his first full season in the big leagues this year and was selected to his first All-Star Game in July.

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ARoid HOF Plaque

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A-Roid is Special

Posted on 18 August 2013 by Tom Federline

Alex Rodriguez is special in his own mind and to the thousands of nieve Yankee fans that still support him. He is so special, he has been allowed to put his inevitable suspension on hold. He is so special, he is still playing baseball and he is still getting paid. He is so special, MLB is not even going to hear his case until November/December of this year, (after post season). Why is that? The 12 other suspended players accepted their defeat, accepted their guilt. You caught us, suspend us without pay (we don’t need all that ridculous cash anyway), and BTW thank you for enforcing this now. That way we can have a vacation and then return for the playoffs. Review all of the above, as it presents more evidence that professional sports “Is Fixed”.

A-roid, could you just do us all a favor and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – (Tom Petty). You make me sick. If you never show your face again in Baltimore or at Camden Yards – our city and our experience at the stadium is better for it. Just go away. Don’t even stop by and pick up Brady for one last butt PED injection. You have tarnished the game of baseball. In this Steroid Era (1990-Present), you and the other 70% fellow needle sticking butt buddies, have managed to place doubt whenever excellence is being achieved, i.e. currently the Orioles own Chris Davis.

Chris Davis has offered is two cents on any allegations directed at him by addressing talk about chasing the single season Home Run record. Not verbatum – but here’s the jist – “The only record I’m concerned about is Roger Maris’ 61. The others don’t count.” Those are my sentiments and more than likely the sentiments of all true baseball fans. Hopefully Davis is not pulling a Rafeal Palmeiro. Hopefully he is legit. Hopefully Albert Pujols is legit. Hopefully Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are legit. What are your thoughts? Here’s mine – thanks to Bud Selig, the players union and MLB – they are all guilty. And if they have not tested positive, they are the ones with the good agents, they are the ones paying off the right people at the testing labs. I don’t know what happened with A-roid and his 28 million a year. Maybe Biogenesis got to greedy with A-roids’ name on the list and the buy-off price got to high. That’s why the other 12 had to surrender.

It’s just not right. It’s all fixed, plus one. Meaning – it’s “all fixed” with performance enhancing drugs simply adding salt into baseballs wound. A-Roid is special and pretty and rich. Kinda makes you a little envious of A-roid. It makes me so envious – it makes me gag. Which I almost did, last Sunday. I can tell you one thing, I’m glad I did not have a heavy object in my hand or I would have been out buying a new television this past week.

Last Sunday afternoon – I turned on the PGA golf tournament. Within minutes my stomach started to rumble and become mildly upset. For ten miuntes all I heard were the “commentators” continuously swoon over Tiger Woods and Phil Mikelson. Whose rounds by the way, were long completed and they were on their way home. The golf “groupies” couldn’t accept the fact that competitive golf could still be played without Tigger ” Mr.4-iron” and Phil “how do you like my fake smile?” I digress. Bottom line – golf is off, what else is on? I turned the station to find Detroit vs. the Yankees. Oh joy, Justin Verlander (another potential juicer) vs. A-roid. I was asking for pain at this point.

Here comes A-Roid and his first at bat…. Home Run. RUKM? My stomach has now begun to rumble. There were some boos in the crowd………. prior to his at-bat. All of which, turned to cheers and a standin ovation after the homerun. RUKM? Just wasn’t right, man. More reasons not to respect Yankee fans. At this point I buckled over, while shouting a few choice “unmentionalbles” at the television. And for those who know me – it was quite “juicy”. At this point, I was hoping that was the worst of it. Oh no, MLB and Fox Sports wasn’t convinced I was sick enough. Next they put up a stat – “A-Roid is 1 RBI away from tying Stan Musial.” That was it – dry heaving and piercing pains in the back of my head almost did me in. A-roid and Stan Musial in the same sentence. You just gagged like I did, didn’t you? Just how wrong is that? My take – the Steroid Era boys get their own record book and Wall of Shame.

Enough already. Let’s get positive. Orioles – whoops – that’s a tough one. They are not hitting in the clutch and how about this newsflash? Jimmy JJ Johnson – no more 9th inning! Bench him for 50 games and no pay. Guess what happens? He gets a vacation, he gets to ponder the use of “juicy juice” and he’s back for playoffs. Orioles in the PLAYOFFS? Not at this pace. Not with thier current attitude. They have experienced their second low-point of the season. And no extended high point to off-set the lows. It’s not all Jimmy JJ’s fault. They all are guilty, including Buck-Buck. Where is your “closer by committee”, Buck-Buck? What’s with the all the LOB in scoring position, Buck-Buck? O’s are not going to the Promised Land with current state of affairs.

Summary – no more juicy juice talk please. O’s have an outside shot at making a run. Let’s have fun. Just go away A-ROID and take your other suspected/questionable PED teammate buddies with you: Teixeira, Sabathia, Jeter (oh yeah throw him in there too), Granderson, etc. etc. Yankees go home. Let’s just make it O’s, Red Sux and some team that plays inside in Florida. Fan in need of Orange Kool-aid.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Showalter leaving door open for ninth-inning options besides Johnson

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Showalter leaving door open for ninth-inning options besides Johnson

Posted on 16 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — With the Orioles returning home following a deflating three-game sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the question on everyone’s mind was who would take the ball in the ninth inning for manager Buck Showalter.

Having blown his last three save opportunities to run his total to a league-worst nine for the season, closer Jim Johnson told reporters in the Orioles clubhouse that he remains confident and that Showalter continues to express confidence in him. And while it’s true that the Baltimore manager maintained Friday that Johnson was still the best option on the team, he also provided himself wiggle room to make a change if he feels it to be necessary.

“I think we have a lot of options and he’s one of them,” Showalter said. “We’re lucky to have all those options. Different guys have failure. I know the finality of it and I know the questions should and need to be asked and it’s frustrating for Jimmy and me. I’m frustrated for him. There’s some things we haven’t done in other innings, too, but I understand the finality of that inning.”

Johnson still leads the majors with 39 saves, but the embattled right-hander is just 9-for-16 in one-run saves as many have pointed to the Orioles’ horrendous 56-9 mark when leading after eight innings and an underwhelming 14-21 record in one-run games after going a remarkable 29-9 in contests decided by one run last year. Those ugly realities have led most to the conclusion that the Orioles need to make a change at the closer spot — at least temporarily.

Showalter has repeatedly expressed his confidence in Johnson this year — including when the 30-year-old reliever blew four of five save chances in late May — but that loyalty is now appearing to contradict the ultimate goal of winning enough games to qualify for postseason play. If Showalter is planning a change, it comes as no surprise that he isn’t broadcasting that for both competitive reasons and respect for the 2012 All-Star closer.

Some have suggested even just giving Johnson a mental and physical respite for a number of days to see if that straightens him out for the stretch run, but the club has already tried to do that at a couple points this season, according to Showalter. If the next save opportunity comes Friday or later this weekend or even next week, the Orioles aren’t tipping their hand whether it will once again be Johnson or somebody else trotting to the hill in the ninth inning.

“If we decide to do that, there’s not going to be some big announcement,” Showalter said. “It will be something I’ve talked to people about and you’ll probably know about it when the gate opens. There are a lot of things that have to be done for us to get 27 outs before they score more runs than we do.”

Even Showalter’s biggest supporters have questioned the sanity of continuing to use Johnson in the ninth inning, a reality not lost on the manager as the Orioles start an important nine-game homestand to take them to the final days of August.

He’s very aware that the Orioles have lost some games that they shouldn’t have won, but Showalter’s intense loyalty to his players that is typically viewed as his greatest strength looks much more like a weakness at this point.

“I’m a fan, too. I get frustrated. We’re all fans of the Orioles,” Showalter said. “I’m a fan of the Orioles and I want us to win. If there are adjustments that need to be made along the way, I understand the sense of urgency with 42 games [left]. But I also know we’re still in a position to do what we set out to do this season and we won’t give in.”

No timetable for Adair’s return to club

As the organization did in announced Rick Adair’s personal leave of absence on Friday morning, Showalter remained respectful of his privacy and would not divulge any details about the circumstances with which the pitching coach is dealing.

Bullpen coach Bill Castro will assume the duties of pitching coach while former Orioles left-hander and minor-league instructor Scott McGregor will serve as the interim bullpen coach. Castro has major league experience as a pitching coach after previously serving in that capacity with the Milwaukee Brewers as recently as 2009.

Many reacted to the news by immediately speculating that this was a polite way to dismiss Adair, but the Orioles have been emphatic that the reason for the leave of absence isn’t related to his job performance. We could eventually learn there is more to this story, but it’s also important to remember coaches and players are also human beings with everyday trials just like anyone else.

“We all have some things in our lives we need to take care of that are more important than this, believe it or not,” Showalter said. “We’re just fortunate to be in an organization that is willing to do those things, and we’re fortunate to have people like Billy and Scott that can make it seamless. It has nothing to do with the job Rick is doing. Rick’s been doing a good job. Just some challenges we all have that we need to take some time and take care of.”

Showalter held a team meeting Friday afternoon to inform them of the shuffling along the coaching ranks and to address any rumors that might hear about Adair’s absence. Castro met with Orioles pitchers individually prior to the series opener against Colorado.

Gausman dealing with arm soreness

After top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the season, the last thing Orioles fans wanted to hear Friday was that 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman was skipped in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation with some soreness in his right arm.

Showalter made it clear that this isn’t considered to be anything serious, but the club also presented a similar prognosis when Bundy first complained of forearm discomfort. Of course, pitchers frequently deal with sore or tired arms and it doesn’t mean Gausman is facing any type of long-term issue at this time, but it will be something the Orioles will monitor for the time being.

“He feels good. He’s not happy about not pitching, but just had a little soreness,” Showalter said. “[It will] probably be the last time he ever tells us about it. That’s usually how it goes. They don’t seem alarmed about it. There was some give and take about whether they were even going to do it.”

The good news is that Showalter acknowledged the extra rest would benefit Gausman in terms of his workload and referred to the likely scenario of Gausman helping out the major league club in September and beyond.

Gausman last pitched on Aug. 8 when he allowed two earned runs in five innings of work for the Tides.

Changing it up

For the second time over the last week, Showalter flipped first baseman Chris Davis and right fielder Nick Markakis in the batting order as Davis was hitting third and Markakis fifth in Friday’s lineup against the Colorado Rockies.

Showalter admitted there were a variety of reasons for making the change, ranging from a desire to get Davis more at-bats to simply wanting to shake things up in hopes of jump-starting the offense. With both Davis and Markakis swinging from the left side, the change keeps the lineup in order in terms of making it difficult for a bullpen to match up in the late innings as Showalter frequently alternates right-handers and left-handers.

“Nick doesn’t care if he hits ninth, first, second, third, twelfth. He would probably have a problem with hitting twelfth,” Showalter quipped. “It’s just something we feel like is a good approach for today. We’ll see where it takes us.”

While Davis is in the midst of an MVP-caliber year, Markakis’ .282 batting average, .335 on-base percentage, and .372 slugging percentage are all career lows, making an easy argument against the right fielder remaining in the No. 3 slot in the lineup. It will also be interesting to see what it means for Davis with Adam Jones hitting directly behind him in the order compared to either Matt Wieters or J.J. Hardy as we’ve seen for most of the season.

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Time for Buck to Switch Things Up

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Time for Buck to Switch Things Up

Posted on 14 August 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Buck Showalter has been given the ultimate pass for everything he can do as a manager, because he revived the entire baseball community in Baltimore.  Yet he has shown an unyielding stubbornness with his current group of players. Buck has backed the likes of Jim Johnson, Jason Hammel and others, almost to a fault, possibly losing key games throughout the season.

Now this has not always been the case for the O’s skipper, who earned a reputation as a dictator or tyrant in his previous stints.  There is no denying he is one of the most intelligent minds in the sport, but was not always accessible to his players.  He basically wore out his welcome with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers, but left all those franchises in good terms for the near future (especially New York and Arizona, who went on to win championships the year after his departure).

He spent some time with ESPN, where his analysis alone, led people to believe he was ready to take over the helm of another franchise.  And that’s where the young core that Andy McPhail built in Baltimore came in.  Buck was the right manager, at the right time, for a team with a lot of young talent, but little experience.

He seemed to turn over a new leaf, when coming to Baltimore; being more approachable by his players and communicating his ideas to the entire organization.  The bond he made with rising stars, like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, is evident on and off the field.  He basically pulled a 180 with his demeanor from his past jobs.  The problem arises now, with a team trying to make a second straight playoff appearance, where he lets his heart and not his mind make some of his decisions.

Buck continually sends Jim Johnson out in the 9th inning, following the save rule to a tee (even if he says he does not believe in it). Johnson now has eight blown saves on the season and is accountable for at least seven losses for the Orioles.  Even in the games which Johnson finishes the job, he has struggled, putting runners on base and giving up runs.  That has all led to his 3.42; which would be great for a starter, but really below average for pitcher who is relied on to finish one inning.  I was a big advocate of Johnson not lasting at the closer spot, for the long-term, and should have moved on in the offseason, while his value was at an all-time high (noted here).

The Orioles acquired Francisco Rodriguez,  who does hold the all-time single season save record (even though that was 2008 with the Angels).  Though he has not pitched up to that prowess since 2009 (his first season with the Mets), he posted stellar numbers in the first half of the season (10 saves 1.09 ERA, 1.054 WHIP) with the Brewers, while switching from set-up man to closer.

Now Rodriguez has not played as well with the Orioles, having issues giving up the long ball, but actually has a lower WHIP (.875) with the Orioles.  He has the “closer mentality” and stuff to strike out players in the pressure situations. It would behoove Buck to at least see what he has in closer spot now, before its too late.

Moving Johnson out of the 9th inning also adds depth to the back end of the bullpen.  Johnson was an excellent set-up man two years ago and could rotate with the likes of Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz late in close games.  This will add rest to some of the most overworked relievers for the Orioles (and all of baseball).  Add in a decision to be made on the 5th starter spot by Sunday (where the team has listed TBA for the starting pitcher spot on Sunday; Scott Feldman’s turn in the rotation), which could add Feldman into the mix in the bullpen for the foreseeable future.

Other options to put into the closer spot include: O’Day, Hunter and a September call-up to Kevin Gausman.  In the end, Buck could go the “Moneyball” route, using a closer by committee, with two or three options to finish games (depending on match-ups and rest).  Either way the time is now to mix up the bullpen; an experiment to put every pitcher on the staff in their best role would suit the Orioles for the stretch run.

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Morneau

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Trade Deadline: 3 Options for the O’s at DH

Posted on 30 July 2013 by benheck

Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Baltimore Orioles (58-48) don’t appear to be done dealing just yet.

With rumors swirling, there’s no question the third place Orioles are looking for a proven veteran to fill the designated hitter slot down the stretch and there are a couple of options open to Buck Showalter’s squad.

Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Though the O’s appear to have to given up on Morneau over the last few days, it would still be an interesting move to bring in the left-handed hitter. Three seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance, Morneau has battled injuries over the last few seasons and has seen his power drop considerably. But that doesn’t mean the 32-year old doesn’t still have veteran leadership and a decent bat (.264 BA, 53 runs batted in) to bring to the table in Baltimore. They wouldn’t have to invest long-term in him, and he would help solidify the lineup spot down the stretch. At this point, however, he appears to be a long-shot.

Marlon Byrd, New York Mets

The Mets’ CF is hitting .280 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs this season at the age of 35. But if dealt for before tomorrow’s deadline, he’ll likely be coming off the bench or filling the DH role because of an already stacked outfield consisting of McLouth, Jones and Markakis. The O’s have shown interest in Byrd, but the Mets––according to the NY Dailey News––say he’s “highly unlikely” to be traded. But that doesn’t mean the Mets will turn down every offer they are given. The Mets are 12.5 games back in the NL East, so you’d think they would be open to trading an aging outfielder for promising young prospects.

Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies

Young always seems to be in the middle of trade deadline rumors each season. Though Baltimore hasn’t made a huge push for Young, the 36-year old former All-Star could really give this lineup a boost. Another unlikely move, but it would surely make sense for GM Dan Duquette to make a move for the veteran, wouldn’t it? He’s a buy-low type of player and is a very versatile utility guy. He’d fit in as the every-day designated hitter, but could also sub in and out at virtually any infield position when Machado or Roberts need an off-day.

It’s still unknown whether or not the Orioles organization will make a move for a full-time DH, or just keep going with the DH carousel they have now. One thing is for certain: it wouldn’t hurt to have a solidified lineup by making a move for a full-time DH. The O’s have used seven different designated hitters during the month of July alone. We know Buck likes to switch things up and keep the opponent guessing, but for a late playoff run it may be nice to have one go-to guy for the spot.

And there’s certainly no shortage of proven, veteran designated hitters on the market.

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Orioles: Now or Never or Not Yet?

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Orioles: Now or Never or Not Yet?

Posted on 30 July 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

Last year was a special one for Orioles fans but it’s over now and (hopefully) never to be duplicated. Devoid of any expectations, when the Orioles poked their heads up and into contention it became a season to remember, and for long suffering fans of the franchise it became impossible to not enjoy; it was impossible to not get swept away in the “just happy to be here” mentality.

When things were going well we pinched ourselves trying to make sure it was real. When things went badly we reminded ourselves that our frustration sure beat the indifference we’d grown accustomed to feeling through 14 futile seasons. When the media failed to buy in and attributed the team’s fortunes to luck we stood in defiance. And on top of all of that, we acknowledged that the Orioles appeared to be ahead of their “window”. In addition to the success we were enjoying in 2012, the future, built around names like Machado and Bundy and Schoop and Gausman gave the hint of being even brighter.

What a difference a year can make. As the trade deadline approaches for a team and a fan base now “accustomed” to winning, excitement has turned to expectation, hope has become hype and the future, it seems, is now.

Even however, while enjoying the fruits of this team’s success, it’s tough not to question exactly how they got here. After 14 years has the worm truly turned? Is this franchise now in capable hands to continue this success? Or have they simply stumbled into a window of likely fleeting success?

After all, to say that some of the Orioles’ on hand talent has exceeded reasonable expectations would be a gigantic understatement. The AL East is as eminently winnable is it’s been in recent memory and it won’t likely stay that way for long. And if the 14 years that led us to this point have taught is anything, it’s that once this window is closed, it may not open again for a very long time.

To their credit, the Orioles appear to be close to all in. For those still looking toward the future it may be as close to all in as we’d like to see them get. While we’ve spent the ten years at least clamoring for the team to spend more money, there’s a legitimate case to be made that outspending everyone else is no longer the path to MLB success. Some of baseball’s lowest salaried teams are not only enjoying success, but appear to be poised to sustain it. Meanwhile most of baseball’s upper class may be looking at years of paying out bad contracts with little or nothing to show in return. And, oh by the way, it’s impossible not to notice the number of bright, young MLB stars in the making that are the byproducts of other teams recent forays at going all in and are now playing elsewhere.

So far it seems that the Orioles have shown a willingness to trade away some prospects, as long as they don’t have to pay real money for the players they’re getting in return. It seems like a sound strategy, especially with a roster loaded with young players whom they’ll have to up the ante for this off-season and beyond.

You’d have to guess that if they’re really considering trading Dylan Bundy as some have suggested, it’ll likely to get a highly paid player, while also getting his team to pay a sizable portion of that high salary. Timing alone suggests that it’s not the optimal time to trade Bundy; that time was last year. In fairness, that time might be never; only time will truly tell.

The only thing that’s certain is that as fans we’ll always be able to rely on hindsight; and that any move that doesn’t end in a World Series win will be seen as the wrong one. It’s a tough standard to live up to. It’s the unfortunate part of success. Are the Orioles best served to open the “window” as wide as possible now, or pace themselves in an effort to keep it open for longer? There’s no wrong answer…yet.

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Orioles Are Hanging

Posted on 18 July 2013 by Tom Federline

Their record is 53-43, 10 games above .500. Currently, occupying third place in the toughest division in baseball. Three starters and two reserves representing the Baltimore Orioles at the All-Star game. Almost two-thirds the way through the regular season and playoffs are seemingly within reach. Not a fantasy. Not a fluke. Not on our wish list. Baltimore baseball is back. Baltimore baseball is a hot topic. Both locally and nationally. How ’bout ‘dem O’s, hun? I have one word to describe the play so far this season and the performances of O’s stars at the All-Star game – “Respectable” – Rolling Stones!

Come on now, how did it feel having FIVE Orioles at the All-Star game? How did it feel having Chris Davis in the HR Derby Contest? How did it feel when Davis singled Cabrerra around to third? Adam Jones’ double? JJ Hardy knocking Jones in on a fielder choice? The orange shoes? And finally, Man-ny’s web gem at third?Baltimore Oriole uniforms were positioned on the field. Yeah, national baseball fans and media – we have a team. We have a manager. We have a hard core fan base, that’s “runnin’ with the pack”. Uh-oh, there’s another song reference – name the artist?

AL 3 – NL 0. Nice knowing the Orioles will have home field advantage in October. Ok, that’s wishful thinking. But, not to be dismissed as in years passed. Last year was a surprising run. This year, they are expected to be in the race. They have the offense. They have the defense. They have the heart. They have been fairly injury free (minus Chen). Bottom line – pitching is suspect and if they lose Weiters, no October. They have the best offensive threat combo in baseball, whether it’s 1-2 or 2-3. These two set the stage:

The line-up is “respectable”. The fill-ins/replacements may need some tweeking. Our back-up cathcer has the respect of the pitchers and a cool name, Taylor Teagarden. Unfortunately, his bat is even cooler. Reimold, batting .205, is a designated “out”. As opposed to a designated “hitter”. I like the Flaherty/Casilla platoon. Have not bought into the return of Roberts. Please Buck-Buck, lose the Brian Roberts Bromance, put him 8th or 9th where he belongs, until he gets hurt.

Pitching? Can you make it to the Promised Land when your “Closer” already has 7 losses? Did you see the performances Tuesday night from other teams “Closers”? Jimmy JJ Johnson, needs some Orange Kool-aid. Currently, the O’s currently, do not have that “Lights Out Threat.” World Series teams need one. Starters: Chen, Gonzales and Tillman are formidable. Will Hammel hold up? Is Feldman the “surprise”? Good riddance, Strope Me, Strope Me – learn to wear your hat right. Middle relief: the O’s savior at this stage of the season. They could carry the staff. Pitching wins World Series.

Whether the Orioles have the pitching or not. It’s fun! They have a shot! They don’t give up. I enjoy listening on the radio. I have become accustomed to the radio being a little ahead of the TV broadcast. I get fired up when Gary Thorne “In Our Side” is not announcing. It’s summertime in Baltimore – the weather is hot, let’s hope the O’s get hotter!

Sidebar: ESPY Awards last night – Were you lucky enough to catch Robin Roberts’ acceptance speech on receiving the Arthur Ashe Award? A truly inspiring, heart- felt delivery. She referenced Jimmy V’s speech from 20 years ago and masterfully interjected a quote of her own “…..you can face any challenge, when fear knocks, let FAITH answer the door.”

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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